For a while we have had slow internet speed, no telephone, no internet and any combination of the three. Yesterday and engineer called and found that within the telephone line there was only one wire left connected which was doing its utmost to keep us live. That was repaired and now we are fully plugged in. Better still, because the fault was before the line reached the house there is no charge …. Phew!!!

But that sense of being plugged in is relevant

Plugged in to the family

We have had a few trips to the UK to spend time with family.

Sad times as Tony’s sister lost her long brave battle with cancer. Tony was able to get to the UK for Pat’s funeral and also catch up with his siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews and of course the children.

Fun times as Tony visited to take part in a Colour Rush challenge with the children.

Caring times, I was able to spend a week with Vicky as she recovered from an operation. She has done really well and is now back at work

Girly times when myself, Vicky and Kathryn spent a few days together in New York. This was my Christmas present last year from the children – how lucky am I.

Plugged into the community

We have had the opportunity to attend a couple of village meals which are always long, filling and boozy!! Spent with great company they have been a joy. We have been told that next year we will be eligible to attend the “white hair lunch” which is put on by the village for the older inhabitants. Not sure whether we should be thrilled or not!!!!!!!

We are now registered to vote in local elections in France. Perhaps this will be helpful when Brexit is a reality. We both feel it’s important to use our votes, but we’ll have to wait and see if we understand the process and the issues being debated.

I was recently asked if I would assist a young Afghanistani refugee couple to learn French, and we meet once a week. The village has generously taken the couple under their wing and this has been a very positive experience on both sides. It has been eye opening getting to know them and hear a bit about their culture and life in Afghanistan. I am extremely grateful to the BBC for their learning programe. As a non-teacher I am thrilled to have a structured learning scheme. We are getting there and I do see a great deal of improvement in their French language skills and their ability to make themselves understood in everyday situations.

Plugged into the smallholding

Our menagerie continues to grow in size as we become more experienced. This year we had 2 sets of quads, one set of triplets, one set of twins and two single lambs. Quite an achievement and with the exception of the twins all the ewes cared for and fed their lambs unaided. The twins needed hand rearing, which was a new experience for us and although tiring (for Tony particularly) was huge fun and a privilege.

We are active members of a Smallholder’s group in Normandy and this year I have taken on the administration of the group. I know I said no more, but old habits run deep!! We have also been able to lead and host a couple of the monthly meetings which is great fun, albeit a little daunting when you feel you are teaching your grandmother how to suck eggs. The feedback seems positive, so we’ll take that.

Our vegetable growing took a bit of a blow this summer when the sheep got into the veg patch and ate everything in site. Hey ho smiley

Plugged into friendship

This year we have been blessed with visits from dear friends. It’s always great to have time together to catch up properly and of course a spare pair of hands always goes down well.

We have continued to make some very good friends and enjoy their company and hospitality. We like to think that we are good neighbours and friends and are able to offer to help when needed.

The restoration work on the house is now practically finished and we are on track for opening as a B&B in March. We are looking forward to forging new friendships with our guests and being able to offer them a comfortable bed for the night and a good breakfast to see them on their way. We are right on a long distance cycle track of 600km and hope we will be able to welcome cyclists with their bikes.

So all in all we have had a really plugged in year and here’s hoping it carries on. We send you all our best wishes for Christmas and every joy for the New Year.