A welcome to St Paul

Everyone who’s moved to St Paul in the last year was invited to a reception this morning. It was held in the Mairie (town hall) and you were supposed to sign up beforehand, though I think quite a few just turned up as there weren’t enough chairs, the room was full and people had to spill over into the corridor and the balcony.

The Maire gave a speech extolling the virtues of living here and introduced those of his helpers who were able to attend, we watched a short film about the town, were given a nice tote bag full of goodies and were sent off the the “forum des associations”, being held just up the road.

All clubs, whatever they do, tend to be associations; there were far more than I expected – everything from dance classes to food banks, from the club that puts on bull fights, to judo and tai chi. I got caught by one woman on the cremation stand – I only stopped for a look because I thought I must have misunderstood! But no; you sign up, leave them something in your will and they’ll make sure your wishes are followed. She was very pushy; when I said that my children know my wishes, she insisted that they might know now, but once I’m gone, will they really carry them out???? Unfortunately, my french isn’t good enough to tell her that by then I really won’t give a monkey’s! Finally I got away, clutching a large sheaf of papers, which have gone straight into the recycling.

I found the painting club that I was looking for and even a patchwork club that does a bit of textile art too. A friend had asked me to look out for ballroom dancing classes, but there weren’t any.

After lunch, I went to man the cycle club stand at the twinned event in Dax. If I thought the forum in St Paul was big, Dax was huge, with over 100 stands, as well as demonstrations of all sorts of sports, dancing and even stilt dancing. I took a video, but it won’t load up.

There were lots of visitors and we handed out numerous flyers about the cycle club; whether or not that will translate to new members remains to be seen, but at least people know we exist.

I also found a group doing Spanish classes, which I’ll join at their open day in a couple of weeks, as I’m keen to improve my Spanish so I can go to Peru to help my friend Susie with her charity.

On my return I met my neighbour, Antonia, in the car park; she’s invited me to two events next weekend, gradually I’m getting to know people.