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.

Amber

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).

birdcam

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, glorious food – Oliver

8.3.19 – 28.3.19

The decorating in the utility room is well underway. It’s not a big room, but it’s very high. I painted the woodwork some time ago and there’s quite a lot of it: 4 cupboard doors that go from floor to ceiling (over 3m), 2 room doors, window frame and under window panels, radiator and skirting boards. I asked a friend if he could paint the ceiling, which he did, as ceilings are a bit of a killer job for me. To date, I’ve put on a couple of pieces of wallpaper, very fiddly around the sink and electric meter boxes. Anyway, a little at a time will be the plan for this room.

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I was lucky enough to be given eggs – 2 large trays of them (duck eggs and hens eggs). Feeling industrious, I set to work. My thoughts were to stock up the freezer, (which had to be defrosted and sorted first. So much left over accumulated food that had loitered at the bottom of the drawers, needed to be thrown!) This is what I made: Baileys ice cream, caramel ice cream, chocolate meringues, pavlova meringues, quiches, Bakewell tart, fatless sponge and lemon drizzle cake. Very satisfying! Ice cream has almost gone.

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For some time now, I have been trying to get a group of friends together for supper. Finally we found a date that we could all do and my group grew in numbers to 10! It was a bit cosy round the table! No hitches with the menu, maybe I was a bit slow getting food on the table between courses, but that was sheer volume rather than not being prepared. It’s one of my pleasures to feed people. Plenty of bottles to dispose of at the recycling bins the next day!

Owen bought me a bird feeder for my birthday. Watching the birds on it has been lovely; the rate at which they devour the food is incredible. It’s almost like watching an egg-timer empty. Nuthatches are frequent visitors, along with blue tits, great tits, bull finches and sparrows.sdr

Shaggy dog story: guests turned up with a dog (even though my website and advertising clearly states No Pets). Actually I’m not sure how many brain cells these people had between them. They didn’t seem to know they where they had booked B&B. And I mean which town they had booked in, not the street address or place name. Very odd. I’m usually pretty laid back and sometimes people ASK if it’s ok the bring a dog, to which I have always said yes. But these people never mentioned the dog either before or when they arrived. And to cap it all, I discovered the next day, that had fed it using my cups and saucers in the room. Bl***y hell. I wasn’t happy.

My car has had it’s first ‘MOT’ (here it is called Control Technique). I had it serviced the day before the test, only to be told it needed new brake pads and discs, so another expense, but it had to be done. The upside is that the CT lasts for 2 years and there’s no road tax here either. A nice surprise with the servicing – car was washed and valeted (although the boot still has grass cutting stuck tot the lining!). Mustn’t complain, it probably took them longer to clean it than do the brakes!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!!

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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:

https://www.newsclassicracing.com/14e-Rallye-de-la-Porcelaine

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:

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After

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Before

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).