By Chris Dagg, owner of Alder and Notaires lakes.
While Noel is not as big a deal in France as it is in the UK, the French are fond of the decorations and every little village now is decked out in flashing coloured lights that appear calculated to induce seizures.
A new event that kicked off in our local town Boussac was an Anglo-French carol service. Although there are French carols, French carol services are uncommon. However, this one was a great success so we’re sure it will become a regular feature.
We also attended a blessing of the crib at our local church in Nouzerines. Like many of the small village churches in France, it is hanging on by its fingernails and is only opened up for special events. The service was short and fun, although Ruadhri, who wasn’t feeling very well, managed to set his mum’s order of service on fire with his Christmas candle!
Every year our big Christmas event is Ruadhri’s Christmas concert. The three schools of St Marien, Nouzerines and Bussiere St Georges get together and organise some festive fun. To be honest, the first couple of years were a bit on the over-enthusiastic side, with something of an arms race between the schools, each trying to outdo the others! The concerts went on for a long while. The second one took the record – this was over four hours long. We had to slip out to go home to put the llamas away for the night, and then meet Benj and Caiti off their school bus from College, and when we got back to the hall, the concert was still going on! We’re down to a perfect couple of hours now. And this year’s had a new feature – Pere Noel arrived in a caleche pulled by a little white Shetland pony. Through deep snow! The snow had begun in the morning, ‘quelques flocons’ (a few snowflakes) as France Meteo had glibly predicted. But the flocons kept on, and on, and on … We watched it building up during the concert and it was a bit of a slithery drive home, but we made it safely.
The bigger problem was getting our eldest back from lycee (like 6th form college) at Gueret. Lycee was scheduled to finish for Christmas the following day but we received notice that the school busses were cancelled. I set off that evening to see if the main roads were clear but had to turn back. The following morning the roads were still treacherous, but fortunately the father of a school friend acquired a “cat cat” ( 4 x 4 = quatre quatre) and was able to rescue the lads so Christmas was still on! And it started a day early, to the kids’ delight.