28 January 2016


slow month2
January is a slow month.  This is the first time we have spent any more than a few days of January in France.  Last year we were snowed-in in Derbyshire while Fred the contractor was busy grappling with the weather chez nous to get our new fosse septique installed.  The month dragged on as we waited anxiously for updates about how the project was progressing.

slow month

In the years before that we only ever spent at most the first couple of days of January at our little house in the village, snatching a few precious days over the Christmas and New Year holidays before returning home to the UK and to work.  We would struggle through January and February, fighting our way in to work in awful weather, our few days in France helping to sustain us and keep our pecker up as we looked forward to returning in the warmer months.

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So this year we are spending most of January in France for the very first time.  It might not be fair to make a comparison between Derbyshire and France at this time of year.  After all, winters do vary so much year from year.  This has been a mild winter on both sides of the channel but I feel that it is more pleasant here in France.  Maybe that has more to do with the other differences than the weather – I’ll leave the discussion about those for another post.

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On grey, wet days we have knuckled down and got on with indoor work.  Nick has been working his way through the finishing off jobs in the house, varnishing the stairs, painting the new walls and woodwork in the buanderie, fitting knobs and shelves, all the fiddly bits that take so much time.

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On the bright, sunny and even warm days we have made the most of it.  Our new bicycles have had a couple of outings (more about them later) and we have taken long walks with Lulu. 

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It has been a month of extremes, of opposites almost.  Within the space of seven days we have had snow, frost, rain, drizzle, fog and glorious sunshine.  So warm and glorious that we fetched the garden chairs from the barn, dusted off the cobwebs and ate lunch outdoors.

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This has been a first for us.  The first time ever that we have not had to struggle in to work regardless of the weather.  The first time that we have been able to decide what to do each day according to the weather and how we feel.  Nothing pressing, no builders expected at unearthly hours, only ourselves to please, to work our way through the daily chores and the list of jobs.

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This is, I think, what retirement is all about.  No more trains to catch, no more deadlines to meet.  Only the weather to dictate what we do today.  For the first time I can remember I have gone to bed at night not worrying about anything much, just wondering what I will do tomorrow, according to the weather.  I used to dread the first two months of the year, every year, so it feels good to find that winter can be not so bad, after all.

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I rather like it, this slow month.


  1. Eeee lass, but thas a luverly set of views of the castle!

  2. Just to clarify for your North American readers:

    "keep your pecker up" ‎(third-person singular simple present "keeps one's pecker up", present participle "keeping one's pecker up", simple past and past participle "kept one's pecker up")

    (chiefly Britain, idiomatic) To remain cheerful; keep smiling.  [quotations ▼]

    Usage notes

    In America, where pecker means penis, this phrase is not used, so may be mistaken as a vulgar command to maintain an erection.

    You must chuckle sometimes when you hear us talk about our pants, as we do now.

    1. Ken, thanks for the clarification! I'll leave the phrase in just for the fun of it!

  3. AND, several Aussie sayings might not be understood in the USA or have different meanings. I could enlarge on that but maybe this is not the place Jean!!!!!

    1. Susan sometimes uses words and expressions that I don't understand and assume are Australian.

  4. So I guess it's three countries divided by a common language. We'd say "to keep our spirits up" or "to boost our morale" I guess. My quote in the comment above was from Wiktionary.

  5. The winter has been extremely mild here. We have had a couple of frosts and that is it. I only hope it is not the lull before the storm!!! Diane

  6. slow month. What a lovely concept. I hope February is just as good for you.

  7. Lovely photos. Yes, the winter has been exceptionally mild until recently, which is, I think, the reason why the north and west of the UK has had so much rain. Be grateful you escaped it. :)

    1. Perpetua, we are immensely grateful indeed.

  8. I like this slow time as well, although I used to fret about not being able to do as much as I would like to do, but sore wrists have really slowed me down these last couple of weeks, which is not a bad thing because I am forced to rest! Glad you are enjoying your retirement, and happy walks and cycling trips out and about!

    1. Vera, I hope a period of rest is doing your wrists some good.