I have, you may have noticed, been somewhat quiet on the blogging front since I got back from England. Not because I have nothing to say (heaven forfend ...), but because my head has been stuck not in a soil pipe this time, but deep in the bowels of hitherto unexplored cyberspace.
Until a month ago, there existed a low-key but useful community internet forum for English speakers here in Ariège, Ariège Life. Now it has to be said that our department is not by any means an ex-pat enclave, and those English speakers who do move here tend to want to integrate with their local communities rather than cling to an immigrant group. And thank heavens for that. But for all that, there are times when you just want to be able to connect with others who've made the same move as you, who are wrestling with the same things as you, and yes, who speak the same language as you. That was where the forum came in: we asked each other questions, we batted things around, and I met some interesting people I probably wouldn't have met otherwise.
And so when the forum was closed down rather suddenly by its webmaster a few weeks ago, a bit of a hole was left in Ariège life. What to do? "Nothing!" said John, firmly. "Leave it to someone else for once". Hmm. A nice idea, but not in my nature. So to cut a long story short, I didn't.
Now whereas I can design simple websites, and I've even set up a community site before, for our village in north Norfolk, the intricacies of content management systems and php and messageboard software were well outside my comfort zone. And long might they have stayed there but for the support and encouragement of several Ariège friends, a succession of very late nights and an understanding (if long suffering) partner who knows me well enough to just shrug, and do all the cooking and washing up, whenever I get into one of my single-pointed 'I'm not going to be beaten by this' phases.
And now for the shameless plug. (Are you reading this, Google?). The Ariège Network has just gone live, complete with rather snazzy looking forum. Here it is, as a proper link:
The Ariège Network - life in Ariège, in English.
And I'm back in circulation. Hello, world ...