Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The latest pics..

Neil has been performing some fine joinery with a chainsaw for the opening between the barn and the hall. We had a worried phone call from a Fred (our friend who lives in the Loire) who having studied the previous blogs photos thought we were being a bit lapse with our supports for the beams. Neil has since added to the structure to make them safer, although there is no first floor or foot traffic to support at the moment. As always, any advice is gratefully received in these parts - especially from Fred who has so much experience.

The next photo is of Neil pondering on the first of the lintels for the opening. He does a lot of standing around like this.

The last photo is of Tam. We have added to his woes by having had his nuts off this morning. Hence the dozy, slightly pissed off expression. Still, at least his nose has healed and is back to one piece.

Monday, 29 March 2010


This was how my hall looked as I headed off for work this morning......

and this was how it looked when I got back......

If the house wasn't draughty before (it was) it sure will be now!! We are planning an arched doorway in the hole on the right and the staircase will go in the hole on the left. A candle will go in the little hole in the middle!!!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

282 days till christmas

It's all happening around here! Neil has truly got the bit between his teeth and things are getting bashed down and constructed in this new spurt of action. The staircase will be started next week fingers crossed, and now all the openings are in place for it to go into.

I got home from work yesterday to find a Christmas tree propped up outside the house which was a birthday present from my friend who owns the horses I ride. She was obviously fed up of me going on every time we passed one whilst we were out in the woods.
Some time ago I dug up and acquired one from a local wood (the farmer said I could), but after being in the ground for several months it suddenly took a turn for the worse, went brown and died. I was gutted.
I had positioned it so that I could see it from my window and so that you could also see it as you drove up the road to the house. I had visions of it being festooned with lights at Christmas and being a lovely feature. As it was no more than a twig by Christmas I resisted the temptation to put lights on it, but by then I had realised that the lights wouldn't have reached it any way.
I'm not getting caught out this time. I have lovingly planted it in a large pot in mole hill soil (there are loads of bloody mole hills about at the moment) and watered it in thoroughly. The pot has good holes for drainage and I have made sure it is straight. For once I am going to be vigilant and make sure it is in prime condition for this Noel. Well I hope so anyway.

I have also been busy in the garden, putting up a fence to keep the chickens and ducks on the field side of the fence. I am fed up with chickens on my raised beds (and in the kitchen actually)and ducks that do the biggest cackas (I have never asked a french person how they would spell that but they mean poos!!) on the doorstep and all over the lawn. Lawn! thats a joke.
I drove a mini digger across my 'lawn' the other day and then tried to replace all the divets that the tracks had made with my feet. The marks were quite randomly spaced around the garden as I had been trying to avoid the daffodils I had planted in various locations last autumn, so had been zig zagging around the garden.
I'm so glad there aren't people watching the ridiculous goings on at this house sometimes!!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Arrivals and Departures

The pictures are of the new arrival at work, stable name Poppy born yesterday morning at about 7am - isn't she gorgeous.

Next photo is of Neils' handwork cutting the beams in the hall to insert a 'trimmer' beam to rest a flight of stairs on (the stairs still are in plank form as previously shown, drying out!!)

The departure is my birthday present to myself, finally handing in my notice to the ambulance service who had given me a career break to move out here. It was a kind of safety net in case things didn't work out, but I really didn't want to go back whatever had happened, so posting the letter today is a bit of a landmark. Hurrah!!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Construction update!

This is our new staircase. Well, it will be one day. Apparently it needs to dry out for a bit first. Following construction it will be going in this hole

The beam you can see is at chest height on the first floor, so the idea is that the staircase will go up and divide beneath it to allow access to either side. We couldn't bear to chop out this lovely bit of carpentry (and it would seriously undermine the roof to do so.

The area of light you can see on the left hand side is yet another velux going in, now that Neil has practiced and got the bit between his teeth - so its all happening here at chez nous.

I have just got back from the vets with Tam (again) this time he has been given the all clear - he no longer has a temperature or dodgy eyes - just a rather odd shaped nose, but that doesn't seem to be giving him any problems.

Friday, 19 March 2010

dream on............

It's my birthday on Wednesday and when my mother rang today to let us know a UK credit card bill for Neil had dropped on the doormat for in excess of £100 I thought for one brief moment (actually I didn't - but for the sake of the blog pretend I did) that perhaps an exciting present was en route.
"Was it spent in tiffanys?" I enquired
"It's £100 worth of gold screws from Screwfix" was the reply.

The velux goes in...

The velux didn't get put in the other day, as it looked like rain may be imminent so Neil decided not to make a hole in the roof. It's going in today though, and as grey clouds gather he is working furiously to get the damn thing in place.

The velux is going in high on the roof fairly close to the apex, as we want maximum light above the twisting staircase (that Neil is making next week). This has complicated matters as the roof tiles Neil needed to remove are stuck in place by those concreted to the apex.

I was also a bit worried about him as he was on the landing, on some boards on tressels (not sure how you spell that) and then on the top step of a 'hop up'on top of that. It all looks a bit wobbly so I called our tall friend Denis to come and help him manoever the window into place ( because I am a shortarse and allergic to wobbling platforms).

The instructions to fit the velux appear to have been drawn by a three year old with no interest in windows, so Neil has been consulting the internet at every stage to make sure he is doing it correctly. Martin did show us how to put one in, but that was ages ago and Neils head has been full of a hundred of other things since and we have both forgotten how to do it. Doh!!

I am happy to report that the window is in, that it is now raining and there are no signs of leaks. Another thing ticked off the list!!!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Sunshine - hurrah!!

A bit of sun seems to cheer everybodys' spirit and even the weather girl on our local radio was full of joy this morning on my way to work. 'Warm and sunny' she declared, and the sky will be 'decorated' with a few clouds. A nice way to put it I thought.

At the stables this morning there was frantic activity. A team had come to landscape the grounds, and a greasy looking foreman shook my hand and called me Mademoiselle which nearly made me choke on my wrinkles. The young girl I work with had a quick look at the assorted motley crew and declared them to be 'dissapointingly lacking in talent' but I realised she must have had a rethink when I clapped eyes on her later, swanning around the yard in a tiny vest top when up until now she has been hidden under several layers of fleece and puffa jackets.

The young two year old stallion continues to make my life exciting. He is just like a mouth on legs and handling him is not for the faint hearted. He tends to rear up if you get angry with him, but I have noticed he doesn't tend to kick out at all which does make life easier. He's good looking though isn't he?!

Neil is having a stressful day putting a velux in. We have had the windows some time and the manufacturer has obviously changed all their models and also their fitting instructions. Most of it is straight forward - but the one bit Neil wants to verify is conspicuous by it's absence on the website. It's quite a big job to make a hole in the roof that we lovingly put up a couple of years ago, but I'm sure after a few of Neils' normal bursts of tourette type swearing it will all be fine.

I'm off shortly to take Tam to the vet again. After a bit of an improvement yesterday he is refusing to eat today, is not vocal at all (very unusual for him) and has a bit of a temperature. Thank you to everyone who has sent him get well soon messages, I will keep you informed.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The vets

I have been worrying about taking Tam to vet, of paramount concern is his wellbeing but also the huge cost that taking him could involve. Now that I am working five mornings a week the day to day costs are largely taken care of, and we were enjoying the sense of relief that brings. It seems to be a fact of life that just when you think you are getting your head above the water something comes and drags you down.

But back to Tam, I was so worried that I would take him and they would recommend expensive surgery, extensive tests and spending lots of money. I have got used to the sinking feeling of having your pet dragged away from you for surgery that you often wonder is more about the fact it can be done rather than must be done.

Yet again I have been suprised by the more matter of fact system in France. In the UK because lets face it, your animal is your baby, the vets seem to feel they have carte blanche to spend your money without a thought of how you are going to afford it - presumably because most people have insurance now and/or because we are all so soft.

The vet decided the primary concern for Tam is that his temperature is up, and they have given him antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory and I am to keep him in and then take him back tomorrow to see if his temperature has gone down.
They seem to think that although his face is unsightly at the moment it is not doing any great harm and they are going to leave it alone.
So I was getting over the shock of not having my cat whizzed away from me and a 'sign your animals' life away' form stuck under my nose when the vet asked if his eyes were any better.
'Well they were until he ran into a car or whatever it was' I replied. 'Good good, carry on with the drops and we will see you tomorrow'.
I was out of that surgery like a rat up a drainpipe with my little kitten tucked safely under my arm.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Sloshed in France

When I was driving home from work at yesterday I happened across a couple of drunkards on the road heading towards my house.
I recognised my husband and friend Keith meandering zig zaggy stylee along said road.
It transpired that they had been 'helping' our neighbours re-stock their lake with fish and afterwards had partaken of 'refreshment' to be social. This kicked off an afternoon of excess which made work this morning a rather unpleasant experience.

I didn't notice that Tam wasn't present yesterday afternoon but became concerned when he didn't appear last night as that isn't normal for him. I eventually found him in the early hours of this morning looking like he had had a severe pasting. He has definately had a trauma of some sort and his nose looks rather odd. I will be taking him to the vet as soon as it opens to get him looked at. It's an expense we could do without but I have got rather attached to the little fella.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Snow - AGAIN!!

We have been away for a couple of days to the Loire to see our friends Jacqui and Fred. We met Jacqui years ago when she was an A&E receptionist at the hospital we took most of our patients into. They escaped to France long before we did and love their life here. They renovated an old abattoir and now have a lovely cosy little home.

I thought getting away would give Neil a chance to get away from it all for a bit, but endless talks with Fred about 'the project' only served to increase Neils' desire to get on with our place and he was itching to get back, while I was enjoying being warm, being spoilt rotten by Jacqui, having a bath and a staircase to walk up to bed! (that and copious quantities of wine!)

As we drove back down the country the weather started getting more and more dismal as we got further south and sunshine turned to cloud, cloud to mist and mist to snow. Snow! I have lost count of the amount of times it has snowed this winter and there was I buying some plants confident in the knowledge that summer (or at least spring) was finally on its way. Shows what I know.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Shock news - I'm normal!!!

I have just spoken to the Doc and she says all my results are normal. Not bad seeing as they were only taken yesterday morning and today they were in my postbox.
I've obviously got a small case of Munchausens.

This has started a bit of a health kick in our household though, and the diet we were supposed to be starting on our return to France after the Christmas break has at last commenced. Well, I say diet. We have tried to lessen the anxiety of being on a diet by calling it 'a sensible lifestyle' which in turn means trying to cut out the crap.

With characteristic bad timing Neil just had returned with a case full of dairy milk and curly wurleys and they have been put in a sealed bag "only to be opened in case of emergencies", but it's amazing what qualifies as an emergency round here.

What definately qualifies was that the other day I went round to our friends' Mel and Alans place and on close examination, a chunk of their roof had blown up and become displaced. What makes it worse was that after the stormy weather I had gone round to check on the place and as I had not ventured down the garden which was the only vantage point where you could see all the roof, I had called them and told them all was well. Doh.

Anyway once again Martin Curtis came to the rescue and shimmied up the roof like a ferral cat and sorted it out. I found a stack of new tiles to replace the broken ones and before long the roof was sorted. So Martin - if you want a curly wurly - come and get it!!!!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Sorting myself out

I've had my first brush with the medical profession in France this week. I haven't been feeling quite myself of late, but being an ex-paramedic I am allergic to sorting myself out and possibly rather stupidly am of the "stick my head in the sand" school of life. I'm not sure exactly what is wrong, possibly nothing,but just feel more tired and cold and a variety of symptoms that point at nothing really.

I actually went to the doctors the day before yesterday (so that when Neil came home he wouldn't tell me off for not doing anything) and sat in the waiting room for two hours waiting my turn. It suddenly occured to me, as I was the last in the room that everything had gone very quiet. Give it 10 more minutes I thought, he may be writing up notes. Still quiet. I investigated. Every bugger had gone. Luckily the front door was still open so I was able to let myself out. Cheers for that.
I phoned the surgery the next morning and told them what had happened. No apology. "So do you want to come today then?" was the only hint that she had understood what I had said.

I went last night and had the most thorough examination I have ever had. The gp was worth waiting for and before I knew it was booked in for mammograms and blood tests and was given a diet sheet (joy)! Apparently in France women start mammograms at 40.

I went for the blood test this morning at 7am. I threw the croix rouge into mass panic because I didn't have an appointment, and then I had a panic because I didn't have a mutuel (top up) health insurance and I thought it may be an expensive morning. I was relieved to hear "One euro eighty nine centimes please". I think I can manage that!