It’s Raining Men (well…. soggy cats) – The Weather Girls


24.2.19 – 7.3.19

Here’s the scene: just before midnight, in bed reading a book, no guests, peace and quiet. Cat (Colin) jumps on the bed, I put my had out to stroke him and realise he’s wet. “Oh”, thinks me, “It must be raining”. But it’s not. Colin was absolutely sodden. I can only guess he must have fallen in a body of water somewhere. The fishing lake up the road (I know he wanders up there, people have seen him), a garden pond (there’s one nearby, you can hear the water fountain), the river at the bottom of my neighbour’s garden, a water but….???? Who knows. I grabbed a towel, took him into the bathroom, turned up the towel rail heater and sat and dried him off. He was actually in shock, I could feel him trembling. At this point I envisaged a midnight dash to the vet, half wondering/worrying that it could be some chemical. Half an hour later he was dry enough to pick up and hug, so he slept cuddled next to me all night. He spent the next day just sleeping on the sofa in front of the fire. The day after this he was back to normal!!  What an episode.


The beautiful warm weather has come to an end. It’s more like the norm now. In fact we had a huge storm two nights ago – gales, thunder, lightning, hail and rain. My power went off (strange system trip, but it’s ok now). The tortoises are out of hibernation and have a couple of days in the garden, but I’ve brought them in as it’s not so warm. If any of my UK friends, who are still in touch with Sarah and Nigel from school, please can you tell them that Freddie the tortoise is still going strong!!


Top tortoise = Marigold (or possibly Barrygold!) Lower tortoise = Freddie

There’s a government scheme running in France, whereby your house can be insulated for 1€. Having made 3 attempts to find a company that can do my cellar, I have finally found one. I wish I’d investigated this scheme earlier, as I could have saved myself several hundreds of £’s when I had my loft done. Oh well, hindsight and all that.  Grrr. The problem with the cellar ceiling is the fact that it is vaulted brick. The insulation is being installed as I type; the silver foil sheeting stuff is being studded into the brick. Let’s hope it makes a difference!

Not much else going on …. planning for decorating and garden main projects!

Coming up in April:


Starting Over ~ John Lennon

31.1.19 – 22.2.19

Really? Three weeks since I wrote my last blog. Doesn’t feel like it; on the other hand I can’t remember what I’ve done!!

The light on my car’s dashboard turned out to be related to a slow puncture. A very expensive slow puncture. Here garages won’t replace one tyre, they always do the pair, not a bad thing really. But bearing in mind that my car will be coming up for its first CT (MOT equivalent) next month, I knew the front tyres were on low tread so they had to be done too. My bank account said ouch.

The change in the weather is unbelievable. Considering I was posting about the snow last time, I can’t believe I’m saying it’s almost 20 degrees. I bet we pay for it later! However, I have been inspired to do a little gardening. At the bottom corner of my garden there is a mount of earth piled up against the wall; it’s full of bricks, mortar, wires, roots, brambles etc I’ve cleared it as best as possible and I’m going to turn it into a little wild flower corner for bees and butterflies.

Talking of clearing, I’m also (still in the process) clearing the cellar. It’s partly done, but one room has remained untouched since I moved in. Obviously it’s the worst room, yuk, yuk, yuk. The floor is covered with about a hundred kilner jars, some shelves have jars with manky, green and black preserves in them (must be 30 years old): look like pickled brains. Absolutely disgusting. However, I braved it, Gloves on, sweeping brush, loads of heavy duty bags and cats running around like it was some mega adventure. It’s mostly done now. A couple of shelving units to smash up and the full bags to take to the tip. Another couple of mornings work and hopefully the rest of the cellar can be done too.

My sofa is done! It’s back! When I first moved in, I discovered an old sofa in the attic. It was covered in a throw over made from ticking type fabric. It’s always been on the agenda to have it reupholstered and use it as it was such a beautiful piece. I managed to find a local person to do the job and the result is fabulous. I love it. It wan’t easy as once stripped down a break was discovered in the frame; now repaired and 10kg of new stuffing, new webbing, 12m of upholstery tacks and goodness knows how many hours of work later etc etc, here it is:

sofa 1




Charlotte, my very talented upholsterer told me it was a piece of furniture from Napoleon lll (about 1860) and that she was the first person to work on it since it was made. Everything was original, untouched, from that time. Amazing.

Another small project….. turning old decking squares into planters. Just need to work out how I’m going to fill them and where they’re going to go.tubs

Inspired to go for a walk around the lake at Chateauneuf La Foret.

And now, delightfully (NOT), going to the dentist for final crown fitting (oh and another big payout).

























Drive ~ The Cars

7.1.19 – 30.1.19

OK, so I’ve had enough of the snow and cold now. Go away Winter. Having said that, I don’t think it’s been quite as cold as it was last year (I hope I’m not speaking too soon).


Not a huge amount happening here. A few indoor jobs (the garden is impossible). Pressing on with the utility room. I’ve used up a few left over tiles around the sink and painted the woodwork, of which there is quite a lot: window frame and under panel, 4 cupboard doors which go from floor to ceiling at approx  +3m each, 2 doors, door frames and skirting boards. I’ve also up-cycled the bookcase/shelf unit. Hopefully the wallpaper will arrive in the next few days. I had enough blind fabric left over from the kitchen to make a matching blind, so the same colour scheme will continue from kitchen through to the utility. The kitchen blind turned out to be a bit of a nightmare (sorry Wendy), but I’ve eventually pulled something together (no pun intended).


Poor Sydney had to go to the vet a few days ago. I don’t really know what happened, but he seemed to have either scraped all the fur off the inside of his back leg, or had some kind of allergy which caused fur loss and made it look red raw. Thankfully he didn’t seem too bothered by it and getting antibiotic pills down him has been easy. Putting the cream was a different matter! Anyway, much better now. The cats are bored in the house as they don’t want to go out in the cold. My sofas seem to be used as trampolines as they ping round the room.

This morning I walked into town and posted my application for a French driving licence. Prior to this I realised I needed to get some passport photos for the licence, so I headed to the booth in the supermarket. As it was cold, I togged up with scarf, gloves. extra jumper etc etc. all of which had to come off before I sat on the spinning stool. I listened to all of the instructions in French, fiddled with my hair, sat up straight and put my money in (5€ note)  – and the stupid machine spat it out. After 6 or so attempts I gave up, got “dressed” again and went to the the check out and get coins.

Apparently it takes about 6 to 8 months to process (and probably with the avalanche of Brexit people in the queue, maybe longer! I intend to apply for my carte de sejour next. Watch this space but don’t hold your breath!

I had a slight panic the other day when some odd warning light appeared on my dashboard. I thought it might be brake pad renewal or service prompt, but it seems it’s tyre pressure. I wondered if the cold had caused it. I’ll have to visit the air pump at the local station and top up; as I don’t drive anywhere, I don’t suppose much will happen in the next day or so.




























Happy New Year – Abba

13.12.18 – 6.1.19


Up and running, back to normal (whatever “normal” is).

I had a very pleasant Christmas shared with friends. Lots of invitations out and lovely food provided. In fact, I don’t think I actually cooked anything for myself for 5 days! I missed not having Louise and Owen with me, but hopefully it won’t be long before meeting up again.

The fore-mentioned blind for the kitchen is now finished, the next thing is to find someone who can fix a batten to the granite walls, 3+ metres up a ladder. If it’s all successful, I MAY make a matching one for the utility room. This is my current renovation. The walls were stripped some time ago and I’ve been batting around a few ideas in my head as to what to do in there. First I thought I would completely change things round, but wiring won’t let me do that and it’s not worth spending money on. The plan is to renovate as cheaply as possible. I remembered I had tiles and worktop left over from the kitchen, so I’m planning to use them. White paint ( from the UK!!!!!!) goes a long way in refreshing old woodwork. I think a new piece of skirting board will have to go in where the old one has rotted due to a leak in the washing machine before I arrived here). Having once thought I’d remove the old sink, I changed my mind and spent an evening cleaning it up (spurred on by the most boring night on TV).

Hopefully in the next day or so, I will have my new phone set up. I bought a dual SIM phone before Christmas but have had difficulty getting the SIMs organized. My old SIM seems to have imploded! But having contacted Tesco mobile, they are sending me a new one pre-loaded with my old number so I don’t have to tell everyone it’s changed. The main problem is that the old SIM has disassociated my contact names form their numbers, so I just have a list of numbers. So, if you don’t hear from me in a while, it’s probably because I haven’t been able to identify your number!

Just before we went on holiday in October, I had to have a broken tooth fixed. I was suffering with a nagging pain in my lower right jaw. The repaired tooth however, didn’t solve the problem. I thought it would settle down, but over Christmas it worsened. I managed to make an appointment with my dentist, who discovered that the pain was from the tooth behind the previously repaired one. After some VERY painful work, a temporary fix was made. It has taken over a week to settle and I suddenly noticed that there was no pain. Eventually it will be crowned (another expense): not out of the woods yet.

































A Winter’s Tale – David Essex

16.11.18 – 12.12.18

As mentioned at the end of my last blog, the garden work has happened. It’s been a long time coming! I’d always planned to take out the dead conifer hedge in the front garden. (The property is enclosed by walls, mostly about 10′ high, although some are higher). The wall in the front garden, for some strange reason, had had a conifer hedge planted in front of it. I hate conifer hedges with a vengeance. This hedge, like so many conifers, had died and because of years of neglect; brambles had grown through it, tree saplings had set themselves and grown to well over 12′, the azaleas had toppled and grown horizontally and masses of ivy had grown up the wall. So – Operation Digger! It only took one day the dig out the roots and pull up the old shrubs. Also, (thankfully) the hole where a rotted tree root (felled many, many years ago), has been filled in and I no longer have to fall in it when tortoise hunting! Since Operation Digger, my gardening lady, Sue, has cleared 95% of the ivy off the walls and I can begin to see a blank canvass. I’ve not really any idea of what to do with it all yet, but I think priority will be a new path. Also in the front garden is an old, de-funct air heat pump. This also has to be removed, but it’s not going to be cheap as only a specialist can do the job – there are refrigerant chemicals in the works. Just another 500€ at some point in the future.


I’ve been back to the UK. It was Owen’s birthday and I needed to see my Dad. I spent a couple of days sorting out my Dad’s spare room which had become a dumping ground for redundant equipment and deliveries of essential supplies. There are things in there that are no longer used and should go back to the NHS but apparently it cheaper not to have them back because they need cleaning and sterilizing. No wonder the NHS is losing money. I’m sure there’s a niche in the market there for someone to develop a business. What a waste. I also updated his clothes, bedding, PJ’s towels etc etc.  He seemed as well as could be expected, but it’s hard seeing him weaker and so tired.

I managed to catch up with one or two people; a good excuse for coffee and a meal out!

Louise managed a day off work on December 7th (Owen’s birthday) and he drove up to Grantham to celebrate his day. Because of train times and journey times we were slightly limited as to what we could do, but nevertheless it was a lovely day. Another nice meal out in the evening.

Travel was a bit overshadowed by the gilet-jeune protesters. I added extra time into my journey, knowing some people had been stuck in blockades near the airport. I wasn’t affected, but it was early morning for the outbound flight and the protesters were around but the roads were open Similarly on the way back, as soon as we landed someone said the A20 was disrupted, so I diverted through Limoges and avoided the problem.

I’ve bought a new phone. Dual SIM. Haven’t got it set up yet, as the new SIM issue is taking a little sorting out. And actually, even when I have them, I won’t have a clue how to do the set up. It’s probably going to be a long and painful Skype! Hopefully I will keep my old number. Current phone is on it’s way out (actually, it’s been on it’s way out for some time now).

In an attempt to reduce heat loss through my single glazed kitchen doors, I’m making a blind. I’m not at the end stage yet. The difficulty is going to be fixing a batten to the ceiling/walls (granite). Not at that stage yet – I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. My little helper has been sticking her paws in…….

Christmas plans have changed. I was hoping Louise and Owen would be here together, but travel costs are too high. So I’m not feeling very festive – don’t think I’ll bother with decorations this year. Feeling a bit Bah humbug.


















Autumn Leaves – Eva Cassidy

22.10.18 – 15.11.18

Autumn begins. The tortoise hunt begins. Please can someone invent a ‘where is the tortoise in the garden?’ tracking device? As we had snow one evening, about two weeks ago, I thought I should get the tortoises in and start their hibernation procedure. Surprisingly, I found Marigold first (possibly changing the name to Barry-gold, as we now think it’s a he!). The other one, Freddie, was no-where to be seen. The golden brown falling Autumn leaves, perfectly match her shell colour. My garden is about one-third of an acre, and I pretty much know where to look for them. They are creatures of habit. However, over a week, and probably more than 8 hours of searching, I couldn’t find her. A friend even came to help and I asked someone else to lend me an extra pair of eyes too. After desperately raking the leaves out from under the hedge, my back was aching, so I changed tact and walked round the front garden again. Guess what? I’d probably walked past her several times before, but she’d turned round in her hole and was moving to face outwards. If at first you don’t succeed………..  can you spot her in the picture?

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A family of 6 (older members, no children), booked in so they could visit the accordion festival at a nearby town. ( The event was held over a long weekend of four days. My guests told me they would be back late/early morning, which they were for the first couple of nights. Not a problem; I always hear people come in late and then get up and put the lights out. The late timing (2.45 a.m.) was quite remarkable given that Grandpa, was actually 97 years old!! He even made it into one of the local papers! Lovely people, although I couldn’t understand their accent!!!


The weather is now beautiful. The colours on the tress are amazing, despite some gales on a couple of nights, the leaves have remained attached. This is the view from one of my attic windows.

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Nothing worse than receiving an official letter, telling you that if you don’t comply, you are subject to fines and imprisonment. So I summoned my courage and phoned, only to be told it didn’t apply to me. What a waste of postage. Twice. Blame Brexit.

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Major garden work starting soon……… watch this space.

Life Is A Roller – Coaster – Roland Keating

20.9.18 – 21.10.18

The last few weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster.


Sad times. There’s a Jaffa shaped hole in my life. My beautiful, old, companion died. He was 21 years old. He was also the little friend who was always there, regardless of ups and downs (and there’s been a lot of those). I loved him to bits and will miss him more than anyone can imagine.

On the nicer side of life: I’ve actually had a holiday. Part one, was a short visit to see a friend in the south of France. Completely different scenery, architecture and dramatic mountains. Bit of a drive, I’m pretty certain GPS took a longer route than needed, but we (Owen and I), enjoyed the trip. En route home we crossed the spectacular Millau bridge.


Part 2 was a week in Cyprus. Doing nothing. Sat in the sun and read a lot! Also won the hotel Bingo – ha ha! Never played before and won 80€ (meal out treat).


Part 3: spent a day in London with Louise. Lovely to see her flat and where she lives. Bit manic though – I must be getting old. Anyway, did some shopping, went to Greenwich, had our nails done etc etc.

Some of you may have read on Face Book that I have had special visitors in recent days. The 3 great grandsons of the original people who built and owned my house, came to stay. It was the first time they had been together here for 60 years. It was quite emotional for them and special for me to host them too. We talked a lot about the house and I have learnt many things about the property and how it was used (e.g. the current utility room was actually the main kitchen, which makes no sense at all!)B fam 1

I’m falling apart. My tooth had to be fixed (not great to go on holiday with a temporary filling which partly disintegrated). Also, finally had a large synovial cyst removed from my right foot. This didn’t quite go to plan either: the Dr couldn’t get the needle in to do the proposed spinal nerve block (‘local anesthetic’), so ended up having a general anesthetic and staying in overnight. My back hurt more than the main op! A few days of dressing changes by the local nurse should do the trick now.

Owen has returned to Suffolk for the time being. So extra quiet in the house now.


A bientot! Going to miss you being around xx