Gardening News

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There are no prizes for guessing…

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… why …

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… we’ve invested …

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… in a new …

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… lawn mower!

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Updates!

Lately we’ve been beavering away and blogging has been down the list of stuff needing done – apologies.

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Rush Hour in La Fayolle

Cuisinier man or not?  I hear you cry…

After no contact and another visit or four/five were attempted to the two shops providing – tho we had no evidence at all that they are nothing other than a front for some daring do – said services as it appears often to be the case they were oot…

Urgency had been added to the mix as we sourced a wood burner for the living room and the cuisinier had started emitting smoke and/or dribbling from every orifice!  Having cast our net wider one e-mail query was utterly ignored while following another – a Brit – arrived and tho showing willing didn’t fill us with hope regarding his level of expertise.  Having given up on the first place, who I’d thrown myself at the mercy of once I’d recovered from the shock of there being someone to talk to in the shop, we were we feared no further forward.

HOWEVER, (brace yourselves), the very same day the Brit appeared as planned a man from shop one not only appeared but was knowledgeable and helpful.  He showed me how to partly dismantle the cuisinier to clean it and having had a good old poke about in the living room and taken pictures up our chimney (!) departed saying he’d do a quote for fitting the wood burner.  As you both can imagine we were shocked, stunned and a little confused that our combined efforts using visits, e-mails and at times smoke signals that we needed a hand had been answered by not one but TWO – count them… un, deux – two cuisinier people in only four hours.  After we’d checked the date on the cheeses and pinched ourselves several times, we were pretty sure that this turn of events had not been some kind of group hallucination or symptom of a mental breakdown and had actually occurred.

There then followed a medium sized amount of rejoicing…

Contact made, and no doubt as there are Euro’s to be made, progress continues on getting things sorted for the wood burner and the cuisinier is again behaving itself.

Travels with Furniture

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Mainy in Maine

As alluded to above we got a bargain wood burner and flue parts – which was able to be got in the car – from a little south.  It was misty so we didn’t get to savour what was likely to be a marvellous view from their former home.  Pottering back as it was the weekend le Chasse chaps were out in their orange camouflage jackets.  The hunters – cos that’s what they are – hang about by roadsides and to our knowledge never shoot anything tho they do bang away a bit.  It must be the case they get the odd deer or boar but we’ve never seen any signs of success.  They are a fixture in these parts often looking a bit bored or driving in convoy to another hunting ground.  They apparently let the dogs go flush the prey, tracking the hounds with collar things and technology…  Which strikes us as a little unfair.

Anyway, with wood burner rattling musically in the back, we were nearly home when in the mist saw some of the hunters loitering in woods by the roadside.  Thinking nothing of it we continued, a little slower cos of the slightly reduced visibility.  When across the raised road came three running deer from one field to the next unhindered by dogs, hunters or a care in the world.  Our position was much less carefree as two dashed across our path and the third thought better of it and doubled back.  We took the appropriate steps me braking as we both nearly soiling ourselves coming within centimetres – and not many at that – of the third.  They’d been hidden by bushes and in other conditions namely us going a little quicker two would probably have been hit and killed before the car behind us rammed us up the, erm, flue!!!  This is a hazard of rural living and despite quite a scare we remain on the side of the wildlife rather than of their gun wielding foes.

Going north to the hamlet of Maine – no really – we picked up a nice little pine unit thing with a wine rack in it.  Why S thought we needed that element to it I don’t know!  This was a shorter trip and made easier by one of our other longer runs being that way.  S took advantage of the spell of lovely weather we had to take it outside, sand it, wax it and paint the top in a stylish and cool fashion.  Turning a decent piece into a better one, well done her.  😊

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Weird Sky

Above you can see an odd sky we happened across on one of our excursions.  it was in the east as the sun was heading westward and is no doubt some legit meteorological phenomenon and not aliens!  It looked weirder in the flesh (not that we stripped naked in it’s praise, it’s not that warm yet!) our phone camera’s didn’t do it justice.

A sideboard came to us which we built with remarkably little swearing and that still remains both functional and erect!  Pleasingly an item that co-ordinated nicely came available so we headed south to Drome which is a Plus Beau village perched on a rocky hilltop overlooking the Dordogne river.  Properly lovely it was on a glorious sunny day and we collected a large chest of drawers which – practised as we are – fitted in the car.  S pointed out the chap we got it from was wearing a City of Edinburgh sweatshirt not that I’d noticed.  It turned out he’d got it from a pal who was a bin man but who’s retired down there – there’s clearly brass in the muck!  The chest of drawers previous home was the most modern of the places we’ve picked up things from and tho in the village was in the newer less beau bit.  We lunched in the only place that was open – who were surprised to have customers on their first day of the year – and unlike others were not turned away.  I had fish and chips and S chips.  The walled village is gorgeous and no doubt the vibe will be different when hunners of folk are dawdling around it in the summer.

We also got a wee box thingy and now have the basic level of French TV which are not in the habit of watching yet.

International Business News!

I am – mainly due to S’s cleverness – a microentrepreneur and am back plugged in on-line English teaching.  As I’m registered we are sorting out a bank account and stuff and I look forward to paying a little in tax and social charges.  I picked up the knack again pretty quickly and have been putting some hours in to get back up to speed to have some dosh coming in for a change.  We’re ok moneywise but the delays early on and minor hold up’s here and there have meant the time without income was longer than planned.  As long as the Chinese Middle Class are doing ok we’ll be fine.

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Morning!

Décor

We’ve been stripping – or mainly S has cos I’ve been working – some charmingly quaint wall paper.  I discovered that my large hands can remove on more than one occasion a whole piece floor to ceiling in a oner which helped.   Not all came off that easily and this quest continues.  S is painting bathroom tiles as I type in the only room which had wall paper on the ceiling.  It doesn’t now.

There will be a before and after Grand Designs/Country Life style blog update when rooms are done.  Try to contain your collective excitement!

Mitzy

Our wee scamp – or as our neighbour described cats vagabond – has adjusted nicely.  She  got the hang of scampering up behind me as I opened the windows to shut the shutters and buggering off outside in a couple of leaps.  She’s had a couple of meetings with the other cat which came to blows on one occasion.  S was stripping and I was rooted to the spot teaching so S had to drop everything and go see what was happening.  Mitzy was fine – which is more than can be said for a few lizards who live in and around the concrete outside the front of the house.  A few more are now tailless after she’s gleefully brought them in to show S in the kitchen and to play with them.  Only one we know about was been despatched.

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Mitzy soaking up the rays

The concrete out front is south facing and warms up nicely in the sun.  This is something we’ve taken advantage of – three times so far – plonking ourselves down in the sun with mini-Magnums as reward for something or other.  A February tan was almost a thing tho various people including our neighbours across the road made clear the ten days of great weather was abnormal, they only usually get a day or two like that.

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Checking I’ve not dribbled chocolate on my face!

Domestic

S has been working hard on various paperwork and admin things as well as processing her first gite booking.  It is clear that many Brits are holding fire on booking trips due to the nationalist driven BS that is Brexit and many a gite is sitting un-booked across France.  I have however proven to be more adept at dealing with French phone calls than paperwork so we are a good team.

S got her hair done without calamity especially after she realised the chair was giving her a massage and she wasn’t having some sort of fit.  We’ve started French lessons in a class of mainly Brits but with a Brazilian and a smattering of other nationalities.  Bernadette our 85 year old tutor is quite a character but good at what she does.  Coffee after is dominated by the same conversation about what the B word means to us all as the UK’s politicians plumb new depths in cackhandedness and ineptitude making what’s know as a Grayling of the whole effing thing…

We’ve been along to a couple the English speaking immigrant groups events which were good and it’s a little odd to be defaulting to English rather than French.  We continue to potter along with increasing efficiency in the lingo.

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Ceremony

Both regular viewers will remember we on our previous stay we visited the scene of the largest Nazi atrocity hereabouts – at Pont Lasveyras.  It was the 75th anniversary the other week and in Paysac which we’d gone on a wee drive to there was an exhibition which was very interesting.  We ended up talking to the organiser for about twenty minutes about it and the support provided by the Special Operations Executive to the locals who were under daily threat.  Rather brilliantly the RAF dropped supplies with red, white and blue parachutes around Bastille Day!  There was a ceremony in SYlP to the residents who died there and despite me loitering at the back I ended up being in the pic in the local paper the next day.

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Stop Cock!

Gru’s Again

The whacking great birds that migrated north to Poland in October came past on their way south again in equally impressive numbers.  According to the local paper that’s indication of an early spring.  It may also be another hefty hint that the poorer folk of the planets next few generations may be in for a tough time not that that’s the birds fault…

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Many, many big birds

We were out and about as several flocks/groups/flights paused over SYlP to get their bearings before forming up in V shapes and heading off honking encouragement or gossip or whatever at each other as they do.

Sadly
I will be making a quick visit to the old country from Sunday to Tuesday – to say farewell to Alec Condie.  He put up with me at the fitba over much of the last 30 years and his passing was an upsetting surprise.

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Alec (right), some numpty and his son Graeme (left)

The silver lining to a large cloud will be seeing, briefly my Dad, Debra S’s sister and our brother in law as well as a more than a few pals wearing black…

Happy New Year!

After Xmas we continued to potter along without the visit of a cuisinier man. In fact I took the drastic steps of visiting the other shop and arranging a specific appointment with another specialist for the 4th of January. I provided S’s French mobile number and even went back to check what state was best for the visit, namely cold and not burny hot. Pleased that was sorted we got on with things…

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Xmas dafties!

Returning a shower curtain and rail that we’d decided against trying to put up I managed to get a credit note at one place and also got money back after we bought a microwaveable dish that was beyond it’s best before date both in French. A cooker is meant to be being delivered today (22nd) but as it’s snowing – not a lot – we think this may not happen. The weather has taken a wintery turn despite Trump and his mentalist Oil & Coal fans efforts and the thermometer in the back bit of the house cheerily gives S reasons not to be moving wood around at times.

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Someone didn’t like her harness…

Otherwise the smaller and more charming part of the threesome has been getting more and more access to the world. Without a lead but supervised for the first time she stalked a shrew that even now is no doubt blissfully unaware of how close to peril it was. Next time she actually caught one and I’ll admit to being a bit slow on working out what the high pitched squeaking was… Namely it was another no doubt cousin of shrew number one which managed to escape aided by my and much to the annoyance of a certain feline. She is being let out the back and in the neighbours garden was startled by him and dashed superfast, tail up for the back door which we thought was a good sign. Being a fan of the world the cat – rather than us with hate, Govt murder and general fuddery based on non-existent differences filling the news – she took it upon herself to play what she’d call “I’m going out now” and I named something altogether less wholesome. Her leaping silently up at windows, which need to be opened to close the shutters, often her arrival being a complete surprise. I won the game of unknown name several grabs to  nil much to her annoyance. This prompted us to utlilise the wooden and clearly decades old ladder to oil the hinges of the shutters giving Little Miss Steve McQueen no warning of what I’m up to. The ladder was first tested flat on the ground before I skipped up said. I’m almost as daft as I look but not quite!

Mitzy is often at the window when we return from wherever and once we though heavy eyelids had barred her but no! A lizard no doubt drawn to the warmth of our as yet not serviced but functioning cuisiner had got into the kitchen. Mitzy was bless her more than happy welcome it with both open jaws and claws. I managed to get said reptile into a piece of kitchen roll and liberated it outside thinking it had recently lost it’s tail. On my return while M began a short huff I noticed said tail twitching with some vigour on the floor. It was, three inches long not much shorter than the lizard outside who will no doubt be telling his pals that tails are “So last very year…”

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Big van!

Our Facebook monitoring lead to the spotting of a very reasonably priced wardrobe that matches out current one. It wasn’t so far away and we set off hoping that the fact it came in three parts would make it transportable. En-route we went through another La Fayolle which was a little bit of a surprise and after some careful work from an ex-removal man seller we got the wee bits inside the car and the bigger bit onto the roof bars. We seemed to fascinate, other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians on the way back though they may of course have been gazing longingly at such a fine figure of man that is me rather than the whacking great wooden box on the roof. Arriving home we feared that we may have caused our neighbour JC injury splitting his sides watching us try to get the thing back off the car and into the house. Tensioned hooked bungey cord things are dangerous and despite our inexperience we managed to have them release at a time of their choosing without injury to person nor property but only just… If a passenger door had been shut we could have been paying for a new window! Anyway, the wardrobe survived a very sweary arrival as did we so that’s the main thing. It meant that clothes in hanging boxes could go into it and was another step forward. After New Year we rented a medium sized van which S drove really rather well to collect our bargain Armoir from the lovely Australian woman who provided us with a wee pot of paint in case of damage and some chutney! This was hoiked into the house without much swearing at all and no need for the wee pot of paint. 😊

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M approves

Talking of New Year we took advantage of it being an hour earlier and having no access to Jools Holland which was fine by us. On New Years Day we experimented with walking into town, which was easy and the British place was open for a fortifying hot chocolate and juice before our efforts to have a look in a white good shop window were foiled by a couple of large and vocal dogs who didn’t take kindly to first footers.

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You can see why we want it looked at!  #fakeflames

On the 4th of January we made sure the fire was cool for five and no-one came despite the appointment. By six we’d given up and started the fire in the cuisinier and despite that no-one turned up.  This could run and run…

What more will January bring? Is threatening violence to cuisinier men acceptable? Will Skippy and his pals save the kid that’s fallen down the mine shaft? Some of these questions may be answered next time…

 

Treemendous Adventures!

Before you ask … Still no chap to look over the cuisinier…

Otherwise progress continues…  Replacement bank cards were due to leave France as we left the UK, unsurprisingly the Bank needed new address details. Initially we had no address then no paperwork but boxes were ticked and new ones ordered, just in time to stop the staff at the Post Office from running at the very sight of us. Domestically we continued to get bits and bobs done, for example S fixed the wobble on the bathroom sink while I continue to shift wood in a broadly systematic way from one place to another so it was drier and more convenient before sitting it in a pretty pile by the cuisinier. We in honour of my northern isles heritage give the wood a Viking send off. The fire has not been required to be going all the time tho the weather will get cooler. AND we will soon be in possession of a card for the Dechetterie – local tip/recycle centre – having provided ID on our first visit again the EDF bill golden ticket did the job.

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SYlP Marie

Operating as we are without TV we were spared much of the frenzied guff in the build up to Xmas. I realised that I miss watching the The Rachel Maddow Show and the Norse Code (Minnesota Vikings) podcasts both of which I used to access on-line. S can’t think of anything she particularly misses yet. We have many a movie and a few boxsets we could watch but aren’t unpacking as if we do we’d have to repack them prior to re-wiring. We listen to local French radio news as best we can and S scans the UK news headlines on her phone to find out about nationalism driven farces like Brexit or further SNP cuts… When we pause for our regular grand café crème and a coca at The Joker café in SYlP I scan the local paper which helps local information wise. Things we used to watch on TV most often like Grand Designs, Impossible Engineering, house programs like Dick Strawbridge’s and A Place in the Sun have less fascination as we are sort of living elements of them most days. Tho we aren’t in a caravan for our second December and I may not shaving everyday but a handlebar moustache is someway off!

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Limoges goes big on decorations

We had a couple of road trips, one north to look over a Gite S will be managing the reservations for. It being some distance away we set off and spent much of lunch time in the charming property which would be great for a family to holiday in (and a reassuringly safe distance from me!). We returned via Angouleme where we could have a non-lunchtime lunch. On our last trip I’d seen a pair of charming buttocks through a stylish and particularly revealing dress a young woman was wearing! That unusual record was not maintained this trip tho it is winter and hope springs eternal for a similar vision next time…

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See!

Our other trip combined a day out in Limoges with a detour to see a great bit of furniture which we bought before heading for the city. We saw a convoy of Gendarmes lights a flashing heading into the centre ahead of us – the Prime Minister Eduoard Phillippe was in town having visited SYlP earlier in the day. We reckon it was for him not to monitor us. We pottered about in rain less than we might and had a good lunch – yes I had duck – in a place where the BFM news channel was showing lines of Police facing gilet jeune protestors about a hundred metres away from us. They interviewed a chap who we saw later progressing his efforts to bring down the State by visiting the Xmas Market! We then meandered through said market where some damp shoppers were buying from chilly stall holders. S had also been looking for a coque – a case for her new French mobile – without success. She decided to look on-line tho chose the wording of her Google search carefully.

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Telt ya!

Only a few boxes have been emptied, as I explained, but they were deposited in the loft with the Xmas tree as we went with the backup we had last trip and we don’t have a socket spare! Having heard that there are more than the average number of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the area – sometimes there are two sets at the market positioned in some sort of static pincer movement – we put a compact and bijou festive decoration on the front door.

The aim being to allay any fears among our neighbours of recruitment between now and the end of humanity… The other great Xmas tradition of standing in a queue to send parcels at the Post Office is undertaken here too and our offerings were dispatched in two waves with at time of writing mixed results.

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Not our trees…

The Forestiers had put up warning signs on the road thru La Fayolle and got busy chopping down the relatively few large trees in the lower lying field at the end of our back garden. This was not a concern and unlikely to happen again for about forty years tho Mitzy did wonder a little at the strange noises. I one evening was moving wood and wandered to the end of the garden a little surprised to see the large trees on next doors boundary had been taken down. Two trees of theirs remained by our garden with double red lines painted on them, also red lined were two trees in the field. Glancing along the line of trees in our garden I was horrified to see that three of them also had been spray painted in similar fashion! This was of course a worry, firstly cos they were in our garden and secondly if someone, well meaning or otherwise chops down a whacking great tree they only take thirty or forty years to replace like for like. After a closer examination we photographed, as best we could said red lines in the growing darkness and seeing no sign of life in either neighbouring property popped across the road to JC in an effort to learn what we could about the practices of French men with chain saws. Explaining the same markings were on trees in the field and two gardens he and his wife were equally concerned and gave us a couple of pointers regarding what words to use as we were planning to make signs to stick on our trees…

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One of ours…

Having returned from our eleven months in France to discover an idiot tenant had chopped down a large, pretty and perfectly healthy flowering cherry tree we did not want to fall foul of unfettered felling again. I then went to speak to our neighbour Mr F whose mothers house is now ours. Despite it being relatively early he was semi dressed and I found the pictures on his wall fascinating until this situation was rectified. Both going out with torches he was equally concerned at two red lines perhaps meaning the chop, surprised as he was by the large trees being taken down at our other neighbour’s. He said he’d come with me to speak to the Forestiers the next morning. A little later I popped to the neighbours on the other side, who’d been out. I was concerned that in the dark they hadn’t noticed the disappearance of four or five large trees that may be their property! Thankfully Mrs neighbour said her husband had talked to the woodsmen and they knew the now missing trees were going down. She was however alarmed that the two remaining trees meant to remain had the same double red lines as some of ours and most ominously others in the field.

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And another of ours!

Next morning we were up early in case having to fend off chain saw wielding chaps was required. Mr F and I met and I traversed the somewhat churned up field towards the earliest arrival of the cutting crew. He thankfully was able to confirm that two red lines meant DON’T cut down and that no-more felling was to take place. I didn’t query why some trees were being left but was, as was Mr F, more than chuffed that we’d not have to go all rampant environmentalist, aka Swampy, in the face of vandalism. This was a massive relief and JC was also pleased when I updated him the next day. We’ve since been told two red lines often means use for construction … we’ll never know if that was or wasn’t the plan here.

In other more relaxed topiary news I pruned and trimmed our trees and shrubs out the front making them a bit more presentable. An issue with having half an acre is you have to do a bit of this sort of thing and don’t want someone wandering along chopping down your trees while you are off getting a baguette.

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Tidied up.

Prior to the garden tidy up we had a visit from the Pompiers (the combined Fire & Ambulance service) not about our cuisinier – still no sign of him yet… The chaps in dark blue sell a calendar each year. Knowing this them appearing one morning was no cause of panic – apart from on the part of Mitzy who is adjusting slowly to living in a house with a functioning door bell. You pay however much you want for the calendar and they give you a receipt. Rumours that the more you pay the more likely they are to pitch up in a crisis with the blue lights going are of course not true.

The day after the SYlP Gendarmes were dealing with the visit of the Prime Minister there was an even more famous chap in town – Santa! He was borne with excited youngsters by a horse drawn carriage and followed by locals and a band who among other things played the Lions Sleeps Tonight which I think should be a Christmas song.

Limited as we are socket wise a seven course Xmas day nosh was impossible but we or rather S did a great job all the same. In France the big feed is normally on the 24th but did it on the 25th. I had strips of duck done on the George Forman and S had a savoury pancake of her as much as she could own making.

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Looks like cake, was ice cream… What a country!

Next year I want to try the small black pudding like sausages wrapped in bacon you can get locally, S is less keen on them… It was a gorgeous day here and we set off for a walk around the block – which is just over 5 kilometres.

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Xmas walk

It was the first Noel wander I’ve done without a jacket and wearing shades. It was colder for our last French festives. Anyway, we wandered along waving at the six, count them six cars we saw in just over an hour.

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Things could be worse…

We went past what was clearly the home of the Brit who had popped by previously to say hello as he was hosting quite a get together in the sunshine. We bonjoured the youngsters with their kids and then surprised them by wishing them merry Christmas in English. We could have probably gate crashed and got a few crisps and a glass of something but wandered on seeing a gambolling deer before we returned to see a certain cat at a window…

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Clearly Mitzy wanted to join us but she’s only slowly being introduced to the garden especially as when she was out with S on her fetching pink lead they met another cat. M quickly took steps to defend her territory and our honour despite the limits on her mobility of a startled S. The low growling from our wee grey feline was not her being choked by the harness as S for a moment feared.

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Where’s you been?!?

Up to the 15th December

The more astute and gorgeous of you will remember that at the end of the last missive we were without hot water and were awaiting a visit from a person to give our cuisinier the once over. Our loo was working and the plotting of the re-wire was on track.

The next couple of weeks saw progress in many directions and at differing pace. We arranged a visit from our lovely agent and the electrician who had provided a quote following our Survey – the result of which was a reduction in the price paid for our wee maison.  He, the electrician, went over the quote and we discussed a couple other elements (puns are rarely accidental) and how we could plug the gaps (told you) in the current (another) facilities. Understanding it was the lead up (boom!) to Xmas we were not shocked (somebody stop me) to hear the start date for works would be the 10th of January. Understanding the position we were not brought down to earth (number six) by this news but a little excited or wired (!!!) at this being a big step forward. Remember we are operating with four sockets, one used by the heating and one that had not been utilised in the extension out back.

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Little old lady bath

The electrician undertook to speak to a plumber regarding getting a new water tank/heater being  put in sooner. Our charming agent returned a couple of days later with said plumber. He until then had been better known to me as a combative midfielder, sub and twice stand in physio for Saint Yrieix la Perche Football Club during the time I watched them four years ago. This was cause of a little embarrassment on his part and initially some confusion on our agent’s. She had been along both times cos as yet S and I are not as good at technical French as we could be. The plumber undertook to return two days later at nine. He pitched up at eight thirty and by noon we had a lovely new hot water tank in place, using the until then redundant plug until the re-wire is done. Hot water is a better option than cold and it meant we could use our little old lady bath that featured in the Facebook page competition. Congratulations Ewan for winning that and apologies to all for the picture used which I will not share again.

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It’s wee!

As you can see our bath is small, with a two tier sort of seat bit. The plumber gave us an idea of the cost of a cabine de douche which is a phrase that must have been used by Del Boy to Rodney et al at some point. We are holding fire on splashing out (don’t worry I’m not starting again) on that until after the re-wire and other things are more settled. In the meantime S has less of an issue mechanically with using the little old lady bath than I do, her not being six foot two! There is however a knack to it and we are becoming much better at soaking ourselves and not the rest of the room.

The electrician and plumber had each turned up on time, confounding those who believe stories of French tradesmen. In fact my pal the plumbers bill was a chunk under what he initially said the cost would be then as I tried to pay him 25 cents more than we owed him he rounded the figure down by almost ten euros. Meanwhile we’ve heard hide nor hair of the chap – he’s no-doubt a chap as a woman would be more conscientious – who’s meant to be looking over our cuisinier.

Social life wise we were horrified to be invited for an aperitif by the nice bloke from across the road. He only draws from his limited English when we are struggling badly in French. Anyway, we toddled across the road avoiding the non-existent traffic and spent a few hours blethering with him and his wife. She speaks next to no English but having retired from the local Agricultural College had been to Scotland as it is twinned with Oatridge in West Lothian. They are a lovely couple and despite mainly my efforts to ruin their fine language have remained chatty and friendly since. We’ve also introduced ourselves to most of the other neighbours when the opportunity arose. Three doors down is a charming woman who greeted us like old pals in the Post Office the other day – she also tipped us off about the three visits a week from the bread van.

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Cool reindeer

We also went to the Connect Xmas bash. Connect is group for mainly British and Dutch immigrants (aka ex-pats) in the wider area. We went to something on our last visit and ended up sat by a chap who it appears has rather a reputation. This visit was much more successful and once we’d adjusted to talking English we had quite a laugh with three other members. There was carol singing which wasn’t as strong as the mulled wine was or so S told me. We did however appear awfully young in comparison to most of the people there, the group have various clubs but as yet we are unsure if any of them are for us.

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The Vienne in Confolons

S despite not being on Facebook and tuther social media thingys had discovered Brits flog stuff locally on Fb. Thus we set off for the Vienne which is 86. We live in 87. They are not however next door to each other and after the trip we decided that anything over two hours driving each way according to Madam Sat Nav was not a good idea. Anyway we returned, after a nice lunch in Conflons with three rather splendid light fitting things at a bargain price. We lunched in a great wee pancake place by the river – I had a salad, no really!  Despite it being midweek there were some Gilet Jeunes out holding up traffic on the way back on the main road into Conflons until that is they stopped for lunch! So as the queue on moved past they were stood around a barbeque on the large roundabout they’d been obstructing…

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11th century tower on town walls

Sport wise I went to another couple of football games which I will detail separately along with our experiences of the Gilet Jeunes. I nearly went to watch Lutte – which is wrestling to those who didn’t know and I was one of you until the other week. It turned out that Saint Yrieix la Perche despite being only 8,000 or so people has a Division One Lutte team, one of only 12 at that level across France. We’d seen a couple of chaps in jackets from the team and I ended up chatting away to one of them in the laundrette – the washing machine will be sorted along with the cabine de douche. He it turned out was Russian, from the Caucuses, which he told me has quite a wrestling tradition. So I in my best attempts at my second language blethered away to him in his second language which was pretty cool. If any bots are reading this he is wholly approving of the dictator in Moscow…  😉 It turned out that the last match of the season was the coming Saturday and the dozen bouts go from back of ten until about eight at night. Something that wasn’t really an option this time around on what was already planned to be a busy day.

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S on the ramparts

The box room – aka second bedroom – is currently named that as it’s full of boxes. As there will be upheaval and wires put in walls and replastering much of our stuff is remaining in boxes for now. Other jobs have been done tho for example replacing the draft excluder on the back door which leads out to the extension. That is now providing a very good level of insulation in that we had to have S pushing and me pulling on the door to shut the effing thing the first few times… S has been sanding doors to make them close better. I however suggested that her idea of putting WD40 on the outerside to help them shut may not be the best idea. Picture the scene, your unlikely hero (me) gets up and dons his fleecy dressing gown then heads for the cuisinier to get the heating going for the wife and cat he loves… Having made an obvious stop en-route past a newly lubricated doors in the dark.  then the plucky hero (still me) strikes a match and does a very passable impression of a Roman candle igniting rapidly and writhing about for a few moments. Meanwhile a sleeping S is unaware behind a nicely closed door. Thankfully she took this on board but I am watching out for signs of new life insurance policies!

Otherwise we are now self-taught gas uninstallers. In that we successfully removed the old and condemned gas water heater. It was when in operation connected to a gas bottle as being rural types mains gas doesn’t reach here. This I feared would involve much swearing the creation of a character building scar or two and then admission of defeat and having to pay someone to do it. However aided by our automatic screwdriver, the application of logic and a healthy chunk of fluke we got it off the wall and out without much difficulty. Also we have done other bits and bobs like block up unused holes in the chimneys. There are different sized metal things for this and with the application of a carefully cushioned hammer blow or nine the one in our bedroom was closed. Having three chimneys we are pretty sure Santa will still be able to visit Mitzy without any problems.

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Mitzy keeping an eye on stuff

The furry bundle of demands has been over washing a bit in part due to the stress of it all. Annoyingly when the weather has been best for letting her out on her still unphotographed lead it has been on days when we’ve had to be elsewhere. We don’t think a nervous cat would appreciate being taken out in the dark. She is enjoying all the places she can wander and climb onto in the house and a few spots by windows that she can look out. However, she seems pretty happy much of the time even if sometimes that’s back of five and waking up me, which is a habit of hers.

We have been hanging out in the Post Office with much of the local population sending pressies and such. We admit to having double taked when one website made very clear “That this seller does not deliver to France mainland” was not a personal slight based on any number of transgressions which were no doubt of my doing… Our surname has so far been Meanland, Minland and Manland but not caused any issues other than mild amusement. In the UK I would on occasion have to correct people who on hearing Mainland said “Maitland” as if I didn’t know my own name.

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Chateau at Coussac Bonneval

On Saturday the 15th we got our Xmas on going to two Christmas Markets. One indoors at one of the local High schools which is named after Jules Ferry not Mark Ferry the quality midfielder the Rovers had for a couple seasons. It was cool and a couple purchases were made – nae spoliers!  As is often the case there was a sit down meal too, themed on the twin town Bad Wincheim in Germany. It wasn’t to veggie S’s taste but having a nosh at a thing like this is on our to do list. The Mayor was there and I inadvertently didn’t shake his hand when I could have done… This is unlikely to be an issue as the people at the Mairie were very nice when we popped in on them – claiming my French was good which was more polite than accurate. The other event was in Coussac Bonneval at the Chateau. It was good and populated by lots of round people in that it was cold for us and raining. In fact it was pissing down or as they say here vachement pisse – pissing like a cow!  Lots of the locals seemed to be wrapped in many layers and we wished we had done the same. The nice chap who fixed our loo was by a blazing pizza oven doing pitta breads and even he looked cold and a bit miserable. We exited more rapidly than planned but it was the best option.

More soon – hope you both have a lovely festives!

 

The First Week

On the 21st November the house purchase was quite fancy with the Notaire chap using a wall mounted screen to go through the documents. All very modern and swanky then we signed on a wee device that was a little more fancy than delivery people brandish nowadays. It turned out that they keys were not with the seller Monsieur F as expected, he’d left them in the back door of what was now our house! They were pleasingly still there. 😊

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Happier than we may appear!

As noted in the previous Ramblings we didn’t move in until the 27th having got our furniture on the 22nd. We organised various things in that time, like the upgrading of the quantity of electricity the house gets – I know who knew! Also, the large amount of wood was delivered and firstly shifted under cover before the stacking process began. I hoiked much of the wood into the garage as if an American Football Long Snapper which proved the most effective method! S was rather more gentile in her throwing while that cat didn’t help at all ensconced as she was inside.

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We had piles…

The first night was pretty chilly – both heaters were going prior to bedtime. S however ended up being too hot as a result of a combo of her having overdressed and our 16 tog Super King size duvet!

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Hot box

I have been playing with fire… Well the Cuisinier, which is like an Aga or Raeburn, namely a whacking get metal cooker and in our case the water heater for the radiators. It’s fed with wood and gets all toasty warm – after a bit – but I’m getting better at teasing it into life. Mitzy has rather pleasingly learnt not to jump on top of it which would be very messy, an example of which we heard about from Kay. Beside the Cuisinier is a central heating pump which Monsieur F had told us would kick in – I was sceptical to be honest but noticed that the radiators had gone from ice cold to not the afternoon after our first night. I kept quiet about said rather than tempt fate but when I returned from doing more wood stacking they had hit the giddy heights of tepid. S was rather pleased!
The pump having kicked in the house is rather different from the time we sent there before moving in – yes the kitchen is warm but the rest of the place no-longer has the coldness it had had from being empty for a couple of years and the radiators are doing a decent job. Thus, we have been able to dispense with one heater and use the other only sparingly – making all rather more pleasant. We arranged after eventually finding the Chauffage (wood-burner/cuisinier shop) attended by a person – not by a sign saying when they would be back – a visit early the following week for it be given the once over. Notification to be made of a time by text. Meanwhile I coax it into life each morning while S remains asleep and M generally demands attention.

Rather than use a condemned gas water heater which could give us the opportunity to see the surrounding area briefly from the air before the inevitable fatal squelch… We decided not too risk it. Thus, we were living rustically with a large kettle from Kay and Paul on the Cuisinier heating up water for the obvious ablutions… This is only sustainable for a short term and the first weekend we headed a little north to Limoges where we had a couple things to do and spent a night in an Ibis Budget where we showered muchly. Sunday night food options were limited and we ended up in a place where a fellow immigrant was behaving a little oddly, new as he clearly was to European norms. He having arrived in France from the south, not the north like us, saw my polite eye contact as an excuse to regale us with info of some sort much of which seemed to be “Na-na-na-na-na”ing. Rather that join in by singing, “Baby give it up, give it up, Baby give it up” and let him continue we smiled and I shook him by the offered hand as we left. (The young reader may need to Google the musical reference on one device or another, the older reader can nod sagely and move on). He seemed a nice bloke but we had no idea what he was going on about.

We received a letter from EDF the electricity people late in the first week – this is akin to a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket! It is that significant, no really it is and I’ll tell you why… Setting up anything more complex than a loyalty card for a supermarket people ask rightly for ID. First on all, I repeat ALL their lists of examples is an EDF bill or document. Getting said golden ticket from EDF is a great help with boring but necessary admin stuff.

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Haircut required

The toilet had initially been a faff needing a new large washer. It turned out that was not the only issue and tho it cheerfully dealt with any offerings it didn’t so much flush as dribble constantly in a feeble and annoying way. My efforts to fix it mainly resulted in me using my full range of swearing vocabulary in various combinations, having to stick my hand down it and frankly not much else… We purchased a new flush mechanism and I repeated much of my oathing but didn’t so much fix it as knacker it just a touch more. I am to plumbing what Saddam Hussein was to kitchen design, namely heehaw! Despite the best efforts of a nice chap – who we christened Antoine the toilet man – in the local DIY place who regaled us with tales of standard sized parts we made no progress. Our toilet hole seemed to be bigger than the norm… However, I gave in and cavalry in the shape of a tradesman recommended by a friend saved the day.

Flushed with that success we were able to concentrate on staking wood. I have improved at said during what was a lengthy training program and I can claim to be one step on from Novice. In a couple of years time I’ll no-doubt be a Mother Superior or whatever the right term is, S is making similar advances with all but the biggest bits. No sign however at this point of the Cuisineir man coming.

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With a house built in 1973 and lived in since then by a, possibly little, old lady comes old things. Lots of things as expected take a little longer and a few more Euro’s to sort out. We are now, for example, on good terms with a local locksmith. It took five visits to his shop to first order new back door keys then collect them in their new shiny finery then to have them tweaked after they didn’t work. Return to see him and his happy wee dog again he further tweaked them… The last visit was a brief one. When I popped in I’m sure I saw fear in his eyes – those who know me will understand I know that look. However, this stop had been to confirm that they had worked and to thank him again. He was very pleased to see me go. Those who know me will understand I know that look too!

Overall our days have been based on getting things done and many of then take just a little longer than you think they will. This leads to lots of activity, tiredness and on occasion forgetting meals! I eventually remembered to get a haircut at my usual place or rather the one I used last time – about 3 weeks after one was due. The chap said he remembered me and my interest in local football and I did my best to not mangle his language too much during my much-needed visit. S is checking out hair dressing options and may try a different one from last time, watch this soon to be nicely coiffured space!

Despite the non-arrival and or contact of the Cuisinier man gentle progress was been made almost every day in the first week and it appears moving wood and simple semi-rural living is good for your physic. I am it appears one step closer too being an Adonis – a journey which has quite frankly some considerable distance remaining.

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Stacked…  And the wood!

Check out the Facebook page for the next fun competition.  The winner of the last one sent this…

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She likes her new bookmark

Random pics

Pottering about as we do we happen across things…

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Lots of cows here and less mobile versions… This one is obviously on it’s holidays.

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Head Cheese doesn’t sound appetising… I think of Green Bay Packer fans – which is preferable to what may be in it…

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You heard it here first… BALACLAVA’S are IN this winter! Get your Granny’s knitting them NOW.

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This companies rubber gloves are all in different ‘poses’. This was my fave by quite a margin!

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It was a pretty sky this evening. This is the view from our front door.

There will be a more wordy update soonish!