29 November 2009


Time to get back to the story.
The story so far :

By a happy set of coincidences we have found and bought a house in Le Grand-Pressigny. We got the keys on 9th November 2007 and have so far spent just one week there. Now we are back - for Christmas.


A happy man with his new stove.

Before we left the village in November we had asked Pascal the plumber to fit a pôele - a wood-buring stove - in our big tuffeau fireplace. This was after the disastrous attempt we had had earlier in the week in trying to light a fire.

We had heard nothing from Pascal or our friends Barrie and Lucie so when we arrived for Christmas at about lunchtime on Saturday 22nd December, we had no idea whether the pôele was fitted or not. To our absolute joy, not only was it fitted but also it had been lit !

Barrie had a key to the house to let Pascal in to do his stuff and, knowing we were arriving that afternoon, he and Lucie had been in to light the fire for us. They also left us some milk in the fridge and some bread on the side in the kitchen. How wonderful was that ?!

We switched on the electricity, turned on the gas and water, switched on all the electric heaters and fitted our newly purchased electric blanket to our bed. We also got the parafin heater going but we could tell it was going to take a long time for the place to warm up. However, it was a lovely sunny day and our little terrace, which faces south, is quite a suntrap. We put a couple of garden chairs outside and sat in the sunshine with a cup of tea. We were wearing several layers of clothes and woolly hats but it was absolute heaven. The view over the rooftops was just as interesting in December now that all the trees were bare, as it was when first saw it in August.


The view from the garden is always intersting, whatever the weather.

We were expecting our friends Pete and Cyn to arrive later the next day. They were on their way to their house in Cassagne, near Perpignan for Christmas and we planned to cook dinner for them in the evening. They would have to spend the night in the hotel in the village because at that point we were unable to put them up ourselves. We had hardly any furniture, only a table, some garden chairs and our own bed. However, they were likely to be warmer there than at our house!

Pete and Cyn are a challenge to entertain as they are vegetarians. Needless to say, a visit to the butcher in the village was not necessary but we shopped as best we could and waited for them to arrive. Sadly they were badly delayed on the autoroute around Paris because of the Christmas holiday traffic and didn't arrive until well after dark. They were in their huge Toyota vehicle that they call Jasper, which was crammed full of furniture and stuff for their own house.


We met them in the village square outside the hotel and walked up with them to our little cottage. Cyn was in raptures about how pretty the village was and I had to admit, it looked beautiful with the Christmas lights on and the church lit up. By then it was very cold and frosty and the glorious smell of woodsmoke was all around us.


Pete looking very mellow in front of our log burning stove.

The little set of steps was used as a makeshift sidetable.

We had a great evening with them, all four of us squeezed around our little garden table on garden chairs in front of our new pôele. We had a veggie pasta dish followed by local goats cheese and a "tarte au mirabelles" from the boulangerie. And of course, lots of Vouvray and Loire valley wine. Looking back, it was very rough and ready, in rather scruffy and makeshift surroundings, but it was a landmark dinner party for us - the first of many in our little cottage - and we were pleased that it was Pete and Cyn who were there to share it with us. Their inspiration and encouragement had helped us enormously in getting to this point.

The fire and all the heaters had been going for a whole day so we were beginning to feel almost warm and possibly even Christmasy. The next day was Christmas Eve was and we were really looking forward to that.


  1. Jean, Your post has really put me in a Christmasy mood. I think I'll start unpacking the first discrete piece of decoration on Tuesday (Dec. 1st). The tree will have to wait until the 18th.

    P.S. I know how you feel about early Christmas decorations, but don't worry, so do I ;))! Martine

  2. Martine - after 1st December it's ok - I can cope with Christmas then !

  3. Not sure how my Christmas will be but thanks for your Christmasy post. I also wanted to drop by to say thank for your support at mine, it is very appreciated.


  4. Hi Jean
    This brought back so many memories...I just have to do a post.
    We haven't spent Christmas at our place yet (cowards)but I think next Christmas is a distinct possibility as we are anxious to see how effective our fire is.

  5. Jean, I come back often to your post and tonight was a delight. We're heading over to France on Wednesday to our house in Couffy, and I dream of the first fire, the first guest and the first dinner in place. Your blog gives me hope that everything is possible.

  6. Keir - is that Couffy near St-Aignan?
    Good luck with your "firsts". Ours were very special. That's why I remember it all so well.

  7. Jean, I really enjoyed this post too. And we are looking forward to seeing Keir this week. And you later in the month.

  8. Hi Jean,
    What a exciting and fulfilling time this must have been for you both. I'm looking forward to the next installment!
    I hope we can manage to meet for a drink over the Christmas to New Year period.
    Best Wishes

  9. Lovely post! GG