Life in France

A not every day story of normal people trying to live their dream in France starting at the beginning and ending?

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The horse are here all 7 of them!


Hey hey what a great day. The sun is out again and it is lovely, the horses have arrived and are galloping about enjoying all the extra space that they now have. The cat is stalking them around the paddock ( 4 acres ish!) perhaps she is hoping they will disturb the odd mouse or three so she will be tired out later, that is if she decides to come in at all. The last three nights she has stayed out all night!! Little tart. I saw a cuckoo today, the first one that I have ever seen in my life. Have heard them loads of times but never seen one. They started singing here in March so they obviously haven't heard the rhyme; The cuckoo comes in APRIL and sings his song in MAY! The middle of June he changes his tune and July he flies away!!! Perhaps I ought to go tell him? How does he change his tune? Does cuckoo become ookcuc?

bats are now flying past the window so from a batty cuckoo in southern France

cheers ( back to work tomorrow.... Looks like magnolia won!)

Friday, April 29, 2005

This will be a terrace soon honest!

The Terrace

Had a phone call from our friend in England who is selling the caravan for us, fingers crossed it looks like he has finally succeeded in selling her. That would be good news as it would give us a much needed cash injection as things are a little tight at the moment. Luscious is now working at a local restaurant which gives us the day to day household running money + a little extra so the money from the caravan will be most welcome....

Today was another hot one 28° out of the sun so that not bad eh? Even the cat found it a little warm and instead of laying snoozing in the sun moved to some shade!!! I have been cutting grass again around the area that will eventually be the first outside terrace area and generally getting it ready and marked out so that I know where I need to dig out and level when the mini digger arrives. Hopefully it is booked for the middle of May and I will have it for a couple of days then it will go to a friend to help him dig out his overgrown pond!!! We are splitting the cost between us so that isn't so bad. Retired from work early as it was to hot to dig, well that's my excuse anyway!! Got table out and put up sunshade just so we can see what the terrace might look like when I do eventually finish it! Picture attached, showing back of house still waiting for terrace and the walls to be crepied and the balcony to be fitted. With a good imagination you can see what it will be like by the end of JUNE (this year!) eeeekkkkk only 5 weeks to go and we are away for a week in that time as well!!!!!!!!! arrggghhhhhh.... Busy busy.....

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Sun Has Got His Hat On

After the crappy weather of Sunday which concluded with a massive thunder and lightning show which blew the phone apart as the lightning somehow tracked down the telephone wires we have the sunshine. It is absolutely gorgeous, yesterday was 40° in direct sun and 21° in the shade and today has already got off to a flying start. Yesterday I finished undercoating the ceiling above the stairs and the walls as well so now we just need to choose which colour goes on the walls! I like a sunny sort of colour but... Luscious would prefer Magnolia! Now, magnolia is fine I suppose except I hate it! My father used to be in the RAF and all the married quarters were painted in.... Magnolia...... I was in the army in a previous life (previous wife) and the married quarters were painted...... BLOODY MAGNOLIA!!!!!! I will have any colour on the wall but not magnolia....... Having said that I suppose I will end up painting them magnolia!!!! You know how it is with us men? At least the ceiling will remain white though, all very traditional and it does show up the lovely colour of the wooden beams.

Today I have been outside finishing off taking down the barbed wire fence and putting up the posts for the electric fence to join the two paddocks together ready for the horses. It Is hot out there and this is just a warmer for summer.. Lovely.. So now for a nice cool glass of wine with lunch and a moment of contemplation........ Will magnolia really be that bad?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Under the Weather

Its a crappy day. The weather has turned full circle and the cloud is down and it is piddling down. I suppose we need it to top up the water table ready for summer but I would have liked it to wait until tomorrow at least. On the first of May we have 7 horses coming to graze down the fields for us and provide natural fertilizer for them as well. I have to get the fences sorted and the water trough in place and can't do it in this weather. I got most of the perimeter grass sorted and cut so that it doesn't interfere with the electric fencing but I still have a bit to do. It's always the same with animals though isn't it? Always something. Still, the bonus of having the horses here is that we get to ride them for free in exchange for the the grazing. I reckon that is a good deal so roll on the sunshine so we can get out for an evening hack in the forest and watch the sunset with a glass of chilled chardonnay. It's a hard life, back to varnishing the landing floor then to some painting .............. toodle pip

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Not done much so far today. The weather is again crap, have managed to get outside and put two things in the wall to hold the shutters open so that at least when the sun does shine it will brighten up the fireplace end of the lounge. That took over an hour to do as I had to sort out extension leads,ladders and drillbits as you do. Came in to have lunch and was just about to start eating when the cat started to make a strange noise, looking around I was just in time to see her throw up on the floor. Great, just what you need at lunchtime!

Of course being an animal she is not sick in one place but spreads it about a bit. It was bits of food and grass that she had eaten earlier. (normal grass I say, not weed!) So, I left my lunch and cleaned it all up. I had just sat down to start my lunch again when........ barf...She is sick again, not in one place but two or three. This time it is bits of chewed up mouse and......Worms!!!!
marvelous....They are about 8" long, white and flat and alive!!!! Once again I clean it all up, burning the mess on the fire, what a smell. yuk! I rang the vet as we have been giving her worming tablets every month because of the number of mice she catches and eats but they are obviously not strong enough. He asks me to visit him and gives me a syringe of greenish paste with measurements on. I have to work out the weight of the cat and give her so many graduations of paste according to weight!!! What a day. This stuff is guaranteed to kill all known worms etc and is very strong, she has to have it every two weeks for 6 weeks then every month! It aint cheap either! Never mind better that then have her with those nasty wriggly things!

No lunch and now I'm hungry.......

Monday, April 18, 2005


Well, after all the excitement of the mouse incident I am pleased to inform you that I am alive and well. My finger hasn't swollen to gigantic proportions and dropped off and I haven't gone down with some strange mouse related disease. At least not yet! I can only think that the brandy did the trick and killed off any nasty germ thingys that might have been lurking.
The cat has forgiven me and has presented me with a dead mole as a sign that the incident has been forgotten.
The weather is still rubbish so I have been confined to working inside the house again. Today I have finished cleaning off the flooring on the landing and have at last managed to get a coat of varnish on it. We just can't walk on it now for at least 9 hours!! Hopefully it won't still be raining when we go to bed as we have to go out of the front door, up the steps and into our bedroom from the outside! The label on the tin says that it is low odour and good for the health, well I would hate to use high odour and the smell has permeated the whole house! I half expect the AGA to ignite the fumes in the kitchen they are that bad!

I just hope that when it is dry that the end result is worth it. Perhaps I should have another brandy just to help disguise the smell? ........................

Saturday, April 16, 2005

No Justice

Picture the scene, I'm comfortable in the house open fire blazing away and it's raining outside. When I say raining I mean RAINING it is absolutely chucking it down! I hear a plaintive meeooowww from outside and knowing that the cat is outside I jump up to let her in. No problem so far except it is cat + 1 that comes in all soggy wet. The +1 happens to be a mouse that is in her jaws and still wriggling trying to escape! Quite how she meeowed with it in her mouth I don't know anyway she drops said mouse on floor and looks at me very pleased with herself. At this point the mouse decides to make a dash for it and goes under the sofa chased by cat who thinks this is a great game! I get down on the floor and can see the mouse and so can the cat. It is not going to come out!!! No fear, it doesn't want to be a cats supper. I very slowly move the sofa and wham out he comes closely followed by a cat. I sort of rugby tackle the mouse and manage to catch it in my hand thereby saving it from the cat. Now you would think it would be grateful wouldn't you? Not a bit of it, it sinks its teeth into the fleshy part of one of my fingers and refused to let go despite me shaking my hand and swearing!! Perhaps I should have asked politely? The pain is excrutiating!! I managed to grab it with my other hand and it let go, I opened the door and put it back outside while trying to keep the cat in and stopping the blood dripping from my finger. There are now spots of blood on the floor and on my jumper. I go to the kitchen and wash my hand/finger and apply some betadine paste. OOOWWWWWWW that stung, lots....... So much for trying to help a little furry animal from being eating alive!!!

I need a brandy....Purely medicinal of course......The cat is not happy with me either. There is no justice anymore...............

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Marching Caterpillars

Its a grayish start to the day but that hasn't deterred the annual march of the caterpillars. These caterpillars seem to live in the pine tree close to the house in a sort of fist size cocoon thing and then when the sun begins to warm the world in spring they come out to march. They follow each other nose to tail down the tree and off they go. I have no idea where they go or even what they may turn into eventually or how they get up the tree but when they come down.... Hey there must be over 100 in each line and they are everywhere. Almost like a plague, you can't help but run them over as you drive in and out as they stretch right across the road. The locals here call them processionaires and strongly advise us not to touch or pick them up. In fact they go out of their way to kill them, sometimes resorting to pouring petrol over them and setting them alight! Evidently the little hairs on their bodies are extremely irritating and can bring you out in a huge painful burning rash and your arm or whatever touched swells to huge proportions and if you are really allergic to them can cause you to go into a state of shock and that means hospital! No wonder they aren't very popular but why does such a small insect have to have such a powerful defence mechanism? They look so harmless I really would like to know what they eventually turn into just incase 1. It is also as dangerous and I can avoid it or 2. It turns out to be a beautiful moth/ butterfly now that would be the better selection. I will see if the natural history museum in London by the power of email can enlighten me......

Monday, April 11, 2005

Back to Reality

Well, reality kicks in again at the home of the peasant. After a pleasant weekend off it is back to work as usual. The motorcycle racing yesterday was brilliant, it must be one of the few sports left where contact at speed still happens! What a way to win a race, last corner, punt your opposition out of the way by a daring? Brave? Foolhardy maneuver? But what excitement. You have to feel sorry for the guy in second though, so near and yet so far.

Anyway, its on to taking out some foam filling above a window and filling it in properly with cement then when it is dry just a thin skim of plaster. Tried my hand at plastering a small wall.... Now there's a laugh for you. Mixed the plaster up in accordance with the instructions, left it to rest for a couple of minutes as instructed on the sack, went to use it.. oh la la...... What a mess!
I have never plastered before although I have been plastered a few times in my life!!!!

I somehow got about a dozen trowels of plaster onto the wall and started to spread it out and level it when as if by magic it started to set. I don't know what they use to make it set but it is bloody efficient! Within five minutes I couldn't do anything with the stuff on the wall and the plaster in the mixing bucket was like rock. I had to take it outside, turn it upside down and hit the bottom with a hammer to make it come out. Thud, out it came in a perfect replica of the bucket. A great sculpture but sod all use as plaster!

respect for plasterers has gone up immensely. Just how the hell do you work with this stuff?
Answers on a postcard to me please....
Back to work, rubbing down the plaster that I couldn't level on the wall, it's all good fun though hey ho..................

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Lazy Days

I have decided that having worked so hard for so long that I would award myself a few days off. That is one of the advantages of not having a boss to tell you what to do in fact it is an advantage of not having to work at all. I like that feeling especially after years of running my own business and being at the beck and call of customers!!!!!

The days started well with the sun shining and being able to relax and sit outside or browse the blog world. Unfortunately I think someone somewhere is trying to tell me something as the weather last night did a sudden shift and it hailed, rained and snowed all in one day with the temperature dropping to 3 degrees. Not exactly sitting out sunbathing weather! Today we went out shopping and bought a new bathroom sink, now isn't that just a wacky thing to do on your day off? We had lunch out as well so not a bad day. Also bought a huge box of fresh strawberries which I think we will eat with lashings of fresh cream or maybe dollops of créme fraiche or maybe even both. Do they go well with mousse au chocolate? Maybe we should all three and pig out completely. Maybe that would be just to much... Ah what the hell you can only die once.

Tomorrow is the first round of the MotoGP (motorcycle racing) so I have planned to go to the local bar to watch it on their satellite as we don't have a TV!

happy days, cheers, burp................

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Tree Feller Extraordinaire

I have to say I am feeling really pleased with myself after cutting a tree down yesterday. Simple soul that I am, just because I got it to fall just where I wanted it to go I broke into a big smile!
The tree was already dead and over the last couple of years the weather has dried it out for me as the bark has been stripped off by deer more than likely. It was growing on quite a steep bank and had it fallen down hill I would never have managed to get it dragged up the hill and also it would have crashed through the telephone wires which would have been a tad embarrassing!
I had to get it to fall sort of uphill which meant that the top branches were near the road and would make it easier to drag up the bank. All went to plan so I am a happy bunny. It is now chopped up and in the barn ready to provide another three or four nights burning. Isn't mother nature kind to provide me with free wood? After I have cut another three down in the same area I can replant with some new trees to replace what I have used and so the cycle continues.

tired but happy...........................

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

All is calm

All is calm and quite at the house of the peasant. Guests are here and that effectively stops work on the inside of the house as you can't really carry on making loads of noise and dust, they are paying after all. So, the entertainers and hosts hats are now being worn by the peasant. Breakfast to prepare, cleaning of rooms to be done and dinner to get ready for this evening when they return from a day out visiting the wonderful city of Albi.

The sun is out and it is 30°c out the back of the house so i think lunch outside is an idea and a mere 14°c out the front on the north side in the shade. We have a cuckoo singing away in the woods opposite and the deer have been down to the back of the house again. I think they are munching on last years sweet chestnuts.

I'm going to sharpen the chain saw and go out and play at lumberjacks as we need a little more wood stockpiled as it still gets a little cool at night with the sky being so clear.

it's a good life here, anybody want to come and stay when the house is ready?

Sunday, April 03, 2005


JIT.... Not a foreign word but an anacronym for Just in Time and that was what I was on Friday for the guests arrival. I had finished varnishing the floors in the bathroom and the staircase and had let them dry off for 8 hours or so but I still needed to refit the "temporary" bathroom sink for them to use. Now this should be a half hour job but as usual this was not to be. The tap washers decided not to perform their correct function and stop the water from leaking out of the connections!!! After much good old Anglo Saxon word usage I finally sorted the problem by robbing the new set of taps of their washers and using plumbing hair and sealant. I had literally just finished testing them and tidying up when the guests arrived! I had to hide the screwdriver in my pocket and feign complete calm and smile as a good host should.

I have perfected the JIT principle but don't really want to try it out again... Well not for a while anyway.