9 February 2016
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.
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.
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.
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!