Animal Magic – who remembers Johnny Morris?

20.4.21 – 16.6.21

Long time, no blog. Lack of motivation. Sorry readers.

I’m sure there’s lots happened over the last few weeks but my brain is a bit stagnant – must be the heat. The weather has been erratic to say the least but seems to have settled recently. Rain and warmth mean the ‘grass’ (if you can call it that) has grown at a rate of knots. I can only manage to cut it a section at a time but as long as it looks tidy-ish then I can live with it. The path is finally complete. I was keen to get it done before the return of guests. I’ve discovered that an added bonus is its use as an early warning system. I can hear footsteps crunching through the gravel when people are arriving! Funny thing – cats aren’t too happy walking on gravel and Asterix often chooses to walk on the edging stones instead.

I’ve also added a PIR solar light by the gate to avoid having to leave outdoor lighting on all night when guests are coming back in the early hours after wedding parties etc. At this point I should also add that it works well when you are out in your nightie looking for your missing cat at 3.30 am. Good job no-one can see me.

My visitor feral cat Rudi appeared with a very bad limp the other day. He’s tame enough to stroke and I managed to lure him with food, snaffle him up and zipped straight to the vets. He was actually a good boy in the car, much better than I expected. It wasn’t possible to give him a thorough examination but the conclusion was he’d been fighting. Anti-inflammatory jab administered and I was given follow up meds too. However, this has proved difficult to maintain as he’s not been back for food on a regular basis and when he did, I didn’t think he was much better. Poor little soul. Thankfully last night he was limping less and stretch out his poorly leg for washing. The plan is to get him neutered. I spoke to the vet about this and when he has recovered I’ll try and get him back to the practice. I think there is a special rate for feral cats and so far the consultation and medicines has been very reasonable.

Still on the animal theme………….. night visitor! Owen bought me a night-viz camera for Christmas and it’s taken me a long time to get it up and running. After many failed attempts to catch something on camera – I did!! I was quite shocked at what it was. I’m not 100% even now; there’s seems to be a divided opinion between a pine marten and polecat. He or she has not been often (maybe 3 times), is always on their own and flits through the garden in a few seconds. I am slightly worried about my tortoises, but they are away from his routeway. Then, to top it all, I actually saw it in daylight as it ran down the tree. It was far bigger than I imagined (maybe 70 – 80 cm) and the most beautiful dark red/brown colour. But again, gone in a flash.

So I am open again for B&B. Not many guests, but I’m sure they will come. Some returning guest and some travelled from the other side of the country. As 90% of my guests are French, the travel restrictions won’t really affect me. I hope!

Plans are a-foot!! I’m involved on the periphery with a local charity shop. It’s the Hope charity for animals. I’ve baked and volunteered at a couple of events and have been thinking that it could be advantageous to use the central location of my house to hold an event here. Just to keep it simple (ha ha) I’ve suggested a traditional Cream Teas afternoon. Lots of scones, vintage tea services, bunting and bistro tables with waitress service (maybe). Having now floated this idea with other volunteers, plans are moving up a gear. I mentioned this to my French neighbour last night and he looked disappointingly down his nose and said ‘Only for one day?’ Well, yes, just as a first foray into the unknown!!

Watch this space.

The Great Escape – Film theme

15.3.21 – 19.4.21

Just reading back on my last blog, I mentioned about the tortoises being up and plodding round the garden. I can now add to that and tell you one escaped. Generally, I mentally clock when and where I see them in the garden; they have their favourite spots and hideaways and in some ways are creatures of habit. However, a few days ago, when we had a very cold snap, I realised I hadn’t seen Harry-gold,  (formerly known as Marigold – we discovered it’s a male), for a2 or 3 days. Going round and round the garden searching proved fruitless. The difficult gate could have been left open but I usually know when that happens and watch it constantly. To my knowledge it had been shut. In fact, I had recently posted a note on the letterbox for the post lady requesting it was shut as she had been the person who had left it open in the past. The result was she slammed it shut so tightly, it took 10 minutes to open again! (Update: fixing gate is work in progress). So I could only conclude that he had escaped during the 10 minutes it was open for the delivery of a new cellar staircase’ which I oversaw and closed the gate after. I enlisted help to search and after a walk up and down the street I asked a neighbour if she had seen him. Whilst we were talking, another neioghbour told me the person alongside the Chemin had got him. He’d told her there was a tortoise walking down the road as he got in his van and she went and picked him up. VERY RELUCTANTLY she gave him back. To be honest, fi I hadn’t gone on a search, I don’t think she would have made the effort to find where he’d come from! Anyway, he’s home and under very close observation. Houdini.

Following on from this – the aforementioned cellar stairs are now in place. After mentioning to a friend that I was on the lookout for a set of stairs that might have come out of an old demolition or renovation, she said they had a possible in their barn! All was measured and checked and given the go-ahead. For some time now, I have been concerned over the strength of the old steps: they looked very fragile and broken and were dangerous. Owen had nagged me to get them done well over a year ago. Anyway it took John and Paul two and a half days of extremely hard work to get them in. The new case was solid oak and weighed a ton, how they did it, I don’t know. The old case was rotten and will be good for firewood. I have amazing friends.

Continuing the animal theme – I realised the other day that the cat flap had broken. It wasn’t operating the microchip lock. My cats could still use it, but so could any other that wanted to come in. And they did. At 5 o’clock in the morning I was chasing Rudi round the house whilst Sid and Asterix were too. Fur was flying. New flap replacement.

My poor magnolia tree got hammered by the frost. It’s the first time since I’ve been here that it has happened. Disaster. It looks so sad. Every flower has gone. It usually has a small second bloom in July, so hopefully it will look better then. I’ve been trying to motivate myself into gardening – I certainly didn’t inherit the genes. A few plants now in, we really need the weather to pick up. On reflection, this garden didn’t really have flowers in it, it was just a neglected veg plot and a few old, woody shrubs. I’m aiming to get some flowers in it now. The weeds are bad and it’s difficult to keep on top of them.

My beautiful magnolia tree.
Frost damage 😦

A few Easter treats arrived in the post. And, yes, I still have some left. Trying to eeak them out, but it’s hard work!

Friends – tv theme tune

22.1.21 – 14.3.21

Wooo – hadn’t realised it’d been so long since I wrote on here.

In so many ways, it’s been quiet and slow and in others fairly busy. The bedrooms have been refreshed, there were a few scuff marks on the paint, so I’ve been over them and spruced the woodwork up. I’ve also repainted the walls in the main bedroom. They really always needed a second coat when I first did them, but I ran out of Laura Ashley paint and that has been impossible to buy now. So I found the closest match and am actually pleased with the result. To finish the room, I need to get the ceiling painted; hopefully I can get that arranged soon – I won’t be doing it! The new shower doors are in; the stain on the old one proved impossible to remove.

Plans are a-foot to tidy up the attic. One of the huge cupboards in the front attic bedroom has been taken out to allow access to the back wall for repair. At some time in the past, water had leaked from the chimney flashing (now repaired) and the plasterwork had disintegrated. This is now fixed and I’m looking into applying for the Government insulation scheme whereby you pay 1€ for the work. It’s not a scam; the Government set up the scheme in response to failing to meet a climate target. I need to do a couple of other small odds before I can check out the possibilities. Watch this space with crossed fingers.

I’ve also forwarded a proposal to the Tourist board. They have received a small pot of money and are asking if anyone has projects. I’ve often thought I’d like to set up a webcam from the top floor, overlooking the town square. So I cobbled together a costing and sent it off. Not sure I’m going to get it – they suggested it’s not a sustainable project which they might be looking for.

The garden is also up for work (as always!!). After batting around a few ideas with friends, I hope to gravel the footpath/entrance. To be honest, I’m not sure it’s what I envisaged, but I don’t know what to envisage!! If it’s not right, at least it can be changed. I just don’t know. Anyway the weather is rubbish at the moment, so there won’t be anything happening in a hurry. The fallen tree has now been removed and has opened up the garden quite a lot. I will be buying some fruit trees soon and creating a little orchard. There’s already a damson and cherry. I’ve been promised a Bramley apple and a fig, so I might buy an apple and peach. I’ve started pulling the loose and crumbling render off the front wall. The stone work underneath is lovely and hopefully I can expose most of it, but it’s going to take a while to do.

May be an image of outdoors

I managed to celebrate my birthday! A handful of friends came for lunch (pizza and cheesecake). We have to do lunch as the 6 o’clock curfew won’t allow for dinner. Lovely presents and flowers too. Prosecco went down well!!

Homemade Pizza & Pizza Dough Recipe

The tortoises are out of hibernation and plodding around the garden. However, the forecast looks very cold in the next few days, so I may have to locate them and bring them in.

It’s the time of year when EDF recalculate your payment schedule, based on the yearly consumption. Here, they don’t carry credit forward or add any deficit onto the next payments – they just adjust the money in or out of your bank account. Something to remember of you end up owing at the end of the year – can be a shock! I was delighted to find out that I was over 450€ in credit!! Followed by a new proposed schedule whereby they increased my monthly payment by 80€!!!!!  What?!!  A 73% increase?? I don’t think so!! So I complained and said I’m sure there was an error. And guess what??  They offered to halve my monthly payment. In the end we agreed to stick to the current rate – I don’t want any surprises next year. Just shows though, it would have been easy to accept it without question.

It’s been a few weeks of friends. Updating phone numbers and renewing contacts. Good news, bad news and mixed news. I’ve been very upset over the murder of that young girl in London; a situation that young women are so vulnerable in. She was so similar to Louise – age, blonde hair, job, life-style, it just makes me worry. Poor girl, I feel for her parents and family.

Last but NOT least – I’ve had my first AZ Covid vaccination! Not really sure how it all happened – it came out of the blue. I had been pursuing enquiries as to the plans for vaccinations (as there was, and still is, a lack of information). I received a phone call from my doctor late one afternoon to say she had a spare due to a cancellation – did I want it? Yes – I’ll be there in 10 minutes! The side effects made me poorly for about 4 days, headache, fever, nausea, tiredness, loss of appetite. Anyway, all done and I’m relieved. Second dose in May.

Vaccin AstraZeneca-Oxford : effets secondaires, efficacité, pour qui ?

Kiss – Tom Jones (read to end)

14.12.20 – 21.1.21

A belated Happy New Year. May 2021 be kinder to us all.

Following on from my last post, can show a few pictures of my lockdown project results: some cushions and some pillow cases. Each item took a lot longer than I thought. By the time I’d laundered the fabric and worked out which parts were usable, cut them to size and the sewn the appliqué and seams – bloomin’ ages! Anyway, each recipient will have a unique item. Somehow in the wrapping and labelling I managed to mix up a couple of items. A cat went to a dog person and I’m not sure where the other went! I have quite a lot of sheeting left; in fact it is the thickest and heaviest of the lot. I need a bit more motivation to create a few more.

One small project for me: recovered a folding chair. Just need some nice weather sit out in the garden on it!!

Talking of recovering – plans are afoot to have one of the guest beds done. There’s a few factors to be resolved first though. I’ve asked Charlotte (who did the antique sofa for me) to do the bed, but fabrics, workshops availability, house visits etc etc are all considerations at the moment.

Too early in my celebrations for obtaining my Carte de Sejour. Seems that now I have it, it has to be updated to show EU withdrawal agreement. This is another form to fill in – online and then I’m sure another trip to Limoges will be needed. So much time and effort, all in all four visits to the Prefecture. Fed up with the whole damn thing.

I’m still not taking guests. In fact I’m tempted not to re-open until I’ve had the Covid vaccine, but I’ve no idea when that will be. France seems to be dragging its feet with the roll out. I’ll be meeting up with a nurse soon to have the second part of the anti-pneumonia jab, so I’ll hopefully get an update then. Covid infection numbers seemed to have plateaued around the 20K/day mark, but there’s been no significant decrease since before Christmas. I’ve no doubt the seasonal adjustments are still appearing in the counting system.

There’s been a big issue with one of the showers in the guest rooms. For some bizarre reason the doors (4 sections) all turned brown. It looked like nicotine stains dripping down the panels. The identical shower in the other room was fine. On reflection, and with a suggestion from an online reader, I think I may have sprayed a disinfectant on and not washed it off, there’s not much else that makes any sense. Even more bizarrely, 3 of the panels cleaned up, the fourth one didn’t. Despite using every cleaner under the sun, nothing touched the stain. The only option was to buy a new shower cubicle; which I have now done. With luck, the doors will be the same size and just need swapping over and not require the whole sliding rail to be changed. That would be another nightmare.

I now have a shiny new kitchen bin! Or maybe I should say two bins. The old bin was manky and past its sell-by date and not fit for purpose. What I needed was a 2 in 1 unit so I can recycle packaging etc. We have a new set of re-cycle bins just down the road from La Belle Maison, which makes life a touch easier. The region is really up to date with what can be re-cycled, so I am pleased to fill up their bins with my rubbish!!

Much of this post has a theme of re-cycling/re-using/old for new. One ‘old’ voice that never loses its power: that of Tom Jones. I’ve been watching The Voice recently and his voice is so superior to any of the current pop stars that present alongside him. he only has to sing a note for the quality and depth of experience to show. No wonder he is the one who performs spontaneously; none of the others can!

Bibbidi-bobbidy-boo – Cinderella

5.11.20 – 13.12.20

Apathetic is the best word to describe my effort at writing at the moment.

Onset of Winter – dark nights and cold make this a really miserable time of year for me. Coupled with these difficult times, I’m already looking forward to Spring 2021. On the plus side, I’m warm and well in the house. Not many projects going on at the moment, although I have been busy sewing during lockdown. I had an idea for Christmas presents. It involves re-cycling some of the thick linen sheets that I found in the house when I moved in. They were of the old Victorian heavy cotton/linen style, some of which are beautifully monogrammed (which I can’t really make use of). However, some have drawn thread work, which I’m trying to incorporate into my project. I can’t post pictures just yet, as it would be a bit of a spoiler.

Only taken 6 years to solve my baking problem. On y va!

This always comes up in the run up to Christmas – PASTRY. I’m not the best pastry baker, but my offerings haven’t been good. I find using pure butter makes the pastry a bit hard. I prefer a more crumbly texture – in the UK I use white vegetable fat (Trex), but this is not available here in France and any other similar product doesn’t do the job. I discovered the possibility of ordering a suitable substitute online and thought I’d give it a go. Et……. VOILA!! Bingo! Great results. The product is called Crisco, arrived within 3 days and has a shelf life of a year. I’m a happy bunny. Just need to be able to share a few mince pies with friends soon I hope!

My poor Sid has been very unwell. A few days ago, just as I was going to bed, I heard a bump. On investigation, I could see him laid out on the hall floor at the bottom of the stairs. I honestly thought he was dead. He came round quite quickly but but was confused and upset. To make matters worse, he escaped through the cat flap the next morning and disappeared for the day. I was beside myself with worry, because I envisioned him having another episode somewhere and not being found. Thankfully he came in early evening. He had another collapse the next day. I already had an appointment at the vet for Asterix the following morning, so I took him too. I didn’t see my regular vet, and I was prepared for the worst when a rather rough vet appeared and gave him the once over. But we’ve made it through, big dose of antibiotics, lots of TLC and me keeping a constant eye on him seems to have bought him some time. He doesn’t venture far (who would in this weather) but is eating quite well and definitely still having mega cuddles on the bed at night.

Such a gentle giant xx

On a medical note – I had an interesting conversation with the local nurse last week. Here, you get your flu prescription form the Dr/pharmacy and make an appointment with the nurse, who then comes to your house to administer it. I am due to update my anti-pneumonia and, of course, flu jab. However, like the UK, there’s a shortage of flu vaccine. The nurse told me not to worry too much about the flu one, as the flu cases are way down because people have been wearing masks and not transmitting the virus. Similarly gastro cases were down too – I suppose because of better hand sanitation. Just made me think how much money could be saved by the NHS if wearing a mask became the norm in Winter months. A simple but very cost effective measure. I know some countries have had this for years, maybe we should follow suit.

HOORAY!!!!!!!!! I finally collected my Carte de Sejour (France residency permit) Third time lucky. I was quite impressed that the lady who dealt with my application actually remembered who I was and that there had been a mistake on their part last time. She must have seen hundreds of people – even more impressed because most of them would have been wearing a mask!

No more guests until 2021 now. I have had a couple of inquiries but I won’t be opening. Like everyone, I am hoping Covid infection numbers will reduce significantly, but they seem to be struggling. The new curfew rule won’t bother me – I’m hardly likely to be out in the dark!

On a visit to the new recycle bins just 100m up the road, I notice the little fishing lake is being drained. What a muddy job for the council. I wonder what they do with the fish?

Ready for deliveries – – – – all chimneys swept.

Forever Autumn – Moody Blues

22.9.20 – 4.11.20

I made it to my Dad’s funeral. It just so happened that Ryanair flew to East Midlands on a Tuesday and Thursday. The flight to the UK was very late on the Tuesday night, I had a taxi to the hotel in Grantham, stayed there until the funeral time on the afternoon, returned to the hotel immediately after and flew back Thursday lunchtime. It so happened that this was the penultimate week of flights to the UK from Limoges airport, they are now all cancelled for the foreseeable future. The funeral service was emotional, with 30 people attending (as limited); some unexpected but very lovely, people there from his life.

Not to help matters, my back went the day before I travelled. I was in absolute agony. I could barely walk, dress myself or even go to the loo. How I managed to lug a case up airport and hotel stairs, I will never know. Plus the fact that no escalators were working and the one lift that was wouldn’t open the doors on the ground floor (panic was setting in at this point, but it did go back up a floor and I got out quickly. Then had to take the stairs); all contributed to a week/ ten days of recovery when I got home.

If only I could have stayed a another 48 hours – because my nephew got married two days later. What a week of emotions. After so many change of plans, they decided to go ahead with a very small ceremony and meal after. I was touched to think they used some of the white roses (of Yorkshire), from my Dad’s wreath in their wedding flowers. I am looking forward to a big celebration when the time comes, hopefully next year. Amazingly the weather was bright and sunny.

Le deuxième confinement: second lockdown began last week. Can’t say I’m sorry. The statistics for infection are horrendous. I have had a couple of rooms booked out, but the weekend wedding ones were cancelled. I’m basically closing now until the next year. I may have limited opening in December (one room) for a couple of weeks, depending on the virus levels. I’m going to need to plan another project to keep me busy. The weather is good for a few days; I may get some garden work done. I’m not very motivated to do gardening, so this would be a change!

The start of lockdown was ominous – I broke a piece off a tooth, nearly amputated my finger in the gate and the TV gave up the ghost. The TV had been on its way out for some time I think, the picture had some strange shadows on but eventually other things went ka-put. I ordered a new one online, which arrived quite quickly. However, I couldn’t set it up. In fact I could barely get past base – the sat dish has 2 input wires and the TV had one! Anyway, I did manage to mink up the wi-fi (not that I’m into Netflix etc) but I couldn’t connect the Humax box. This is now resolved with the help of someone who has the know-how; thanks Paul! My finger is almost healed, the flap of skin has knitted back in place butis still a bit sore when I bend it. Unfortunately, the tooth will have to wait; at least it’s not painful or uncomfortable.

Just before lockdown, I had a visit from my long lost goddaughter. Not having seen her for 30 years, she’d changed quite a lot. Now with her partner and own family – making me feel old. Time flies. Amazing to catch up and know what they are all doing now.

Sid did his usual disappearing trick when he had a vets appointment last week. This time it was for his annual vaccinations, not treatment. I am going to copy a post I made on FaceBook here, just to update his current state:

“A few months ago, Sid was diagnosed with FiV{cat version of HIV} his main problem was his inability to eat. Gum inflammation gave him so much pain he was scared to eat. I seriously thought I would lose him. After weeks of trial and error with medication, we have reached pain management equilibrium. And, I’m pleased to say, he’s eating. Lots and lots and lots (plus any of Asterix’s food he can sneak when he thinks I’m not looking.”

Last but not least the gardening guy has been with his heavy machinery to cut the hedge and chop down a tree. It’s so satisfying to have the hedge done – always looks impressive. And you can see so much more going on in town!

A marching band for my Dad, a soldier at heart.

8.8.20 – 20.9.20

Events have overtaken the writing of this blog. My heart is broken.

Covid 19, guests, visitors (family and friends) and sadly the death of my
beloved Dad. Sad times, worrying times and happy times all in the space of a few weeks.

My Dad had been becoming more and more frail since June. He struggled
through the consequences of an evil stroke for so long (best part of nine
years) but his body was worn out. Although so far away, I thought about him every day and wondered how he was, what he had for his lunch, what he watched on the TV, did he need any new clothes, could I send him a few treats? The dreaded phone call came on September 12th, he’d died peacefully in his sleep. I have no idea if I can attend his funeral (or indeed my nephew’s wedding) in 3 weeks time because of quarantine restrictions. It’s so awful.
R.I.P. my wonderful Dad – he was my superhero.


My Dad 1934 -2020

On a happier note, Louise ended up staying for 6 wonderful weeks. Her stay coincided with the visit of a friend’s daughter (Megan).. Megan came on a “Workaway” basis and was such a great help as an extra pair of hands, especially when we had to turn the breakfast table around quickly (two sittings to keep social distancing). During her stay, we managed a few trips out – Limoges, St Leonard, Lake Vassivierre and a couple of nice walks. It was so hot some days, that the best we could do was nothing! A girls night in also went down well – mostly snacks, treats and nail polish! Again Covid impacted on UK returns; Megan had to fly back rather than being collected by her Dad and family. Hopefully, their holiday on France can happen next year instead. Louise is now undertaking her 14 day quarantine, but is able to start her new job working from home, so this will keep her occupied. I hope.

Whilst Louise was here, she met up with friend’s daughter and helped her out a couple of times on her market stall. This is a new venture – I am the proud owner of one of her creations. This is Peepo – he lives on my patio. Easy to look after and doesn’t require feeding!



Just a few other happenings:

  • Jams made – blackcurrant, rhubarb nd ginger, rhubarb, apple and cinnamon, damson
  • Apples stock piled in the freezer and compote
  • Tomatoes made into passata and bottled
  • Sid started on new medication (happy cat because it’s cannabis based, ha ha), and (wonderfully) we are having some success
  • Fantastic cat treat sourced to dispach Sid’s meds
  • Last year’s purchase of an old stove put to excellent use as a bbq
  • La Belle Maison’s website updated
  • Mega supplies of Yorkshire tea delivered!
  • A guy sourced to make keys for bedroom doors – no conventional commercial key cutter found
  • Wedding outfit sorted
  • Finally managed to return a faulty duvet to Amazon. Not an easy thing to pack up.
  • Ordered new duvet as I didn’t have one to sleep under!

One of the trips to Limoges was to collect my Carte de Sejour (France residency permit). The application has been ongoing for over a year, but I’ve finally been granted it. Collection times were ambiguously stated in a letter, but I took a chance going possibly 3 days earlier than they suggested. Fail. Had to go back again. Went back 10 days later. Fail. They’d made a mistake printing my DoB. Will have to go back again in three weeks. Hopeless.

We are lucky to see some amazing night skies here. SO many beautiful stars. I’ve made attempts to see shooting stars, comets and satellites in recent weeks. Self inflicted neck ache and a complete fail! I’m not born to be an astronomer.

Flash, Bang, Wallop – Tommy Steele

10.7.20 – 7.8.20

Fed up with faulty goods. I have recently bought from Amazon, a reasonable quality, well known make, duvet (of the type 3 in 1) whereby you can snap together the lightweight Summer one and the medium weight Autumn/Spring one to make a thicker Winter one. Not that the latter is needed with the current temperature exceeding 35 degrees. On changing the duvet cover a couple of weeks ago, I found that the filling in one edge section, had formed a lump. It needs to go back, but the process here will be painful: returns postage and packaging is a nightmare.

Also have a major problem with the decking lights. They have a mind of their own. They work some nights, they flash randomly, some work and others don’t, sometimes they are bright, sometimes they are dim, sometimes the on/off button works, mostly not. The company who sold them through Amazon said I needed obtain my refund through  them. So I contacted Amazon (as the returns date was long gone) and ‘spoke’ to the conversation box. Amazon said they wanted me to return the faulty lights. I pointed out that this wasn’t practical (because I would have to unscrew the edge of the decking, remove the lights and then re-assemble the decking until I got a replacement and then re-install the new ones). I also asked why they would want faulty lights? EVENTUALLY they agreed to give me my refund. The lights are still broken. I need an expert in solar powered lights. The problem is really unresolved, I don’t know what to do. To find a replacement to fit the same size holes will be  tricky. Pain in the posterior.

Santa’s little helpers have arrived (are arriving). My friend’s daughter, Megan, has flown over, having left school and wanting to fill the long holidays, greatly extended because of Covid. This arrangement was organised last year and we have been on/off right up until the beginning of July, waiting to see how quarantine, flights and infections were evolving. Lovely to have an extra pair of hands. Even better to have two extra pairs of hands as Louise is also flying out tomorrow!! Her arrival, however, has meant tarting up another room in the attic. Megan helped me move all the stuff out and after cleaning, I’m beginning to set up a few things in there. Not 5-star, but for a couple of weeks, she’ll have to manage.IMG_20200728_205843

Not the best news about Sid. Following recent trips to the vet for treatment for his inflamed mouth and eating difficulties, testing has shown him to have FIV (cat version of HIV). So it’s a question of management as there is no cure. However, he has responded to treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine. Ha ha – it’s a work of art to get it down him but I know the tricks now! I’ve had cats with this condition before and they can go on for some time. Plus the vet told me there is a new kind of treatment on the market now – cannabis based, which we can go to if needed in the future. Happy cat!!

As I write, there is a vegan lemon cake baking in the oven. New recipe, trying it for Louise, who has recently gone vegan. It looks a bit anaemic, but should be ok when the icing goes on. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating!

My grocery shop proved quite fruitful on Sunday – discovered on arrival that there was a vide grenier on in the town (St Leonard de Noblat). We spent and hour or so wandering around and bought a few things we didn’t need, as you do! Later that afternoon, I received a message from a friend asking if we had been to the vide grenier, to which I replied ‘yes – did you go too?’ to which she replied ‘no, I’ve just seen you on the tv!’. It would seem that there was a report on the event and ‘Viola’ there we were! No escape.

Megan and I also ventured to the market in Eymoutiers yesterday. This was my first outing there post lockdown. The fabulous weather brought out the shoppers. Cars were bumper to bumper trying to get through the town.  We wore masks, as did most people, and when the temperature is over 30 degrees, it was a bit hot. After a few purchases, including bread from the bread man, we treated ourselves to a visit to the patisserie! Why not??

Low flying eggs………… a smashed hen’s egg appeared on the patio the other morning. We can only think it had been stolen by a jay and dropped in flight. Good job no-one was standing in the spot because to have a random egg land on your head from nowhere would have been extremely odd!! But probably quite funny.









Celebration – Kool & the Gang

29.6.20 – 9.7.20

On a trip to Gueret a couple of weeks ago, I sourced a supply of licorice. Bit of a disaster really – far too addictive. I’ve just forced myself to put the packet back in the cupboard, but I have no doubt the little goodies will be knocking on the door soon, saying”let us out, let us out!”

During lockdown I gave myself three major tasks to complete. I’m delighted to report they are all DONE!

Task 1 – The biggie – decorating the salon. This project was actually started at the end of last year. More than anything, it was physically challenging. The height of the room is a killer. Anyway, bit by bit and with a couple of helping hands – it’s done. I can honestly say it has turned out better than I thought, especially as I lost the will to live at one point. I wasn’t sure about using the paper on all 4 walls; I considered painting 3 walls at one point. A bit of thinking outside the box to fix the radiator bracket and all is well. Curtains next. I’m probably going to look for fabric on my next visit to the UK.

Task 2 – The Pagoda. As reported in my last post, a small gravel retaining edge was needed and the gravel. Both now complete. Looks fab. For a simple project that came in at well under 100€, the result was very satisfying. The plan is to offer breakfast outside when the weather is good – mostly to improve social distancing when guests are here. Also a perfect spot for a glass of wine or G&T!

Task 3 – The Decking. Not my work! This project has also been ongoing since the end of last year. Many reasons for the delay – but that wasn’t important, as no-one would be sitting out in the middle of Winter! To christen it, a small group of friends met here one warm evening; a few nibbles, wine and chat. Very relaxed. Again, the plan is to use it for breakfast, to keep people apart. These pictures don’t really do it justice – so peaceful of an evening and cool on a hot afternoon.

Considering what to grow under the magnolia tree, I came across the suggestion of sweet woodruff and after a bit of net searching, I ordered some seeds. Hope to plant them early next year and look forward to some sweet smelling ground cover.


But to sum up this work – I have now completed redecorating/refurbing the ground and first floor of my house. A milestone! It’s only taken 6 years! 

First guests returned this week. I think I am slightly paranoid about procedures. Not helped though by people who don’t do as I politely asked. I have made a ‘protocol’ notice. I didn’t think it was too much to ask guests to wear a mask when moving around the house, or to strip the bed if possible, to reduce handling of sheets. Neither of which they did. I seem to be fully booked on Saturday night- if it goes the same way, I will say something.

At last we have sun. It’s been a bit erratic, but the forecast looks much more settled. I read that this region is asking people to use water sparingly, as a shortage is predicted.

It’s harvest time again! Blackcurrant jam topping up supplies, damsons beginning to ripen and freezer stocked with raspberries. A small report back here on the elderflower champagne made for the first time earlier this year. Certainly went with a pop when opened and tasted great. I’m going to need to invest in more bottles next year!!

I’m sure there’s lots more to report, but my brain’s not functioning today!

Need to start new project list……………..




























Lockdown 10



As with the 10 week Clap for Carers, I will make this my last Lockdown post 10; I’ll go back to more original titles and link them to the script next blog post. Owen was in need of NHS and St John’s ambulance help a few days ago: very good care and support. They do a fantastic job.


I’m just looking back at the picture I posted of the the tree stump with flowers – doesn’t look like that now thanks to snails and slugs. They have a ferocious appetite, the pansies have gone. I’ve ordered some copper mesh as this is an effective deterrent and it’s long been on my shopping list for this reason. It’s not arrived yet but I’ll implement it when it does and see how good it is. Fingers crossed. There have been some amazing alliums in the garden, they look stunning when they are in full bloom.

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An interesting trip to the vet on Tuesday. Sid again.We had to sit outside in the car until it was our turn. Masks obligatory. Poor chap, he seems to have a weak spot with his teeth and mouth; I’d been suspicious for a few days but he was in a lot of pain at breakfast on Tuesday so that conformed my worries. Another course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds. He’s currently sitting outside the kitchen door as I type, he really wants to come in as he’s not had his breakfast. BUT he is doing a very good job of avoiding me because he knows he’ll be given the meds. I’m sure his stomach will win in the end.


It’s that time of year again…….. I seem to see these amazing creatures on an annual basis. Using a soft brush I directed this one into the garden, as I didn’t want the door to close on it. It soon flew off.

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Progress with the pagoda. It’s now painted from top to bottom, I’ve cleared the moss off the wall so you can sit on it, put up some lights (one lot doesn’t work so I’ll have to take them down and look at them) and I’ve laid the weed matting ready for the gravel. Next job though, is to purchase some wood, as a retainer for the latter, around the base.


TAX RETURN COMPLETED!! Online submission: not without a few doubts. But that’s normal for me. It’s such a worry.

I received a phone call from a Paris number: an inquiry as to whether or not I was open. Obviously closed. My intention is to stay closed until August. I will review the situation then. My thoughts are, if I do re-open, I may just offer one room. This will allow social distancing and hopefully be the safest option for all. Talking of phone calls, one thing I have definitely NOT missed is the junk calls. Sadly, these are beginning to creep back.

p.s Sid’s still sitting outside the kitchen door…………