February 9, 2016

WEATHER MOST FOUL

foul weather

Friends who live in this part of France full time have always said that February is usually the worst month of the year, weather wise.  In fact the people we bought the house from said the same.  They started spending January and February in warmer climes then gradually increased the length of their stay so that for the last five years they were living away from mid October to mid April.

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I can almost see why.  For the last 36 hours we have been drenched by horizontal rain and battered by strong winds.  In fact conditions seem even worse today than yesterday.

Lulu was reluctant to get out of her bed this morning and go for her usual constitutional.  The minute she got home she went straight back to bed.  Daisy took a look out of the cat flap and thought better of it, staying indoors to find whatever mischief she could indoors instead.

I spend the hours in a state of nervousness, listening to every tap, tap noise, convinced that the roof is leaking again.  These old houses are difficult to make weather proof and although we fixed the leak around the bread oven chimney stack that allowed water to drip into the bedroom, and the one around the dormer window that dripped water onto our sideboard in the dining room, I constantly wonder where the next leak will be.  Most of the tap, tap noises have been the tapping of the central heating pipes, or the drip of rain against the windows, but I shall certainly be glad when the wind and the rain stop, or at least become calmer, so that I can relax a bit.

I have given up trying to stop every draught.  The wind whistles around the gaps in the beams and the boxing in around the old walls upstairs.  You’re never going to find out how weather proof a house is when the weather is good, it takes a spot of foul weather to find out where the flaws are.  Stuffing in some insulating material and filling the gaps in the plasterboard is now on our list of to-do jobs, along with replacing the draughty boarding with something more substantial.

So far the electricity supply has held up.  The overhead cables bounce around in the wind and the whistling noise they make contributes to the sound of the wind whistling through the gaps in the plasterboard.  We do have a contingency this time and if the power fails we can heat the downstairs using our two lovely new wood burning stoves, and cook perfectly well on the one in the kitchen.  And we have plenty of candles in stock.  But for now the dishwasher continues to do our washing up and the tumble drier is drying our nice freshly washed towels, so we feel lucky.

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This weather came along quite suddenly, during the course of Sunday evening.  It was forecast but we weren’t quite prepared for how bad it would be. 

Saturday was glorious.  Nick took both of the motorcycles for a short spin, to check that they would start and run ok.  And just because he could.  We spent most of Saturday afternoon in the village hall, enjoying one of those long, long French lunches, that started at 1pm (no food arriving until 2pm) and went on until six in the afternoon.

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There were six courses plus wine and coffee, punctuated by enthusiastic singing and a raffle.  I lost count of how many prizes there were, but some were definitely more appreciated than others.

Around 5pm, between cheese and dessert, I nipped back home in the car to let Lulu into the garden.  As I drove along the car dashboard told me it was 16°C and I could well believe it.  The sun felt warm and it was bright and sunny.  Once I got home it occurred to me that if we weren’t already installed in the village hall for the “do” we would probably be sitting outside with an apéro, much to the amusement of the locals who slow down as they drive by.  This is probably because of the bend in the road outside the house, but I do sometimes wonder if they’re having a bit of a nosey and thinking “mad English people” as our neighbours only seem to sit outdoors when it’s hot and sunny in mid August.  Our excuse is that having lived in Derbyshire for most of our lives, the novelty of being able to sit outdoors in comfort could take a few more years to wear off!

15 comments:

  1. The cyclists were out in force on Saturday. I bet they couldn't believe their luck having such a good weekend cycling day out of season. Today is dire. I need to go to the supermarket but don't fancy driving to Chatellerault.

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    1. Same here. Nick braved the elements and fetched some milk and bread. Other than that we're eating out of the freezer for another day.

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  2. Get rid of it before we get back next week!!

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    1. I'm sincerely hoping it doesn't last until next week!

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  3. It sounds as though you've shared in the joys of Storm Imogen, Jean. It's been just the same up here in Mid-Wales. One would have to go much further south to be sure of missing all that winter can throw at us.

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  4. The only comfort is that it hasn't been that much better in the UK!

    Hoping for a weather change by the weekend...

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  5. Finally got some winter weather down here in the SW of France today,....wet and windy, but no snow! Not a good time for the lambs to be born, but they are being born anyway!

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  6. I love the way you put the two pix of Daisy together...
    "Urg, I don't think I'll venture outside... I'll be safer in this box!"

    We were lucky in Centre... I think Finistere saved us... the radar showed the brunt of the storm passing to the North and South of us!!

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  7. This week's storm was impressive, but we've had worse. We didn't lose any trees or roof tiles. It's true that when the wind blows that way — it doesn't happen too often — the house really cools down and it's hard to keep it warm. Our house isn't that old, but doesn't have insulation in the side walls, only under the roof. We also worry constantly about roof leaks when the rain is hard and blowing sideways like that. Glad it's over, even though now it's turned colder.

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  8. I just found your blog, it was the name Le Gr Pressigny which stopped me in my tracks. Is Hotel L'Esperance still/again operative? We always used to stop off on our way south and eat there, fabulous food and hostess.How she managed to serve armsfull of plates with what I think was a severe hip problem, hanging on to tables and doors on the way, I will never know. Unfortunately last time we came past it looked empty.
    Now I'm here I will have a good look round your interesting looking blog too. Here's to lots more winter sunshine and fetes, never mind waterproofing your house, old French farmhouses just weren't built the keep water and cold out much!! Or more likely our standards have gone up since.

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    1. Marianne, L'Esperance has been empty for about ten years. The "a vendre" sign disappeared last summer and there was a rumour it had been sold but nothing has actually happened to it as far as we can tell.
      Many people speak very fondly of the days when it was operating. It's a shame that such places are just left to gradually deteriorate and become more and more difficult to rescue. If there is any change in the situation I will certainly write about it.
      There has been great excitement about several such places being restored to their former glory but very few of them actually come to fruition, current health and safety regulations and other such red tape issues, or at least the cost of complying with them often being the reason for projects falling through.

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    2. Jean, Le "Sans" Esperance has been for sale and locked up since we bought our house... the bar was still open and running Thursday to Saturday until about 2009, when it was sold, and is now a private house

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  9. I suppose February is the worst month for most everybody (except here, where it is lovely). Joke is this is why it is the shortest month of the year.

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  10. Thanks for your update on l'Esperance Jean. Btw winter has really arrived in n.Yorkshire now, hail, snow, wind and subzero temps daily. Enjoy your sunny warm breaks when they happen. It's what I really miss being back here again, Sun and warmth in winter.

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  11. I hate winter in Washington DC, to far north, I lived in Florida for too long, even if I did leave there 21 years ago.

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