Drive – The Cars

FINALLY!!!  Both cars sorted. What a palava. France has made all registration of car documents online, as of the end of 2017. Previously it was possible to go to the Prefecture in Limoges and do everything face to face with an official. The improved system is a joke.  The backlog is so great, the website ha crashed. To register the Nissan in my name took hours and hours. I sat with friends for two hours one afternoon and got no-where. I spent about five hours myself trying to do it, and failed. Eventually I contacted my insurance company (who were waiting for the official document so they could issue my full insurance); they suggested I try a garage, which eventually proved to be successful. The manager at a local Renault garage was very helpful and did all the online transaction for me; even he kept shaking his head and saying “c’est compliqué”  However, the carte gris arrived by registered post 48 hours later. And OF COURSE, the same happened when I wanted to transfer the ownership of my sold Renault Modus to a new owner. My Renault garage man was once again very helpful and I gave him a bottle of wine for his assistance.

Still on the theme of cars. The Modus had a final protest at being sold.  Not only was there a problem with the jammed biro in the seat runner (see last blog post) which was  eventually resolved by sheer brute force, but 10 minutes before the new buyers arrived, the battery died. This Renault has never failed me, it has started in rain and snow in freezing temperatures. It could only happen to me. So the buyers had to endure my embarrassment of jump starting it before they could drive it away. I’m sure they thought I was conning them into buying a dud car.

The freezing cold weather continues. Snow has fallen continuously for a few days. But thankfully, it has now stopped and the sun shone yesterday, still bitterly cold though. The cats aren’t venturing out very far either.

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I headed into Limoges last week and bought some curtain fabric. Part of my plan to install a wood burner in the kitchen has progressed unexpectedly. A friend has offered me a wood burner for free! So I think with it in and a heavy door curtain, the heating should improve. Just got to make the curtain now – it’ll be a good size and weigh a ton! Also, I have yet to look at curtain poles and find something suitable …. and then find someone to put it up for me. High ceilings and drilling into stone won’t be easy.

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Onwards and upwards with my bedroom: the radiators are off so I can clean and decorate behind them. Not the best time of year not to have heating in the bedroom. I’ve been a bit lazy about pushing on with the painting – I’ve only wanted to sit in front of the fire over the last few days! When the rads are back on, that only leaves the en suite bathroom to tile and the wallpaper to buy and put on. Oh and a final coat of wax on the floor. Only taken a year to get this far!

Still a few guests arriving, but February is looking distinctly quiet. People are now beginning to book for Summer.

A few weeks ago, I noticed some fencing alongside the small path that is in front of my house. I’ve since learnt that it is keeping people away from the edge of the path as it has collapsed. The Mairie is to repair it at some point soon. However, the knock on effect of this to my neighbour is a problem. He has a large gas tank, which is refilled from time to time and the restricted access now means the gas tanker can’t do the refill. We looked at the possibility of bringing the tanker in through my gates, but they just weren’t wide enough. I have had an extra supply of logs and oil delivered. I intend being a toasty as possible; this house is not easy to heat.



















The River of Dreams – Billy Joel

B&B is gradually getting back to business. First guests arrived on January 10th and there’s been another 3 since then. The weather is a bit of a killer at the moment – getting up and seeing grey, gloomy, wet mornings isn’t very inspiring. I keep telling myself Spring can only be a few weeks away. The River Vienne has burst it’s banks, apparently it hasn’t done this since 1905, so that gives you some idea of the amount of rainfall. My garden is sodden and puddles are sitting on the path and not draining away. The weather forecast isn’t offering respite.

Some of the house projects that I’d hope to finish before the end of 2017, didn’t quite happen. Mainly the decorating in my bedroom, en suite and the installation of the new central heating boiler. I now have the tiles for the bathroom and have made arrangements to start the work at the beginning of February. There has been a problem with the boiler; they don’t make the model I wanted any more. So a re-think has happened; not 100% sure how it’s going to pan out yet. I have written to the planning department to ask what their policy is on solar panels, as one on my back wall would be a good option.

Now I have my new car, I need to sell my Renault Modus. I found out that in order to sell a car in France, it has to have at least 18 months CT (MOT equivalent); to this end, I re-newed the CT. No problems. A few days later, I cleaned out all of the rubbish, hoovered the inside and washed it. Just as I was putting the carpets back in, I noticed a biro in the seat adjustment runner, I think it had been there since I bought the car four years ago. I tried to get it out, but ended up pushing it along the mechanism and now it’s completely jammed the seat, I can’t move the seat either backwards or forwards and I can’t see the biro. I think the seat will have to come out. Neither Owen or I can move it. And then, in the same vein, the mechanism on the kitchen back door lock has jammed/broken. I’ve no idea what to do about this at the moment, other than buy a large bolt. Oh and the third thing was an attic window mechanism, but I fixed that.

It was interesting for Owen to have a professional photographer stay. They had talks about cameras and ideas. Here’s a very atmospheric picture that Owen later took over Eymoutiers a day or so later.




































Fame – Irene Cara

23.12.17 – 4.1.18


Bugs. Christmas sneezing bugs descended on me on Christmas Day. I sat on the sofa and sneezed through the evening and went downhill after that. The downhill slalom included a bad back: I could hardly move until New Year’s Eve, so spent a lot of time sitting on the sofa watching rubbish TV.  Owen and I thought about going to a music event in town on New Year’s Eve, but the weather was so awful, we stoked up the log burner and watched the final Harry Potter film instead. New Year here is a very quiet affair, not one firework to be seen anywhere.

Owen seems to be settling in. His new ‘office desk’ and chair arrived and we put them together without any problems. He’s no excuse now – study time looms. His room seems to be working quite well, although there’s a plethora of extension cables keeping him attached to the electricity supply. I will see if I can have some extra sockets put in; I guess they’ll need doing at some point. Asterix and Colin have moved in with Owen. They love having another room to be in and another bed to decorate with their muddy paws. I think the only loser at the moment is Sid. He’s very nervous of another person in the house and, horrible as the weather is, he doesn’t come in  during the day, only at night, when he sleeps on my bed until breakfast time. Then he’s off as soon as he’s eaten. I’m a bit worried about him, I hope he soon adjusts.

We went in Limoges yesterday to meet up with some people that I sold my SatNav to. (It was redundant as I have one in my new car; that someone has scratched by the way). As always, going to Limoges gives me an opportunity to do shopping that I can’t do in Eymoutiers. I bought a few new bits and bobs for bedrooms and we went to the fabulous Grand Frais store – what they don’t have in fresh and/or tropical foods isn’t worth knowing. On the way home we dropped into Lidl to pick up a few more basic, less exotic provisions. We’d only been in the shop a few minutes, when an English lady came up to me and asked if I lived in Eymoutiers. She told me she recognized me from my blog!! Fame or what? Owen was seriously impressed!! She too lives in Eymoutiers,  having moved here very recently.

It’s panto season – is this Puss in Boots or Cinderella?2018-01-04 22.07.46


























Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea

1.12.17 – 22.12.17

Delayed blog – I’ve been overtaken by events. Manic time.

The weather has been cold, frosty, windy, snowy and rainy. Not many bright, cold days.

I’ve added finishing touches to Owen’s room. It’s now presentable and I hope he likes it. His desk is now in place but there’s been a problem ordering an office chair from Amazon; we gave up after 4 goes and cancellations. So hopefully Ikea can produce the goods next week.

After weeks of hunting, I found a new car and I’ve finally bought it. There was a point when I thought all my plans to drive to Suffolk would fall apart, due to bank transfer delays = a couple of sleepless nights. I decided to train to 40 miles and ask a friend to give me a lift for the rest of the journey to the pick up. Again, all was in place to happen, when it seemed snow might put a stop to it. However, we managed to get there on the day – bit hairy though!


So I have my new car. A Nissan Juke. Within 24 hours, it was on its way to Suffolk. What a long drive. I broke the journey overnight near Evreux and caught the Eurotunnel train on Dec 18th. There was a lovely surprise set up when I went out for a meal that evening. My friend has arranged for other friends to be at the pub too. A great evening and lovely catch-up. This was the first time I’d been back to Suffolk since I left in 2013. Quite a few noticeable changes; not all for the better.

The drive back was awful. Never-ending. The road signs seem to say Le Mans and Orleans forever. Fog and drizzle all the way. We left at 5.30 a.m. and arrived in Eymoutiers at 9.30 p.m. Still, we are safe and sound and I am looking forward to Owen living here. I hope he settles, finds new friends and a new purpose in life. Bring on 2018. When we arrived, all the cats were here, except Asterix, who, despite a search party, didn’t turn up before I went to bed. However, just as I put the light out, she came in and suddenly realised we were home. She ran up the stairs meowing her head off. So funny.

As I’ve done next to no preparations for Christmas because of the time-scale of events, it’s going to be very low key with instant decorations this year. Artificial tree I’m afraid. I have wrapped  a few presents and written a few cards, but most people won’t receive a card from me this year. Sorry.











Always Take The Weather With You – Crowded House


16.11.17 – 29.11.17

Oh my goodness me – it’s so, so cold. Having had a disappointing Summer, it looks like Winter is going to be all it’s cracked up to be. I really hate Winter, snow looks pretty on a Christmas card, but that’s all. Ugh. Good supply of logs and fire lit early, helps a bit. Nothing like a real fire. It was also very windy here last week and one of my new patio furniture covers blew away – I haven’t found it yet.

My focus for the last couple of weeks has been on preparing a room for Owen. He’s volunteered to have one of the attic rooms (actually the one he stayed in when I had my party). So I’ve made curtains, re-painted parts of it, painted the floor and I’m in the process of swapping the beds. It’s a bit hard going! I’ve also bought a few bits and pieces for the room; there’s a desk, office chair and desk lamp en route too. I think it will look quite reasonable, although I’m worried it will be a bit cold up there, as the heating will have to be an electric radiator. Hopefully the insulation and double glazing will help.

The task of finding a new car continues. There are a few people that I have messaged in response to their online ad and they haven’t bothered to reply. Two of them are commercial garages. Hopeless. Anyway, I have made a good contact with a guy who sources cars, and he’s come up with a possibility. But more successfully, I’ve traced one that’s not too far away and I’m going to look at it at the weekend. Watch this space. As soon as I have the car, I will be driving to pick up Owen. Let’s hope the weather improves.

For many years, probably 15 years, Louise’s unfinished doll’s house has been in the garage in Suffolk and now in the attic here, gathering dust. I bought it for her as a Christmas present, it came as a flat pack with no instructions. So I decided to sell it, hoping someone would like it for a Christmas present too. After tacking the roof back in place, as it had been dislodged by removal men, and giving it a lick of paint, I advertised it. A friend snapped it up within a matter a minutes, it’ll go to a good home. However, a strange thought occurred to me whilst cleaning it up. Look closely ….. what do you notice?  It freaked me out !





The Hippopotamus Song

28.10.17 – 14.11.17

Mud, mud – so much mud. OK – so I admit that I delayed getting the water pipe repaired over the Summer a) because of the upheaval and inconvenience for guests and b) I tried to see if I could get a cheaper quote. Having spoken to a couple of people, it seemed as though the first quote was about right for the job, so I went back tot he company and asked them to do it. This was at the end of September; since then I have contacted the three times and asked them to complete the job. What I thought might happen, did. The first frost of the Winter froze the water in the narrow temporary pipe and I had no water. Despite an email, FB message and a text, I had no response. So summoning all my language skills and vocabulary I phoned the guy on his mobile. His response was ” the water will come back. I will come on Thursday morning”. (This was a Tuesday). The only good point was the fact I didn’t have guests. Needless to say, Thursday came and no-one turned up. At 7 o’clock in the evening the doorbell went, and the repairman was here to check out the pipe connections in the cellar. Ready for work on Friday morning. The digger arrived on Friday morning, as did the rain. To cut a long story short, the job was done but he mud bath left behind was fit for hippos. I wanted to cry. I’ve now managed to make a bit of a footpath using the edging slabs that were recovered in the back garden and a few bags of bark.

There’s a P.S. on this: the tap in the cellar leaked, it took another 48 hrs to get it fixed.


The Maire and his colleague arrived a few days ago to look at the photographic plates that I found. They were very interested but couldn’t identify the places in many of the pictures. However, the one of Eymoutiers was well received. They took them away and I’m hoping to receive copies of the pictures and information about some of the people if they can find anything out about them.

Place Jean Jaurès

This picture has been scanned and enhanced.

The tortoises are in their transition into hibernation period. I retrieved them out of the garden and they’re in the utility room, winding down. They’re very inactive and now I have a supply of hay, I’ll be boxing them up and putting them in the cellar in the next few days. Wouldn’t it be great to just sleep through the Winter?

And finally…….. a bit of information. Owen is coming to live with me for a few months. He’s going to study (online course) whilst he is here, and help me with day to day jobs. The plan is to pick him up sometime in December. I’m currently looking and changing my car and trying to co-ordinate a few travel plans. Really looking forward to having him here.

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Anyone for cuddles?






















Hold On Tight To Your Dream – ELO

6.10.17 – 27.10.17


SO BUSY!!!! The last three weeks have been a bit manic. Lots of travelling and jobs done.

I made a visit to the UK, mainly to see my Dad as it was his birthday. My trip just happened to coincide with a pre-arranged visit that Nick had organised, to take him to see his sister in County Durham. The idea was to take him in his ‘pope-mobile’: a former taxi adapted for wheelchairs, so he could just be wheeled in the back for travel. The journey would take about 2 and a bit hours. It was all a bit of a gamble as he’d not undertaken such a journey before. However, it would allow him to see his sister Joan after 13 years. And I’m pleased to say it was a great day. Dad managed the journey really well, he remembered his sister, enjoyed his lunch out and even managed a few rare smiles. A neighbour helped get his wheelchair in the bungalow and we looked at some old family photographs and talked about people and places. I too had not seen my Aunt for 13 years, so there was a lot to catch up on in a short time. Time went too quickly and Dad and his sister were quite emotional when they said their goodbyes. A lovely time, thanks to Nick for giving it a go – now it’s been done once, maybe it can happen again next year.2017-10-14 15.48.482017-10-14 15.47.17

Back in France …..

hit the ground running as first morning back I had to be up for workmen arriving. I couldn’t face painting the ceiling in my bedroom, so one guy was coming to do that and the other guy was coming to make good the plaster on the wall where the chimney had been. (Some trepidation here, as I envisaged lots of plaster would come off before repairs could start but it wasn’t too bad). Good quality paint from the UK (thanks Justin!) meant only one coat was needed on the ceiling. Phew! So… almost ready for paper in the bedroom. The en suite bathroom needs a little more work; I need to choose some tiles and sort out a bath shower screen. Another visit to good ol’ Castorama. (I’ve got my garden furniture refund vouchers to spend, so hopefully the cost won’t be too high). Maybe a trip next week.

Meanwhile … back at the ranch, in the garden…. MAJOR work. After Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and back to plan A ….. the out of control, half dead conifer hedge round the vegetable plot has GONE. It took two guys and a mini digger three days to cut it down,dig up the roots and clear it away. What a huge difference. Amazing. They also cut down the old pear tree that was on its way out, and I now have extra wood in my cellar for next year. Still some considerable work left to do with clearing debris and weeds from the ground, but this is peanuts compared to what has been achieved. I think I will advertise and try Workaway next Spring and see if I can get some people to work on the final ground clearance. Weedkiller’s going to help a lot too!!





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