Les poissons en France

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I'm pleased to report that I've finished the joints in the kitchen (at last!).

So tomorrow, I'll be starting on the joints of the plasterboard of the ceiling and walls. Sue is most anxious to get this done so that she can clean up; we are slowly building up a thicker and thicker layer of dust on everything.

Mutley (Yoda) is making himself more and more at home. I'm sure that he just loves being with people but he has certainly won our hearts!

Compost and Conversation.

From time to time a lorry load of compost appears at our local Recycling Centre (la Decheterie). This is a free service and it's amazing how quickly the grape vine works! As soon as we see a new delivery of compost we hitch the trailer up and go down to the decheterie; and we normally have to join a queue! However, we now realise that this is where you go to broaden your circle of aquaintances. We generally end up chatting to someone else loading up a trailer of compost. Everyone accepts it as normal to pass the time of day with anyone you meet. So far we've met up with a retired army doctor, and a pleasant retired couple who have to fill plastic bags with compost and take them home in their boot. Yesterday we were talking to the mayor of the next village, Peyrille. He was a charming, intelligent man who was only too ready to welcome and help 'us' English. We do enjoy these little incidents of community life.

When we arrived home we 'all' then spread the compost on the new beds in front of the house.

We had snow yesterday after we'd spread our muck, and the temperatures are low. We've had a couple of days of -8 at night. This morning we had an amazing sunrise. It was very dark and quite cloudy, and then the sun started to rise over the hills and shone from under the clouds onto the hill the other side of our valley. It was very impressive.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Settling In

As you can see, Yoda is settling in extremely well. He is very much a 'people' dog; he seems to just love being around people, particularly on laps!

We both slept well last night; from about 8.30 till 8 o'clock this morning. However, the day has been spent in supervising the interactions between cats and dog. Not that there have been any problems. To our relief, everyone has been calm. We were worried that Yoda would chase the cats or bark at them but, whilst he is interested in them, he hasn't charged about nor has he barked. We think that, provided we can organise a space for the cats to retreat to, things should work out OK.

So, back to working as normal tomorrow.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

He's Arrived

Little did we know what was to be involved in collecting Yoda from the airport!!!!

Yoda in his Spiderman travel coat.

We set off yesterday morning at about 10.15 and stopped at Limoges to nip into a DIY shop there and to have a 'proper' diner somewhere. We knew that the flight from Korea was landing at 6.30 even though we had not received the confirmation phone call that we'd been promised. As we should have anticipated, we were travelling round Paris at the rush hour to get to Charles de Gaulle Airport. But what made it slightly more complicated was that, as soon as we got off of the A1 motorway we were confronted with a lot of traffic converging from 2 directions, and tom-tom telling me to take an exit that I couldn't see. So, we were on the wrong foot straight away. This, as we gradually realised, meant that we ended up going across the centre of Paris from west to east to get to CDG. (I don't know why we couldn't go round the periphique, but tom-tom didn't think of that).

We had been warned that it isn't easy to find the way into the airport, and it isn't. However, with a stroke of luck, we found the drop off parking and we were virtually right outside the Asiana Airline desk and only half an hour late. Of course no one knew anything about a dog. But....ah... he was sent as freight! So we were eventually supplied with a phone number for a man who gave us some directions to the warehouse . Remember, this is all conducted in french! It certainly exercised the brain cells!

CDG airport is a major airport and, as we discovered, there are currently 7 freight zones and we wanted Fret 6. We duly followed the signs for Fret and saw a sign for zones 1,2 and 3. Then we saw a sign for zones 4,5 and 7. Perhaps it's us or maybe it's the French but one would have thought that it should have occurred to someone to think of number 6. All of this time, Sue is worrying about Yoda in a little box, possibly pooey, possibly hungry, most probably cold, and certainly very frightened. After some circular driving, we did finally see a little sign for zones 7 AND 6. Hurrah! So, we found the warehouse and saw an entrance. Big mistake. It was for staff and would only work with a card. I therefore found myself stuck in the one-lane entrance, needing to back up, with people queueing behind me. I needed to reverse and turn round; I managed the first manoeuvre, but turning was difficult as lots of people were leaving and didn't want to wait for me. So I managed to reverse into a little black car which was waiting to get out on the road (the fact that it was black is the excuse I'll be using). There wasn't much damage but we are awaiting a phone call from the lady driver after she has inspected it in the daylight.

Having extricated ourselves from this situation, we managed to get into the warehouse office. We were pleased that they seemed to know about Yoda, but we were going to have to wait about half an hour till 8 o'clock, either for Yoda or his paperwork to arrive, we were not sure which! However, only ten minutes later we were approached by a man with a bundle of papers. We had to go to Customs, who had an office 'just up the road', to get a release form to allow us to take Yoda out of the warehouse area. Then we had to return with the paperwork, pay some charges (?) and we could take Yoda.

The warehouseman gave us detailed directions and so we set off. Our first effort drew a blank as we couldn't see anything resembling the Customs Office. So, I asked in some premises which 'looked' like customs, (they had an airport style walk-through metal detector and people searching lorry driver's bags.) They had no idea where the office was. We drove up and down again and then stopped and asked a gateman. He vaguely suggested a building down the road. Our third attempt up and down the road led to the same gateman leaning out of his window and pointing to a building opposite. When I went in it was a huge warehouse, but it did have a small office inside which was staffed by the Douane.

Thoughts of success were soon dashed. As we later worked out, they couldn't issue the form as they'd run out of them! However, The Customs Officer kindly told me to go to another office in Zone 3 and pointed to it on a wall map. Half an hour later and a general tour of the starts of the motorways from the airport, we managed to retrace our steps to get back to Yoda's warehouse. We explained our dificulties to the man in the office who proceeded to phone the Douane to talk to them. The result of this was that, if we went back to Customs Office 1, the officer would take us to Office 2.

Travelling behind the Customs Officer's car, we both agreed that we would never have found it by ourselves. Luckily the officer volunteered to stay as we equally had no confidence in finding our way back again. On arrival at Office 2, which similarly looked, to all intents and purposes, like another warehouse with a small office block, our officer told me to go upstairs, along a passage to the Douane. I proceeded along the passage, found an office which was dark, then a door with the douane notice on it but which was locked, then an open door. A middle-aged 'jobsworth' seemed to be astounded when I explained what I wanted, certainly no smiles, although I suppose it was about half past nine at night. As with all officialdom, the form to release Yoda had to be filled out in duplicate, using old-fashioned carbon paper. I didn't think about it much when I saw him put the carbon paper in the wrong way round but I wasn't overly surprised when he had to write out the copy a second time. I'm sure that he thought it was a Candid Camera job!

Back to the warehouse for the third time. Paperwork all complete, we had to wait for them to work out the 65 euro airport charge and print the bill before Yoda, in a big pet box, was brought out to us. He was shaking a bit but we put him in the back of the car, set tom-tom up for Home and, at eleven o'clock at night, started the return journey. Whilst we had been rushing round the airport they had started to retarmac all the roads surrounding the warehouse so we were initially faced with a divertion! We had to stop at the first service station we could find as we were about to run out of petrol, and Sue got Yoda out of his box, put his lead on, and took him off for a walk. He was delighted to meet us and is a lovely friendly dog.

We shared the driving between us, stopping for a nap for an hour, and we got home (slower because of fog) at 7.30 this morning. All Yoda wants to do is sit on someone's lap! Having burst out of his box at our last stop, he slept happily on my lap for the last two hours of the journey. At the moment he is on Sue's lap, Cleo is asleep on the settee and Diana is asleep next to the fridge. We're trying to keep Yoda quiet whilst, hopefully, the girls get used to him.

This is Yoda and me blogging

We're really looking forward to going to bed tonight.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Y Day

Tomorrow is 'Y Day'; the day we collect Guy's dog Yoda from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. That in itself is going to be an expedition! Yoda is flying in from South Korea and we are looking after him 'temporarily' until Guy and Carla are installed back in England next summer. However, today we've been spoiling the cats. Sue was giving the doors to the bedroom, bathroom, and boiler room a last coat of paint. This entailed taking the handles off, and so all of the doors were open. After some time Sue asked where the cats were. Needless to say, they were both side by side on our bed.

Normally this is totally forbidden, but, just for today, we left them where they lay.

Sue's been painting the ceiling of the dining room and I think it looks good but, as you know, she's a perfectionist!!

Whilst she's been painting, I've been jointing in the kitchen. I've got one more day on this, then I'll start on the plaster walls and ceiling.

It will certainly be nice to finish all of the rubbing down and making dust.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Underneath the Arch

Following on from Sue's tantrum about her effort at 'crepie-ing' the wall at the side of the arch, we had an english plasterer with us today to put a 'proper' english flat finish on the walls.

I'm pleased to report that She is delighted with the result (as I am!) We think that it helps to lighten up that end of the room.

Whilst our plasterer was working on the wall, I started doing the joints on the bits of exposed wall in the kitchen. It all helps to give us the feeling that we're moving on.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Last Cut of the Year

It looks like we could be in for some more rain, so I decided to give the grass a last cut before I cleaned up the mower ready to put it away until the spring. If nothing else it took the leaves off of the lawn.

We spent the rest of the afternoon working outside, but then I prepared the dining room for work on the ceiling tomorrow. This involved taking down the plastic sheet between the dining room and the kitchen ( also necessary as we have friends round for a meal tomorrow night!). However this enabled us to see the effect of our work on the walls of the dining room. And She is very pleased. I can sleep peacefully tonight.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We're pleased to report that we've finished the jointing in the dining room, and we can't believe how many draughts we must have sealed up now!

I'm relieved to say that Sue's very happy with the way the room is looking. I've taken this photo showing the wall lit up so that you can get some idea of the effect of the lights in the floor.

As you can see I'm setting up ready to start on the ceiling, but the room isn't finished. We've hit a problem with the wall finish on the wall of the arch. The French use a product called 'crepie' which is a bit like ready-to-use plaster with bits in it. Sue hates the finish it gives!!

Having put the crepie on the left hand side of the dining room side of the arch, she's now talking to an english plasterer!!!

It was a glorious afternoon so we did a small tour of the garden, accompanied by the cats. We have decided that we need to take advantage of this good spell of weather to do some tree trimming.
It never ends.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Already Warmer

I've finished the joints in the end wall of the Dining Room today, and, we don't know if it's our imagination, but the room does seem warmer now. I still can't get over how many daughts were blowing through this wall!!

Whilst I was busy in the Dining Room, Sue was grouting the tiles which I'd laid in the 'couloir'. It's a boost to our morale when another piece of the jigsaw slips into place.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Renewed Vigour

Yesterday (Sunday), we had a day off. We went to our friends south of Cahors to go on their village's monthly walk. It was a lovely day with the sun brightening up the bronze foliage of the autumn oaks.

So, today we set to with replenished energy and enthusiasm! I've been eager to tile the little passage (couloir) outside the bathroom. First thing this morning I laid all of the whole tiles with a view to then laying the tiles which I've got to cut tomorrow.

Laying the tiles didn't take too long, so I then carried on with the jointing of the walls in the dining room.

When Betty was here with us, she'd commented upon some draughts whizzing round her neck when she was sitting on the settee in the 'dining room'. It wasn't until I started to do the jointing in the dining room that I realised that there were numerous draughts whistling through the wall!!! The walls are nearly a metre thick, but the wind is still finding its way through. So we're hoping that it will feel warmer once I've finished redoing all of the joints.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Country life in The Lot

As you know I am always waxing lyrical about the local wildlife. This week I have seen deer in the alley, a red squirrel collecting nuts and we have lots of little birds back again, and I saw the owl a few nights ago. However today I do not feel so aimably disposed towards our "furry neighbours".

To begin at the beginning; I am moving compost from the far side of the back field to my "serpentine" bed in the front garden. The compost is two year old grass clippings from the wildflower meadow, hence its location. I was very concerned that there was no soil in parts of the bed particularly where the builder had been most active. I am delighted to say that now it has rained I have found some soil and am able to get a fork in 4cm, that's good soil round here!! Anyway today on my trek down the field I discovered that the boar had had a very busy night digging in the wildflower meadow and churning the compost heap.

I have seen a hare sheltering in the veg patch and ooh ahed until I discovered that he has decimmated the few remaining vegetables.

Whilst pondering the necessity of protecting the garden from this onslaught and possible solutions, my prays were answered and up popped "The Chasse". The hunters are men in flourescent orange waistcoats and caps who run around in little white vans.( No riding on horseback in red jackets here, although I would say that the orange apparell is to prevent them shooting each other. A good year last year only 12 got killed as opposed to 25 the year before). They are accompanied by hoards of baying hounds. As the dogs were heading my way and I had heard shots, I thought I had better retreat to safety and watch the action which I hoped would result in the elimination of my errant boar. No such luck! Lots of frantic activity that soon fissled out with nothing being caught. As far as we can see this is the norm and then they adjourn to the bar.

Whilst doing a tour of the damage I noticed that the daffodils are 6 inches high and next years pyramid orchids are well on their way. Don't they know we haven't had winter yet?

Meanwhile my resident builder threw up some wall covering, fitted a new light and mortared half a wall, and that was all before lunch!

PS I have just read this, and I hope you all see that I am wearing my 'Staff' tee-shirt!! I know my place in this household.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Getting Serious

Having finished the jointing in the passageway, we felt that it would be a good idea to finish off that part of the wall which is outside the passage; the part around the patio door of the bedroom.

I managed to do most of it, although we're still struggling with the rain. So it wasn't till today that I was able to prepare the dining room for starting the jointing there.

We're trying to stop the dust getting over everything. It remains to be seen how successful we'll be. I then decided to sort out the problem we have with the lights we'd put into the floor by the wall of the dining room. I'd put them in before the builders laid the screed over the underfloor heating, and my lights ended up higher than the floor! So I had to dig up the cement around the lights and then lay some fresh to match the level of the floor.

Meanwhile, Sue started to decorate the little passage outside the bathroom. It's really only a case of a bit of painting, and then I can lay the tiles.

We're actually quite pleased with the steady progress; slow but steady!

Monday, November 03, 2008

A New Month, a New Room

The weather has been almost 'English'!!! Last Thursday it poured with rain, and then it tried to snow; it even settled for a while on the hillsides on the other side of the valley.

So, we've been continuing to point up the joints in the stairs passage. Finally, today I finished off the last small portion!

This, in itself, was pleasing, but what was even better was that I finished off my mix of mortar in the dining room.

Needless to say, I needed the services of the supervisor to check that I was maintaining a good level of quality in this new workplace!

Still, it's encouraging that we're slowly moving forward.

Whilst I was waiting for the mortar to hearden, and as it was still raining, we moved (again) boxes of unpacked stuff out of the barn. We brought them into the passage so that Sue could check what was what and decide where in the house to store things. Most of the boxes have now got to be taken up into the top bedroom where we know it will stay dry!