A marching band for my Dad, a soldier at heart.

8.8.20 – 20.9.20

Events have overtaken the writing of this blog. My heart is broken.

Covid 19, guests, visitors (family and friends) and sadly the death of my
beloved Dad. Sad times, worrying times and happy times all in the space of a few weeks.

My Dad had been becoming more and more frail since June. He struggled
through the consequences of an evil stroke for so long (best part of nine
years) but his body was worn out. Although so far away, I thought about him every day and wondered how he was, what he had for his lunch, what he watched on the TV, did he need any new clothes, could I send him a few treats? The dreaded phone call came on September 12th, he’d died peacefully in his sleep. I have no idea if I can attend his funeral (or indeed my nephew’s wedding) in 3 weeks time because of quarantine restrictions. It’s so awful.
R.I.P. my wonderful Dad – he was my superhero.

 

My Dad 1934 -2020

On a happier note, Louise ended up staying for 6 wonderful weeks. Her stay coincided with the visit of a friend’s daughter (Megan).. Megan came on a “Workaway” basis and was such a great help as an extra pair of hands, especially when we had to turn the breakfast table around quickly (two sittings to keep social distancing). During her stay, we managed a few trips out – Limoges, St Leonard, Lake Vassivierre and a couple of nice walks. It was so hot some days, that the best we could do was nothing! A girls night in also went down well – mostly snacks, treats and nail polish! Again Covid impacted on UK returns; Megan had to fly back rather than being collected by her Dad and family. Hopefully, their holiday on France can happen next year instead. Louise is now undertaking her 14 day quarantine, but is able to start her new job working from home, so this will keep her occupied. I hope.

Whilst Louise was here, she met up with friend’s daughter and helped her out a couple of times on her market stall. This is a new venture – I am the proud owner of one of her creations. This is Peepo – he lives on my patio. Easy to look after and doesn’t require feeding!

 

Peepo

Just a few other happenings:

  • Jams made – blackcurrant, rhubarb nd ginger, rhubarb, apple and cinnamon, damson
  • Apples stock piled in the freezer and compote
  • Tomatoes made into passata and bottled
  • Sid started on new medication (happy cat because it’s cannabis based, ha ha), and (wonderfully) we are having some success
  • Fantastic cat treat sourced to dispach Sid’s meds
  • Last year’s purchase of an old stove put to excellent use as a bbq
  • La Belle Maison’s website updated
  • Mega supplies of Yorkshire tea delivered!
  • A guy sourced to make keys for bedroom doors – no conventional commercial key cutter found
  • Wedding outfit sorted
  • Finally managed to return a faulty duvet to Amazon. Not an easy thing to pack up.
  • Ordered new duvet as I didn’t have one to sleep under!

One of the trips to Limoges was to collect my Carte de Sejour (France residency permit). The application has been ongoing for over a year, but I’ve finally been granted it. Collection times were ambiguously stated in a letter, but I took a chance going possibly 3 days earlier than they suggested. Fail. Had to go back again. Went back 10 days later. Fail. They’d made a mistake printing my DoB. Will have to go back again in three weeks. Hopeless.

We are lucky to see some amazing night skies here. SO many beautiful stars. I’ve made attempts to see shooting stars, comets and satellites in recent weeks. Self inflicted neck ache and a complete fail! I’m not born to be an astronomer.

Flash, Bang, Wallop – Tommy Steele

10.7.20 – 7.8.20

Fed up with faulty goods. I have recently bought from Amazon, a reasonable quality, well known make, duvet (of the type 3 in 1) whereby you can snap together the lightweight Summer one and the medium weight Autumn/Spring one to make a thicker Winter one. Not that the latter is needed with the current temperature exceeding 35 degrees. On changing the duvet cover a couple of weeks ago, I found that the filling in one edge section, had formed a lump. It needs to go back, but the process here will be painful: returns postage and packaging is a nightmare.

Also have a major problem with the decking lights. They have a mind of their own. They work some nights, they flash randomly, some work and others don’t, sometimes they are bright, sometimes they are dim, sometimes the on/off button works, mostly not. The company who sold them through Amazon said I needed obtain my refund through  them. So I contacted Amazon (as the returns date was long gone) and ‘spoke’ to the conversation box. Amazon said they wanted me to return the faulty lights. I pointed out that this wasn’t practical (because I would have to unscrew the edge of the decking, remove the lights and then re-assemble the decking until I got a replacement and then re-install the new ones). I also asked why they would want faulty lights? EVENTUALLY they agreed to give me my refund. The lights are still broken. I need an expert in solar powered lights. The problem is really unresolved, I don’t know what to do. To find a replacement to fit the same size holes will be  tricky. Pain in the posterior.

Santa’s little helpers have arrived (are arriving). My friend’s daughter, Megan, has flown over, having left school and wanting to fill the long holidays, greatly extended because of Covid. This arrangement was organised last year and we have been on/off right up until the beginning of July, waiting to see how quarantine, flights and infections were evolving. Lovely to have an extra pair of hands. Even better to have two extra pairs of hands as Louise is also flying out tomorrow!! Her arrival, however, has meant tarting up another room in the attic. Megan helped me move all the stuff out and after cleaning, I’m beginning to set up a few things in there. Not 5-star, but for a couple of weeks, she’ll have to manage.IMG_20200728_205843

Not the best news about Sid. Following recent trips to the vet for treatment for his inflamed mouth and eating difficulties, testing has shown him to have FIV (cat version of HIV). So it’s a question of management as there is no cure. However, he has responded to treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine. Ha ha – it’s a work of art to get it down him but I know the tricks now! I’ve had cats with this condition before and they can go on for some time. Plus the vet told me there is a new kind of treatment on the market now – cannabis based, which we can go to if needed in the future. Happy cat!!

As I write, there is a vegan lemon cake baking in the oven. New recipe, trying it for Louise, who has recently gone vegan. It looks a bit anaemic, but should be ok when the icing goes on. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating!

My grocery shop proved quite fruitful on Sunday – discovered on arrival that there was a vide grenier on in the town (St Leonard de Noblat). We spent and hour or so wandering around and bought a few things we didn’t need, as you do! Later that afternoon, I received a message from a friend asking if we had been to the vide grenier, to which I replied ‘yes – did you go too?’ to which she replied ‘no, I’ve just seen you on the tv!’. It would seem that there was a report on the event and ‘Viola’ there we were! No escape.

Megan and I also ventured to the market in Eymoutiers yesterday. This was my first outing there post lockdown. The fabulous weather brought out the shoppers. Cars were bumper to bumper trying to get through the town.  We wore masks, as did most people, and when the temperature is over 30 degrees, it was a bit hot. After a few purchases, including bread from the bread man, we treated ourselves to a visit to the patisserie! Why not??

Low flying eggs………… a smashed hen’s egg appeared on the patio the other morning. We can only think it had been stolen by a jay and dropped in flight. Good job no-one was standing in the spot because to have a random egg land on your head from nowhere would have been extremely odd!! But probably quite funny.

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Celebration – Kool & the Gang

29.6.20 – 9.7.20

On a trip to Gueret a couple of weeks ago, I sourced a supply of licorice. Bit of a disaster really – far too addictive. I’ve just forced myself to put the packet back in the cupboard, but I have no doubt the little goodies will be knocking on the door soon, saying”let us out, let us out!”

During lockdown I gave myself three major tasks to complete. I’m delighted to report they are all DONE!

Task 1 – The biggie – decorating the salon. This project was actually started at the end of last year. More than anything, it was physically challenging. The height of the room is a killer. Anyway, bit by bit and with a couple of helping hands – it’s done. I can honestly say it has turned out better than I thought, especially as I lost the will to live at one point. I wasn’t sure about using the paper on all 4 walls; I considered painting 3 walls at one point. A bit of thinking outside the box to fix the radiator bracket and all is well. Curtains next. I’m probably going to look for fabric on my next visit to the UK.

Task 2 – The Pagoda. As reported in my last post, a small gravel retaining edge was needed and the gravel. Both now complete. Looks fab. For a simple project that came in at well under 100€, the result was very satisfying. The plan is to offer breakfast outside when the weather is good – mostly to improve social distancing when guests are here. Also a perfect spot for a glass of wine or G&T!

Task 3 – The Decking. Not my work! This project has also been ongoing since the end of last year. Many reasons for the delay – but that wasn’t important, as no-one would be sitting out in the middle of Winter! To christen it, a small group of friends met here one warm evening; a few nibbles, wine and chat. Very relaxed. Again, the plan is to use it for breakfast, to keep people apart. These pictures don’t really do it justice – so peaceful of an evening and cool on a hot afternoon.

Considering what to grow under the magnolia tree, I came across the suggestion of sweet woodruff and after a bit of net searching, I ordered some seeds. Hope to plant them early next year and look forward to some sweet smelling ground cover.

woodruff

But to sum up this work – I have now completed redecorating/refurbing the ground and first floor of my house. A milestone! It’s only taken 6 years! 

First guests returned this week. I think I am slightly paranoid about procedures. Not helped though by people who don’t do as I politely asked. I have made a ‘protocol’ notice. I didn’t think it was too much to ask guests to wear a mask when moving around the house, or to strip the bed if possible, to reduce handling of sheets. Neither of which they did. I seem to be fully booked on Saturday night- if it goes the same way, I will say something.

At last we have sun. It’s been a bit erratic, but the forecast looks much more settled. I read that this region is asking people to use water sparingly, as a shortage is predicted.

It’s harvest time again! Blackcurrant jam topping up supplies, damsons beginning to ripen and freezer stocked with raspberries. A small report back here on the elderflower champagne made for the first time earlier this year. Certainly went with a pop when opened and tasted great. I’m going to need to invest in more bottles next year!!

I’m sure there’s lots more to report, but my brain’s not functioning today!

Need to start new project list……………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown 10

29.5.20

 

As with the 10 week Clap for Carers, I will make this my last Lockdown post 10; I’ll go back to more original titles and link them to the script next blog post. Owen was in need of NHS and St John’s ambulance help a few days ago: very good care and support. They do a fantastic job.

band

I’m just looking back at the picture I posted of the the tree stump with flowers – doesn’t look like that now thanks to snails and slugs. They have a ferocious appetite, the pansies have gone. I’ve ordered some copper mesh as this is an effective deterrent and it’s long been on my shopping list for this reason. It’s not arrived yet but I’ll implement it when it does and see how good it is. Fingers crossed. There have been some amazing alliums in the garden, they look stunning when they are in full bloom.

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An interesting trip to the vet on Tuesday. Sid again.We had to sit outside in the car until it was our turn. Masks obligatory. Poor chap, he seems to have a weak spot with his teeth and mouth; I’d been suspicious for a few days but he was in a lot of pain at breakfast on Tuesday so that conformed my worries. Another course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds. He’s currently sitting outside the kitchen door as I type, he really wants to come in as he’s not had his breakfast. BUT he is doing a very good job of avoiding me because he knows he’ll be given the meds. I’m sure his stomach will win in the end.

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It’s that time of year again…….. I seem to see these amazing creatures on an annual basis. Using a soft brush I directed this one into the garden, as I didn’t want the door to close on it. It soon flew off.

IMG_20200522_104749 (1)

Progress with the pagoda. It’s now painted from top to bottom, I’ve cleared the moss off the wall so you can sit on it, put up some lights (one lot doesn’t work so I’ll have to take them down and look at them) and I’ve laid the weed matting ready for the gravel. Next job though, is to purchase some wood, as a retainer for the latter, around the base.

 

TAX RETURN COMPLETED!! Online submission: not without a few doubts. But that’s normal for me. It’s such a worry.

I received a phone call from a Paris number: an inquiry as to whether or not I was open. Obviously closed. My intention is to stay closed until August. I will review the situation then. My thoughts are, if I do re-open, I may just offer one room. This will allow social distancing and hopefully be the safest option for all. Talking of phone calls, one thing I have definitely NOT missed is the junk calls. Sadly, these are beginning to creep back.

p.s Sid’s still sitting outside the kitchen door…………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown 9

17.5.20

There is an obvious return of life in town. Without doubt more cars parked in the square, people in shops, people walking with their children and trains (very few) arriving at the station. I have been out a little, mostly to the shops. I actually drove 25 minutes to another town to do my shopping last week. I have also seen a few friends (at a social distance!). Hopefully, if the weather does what it is supposed to do this week, there is a possibility of sitting outside with a cuppa and tried the latest bake -rhubarb and custard cake. I sat outside with friends last week and after about 20 minutes it definitely felt a bit chilly, but we stuck it out. We are allowed to travel up to 100k but if it is out of the department we need to complete the attestation form. We can leave the house with a declaration now. The government issued face mask has arrived. I now have a couple – one home made and one manufactured. I find them a bit irritating to wear, but I’m getting used to them now.

With time on my hands, I’ve embarked on some elder flower drink production. I love elder flower cordial and some time ago came across a recipe for it. So easy. Elder flower is growing through my hedge, so I’m giving it a go. Also, a friend posted a recipe for elder flower champagne – I’m brewing that too! In for a penny……….IMG_20200515_174559

The garden is beginning to look more like a garden; only taken 6 years! If only the grass didn’t grow and the weeds went away. For me, it’s just trying to keep it tidy. I’m trying to add in a few small features. Main aim at the moment is to get the pagoda at the bottom of the garden done. Do you know, I had moved into this house for a few weeks before I even noticed it was there! Shows how observant I am. (It was winter when I first saw the house; well that’s my excuse). I’ve reached the point where I’ll need help to make progress with it now. Chain saws and trailers come to mind, neither of which I have.

IMG_20200516_162323

A discovery: I have had in my mind to use a fabulous 1960’s light that I found in the grenier some time ago. Further investigation* has shown that this light is actually a designer piece and worth some money. So plan B: it’s too good to put in the garden, it doesn’t go with the house style and so I am going to sell it and buy a nice light for the pagoda. * this is the link/details I uncovered when researching the maker.  https://www.vntg.com/128009/raak-hanging-lamp-in-mouth-blown-glass-with-drops-nl-1960s/

Raak

Offers anyone???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown 8

5.5.20

 

Am I looking forward to May 11th and the gradual release of lockdown? Yes and no. It will be nice to have a bit more freedom back and to be able to go out without a piece of paper (the latter no-one has asked me for). I’ll be able to go shopping back at Aldi and not have to pay the rip off prices at the local supermarket. Also, I might be able to manage to see one or two people with social distancing. I’m not however, going to rush into this; I’ll be keeping myself in relative isolation until I am satisfied the risk of infection has passed.(Too many asthma scares leave a scar).  Like many, I will be glad when the day of ‘no new cases’ are reported. My business doors remain closed until the end of June, then I will reconsider.

Necessity of sending birthday cards, proved interesting. I have negotiated my way round Moonpig and Funkypigeon and managed to find a couple that I liked. I must say though, 99% of what those sites have to offer, is not my taste. Some are really grim. Still, it gave me a solution to not having to go to the post office.

In the light of having a video call with my *brother and Dad, during which I saw my Dad enjoying some chocolate (only allowed if given by *Nick because of choking dangers, therefore prohibited by carers), I ordered him some chocolate drops. This back-fired as it seems the drops were more like chocolate chips! Too small and too risky. No doubt they will get eaten by someone – won’t they Nick? I’ve ordered some different chocolate now.

All Eymoutiers residents have received a letter from the Mairie offering us face masks, which will be delivered as requested. I guess this will be because masks will be compulsory in some places when the lockdown is eased. I sent my request back via a scannned document and haven’t heard anything as yet.

The railway track maintenance train rudely woke me up this morning! It actually ran through yesterday with trucks of ‘gravel’, so they are obviously gearing up to having things in place and being ready to go when they get the green light to operate again.

I spent the weekend tarting up my hallway. Some paint, floor and staircase renovation. Bit of a killer job on the old back and shoulders! But now done and definitely looks better.

I received a lovely surprise phone call from a former colleague, really great to chat and catch up. I’ve also called a few long lost friends in recent weeks too – funny how people still sound exactly the same as they did years ago!

Some time ago, I ordered some plants online. I was beginning to think they wouldn’t arrive and I contacted the company. They assured me they would come – and they have! I bought them with the idea of getting some perennials in my large planters. I hope they grow quickly as they look a bit small and sparse at the moment! I think that now I have done my house jobs, I will now turn my attention to the garden. I’ve been putting off some projects, not encouraged by the heavy rain showers, but the forecast has improved, so I’ve no excuses now!

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Lockdown 7

26.4.20

I’ve cracked it! Bread! I’m a member of a baking group on Facebook; following someone’s post about baking Dutch oven bread, I was inspired to have a go. Be prepared – the proving takes 24hrs!. But it also uses plain flour, you don’t ‘knead’ (ha ha) strong bread flour. Only straightforward mixing required.   Yum yum.    IMG_20200426_084522                            https://joyfoodsunshine.com/easy-no-knead-bread/

Update on my help from the government – I re-read the information and decided that I think I qualify after all. I’ve applied, so it’s now a wait and see time. It looks like they will match my earnings from March last year, for March this year. I’m guessing my business will be one of the last to get the go ahead to return to normal. To be honest, even when that happens I’m not sure I will have the confidence to open my doors to guests. I may give myself some extra time.IMG_20200426_091434

We have received letters from the Mairie since the start of this pandemic, very clear information indeed. My friends, who live in a small village near Lac de Vassivierre, received face masks, personally delivered by the maire. How’s that for service? One area that I really need to get back to normal is the re-cycling/tip. Where does all this plastic and packaging come from? And I’m only a one person household!

It may be that the email I received from Ryanair, about my July flight, is a sign of a return to life. They messaged me to say there would be a departure time change.

The grass is growing like billie-O. I need a goat. Or preferably a donkey. I love donkeys. I digress. It’s been warm and damp (thunderstorm last night). Ideal weed and grass growing conditions. Roll on the return of my gardener!! On the plus side – I notice the damsons are already forming on the plum tree. = jam   🙂

Sadly, Louise spent her 30th birthday in lockdown. The present I ordered actually arrived on the day, so that was a small bonus. The card arrived late. She is now back in Suffolk – hooray! The job hunting begins!

And I couldn’t resist taking a picture of my neighbour’s beautiful wisteria. As their garden sits just below mine on the hill, I get a fantastic view of it over the top of their pergola. IMG_20200425_140652

We’re not through it yet. Stay safe xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown 6

16.4.20   Captain Tom – what a hero!

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-52303859

 

And so it continues……………. lockdown has been extended until May 11th.

It’s all very quiet, but lovely to hear the  birds singing, children playing in their gardens and even distant cattle mooing. We’ve just had a couple of days of very high winds, I’m surprised there are still flowers on the magnolia tree. The perfume has been amazing.

The bin men are still collecting rubbish three times a week. I also noticed yesterday that some ‘council’ workers were working; there was a guy on a ride-on mower and the little chap who sweeps the town square was out with his cart and brush (wearing a mask – the man not the cart!). A reduced version of the market is on again this morning.

I tried click and collect shopping at a store a few miles away. I don’t think I will do it again. Funnily enough, I felt quite exposed waiting for my order, with which there were a few problem items, so that took time faffing around. Also, I asked not to have substitutions (I’m fussy with vegetarian ingredients) and they seemed to have missed that instruction. So, all in all, not very successful.

For once, my garden is looking tidy! Not manicured, but tidy! It’ll never be manicured. I’ve upcycled an old apple picking ladder. The idea is to fill the pots with bright flowers, when the garden supply place reopens. I also made some wind chimes,they look nice, but they don’t chime much!

It doesn’t look like I qualify for the government small business support. I don’t earn enough. In response to this, I may hold a couple of events when things get back to normal. Coffee mornings and high teas??

Stay safe everyone x

 

Lockdown 5

9.4.20    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODTAATrM1Fs

I can’t speak for other places, but the beautiful sunshine here does not seem to have brought everybody out onto  the streets. It’s all very quiet. No surprises, lots of messages from friends and my lovely neighbours phone. Louise is on her way home to the UK from South Korea as I write. Ironically, having tried to talk her out of going in the first place, I’m really not sure that now is the best time to come back. Out of the frying pan into the fire syndrome. However, she was unable to travel to Japan, so I think it was a wise decision in the end. I’m glad she chose the no stop option, as I didn’t think airports were the best place to be hanging around for 2 hours or so.  It seems my Dad is also OK in his flat, with his carers looking after him. Not ideal, but safe at the moment. It’s such a worry though.

On the downside: bread. Or rather lack of. I am now officially giving up on making bread. The shortage of bread flour continues. I had enough for one bake and I also have some wholemeal. I used them both and thrown everything out for the birds. Actually, I could probably have sold it to the army for ammunition. So rather than waste any more time, effort and precious commodities, I’m giving up. It won’t be a bad thing in the long run, as I eat too much bread anyway.

So, jobs ticked off the list:

  • wallpapering of the room complete as far as possible. I can’t do any more until rules allow me to call the plumber and plasterer back
  • repainted the letter box
  • spruced up some iron cauldrons that have been in the garden for donkey years. 4 out of the 5 are damaged, but they’ll be fine when the missing leg is propped up and they are filled with bright flowers (when the garden centre reopens)

Looks like lockdown here is set to continue. No end in sight yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown 4

1.4.20

It would seem that all the trains have now stopped running. Along with a conspicuous absence of white aeroplane trails through the sky. Cars are few and far between. Shopping is fine, I ventured to the supermarket yesterday, it was well stocked and I found everything I needed. Louise will be back from S.Korea in a few days time, hopefully. She will have to do her 14 days in isolation. I will be glad when she’s back.

Part of me wonders “is this the world’s way of pressing the reset button?”  I read that air pollution had significantly reduced; the water in Venice’s canals has cleared, bringing back fish and dolphins; the ozone layer is repairing itself. I haven’t read about crime rates, but surely they must be reduced?

Maybe people will be nicer to each other when life returns to normal. Let’s hope.

Maybe people will have found new skills; perhaps there are those who have found out they can cook!! You don’t need to go to the supermarket every other day and buy ready meals. I have managed surprising well, even started to use up stuff in my freezer. The de-frost will have to be planned next!

Maybe parents and their children will talk and have better relationships.

Maybe sharing and co-operation will improve.

Maybe people will realise how much they have abused the planet and ourselves.

Maybe we will get our priorities right.

Maybe there will be less greed.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…………   woodwork now 90% painted. Might start wallpapering on Friday.

white bfly