4 December 2023
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!
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
3 November 2023
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
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!