Odile, Sébastien, Dan – and now Diren. I have been fortunate to have only charming neighbours in the little gîte. Inevitably the personality of the gite attracts people who love something a little different, rustic rather comfortable, but with lots of charm. So they are all people who lead slightly unusual lives. Teacher, acrobat, radio broadcaster and now conteuse.
Diren comes from a Turkish Kurdish family, born in France but grew up in Turkey. But how French is her profession: conteuse – a story teller who passes on the tradition of oral storytelling. They even have a course in storytelling with a diploma which Diren has obtained. She says she particularly enjoys telling stories to the young, but sadly Covid has meant a year’s pause.
She is a delightful, extrovert, cheery young woman, who in her first week in the gite has already painted some walls, oiled the bookshelves, planed down the kitchen work surface and replaced the old door knobs on the cupboards. She has cleared out the cave and her two cats should ensure that it will from now on be mouse free! Last week she invited me down for supper (delicious, Turkish) and the other guest was Anouck, who along with her partner, has a stall of Turkish food in the Saturday market.
It was Dessa’s neighbour, Delphine, who teaches Spanish in the Lycée, who recommended Diren. Dessa and I realise we are being drawn into a slightly zany, slightly alternative, but very friendly circle of younger people – Delphine, Philippe (our handyman), Diren, Anouck….. We relish it. It is so nice to spend time with people much younger than us, and they’re all very generous. When they go on trips to buy cheese or local bread they always ask if we want some too. Indeed, any moment now Diren is coming up with some strawberries that she and Delphine picked yesterday.
The only stress was that unlike the other tenants, Diren wanted an official contract, or bail. So I had to master something of the legal requirements linked with tenancy agreements in France, including talking with the tax people about what this would mean for my taxes. On the plus side, like all previous tenants, Diren is all set to go elsewhere when my family comes to stay. (It appears that owning a battered old van to use for camping comes with the territory of being slightly alternative.) And it is good to reduce the costs of having two houses.