Les poissons en France

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another Day, Another Beam

I'm really pleased because, even though I had to go into Gourdon first thing to buy some cement, I still had time this morning to fit the second beam above the doorway and begin to replace the stones above them.

Unfortunately I couldn't finish the job as this afternoon it was our 'regular' Wednesday afternoon Tournament at the Bridge Club in Gourdon. We found out afterwards that neither of us was looking forward to it as we both feel that we're not very good. But in the event we didn't disgrace ourselves and we actually had a laugh as we seemed to upset some of the 'pros' who thought that they should have breezed past us! We're also getting to know some of the others there now and so we can have a chat and a joke. There's still a lot we've got to learn though!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beam 2

After mowing and assisting in the garden this morning, I continued in the barn and I've got the second beam/lintel out. There are 4 in all and my plan is to remove the 2 beams on the inside of the door, replace them with 2 longer beams, and then repeat the process on the outside of the doorway.

As you can see I've got the first replacement beam in place but I've got to buy some cement to fix it in position before I carry on. So, it looks like an early shopping trip in the morning!

Monday, April 26, 2010

How Black is Brown

Spring has brought out the homemaker in Sue and about 3 weeks ago we went to Perigueux, some 2 hours drive away, to a large Leroy Merlin store (a national DIY chain). She'd seen some garden chairs on their web site but, when we got there, they had none in stock. So we ordered 6 and, as Sue mentioned yesterday, we went over to collect the chairs on Saturday. Unfortunately (in my opinion) whilst we were there she saw some tiles on promotion which she thought were fine for the en-suite facilities in Bedroom 3. Having reflected and measured during the course of Sunday we set off (again) early this morning.

Everything seemed to be going OK, especially as we took out a store card to get an extra 5% off, and the car was well laden! After 20 minutes on the journey home Sue was looking at the till receipts to work out how much we'd saved when she saw that the tiles were described as Moka. She wanted Black! They'd looked Black in the store but, in the sunlight they did have a brown hue. So.....we turned round and went back to the store to exchange them. We had a look at the range of tiles they had and we couldn't see any Black....or nothing labelled Black. Madam took one tile out to the sunlight and deemed herself happy with it, even though it is called Bronzo!!!! Needless to say I said nothing.

The next time you come out to see us, you can judge for yourselves how black is brown.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Return of the Demolition Man

Yes folks, he's back and he's setting to on the Barn!

We want to finish the courtyard this summer, and that involves creating an entrance to the barn for the mower so that we won't have to drive down the ramp in the corner of the courtyard. So, I've got to make the rear doorway to the barn from a single into a double.

Simple job!!! The lintel for the doorway is made of 4 beams side by side. So I've just got to remove them, replace with 4 longer beams and then remove some of the wall to create a bigger door. (Notice the "just")

I hope that you can see my piece of blue string. That's how wide I've got to make the new door.

I've proped up the beams above the doorway and I'm pleased to report that the first beam is out....and the wall above the door hasn't fallen down....yet.

I don't know how long this is going to take because I'm having to give the gardener some serious help at the moment!

Things You See When You Haven't Got A Camera

We had to go to Perigueux yesterday to collect some garden chairs which we had ordered. The journey takes about 2 hours but yesterday, the always nice countryside, was spectacular. The late spring sunshine highlighted the new green leaves and the trees and flowers were in full blossom. The stone villages were dripping with wisteria and the enormous Judas trees were covered in pale cerise blossom. (Ours which we planted in the winter are also in flower - but they have a way to go before they can be described as spectacular!!).

We were a little delayed as we drove alongside the Dordogne, by a 1000 runners!! It appeared to be a 50km and 100km race. It may not have been on the scale of the London Marathon but we were just as humbled by these marvelous people - 50% of whom were our age or above!!

Then we stumbled upon some wild boar with their enchanting babies. Admittedly they were on a farm, but it covered 40 hectares of woodland so we were lucky to see them.

We then stopped en route for a picnic and were engulfed by millions and millions of dandelion seeds. Far from being annoying it was a beautiful sight, like summer snow.

I know I have been waxing lyrical but I love Spring.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Volcano...What Volcano?

Last Thursday we were due to fly off to the UK for a wedding. The drama of the Icelandic Volcano and the ash cloud began to unfold and by 10.30, our flight was cancelled. A hurried trawl of the net meant that we found ourselves driving up to Boulogne to catch a ferry at 11.15 Thursday evening. Driving round the M25 and the M1 was brilliant at 1 and 2 in the morning and we got to Pat and Mel's at 2.30.
Anna and James' wedding on the Saturday was blessed with bright sunshine and a geat venue. We really enjoyed seeing all of our old friends.

But, for us, the nicest thing was to see Guy and Carla and to see how happy and relaxed they are with each other. Sue was a contented Mum!

Our journey home was a repeat dose, except that, having got to Dover, we found that the ferry was delayed 2 hours. We drove to Orleans by 10.30 pm where we crawled into sleeping bags in the back of the car and, to our surprise, woke up at 5.30 in the morning. So, back home before lunch to grass needing cutting and plants needing watering. The forecast is for temperatures of 25 degrees for at least the next 12 days and we're hoping that we're not going to have a repeat of last summer's drought!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Passion and Patience

Although I think that should read "and Stupidity". I think gardening to me is like taking drugs (not that I have ever done so, well only those prescribed to keep the body going so that I can carry on gardening). I get such "highs" when things grow, particularly those that I don't expect to. This year I have managed to get a supermarket sweet potato to grow, and I have taken off the "slips" which are now growing roots in water. The slips look like runner bean plants. Of course we are far from eating the tubers but the high was getting them to sprout at all. My Guru, Bob Flowerdew, also suggested that you can similarly plant a piece of ginger, and guess what.... we have lift off on that too.

Our patience has also been rewarded as, after three years of waiting, we are about to cut our first asparagus. Hope it tastes as good as it looks.

I have been anxiously checking round the garden to see what has survived the particularly bad winter and the drought last summer. Most things have amazed me and are popping up, although a little late. It would seem that I must accept that we will not have "winter structure" because of the deer and the low temperatures. However, as I look out at the lush growth, that doesn't worry me.

Now we come to the "stupidity". I have been weeding the aptly named "long bed" for days and am just over half way. It is totally covered in a rather pretty mauve nettle. I am having to hand weed it as my neck doesn't like to much hoeing. I will be delighted if I can cover every square inch in the summer with flowers but some how gardening doesn't work out like that. I guess that's the low that makes you take more of the drug!!

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Moment of Truth

I couldn't put it off any longer. Yesterday I started covering the joints of the plasterboards!

Actually, once I was atuned to the task, it wasn't too bad. It's just that there's a lot of joints!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Sunshine

I was thinking about how Easter has lost it's meaning. We received a couple of 'Easter Cards' via the internet, and I was struck by the lack of any reference to Christ or Christianity. I feel that we are seeing the last echoes of the Christian religion but everyone still feels the need to 'celebrate' the arrival of Spring. I guess we're all Pagans at heart.

Today, Easter Monday, has been absolutely glorious. I'm looking out of the window now at 7 o'clock in the evening and we still have a totally clear blue sky; it's been lovely and warm and we ended our day's exertions by sitting outside on our 'top' terrace with a glass of wine, viewing our front garden.

As I hope you can see, Sue's been very busy weeding and tidying and this afternoon I mowed the grass. We are very pleased with our endeavours and felt we'd earned the glass of wine!

Earlier in the day I'd put the first piece of plasterboard in between 2 beams in bedroom 2. I'd been wondering how I'd get on, but it wasn't too bad ( as long as I can fill the gaps successfully!)

You'll notice that I needed to modify the 'plasterboard elevator' to allow me to push the boards right up between the beams. So, having had a successful trial run, I then started to erect the metalwork for the en-suite wall!

(I've really only done this to avoid starting on the joints of the plasterboards in the library and bedroom 3!!!!)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The End of Tranquility?

We had learnt some time back, from JJ and Nadine, that we were going to get more neighbours. Fred, the son of our other french neighbours, Michel and Michelle, was to move into his parent's house, along with his partner and their daughter. We had thought that it was to be last weekend, and certainly furniture and bedding did arrive, but it turned out that today was the day!

We had different cars and vans to-ing and fro-ing all day. Fortunately, it's not as if they're right on our doorstep, but we are slightly concerned that the tranquility of our little corner of paradise is going to be rudely disturbed!

To show you all just how 'french' we're becoming, Sue went out to harvest some 'free' salad this evening. We're going to have Pissenlit leaves. (I'm not being rude, but the french name for Dandelion means 'wet the bed'). Sue's hairdresser, Chantal, told her to get out and gather the leaves for a salad. Sue might not have done much about it, but the price of salad and veg in the supermarket was ridiculous today. Hope I wake up in time, in the middle of the night!!!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

It's Raining...

...so it must be April! We've been here for 4 springs now and we've realised that April is a very wet month. Sue's unhappy about this as she wants to get out weeding and preparing the garden. She's already made noises about needing help in the garden once it's dry enough to get out!

I called our electrician in to explain to me exactly what some of the wiring in the bedrooms is for. So now that I fully understand the situation, I've finished the plasterboarding in Bedroom 3. I really should now start on the plasterboard joints but I've got to psyche myself up for this!!! So, using the excuse of getting rid of as much insulation and plasterboards as possible, I've finished the dividing wall between the 2 bedrooms ( ie I've put up the wall in bedroom 2).

Stupidly, I completed this too quickly, so I guess I'll have to start on the jointing!