30 December 2014




A visit to the France Show in London, then we call in local estate agents to value our UK house and we make a start in getting it ready for sale.



After weeks of cleaning, sorting out, chucking out, tidying and some decorating, twenty nine years of accumulated possessions are thinned out, the photos are taken and the house is ready.



The house goes on sale on 1st March.  Three days later it is sold.  We feel a mixture of surprise, joy and sheer panic.


Nick’s mum celebrates her 90th birthday.


After some rapid house hunting, we find one we like in the UK, only a few miles from the old house and close to my dad.  And very small.



I form the Loire Valley branch of the Clandestine Cake Club and the first meeting is held at our little house in Le Grand-Pressigny.


  We have a table with friends at the village vide-grenier.  It chucks it down all day and we give up at lunch time, having made 90€.

With the sale and purchase going through slowly but surely in the UK, we begin house hunting in France and spot this one.  After numerous unsuccessful attempts to get to see it, I put a note in the letter box asking if it is still for sale.  By the time we get back to the UK the next day, there is a message on the answerphone – to say yes.



Most of our furniture and belongings are removed to storage, ready to be delivered to France.  We have no idea where or when we will see all our stuff again.



We move into the new house in the UK and the rest of our belongings are delivered.  That’s when we find out exactly how small it really is.



House hunting continues in France and we finally get to see the longère that we’re interested in.

14th July4

We enjoy moules et frites in the village square on Bastille Day.



It’s the Comice Agricole in the village.


Our friends Colin and Elizabeth are presented with a wedding gift from the cake club.


We accept a surprise offer on our little house in the village and decide to buy the longère.


Knowing that this will be the last summer in our little village house, we make the most of our last few weeks there.



On 1st September we sign the compromis de vente for our new house and our friend Ken helps out by acting as translator for us and the vendors.  We all celebrate together over lunch.


The sale is completed in record time and, with a huge amount of help from our friends, we move out of our little village house, only two weeks after signing the compromis.  We say a fond farewell to the place we have loved and enjoyed so much for seven years.


For the second time in three months we find ourselves surrounded by boxes of our stuff in a new house.


Four days after moving into our new French house, we get a small, eleven week old kitten and we call her Daisy.


Two weeks later, little Daisy disappears.



The kitten is still missing when our furniture from the UK house arrives in France.


We now have two of everything – two dining suites, four sofas, way too many chairs and a spiral staircase to get the stuff upstairs.



Two weeks after she disappeared, Daisy is returned to us.  She becomes and indoor cat for her own safety and my peace of mind.


My dad comes to stay for two weeks.  The weather is unusually good.


Another cake club meeting is a big success.  The cakes are fabulous.



November is glorious.  Warm sunshine and beautiful autumn colours.  Plenty of leaves to sweep up and walnuts to collect.

Nick turns 60 and retires.  My dad turns 86.



On December 1st somebody flicks a switch and winter arrives.  The boiler stops working.  We battle with the cold and the mud.

I turn 63.  We dash back to the UK just as work starts outside for the new fosse.  With only one week to go Christmas becomes a blur of frantic preparations.

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On Boxing Day it snows, grounding us for several days.  I finally get round to icing the Christmas cake.


We celebrate our wedding anniversary – 20 years.

It’s the china anniversary.  The trouble is, we have no room in either house for any more china!

So that was our year.  Chaotic, crazy and exhausting.  There were ups and downs.  Moments when we wondered if we were completely mad and moments of great joy when we felt like the luckiest people in the whole world.



15 November 2014


cat flap3

Having got Daisy back safe and sound from the neighbour and back to full health we then had to think hard about her future.  I was very worried that if she remained an outdoor cat the neighbour would steal her again.

So she became an indoor cat with outdoor options.

We took her to the vet and got her all the regular vaccinations plus a rabies vaccination and an identity chip, so that we could bring her home to the UK when we returned for a long spell.

The rabies vaccination was not done soon enough to bring her with us this time so we were faced with having to leave her in France for two weeks.  Our friends Tim and Pauline had offered to cat sit – to call regularly and keep her company, play with her, make sure she’s ok and keep the cat feeder topped up. 

We felt very strongly that she would be less vulnerable to the neighbour’s uninvited attention if she could get into the house where it was safe and warm whenever she liked, rather than having to find shelter in the draughty barn.  We needed a cat flap!

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The problem was, where to fit one?  All the doors into the house are made of full length glass, something we’re very pleased with as it makes the most of what light comes into the house at the front - as a typical longère there are no windows at the back and the front is currently shaded by an overly large lime tree.  Whilst it is possible to fit a cat flap into an existing glass door (I enquired once we got back to the UK) we hadn’t got the time to get that organised in France before we came away.

cat flap

So we improvised!

Tim and Pauline loaned us their spare cat flap and Tim made a wooden insert that fits the utility room window.  We constructed a cat ladder from a pile of logs and with a bit of encouragement Daisy soon learned how to go in and out. 

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By which I mean that she learned how to climb in very quickly, because we started to keep her bed and food inside, but needed a little more coaxing to get the hang of going out.  We took the magnet off the closing mechanism as the door seemed quite hard for a kitten to push, and that helped.

The going out through the cat flap learning process was assisted by Lulu.  We were in the habit of giving Lulu her dinner outside the front door – she prefers to dine al fresco – and a race soon developed between the dog and cat as to who could get to it first.  Daisy would shoot out of the cat flap and down the ladder and we would sneakily open the door to make sure Lulu got there just ahead of her!

cat flap6

For the last two weeks Tim and Pauline have been keeping us up to date with her progress and sending photos.  She is thriving without us, it seems!  She has grown, her eyes have turned a gorgeous green, she is keeping the mouse population down and enjoys playing with the kitchen sponge and teatowel.  Which tells me that it didn’t take her long to work out how to get onto the kitchen worktops via the spiral staircase and the top of the fridge.  She’s a clever and fearless little thing.

  cat flap4 I knew that three-seater sofa would come in handy!

So we’ll soon be back in France and are looking forward to seeing how she’s got on without us.  Pretty good, I suspect!

Bon weekend !!

22 October 2014



Today is a BIG DAY for Nick.

One of the main criteria when looking for a bigger house in France was that it had a garden big enough to require a sit-on mower!


On Monday Nick cut the grass using the ancient heap of a petrol mower left behind for us by the previous owners.  It was kind of them to leave it but it was hard work to use.  After an hour of heaving the thing around Nick had sore wrists, a sore back and I had sore ears!

So we hopped it over to Loches in search of a new one.  We ordered it from Bricomarché and early this morning they delivered it!

A rather nice young man brought it in a truck and trailer and gave Nick full instructions on how to use it.  Great service.


A happy Nick with his new boy’s toy!


Checking it has an engine – with the help of my dad!

17 October 2014


I am delighted to report that Daisy is back home!
The bizarre thing is that she neither left nor came back of her own accord.  She was effectively abducted and then returned.
After searching everywhere and calling for her we were beginning to think we would never see her again.  There was however the possibility that she might have wandered down the lane to the neighbour’s house and been trapped in a barn or shed.  He lives by himself, being mentally and physically disabled, and has a daily visit from a carer.  We decided to have a word with her and ask if she had seen the cat on his property so waited at the end of the lane for her car to pass by.
She told us a lot about our neighbour, much of which we already knew, and she came across as a really nice, caring, dependable person, thoroughly concerned for his welfare.  He should really be in a care home but refuses to go, hence the visits from the carer and daily meal deliveries.
As the conversation drew to a close I asked about the cat.  I said we had lost our cat and wondered if she had seen one around his house and that I was worried that she might have accidentally been shut in a barn.  She said “she’s on his bed”.
He had told her that he “found the cat” outside our house and took her home.  The carer, having no idea there were new neighbours next door, concluded that he had picked up an abandoned cat and thought no more about it.  He had kept her indoors and not let her outside at all.
At first I thought she was not going to help us to get Daisy back - she said he would be very upset if the cat went away.  I said “but she’s our cat”.  We must have both looked distraught as she seemed to suddenly change her mind and said she would bring the cat back to us the next day.  She would tell him that the cat had disappeared.  She even reached into the back of the car and gave us a box of cat food she had bought for her.
She was true to her word and Daisy arrived the next day, bewildered and confused, with chronic diarrhoea and riddled with fleas.  Luckily she still remembered how to use a litter tray.
It took Lulu a few hours to get used to Daisy again but now they get along fine.  The fleas are gone, the upset tummy has settled down and Daisy is back to her usual self, following us everywhere and meowing constantly, getting into mischief.  I have rediscovered the joy of having a kitten climbing up your trouser leg as you try to peel potatoes!
So Daisy has gone from being a full-time outdoor cat to a full-time indoor cat for the time being.  We will keep her indoors for a few days then let her out and see what happens – we are very worried that if the neighbour spots her he will simply take her again.  Even if she is allowed outdoors we will certainly shut her in when we go out, just in case he walks by and she goes to him. 
Nothing is ever easy, is it?  We just wanted a cat to deal with the mice……

10 October 2014


The good news is that our furniture and other stuff was delivered safely from storage in the UK on Wednesday.  The two lads that came with the van did a fantastic and professional job.

Our house is now full of the furniture and belongings from two houses!

The bad news is that Daisy has disappeared.

She was last seen four days ago, skipping about on the grass, chasing leaves.  We went to the village late morning and one hour later when we got back there was no sign of her.

For the two weeks she spent with us the weather was glorious and then it became pretty foul just as she vanished. Friends reassure us that she will be sheltering safely somewhere and would soon come back.  As we are surrounded by fields of huge clods of ploughed earth and the nearest neighbours are a long way away, it’s hard to see how a small kitten could be anywhere safe, and we have searched every inch of our property over and over again.  We wonder if she could have been taken by one of the hawks that circle endlessly over the fields that surround us.

In any case we have stopped hoping for the best as it’s just too upsetting to keep thinking about it.  I have had cats before that have gone missing and it always ended badly.

We all miss her, including Lulu who spends a lot of time each day looking for her.  They had become good friends.

Bon weekend!

4 October 2014


So we are in our new house!  Time for me to check in say how we are getting on!
Having signed the compromis on 1st September we then did a flying visit back to the UK to take delivery of some new appliances there, which you can read about here.  Our visit was cut short when we found out that the completion on the French house was to be on 15th September – and we had barely started packing yet!

We rushed back to France on the 12th, hired a huge van on the 13th and, with a great deal of help from our friends, managed to be out of our little house and moved into our new one on time, leaving the old one nice and clean, too. Phew!

We are not exactly settled in yet, but things are moving on.   After less than three weeks in residence we have got our internet supply up and running, had satellite dishes and a new TV installed – luxury!  The plumber has got the central heating boiler and radiators going (after a bit of a struggle) and, again with the help of friends and their huge trailer, we have done several visits to the tip.  We have grappled with old appliances, given up and bought new ones.  Alex and Nicole have done a great job in starting to clear out many of the overgrown trees and shrubs on the boundary.

A lengthy visit from a very nice man with a ponytail, shorts and sturdy boots resulted in a devis (estimate) for a new fosse (septic tank) and hope that work for that will begin in December – the one big and expensive job we knew we needed to get organised as soon as possible. 
We have also acquired a new member of the family – Daisy the kitten.  She’s just three months old and has joined us to deal with the large number of mice – the inevitable result of living very much in the country.  She and Lulu get on extremely well – much more about that later.

Next week is going to be chaotic. On Monday and Tuesday the electrician will be here to change our supply unit for a modern one, fit some more sockets in the kitchen and alter the switching arrangement of some of the lights.  At the same time the plumber will also be here to sweep the chimney, repair the flushing mechanism in the downstairs loo and make some alterations to the pipework under the sink to enable us to have a new tap.  Then our furniture arrives on Wednesday back from storage in the UK.  Somehow between now and then we need to make room for it all!

We have been so lucky with the weather, which has been unusually warm for the time of year and in between all the work we have managed to find some time to enjoy it properly – more about that later, too.
There will be plenty more to report as soon as I get a minute to upload the photos and write the post……in the meantime……
Bon weekend !!