October 2, 2015


Whilst in Wales I have been able to pursue one of my favourite pastimes - taking pictures of doors and windows. 

Here are some recent ones.  Some were taken in France this year and some in Wales.  Can you tell which are which?  Extra brownie points if you recognise them and can actually say where they are!








Bon weekend!

September 30, 2015



I didn’t realise how much I missed the seaside, until now.

September 26, 2015



Today we did something different.  We went on holiday.  It’s the first time since 2007 that we have been anywhere other than Le Grand-Pressigny for a holiday.  Having spent some time trawling the internet for ideas we chose this little cottage in Wales.  Anglesey to be accurate, and it’s the cottage on the left.



The journey was hard work, the traffic being very busy, much worse than we expected.  Mind you, the last time I went to Wales was more than twenty years ago so that could have something to do with it.

The weather was lovely.  A beautiful warm, sunny, early autumn day.  We stopped in Conwy for an hour to stretch our legs and take in our first view of the sea.  The little town was heaving with tourists, but very pretty all the same.


Once over the bridge and on the island, the traffic was much calmer.  There was a scary moment when we encountered this lot around a bend. 


We arrived at our little cottage mid afternoon in glorious sunshine.  It’s the former post office in Bull Bay, sitting right by the little harbour and conveniently next to the Hotel, where they serve meals – but not tonight as they had a big party to cater for and couldn’t fit us in.



The cottage was first a fisherman’s cottage, then a post office, then a house again.  These pictures are of photos hanging on the walls in the house.



Inside, all is clean, bright and cosy, just right for a seaside holiday. 


The little terrace at the front of the house overlooks the bay and the slipway, where there were many people messing about in their boats and taking advantage of the glorious weather.



The coastal path runs right in front of the cottage.  After only a few steps we were up the hill overlooking the sea.  Lulu was in heaven.  (But we had to keep her on the lead in places because of the sheep.)


After a glorious day, there was a full moon in the evening, adding to the spectacular views over the bay as we strolled up the hill towards our dinner in the other hotel.

It’s a lovely spot.  I had quite forgotten how beautiful Anglesey is and we’re looking forward to exploring over the next week.

Bon Dimanche!

September 22, 2015



We took Lulu to the vet recently for her annual boosters, the outcome of which was surgery this morning.  We hope she soon feels better and is back to being her usual self - full of fun and a delight to be with.  She feels very sorry for herself today.

Poor Lulu.  You can read all about it here.

September 17, 2015



It’s one year ago this week that we moved out of the little house in Le Grand-Pressigny and into the much larger house a few kilometres away.  The year has gone by quickly and has not been without moments of uncertainty, wondering whether we had done the right thing.  For me anyway, not so much for Nick. 

I know in my heart of hearts that of course we have.  The little house was perfect as a holiday home but very small and we would not have been comfortable spending more than a two week holiday there.  Apart from anything else, it had a very small garden and we wanted the space.  We also felt very hemmed in.  It was nice to be close to the village shops and bars but sometimes we felt a little crowded there.

We thought when we viewed the new house that it was a “move straight in”, in other words that nothing needed to be done urgently to make it comfortable.  Hindsight being a wonderful thing, we now realise we were wrong! 

The house had lots of faults and flaws, most being the shortcuts taken when it was renovated, some of which were cleverly concealed.  It looked good but underneath it was lacking in substance.  Fur coat and no knickers.


The really major job we needed to do was to replace the fosse septique.  We knew this when we were considering buying the house so it was no surprise.  It was a big, expensive job and caused a lot of mess.  We had to lose our walnut tree and a lovely apple tree to make way for the pipework and comply with the regulations.

Now that it’s all completely finished it we’re very happy with it, knowing that our waste water is being dealt with properly and emerging as clean water into the ditch.  Much better than knowing that it disappears into a tank with a hole in the bottom and ends up who knows where.  Not to mention the pump that pumped any overflow into the well.  Our contractor was horrified when he discovered that and said he had never seen anything like it before! 

The new tank now sits under an area of decking.  The main purpose of this is to deter people from driving over it.  The layout of the drive was such that it was very tempting for large vehicles, such as the vans and trucks used by builders and so on, to take the easy way when leaving the house by driving over the grass.  A heavy truck could do a lot of damage to the tank.  The decking works well I think and is a nice place to sit and have a quiet drink in the shade once the sun has gone down behind the barn.

After the new fosse and the new drive we then moved seamlessly, if not painlessly, to having a new kitchen and staircase.  The new kitchen came about because the kitchen floor was crumbling beneath our feet and to have a new floor meant the units had to come out.  The staircase was a purely aesthetic change.  We thought the industrial metal spiral job was ugly as well as dangerous.  We are extremely happy with the new one.

Now hopefully the last, major piece of work is about to start.  This includes re-rendering the whole of the front of the house and some of the inside as well.


We love the exposed stone areas in the sitting room but they are a bit rough and ready.  The builder re-rendered the exposed stone in the kitchen and it looks so much better that I knew that I couldn’t live with the living room as it was for much longer!


We love the old bread oven in the dining room.  Its size suggests that the house once stood amongst many other dwellings and not by itself as it does now. 


The walls in the sitting room and dining rooms will soon look like this one in the kitchen.  The builder starts next week and it will take 4-5 weeks for the whole lot to be done.

The question is, are we renovating or titivating?  The house has never been uninhabitable, except when we moved out to make way for the builders when the kitchen was done.  Is a new kitchen renovation? Or titivation?  We always felt that we couldn’t tackle a real renovation of a house, looking at what some of our friends have achieved, starting from bare walls, with no plumbing or electrics.  We have changed things to our taste and done necessary repairs, which is not quite the same, perhaps.

There are many reasons why we fell for this house, the main one being that the basic renovation, already done, was sound.  The original buildings had already been transformed into exactly the right kind of living space for us, giving us the number and size of rooms that we had been looking for.  We love it.  But it has needed a bit of love and care – and titivation.

More soon!

August 28, 2015


I can hardly believe that the end of August is here already.  How did that happen?  The year has whizzed by, and the summer has been a good one for us in France.  There’s lots to tell, some of it seems like very old news now but it’s worth telling it all the same – when I get round to it !!

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I’ve mentioned it before but we’ve done really well with our few tomato plants this year.  Other people have done well with courgettes and we have benefited from their success.  I decided it was time to make a real effort to use them productively.

On exploring the contents of the fridge today I found a few other bits and bobs that needed using up so, remembering this recent blog post, an idea evolved in my mind and I produced smoked salmon and halloumi stuffed courgettes for lunch.  They were very tasty and I shall make them again.  You can read all about them here.

August 20, 2015


paint pots

There is nothing the least bit sinister about the fact that I haven’t posted for absolutely ages.  The simple fact of the matter is that I have been busy.  Not that that is any real explanation or excuse for neglecting my blog.  I have been busier than this in the past and still found time to blog.  Gawd knows how I found the time to do it when I was working, now that I have retired I seem to have even less time to do anything for myself than ever before.  Now how many people warned me about this……?

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I first saw these paint pots on offer in B&Q in early spring.  They looked like they could come in handy but I managed to resist buying them.  Then back in June (I think) I went on a blueberry and raspberry picking morning with friends, in France, and they were much more well equipped than I.  Whilst I grappled with plastic bags and boxes they picked efficiently with paint pots and much more sensible boxes. 

I did well though, coming home with several kilos of blueberries and raspberries, but I resolved to return to B&Q next time we were in England, and get a couple of those paint pots.  Ideal for picking a few blackberries from the hedgerows or load of tomatoes from our garden.

Considering how much trouble we had growing tomatoes in the UK, even in a greenhouse, we have done staggeringly well here in France this summer.  We have had tons of them.  Well maybe not tons, but many, many kilos.

We bought a handful of plants in the spring, planted them out, added a few plants given to us by friends, and from a very small patch of appallingly poor quality earth and by more or less ignoring them completely, we are up to our necks in tomatoes.

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We have made and frozen tomato sauce, various flavours.  I have bagged up chopped tomatoes for the freezer and, for the first time in my life, roasted and preserved herby tomatoes in olive oil.  Yum.  Two of these little beauties squashed onto a slice of baguette makes me feel full of sunshine and incredibly smug.  Our tomatoes have without doubt been a huge success.

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I wish we were as successful with the use of mole scarers.  We bought one at huge expense and have positioned it in various mole hills around the garden only to find the mole pops up somewhere else.  This morning I rounded the corner between the house and the barn to find Daisy poised to pounce over a throbbing piece of gravel and a mole hill.  Obviously Mr Mole was about to emerge skywards right next to the mole scarer, completely unscared and unperturbed.  Unfortunately my plodding in his direction with a basket of washing was enough to send him in the opposite direction and Daisy retired to her favourite chair in the sunshine.  Later that day the mole hill was up to the top of the mole scarer, which continued to buzz ineffectually.

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Last but not least, we have a little conundrum for now.

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We have commissioned our friendly local builder to redo the front of the house.  This involves picking out all the existing cement render and putting it back in a much more beautiful fashion.  Which sounds simple but is actually a big job.  The house will look fabulous afterwards, much better than the mish mash of finishes that adorns the front now.

The question is, which colour of cement render should we choose?  We have a choice of three colours from hardly pink at all through fairly pink to positively peachy.  Our builder has done us a sample of each on the front wall.  We err towards the middle one, just slightly pink.  But with each hour of the day the colours look different and as each day goes by and they dry out they look different again.

We need to get this right, as we may have to live with it for the next hundred years or so!

Bon weekend !!