Les poissons en France

Sunday, August 31, 2008

La Rentree

Arriving back home on Saturday we were anxious to see how the builders had got on with the drainage field behind the barn. They had started the day we left for Ireland so we had seen a little of the amount of rock that was going to come out of the ground.

To add to the problem, the inspector from the government department which supervises septic tank installations had visited us that day. He told Cyrille that he had to dig the hole an extra 20cm deeper and install more soak away pipes to avoid any water sitting in the bottom of the drainage 'hole' in the event of a lot of rainfall.

However, we were pleasantly surprised that the job had been completed without too much damage to our 'lawn'. Fortunately, Sue had had the brainwave of using some of the spoil in a raised bed, but the amount of rocks that the builders put there was a small part of the rubble which came out of the hole. So, we are now pondering how best to use or disguise the rocks. We really are going to need lots of lorry-loads of top soil! Either that, or years worth of cat litter!!!

This morning we've been harvesting our produce. Even though JJ and Nadine have been taking some vegetables, there was still plenty left.

And then Sue cut our first melon. It was lovely and sweet, just like a 'proper' melon.

And finally....this Sunday was the last of the Sunday markets in St Germain. They are only held during July and August and this last one heralds the start of the school year and the end of summer. We just hope that we are lucky and the weather stays good until December!


Well, we survived Ireland without getting shrunk. Actually the weather wasn't too bad although we did encounter rain when we went over to the west coast.

The wedding went off very well, despite some rain at the church. Nikki and John (bride and groom) organised the whole thing and nothing was omitted. We tried not to let the side down, although, having seen the photos, Sue's not sure about the hat!

After the wedding we went off to Galway for a couple of days before we had to get Guy back to Dublin airport for his flight to Korea. This was where we ran into the rain and sea mist. There are some large sea cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher, but we really couldn't see the cliffs!

However, Guy didn't let the weather spoil his fun and he managed to leave us old ones in the car and climb a mountain (well a hill actually)

I took this photo on zoom, so he was higher than it looks!! Anyway, he was pleased when he got back down.

After Guy had left we finished off the last 2 days of the holiday on the east coast and found some sources of gardening inspiration.

I'm sure that's going to mean more work for me!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ireland Bound

We've spent a couple of lazy days (!) clearing up before we're off on holiday. I use the term 'lazy' in a figurative sense as we tidied up in the Porcherie to create room for the kitchen units. Then it was a case of humping all of these out of the dining room.

Sue's been demanding that I keep a track of the temperatures in Dublin so that she knows what clothes to take. And it's a bit frightening! Today it was in the low 30's here, and in Dublin it's 17 maximum. So we're bracing ourselves for a bit of a change.

This hot sun is good for our melons! We've got at least 10 and we're looking forward to sampling them when we return .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two Down.....

And one to go! We've got a head of steam now, and we've finished the joints on the middle level of the passage (ahead of my schedule). Although the last part we did the wall is of poor quality (lots of little stones) so will need more of Sues rectification work. We have a system, I apply the mortar, Sue and I brush it off, the next day Sue rectifies any hair line cracks etc.

I'm pleased because tomorrow we've got to go shopping, and then, Sunday and Monday we can generally clear up before we go off to Ireland. Also it's a bit of a boost to finally be working on the ground level.

Sue has managed to mark out another of her flower beds whilst waiting for mortar to dry. Its self preservation really as it is somewhere for the builders to dump excess spoil when they start to dig out the drainage field. They are scheduled to start on Tuesday and will be working when we are not here, always spells disaster.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Who's going to turn up next?

You just never know what's going to happen next here. We'd just finished for the day and I was heading for the shower, when a car with a Paris number plate arrived looking for a house where Cyrille Fages (our builder) had done some work. We of course owned up that it was our house and we invited the lady and her two teenaged children to come inside to have a look at what Cyrille had done. She was particularly interested in any stonework that he'd done for us. We gave her an abrieviated tour and she seemed impressed. The family is from near Versaille and we don't know how long they've owned a house and a ruin in St Catherine, the next valley to ours. We must remember to ask Cyrille if we're on commission the next time we see him!

I was particularly pleased when the lady asked us if we were English or Dutch. I took it as a compliment that she didn't know straight away that we were English.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This is a Kitchen?

Yes folks, this is our kitchen, or at least it will be. That's assuming, of course that everything is there. We attempted to check what we were getting whilst two nice lads were offloading it, but it wasn't easy as they were working from a different list to the one we had. After they'd gone we did manage to sort things out and we found a second list we'd been given when we ordered the kitchen, and, apart from one item out of stock, and two items damaged, we have everything. (Doesn't that make it sound simple?)

I did see a booklet of instructions, but I think it's going to be fun when I start to put it all together.
Whilst we were waiting for the kitchen to arrive, Sue was outside playing with sand. She's started to mark out some beds in the back field, although the plans have evolved, or perhaps I should say devolved. The current thinking is to keep the back garden relatively simple and open.

There's always something to keep the mind and body active!

Monday, August 11, 2008


We've ended up not doing anything today. We went off this morning to try to see our stairs man, but he wasn't there. Then it stopped raining and warmed up, so we went to see the melon and donkey fair at Caminel, a little village up the road from us. As usual, the bigger the fair, the smaller the village, and the narrower the roads to get there. But, once we arrived, it was a job to find a parking place.

Not only was it a fair with fairground attractions, a market with all manner of stalls selling clothes and junk, but it also had agricultural stalls selling equipment and clothing, stalls selling regional products like cured meats, cheeses, breads and wines, as well as numerous fruit and veg stalls. It was an occassion for young and old, tourists as well as country folk.

We found a building looking like an outdoor men's toilet, but, on closer inspection, there was some form of skittles being played there.

We don't know how the competition was being organised, but it was all very serious, with a lot of blaming the state of the 'bowling lane' for missing the skittles!

Finally we found the main attraction......the donkeys.

No.....really.....one of those is Sue, although which has the nicest smile I'm not sure.

And no....we're not going to have donkeys!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hard Life

We've just realised that it's a week since we last posted any news , but, yes, you've guessed it.......we're still pointing the stones in the passage for the stairs. At least we've moved down one level!

Having said all of that, Sue has been finishing grouting her ornamental pebbles in the bathroom.
And, we seem to have been doing a fair bit of socialising! Last Sunday we went to our friends in the next valley for aperos; Monday evening we had a meal with our french neighbours round the corner, Nicole and Jean-Marc; Tuesday lunch-time we barbequed for 13 when we hosted the Book group meeting; Thursday evening we had a meal with our Scottish friends Annie and Donnie; Friday lunch saw us performing a party-piece at Liz and Dave's 'bit of a do'; finally on Saturday we went for aperos with an english couple we met a year ago at the Tour de France.
We should be able to get back to some serious work now, or at least till next Sunday when we're going to a BBQ. And then, of course, we're off to Ireland for John and Nikki's wedding, and that will see August finished. As you can see, it's a hard life out here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Grilled Fish

I'm pleased to report that the first firing up of the bbq worked fine. The secret will be to get a large enough fire , especially as I have to cook 26 kebabs for the Book Club lunch tomorrow. Still, should be OK with sufficient glasses of wine!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Can You Just....

It's amazing what can be achieved when there is the pressure of an impending visit. We are hosting the August meeting of the Book Club I belong to, so, the place has to be tidied up a bit. The first thing was 'can you just build a Barbeque?' (You ladies talk amongst yourselves whilst I write a bit for the men.) Isn't it amazing how women have no concept of the engineering and design work involved in 'just throwing something together'.

So, I've dutifully cobbled together a Barbeque, but we'll have to try it out tonight to make sure it doesn't collapse or the stones crack with the heat!

The next thing was to remove stones and rubble from beside the steps to the Breakfast patio. I must admit that this is something I've been meaning to do for some time.

There is a list of more 'tidying up' jobs for tomorrow, but we're off for aperos with friends over the other side of the hill.

In the middle of the afternoon, our neighbour Michel arrived after a mornings fishing and presented us with 4 trout. This is what will be going on the Bbq. We are so lucky with our neighbours.

Sh! but have you noticed the glass of wine that all good chefs seem to need?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Getting a Bit Pointed

Since we've been back from Barcelona, I've been pointing the 'stair's passage' wall everyday. I thought that I'd make up a mix of mortar and use it in the morning, then another in the afternoon. However, the weather has, in the main, been a pleasant 30+ everyday, which has an adverse effect on both me and the rate at which my mortar goes off! The other problem I have is that there's a lot of stairs to climb carrying this mortar from the 'ruin' where I mix it up, to 'our' bedroom in the loft.

Still, we're making progress, even though my helper hasn't been able to help me yet. She's still busy dividing her time between 'tidying' the garden and grouting the tiles in the bedroom. (She promises that she will get round to helping me). Yesterday, I finished the wall in our bedroom and will be working on the walls on the middle level. Because it's now all 'normal' wall height, it doesn't seem so daunting, although it won't be all finished by the start of September!

We had a small diversion yesterday. When Cleo was coming into the kitchen from the Breakfast patio, she suddenly jumped in the air and then was very wary, trying to peer into a hole between the floor of the underfloor heating and the wall. It was actually a small snake which had become stuck to the adhesive foam band which the plumber has to put between his installation and the walls. I managed to get it unstuck (with a long screwdriver), thinking that I'd be able to flick it outside, but, of course, as soon as it was free, it disappeared underground. At this point, the management called for the local labourer to mix up some cement to fill in the hole, (and we're sorry Mr. Snake if you've become entombed).

Never a dull moment here.