And what a year it has been! In many ways we have done so much, accomplished loads. However there is still much to do so we cannot be complacent, nor too please with ourselves. Not yet anyhow.
Christmas has been and gone and here in le sud one could blink and miss it. The French are not as full of the Christmas spirit as the English, or is that the Christmas tack? The shops do not start trying to sell you Christmas goods until at the earliest late November, Christmas cards are not sent here and if you do not go into a major town the villages are quite subdued. Luckily there is always one nutter who covers his house with outrageous lights. I love it!
The other thing that is quite different here is that, although they do give presents they are not as important here and the average spend is less. However, and this will come as not great surprise I am sure, their average spend per head on food is 3 times that of the UK! Eating well and drinking fine wine is of utmost importance in France, quite right too. The celebrations start on the 24th, as with all catholic countries, and continue on into the 25th. Going to a market is essential at this period as they are a feast for the eyes and nose. We met up with Garth and his family on the 24th at Narbonne Market and it was superb. Foie gras, oysters, shellfish galore, cheeses, wild game, dried fruits and sweetmeats abound. It was really lovely, no pressure to buy Aunty May some stupid gift that she doesn’t want, it’s all about enjoying a convivial tine together with fine food and wine, what better?
The house has taken a back seat recently as Chris and I collapsed into an exhausted heap over the Christmas period. We have been catching up on a lot of sleep, tea drinking and an old friend, reading. What luxury. We were supposed to have a workaway called Peter with us now for 2 weeks. But he kept changing the dates and was getting complicated so we cancelled him. To be honest we are beyond organising and hosting anyone right now, so we have decided to have January to ourselves.
Chris has a lot of client work to do so I am going to take on the plastering with the help of Garth, Junior and Jamie all of whom owe us a days work. God knows what the results will be like, rustic I fear! In fact 2012 will see us concentrating a lot more on our businesses as we can no longer afford to work so heavily on the house. We will have to slot the renovation around paid work. It has been great to be able to accomplish so much but it is amazing how quickly you get through money when you are not bringing it in and all you are doing is spending, spending, spending!
Here is a reminder of what it was like in the beginning and what we have accomplished…