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















































The Ugly Bug Ball – Disney

1.9.18 – 19.9.18

Well I guess I should get this blog done sooner rather than later, as the next three weeks are going to be out of the loop. In fact, I hadn’t realised it had been three weeks since the last blog, I thought it was two. Time flies! Question is – can I remember what I’ve done in the last three weeks???! Probably not.

The mower problem wasn’t the tyres (as such) more the inner tube. This has now been fixed and the mower has gone to the local garden machinery shop for a service. Anyone want to buy two brand new tyres for a mower or go-cart?

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Visitors have included exotic animals, friends, family and a Workaway guy. Lovely to have them all here and also I’ve greatly appreciated extra pairs of hands. My scrubby garden is now cleared and looks a million times better (thanks Rhoddri). Ideally I think it should be rotivated next, but that is beyond my ability. The plan is just to grass seed it so all that has to be done is mowing. The big laurel hedge at the front of the house has also been cut and the view of the town is vastly improved!

A couple of surprise visitors  …..


Praying Mantis



It seems people still think my house is on the market. There is still a very old ad circulating online; goodness knows how old it is. I’m not selling! But it’s interesting to think people would want it. Should I say name your price?? Ha ha.

Loads more jam in the cupboard – peach this time. The peaches were windfalls and I’m not too sure how good the jam is, time will tell. I made peach, spiced peach and peach and vanilla. I also made watermelon jelly. I spotted some seedless watermelons in the supermarket; I don’t normally like watermelons because of the seeds, so I thought I’d give it a go. I’ve decided that I still don’t like watermelon – it’s obviously not the seeds that are the issue, it’s the taste! Anyway, rather than waste it, I looked up a million and one things to do with watermelon and tried the jelly. It’s quite fragrant and light. I’ll give it to some guests next breakfast and get their opinion. I might make some peach chutney, but I’m running out of time now before holiday. I’m also hoping to make green tomato chutney, maybe tomorrow if I can fit it in.

I attempted to pay my Tax Fonciere online this week – only to find a request for a sum of money for a person I’d never heard of in my personal space/online payment. Same surname, but he lived in the Charante region. So it was a trip to the Maire’s office; I spoke to two very nice ladies, but they had no idea why this other person was o my account either! They told me to call back next day, which I did, to find they’d enlisted the help of another person to solve the problem. After various checking and searching ID’s/spouses/names/dates of birth etc etc we’re hoping the problem is solved. Watch this space. (I wouldn’t object to paying the other guy’s TF if he pays mine – his was about a quarter of mine!).



























Let Me Sleep – Texas

19.8.18 – 30.8.18

Well the last two weeks of the main Summer season have gone with gusto. I thought last year was busy, but this year has surpassed that. I have just about managed to tread water and keep myself organized with food, washing and cleaning. In fact,this week has been quieter and I have actually managed to clean my own bedroom and the rest of the house. Catch up energy time. Friends and family arriving next!

For a little while now, I have been frustrated with some pretty pillow cases that match a Kath Kidston duvet cover I bought some time ago. The pillow cases were so badly made, they were skimped and twisted, I couldn’t even iron them flat. So I decided to dismantle them and re-vamp them using some other material that I have. The first trial didn’t go too well but the second one worked and I’m quite pleased with the result. No more squiffy pillow cases. I might even make another pair.

I’ve had a bit of a disaster with my ride-on lawn mower sale. I decided to re-advertise in a different place – the local supermarket. And someone phoned me. They came to look at it and said straight away that they would have it. As it had stood on the garage and not been used the tyres were very flat, but as I had a foot pump I said I could fix them. When it came to the day for collection, I realised that the tyres were so flat, they’d perished and split and couldn’t be inflated. I tried to phone the guy and explain but he still said they’d come and get it. I couldn’t put him off. But of course, they couldn’t move the mower, it was too heavy and after a lot of pushing a shoving and trying to put in/out of gear with/without the brake on, they gave up. Neither could I start the engine. I felt such a fraud. after they left, I borrowed a battery charger, but 24 hrs later, it still wouldn’t start. At which point, I put some petrol in the tank and solved the problem! The wheel problem wasn’t helped by the fact that the local repair man in town was on holiday for 3 weeks. However, I now have two new tyres, purchased on ebay and efficiently delivered, ready to be put on. I offered the guy his deposit back, but he still wants the mower. Hopefully it will be sorted this week! (and while all this was going on I managed a double booking – arghhh. Fortunately problem solved pretty quickly).


The steam train made its final run of the Summer last week. Made me feel quite sad.

Not mentioned before, but I had a big issue with a couple of American guests earlier this Summer. They made a considerable booking some weeks before they were arriving; a booking that was financially excellent business for me. However, they only stayed one night and she said she couldn’t sleep on the memory foam mattress and that they were leaving. Which is what they did. OK, so everyone is entitled not to like something, I’m philosophic about that. The issue came with the booking company, who admitted to making a mistake on the cancellation policy and instead of charging the required 350€ from the guest, they didn’t and then said they were going to pay me 150€. I don’t think so booking dot whatyourname. After several phone calls and emails, it looks like I’m going to get the agreed refund. I’ll report when it arrives – watch this space.

Last but not least – I’ve booked a holiday. First one for over 10 years.














































Oh, What A Night – The Four Seasons

29.7.18 – 17.8.18

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It’s an early morning start today – a guest needed to be on the road as they have a long drive back to the UK; so up at 6.30 a.m. Everyone else is still sleeping. However, August has been its usual extremely busy month. The town has held a ‘festival’ this year – first one since I’ve been here. Festivals are common in French villages throughout the Summer. Eymoutiers seems to have finally caught up with the tradition. And with quite a launch! A large red and white tent was erected on the market square last weekend and this held most of the main events; other events were in the art centre etc. It seemed popular and one of my guests was the mother of a soprano singer who was part of the festival. It was good for the town, it brought in many tourists. For me, the downside was the lack of sleep for 4 nights, as the last event of the day started at 11 p.m. and involved very loud music until at least midnight – 3 a.m. on the last night.


Current state………..

When I moved into La Belle Maison, one of my finds in the attic was a very old sofa. It was covered in some manky loose cover, which, on removal, revealed an antique piece of furniture. Albeit, in need of restoration. Some time ago, one of my guests, who was an antique dealer, said she thought it looked in good condition and probably only needed re-covering, rather than stripping back and re-stuffing etc. Finally, I have found someone local who can do the job for me. As I plan to use the sofa in my dining room (next decorating job!), I’m going to have it done. Need to get my head around colour schemes now.

I took Owen to a Marche de Producteurs a few days ago, These events run in villages throughout the Summer. They are mainly social events, there is no British equivalent to compare them to really. People go along to the village, which will have set up trestle tables and benches under big awnings. You join the extensive queue, buy some meat (well, the carnivores do), take it to the BBQ area where it is cooked for you. Everyone sits down, with their bottles of wine, bread etc and eats together. Often there is music – French accordion is very typical. It’s good fun. Owen enjoyed it; we were invited back for coffee. It was a great evening – enhanced by the fabulous weather.

I’ve been trying to track down some typically French gypsy jazz (??) type music. I’m not having much luck, as I’m not sure of the genre and I certainly don’t know the names of musicians that I can reference to. At the moment, I’ve ordered a cd of the soundtrack of the film ‘Chocolat’* It’s not exactly what I want, but a few of the tracks do fit the bill. *One day I intend to visit Flavigny -sur-Ozerain, the location where the film was made.

Have a listen….. (hope the link works)

Oldie cat Jaffa has been poorly. I’ve had him to the vet’s a couple of times in the last 8 weeks. The problem is not so much his thyroid, but his teeth. His teeth and gums are in a bad condition and he can’t eat at times, he’s in so much pain he won’t look at food. And with his condition, the one thing he needs to do is eat. I thought the vet might say there wasn’t anything he could do and we’d have to make a decision. (There’s no way Jaffa could withstand an anesthetic at his grand old age – almost 21). However, the cocktail of antibiotics and anti inflammatory worked and he’s picked up on both occasions.

I’m thinking back to a year ago: my party! It was such FUN! So many friends, terrific band (The Honky Tonk Men) and,as far as Owen was concerned – plenty of profiteroles!

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Bon appetite!



Congratulations – Cliff Richard

12.7.18 – 28.7.18

It’s so hard to work in this heat! As in the UK, temperatures here have been top 20’s/30’s over the last couple of weeks. I resorted to to doing my ironing at 10 p.m. with the fan directly on me. It was quite refreshing actually, I got piles done. Literally.

Louise’s flatmate, Helena came to stay for a few days, on a Workaway basis. It was great – we even managed to strip the wallpaper in the utility room (or rather Helena did) AND she re-organised and tidied everything. Nice brown paint underneath. Not. The utility room in my house is always the most untidy room – the place when everything gets deposited. Hopefully now I can plan ahead a bit and decide what I’m going to do with it; I’m thinking maybe an office/study.

We made the effort to go to a couple of places in the evenings. Owen took some great pictures of the sunset at the top of Mount Gargan. One of my favourite places. 


The weekend of July 13 – 15th, was a very hot, busy and noisy weekend. On Friday 13th the town put on a concert, a tribute act to the late French rock star, Jonny Halliday. (Probably the French equivalent to Cliff Richard). I think it took longer for the sound check than the actual performance. If he said un, deux, ehhhhh once and sang about 4 bars of a song once, he must have done it about fifty times. Hilarious.


Saturday 14th July was of course, Bastille Day, with all the usual events – huge vide grenier (car boot) throughout the town all day, music, bar and fireworks in the evening.


And Sunday ……….. World cup football final. We watched it on a big screen in the grounds of a nearby hotel. (Well watched is a bit of an exaggeration, I couldn’t actually see anything because the sun was too bright). It was a good atmosphere. Celebrations – music, singing, air horns, car horns etc going on until at least 3 a.m. I was well in bed by then, trying to sleep.I guess there were a few hangovers in the morning! Allez Les Bleus!

I’ve discovered a new place to eat in Chateauneuf La Foret. It’s a place I’ve been meaning to go to for a while, so finally went with a friend the other weekend. Not knowing the set up there, we sat waiting in the shop part, wondering where everybody else was – turned out we were supposed to go through the shop and kitchen to the court yard behind! Anyway, great meal and pretty set up. Will definitely be going there again.

More jam – this time damson. Just picked up the windfalls and made 3 big jars. The tree is laden, so there’s going to be plenty this year.


New website – Owen’s re-vamped things. (Still got a bit of tweaking to do, but it’s much fresher now). Good work O!

WOO HOO – EXCITING NEWS!!  How did I forget this big piece of news??  (probably because I wrote the blog at gone midnight last night!).  La Belle Maison has a mention in a travel book!) German guests booked because of it! The translation goes along the lines of…  “the name of the guest house speaks for itself, it’s really wonderful. The same can be said of the guest rooms, one is very chic the other is grand and noble with antique and detailed furniture.”




Jammin’ – Bob Marley

17.6.19 – 11.7.18

Yet again, I am behind with this blog. I’ve been thinking about writing it, but sadly lacked motivation. However, motivation came to the front door yesterday. I was watching Wimbledon (about 4 p.m.) when the doorbell rang. It was an English man, whose opening words were ” My name is Mike, we come to Eymoutiers often and stay at the same place. I hope you don’t mind me dropping by to say hello,  but I read your blog on a regular basis.” Fame!! Ha ha!! So we sat out on the terrace and had a cup of tea. So here I am, back writing with a bit more vigor!

My oldie cat Jaffa, was really worrying me a couple of weeks ago. He was refusing to eat and was obviously in pain with his mouth and teeth, and when you’re a thyroid patient, eating is an important function. With some trepidation, I took him to the vet. He said that Jaffa’s tongue was inflamed and that his gums were too. He gave him an injection of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds to last a course of 10 days. And they certainly worked! He was a much improved cat within 24 hours, eating lots and much more active. So he lives to fight another day.

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The weather is now much more settled, but we have had impressive thunderstorms and downpours. Unfortunately, my timing at missing them wasn’t great. I had been given the opportunity to pick blackcurrants and redcurrants in a garden nearby and, of course, within 2 minutes of me starting the job, the heavens opened. I got soaked. The little footpath turned into Niagara Falls, my feet were squelching through the undergrowth. Anyway, I eventually managed to pick a good amount and have subsequently made several jars of jam and jelly. Delicious. Hope my guests like it.

There’s been some updating in one of the guest rooms. New, bigger beds. Owen and I spent a morning putting them together. They’re pretty solid and look perfect in the room.


Even if Owen hadn’t had the TV on following the World Cup, it would have been difficult NOT to have known when France were scoring. La Belle Maison sits over-looking the town and noise travels up here. So, when the France match wass on at the local bar with the big TV and the goals were scored – we could hear the shouts! After the semi-final win, the music, air-horns, car horns and cheering went on for ages. Goodness knows what it will be like if they win!

Some lovely butterflies and hundreds of bumble bees on the lavender here.




























Airport – The Motors

31.5.18 – 16.6.18

My bedroom floor is finally FINISHED!!!!!!!!!  Last coat of oil went on a couple of days ago. It’s only taken 18 months from start to finish – ha!ha! I won’t be doing that again in a hurry – lost the will to live! Anyway, I am pleased with the result; just need to buy a couple of rugs to complete the job. I found very nice bedroom chair at the local brocante and bought it for 25€. I aim to re-cover it but it’s in pretty good condition. I’ll have to work out how to detach and then re-attach the stud buttons through the back cushion.

Talking of bargains – I went to a local church charity sale last week. How about this for 10€? Not Le Cruset, but brand new and extremely heavy.

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Also picked up some small glass tankards, a couple of pieces of Limoges porcelain, and a mirror. I went with a friend – she also picked up lots of bargains. What was nice about this event was that all items were clean and well presented. Lovely people too.

Jolly old Ryanair and French Air Traffic Control are having a few flings at the moment. Nick and Wendy were supposed to be staying for a few days, but ATC have put a stop to that. I really disappointed, especially as the haven’t been for over two years and the weather is on the up. I’d planned a few things: places to go, the funfair is in town and I was hoping to have a BBQ. On the theme of flights and cancellations, I had a phone call from some friends whose delayed flight meant they couldn’t pick up the hire car – could I collect them from the airport so they could stay here for the night and pick up the car the next morning? Of course – yes! However, it turned out that the hire car office was still open and they were able to have the car. They still came to stay for the night though; it was good to catch up. Also, on the same day, another guest arrived back at Limoges airport and her flight had been cancelled, so she returned for two more nights! My room change-overs were in overdrive! Good fun though.

SNCF (railways) are also striking. I noticed the other day that the steam train run later this month is cancelled because of it. What a shame.

I’m still trying to solve my garden path problem. I’ve re-vamped my temporary fix. It’s still not brilliant, but looks better. The front flower beds are looking pretty but there’s are real problem with slugs. They’re devouring everything. I’ve replaced the salvias in my pots because they’ve stripped them. The only things that seems slug resistant are geraniums. I can’t/won’t use slug pellets and I’m trying egg-shells and coffee grains. Any suggestions of  slug resistant plants that are good in pots, gratefully received.  (Going for a red & white theme).