We finally got the keys to our new home at the beginning of December and, within a week, the removal truck arrived laden with furniture we had last seen two months before. We were in a mad rush to unpack and get straight before Christmas. Fortunately La Banne has lots of storage space so anything that we didn’t know what to do with was quickly adorned with a yellow post-it note saying ‘to be decided at a later date’ and was packed away out of sight either in the attic or one of the barns. Some of those boxes still need attention but that can wait for another winter’s day in the next few months.
As Christmas approached we bought a huge tree from the amazing family-run garden centre in Belvès. Tree chosen we expected it to be neatly wrapped up into netting as they do in the UK. But, no. The car boot was opened and the tree was squeezed into the car filling it both length and width ways. After a cautious drive home – we were still getting used to driving on the right hand side of the road even without pine needles sticking into our ears – we decorated the tree, lit the wood burners and settled back to enjoy our first French Christmas. We even had turkey, not something we did very often in the UK. Having chosen the bird at Sarlat’s huge E.Leclerc supermarket we were somewhat surprised when the neck and head came as part of the package. In our stunted French, we asked the butcher to remove the head. He did exactly as we asked. Just the head. We didn’t know the word for neck so didn’t persist with our limited French and returned home with the turkey, neck protruding from the top of the shopping bag. On Christmas Day it took a while to get the knife sharp enough to be able to cut the remaining neck off. It did taste good though. The cooked bird, that is, not the neck.
New Year’s Eve was spent at home with friends. We just about managed to pull off a six course French meal, drank lots and washed up until about three in the morning. Our first dinner party a success, we raised a glass and toasted our new home and began the new year full of excitement, eagerly looking forward to the adventures and discoveries which lay ahead.