I now have my second grandchild, a beautiful little Welsh girl called Lily. She was born on 7th Nov and I will be meeting her in only 11 days. Her brother, Dexter just less than 2 years her senior has a King Charles puppy to distract him from the fact that Mummy is a bit busy but I am sure the two of them will have a lot of fun in the coming times.  lilydexter-and-puppy

I have started a couple of new language classes, one over in St Yrieix la Perche. It’s about 40 mins drive but has the advantage of a Lidl I can pop into after class. This is a more formal one than I have been to in the past (Open University notwithstanding). Its advantage is that it has 5 levels and the 5th level stretches me – there is a teacher at the front and for two hours each week we read through newspaper articles etc mostly about politics at the moment, because the French right wing primaries are happening here soon. It seems that there are 5 centre right candidates to pare down for selection before the actual elections next year. I gather that there are no left candidates at all. That being said, France is pretty socialist so even the centre right are left of the most liberal conservatives in the UK. The frightening thing is that Marine Le Penn (extreme right) is running next year and has gained a lot more kudos in the wake of the Trump disaster. It looks like similar stuff is going on in other parts of Europe too, well, if Trump can be elected then anything could happen!

Anyway there is also an Anglo-Francais group of English and French who meet each month and take afternoon tea (if you can count weak black tea or coffee as that, albeit with some homemade cakes plus chocolate truffles and biscuits). We all rattle away, mostly in French and it is a lot of fun.

Autumn has hit with a vengeance, piles of dead leaves to wade through on the morning walk. The hillsides are patchy with yellow and reds as well as dark evergreen. Delia says it’s a false memory but I sure I remember that this time last year I was wearing t-shirts but not now, it’s pretty chilly. With the season comes the pre-christmas markets. They seem to be called marches des cadeaux (or at least the Gift fair we went to today in Piegut was). Lots of artisan crafts, often pricey but mostly unique. We got some gifts to give at Christmas and now I’m trying to see if I have room in my hand baggage for when I fly over to the UK in a week or so.

My facial hair grows the wrong way

I remember when it was the TV that told us the “truth” not the interweb. Back then, before superfoods, probiotics and faster broadband; Marlboro promised to make men into real men, albeit apparently as characters from Brokeback mountain….( cowboys will never be the same…) real men that is with black tar-filled lungs and lives truncated by the rot of cancer but they didn’t mention that because I am sure they thought it only affected beagles. Adverts even promised to keep my nose wet and fur glossy.

But I have always been puzzled why adverts for  razors always show men shaving their face downwards. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work, it just flattens the fur (perhaps its all that winalot/good o).  Google talk about shaving “against the grain” so perhaps I should look for a crosscut blade.

This fortnight in France has been fairly quiet. Although it is fête season. We had the Fête des Ânes (donkeys) last blog I think,  I missed the Fête des Pommes et Porc (apples and pork) but this last weekend was La journée des châtaignes (day of the chestnuts… not as spine tingling as day of the dead but as French as day of the jackal without the guns, well even actually, its hunting season and wild boar like chestnuts, so… with the guns).

This festival is at the peak of the chestnut harvest; though our neighbour with his 8 hectares of chestnut trees seems late and has only just started harvesting… albeit starting every morning at about 6am, that chestnut harvester sounds like a tank (it wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Somme either, but I guess, with fewer chestnuts).


The chestnut harvester

Anyway its one of the last fêtes of the year (until les fêtes de noël of course). Its packed with hundreds of stalls, many of which sell chestnuts, raw, blanched, peeled, packed, bottled and  even in sausages. There also a stall selling Peruvian hats and pan pipe cds as well as Peruvians playing their pipes too (I suspect there’s a bit of miming going on,  but I haven’t caught them out yet, still there’s only so much one can stand). Nougat stands (yes some with chestnuts), fudge (no chestnut fudge, shock horror). One of our photo club loves the apple beignet – more or less an apple doughnut but bigger, flatter and oilier.

Our repointing is progressing, slowly.  I have a website to do so the weekdays are not spent outside, though Delia was out one morning despite (or perhaps because) she is very busy too. I managed a further 2 or 3 square metres yesterday and (if it stops raining I’ll brush it down in a mo. Brushing down isn’t like flicking with feather duster either, its one of the dirtiest jobs of scouring the mortar with a wire brush to remove trowel marks and clean up the stones) Ah well, better go get mucky!