Thursday, 23 November 2006

The Weaving Week

It has taken the last three weeks to regain first my voice and then most of my strength, so I was reasonably well prepared when two of Christiane’s sisters, one of their husbands, and one of their friends came to stay to go to a weaving course near Figeac last week. Well the week was a great success. All the ladies finished their tapestries and agreed that the atmosphere in the studio was “sympa”. The teacher (trained at Aubusson) said that they were the best group she’d had, since they listened and put into practice what they were told (well she probably says that to all the girls).

Christiane was coughing a lot, having caught a similar virus to me (after I thought I was better), but survived the week and only collapsed after everyone had left. Collapsed is too strong, she had a day of doing very little except knitting, unusual for her in more ways than one!

By the end of the week I thought that I was going to be nominated for husband of the year by the group. Frenchwomen are truly amazed when a man can cook, so when I cooked tasty food for a whole week (Jamie Oliver/James Martin rule OK) and was also seen with a broom in my hand from time to time, the impact was tremendous and they were very complimentary. To be absolutely accurate Liliane said to Christiane that she had “un mari en or”.

However, she also said on another day that I was “La fée de la maison”. I think this was when I was cooking whilst wearing an apron and the ladies must have thought that I was a bit of a fairy!

They should have seen what I have been doing this week; cutting logs with an electric chainsaw and cutting, bending and drilling pieces of angle iron to make some brackets to reinforce the mounting for the satellite dish, which is suffering from metal fatigue. That’s real man’s work!

I went to the Serrurie to get the brackets welded and was directed to one of the workers. I told him what I wanted in my best French and he said” yes I can do that for you” in a south-east accent. He is English and came to France two years ago. We had a short chat while he worked; he lives in Prudhomat and knows an English carpenter in Belmont Bretenoux. I owe him a bottle because he didn’t charge me anything.

On the domestic front we are still learning how to drive the wood burning stove. One night it wasn’t burning very well and I opened up the air inlets and went to the kitchen to cook, which required using the cooker hood. When I returned to the lounge, about ten minutes later, Christiane hadn’t noticed that she was sitting in a room full of smoke. The reduction in pressure inside the house caused by the cooker hood had overcome the draw in the chimney and pulled smoke out of the fire via the air inlets and into the living room! It reminded me of the atmosphere inside a house where we stayed once in Nepal. There they don’t bother with chimneys, they leave the door open and the smoke from a fire in the middle of the floor escapes through two triangular vents in the gable ends! Clearly when the fire is alight and we want to run the cooker hood we will have to open the door in the kitchen!


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