We are writing this from a house full of light and warmth, we luxuriate in the fact we don't yet need heating, duvet etc !! The sky is so blue and the stars are amazing and we appreciate the cooler mornings which allow us to exercise in comfort. It is nearly 20 months since we left Great Coxwell and with the bits of news we get from the UK we feel an even greater sense of gratitude that we live in France. The future for us, after the Referendum result, is very unclear though the immediate impact includes a big reduction in our pension income. To give us peace of mind we have applied for Carte de Séjours which will arrive in the next couple of weeks and will give us residency rights for the interim. After a long summer break we have returned to our weekly Qi Gong and French classes. Our French Prof is now pushing us to learn the subjunctive tense.....very testing but good for the grey matter. We have enjoyed all the outdoor events in the village and further afield and became volunteers for the outside bar adjacent to the Pétanque area, this also proved a good examination of our local knowledge and language skills when people ordered their drinks and refreshments. Gill enjoyed the regular Catalan Skittles sessions and again represented our village in a tournament, our team came back with all the trophies carried in a honking cavalcade of cars. Trish is determined to improve her pétanque skills so she can play in the village matches. Gill also volunteered to help with our Street Theatre event which was hugely successful and well supported. We also enjoyed the local Young Peoples' Theatre production and went to the annual Women's' Voices music festival where we danced till midnight under the stars. Wildlife spotting and gazing in awe at the landscape continues to be a constant joy and thanks to our daily forays our fitness has definitely benefited too. Tosca is always full of energy and loves the freedom; no stiles, barbed wire, mud, roads. Recently when UK friends were staying with us we spotted Booted and Short Toed Eagles, a Golden Eagle and during a visit to Cathar Castles they saw six Griffin Vultures circling nearby. Other friends joined us in August and it was a pleasure to take time out and show them some of our « terroir ». In May and again September we went on camping trips, in our beloved Dorothy. In May we went just over one and half hour drive into Spain and camped on the wild Costa Brava coast. We had beautiful walks, lovely food and great bird spotting at an internationally important wetland site south of Roses. Then our second trip we went to the Camargue, the Ardèche and Evian Les Bains in the Alpes. Different and beautiful landscapes with great campsites firstly next to the sea, then a river and finally a lake, we all loved it and Tosca was in her element. Gill was able to see the last Women's' Major Golf tournament of 2016, and was really close to all the top players, she loved it! We are planning another trip soon, maybe back to the Camargue ?? or Spain ?? We continue to enjoy foraging, current finds including figs, almonds, walnuts and wild rocket, though everywhere is desperately dry as our drought continues. Local friends are estimating their wine harvest is down by at least 50%. Our « garden » of pots and windowboxes are both beautiful and also supply us with herbs for the kitchen and Gill's kumquat tree is laden with fruit for this winter. During the annual International Photojournalism Exhibition in Perpignan we were able to meet people from the local Amnesty International Group as they held events, to coincide with the exhibition, emphasising the refugee situation in Europe. As you can imagine we are well connected with all things political in this country of passionate people! In June we travelled to the UK for the Quaker marriage of our lovely friends Sophie and Rich, it was truly one of the most beautiful days of our lives and we were so privileged to be there. We also enjoyed catching up with our friends and family in the Great Coxwell area and in other places, despite the awful weather and the referendum result !!!! We have begun to attend a monthly Quaker Meeting held in a lovely house next to a river in Quillan, which is about one hour away though we will continue to put out feelers for Quakers in our département. Finally some really close friends are buying a home in the next village and we are really excited about helping them to get to know this area and meet some of our friends. Staying in touch with our friends in other countries is very important to us and we love our Skype sessions especially with a friend who was working in Mongolia, such amazing tales of that nomadic people and other great sessions are with our friends in Albuquerque, watching children grow and develop. If you have any news then emails are great to read too ! Sending love and warmth and wags from « le vrai sud de France » With love from Trish Gill and Tosca xxx
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