French Markets

Most French towns still have their weekly market, this is in Montpon Menesterol. In spite of the prices often being higher than in the local supermarket, they are still very well patronised. The produce is fresh, often unique to the seller and shoppers have their favourite stalls.

As you can see from the photographs there is a wide range of goods to purchase, live chickens/ ducks either for breeding, egg laying or for the oven! Yet metres away you can buy the cooked item from the rotisserie along with some sautéed potatoes which cook in the fat dripping from the birds. There’s every vegetable in season, including at the moment asparagus/asperge which varies in diameter from the thin green stalks to large white ones. There are spices, olives, plants, clothes, furniture everything you could need and which sadly you can’t buy in shops in town as everything has moved out to ” out of town” shopping areas where the supermarket, petrol station and large stores dominate.

With such a diversity of goods, what did we splash our cash on today? Two euros on a tub of fresh goats cheese!

Large Lawn

Small drawback of owning a French property with a hectare of land is the constant battle to keep the grass short. It’s only been 6 weeks since I last cut the grass immediately adjacent to the house but on arrival it was already 30cm high!

We have in theory the equipment to cope with such a situation, now possessing a fleet of two sit on mowers and a small tractor with a grass cutter attachment, so why is it every time you start up one of them after putting them away working correctly, there’s a problem. The mower to the left acquired from our good friends Gwen and Jimmy is superb once the grass is reasonably short, the mower on the right works with grass up to about 20 cm high but struggles after that, it was put away in February working perfectly, but on starting up this time will only cut on the left blade, the other refuses to move.

But hey ho, no matter we have the tractor.IMG_0331.JPGAt the end of last October it developed a fault on the arm that lifts the cutting attachment up and down, it needed a new check chain to stop it fouling the tyre, visits to the local French tractor outlets were fruitless so over the winter I sourced a new one fromTractor Factory based in Oswestry.  A simple job to replace and away we should go mowing. But no, the nut that held the old one on refused to budge, penetrating oil and heat made no difference, so I had to resort to the angle grinder.

An hour later everything was reassembled and with the help of my sous chef/ navigator we attached the grass cutter ready for my foray into the undergrowth.IMG_0336.JPGThe first cut, only 3 acres to go. Probably need a beer, a French 33 to sustain me.

Vide Grenier

One of the pleasures of being in France is visiting the Sunday vide grenier, meaning empty attic, our version being car boot sales.There are less commercial stalls although it’s obvious those who are regular sellers, however some of the goods for sale make you shake your head in wonder, was it really worth transporting them there.

The one we attended this Sunday was in Menesplet in the Perigord region of France, quite small and very local sellers. For once there was nothing to drag the euros from my pocket. We have over the years bought a wonderful range of copper items at very reasonable prices which now adorn our French kitchen, a collection of coffee grinders and very old metal hot water bottles!

Jonah and the Whale

It occurred to me as we sat on the quay side in Portsmouth waiting to board the ferry, just how much it must have felt like for Jonah to be swallowed by the whale.

The mouth of the ship gapes open and we enter and drive up and along into the stomach of the ship where we abandon the car and enter the innards of the ferry. Unlike Jonah however we do have some comfort, a nice cabin, a bar to purchase drinks and the chance to relax with the obligatory bon vacance drink. And so to bed.

The next morning we were coughed out onto the French quayside at Le Havre where two Gendarme gave everyone’s car boot a cursory glance, and two customs officers checked everyone’s passport.There were about 200 vehicles so you can guess how long it all took.

Then it was off into the French traffic for the 400 mile drive to the house. It was a hard journey for many parts, the motorways were rammed and it was often stop start, the services were so full we couldn’t park at two and had to drive on. Never mind it was glorious weather and the temperature rose to 27 degrees and the sun shone.

Upon arrival it was a quick unpack of the car and then a celebratory beer/wine to unwind sitting in the sunshine.

Double Glazing

Just when you think you are safe from the worry of double glazing, another window needs doing. The Hymer had a cracked rear window, nso following research on the internet it became obvious the best way forward was replacing the whole window. So following its delivery yesterday, the double glazing team sprang into action today to install the new window.

It wasn’t the easiest of jobs and involved the removal of the neon light and the extractor fan, but nothing the crack team of fitters couldn’t handle! Now we have a gleaming new window👍.

Bright Idea

IMG_1046When you are having one of those restless nights and the mind is whirring, it’s amazing what bright ideas crowd the mind and what seem like brilliant plans are made.

For the past 26 years I’ve spent virtually every holiday at our house in France, when not there, there have been the odd excursion travelling around France and visiting friends in Germany.

So what about the Uk? Well very few breaks taken here, the odd night in hotels for family gatherings etc and whilst we had our Bongo a trip to East Anglia, the Lake District and one glorious holiday week in Scotland.

So the bright idea began to form, why not over the next few years aim to spend at least one night where accessible by motorhome in every county in the UK! Over to Google where the information appears to differ, but according to ” a list of counties in the uk 2017 by James Harding” there are a total of 110. N.I has 6, Wales 22, Scotland 34 and England 48.

It looks like we could be busy, but what a nice challenge.