30 December 2015



So Christmas has been and gone in a blur of activity and celebration.  I feel guilty that I never found the time to wish you all a Happy Christmas and post the usual photos.  Well, I hope it was a good one for you, it was good for us.


We downed tools on the decoration and restoring of our house to normal in order to dash back to the UK for Christmas and New Year.  We got all of the preparation for the festivities done in seven days.  I wrote the Christmas cards and got them in the post on day one then started to think about food and presents.  It was a bit of a rush job but it was ok and nobody seemed to notice.  We had a nice time.

Our intention was to spend a couple of months in the UK to be near to my father in the worst months of winter, returning to France at the end of February.  Fortunately winter has turned out to be very mild so far and our part of the north has escaped the horrors of the flooding that has ruined many Christmases elsewhere.  We are so grateful for that and our hearts go out the the people who have had such an awful time of it.


An unexpected turn of events frees us to return to France much sooner than we thought.  My father is spending the next month with a friend who lives where the winters are much kinder and they rarely have any snow.  As he therefore doesn’t need us here, we are dashing back to France to carry on where we left off with the work. 

Nick will be the advance party and will be able to paint the new staircase while there is no risk of dog or cat leaving paw prints in the varnish.  I will follow on with the dog and cat later when their trampling up and down won’t matter.

In the next week we have a lot to do, fitting in all the appointments and catching up with friends.  But if we can get the work finished in the first dark and dismal months of the year, we’re hoping that come the spring we will be able, at last, to just get on with living our lives rather than spending much of it up a ladder or in a DIY shop, or simply dashing about.  With any luck I might even have time to blog about it in a more regular and orderly fashion.

So I wish you all a


6 November 2015


November 1

Where did October go?  In a whirl of frantic activity for us.


Yesterday morning dawned bright and beautiful, and it was going to be a big day for all of us.  The new woodburning stoves were coming.  At last.  I took Lulu for her customary walk around the lake at La Celle-Guenand, one of our favourite places, earlier than usual as we had all been up at half past six for the arrival of the plasterers who were coming to finish the ceiling in the living room and had actually turned up at five past seven.  (More about that later.)


The beautiful golden leaves have now all gone, leaving the skeletons of the trees instead.  Still beautiful, especially on a sunny and mild November morning.  We enjoyed our walk and on the way back I called in the village for some fresh bread.  I was tempted to stop at the bar for a coffee and a chat with Marielle the owner, but really couldn’t wait to get back and see how things were getting on chez nous.



In the kitchen there was a rather nice, country style Godin fire which worked perfectly well but was much too powerful for the size of the room.



In the sitting room there was something called an “insert” which looked rather odd because this kind of fire is meant to be built into a wall.

We wondered about moving the kitchen one into the living room, where it would have been handy for the amount of heat it produces, and getting a smaller new one for the kitchen.

In the end, we decided to replace both fires with something that would be more suitable for each room and we placed our order back in August.  Delivery was promised for the end of October, hopefully coinciding with the completion of the other building work which also included the rebuilding of the living room fireplace.

Weeks went by and we finally managed to get hold of our elusive plumbers by lurking in the village late one afternoon and following their van back to their premises.  We pounced and managed to pin them down to a date for delivery of our much needed new wood burners.



First in yesterday was the kitchen fire, which would only just go through the door, the plumbers enlisting the help of the plasterers to lift it. 



This morning, this is where the fires are.  The ceiling is finished but there is still some work to do on the fires.  We are expecting them to be in and working by close of play today.  Just one more day………..

Bon weekend!



One down, one to go!

The weekend is looking better already!

11 October 2015


While it is all still fresh in my mind, I thought it would be nice to post some more about our week in Anglesey.

anglesey 9h

Our cottage overlooked this bay, called Bull Bay.  It was a fishing harbour until some time in the middle of the twentieth century but the fishermen moved out of their little cottages and the holidaymakers moved in.  Now its slipway is used to launch much smaller boats, used by anglers, divers and people who just enjoy messing about in boats.


Our nearest town was Amlwch (pronounced something like “amluck”), which is a completely different kettle of fish and still has working fishing harbour.  Fishing boats, the pilot boat and yachts all use it and it’s a busy little place.

anglesey 9j




I visited Anglesey many times in the 80’s, staying mostly on campsites or in cheap bed and breakfast places.  At that time I was a member of a sub aqua club and we launched our inflatable boat from several of the bays and harbours around the coast of Anglesey to dive in its waters.  They were often very murky, being so busy with large boats and having often quite stormy weather.  In fact most of my memories of Anglesey are more of the local pubs and rather down at heel lodging houses than of memorable diving experiences.  We seemed to spend more time in the pub than in the water.

A decade later, some friends moved to live and work in Anglesey, not far from Amlwch, and I spent several weekends with them, exploring the island and its hostelries.  That’s when I discovered that it’s such a lovely place.



We spent a few hours just nosing around the harbour and then ventured into one of its hostelries for lunch.  There was, not surprisingly, plenty of fresh fish and shellfish on the menu.


Inside the pub there were many framed photos on the walls of Amlwch as it used to be.  The port was close to the copper mine on Parys Mountain, one of the largest mines in the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The little museum in the village tells the story of copper mining in great detail and we came out both fascinated and also feeling rather humble and glad that we had been born in the 20th century.  Life was hard for the miners and their families and the effect of copper smelting in port meant it was a hellish place to live and earn a living.  You can read more about that here.