Our lovely friends Chris & Sue sent us this photo taken from their house in Brighton. Meanwhile, we have kind Frances & Alistair bringing our Christmas ham and crackers from Brighton in a van driving through snow-covered France. I do hope everyone's safe.
Meanwhile, 'though we have no snow, it is absolutely freezing here. The godawful Godin woodburner in our apartment has fallen to bits so we've moved downstairs into the main house (and away from the sickenly addictive English TV we had installed recently - phew). We are now revelling in underfloor central heating and no lugging half-metre logs upstairs. The only drawback is that we're heating all the house for just three of us, so we're going through oil by the tanker load. The dogs are comatose in the unaccustomed heat and we're wondering if a t-shirt is too many layers. It's really not very green, and as much as I reduce the temperature, the boiler (french, obviously) takes no notice and wallops out the heat anyway. Without the TV we're back to books, iTunes and Scrabble. All very gentle.
Ali picked up a beautiful Christmas tree yesterday so we had a jolly evening tossing up between tasteful or plastered. We went the tasteful route, so the tree is decked out in silver and navy. My mum, who's staying with us for December, says she still has decorations from 50 years ago. Thank God she didn't cram them in her suitcase along with her hair rollers.
She hasn't needed the rollers of course, because, bravely, she went to make an appointment for a shampoo and set at the Roujan hairdresser's. Dredging up french learnt 70 years ago she managed to negotiate an appointment for yesterday afternoon. On arriving home afterwards she looked somewhat shocked. She described the experience thus: "Despite the place being rather ramshackle it was the best shampoo I've ever had; the hairdresser massaged my head for ages which was lovely. Odd though, because she and her pal spent half the time outside smoking, then rushing in to say they'd seen five flakes of snow, and would I like to look." The hairdresser has no English, 'though she'd like to learn, so each time she picked up an item Mum had to tell her what it was in English. So all very jolly. And Mum says she'd like to go back before she flies home again. A success.
In the annual round of awards I'd like to offer one to the fantastic technicians at Santa Maria in St Thibery . They are gardening machinery suppliers and repairers. Three weeks ago I took our 14 year old Husqvarna tractor-mower in for repair. We'd driven it into numerous tree and vine stumps and the blade had sliced a hole in the metal protective skirt. We don't need to use it right now, but I reckoned they'd be overwhelmed with business in the Spring, so best to take it in. They rang to give an estimate of 400 euros to repair it. As the machines are 4000 euros new we bit the bullet. A week later they rang to say it was ready. I arrived with the trailer ready to pick it up. Not only had they done a complete service, replaced the blades, welded and redesigned the skirt so it can't happen again, they'd done it all for 300 euros. I love these clever french boys. They love showing off their artisanal skill and ingenuity. Thank you.
I bought this riveter the other day, drawn by the name. Do you think it precedes Nike's 'Just do it'?
By the way, if you're planning a trip here to Languedoc-land, do take a look at our new Bookshop
. We've listed books, maps and walks you might find useful, and yes, we earn commission on anything you buy through our site. We're going to use the dosh to buy trees, so with a bit of luck it'll be like paper-recycling.
And finally, the weight loss thing is going well and I put it all down to the help and motivation I'm receiving from the DailyBurn
website. They even have an app for the iPhone, and as an iPhone addict, it's a double incentive. Christmas is going to be a test though. We're going to be 14 for lunch and I'm cooking in the big kitchen downstairs. It should all be great fun and I just have to avoid the naughty foods. But isn't that all of it?…...
Ali and I send you and yours our very best wishes for a spectacularly happy Christmas and a healthy, happy 2010.