Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Home again!

We feel like yo yo's, but we are finally home after too-ing and fro-ing to the UK for hen and stag do's and now finally the big day.

We were so looking forward to this wedding - such dear friends getting married and they did not disappoint. A lovely day of celebration to remember forever.

Going back to the UK at last enabled me to get a camera - so prepare to be bombarded with photographs after such a long time without!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Quick, Quick Sloe

I spent the afternoon in the toilet today. Tiling. I bought some fantastic iridescent tiles ages ago, but what a nightmare tiling is when there are hundreds of little squares all oozing with adhesive and sliding around before falling off the bloody wall. Joy.

Neil has at last had a chance to stay at home and start work on the staircase again.
Paid work and visits to the UK meant that he had to 'down chisels' for a few months. Unfortunately in that time the wood has twisted and cracked, making the staircase even more of a challenge. I still think it looks great though - and the cracks only add to the character as far as I am concerned.

After a frustrating afternoon we decided to take Tess out with our friends' quad on a lovely big loop around the countryside. Any such trip is an opportunity for Neil to 'forage' and it's like being married to Hugh Fernley Whittingstall as every hedge is scoured for edible goodies. Today we found a fantastic source of sloes - big and ready for pricking and stuffing into bottles of gin and vodka.

We were hopelessly unprepared and went out with nothing to collect our 'bootie' in, so the plan is to go out tomorrow and harvest the sloes. Lets hope no one gets there before us!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Getting to the bottom of it

The pool has cleared and such was my excitement at seeing the pattern on the bottom of the pool this morning I did a little jump whilst giving myself a thumbs up. I then self conciously looked around to see if anyone had seen me and my absolutely ridiculous behaviour. Luckily my only onlookers were the assorted menagerie, who were far more interested in scoffing breakfast than the stupid human in the garden.

I don't know who I thought would have been watching - we are not even slightly overlooked and our only neighbours live a little way up the road, but I am more self concious than Neil who has totally embraced our situation and happily walks around the garden naked to get in the pool or letting the chickens out - although he may be a bit more wary now the electric fence is on more regularly!

The pigs are growing quickly, we don't notice it so much as we see them all the time, but visitors do and I must admit that I wouldn't want to pick them up by their hind legs and carry them, which was the easiest way to handle them when we bought them. I'm having a real inner tussle with how much to handle them. I don't want to get too attached but at the same time we need to be able to get close enough to deal with them. Last night I held a scoop of food for them to eat whilst scratching their backs. I think I am managing to keep looking at them and thinking 'bacon', but I am enjoying having them and watching them progress.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A steep learning curve!

You live and learn and one of the things we keep doing is wasting money on things that aren't man enough to do the job. It's a false economy every time.
This year we bought a new pump for the pool - it kind of worked, but now the pool has gone a shade of green that isn't conducive to a relaxing swim. When the colour started changing I was calling it 'aqua' for some time and it looked like some kind of lake water - but now it is unmistakably green. I have tried countless chemicals and cleaning it but there was nothing for it, we needed an effective pump.
Luckily there was an advert on Angloinfo (a website) with just the thing - a sandfilter and pump. The owner lived a bit of a drive away, but it was lovely just to have a day away from the house and get out into the countryside.

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was the most enormous pig I have ever seen. It was a Tamworth called Kinnock (because he is ginger and ugly apparently!!)and was huge. About 300 kilos apparently. The owner said that the previous week he had gone in to repair his sty and Kinnock had laid down on top of him. Any attempt to push him off had failed with Kinnock thinking he was being scratched rather than pushed which resulted in the pig pushing back on the man even harder. He was there for an hour before Kinnock wandered off and freed him.

We started discussing pigs and I mentioned how I was trying to research castration as the two young boars I have bought are not castrated and now I understand that if a pig hasn't been castrated the hormones in the pig can affect the taste of the meat ( what was I saying about learning curves!). The guy advised that we had the pigs slaughtered at six months before the hormones would affect the meat, but I don't think they will be a sufficient weight to go off by then. My plan is to go down to the vet and get some proper advice on the subject.

I 'Youtube'd' how to castrate a pig and it all looks very straightforward, but at 3-4 months old I think it's a job for a vet, although in France I understand it's not something the French always bother with.

The filter and pump are now installed and as they were originally for a big pool and not an inflatable above ground one I am hopeful we will soon have lovely clear water. Probably just in time for the weather to change!

Friday, 6 August 2010


It's only August but already those of us in draughty old farmhouses are thinking of the coming months and getting the wood ordered and stored. There is almost (note I said almost) nothing as satisfying as having a store full of wood. I am using one of the stables to store wood, as now we have a quad bike and trailer it is easier to store the wood inside in the complete dry and then bring it down as and when we need it. I'm fed up of using tarpaulins that are no match for the Limousin wind!

The plan is to build a shelter to house all the machines and the wood, but as Neil is working non stop these days, nothing much is getting done at home.

The stallion at work made the long journey down to St. Emilion again on Monday to have his leg looked at once again. He injured it months ago and has been on box rest ever since. We can now start walking him in hand and the farrier (or marachel ferrant as they are called in France) has fitted him with shoes on his front feet that are fitted with a plastic wedge that takes pressure off the tendons in the back of his leg that are weak after the enforced rest. It must be like walking on high heels, but he seems to be managing ok.

At home the pigs are doing well and will soon be joined by some geese we are rearing for Christmas. It's getting to be quite a smallholding!!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Blimey where does the time go? I just had to write and tell you that apparently a fairly local Super U has got a 'Francais only' check out till - is that allowed?
It's causing some amusement amongst the British fraternity who mostly see it as another staggering example of the French doing their own thing and getting away with it.

Tonight I am making meringues - now that I have a fully functioning oven in situ. Neil asked if the empty mixing bowl was one of the things that as a child he would have been allowed to 'lick out',I answered in the affirmative and he duly wiped his finger around the bowl.
"Probably tastes better if you haven't been scratching the pigs" was his comment. Bless.