2017 (barring politics) was a very good year for me!
This past year was more about enjoying the company of family and friends and exploring France than about renovation.
By February I knew that my Grandson, Derek, would be coming to visit in a few months. It would his first time back to Uzerche since I moved to France and bought this house. I turned my focus from renovation to preparation for his visit. I bought some furniture for his room, got ready for the delivery and started a top-to-bottom clean of the house.
March 30th is my friend Jo’s birthday and she had an extended party at her house so I went down to Laguenne for a few days to enjoy the celebration.
April is a busy time since I have to gather all the necessary paperwork, get copies along with some translations, and go to the prefecture to renew my visa.
Derek arrived May 1st and we had a whirlwind visit. I met him in Paris where we spent the morning after his arrival wandering around Montmartre before taking the train to Uzerche. That evening we toured my house and the next day we walked around Uzerche. The following day we went to Brive-la-Gaillarde to pick up a rental car. On the way home we stopped in Donzenac and made an unexpected detour to Salon-la-Tour before returning to Uzerche.
The next morning we headed to Oradour-sur-Glane for a somber visit viewing the ruins and reflecting on the sad history of the town.
We spent a couple of days in Uzerche, Saturday Derek helped with some reno work but I was missing a necessary tool so he wasn’t able to get very far. As he was winding up Colin stopped by for a cup of tea and a visit. Sunday we went to church and that afternoon Jo came by for lunch. Sunday was the day of the French elections; I was happy to see Macron win.
Monday was another road trip. On our way to Rochamadour we stumbled upon Turenne with its castle on the hill and stopped there for lunch. Needing to stop for gas we discovered we were very close to Collonges-la-Rouge so we added that to the itinerary before actually arriving at our destination. I would recommend all three towns to anyone visiting the area.
Tuesday we returned the rental car and took the bus back from Brive with the rest of that day and the next to relax and for Derek to get things together for his return home.
Thursday we took the train to Cahors where we joined a rather intensive architectural tour of the city. After dinner we went to the hotel where I stayed the night and Derek took a quick nap before catching the midnight train to Paris. The next morning I was able to wander around Cahors a little more before returning to Uzerche.
The following day Susan came for a visit. Susan and I met on facebook via a mutual friend so it was nice to meet her in person. It was a drizzly day but still nice enough to take a wander around town. She stayed in a local hotel, l’Hôtel Joyet de Maubec, where we dined that evening and I have to say the food was excellent! Sunday we attended the local mass together and visited some more.
At the end of May I attended a “Port overt” or open house for a local plumbing company in hopes of getting a devis, or estimate, for the plumbing work for the 2nd floor bathroom that needs to be installed before I continue work on the 1st floor kitchen. – Hope springs eternal when renovating in France.
June wound up the season for the art class that I attend, Art’Scène. There was an exposition with an opening crowd, complete with hors-d’œuvres and local cider (of the hard variety). Later in the month there was a dinner for Art’Scène members at Table M and the following week was a repas partagé, or potluck on the evening of the final class before summer break. It was all great fun and gave me a chance to interact with some of the people from the afternoon class that I don’t see as often.
The summer season from the beginning of July through the end of August is a busy time in Uzerche. Les Marché des Producteurs is a local market every Friday night during summer. The market itself is not very big but there’s always live music, usually with dancing. There is typically a fairly large crowd that gathers to either buy food to have prepared on the barbeques or bring their own picnics. The barbeques are manned by different local groups each week who also host the frites, crêpe and drinks stands. Tuesday nights are the aptly named Mardis dans Uzerche, which is generally a pantomime, or comedy routine.
My daughter, Mary, came to stay for a couple of weeks in July to get the full cultural experience of Uzerche. Her visit didn’t start here because we wanted to take advantage of this trip to catch up with some friends.
I met Mary when her flight arrived in Paris. We took the RER to Gare du Nord to catch a train to Rotterdam, Netherlands where we spent one night. The following morning we took another train to Utrecht. There we were met by Elaine who showed us around the town where she was living during her PhD studies at the university (Congratulations Elaine!). We stayed at her apartment overnight and after some further sightseeing we left the following afternoon for Antwerp, Belgium.
We took a brief walk around Antwerp; there were a lot of changes since we’d last been there and even more changes in progress. The next day Gabrielle met us at the hotel and we had a nice, although somewhat rainy, visit as we wandered around the zoo with her grandson. It was nice to be able to catch up a bit before Mary and I caught the train back to Uzerche.
The fireworks, feu d’artifice for the Fête Nationale started around 11pm on July 13th with additional festivities on the 14th. My neighbor Mathieu invited us to join the gathering in his garden which is behind my house and above the roofs with a good view of the display. It was an enjoyable evening with friends, food, and wine. Afterward Mary and I went down near the river where there was a small carnival and some live music. We left around 12:30 and they were still going strong until probably around 2am.
On the 14th we walked up to the old town to observe some of the activities there. Since it fell on a Friday we went to the Marché des Producteurs where we enjoyed dinner.
Saturday we went to the regular weekly market, spent a little time in the garden, and went through some old pictures and papers that had been left in the house. We found some photos that looked a lot like the outside of the house before some changes had been made. When we took them outside to compare a neighbor from across the street came over and identified the couple in the pictures and we were then able to connect the man to a birth certificate from 1908 and ID card from the 1920’s that were among the papers.
Sunday was a day to relax but Monday I took advantage of Mary’s translating skills to handle some French business.
Tuesday we went to Brive to pick up a rental car. We visited the Jardins de Colette and made it through the coded butterfly maze. In the evening we attended Mardis dans Uzerche, that week’s entertainment was an amazing show with bubbles.
The following two days were set aside for a road trip. On our way to Anglards-de-Salers we came across Château de la Tremolière where we stopped for a quick tour; then back on route for Salers where we enjoyed a hearty lunch of Tartiflette, sliced potatoes with an abundance of stringy cheese. As we were leaving town we heard an amazing sound from a field of cows all wearing cowbells. So we stopped briefly to take in the full experience of the site and sound.
We arrived in Conques in time to have a brief look around before dinner. Conques is listed as one of les plus beaux villages de France, and is reported to be the model for the home town of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. It’s another French town well worth the visit. After dinner we retreated to our hotel room where we opened the window to enjoy the thunderstorm that had rolled in.
After another brief wander around Conques in the morning we were on our way with a couple of brief stops at Figeac and Château de Saint-Dau before returning the rental car to Brive.
The following day was Marché des Producteurs again. This time we met up with Jo and enjoyed visiting with her while dining there.
Saturday we attended the annual Auto Retro before returning to the house where Mary prepared for the train back to Paris on Sunday and her flight home the following day.
I continued to enjoy the local activities through the rest of the summer but I have to admit it wasn’t the same after my daughter left.
The first weekend in September was spent on a field trip to Giverny with several members of Art’Scène. We also stopped at Château Gaillard, and La Collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys before returning to Uzerche. It was an amazing trip with a fun group of people.
Freddi and I met at Victoria Springs Apartments where we both lived in Riverside, CA. After retiring I moved to France and Freddi moved to the U.K. She was able to come for a visit for a few days and we had a good time catching up after big changes for both of us and also sharing news from people we both know in Riverside.
In October I had some more furniture delivered from a previous trip to Emmaüs. There were lots of items that had been left in the house that I didn’t want which were stored in my garage. When I arranged for deliver I also arranged to have them pick up any of the items that they could use, which fortunately was most everything. It was such a relief to finally have all that stuff cleared out and be able to really clean the garage.
The group InterNations is made up mostly of expats; they have various events but most of them fall on Thursdays which is when my art class meets. I decided to take advantage of a Friday night event and make a weekend of it in Toulouse. It was fun and I met lots of people from various parts of the world. Most of them are living in or near Toulouse so I won’t be meeting up often but I’m glad I went.
November is the month for Thanksgiving in the U.S. During art class we always take a break for a little refreshment about half way through (usually involving wine – well it IS France). So on that Thursday I brought little turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie to share. Everyone seemed to enjoy our mini-Thanksgiving.
The following Saturday was a day trip for many of the Art’Scène members. This time we went to the Le Moulin du Got which dates back to the 15th century. It is still actively run as a paper mill although the types of papers have change to be more specialized in recent years. We also stopped to take a brief look around the Collégiale de Saint-Léonard de Noblat.
December brought some new friends. Arron and Katie will be using my little house to store some things while they are building their home in France. In return they have agreed to clear out the rubble and junk from my renovations that were stowed there. Most of it’s done with just a little more to go when they bring some more of their things from the U.K.
I met Terry, a friend of Jo’s, earlier in the year. He is from Scotland and recently bought a house in Uzerche; the sale went through earlier in December. Knowing what it’s like to just be moving in to a partially equipped house I invited Terry and Jo to come for Christmas dinner.
It was a little crazy preparing the meal since part of my kitchen is on the first floor and the rest on the second but it all came together in the end and we enjoyed a nice meal with good company including a bottle of champagne and Christmas pudding furnished by Jo.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the company and experiences of 2017 I really need to shift my priorities to getting some major renovations done.
So here’s to productive 2018 – and more memories!