Since You’ve Been Gone – Rainbow

28.7.19 – 23.9.19

 

It’s nearly two months since I wrote my last post. I write this one with a heavy heart. My lovely furry companion, Colin, has disappeared. I last saw him on August 6th, he hasn’t been home since. Despite doing everything humanly possible to find him, I have drawn a blank. I am devastated and heartbroken. In all my time of owning cats, I have never had one that just disappeared. It’s emotionally draining.Friends tell me of cats they know of that have come home after weeks away, so I have to keep a little hope, but it’s difficult.

Louise has been to stay for almost a month. She begins her travels in Europe, starting in France (where else?) …. I receive updates from Belgium, Holland, Poland, Germany and soon to be Italy. IMG-20190919-WA0003

The Summer has been busy, as always, but quieter now. I have once again met lovely people and shared a few glasses of wine with them. Some have helped me with jobs, bought me flowers and plants and even helped me search for Colin. Interestingly, one guest lived in the top floor apartment as a child. His father was the gardener here. I found out that the house was actually a holiday/weekend home for the family in Paris! Amazing. IMG_20190818_110950 (1)

Work has begun on extending the terrace with decking. Nothing grows under the magnolia tree, so I might as well make use of the shade. The heatwave (44+ degrees) was unbearable, and it would have been ideal to sit in the shade. So next time I will be prepared!IMG_20190912_133338

Owen revisited too. He came for a mini break and also to collect information to create a website for a friend. All went too quickly! Now he’s working – a REAL job!

Other happenings:

  • managed to get to 3 marche de producteurs this year and take friends who had not been to such an event before. Thoroughly enjoyed
  • got to see The Honky Tonk Men band (who played at my party) they were playing in Treignac at the marche
  • bought a delightful old stove which I am going to use as a brazier on my revamped pagodaIMG_20190911_174112
  • new washing machine to replace old one that broke down. New flooring in utility ripped by the men who installed it. Still waiting to hear what they’re going to do about it.
  • ongoing visits to physio for back (now diagnosed with osteoarthritis and scoliosis – not critical, but uncomfortable at times)
  • made a ton of  damson jam; pickled beetroot and have sloe gin in the pipeline
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Malcolm makes history by going for a paddle!!!

A few old pictures of the house and garden:

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The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles

9.7.19 – 29.7.19

I seem to be flavour of the month for the local mozzies. I don’t think I have ever been bitten quite so much. Along with whacking my shins on the drop down oven door and boot scraper on the steps, the bite marks made my legs look like I’d been in some kind of jungle ambush. Interestingly, I went to the pharmacie to buy anti histamine cream but they don’t have it here. Anti histamine pills – yes, and some kind of gel to curb the irritation, both of which I purchased. No great success with the gel, I had one particularly bad bite on my arm which itched beyond description. I also bought some repellent, which doesn’t have the most attractive perfume, no wonder the mozzies don’t like it!        I think the main problem is having to sleep with the windows open at night: you can’t see them coming!

I’ve had a switch round with the dining room and lounge. Reason being I can start to think about redecorating in the big room. Now that I am back in the living room, I quite like it, so future swapping back might not happen. The smaller room is more than adequate for guest breakfast and dinner parties (especially now that I have the larger table in there ~ thanks Linda & Ainslie). I’m hoping that some wallpaper that I spotted online last year might come up in a Summer sale, no joy so far.

 

I’ve been checking on the damson tree the last few days. It has a good crop of fruit, possibly the plums are a little on the small side, but there are plenty of them. Hopefully, I will be able to start jam making next week. Louise may get the job of picking them (well, she’ll have to earn her keep!).

Funny ha ha………. my friend and I went to investigate the recently opened bistro place for coffee the other day. We picked the wrong day. It wasn’t open. So we wandered back into town, to the ChoubeurrePomme Patisserie and had coffee there. Then someone I knew stopped to talk (and talk and talk), probably for an hour. This was followed by a walk round to the bar (it was hot, so we had a cold drink); followed by a walk home whereby we bumped into friends who were starting renovations on their house, then someone else I knew pulled up in their car…….. I eventually arrived home about four hours after I’d left the house for a simple coffee! C’est la vie!

Wildlife Update:

Anyone who follows me on Facebook will know there have been some beautiful butterflies in the garden this Summer (mostly on the lavender at the front of the house that sits in full sun all day).                                                                                                           Tiger Swallowtail ? (left) / Fritillary (right) ~ not sure which variety

The corner of my garden that I am trying to make into a wildflower patch to attract bees and butterflies, is a bit slow going. The heat has frizzled a few things. However, a recent downpour has brought some flowers back to life and there’s a bit more colour there now. I’m hoping the buddleia cutting will have rooted and that I can add that in this week. My Mum always used to cut back buddleia and poke bits on the ground and they grew. Mine don’t.  I haven’t inherited the horticultural gene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot! Hot! Hot! – Buster Poindexter

24.6.19 – 8.7.19

The forecast was wrong, it wasn’t 30 degrees ~ it was over 40. “You can not be serious!” (well, it is Wimbledon fortnight).  The heat was draining. The only way to get through it was to do a little work in the morning, sit on the sofa in front of the fan in the afternoon, and finish off a few tasks in the evening. At least I got my washing dry – by the time I’d finished pegging the last item on the line, the first one was practically dry. One guest was a pilgrim walker, who had started his walk from Belgium in March (I think, could have been May),  was walking the whole Compostelle route to Spain. Good luck with that thought I.          https://www.chemins-compostelle.com/itineraires/43/le-camino-frances

Squirrelgate seems to have ended with the onset of the heatwave. I saw him a couple of times in the garden, but he’s not visited the house again. Which is actually a bit of a relief. However, his lack of visits has been superseded by a couple of bats flapping round my bedroom at midnight. They didn’t stay long – soon left via the open window. A point of interest here – I noticed that Colin cat took absolutely no notice of them at all. I wondered if he could actually hear hem?

Talking of Colin…… (rest of the shaggy cat story coming up!)

Recap -Friday 21st June: late at night Colin started sneezing (continuously, like someone with really bad hay fever). This continued through the early hours of the morning and at 4 am I got up to look at him (he was on the bedroom chair). He was almost lifeless and laid out with his mouth open. I really thought he was dying in front of me. As soon as the vet opened I was there with Colin. He revived in the car, meowing all the way there. He didn’t look too bad but still continued sneezing and breathing through his mouth. The vet thought it was a virus and gave him antibiotics, steroid pills and homeopathic drops. I wasn’t convinced (I thought he might have a grass seed up his nose). A few hours later, he had regressed to becoming lifeless again and not being able to breathe properly, so I went back to the same vet again in the afternoon. And eventually sought a second opinion with an on-call vet in Limoges at some late hour on the Saturday night. Arrived home at past midnight, several €’s depleted from my bank account. It took about 5 days for Colin to really be on the mend. The ~ guess what? Asterix started with exactly the same sneezing, the breathing wasn’t quite so bad. As I had 10 days supply antibiotics for Colin, I stuffed some down Asterix asap then I phoned the vet and explained, asking for a repeat prescription as I really didn’t want to take her in the car on such a hot day (40+). Yes I do have air con, but she gets so stressed in the car. So that’s what we did. Again, it took about 5 days for the treatment to kick in. Getting pills down Asterix is a bit of a problem. Colin is fairly laid back about it, but she is a different matter. One morning I gave up with the pill-popper and tried by hand. She bit my finger so hard, she actually bruised my nail. So far, Sydney has escaped the problem, fingers crossed he does completely!

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Excellent, excellent news: Owen has been offered a job. A lot of hard work, effort and encouragement has gone into that. It’s local to him, so travelling will not be an issue; especially as I know he’s keen to get a car of his own again. Brmm brumm – allez allez Owen! On the other hand, Louise has given up her job, she’s going travelling for a year. Starting in France (quelle surprise!), next month.

Wildlife update:

I went to get something out of my car very late one evening, and there was a young hare sitting in the road. heading into town. I chased him back up the road, I didn’t think town was a very good idea for a hare.

First glow worms of the year spotted in the garden. I looked up some information on them online, and came across a survey, which I completed. Looks like it will be annual, so I’ll have to keep up to date with my observations.

http://wild-life-in-france.blogspot.com/2015/04/glow-worms-gardeners-friends.html

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Here Comes Summer – Jerry Keller

25.5.19 – 23.6.19

Here comes Summer! Temperatures forecast to be top 30’s all week. Roast potatoes!

So far behind with this blog now – I can’t remember what I did yesterday, let alone four weeks ago!!!

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Secret Squirrel has been back. In fact, he came in the house via the top floor landing window that I left open. Soon spotted by the cat and I managed to chase him (the squirrel!), out of the front door without a problem. He’s been visiting a few times but thankfully can outrun the cats! It must be the same one that I found as a baby on the doorstep, he’s now fully grown and quite beautiful. As long as he stays in the garden! (Speak of the devil – he’s just appeared as I am typing this!).

My lovely friends, Linda and Ainslie, have been to stay for a few days. Never long enough. The weather was a bit up and down, but the last couple of days were hot and sunny. We went into Limoges on the train (over 60’s rates!), had a couple of lovely meals out, got lots of jobs done and drank lots of alcohol!

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Owen’s photography. This picture was used by the Limoges tourist company!

Of course the silly season is kicking in. People just turning up, last minute bookings and other expected ones, keeping me very busy. I was baking one morning (making the most of having the oven on for croissants), when a guest came into the kitchen and asked in an interested way ….”are you making scones?” Not many French/German people know what scones are, so I was a bit surprised. Anyway he ate breakfast and went to pack his bags to leave. When he came downstairs, he then asked, in an interested way:”have you baked the scones?” , to which I replied “Would you like one?”  You can guess his answer!

To keep things simple, here’s a list of other things done:

My poor Colin isn’t very well. I had 3 trips to the vets with him on Saturday (one late night dash into Limoges emergency, as I felt I really needed a second opinion). I’m still not happy with his progress and can see we’ll be going back again in a few days if there’s not a marked improvement. It started with a lot of sneezing and I noticed he was breathing through his mouth. At one point, in the early hours of the morning, I thought he was fading in front of me. He has been diagnosed with a chest infection. I think he has something up his nose which has caused this, which is the reason why I went for a second opinion. The second vet also thought that a grass seed in the nose might be a possibility. He’s on meds, I’m watching him closely but there’s not much change. Thankfully he is eating. I just want to help him.

Train will be here on Wednesday Ainslie!

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Me And You And A Dog Named Boo – Lobo

7.5.19 – 24.5.19

Slowly but surely my garden is beginning to look more like a garden. The border against the front wall is more or less planted now: a pink wisteria, a white wisteria, pink salvia, anemone, penstemon, plumbago, agapanthus, lilac, to name a few (can’t remember the rest!). We have managed to track down enough border tiles to complete the edging, so hopefully that will complete phase one! I’ve also been given some pretty, bright snapdragons – nice colour near the front steps.

 

The history of people at La Belle Maison continues to deliver. Unbeknown to me, a phone call for a reservation in August turned out to be from another family that resided here (in the top floor apartment I believe). The name fell into place when I read it in a following email. I was thrilled to see an attached photograph of the garden from the past. (see below). I’m hoping the guest will bring more photos with him. There are days when I pinch myself and ask how did I end up in such a place? The fact that people from the past want to come back and visit, is wonderful. Sometimes I feel like a privileged custodian, but I love it. 20180324_091504

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…. (this will be a shortened version of events!)

I received an urgent FB message from a friend who lives about 25 minutes from Eymoutiers, saying her dog was very ill, she thought the dog was on her way out, but she was stuck with 2 broken phones and no transport. She couldn’t get hold of her husband who was working away, could I try and contact him? I tried but failed. So I drove over to their property and picked them up, came back to the vets in town. No luck, all vets out on rounds, wouldn’t be back for a couple of hours. Went to my vet in Chateauneuf La Foret and was referred immediately to an emergency vet in Limoges. Where we went straight away. Poor Amber (dog), was immediately diagnosed with an infection and underwent emergency surgery within a couple of hours (hysterectomy). It could have been a very different outcome if she’d not been seen so quickly. I’m pleased to report a full recovery and I believe Amber is having her stitches out today.

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Busman’s holiday!! I’m helping a friend wallpaper. After a few setbacks and delays, delayed progress on her house renovation has been a recurring story, so I offered to get things moving by making a start on painting and papering. I admit I’ve been a bit slow (old age creeping in), but we have made good progress in a week. Hopefully it will be done in the next 4 or 5 days.

Must share with you my fabulous find at a vide maison last weekend – a beautiful bowl. Also found a mirror, some nice linen and an outdoor tea light lantern.

And finally, probably the loveliest guest ever. He/she came two afternoons on the trot, but I haven’t seen him/her since. It ate a little apple and scampered off; he was so close I could touch his tail (and boy did he chunter, he didn’t like that!). Such a baby, I hope he’s survived, so beautiful to see close up.

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……….. here comes the festival season in France.

Starting with  https://agendatrad.org/e_2019-05/balaviris-24-et-25_23127.html

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9 to 5 ~ Dolly Parton

14.4.19 – 6.5.19

A lack of enthusiasm to sit down and write this blog. Sorry.

Lovely to have friends over (John & Jules). One big advantage of being here is that when friends visit, it’s for a few days, which, in turn means quality time. If we’d met up in the UK it would probably be a day at the most. I think this year is turning out to be the year of friends visiting, I love having them here. I’m not the only one who makes the most of visitors – the cats do too, especially Asterix! If the weather is good – so much the better! It’s been a bit erratic lately. I think we were all spoiled after that hot spell early in the year and now we’re on catch-up. Good food, good wine ~ with regards to the latter, plans afoot, watch this space.

Talking of food, I spotted this is The Bugle (ex-pats newspaper), Just another excuse for a trip out actually!!! One has to investigate these things!dav

Work on the house has slowed. I had planned to finish the utility room last week but it wasn’t to be. I waiting for new skirting board to be fitted.At some point in the past, a washing machine had leaked and the skirting was rotten. Now you would think that this would make it easy to remove (plus the fact there were only about 4 nails attaching it to the wall). But no, as I have said may times before, nothing is straightforward in this house. It took ages to get off. It’s not standard size either , so wood will have to be cut to fit. Hopefully it will be done in the next day or so, then I can paint it and finish off the wallpapering. That will leave the work top to be fitted and flooring to go down. Oh and a blind (ha ha).

New pillows! Via the local tabac! I don’t know if this system functions in the UK but here you can order items form Amazon and have them delivered to pick up points to save delivery charges (usually). There are one or two in town and I used the tabac. Hilarious. Some time ago, I decided to replace the pillows in guest rooms and online ones seemed so much better value/quality and saved me trekking into Limoges. But, wouldn’t you know it? I ordered 3 sets of 2 and only 2 turned up in the first delivery, the other was three days later!

The bird life in my garden is lovely. In an attempt to record activity on the bird feeder, I bought a tiny webcam. It’s no more than a 2cm cube and records night activity too. Less than 10€, it’s quite impressive. Here’s a screen shot from the other day. I haven’t worked out how to upload videos from it yet (if indeed that is possible).

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Rocky Mountain High – John Denver

29.3.19 – 13.3.19

Confession time: I’m writing this blog as an excuse for not doing the ironing! I decided to have a coffee break and I’ve been distracted. Doesn’t take much to distract me from ironing.

Just looking back at my last post and the picture of the bird feeder, I notice how the buds were tight on the magnolia tree. Well, they are in full bloom now. Spring is really here.The smell from these blossoms is amazing.sdr

Louise has been to visit for a week. We were lucky enough to be able to stay with some friends in the Midi Pyrenees region. It was a bit of a drive, but we had a lovely time. I picked her up in Toulouse, (slight error in timing!!), we had lunch at a great vegetarian cafe. The weather wasn’t great, so I didn’t really get to see the town. The house we stayed at was huge and quite something. If you’d like to rent it out in the Summer, it’s let at about 5000€ a week. The weather picked up and we were out and about – vide grenier at Carbonne, grotte at La Maz D’Azil, mooch around Foix and Pamiers. Diversion to Cahors on the way back to Eymoutiers. I really like Cahors, this was my second visit there. I’m aiming to go back and spend more time there in the future. Definitely one of my favourite places.

 

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Meanwhile……….. back at the ranch, I went down with a cold (thanks Louise), which rather curtailed any more meaningful activities. Managed a couple of walks into town.

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The garden here is beginning to take shape, mostly due to the fact that I’ve recently enlisted the help of a friend. Gardening is just too much for me on top of the house and renovation. Over the past few weeks the grass has had its first cut, front beds have been well weeded and a few new plants put in. Our main task at the moment is to create and plant a border in front of the wall near the gate. I have been collecting a few cuttings and bought some plants at a nursery. Hopefully there will be some colour later int he year, although it will take some time of things to get established. Another small, but important job that I couldn’t do, has been completed on the old pergola at the bottom of the garden. There were some dangerous decorative iron spikes on the frame (Owen Young mind your head. Ouch – too late!), these have now been removed. I now need to start planning what to do with the structure.

There have been tortoise activities! A lady in the town asked me last year if my tortoise was male,(yes), as she had a female that laid eggs in the Summer. He (Marigold, that is now renamed Barrygold), went out on stud loan for a morning. However, no interest was shown. Personally, I think she was too optimistic to think they would pair up in such a short space of time, but maybe another go in the near future will bring dividends.

Oh well…….. back to the office  i.e. the ironing board.