We first visited the Poitou-Charente area last January. Despite it being cold and wet we immediately knew this was where we wanted to live in France. Another reason for visiting in the height of winter was that if we saw the place during the colder, wetter months and liked it then in the warmer months we knew it would be fantastic.
December was always going to be an exciting time with family visits and Christmas, but January was always going to be more peaceful and quiet. A leisurely week spent with my son, Sam, has soon come and gone and now we are back to or normal routine of work, school, French lessons and just getting on with our lives.
For our New Year’s resolution Lauren and I are giving up Alcohol & Chocolate until we return to the UK in mid February for a break. So far so good, half way through the month and neither of us have wavered. This along with our regular walks in the forest have helped us both lose a good few pounds since the New Year. Another month of a better diet and more exercise will hopefully help us shed a few more.
I’ve added a new culinary skill and now bake bread on most days. I have a sough dour culture that I nurture and feed everyday and use this to bake our own sourdough bread. The results have been mixed but recently my baking has been more consistent and it makes amazing toast.
The landscape is particularly bare at the moment, fields are all ploughed and the vines are all pruned back to their gnarly base. Its amazing to think how verdant the fields will become in the height of summer. It’s going to be great watching them come alive in the spring.
It’s also very quiet in the towns & villages. It seems that during January a lot of retired ex-pats spend a lot of time in their home countries, or holiday in warmer climates. A lot of restaurants shut down after Christmas too or use this time for renovation or repairs.
But we love the quietness and calm this all brings. The girls have settled back into their routine. Their French is noticeably better since returning to school. It seems like having a two week break from their intense daily “French lesson” has given them new confidence in speaking and understanding their teachers. Our teatimes are now spent speaking in French about what the girls have done at school that day.
I’m still plodding along with my three French lessons a week. My accent is still a great source of amusement to the girls, but I will always have a go and not be afraid of making a fool of myself. I’m hoping to get out on my bike in the next week or so, weather permitting, but its now a quiet five weeks before our grand trip to the UK and Euro Disney.