Weem um. (we are home)

Woke up this morning to grey skies and rain, what’s happening?

Got home about 1 am this morning after a 580 mile journey which went reasonably well, Sundays are a good day to travel in France, it been a great break.

Certainly notice the increase in the amount of road traffic now I’m back in urban living compared to rural life.

We currently spend approx 20% of the year living the rural life, its very enjoyable and great contrast to every day life here, we’re lucky that we have most facilities within 3km of the ranch so not too rural. There are pros and cons; cons are there’s very little entertainment within reach to take advantage of and for some activities fluent French would be necessary, we haven’t access to TV channels and this probably would be a necessity if we are to spend more time there, currently we read a lot and rely on the internet. The pros are finding yourself in tune with the seasons, being surrounded with wildlife, many different insects, butterflies etc all of which are fascinating.

However occasionally the still, quiet, placid airs of the countryside are shattered by the piercing screams of the head gardener, this can mean one of two things, firstly she has impaled herself on one of her thorny plants, known as Spike or Ouch, if that’s the case the scream is followed by a mild expletive. The other screams are caused by the sudden appearance of one of our two hissing Sids that live in the concrete culvert under one of our favourite patios, once emerged they usually head off towards the Head Gardeners main large garden where she entertains herself for hours deep in its undergrowth muttering away to herself.

She demanded action, so I complied!What am I supposed to do with this was the reply upon receiving my gift, she wasn’t all to impressed when I said shake it it makes a rattle and frightens snakes away (actually you sprinkle the granules around the area where they are, it’s quite harmless and just deters them) she demanded protection whilst gardening and as I’m always eager to please I equipped myself accordingly and trained for hours.Strangely we didn’t see them again, they must have been impressed by my prowess!

Do the pros out way the cons, I think so, there’s always something new to marvel at, and it’s wonderful to slow down the pace of life and actually feel as though you have charge in your battery.

So until next time   tara a bit.

Last Day

Sadly today is our last day here at the ranch before tomorrow’s journey home, it has been another glorious day with the temperature in the 20s.

This morning we went shopping in the market in Ste Foy La Grande, an excellent market that wends its way around a few streets. It’s an attractive historic town on the banks of the Dordogne, originally being a trading port for boats coming up river from Bordeaux and downriver from Bergerac.No visit to this market is complete unless we visit the book and DVD stall owned and run by an English woman originally from Norton Canes, amazingly in discussion whilst talking to her we found out that she and Michelle had been at Norton Canes Comprehensive at the same time, small world!

Below is the selection of goodies we splashed our cash on today, note the anti grey squirrel scarer for use in the UK. On the way back from Ste Foy we called in at our vineyard at Fleix and got in supplies for the uk to last us until we return in the summer. It turns out that over the past year I’ve banked enough commission rewards to have a free bottle of wine, I’ve banked it until August.

Peter and Alison had a spare gazebo frame that they had acquired from Gwen, they had already used one so I now have the other.
Since our huge willow tree died and the ash tree had a severe lopping there is very little shade under which to park the car in the extreme hot weather, I’m trying to grow Wisteria over our parking area but it needs lots of support so the gazebo frame was just the job. So this afternoons job was to put it together and put it in place.We are now in the throes of packing the car and tidying up before we sit in the last of the sunshine with a glass of wine enjoying the last evening of our rural idyl.

Soon we will be back in grey England but at least we will have our tans and good memories to keep us going until next time!

A Day Off

It’s the last but one day before we head off home so we decided to reward ourselves with a day off from working.

So after some discussion we decided to head to one of our favourite places in the region, Aubeterre.

We usually make at least one visit there each year, we enjoy it’s scenery, wandering the streets, noticing the changes since we were there last and of course Michelle likes to wonder in and out of the shops. We arrived after 11am to everything a chance to warm up but alas the shops weren’t open, I was devastated. Strangely my favourite shop the pottery was open and Xavier the potter greeted us as always like old friends.
So to overcome the depression we both felt we decided after a walk around the narrow streets to treat ourselves to lunch in the square, Matt won’t be surprised to know I opted for a cheese omelette and Michelle had a french style galette, filled with cheese. After lunch we continued with our walk on the upper levels of the town.This was followed by a lazy afternoon back home and this evening we are off toBeaupoyet for the monthly fish and chip night, we know how to live the good life.

Brushes are us.

Today we carried on from yesterday’s work, whilst Michelle was varnishing some wood in the house I rendered the top of the wall and one of the block pillars leading to the verandah.


Then after lunch I mixed together some left over Dulux county cream, Crown lemon and Wickes’s Sandstone so we could start painting the wall.

Not sure what you could describe the colour as, but it’s fine for a base coat. We worked as a well oiled team, I did the top half and Michelle the bottom( no sizest jokes) she is really becoming proficient at the painting and I’m contemplating promoting her from a half inch brush to a one inch brush next time we paint.The paint ran out halfway down the building but I’m sure if I describe it adequately Band Q will be able to mix me some more.
Our reward was a nice cold beer

Project

Peter and Alison friends we’ve made through Gwen and Jimmy have a modern holiday bungalow here, there are as yet no fully grown trees on their property to provide shade/ shelter for their car. Last year we had a discussion about buying a car porch kit or building one from scratch. This holiday Peter asked if I could give him a hand with the project. We designed it on a piece of paper, a very rough sketch with dimensions that relied on size of wood we could purchase. We took the design to the local builders yard and converted it into an order for wood, roofing sheets and fixings.

Over three half days the structure rose, there was a little redesigning as we went along, but we were pleased with the end project.

Bonfire and Profanities.

With apologies to Tom Wolf for adapting the title of his book/ film for my own means, his being Bonfire of the Vanities.

Usually in the Spring and again in the Autumn we find it necessary to have a bonfire to rid ourselves of hedge trimmings, thin branches from tree lopping and other bulky unwieldy items we don’t want to take to the tip. With regard to the Autumn fires many members of the family have been involved in their making, and there will be clear memories of dragging branches or wheeling the wheelbarrow to the fire.One enduring memory is of dad whose duty it was to keep an eye on the fire, he loved poking at it as it got small enough for him to approach and on several occasions he melted the rubber bung off the end of his walking stick.Todays fire was much smaller and easily kept under control, until that is a large ember shot out of the fire and landed on my sweater and burnt a hole through it scorching the T shirt underneath. That was the first profanity, apart from being a bit bobbly it was a perfectly good jumper, only about 15 years old and with many years of life left in it, it was sacrificed on the fire.Second profanity came about from the result of a new sack of cement splitting open in the boot of the car spilling some of its contents on the floor and when I attempted to unload it much of  the rest ended up on my shorts, converting them from blue to grey!

It’s a good job Michelle loves cleaning and washing.

For the rest of the day we have continued with our pottering, putting extra finishing touches to the kitchen surface and the working on putting up extra fascia board on the rear of the house on the single storey extension. Michelle has done a wonderful job of staining the board and tomorrow I will plaster the gap underneath.

Why is she wearing the hat you may ask? We are not allowed to mention the sunburnt forehead! Thankfully she hasn’t a grand tête and my hat fits.

Pollen

Since arrival we have both been affected in one way or other by hay fever. The warm dry weather has brought everything into bloom and as a consequence there’s lots of pollen everywhere.This the pollen on our car after just a few days, it is now even thicker and surfaces everywhere are covered in it.Sadly as runny eyes and sneezing have worsened this evening we have for the first time this holiday moved indoors much earlier than normal, it is 8.45 pm and it is still sunny and light outside.Each Spring the field is a riot of colour from the spring flowers, I take care each year to leave different large areas uncut to ensure their survival.

Pottering

Easter Monday 2017.

I’m not sure if everyone has realised by now but you can read this blog by entering

taraabit.co.uk     into any search engine

Today we have had a day pottering around, the weather has been beautiful, sunny and warm all day, a hint of breeze so that it wasn’t too hot.

This morning we grouted the tiles that we have recently put on the work surface and this afternoon Michelle varnished the wooden edging we placed around them all.I mowed another acre of field and used the small mower to give the front lawn and part of the field a second cut, the grass appears to be regrowing as fast as I cut it.Michelle also re-stained some of the facia board, front and back of the house whilst I repositioned the grape vine to move it away from the wall, so that we can paint it in the summer(Sophie) and lifted it up above the verandah doorway so it doesn’t garrotte us when it’s laden with grapes.Whilst mowing a large bird/eagle? circled above me getting as close as 3 metres on one occasion, didn’t carry me off though.And now for a curry and a beer.

Easter Sunday 2017

This is my 26th Easter Sunday spent in France and the huge majority have been spent with fine weather and for the past 10 years shared with my Chief Navigator.Today we decided for the 3rd Easter running to visit a vide grenier at Saint-Leon.There were fewer stalls than normal and the visit didn’t take as long as usual.
However the Senior purchaser and interior design manager did espy a bargain in the Moroccan pouffe market, a bargain at 3 euros she decried, it certainly was seeing as I paid!

However, i’m looking forward to a small reward this evening, naughty but nice!😊

Dechetterie

What normal people don’t visit the local council tip when they are on holiday? Doesn’t everyone accumulate so much unwanted, finished with, unused items, they have to go somewhere.

This is a recent collection of scrap metal.
So we bravely decide to visit our local council tip or dechetterie, we always approach with great trepidation, often there is a refusal that we have the right to take our rubbish there, or that we even exist, now we go armed with two forms of i.d. proof of council tax and several utility bills.

Is there an International training centre for council operatives of tips? In England there’s lots of arm waving directing you to various skips, shouts of you can’t dump that it’s not official rubbish, or as recently you can’t throw that house brick in the rubble, you have to pay for a sack full, despite pleas of I’ve only one brick, there was no permission, “powers to be have dictated the rules.”

Is it different in France, well yes, firstly you have to be allowed through the barrier, after some time the operative will approach your car and demand to see what you have loaded within. This is greeted with a look of horror, much pursing of the lips, shaking of the head, a shrug of shoulders and a long pffffff, before deigning to open the barrier and point you in the direction of the correct skip, woe betide you if you have a mixture of items this can cause a melt down.

After unloading your items under the eagle eye of the operative you are dismissed with a cursory wave in the direction of the exit and a look that indicates that they hope not to see you again in the next decade. No wonder we accumulate so much rubbish, we are too frightened to dispose of it!