30 April 2018

Well, well, well




From my kitchen window I have a lovely view looking out across the vineyard and to the woods beyond.  But pan slightly to the right and I have a less scenic view of Philippe’s well.  This well originally belonged to our house but the previous owners sold it to Philippe.  Over winter he has installed a pump so that he can irrigate his potager.



Next door is another well and ancient lavoir (wash house) belonging to Monique, Philippe’s sister.  This well also has a pump that has its own stone housing that is built in the local style; the roof has been replaced in recent years but the stonework is marked 1895. 

the old lavoir where women of the hamlet once did the laundry
Monique's well






Farmer Hichard has a more traditional looking well in his garden. Most of the dwellings in the hamlet have their own water source although we are all linked to a mains water supply.




29 April 2018

Wet Sunday

Rick waiting for his walk
We had thunder and lightning overnight and today it is raining. Paul and Rick got very wet on their morning walk, Rick looked like a wet seal by the time he got home.  He curled up in his bed and steamed gently in front of the log fire.  Reluctant to be outside in this wet weather I decided to be self-indulgent and relax in a bubbly, hot bath.  The tub here is very old fashioned and deep; this is wonderful but does make it quite difficult to climb out as I get older.  I’m sure I will get stranded one day.

my chef
It’s Sunday so Paul is chef today, he is cooking magret (duck breast) tonight.  Good food, wine, log fire – what more do I need?  I prepared lunch – grilled Cab├ęcou (goat’s cheese) with French bread on a bed of lettuce dressed with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.  Or cheese on toast as Rachel would say.

walkies in the rain
Time now to don my wet weather gear and take Rick for a soggy walk through the chestnut woods.  I’ve drunk so much cheap red wine with lunch I shall probably roll down the hill. 

especially for Mr Pudding


A Trip to Market



We went to our local market this morning to buy cheese, salad, and to fill our empty bottles at the wine stall.  Rick came with us but the town was quite busy with people and traffic and he did not behave well.  He barked at a small boy and made him cry.  I think he was just too excited by all the new sounds and smells.  It's a long weekend in France and everyone seemed to be buying in bulk; the lady at the wine stall was going to have a very jolly time judging by the amount of wine she bought.


The boulangerie had run out of croissants so Paul bought me a pastry filled with chocolate nutella and topped with roasted almonds.  It was wicked.


27 April 2018

Had a good day darling?


Paul carefully and painstakingly placed his last remaining tomato and cucumber seeds into pots this morning and placed them on the steps to soak up the sunshine.  Rick was in the garden chasing birds and lizards and went careering up the steps, straight through the pots and knocked them flying. Soil and seeds scattered everywhere. The air went blue as Paul called Rick every name under the sun, just as two smartly dressed old ladies appeared at the gate.  Jehovah's Witnesses. They didn’t stay long.

Rakes left lying in the grass are a hazard.  Paul found out the hard way when he stepped on the flat edge of the spikes causing the wooden handle to fly up and smack him on his forehead.

His day can only get better.


26 April 2018

In The Garden



We have been back in France for just over four days and everything in the garden is starting to look shipshape again. Philippe, our neighbour, had kindly rotovated the potager for us beforehand so Paul was able to dig in the compost ready for planting. This morning we went to the local nursery and bought a few plants - tomato, aubergine, Piment des Landes (the long thin chilli peppers recommended by Cro), bell peppers, salad and basil.  The potager will be reduced this year as we will probably be travelling back to the UK at some point so no colourful pots of geraniums either!


Rick helped the Head Gardener...


guarding the raspberry canes

view across the valley

Monsieur Escalier's field is a sea of buttercups

25 April 2018

Lilac


The smell of lilac in the house is quite over powering at the moment. Philippe proudly presented me with an armful of lilac sprigs this morning, as he does every year.


I have been busy mopping, dusting and polishing while Paul has been strimming and cutting grass.  It hasn't all been work though, we've found plenty of time to sit in the sun.  Eating and drinking outside never fails to lose its appeal.


making progress

Diane the Dawg



I remember Diane's arrival in our hamlet some ten years ago; she was an ungainly pup with long droopy ears running around and falling over her over-sized paws.  She was Philippe's new hunting hound and, unlike his other dogs, was allowed to run free.  She was a regular visitor and often joined us for lunch on the terrace.  She was delighted when we adopted Rick last year and always followed us on our walks through the chestnut woods.

This year we noticed that she did not run to welcome us on our arrival back from England.  Sadly she was knocked down by a car on the road last winter while out chasing rabbits.  She paid a high price for her freedom to roam.  We are very sad and will miss Diane the Dawg.

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) 
 

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

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!