The Tale of a P-O Love Affair

By Chris Parker

Many readers will know the names of Tim and Chris Parker from our series on Walk the Region, to which they have contributed walks over the past 5 years or so. 

This is an account of their love affair with the region over the past 17 years.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Part V – Sharing the joy

For a few years while I am still working and time for me in France is limited, Tim makes several trips to France with a variety of helpers and friends to do jobs and share good times together.

One friend and neighbour in the UK is in between jobs so comes over to the P-O with Tim to help him tile the rear terrace and install the fence across the garden to provide security for the pool.  It pours with rain a lot of the time but they still have fun, set up a storm cover, share lots of jokes and sing their hearts out to an Aled Jones CD.  A few years later Tim went to this friend’s funeral and a couple of the Aled songs featured in the service as our friend loved them so much.

You will all know the trials and tribulations of DIY projects to improve your French home, permanent or second home.  We have a few interesting examples of embarrassing incidents arising – no, that is not the best word! – from poor knowledge of French.

One of the first is a trip by Tim to a local builders merchant.  He is doing some plumbing and forgets the word he needs (tuyeau).  He goes to the reception desk and says to the young lady “I want a pipe”!!!!!  Our French neighbour happens to come into the store at the same time and overhears. Tim has never lived it down – our friend and neighbour recounts this at every dinner party with new friends!

On another occasion, we have the man’s son with us for a meal.  He drinks cola. Now everyone knows that fizzy drinks contain preservatives – yes?  So Tim asks – “Ça contient des preservatifs?”   Well everyone has a good laugh.  We have never seen condoms in cola!  The word is “conservateurs”, of course.

It’s good to laugh – and a way of learning and not forgetting.  Like some of the lessons on the difference between “sou” and “sous”, “au dessus” and “en dessous”, “desert” and “dessert”.

As we get to know our neighbours, and as a way of getting to know them, we share meals together.  We have enjoyed many happy hours in this way and learned many new ways of cooking, shared recipes, good company and great wines.  Our French friends have even been surprised that we too can cook some tasty food so we hope that this has changed their view about Brits not being able to cook.

Before I retired, we allowed carefully chosen friends and work colleagues of mine to stay in our home and they too have enjoyed this wonderful part of France.  Comments like “returning to Collioure for another taste of paradise” stand out in the written memories of their holidays.

Many friends have stayed with us – from UK, New Zealand, United States.  It has been a great joy to share our home with them and show them around the area, share activities with them.  Sharing our joys and sorrows.

Life is definitely enhanced by sharing – and the peace and beauty of this area both offer and encourage this.

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