Monday, 23 April 2018

Trains and Boats and Planes

We drove to Folkestone on Saturday to catch the Eurotunnel train to Calais.  We drove up to the entrance booth and a screen immediately said “Welcome Mr Paul! You’ve missed your train, would you like to take the next available one?”  We've always been impressed by the efficiency of Eurotunnel but the passport/border control took longer than usual. 

"Where are you going?"  
 Slightly nonplussed Paul replied “France?” 
“How long for?”
“I don’t know.”
 “What is the purpose of your visit?”
“We are going to our French house.”
"Is that a raccoon on your back seat?"
"No, that's Rick."
In the past we have just been waved straight through.

We had a two and a half hour drive to our hotel on the outskirts of Paris.  We were too tired to eat out so we ordered room service, stretched out on our king-size bed and watched the French version of The Voice.  It was bizarre.  The following day we set off at 7.30 a.m., took the ring road round Paris and headed south on the motorway, we are always impatient to get to our destination so we avoid the pretty rural roads and take the fastest route. We arrived at our little hamlet just after 2.00 p.m.

In the past we have occasionally taken the overnight ferry across the English Channel from Portsmouth to Caen.  This is a more relaxed route with less driving but does mean hanging around at the exit port for a long time waiting to board the ferry.  This particular crossing doesn’t allow dogs in the cabin (they have to be put in kennels on board) so Rick isn’t too keen on this option.

The third way of getting here is by air, flying from either Toulouse or Bergerac to Bristol.  It is fast and easy but we then have to hire a car from the airport.  When Ryanair were doing their crazy ‘penny’ flights a few years ago we flew back from the UK one November just to cut the grass!

It’s a long way down and lots of hours’ driving but that is all forgotten when we sit on our terrace and enjoy the sunshine and beauty of our surroundings.  And the cheap wine!

(I love that Trains and Boats and Planes song, can't decide if I prefer the Billy J Kramer version or Dionne Warwick) 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Back to the Chateau

We arrived home just after midday.  The French roads were a joy after getting stuck in traffic for over two hours in Sussex and missing our train yesterday.  The lawns have turned into meadows, the courtyard is full of weeds and there was a dead mouse in the kitchen sink.  We flung open the shutters, vacuumed the dead flies and unloaded the car.  Then we poured a glass of wine each and enjoyed the afternoon sunshine on the terrace.  It’s good to be back.

the grass needs cutting

Rick is one very happy dog.

reunited with his favourite ball

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Quiet Sunday

I awoke early this morning.  I am a little preoccupied at the moment.  When I am anxious I tend to pluck at my eyebrows (trichotillomania), right now there is nothing left to pluck!

Rick and I went out for our morning walk around the estate.  There was not another soul about, it was bliss.  Rick behaved perfectly and didn’t even see the grey squirrel prancing along the top of the fence at the side of the footpath although he did lunge at a couple of pigeons. He was wearing his normal harness and leash and didn't need his Gentle Leader.  It was cool and overcast, no sign of yesterday’s Spring sunshine.  Everything is turning green very quickly and the cherry blossom is starting to fall like confetti.

I am cautiously optimistic that we have two new buyers for our properties.  Once again I shall discard the show home status and start eating the oranges from the fruit bowl!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Hot Cross Bun and a Black Eye

I have just got home with Rick after his early morning walk.  He was very good this morning, he was pretending to be a bloodhound and was in full snuffle mode, sniffing every single blade of grass and ignoring the traffic.

Paul has taken the car to the garage for some new tyres.  I have taken advantage of his absence and toasted the single, remaining hot cross bun that was languishing in the freezer.  It was wicked.  I couldn't share it with Rick either because raisins and sultanas are toxic to dogs.  I have carefully planned all our meals for the next week to ensure the freezer will be empty before we leave next weekend.  I think we may be eating a great deal of lamb curry.

Paul woke up with a black eye this morning.  No, I haven’t been fighting with him.  He has a habit of vigorously rubbing his eyes when he is tired and I am sure this is the cause of the bruising.  He looks like a proper ruffian.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Keep Calm and Carry On

The Eurotunnel and hotel is booked for next weekend but the days are moving incredibly slowly.  We have managed to sell one property again this week, and we have viewings on the coach house later today and tomorrow.  If we can get an offer on this place before next weekend we will be able to proceed on the Forest of Dean property.  No pressure at all.

I was so pleased for Kat when she got her posting to Cyprus, all that sunshine and sea.  Now, with the situation in Syria, I am worried about her safety.  I’m sure she’s fine but it just adds to my anxiety levels.  Enough of that, pull yourself together Susan.  I have nothing to be worried about compared to some people. 

I’ve been watching a lot of television during this wet, cold spell of weather.  My afternoon cup of tea is currently accompanied by an episode of The Crown, courtesy of Netflix.  I was surprised how entertaining this series (the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 40s to modern times) has been.  Claire Foy and Matt Smith do a very good job of portraying the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, they have their mannerisms down to a T.  The creators clearly use a lot of poetic licence but everything is historically factual or based on the gossip and rumours of the time.  Did Jackie Kennedy really describe the Queen as “incurious, unintelligent and unremarkable” after meeting her? Just the sort of light entertainment I need to keep me calm right now.