We arrived here just after the dreadful tragedies in Paris and we found an atmosphere of shock yet also a quiet determination to learn lessons, especially about the potential alienation of the Muslim community.
Although we have been coming here for nearly twenty five years and we already had a house, it is very different making this our permanent home rather than just having a place for holidays. When the furniture and belongings arrived we were grateful for our large garage whilst we sorted through boxes and made decisions about stuff! Even though we thought we had done a lot of this before we left our old home it is amazing how much more complicated it is to merge two homes into one.
The red tape can be a challenge as we work our way through the necessary paper work - an inevitable benefit is that our ability to communicate in the French language has increased significantly!
We have thrived in the sunlight and the dry weather and loved the blossom in February on the mimosa and almond trees, the gorse covering the hillsides and flowers, also in our potager (allotment) we were picking salad and chard in January.
Friends here have been very welcoming and supportive and we have enjoyed village events including a carnival, walks and picnics and Gill was recently a member of a team representing the village in a catalan skittles competition for the département (like UK county).
As some of you know Gill was taken ill at the carnival so we have tested the French health system and been very impressed......quick, efficient, effective....she's fine now and we feel mightily pleased that it was all such a positive experience.
Tosca, the recent canine addition to our family loves French life too....the freedom to walk anywhere - lack of traffic, barbed wire, stiles etc. She enjoys café life, meeting lots of dog positive people and friendly women vets in a nearby town.
We loved welcoming our dear American friend Ellie and her sister Annie in April and look forward to more visitors in the summer, we have also discovered the joys of skyping, Facebook, long chats on the phone, newsletters from Great Coxwell and so feel very connected with our friends and family in the UK and USA.
As we write, our bathroom is being totally renovated and we are grateful for another floor to escape to during the works, it will be great when it's finished next week, then it's down to us to do some decorating.
Pots and windowboxes, including lots of herbs, are now flourishing and we are really enjoying carrying our produce home from the potager we share with a friend,the strawberries are gorgeous !
Last Sunday we went to a fabulous flamenco guitar and cello concert (a father son duet Pedro Soler and Gaspar Claus) and we are looking forward to many outdoor events over the next five months.
Our overwhelming sense is that this is home and that we have made the right decision. We relish the peace, clean dry air, stunning countryside and the French way of life, it really is hard to explain how different it is but we know some of you who have travelled this way will understand and we hope this ''postcard'' paints an image for you all ?
We plan to visit the UK in 2016 and will keep in touch
Much love and best wishes Trish Gill and Tosca.
Is this an opportunity for a twinning? Ed.