Friday, 30 April 2010


I had to drop Neil off at the airport this morning. It's always a bit sad when we are apart and on the way home I tried to cheer myself up by putting the radio on to listen to some french language.
To my suprise there was a french song playing that I found immediately catchy and enjoyable. See what you think...

I always thought that french lyrics would be a good way to learn the language and I here at last are some I can bear to listen to!! I then found out that he is playing in Limoges in November. Ticket prices are between 40 - 60 euros though, so I don't think we will be going!!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Tam was nowhere to be seen last night, but to be honest I didn't worry too much, as now he is in (touching wood as I type) good health, he is getting more and more adventurous and less dependant on us.

However when he was not wailing at our bedroom door at eight oclock this morning, Neil and I started to get a feeling of unease. Like most animals meal times are pretty sacred to this fella and such was Neils' unease he went downstairs and walked up and down the road scanning for flattened cat in the road and ditches dressed only in a small towel.

I carried on the search, scanning the barns, rooves, sheds, fields, wood and cellar but finally I gave up as it seemed like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. I felt pretty upset and as the last time he went missing he came back with his face split open was wondering what on earth had befallen the little fella.

As I arrived back at the house there, telling me what for, was the little buggar, demanding a late petit-dejeuner. Animals eh - who'd have them
(my question mark still isn't working!)

Monday, 26 April 2010

Barbeque time!

Obviously the sun has been shining almost non stop since we put up our ingenious rain trapping system.
Neil decided on Saturday night that it would be a good idea to have a barbeque on Sunday and to invite some friends over. I did wonder if this was his way of trying to influence the weather and get it to rain, but I didn't have long to ponder this as I had to try and get the house into a vaguely presentable state.

It is just as well that our friends are very used to 'taking us as they find us', as turning up here means wading through mountains of dust and the woodchips that Tess the dog helpfully brings in from the workshop after she has spent some time under Neils' workbench.

Then they may have the luxury of eating a meal cooked on the camping stove, which is positioned just in front of my super duper range cooker that Neil will not allow me to unwrap whilst work is continueing.

If they wish to visit the loo whilst here that means climbing up the ladder and ducking under a chest height beam, whilst keeping to the side of the landing to avoid the void that will be full of staircase at some point.

Still, we must be doing something right as we had six friends over who were happy enough to put up with all of the above.

I had cleared the patio of all the normal things - lengths of timber, digger buckets, sand etc etc and scrubbed the table of chicken and duck poo. I de-cobwebbed the chairs and then dragged a body bag out of the piggeries.

Yes that's right, a body bag. Damn useful actually for all my chair covers. Every home should have one!!

It did vaguely threaten to rain at one point, but not enough for even a dribble to enter the pool. Still Neil has managed to get enough plumbing bits together to hopefully get an outside tap organised so that we can fill it up from the mains, after which I am sure the heavens will open.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

I don't believe it!

Well actually I do..... We hurriedly got the pool sorted yesterday as storms and a few days of rain were forcast.
This morning whilst letting the chickens out I noticed there wasn't even a dribble in the pool and came into the house to re-check the Meteo.
For weeks.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Necessity is the mother of invention......

As summer is fast approaching we are not going to let little things like a lack of outside (or inside come to think of it) hose attachment stand in the way of getting the inflatable pool sorted. This is our answer to hopefully free filling of the pool.

I had a bit of a shock last night when I visited our en-suite in the early hours of this morning - I looked up and noticed the velux was open which is a bit of a worry as there had been an orage forcast - only to spot Tams face poking through the hole in the roof. Our accident prone kitten on the roof was not what I wished to see that or any other time of the night - cue restless night worrying about him getting down again. Honestly.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

We are enjoying glorious spring days at the moment and I took this picture of one of our pear trees today because the blossom is so wonderful

I've got quite a few veggies growing in my raised beds, which are made out of old apple storage boxes which are at an ideal waist height, but rather on the small side. They will have to do until the polytunnel goes up

Things are a tad more stressful for Neil, who is entering the complex winder part of the staircase. Fred came over again today to guide him through and help set it up - but I can tell from Neils' furrowed brow that this is testing the grey matter somewhat....

To give him a break this evening I dragged him off to a local lake so that we could give Tess a run and some well deserved attention. She loves sticks and swimming - so this lake is her idea of heaven

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


The staircase continues to progress - which is just as well as Neil and I were glueing the landing together at eleven oclock last night so that today the staircase could begin to be roughly assembled. Fred came over and worked with Neil all day today and this photo is of the first section going up to make sure that everything fits. It's all very exciting!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Under Pressure

Poor Neil is working almost non stop to try and get this staircase sorted. Time is ticking on and apart from the staircase he also has to make a gate for our friend Keith, who has been an absolute star helping us here and needs the gate for his gite before the arrival of guests with a dog, but this has added to the pressure of work before Neils' impending trip to the UK.

Neil got dragged off fishing by Alan yesterday - and although he loves fishing he is so driven by the staircase it must have been difficult for him to enjoy the afternoon spent quietly by the lake.

This afternoon we had a visit from Alan and his wife Mel. They are in that difficult 'in between' stage of moving out here. Living in the UK with their heart here in their home in the Limousin, but wanting to prepare fully for the move before jumping straight in. They are off back to blighty tomorrow and Al in particular looked like every inch of him wanted to stay. We had a chat and a few glasses of wine with them, but as soon as they had departed Neil was back to the workshop like a rat up a drainpipe. The result though is illustrated in the next photograph...

Daa - Dahhhh!! The first flight of stairs roughly put together!!

We don't live in a very short house - this flight is the first of a complicated set of stairs.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Wood widow

I have become a wood widow - Neil is in the workshop continually until the light fades and his back can take no more of planing wood. I think he may be regretting our choice of very chunky oak treads, as they are really bulky and heavy to maneover.

We are under pressure to get it done as Neil returns to the UK in three weeks to visit his family, and Fred, master carpenter stairbuilder and all round Mr Capable who has designed the staircase and is overseeing Neils' first attempt at building one is also only here for a short while longer. We are so lucky that he is here and has given us so much of his time and support.

We are also very chuffed with the arch, all the supports came down yesterday and the arch is still in place. I did tell Neil to make sure Tess wasn't anywhere near when the support was dismantled - just in case!

Here is a picture of our barn / workshop hopefully one day to be lounge through said arch .....

Alan came over today (who is actually here on holiday) to give me a hand with putting in some fenceposts and attaching grillage. It doesn't help that the land is so undulating, but our lack of skills in the hammer department became evident very quickly. Luckily people arriving and a downpour (ok light shower) put an end to our efforts for today and we decided to sample some bottles of two year old home made cider instead.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Crispy duck

This week my absolute priority is to finish fenceing off the garden. The ducks are having a bit of a laugh and we keep finding them in the house (now that they have a pretty archway to come through from the barn).
I had thought it was just because Neil was leaving the barn doors open that they were such regular visitors, but no, they must be limboing under the doors as I just went into the hallway and there were two ducks, horror of horrors, sitting on the pile of wood that is to become our staircase. I tried to gently persuade them off but oh no, they had to do it, a big squelchy poo was left on top of one of our treads to be.
Its just as well Neil isn't here because if he had witnessed that heinous crime it is a pretty sure bet at least one of them would be crispy and sandwiched between a pancake with some spring onion, cucumber and hoi sin sauce this evening.

Saturday, 3 April 2010


If you were to see me today I would probably have a slightly dazed, confused, but nonetheless happy expression on my face. The reason being that the permission has come through for our extension. Just like that. Nothing was missing, everything was acceptable, and permission has been granted. Wierd, strange, gobsmackingly amazing.

It took us months to prepare all the necessary paperwork, a few visits to the Mairie, a few looks at other peoples' plans, many hours of exasperation and the help of our french speaking friends. The reason it took so long was just blind belief that whatever we did, it wouldn't be good enough.

The last thing we asked permission for (the stables) ended up being a nightmare, we had to provide further paperwork a few times before everything was complete, so naturally and especially this being France, I had just expected that this permis de construire would follow the same course.

Well there you go.

At work this morning I found myself in 'charge' of three new french colleagues. I surpassed myself by teaching them how to handle horses and a few choice English swear words. In return my pronunciation has improved and I now have chickens rather than pullovers. (A long story but as I was sweeping up spilt feed from the floor I told them I was going to feed it to my pullovers, not chickens apparently)

At home all is progressing and there is an air of optimism - the stairs have been started and we have an archway between the hall and the barn.

Now that we have permission for the garage/workshop it means that we can look ahead to the barn actually being a lounge in the not too distant future, but as that also means I need to complete yet another permis to construire for change of use of the barn I am not counting my pullovers (sorry chickens).