As our farmhouse was isolated I decided that I would have to make an effort to meet people, no-one was going to drop in as we were way off the beaten track. I wasn't sure how I was going to do this so I went to the local Mairie[village hall] were village life is run by the Mayor and his secretary. I had already met the secretary while filling in all the forms for a Carte de Sejour[no longer required for E.U. citizens.]
I called in one morning and asked if there were any groups that I could join where I would meet the locals. She suggested Travail Manuel[handicraft] I wasn't sure but said I would give it a try. She then got on the phone to one of the members who literally dropped what she was doing and popped over to the Mairie to tell me a bit about the group.
The following week I went for my first afternoon meeting, I was made very welcome. The group was about 15 ladies of varying ages who had a range of handicraft skills all way above anything I could master. I spent the next few years improving my language skills and learning such crafts as Painting on Silk, Basket weaving and Embroidery. I was never very good at any of them but then I was pretty busy with building up the Farm. My French improved though and it had introduced me to village life.
The ladies were impressed by the fact that for a lot of the time I was alone with all my animals to look after. I was also able to impress them with my cake making skills, something that they tend to leave to the local Patissier. Just aswell as my Handicraft skills never rivalled theirs! Eventually I gave up trying to make objects that I would never use and I went along just for the gossip, I mean conversation!!!!!! When I had too much work at the Farm then I would just pop along once in a while. Now I just see the ladies occasionally at the local market, but they helped me enormously when I was a newcomer and on my own.
I think I was lucky that when I arrived in the village there were no other English people in the area so I had to get to know the locals. When you work in a country you have a different perspective, and becoming an Agriculteur was probably the best thing I could have done to be accepted in such a rural environment. Although I was to find out that men still have some old-fashionned ideas about women and work!!!!!!!!!!! More of that later.