Life in France

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

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Blessed are the cheese makers!

So said the translator in the Life of Brian and the greeks shall inherit the earth! I digress, this weekend was another first at chez peasant, we made cheese!! The sheeps milk was delivered straight from the farm on friday evening and we did the first stages on saturday and today transferred the resultant goo into cheese pots to drain off the excess water, hopefully in two days time it will have started to turn into proper cheese or else a smelly mess will be the result.

The reason for this FREE milk is that in August most of France closes for a months holiday and the tanker drivers that normally collect the milk don't! Of course nobody has told the sheep that this is happening so they quite rightly carry on producing the milk which is then either given away or tipped down the drain!!! What a waste, so luscious in a moment of madness said that we would have 20 litres! This FREE milk has turned out to cost us about 60 quid as we have had to buy pans to heat the milk in, rennet, cheese pots, special milk thermometer and not last stuff to store it in if it turns out ok!

We want brian
Well he's not coming out as he's been a very naughty boy!

pass the wine someone......

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Secret Food

I have just finished a cheddar cheese and branston pickle sandwich! Now that might not mean very much to a lot of you out there but to me it was wonderful! a big chunk of real english mature cheddar covered in chunky pickle.......mmmmmmmm yummy. Don't get me wrong i like a lot of the french cheese's my favourite being roquefort but somehow you just can't beat a cheddar and pickle sandwich washed down with a nice glass of Fullers english ale.......
My dancing round the walnut tree naked was brought to a premature end as i had not realised just how much the blackberry bushes had grown.... ouch those thorns......... they must be the only bloody plants apart from the ferns that are still growing despite the lack of water!!
Hey Hey jumps up and dances waving arms frantically... i have been tagged, so somebody does read this mass of meanderings. All i have to do now is think of some wise and witty reposts whilst i render the walls and i will have it all sorted... i must find out how to add links to other blogs in the text.. far to complicated for a peasant like me.... so until i do cheers and thanks to my readers......

Friday, July 29, 2005


At last at last it is raining!!!! After nearly 6 weeks of sunshine and temperatures up in the high 30's in the shade the clouds have finally got together to drop some rain! A little thunderstorm to start with spectacular lightning and then perhaps an hour of rain. Better than nothing and boy do we need it. The grass in the fields has gone a brown colour and we are struggling to find fresh shoots for the horses. Hopefully what little rain we had will encourage the grass and flowers to green up a bit and in 15 days we can go mushroom hunting! I am sure that the sun will be back tomorrow so excuse me while i go and dance naked around the old walnut tree muttering strange incantations to try and make it rain a little more before then. The sun has fried my brain i think, assuming that i had one in the first place!!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Death of a tradition

Well once again the zealots of the EEC have killed off a tradition that has been going on for at least 200 odd years. Every year the local hunters ( the french eat anything they can shoot) put on a huge meal for all at a moderate cost. This meal is to celebrate the bounty that the season gave to them and of course would include, wild boar, deer, rabbit, hare etc etc. Now all this comes to an end this year as new laws on food consumption for the public health come into force.

As of January 2006 all animals killed and destined for human consumption at a PAYING meal MUST be taken to the local abbatoir for inspection to be pronounced fit to eat. This test consists of inspecting the liver to see if it is healthy!! If it passes then the meat gets the stamp of approval. The fact that the hunters have been doing this for years counts for nothing and nobody can remember anybody ever getting ill through eating the food, maybe from over indulgence of the wine but not the food!

The meat then has to be superfast frozen to -30° for 24hrs and then put in cold storage until required. When required someone has to collect it, sign for it and accept responsibility in case anything should go wrong and someone is ill after the meal. This opens up all sorts of possibilities of wrongful claims for food poisoning if certain types of people thought it would get them money!! Naturally nobody wants to take on that responsibility and so the last meal of this type will take place in August.

What a bloody shame!!

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Not only do i get a free meal tomorrow but because i am going i got to go to a free meal this evening as well. All food and wine free, now what can you say about that except yeee haaaaa. If this is my corner of the planet i just wish i had come here years ago. It is so removed from our previous lives it just isn't true!!!!

bon nuit xxxx

What a Wheeze

Just sat munching my lunch of cheese and fresh figs from our tree when i get a telephone call, "would i like to go out on one of the bikes tomorrow?" Err why? asks me, "well we need to get a few bikes together to go to a foire gourmande and put them on display" The best bit is, if i go then i get a free 5 course lunch including wine, just for putting the bike on display... am i going? too bloody right i am, also it turns out there is another event that needs bikes next sunday and its the same deal!!! hheeeee what a place to live eh! I get to ride my bike which i love doing and i get fed for nothing.. what a great deal count me in!!! Big plus, i have another booking for three days in September and this is without the house being completely finished, potentially that's another 200 euro's in the kitty!! whey heh!! At this rate we will be danger of actually making enough to cover the running costs for a couple of months....... hopefully this is a good sign for next year when the house is open properly... at least i hope so.... Off to clean the baby, i think i will take no.2 as she sounds nicer at the moment!!!!


Friday, July 22, 2005

This was it! Tour de France.

Its over in 30 seconds!

That's right after one and a half hours of sitting and waiting it was all over in about 30 seconds. Was it worth it? well i suppose it was, just too say i was there but i wouldn't rush to do it again though! What on earth am i waffling on about? Why the Tour de France of course what did you think i was on about? It passed by yesterday at the top of the road about 5 km away. Luscious said that she wanted to go, so off we went at 11:30 to go and watch. Got to the top of the road and parked up and walked to the junction, said hello to our neighbours and sat down on the picnic rug to await the grand event at about 1300hrs. Numerous team cars and motorcycles went wizzing past and at about 13:10hrs a gaggle of cars came into view with sirens going so this was it. I jumped up , got the camera ready to record the event and took 6 pictures one after the other and that was it!! all over and gone! Didn't even get to see the bloke in the yellow jersey!!

At least i was there!!!!! Back home for lunch and a glass of wine i could hardly contain my excitement at such a great event......

Monday, July 18, 2005


They have gone! the guests have departed so now it is back to work to make ready for the next influx on Friday! I'm not sure which is the most tiring, looking after guests or working on the house? The guests demand a lot of your time, what with the cooking of meals, thinking of recipes and what will go with what for 4 nights ( each meal is 4 courses) and the general entertaining and giving of information so they can hopefully go out and explore the area it really is very tiring. Being up until they go to bed and drinking with them until 3 in the morning! ( well, you can't have them drinking alone can you?) then getting up at 7 to make sure that everything is set ready for breakfast when they finally decide to get up! Still, the 200 euros earnt will come in very handy to by some more sand and cement for the rendering i still need to do.

We have to do it all over again starting on Friday when the next set of guests arrive for the weekend, will i ever get the house completely finished at this rate? I have also just taken a provisional booking for 3 weeks in September... 3 WEEKS yee haaaar i will be completely knackered at the end of that but think of the money!!!! a minimum of a 1,000 euros or a maximum of 1,700 !!!!! now what can i spend that on? chestnut flooring? tiles for the last bathroom? new sleigh bed? or a second hand tractor so i can cut the grass in the fields? hhhmmmmmmmm i wonder.........

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Fète Nationale

Today is a huge holiday in France and so in keeping with the tradition i am taking a day off as well. The guests that should have arrived yesterday have not! they telephoned last night to say that they were too tired to continue driving and had stopped about 130 miles away! Don't you just love paying customers? still, better to stop than to carry on driving when really tired. At least it gave us both a chance to visit friends in the village for an aperro, very nice it was too! leisurely drinking until 9pm then home for some food outside at the table on the terace. It was still 28°c at 11:30pm! wonderful.

Today the guests are planning to arrive sometime in the afternoon so i am off into the village to partake of an apéritif offered by M. Le Mayor and the committee de fete ( it would be rude not too) and then this evening we shall take the gusets out to see the band that will be playing in the local town (5km away) which will be followed at minuit by a feu d'artifice so that should be a nice easy day. All i have to do now is prepare tonights meal of salad, roast lamb with rosemary and garlic, new potatoes, cheese and fresh white peaches with creme fraiche and of course red wine!!! Hopefully that will be ok, if not it's hard lines 'cos that's all there will be!


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Terrace all concreted just needs lauze stones to finish. 36sq. metres.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Yes i have people coming to stay and yes i have a list of jobs longer than route 66 but after finishing the concreting on the terrace on Friday we were knackered so did sod all over the weekend! Well, saturday was market shopping day and Sunday was a repas at lunchtime organised by the troisieme age, it was due to start at 1200hrs but as is the way here it got under way about 1:15 after a few pre dinner pastis! It finished about 4:30 and as wine is free during the meal after a pleasant walk home through the woods it was too late to do anything! My excuse and i'm sticking to it.

Today i am trying to install a small wash handbasin in the bathroom for use by us while the guests use the finished bathroom, already i have burnt out a masonry drill bit trying to drill the wall to put the fixing screws in. That's the way things go here, anyway time for lunch and the cat wants feeding so i had better get on... ta ra

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Judge, Jury, Executioner

The cat has been at it again, she is a little horror sometimes. We had two sets of birds nesting in the barn, Swallows and Redstarts, I say had as they are no longer there thanks to the cat. The Swallows went first, she seems to have jumped from the cement mixer and somehow knocked the nest down and killed three of the fledglings. I managed to rescue the other two and put them into another nest beside the old one which the parents accepted. Cat got one of them but one managed to survive and has now flown. Bored with this the cat turned her attentions to the redstarts nest and i have no idea how she managed to reach it but she has and has destroyed it totally. We only got to know this as she ran into the house with a chick in her mouth and proceeded to kill it in front of me and eat it!

Checking out the barn i could see the damage and the chewed remains of three other chicks on the ground with the parent birds flying around outside chattering and diving at the doorway.
I think they are going to be a little unhappy, the cat meanwhile has positioned herself on top of the barn door lying in wait for them to try and fly into the barn. I have chased her off numerous times but somehow she always manages to sneak back.

I suppose this is nature but i wish she would do the killing outside of the house!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Early Guests

OHHH NOOO, just had a phone call from people who are coming to stay, they were originally arriving on Sunday 17th July and staying for four days now they wanted to know could they come on Wednesday 13th as they have had to change their plans !!!!!! Being the perfect ever flexible host i of course said that it wouldn't be a problem!!!

Holy S**t, now what am i going to do? I had a list of things that i was going to do before they came so at least the house looked in some sort of sense in places finished! Now i have 5 days less to complete them... so, do i..... finish the rendering in the bedroom, plaster out the walls in the room they are going to be sleeping in, finish the shelving in the room they will be using or finish the concrete laying f the terrace so that they have a larger area on which to relax???? or none of the above and just retire to the barn hide in the corner and drink the vin noix that is currently quietly brewing in there and pass into oblivion? Sometimes i wonder why i do this.... the money will be useful from the room but.......

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Incohol Tasting new recipee

Still no sign of the carpenter and no response to my phone message to him to say that the beams are here waiting for him. It will be a surprise for us when/if he turns up before August, as France closes for August. Anyway at the moment i don't really care. Why? 'cos we have been making vin noix and deriratives of same! First pick some green walnuts which we have in abundance and add to red wine, sugar, walnut leaves and some alcohol!!! The red wine is 12% proof and you have to test it to make shure it is ok don't you? then the alcohol.. yeee haa what firewater.. you mix 90% pure alchohol with some 45% proof liquer and add to the rest of the mix and pour into glass jugs with lids and then you have to leave for 40days in a dark place shaking once a week then you can decant carefully into bottles, cork and drink. The locals do say that it will improve with keeping but usually drink it straight away! We have made/mixed up 6 litres og the staf so afre tastine a few drops to mak sur the max is rigt we don not relly care about te carpentther.....;;;eeeeee by gum its bluddy gud stuff whot?? cant wat fo 40daze to tri it out for reel.....