The People

Locals, Guests, Family and Internet Groups

The Villeneuvois are lovely - friendly and polite; the very antithesis of the British view of the Parisians. In fact many would far sooner have Brits here than Parisians - maybe a relic of the time when Aquitaine was English and we were supporting the Protestants against the Catholic King in Paris?
This old-fashioned politeness can turn a shopping trip from a chore into an enriching experience and there is a big contrast between the French shop assistant and my experience of their undervalued, underpaid and surly English equivalents.

We live in a very rural area with few neighbours, and, being backward in coming forward, it's taken time to integrate in the community. But we're now recognised at village functions, which we take pains to attend, and have always been received with welcoming friendliness. There's quite a strong ex-pat British community but it represents only a tiny proportion of the populace, so there are no English ghettos. Our community of some 400 souls has only half a dozen or so Brits within it.

Christine's language group includes French people learning English as well as vice versa, so we've been to a few local functions. There are walking clubs, a newcomers' club, tai chi, golf, croquet, etc., so we're not lost for something to do in between "holidays" - some would say we're on permanent holiday!

2017 - Some People Pics

Millie & Olivia - Christine's baby "sittees" Croquet players
Yet another al-fresco lunch! 10-year residence permit
Christmas Eve lunch at La Stelsia Kitty & Tim in Oz before their nuptials

Christine made a grand total of three Official Granny Visits to the UK in 2017, coinciding with school holidays to allow DIL Sara to carry on working. As usual I stayed and cat-sat, not because I don't want to see the folks in the UK but because for the two of us to visit demands cattery fees, a long car trip or car hire, overnight accommodation en route and hotels in the UK. If just Granny goes then it's only a return flight on PaddyAir. And it's a good time for painting the walls!

We continue to play croquet in Villeneuve from time to time and there is the occasional social "do". As always our table on the terrace is often used during the warmer months for al fresco lunches.

The idiocy of Brexit made a big cut in our income due to the collapse of the Pound Sterling, but it has had no effect on our dealings with our French friends. We renewed our Permanent Resident's Card which I hope will give us some security until 2027.

On the greater family front, Tim (54) has settled down with Catherine ("Kitty") Cooney in South Benfleet and the close of the year saw them in Sydney, Australia, ready to be wed on the beach in early January!

Marianne (53) was last heard of in Hove, Brighton but has since moved elsewhere - her son Cantlin (29) is a software designer and can be discovered here

Susanne (nearly 52) in Leiston, Suffolk has four children; Thor (30) and Aerie (28) who have left home and Aster (13) and Sarene (nearly 10). AFAIK her husband Sarrif still works with Huawei as a network designer.

Christine's eldest son John (50) now lives with Hilary in Mitcham and his son Ryan (22) is living and working in Derby.

Simon (48), Sara and daughters Millie (11) and Olivia (almost 10) are still in Essex but has recently moved to a new car dealership. They drove down to see us over Christmas which was a long drive but much appreciated.

Our Peter (nearly 34) still works for in Germany - we've been three times to see him and the exciting city of Berlin. He's in a lasting relationship with a dark-haired Spanish señorita called Karen, who used to work for but has now moved jobs. Peter is coming to see us in early February 2018.

My expat "support & social" group La Vie en France (on Facebook) continues to thrive; I enjoy the management and technical aspects and there are occasional get-togethers, but it can take up a great deal of time.

In addition I run groups for The Engineers of South-West France, The Engineers of South-West France (on Facebook), The Valentine Golf Society, The Marconi Old Geezers' Society and a village blog for Sainte-Colombe-de-Villeneuve and Sainte-Colombe-de-Villeneuve (on Facebook).


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