I used to think people who talked a lot about the weather were boring, or old. But here I am and here I go. See, we came here for a warmer climate that we’re convinced has many health benefits. The sun just brings smiles. Whilst we’re looking forward to the warmer months we’re excited about what will come with the seasonal changes. Spring and autumn will look stunning amongst this landscape, but it’s the six months of Scottish winter compared to the six of summer here we’re most happy to leave behind. Dreich no more. We arrived here at the same time as winter, and if we were in any doubt about the depth of cold temperatures in Rochechouart, those doubts have well and truly vanished. We regularly wake up to frost, ice and thin layers of snow, and the volume of rain appears no different to Scotland. Our daily walks discovering the beauty of the Perigord-Limousin Natural Park will be a constant joy and for now are one of the few things not affected by covid restrictions. More often that not over the last few weeks we’ve returned home after a few hours of finding new trails with Pepper, all the time keeping an eye open for farm animals and avoiding the accompanying mud and muck. We’ll get home, kick off the muddy boots, stick the kettle on and as Heather would say, cosy in.
For the first couple of weeks here we needed documentation to leave the house. Lockdown was strict and strictly observed, so our daily walks were highlights. Since mid-December lockdown has been lifted and replaced by a curfew, so cosying in has become compulsory. More shops have opened and attestations are no longer required, but our walks remain a focus during daytime. From our new home there are trails heading of in every direction, and the dozens of known circuits have chemins and sentiers branching off everywhere, just begging to be explored. Rochechouart, as well as being a beautiful and historic town, is known for being the centre of a massive ‘astrobleme’, a meteor landing over 200 million years ago leaving a 25km crater. Now, the huge variety of impactites are still very much evident, visible in the buildings, walls and rock formations in and around Rochechouart.
Circuit de la Meteorite is named after this event and is a prime walking route from our front door. At its longest it’s a three hour trail with many variant routes, and less than twenty minutes in we’ll see donkeys, sheep, goats, cows, horses, llama and a array of birds of prey and domestic fowls. Pepper is intrigued by them all, though thankfully remains strangely calm around all animals except her fellow chiens. At the moment the lush green vistas and vibrant crops we saw when last visited the area in August have been replaced by bare grey branches, muted colours and fallow fields. Watching the colours and landscape change with the seasons is one of the many reasons we came here. We want to be outside as much as we can and when that’s not trailing through nature we are blessed to be able to enjoy such a glorious panorama from our terrace and garden, which although small feels almost overwhelming with the view it offers.
We’re stepping out up to 100km of walks each week so should be keeping fit, but cosying in goes hand in hand with a mound of snacks and a glass or plenty from the wine rack. We’ll struggle through. We’re constantly aware that our pending gite business is on hold until a new property is found, and our Etsy shop will take time to grow so income will be limited to say the least for at least six months. Both are works in progress and in the meantime we continue to adjust to life in France and being inundated with correspondence from local authorities and our utility suppliers. We’ve been made aware that nothing is simple here when it comes to business and ‘general admin’. We agree, and our limited French vocabulary doesn’t help, but all of this is part of the voyage; part of the cultural and lifestyle change that we wanted. The adventure has just begun, we’re making new friends both human and animal, and we wouldn’t change it for the world.