20 August 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 !!


  1. The initially very peachy is the correct one for this region...
    a: it fades...
    b: it looks warm in winter....
    at least it isn't the ghastly orange that Richard had the miller's house done in...
    that is still barely acceptable, even now!!

    And what have you got under the calcaire that moles can lift the soil through?

    1. Tim, the mole appears to have gone along the line of the original path and tried several places to get out, eventually finding a break in the membrane.

      We hear what you say about the colour of chaux but we're not sure we can live with the deeper pink until it fades to the colour we like!

    2. It fades quite rapidly.... but, chose the others and you will be faced with stark white... rapidly in the case of the first...

      Mole: so you've been left with molehills under the membrane....
      at least they can be stomped down!
      The only thing you can do where it found a weakness is scrape back and wash the calcaire and put an offcut of membrane over and around the hole... else you be inundated with weeds....
      alternatively... plant something there....

  2. Those herby preserved tomatoes sound great! Ken does a similar thing and I'm looking forward to it. The chairs look good!

  3. Great to hear from you, glad the heat has taken a little break

  4. The tomatoes look delicious. Happy that amongst the slog of renovations you are finding the time to do the things you enjoy.
    Colour choice is difficult. Perhaps M. Douady could advise, although at the end of the day it comes down to your personal choice, and, not to throw too big a spanner into the works, what the contrast with other buildings is. I'm sure that whatever you choose will be right for you!
    Finally, what a change you have made to the house in just under a year. You should be proud of your hard work and achievements. :0)

  5. First, I assume you don't mean cement but render. If you do mean cement, stop right now because you will cause yourselves endless problems with damp inside and the walls dissolving behind the cement. If Douady is doing your work then all will be well and it is render you are talking about (you'll get a lecture from him if you refer to ciment by the way. It's enduit). Any of those colours will be fine. Remember they will take months to dry to their real, lighter tint. Also don't expect it to last hundreds of years. Render should be thought of like paint, a sacrificial layer that protects the fabric of the building. Render and paint should be redone probably every 15 years on average. (Here I am in do as I say mode, not do as I do, btw.)

    1. Susan, I do mean render, not cement, a slip of the tongue!
      The house has fortunately very little cement on its walls, thankfully, and as far as we can tell, no damp anywhere.
      Our builder is indeed M.Douady, who made our new kitchen floor and did a great job. We have seen the way he does the walls on other houses and he makes them look fabulous.

  6. I'm jealous of your large crop of tomatoes Jean - they look superb. We have a lot coming in the greenhouse but the are hesitant to ripen given the poor summer up here. But we have started eating some! As for mole scarers - don't get me started! They are useless. Our neighbours have moles but not us, so far. They either don't work out of the box or work occasionally at best. I'd be better off going out without combing my hair first thing in the morning. That's enough to scare off most things around here! House looking grand. From your photo I rather like the lighter of the three colours.

    1. Craig, from about the same number of plants in our UK greenhouse we would get a pound or two of nice tomatoes and be left with lots of unripened green ones at the end of the summer. They were always disappointing but we never gave up because the few we got tasted so wonderful!
      Curiously, we often did reasonably well for cherry tomatoes grown in hanging baskets in the greenhouse - but nothing like the quantity we have got here.

  7. I would be glad to get any sort of render on the outside of our house, so would not mind any of those colours! As for moles, we have the blighters here in our veg plot so wait with interest to see how you manage to get rid of yours!

    1. Vera, we are relying on Daisy to help with the extermination. She has had one that we saw her with already and she would have got this one too if I hadn't turned up just at the wrong moment!

    2. Our vet told us not to be too hopeful about the cat catching moles. Bertie has brought us two or three over the past five years, including one live one that Walt had to dispatch with a shovel, but cats don't eat moles, it seems -- they don't taste good to them. Does Lulu hunt moles?

    3. Ken, we have seen Daisy with one mole that she caught, but she didn't kill it, just tormented it. Each time it dug itself down into the gravel drive she pulled it back out by the tail! We despatched it with a shovel. It's a pity they cause such damage to our gardens as they're lovely little things with a beautiful coat and very comical with those huge feet.
      As for Lulu, we often see her transfixed, listening to goings on under the garden, like a red Indian scout, but she has never encountered one above ground, as far as we know.

  8. I am mad-jealous about the tomatoes! Toms are the highlight of summer.