New Horizons – The Moody Blues

27.12.19 – 29.1.20

 

Where did January go? I blinked. Here comes February. which is often a cold, miserable month (even if it includes my birthday) BUT it means that Spring really is just around the corner. Hooray. I hate Winter – cold, dark and grey. I notice some of the bulbs that were planted last year are well and truly through (some even have buds), so a splash of colour will be most welcome. Even though my garden is a fair size, there’s not many flowers in it. So the mission is to get some blooms into the garden, especially so I can pick some and have in the house. However, the grass (I can’t say lawn because it’s far from a lawn), was at some point in the past planted with primulas. These are so pretty when they are in flower; a carpet of colour.

In response to the terrible fires in Australia, I was inspired to gather together some friends and spend time sewing pouches for orphaned and injured wildlife. We sent a couple of days making the pouches; our efforts produced 12 hanging joey pouches, 12 pocket pouches and 36 liners. Asterix thought she would try one out for size! Hopefully, they will be en route to Australia imminently. Many thanks to all who helped and donated to the project.

 

Bargain time!  Recently I have switched to doing my main shopping supplies at Aldi. It’s a bit further to travel, but the savings more than make up for the petrol. The local supermarket in Eymoutiers is a rip off and often poor quality ‘fresh’ (or not so fresh) food and erratic stock control of basic goods. Just after Christmas  I bought some wine that was reduced to 2.20€, thinking I needed to have a supply when guests are eating here. Not a big red wine fan myself, but the French rarely drink white. Anyway, on returning home I zapped the label with a wine rating app and discovered the wine had a high rating. So guess what? I bought the remaining 5 bottles when I went back next time! I don’t know much about wine, but the next guest that I served it to remarked on it and how good it was. Also, he said it was unusual to find this variety from Pays d’Oc.IMG_20200109_185344

Whilst pulling the fabric off the wall in the salon, I placed my phone on the radiator to keep up with messages etc. Stupidly, I managed to knock it down the back of the radiator. Normally, you would expect it just to drop out the bottom and with any other rad in the house, this would have been the case. But no: this rad had a couple of wood blocks underneath it, supporting a broken hinge until it comes off the wall for wallpapering purposes, hopefully in the near future now. The phone jammed between the rad, skirting board and blocks. It took half an hour of poking and prodding to get it out. Fortunately, it was undamaged, but the flip case broke. No more phones on radiators.

Talking of renovation work – I’ve started to clean the mirror that was over the fireplace. I guess it’s not been touched for the best part of 30 years. Using warm warm with a splash of washing up liquid in, a toothbrush and cotton buds, I have removed plenty of grime. Well, I’m not 100% sure what is coming off, possibly paint, nicotine and dust. Either way, there’s plenty of it. Fiddly process, but getting there.

 

New Year’s Resolution – stop stockpiling food!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circle of Life – Elton John/Lion King

24.9.19 – 26.12.19

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SEASONS GREETINGS

I have been away from writing this blog for some time now. I just have not been in the right frame of mind to do it. Plus technical set backs haven’t helped! My laptop went to the great laptop graveyard in the sky. After a few efforts to resurrect it with the kiss if life (new battery, power cable test etc etc, a friend declared it was the motherboard and not worth repairing. So a new laptop it had to be; I can’t manage business-wise without one. It’s taken sometime to retrieve/recall/renew passwords, this site being no exception!

Weather report: rain, rain, rain, gales,frost, rain, blue sky, gales, gales, rain. Tree down 😦

Feeling sad about losing this tree. The bees love the flowers in Summer and the colour in Autumn is spectacular when the rising sun falls on it.IMG_20191223_153412IMG_20191026_084716

However, this will give me the opportunity to plant a new tree that I have tracked down the name of this year. I’ve seen a few of them in and around the town… Albizia trees. Pink flowers all Summer and they don’t grow too big. Never seen them in the UK, but that’s not to say they’re not available there.albizia

Work in the main salon has progressed. After an epic consultation on a FB group (ha ha – about 100 people chipped in with advice, mostly not encouraging), I have refreshed the fireplace. One guy agreed with me and put into words what he thought these sorts of fireplaces look like, and I whole heartedly concur – tombstones! Before and after pictures here.

On the same subject…… the long planned installation of a log burner in the kitchen has also been done. Not easy though, the big challenge was reaching the chimney, which on a house of this height and being off set from the side wall, meant a cherry picker was needed. This proved not to be big enough, so plan B. All done and I have to say, it has transformed the way in which I use the house. It’s so cosy to sit in the kitchen, as I am right now, and work/ talk to friends/ prepare food.

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On a furry note, I have a new visitor. I think he’s well on his way to moving in: if Sid lets him that is. I’ve named him Rudi (or Rude the Dude). He’s extremely nervous but I am winning his trust and in fact he let me pick him up yesterday. I feed him and he appears promptly for meals in the morning and afternoon and sleeps in a bed in the shed/boiler room.Which is rather cold as the door has to open for access. I’m still struggling with the loss of Colin, I have had several false alarms to possible sightings, even one was a dead cat in the town centre. But it wasn’t Colin. It’s tortuous not knowing what has happened to him and I have no closure. How people cope when their children go missing, I can not imagine. My other little babies are fine and don’t go out when the weather is grim.

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Rude the Dude

 

Always useful to have a friend who has a hobby of fixing things….. horologist! I found a nice solid, marble clock here when I moved in, but it was missing a side decorative handle, and a key. Now, thanks to John’s work and some bits delivered from China, it’s working. It has a lovely hour/half hour chime and what makes it particularly nice is that it has Eymoutiers on the dial.

Clock repair

Jolly old Brexit has kicked the applications for Carte de Sejour a stage further along the pipeline. I went to the Prefecture in Limoges to have my fingerprints taken a couple of weeks ago. Bearing in mind I applied last January, not much has moved since then and even now it will be January 31st before the next part. Hopefully, it will just be the issuing of the permit.

Guests still arriving, even over Christmas. This year has continued to be busy, with many people here for varied reasons, not least a team of Slovakian workers who arrived within a few minutes of a phone call. They stayed for a week!

I have been back to the UK to see family and do shopping! Mainly clothes, as I don’t really get the opportunity here and can never seem to find the shops! So an investment in new suitcases – empty on the way out, full on the way back. I have to mention the thought that went through my head at the split second the plane lifted off the ground when leaving …….. “I don’t remember locking my car”……….   I had.

Wishing all my family, friends, guests and future guests a wonderful New Year , may all your dreams come true.

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Since You’ve Been Gone – Rainbow

28.7.19 – 23.9.19

 

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

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

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

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

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

Other happenings:

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

A few old pictures of the house and garden:

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The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles

9.7.19 – 29.7.19

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

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

 

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

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

Wildlife Update:

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot! Hot! Hot! – Buster Poindexter

24.6.19 – 8.7.19

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

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

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

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

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

Wildlife update:

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

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

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

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Here Comes Summer – Jerry Keller

25.5.19 – 23.6.19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Train will be here on Wednesday Ainslie!

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Me And You And A Dog Named Boo – Lobo

7.5.19 – 24.5.19

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

 

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

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

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

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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