Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Flaming June and Family July

This is the first year  we have had a our own pool for the whole summer (it was completed mid August last year) and we were able to make the most  it during the hot sunny days that June brought us. No gites mean we have it all to ourselves and we love it.

June was sunshine, apricots, swallows nesting on the terrace, flowering trees, corn harvest, puppy sitting and that pool.

Work carried on on the house - another tree felled as it was pushing out the gate posts and a  new gateway was created.

Going                               Going                                 Gone

Just waiting for the gates

We finished the tiling on the covered terrace in a  three day stint in time for the family's arrival. It looks lovely and now the floors inside the house stay cleaner longer with no cement dust being brought in. It was fun to have the old team back together - we didn't do any of the floor tiling in the house as K was working and though I say it myself we are pretty good at it.

Halfway there

July and it's time to share the  pool with family. Happy, happy days of splashing fun. B working on  her 'big arms' and making loads of progress with her swimming (no arm bands now Granny) and C getting more confident every day. My son  helped Kevin to finish the decking around the pool and we are really pleased with it. Next pool project is  to add a seating deck, some privacy screening  and  soften up the surrounding area with planting.

Animal park, night market, swimming, playing Downfall and dominoes, feeding the chickens, gardening, playing with the dogs (especially Schula), meeting Granny and Grandad's friends,watching the tour de France with french children, pony riding, more swimming, crafting in Granny's den, playing in the tent, playing with the sprinkler, helping in the kitchen,gardening,  having cuddles  - and for a little indoor relaxation watching Frozen. It was all lovely and we'll do it all again next year.

We left them to their own devices one evening as we had a birthday party to go to. Our lovely friend Jean Pierre has turned 70. I remember friends turning 21, then 30 and 40 ---- now it's 70! We had the most amazing evening and Kevin was honoured to be asked to cook the main course - a veal based basque dish called Axoia - a French man asking an Englishman to cook for him - now that is an honour.

We are looking forward to more family, friends and sunshine next month

A bientôt

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Family, Friends and Fish and Chips

We went away to the UK for 12 days at the end of May, renting a car and visiting friends and family around the UK.

We visited Reading, Cirencester,Cheltenham,Birmingham,Lichfield,Derbyshire, Beckenham, Battle, Hastings and Rochester.

We saw our children and grandchildren and the lovely Crozier, Perry, Hawkeswell and Cornwell families.  We had pub grub, fish and chips and British beer. We stocked up on country gent clothing for Kevin and bits and pieces for the kitchen. We traced Kevin's origins in Rochester and enjoyed the castle and the cathedral. We sat by the seaside and drove across the dales.

We had a great time.

Friday, May 2, 2014

A walk on the south side - no 2 in a series of walls

One of the lovely features of this house is the terrace - a second room in the summer. It has the same orientation as the last house but is wider and has walls at each end which keeps the wind
out meaning we can use it over a longer period.

The original terrace
The walls were covered in render
The original roof

It  had to come down
Lying the screed
The render was taken off

Then the walls were repointed
Ready to share with friends and family

Shutters painted

The finished result

Did I say finished? There's one thing left to do - tile the floor but that will have to wait until we come back from our holiday.We love our new terrace and look forward to sharing it with friends and family.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Flurry of Feasting

The first was with our friends from the Kiwanis. The evening started with a visit to a retired farmer who as a hobby decided to plant a wood and in this mixed wood he has planted the truffle oak. The tree has been inoculated with the truffle spores and you can tell if they have taken as there is a ring of bare earth around the tree. It was a lovely walk in the early evening sunshine and a really interesting insight into truffle growing. More about growing truffles here and about how you can even adopt a truffle tree here. We ended our visit with a stop at another of his hobbies - growing shitake mushrooms. In a patch of forest he has logs stacked up to house the mushrooms and apparently they grow in profusion. Someone asked him if he sold them to restaurants etc and he replied laconically that he put them in the freezer and gave them to family and neighbours - it's not all about money!

The bare earth shows the spores have taken and the ring will get bigger each year

He is training his dogs as truffle hunters and they gave us a demo

The shitake mushrooms grow on these log stacks 
The mushrooms tasted delicious
Our delightful, gentle and funny friend Jean Marc

Then off for aperos and the main feast. Jean Marc used to be the director of one of the local vineyards and as a bit of a gourmand he has kept alive an old tradition of eating the wild leeks , les baraganes, that grow amongst the vines. These days they are spoiled by pesticides but Jean Marc continues to encourage them amongst his own vines. They were gathered and cooked as part of a delicious meal.

Confréries are very active in France - brotherhoods business groups which were formed at the end of the Middle Ages as a manifestation of solidarity between equals. I suppose the Confrérie most people have heard of is the Masons. Here in the SW France at summer events you will often see members dressed in their grand robes and perhaps holding a ceremony to welcome a new member. At the Salon de Chocolat that we hold every year the Confrérie de Choclatiers invest a new member.

Jean Marc and Pierre felt that the gatherers and cookers of the baragan should have a confrérie and entertained us with a spoof ceremony, poking a little gentle fun at the ceremony of the confréries, to welcome three new members to their initial group of two. Their ceremonial robes consist of a black beret with the wild leeks attached and the new members received garlands of baragans interlaced with wild flowers. We look forward to next years ceremony and meal!

Jean Marc and Pierre the founder members
A new member  is welcomed into the group
The feasting continued with the annual Repas des Chasseurs - if you don't like meat give this one a miss! We have been regular attenders since we came here and enjoy the company and the food . It's a lot of meat and a lot of wine and a late evening so we needed a whole day to recover!

Our final feasting memory is the lovely lunch we had with friends and our daughter and her partner. The sun let us down but we were ten à table for a lovely meal cooked by Kevin with a bit of help from me and Ali -  a lovely atmosphere and a very happy easter Sunday.

A la prochaine.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Birthday, Bikes and Bargains

This spring's UK trip coincided with two big events - my granddaughter's 5th birthday and my son's Revolution event at the London velodrome. I was thrilled to be there for both occasions.


The actual birthday was a school day but Bethany chose the venue for tea at a restaurant. Imagine the faces if the adults when she chose McDonalds! It was as gruesome as we imagined and will always be remembered for the ice cream fiasco - first three ordered had strange bits in them so were replaced by ordinary cones. Sadly B's ice cream dropped off the cone to the floor  after only one lick so Daddy had to get ice cream number 7! I was very jealous of the pink shoes - I had longed for similar shoes when I was young but it wasn't to be.

My Little Pony - just what she wanted
Dress up shoes and McDonalds
Birthday morning - presents and cards on the table
Charlie helped her open them
Her best friend came to have birthday tea with us
New pink wellies
Exploring her new craft box with Mummy

The birthday cake was a second appearance for Ball Gown Barbie at the special request of the birthday girl. My daughter -in-law has this cake well and truly mastered. I especially like the cake stored next to the wine in the fridge.

The creation of the Ball Gown Barbie  came and a very excited birthday girl

The birthday party itself was mostly run by the amazing Gilbert Giggles - the children had a great time and so did the adults (with a bit of help from that chilled wine!)

B enjoying the parachute games with her best friend - those are Gilbert Giggles' knickers on the TV not Granny's!


Time for tea

The finished cake


I was so pleased to be able to attend the final of the Revolution series organised by my son which was held in the Lee Valley velodrome - the first event there since the Olympics.  We got to see the stars (check out Bethany and her cousins getting Laura Trott's autograph), eat great food (we were in the VIP enclosure after all), meet up with family and friends and see some amazing cycling.

B and Charlie dressed for the event in their Sky kit
 James in work mode
Getting Laura Trott's autograph
Telling the wife how it's going
The boss is needed
Sanding down between events
Old friends
Chris Hoy being interviewed
He may be the boss but he's our daddy first
The journey home with B being a bit squashed in the taxi

One of the things that impresses me most about the Revolution event is the support for young cyclists that it affords. Chris Hoy is the official sponsor for this innovative event.  Face partnership continue to run the London Nocturne in June and are preparing a new event in October called Park our ride for BMX cyclists and of course the Revolution series will be back in the autumn. You can check out all the events here

I am a very proud Mum!


After all that excitement I was to spend a relaxing few days with my daughter and her wife. First I went up to White City to have coffee with her at The BBC where she is currently working.  I left my case with her and shopped till I dropped at the nearby Westfield complex. I needed the rest more than ever after all that.

The girls were running in Brighton on my departure day so were able to leave me at the airport - I'd had a lovely time.

Alison is running very day after work during Lent - a bit nippy this night check out the rosy knees
Ready for the Brighton run - thanks for a lovely visit girls.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A walk on the North side - no 1 in a series of walls.

Time to take a little look back at where we have come from, starting with the outside walls.

The North facing side of the road which is also the road side had a large open outbuilding which was one of the first things to be demolished - it had taken me ages to clear all the rubbish out first. Then we could see that this wall really was beyond saving.

A drunken lean

Putting it back together again

Just waiting for the shutters to be painted and the garden area made and it will be perfect.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Marching on into March


Schula has had the snip and consequently been confined by her plastic lampshade to stop her licking the wound. She's done her best to chew it off and we have to do constant running repairs with sticky tape. Today is her last day of confinement as hopefully it will come off tomorrow. She does find it very useful for digging up mud in the garden though.

Obviously I took this before she started to chew it.

She looks glum doesn't she?

Well chewed and muddy
In the house

New shade of red has gone up behind the fire and as you can see the fire is working again - we had a new chimney piping done by a local company - so that's three times we'll have paid for that bit of kit! Still not convinced that it is heating the water as it should so that little glitch still has to be sorted out.

Spending time with friends

My lovely friend Jane (who was a gite client looking for a home here when we first met) came for lunch and some sewing fun. Jane and I will see each other again at the weekend for the annual hunter's meal in their village - we were at one in another village last week so you can imagine we are consuming quite a bit of meat at the moment!

My lovely friend Jane makes her first ever cushion cover
Getting to grips with the machine

Trying out the end result on our bed
I have some funds in my Kiva account so as sewing has been high on the agenda recently I made a new loan to an Asian woman wanting to buy sewing supplies. I do like Kiva's way of supporting people to build their own businesses through loans and I feel proud when they manage to pay the loan back on time so that it can be rolled out to help someone else. You can find out more about these loans that change lives here.


Since 2004 I have been a member of an online forum called Lay My Hat which is for people who have holiday rentals. I've made some real friends through this forum and have viewed some great properties. Kevin is finally going to retire at the end of October so we are hoping to start visiting some of these lovely places as holiday makers. We're starting with a long weekend in September in the Ariege at this lovely location - La P'tite Maison at Le Grillou

We'll get to sleep in this lovely bedroom


The sunshine has finally returned and with it the builders to do the external pointing. This old house is putting on its best frock!

All cleaned off and raked out
Getting there
First section complete
Top of the wall done

Our thoughts turn to outside projects and we snapped up some edging stones on promotion to neaten up the entrance and parking area. Still too wet to plant in the potager but I'm planning some more broad bean sowing in my paper pots over the weekend - the first ones are sprouting already. Hopefully when I get back from my UK trip the soil will have dried out and we'll be able to start the growing season in earnest.

Me time

Oh yes my next UK trip starts on Tuesday. I'll be there for my granddaughter's 5th birthday on Wednesday and the weekend of the 14/15th I will be attending the first event to be held in the London velodrome since the olympics.  I am so proud of my son who has organised it as part of the Revolution Series. It's being broadcast on BT sport and live streamed on You Tube if you didn't manage to get a ticket (there have been some more standard tickets released but you'll have to be quick and there should be VIP places left ). After all that excitement I'll look forward to some chilling chez ma fille.

Here's a shot from round 4

Hope the sunshine has found its way to your door too.

A bientôt.