When we planned to move to France, we didn't expect to be living in splendid isolation talking only to fellow expats, but neither did we expect to become fully integrated into our French surroundings. A picture souvenir book on the Mayenne was less than encouraging: vaunting the hearty welcome afforded to incomers, it enthusiastically announced that one could be accepted as a local in only two generations.
But people have been welcoming; we have local friends in the village and farther afield, and playing flute in the Harmonies of Evron and Ste Suzanne has also helped develop more relationships. We invite locals over for dinner and are invited in turn to their places.
One of the sax players in the Ste Suzanne harmonie upped sticks with her family and moved to the Rhône Alps, where they intend to run an organic farm. She invited us to stay in their apartment, and so we are just back from a lovely few days with friends in Winter skiing territory. It really is in picture-postcard land, and the view from the apartment is stunning.
The weather was overcast for the first couple of days, and we walked through the snow in the areas around their alpine village. I learnt that snow shoes don't support you on the surface of the snow, you just don't sink so far. And you can fall over sideways if you don't plant your feet accurately. The next day the sun came out, driving us towards a day on the slopes.
It was a wonderful, short break, and much appreciated as a visit to a musical friend and as a get-away from all the DIY I have been doing all Winter.