19 March 2016


It's barely a year since we installed the new kitchen and we already decided to replace the worktop on the island unit with what we should have had in the first place - an oak one that's in one piece.

The other worktops look like oak but in fact they're laminate. We chose them because we like the look of oak but thought laminate would be easier to look after. The side worktops worked out beautifully but the island one was a nightmare to fit. The strip of worktop that was supplied needed to be cut into two lengths of the right width. Then these lengths had to be joined together down the middle, the corners rounded off to match the shape of the cabinets underneath, and the edging strip fitted.

The struggle began when we asked the carpenter to cut the lengths of worktop for us. He made a great job of the side pieces, which fitted and joined together perfectly. When it came to the island piece he completely messed it up by cutting one of the lengths in the wrong place. This meant that we had two joins down the length of the worktop instead of one. I think the words he uttered in French would roughly translate in English as "oops"!

Making the two joins was a struggle. Without the help of our friend Tim B, we would not have managed it at all. Fitting the edging strip to make it look neat was another struggle. The result was ok but very much a "nobody will notice" effect that we were not thrilled about but were prepared to put up with.

Then, late last summer, on a hot and very humid evening, disaster struck. I had been very careful to wipe up any spillages on the island unit, and to clean it carefully, not leaving pools of liquid that might seep into the joins. On that evening, we had invited friends round for a bbq and they brought with them one if the truly delicious desserts from the boulangerie in the village. These arrive frozen and take about two hours to thaw for serving. The dessert was placed on a plate, under a mesh cover to keep insects (and Daisy) off it, on the worktop. As we partied outdoors, drops of condensation gathered on the plate due to the humidity in the air and slowly, relentlessly, dripped into the joins in the worktop, bubbling it in two places.

We anguished over how much this mattered. It looked horrible but could be ignored, especially if I left a large plate or chopping board over the damage to hide it from view. But, in the end, we couldn't live with a lovely new kitchen that was let down by what should have been the jewel in the crown, the island unit. So we bit the bullet, placed the order, attached the trailer to the car and set off back to the UK to fetch a new worktop.

Nick returned chez nous last weekend with the worktop, which just fitted in the floor of the trailer, along with a mountain of other stuff - stuff that has been kicking around since we downsized in the UK, waiting to be gradually transported to France.  He retrieved Daisy from the cattery and got on with fitting the replacement worktop with Alex's help. Looking at the photos, it looks beautiful, exactly right and exactly what we should have got in the first place.

I'm staying back in the UK for a while, to keep an eye on my dad who's been quite poorly. He's on the mend now. Nick sent me this photo to show how much they all miss me. I can't wait to get back.
The blog will be on hold for a little while.

5 March 2016


winter walk

It certainly has been a soggy late winter in our corner of France.  A week ago we donned our macs and boots and took Lulu for a nice long walk, one of our favourites.  From the track that runs high up behind the château ruins at Etableau we could see exactly how soggy everything was.

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Lulu was enjoying every minute.  Her walks for the last month have been not much fun for any of us.  She hates getting her feet wet and we hate dealing with muddy paws so the walks have often been rather short.  In fact we have taken it in turns to walk her by ourselves, thinking it was a chore that had to be done rather than the pleasure it should be.  No point in both of us getting wet if it was not much fun.

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All around there was the feeling that something was about to happen.  You could almost feel the trees wanting to get on with it, to get winter out of the way and get going into spring.  This is almost the worst time of year for me.  Thoroughly fed up with being cold and wet, with the dark nights, the mud and the decaying vegetation all around, by now I am desperate for some proper sunshine and warmth, to see the flowers and the leaves on the trees.  Enough is enough.

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We walked for well over an hour and for a time the sun came out.  What a difference it made.  The fields looked so bright and lush.  The sun on the trees made them glow and it even had a little warmth in it.  What torment – to feel just a little warmth to give us hope that spring is just around the corner than have it snatched away moments later as the sky clouded over and the trees took on their skeletal form again.

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We console ourselves with the thought that spring surely can’t be far off now and in the meantime we can go home to a nice log fire, a hot shower and a roof that doesn’t leak any more.  Well not much anyway, not as much as this time last year.

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Daisy was of course the sensible one.  Not for her this wistful rubbish.  If it’s cold and wet outside the best thing is to find a comfy place indoors to snooze until the sun comes out properly.  Then it will be time to go out.