Goodbyes and Hellos

First some sad news. My daughter has moved back to the UK to live with her father. She found it very hard to settle in France, I can only imagine what being thrown into a French speaking school must have been like age 13. She starts back at her old school on Monday, and I have been receiving lots of excited messages – so although I will miss her very much, I think this is the right decision.

To cheer ourselves up, we have been throwing ourselves into the surprisingly vibrant social life of the tiny village of Pensol. Events in France tend to take place under the auspices of an Association. Recently our good friends who run the B&B in the village, set up Pensol en Choeur. This association will permit us in the future to organise dances (like ceilidhs), dinners and concerts. We have been going along to committee meetings, which all take place in French, so it has been very good for our language skills (not to mention our mime skills and my growing collection of puzzled facial expressions).

Veronique, who is Mme La President of the Association, has a particular passion for gospel singing which she discovered while working in Paris. So it was with some trepidation that we found ourselves walking up the track to the village last week to attend a weekend long gospel choir workshop. Max Zita was our choirmaster – a tall, effortlessly cool, young man from Paris. He quickly had us singing little riffs and pulling terrible faces to warm up our voices and stop us being so nervous. We then had to take a test where we sang from low to high with him IN FRONT OF EVERYONE and we were divided into sopranos, altos and tenors. Within an hour he had us singing a gospel piece with three-part harmonies. It sounded great. We were loving this.

Lunch was “bring something to share” – which we were interested to learn is called un auberge d’espagnol in French. This is France of course and so what would have been some Ginsters pork pies and a few packets of crisps in the UK, became a home cooked feast, as the people of Pensol all produce their best signature dish. Max complimented me on my home-made sourdough bread. This might be the best thing that’s ever happened.

The weekend finished with a concert in Pensol church. We have peeped in to the church of course, but have not yet attended an event there. I did not expect my first proper visit to the church to involve me standing at the front singing!

The concert sounded great, and the church was packed. We belted out five gospel classics, although I’m not sure that Nik and I ever really got the hang of swaying and clapping and singing at the same time. We are both totally non religious so it did feel strange praising the Lord’s omnipotence, but everyone else seemed to be aethiest too so it didn’t matter.

Here is a video from the concert, taken by my daughter Maya. The last 5 seconds of the grand finale is missing as “her arms were aching”. One job Maya. The very best of luck in the UK sweetheart. Hallelujah to everyone else.

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