4 December 2023


Winter is almost upon us here in Touraine.
Some days more so than others.

Whilst en route to the supermarket on a fine morning I took some photos.
 Autumn colours in all their glory, before they disappear.

On the way back home we stopped to look at the dolmen, the standing stones at Le Châtelier.

The hamlet of Le Châtelier is very pretty.
We go through it every time we go to the shops in Descartes.

Driving around the area I have lately noticed something strange happening.  


Village signs have begun to appear upside down.  At first I thought it was possibly some kind of process in mounting new signs but when so many villages had them decided it must be another reason.

If you want to know what it's all about read my friend Susan's post here.

26 November 2023


The weather has finally settled into proper autumn mode.  The endless rain is now behind us and we’re getting some sunshine.  Time to get to grips with some gardening and outdoor chores!

Nick has pruned shrubs, trimmed trees, cut the grass and hedges.  It’s all looking very neat and tidy.  Inside the barn however it’s a different story.

The barn is on the right with the small woodshed attached to it.

The "little house" is the barn that does look a bit like a house, with the picnic shelter attached to the end of it.

The barn and the "little house" have gradually become dumping grounds for all kinds of stuff.  My dad used to call this kind of stuff "rammel".  Some of it is good stuff, i.e. tools and equipment.  A lot of it is junk, i.e. stuff that we don’t want to throw away but don’t really know what to do with.  Because the barn and little house are so huge, a lot of stuff has accumulated and we have not made the best use of the space.  Things have stayed where they landed rather than being put away.

In case you're wondering, the "little house" is not a house at all but another barn.  When we moved here we hoped that one day we would convert it into an actual dwelling.  The previous owners had the foresight to install a window upstairs when the new roof was done, many years ago.  The upstairs is really just a beam structure holding up the roof and there is no actual floor or staircase.  The size of the building would make it ideal to be converted into a one bedroom house; living room and kitchen downstairs with a bedroom and bathroom upstairs.  The thing that has stopped us from doing it so far is, quite simply, the cost.  Inside there are only bare stone walls so everything would need doing.  We did however run pipework to it when the new septic tank was installed, just in case.

The covid years took their toll as we were able to spend so little time in France.  Enjoying ourselves took priority over housework, although we did manage to keep the garden tidy.  At the same time we have had building work going on for all the time we were here for the last three years and that has taken up a lot of our time.  We therefore plead mitigating circumstances to explain the dire state of the barn and little house!

The barn and little house are watertight as the roofs are sound but the way they were constructed leaves a gap between the roof and the walls that allow birds, insects and bats to fly in and out and also leaves and other rubbish to blow in.  Mice can also easily get in so storing things in such a way as they will stay clean and inaccessible to rodents is a challenge.  When the rain had stopped for long enough to take down our lovely new umbrellas we found they were full of wasps so we left them overnight resting on top of the trailer in the barn and by the next day one of them had already been chewed by mice!

It can be repaired but we were mightily annoyed!  The umbrellas now reside inside the house in the little bedroom until we can find a better resting place for them but we were also concerned about Nick's golf bag.  So off we went to Leroy's at Tours and bought three cupboards that look like they will keep the little blighters out!  One large and two small so that stuff that really needs to be kept clean and pristine can go in there.

There have been a couple of frosty nights recently so all the geraniums are safely tucked up indoors and we have planted some nice winter flowers.  In previous years it's not been worth it as we haven't spent the winter here to enjoy them but of course, this year is different.

All work and no play makes for a dull life so we took a day off from the barn project and went to our favourite town, Chinon, to check out the brocante.  This is a dealer's market which takes place every third Sunday of the month.  The prices are consequently higher than at the average village brocante but it's nice to see good stuff instead of all the usual rubbish.

We managed to resist buying this rather fetching sideboard!

The stroll along the river was as always delightful but it was very odd to see the square so empty.

Joan of Arc was looking splendid.

The only thing we bought was a couple of old copper pans.

They were soon hung over our little woodburning stove in the kitchen, for decoration.

13 November 2023


Well I have to say that the weather both here in France, and while I was back in the UK, has been pretty dismal.  We've had endless rainy days.

On Nick's birthday the rain held off until teatime.  We had booked a birthday lunch at a restaurant in Chatillon sur Indre.  We had been there before, but only once and many years ago.  I remember thinking on that occasion that the food was ok but nothing special.  It was recommended to us recently by friends who went there a few weeks ago so we thought it worth another try.

We were not disappointed.
Excellent starters.  Oeufs en cocotte for him, scallops for me.

We both chose the veal for main course.
Followed by roasted figs with ice cream and a good espresso.

We liked the very traditional French interior.
Nothing fancy, just comfortable and welcoming with excellent service.

We'll be adding it to our list of favourite places to eat.

After lunch the weather was still dry and not too cold so we had a walk around town.

It was completely deserted, which is hardly surprising because it was a bank holiday.
In fact the reason we chose the restaurant (apart from it being recommended) was because several of our other favourites were closed that day.

Chatillon is a great town for photo opportunities.
That is if, like me, you are fascinated by buildings, doors and windows.

There is a lot of very sad looking, abandoned and dilapidated property.

The main street was like a ghost town.
Even more of the shops and cafes seemed to have closed.

 I do wonder why it is that some towns, steeped in history, with a nice boulevard, an ancient monument and good road access still just fade away.  There are thriving supermarkets and other stores very close to the town centre but that centre is gradually dying.
Very sad.

3 November 2023


Nick was a bit concerned about being left with Yvonne by himself while I’ve been back home  in England.  She seemed very happy around me but hadn’t really got to know Nick and was very wary of Hugo.

I'm happy to report that the situation is much improved.  She now comes into the living room and will sit happily on the sofa while Nick watches tv even though Hugo is close by.  Cat and dog even manage to pass each other on the stairs or landing (occasionally) without clashing.

It’s not perfect yet by any means.  She still protests and warns Hugo off if he gets too close or curious but I have to say that he has been an absolute star.  So well behaved and obedient.

The fact that he’s probably more terrified of her than she is of him probably helps!

The other good news is that a phone call from the vet in Loches this morning reveals that all is good following the blood tests we had done last week and that Yvonne has already been spayed.  

2 November 2023


Having dropped me off at Limoges airport last week, Nick set off on the two hour journey back home in the dark and the rain.  There were very few other vehicles on the road.

At about 10.30pm a hatchback car followed him out of Le Blanc.  It stayed behind him along the long straight then, on a narrow, twisting part of the road that has trees and the river on the left and overhanging cliffs on the right the car overtook him at speed.

A few moments later he rounded a bend to find a large rock in the middle of his carriageway.  It was about the size of a large loaf of bread, bigger than a brick.  He drove round it on the wrong side of the road, thinking that it was too big to drive over it, and kept going.  (My brother had done serious damage to his car a few years ago when he couldn’t avoid driving over a similar sized metal object that had fallen off a skip lorry right in front of him.)

A few seconds later the same car sped back towards him and drove by.

A few moments later the same car was behind him again, overtook him at speed and disappeared.

30 October 2023


A quick trip back to the UK for me did not get off to a good start. Apart from the helping hand given by Yvonne in packing my case, that is!  She is very different from Daisy in many ways but in others just the same.

The two hour drive to Limoges was hard enough in pelting rain without the added excitement of a wild boar crossing the road at a leisurely pace only about a hundred metres in front of us just outside Le Dorat, but we still got to the airport in good time.  That’s when the fun really started.

I was the last person in the bag drop queue and five places behind the person who took twenty minutes to fail to pay the excess baggage fee for his suitcase.  He went off to speak to someone (presumably to ask for money) and had to be literally fetched back by the one lady on the desk.  He returned empty handed, a few more tetchy words were exchanged and he was sent away with suitcase to the security line so I presume he got away with it.  

Then there was the family comprising mother, grandmother and toddler in pushchair where the mother took ten minutes to find the right page on her phone to show their boarding passes.  

In the security line the family of grandparents, parents and two little girls caused a hold up because they either hadn’t read, didn’t understand (or maybe thought they would just get away with it) the rules about what you can and can’t take in your cabin bags and which items have to be removed for inspection before passing through the scanner.

I was behind yet more people who couldn’t find their boarding pass on their phones (why don’t they just print the damn things out as instructed to do on the Ryanair website so they can show it when asked, or at least have the right app/page already open) but finally got into my window seat on the plane.  

The plane however wasn’t going anywhere.  It was clearly brand new, not a scratch on its pristine interior, but when thirty minutes beyond our departure time had passed the pilot made an announcement.  There was a mystery warning light showing in the cockpit that they couldn’t persuade to go out. Another thirty minutes later I was in conversation with the couple next to me about likely outcomes if the flight had to be cancelled at eleven thirty at night when the pilot made a second announcement.  The proposed solution was to switch the aircraft off, wait ten minutes and switch it back on!

This appeared to solve the problem although the next announcement didn’t exactly say as much in so many words.  Another twenty minutes had suspiciously elapsed by the time the pilot said we would soon be leaving the runway, having permission from "the boss" to fly as fast as the plane would go  - but only after they had persuaded the tanker driver to get out of bed and bring more fuel.  Switching off and restarting an aircraft uses quite a lot of it apparently.

My guess is they decided to stick a bit of tape over the offending warning light and go for it.  Better than spending the whole night waiting for a spare plane to arrive or being bussed to another airport!

Once back in our little UK bungalow I was relieved to find the house dry and unaffected by the flooding elsewhere in town but not without a few issues.  For some reason the fridge freezer in the garage had clearly defrosted itself then refrozen.  I discovered this when searching for something to have for my dinner only to find that the bottom drawer was stuck fast because of a frozen puddle of melted strawberries.  The freezer had obviously been off for quite a while. This suggested there had been a power cut but not so.  The other freezer in the garage was fine and there were no flashing clocks anywhere.  An internet search suggested that modern freezers will go into automatic defrost mode if they are over full and the fan mechanism obstructed, especially if they haven’t been defrosted for a while.

Guilty as charged! I threw away all the contents, cleaned it out and while I was at it cleared out the other one as well, throwing out some well out of date bits of saved pastry and portions of casserole.  We've been in the habit of saving leftovers as a handy ready meal for one for our individual return trips and it’s worked well so far but we’re back to a blank canvas now!

The UK weather has been pretty miserable but not as wet as in France.  On a fine, dry Sunday morning I fished the table and a chair out of the shed and had breakfast outdoors.  The grass was dry enough to cut but sadly I couldn’t persuade the mower to start.  Rats!

I had low expectations of this trip.  The weather has been as grim as I expected, the potholes and traffic just as bad as usual and the litter everywhere just as unsightly as ever but it hasn’t bothered me as much as before.  It’s been lovely to catch up with friends and family and despite the general gloom and doom that hangs over everything people seem to have an air of resignation and cheerfulness.  Or maybe I've finally got the knack of turning a blind eye to all the rubbish and finding a bit of joy here and there instead.  

I confess that I can no longer bear to watch or read the news.  Feeling powerless and anxious about things which are well beyond my understanding, at home and abroad, was not doing me any good at all.  I’ve adopted a formula of doing my best to live well and spend time with those who mean a lot to me.  It’s worked before.

Nick has reported that back at chez nous there has been an improvement in inter species relations.  Yvonne can now tolerate being in the same room as Hugo without necessarily growling and hissing at him and has started venturing into the living room to explore and sit on the sofa, even occasionally on his lap.  Progress indeed and excellent news!