Quoi de neuf cette annee

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ShowerCurtain

Oh I’ve got a lot of things on my list for ourlittlehouseinfrance this year.  With it only being a matter of weeks now before the long drive back to the French house, my mind inevitably has begun to turn to all the things that I’ve been collecting and storing up over the past few months that I plan to take with me on the next trip.  Of course before all that there is the rather large matter of whether or not I’ll be able to bring pooch Bella with me to France.  What with all this Brexshit nonsense.

So this is the latest from https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit#return-to-the-uk

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On this basis it looks like I will be OK to bring her.  This is a relief as it would be a long journey without her for company.

The next thing I need to do in preparation is paint a couple of bedside drawers that I purchased from a local charity shop.  They cost me £15 each and I thought that was a bargain and so snapped them up.  I’m going for an Annie Sloan neutral colour, probably “Old White”.  I’m going to strip the tops back to the natural wood and then stain them up to a warm oak colour to match the existing armoire and chest of drawers that we purchased from Maison du Monde last year.

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I’m going to change the rather boring little pine knobs for these old look rustic shell drawer pulls (see below).  I purchased 2 as samples from eBay and just need to get a further 4.

I’ve also purchased a pair of beech kitchen chairs from another charity shop.  These will go well I think with the kitchen table I hope to eventually purchase from somewhere.  I’m also keen to have several styles of chair around the table.  KitchenChairs

The exact table I WANT is sitting upstairs in a Cafe Nero in Harrogate.  See below:

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So when I’m up to it over the next few weeks, I will be stripping, sanding and painting.  Probably during February half term.  But there are other things I would like to try this year involving the garden and in particular the fruit trees.  I have about 12 fig trees in the garden now, along with 6 plum trees and a pomegranate.  There is one very special local fig tree on our boundary which I have tried in vain to propagate since we bought the house in 2012.  So this year I want to try air layering which according to all the research suggests is relatively straight forward.  What air layering does is effectively create another plant.  It’s a natural process and happens when a branch/stem touches the ground and then takes root.  In order to do it artificially I will need to find a good strong healthy stem and then cut away the bark all the way around to about 2 inches.  Rooting hormone can be applied and then this bare patch is covered with damp compost in a plastic bag or container and taped closed.  It remains covered in the plastic until new roots can be clearly seen.  At which point it can be cut from the parent plant and potted.  I’m really looking forward to having a go at this.  Will probably have a go with a very mature apple tree that we have hear in the UK too.

And then the final thing that’s on my mind is the purchase of a new shower curtain, hence the vibrant image of Freda Kahlo at the start of this blog post.  I saw this yesterday while mooching through my Instagram and then the search to find one began.  I did find one but it was really too expensive so a new shower curtain is on hold for the moment.

I will update with pictures of the bedside drawers once they are painted and have their new knobs.

The funny thing about having ourlittlehouseinfrance, our home away from home, is that the minute I know it’s only 9 weeks until I’ll be back, then I begin to plan for all the small and large jobs that need to be done.  That’s while I’m sitting here on the sofa ignoring the fact that I have half a wall in the lounge still to paint and yet I’m thinking we need new gate posts and gates in France.  Oh yes, and all the new shutters we had fitted last year still need to be painted.  Good job I’ve got my feet up on the sofa at the moment or I’d need to sit down.  Ha, ha!!!

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Arrivé à cette?

Ok, well we actually arrived on Saturday matin and the weather was gorgeous, up until an awful thunderstorm that put the electricity off for 4 hours. Then Sunday morning was cloudy but sunny and warm as I headed off to a vide in Marmande. Missed B as she couldn’t find it and has no mobile, so no way of contacting her. Monday between 8 and 10am we had to wait for the delivery of an armoire from Maison du Monde. Duly arrived about 9.30am and after they refused to take their shoes off to go upstairs, we accepted it being left downstairs. At least they took all the packaging away. Hubby and I then got it upstairs, but only just and taking a small chunk of the landing wall with us. Love it though, it’s just what we needed. Clothes now have a home.Then late Monday morning, met B & L in Duras for tea and coffee at the Duchesses which is community café that opened in October last year, so very pleased to see that it’s still going strong. In the evening had B, L, M & T over for aperitifs, nibbling and chatting till late.  Lots of laughs and discussions re Brexit.So weather wise, this is what we’re faced with. Drizzle, drizzle and more drizzle all week until Saturday which is when we travel back. Lovely. Anyway today the boys are heading to Bordeaux and I’m staying put I think as L will be heading up from Duras to stay with us. L has offered to Bella sit while I go to Bordeaux too but I think I’ll stay and do some painting of shutters.Garden is doing well apart from the 3 Oleanders I bought from Jardin de Beauchamp which have died. Nothing more to report from Petit Coquelicot – over and out, or rather over and in, as it’s drizzling.

Chasse à l’oie sauvage

Double Armoire Purchase, n’est de pas?

You know when you start the day with positivity thinking that the day will work out well. Well let me tell you, I thought last Tuesday 10th April 2018 would be one of those days (how wrong could I be?).

So you probably know how desperate I am to purchase an armoire for the kitchen. Well two really, one as a cupboard for the kitchen and one for our bedroom. So I’ve been searching LeBoncoin and just missing lovely armoires or they’re miles away in the Pyrénées Atlantique area or I my french isn’t good enough to organise a rendez-vous. So when I found what appeared to be a perfect one for the kitchen I asked a friend to contact the seller by phone on my behalf as she speaks fluent French. She very kindly called for me and spoke to the vendor and it was agreed that I would hire a van and go to the far side of Bordeaux (Arsac) and collect it the next day, Tuesday. At the same time I also made contact via message with another vendor on the other side of Bordeaux (Paissac) and hoped to go and possibly purchase a smaller armoire suitable for our bedroom at the same time. Everything was falling into place for a double armoire purchase on Tuesday.

So grandma and I went down to Pineuilh location.leclerc drive on Monday night to louer une camionnette. We were met by a very curt and yes I say rude woman who basically said there were no vans available for the Tuesday but only for Wednesday or Friday. So it looked like I’d have to message both armoire vendors and let them know I wouldn’t be a able to meet them on Tuesday. Aaaarrrrrrggghhh!!!

Back home and hubby suggested trying to book a van sur l’internet. So we checked and yes, yes, there was one available at Pineuilh. So What the @@@@ was that woman on about eh!! Booked it and all looked back on track for a double armoire purchase the next day.

So as I said at the start of this post, woke up on Tuesday morning with a positive vibe for a double armoire purchase.

So armed with husband and son (French waltnut armoires are VERY heavy) we headed off to collect the van. As you’d expect I’m asked to confirm any damage that might have already been done to the van before I take it. I am told several times that there shouldn’t  be any as it’s a new van. I check anyway. There is a dent to the back door. I write it on the form and she comes out to see, with a very surprised attitude, still saying that the van is new. We agree the damage and head off for Bordeaux.

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Nous arrivons. All excited we follow the vendors into their home to view the first armoire. Quelle horreur, it looks enormous, is made of walnut, so a beautiful hardwood but incredibly heavy. I can’t budge it. And it’s had a significant amount of woodworm. I’m told it’s historic and been treated but I don’t like the holes. We begin to dismantle and hubby checks the van. Comes back in and says he doesn’t think it will fit in. We take a measure and all stand looking in the bank of the van, having measured it. It’s been completely boarded out inside and therefore is not as big as the measurements we were given suggest. IT WONT GO IN. So we give our apologies and sheepishly, disappointedly head off to the second armoire.

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Just as we arrive the heavens open. The vendor here was good enough to stand out in the rain with her umbrella up, so we wouldn’t miss her house. Once again, quelle horreur! This one was in very tatty state and again full of woodworm holes. We made our apologies and backing out of the very tiny room, we escaped.

The boys were not best pleased with this wild goose chase. We returned to Pineuilh location.leclerc drive at about 6pm to return the van, having never put anything inside it.

This time it was a man who appeared to check over the van. To say he went over it with a fine tooth comb, is an under statement. He was over moon when he found a few scratches on the hub cap (enjoliveur) I was sure I’d not hit any curbs but of course I hadn’t noticed these marks when I picked the van up. It was very difficult to argue my case in broken French and they wouldn’t budge. The upshot was they wouldn’t give us our 300€ deposit back until we purchased a replacement enjoliveur from the Renault garage over the road in Pineuilh. So the next day we did just that, it cost 39€.  It had to be ordered though and we were told it would arrive the next afternoon. We dashed back to location.leclerc Drive and they were happy to photo copy our invoice and give us back our deposit. I should also point out that many of the leclerc rental vans did not have hub caps on them. I can’t help but feel very aggrieved and will not be hiring from Leclerc drive ever again. Anyone else had a similar experience?

Mais, Je n’abandonnerai pas.

Le rêve impossible

Oh it’s been too many years to mention now.  Hunting for that perfect piece of kitchen furniture to hold all the plates and other shish.  So “Le reve impossible”, inside four shelves with plates at the top and trugs on the lower shelves with tools, paint brushes, sellotape and scissors, together with all those tiny metal clips, nails and springs that come from who knows where.  Outside, two doors and one or two drawers at the bottom, perhaps.  Colour, “French Grey” what else!!!!! On top, a demijohn or two.

I’ve scoured the brocantes but still haven’t found that perfect armoire. Also brocantes can be very expensive.

I’ve met people in their local village and then followed them back to their homes to view armoires in barns.

I’m always looking at LeBoncoin. And tend to find the ideal one just as we are heading back to Blighty.

I’ve been called a time waster (in French) because when I’ve travelled miles to see one and oohed and arhed over it, I’ve come home and ultimately changed my mind.

I’ve had several telephone conversations in French that have completely exasperated armoire owners who’ve then sold to someone who’s clearly able to understand what the hell they’re saying. Why wouldn’t you?

I’ve walked through the world of Maison du Monde on many an occasion and seen just what I’m after. But in the cold light of day, the quality’s just not there.

I’m not on Facebook, but have even resorted to pleading with hubby to leave comments and send direct messages in search of that elusive perfect piece of kitchen storage.  

And still I’m armoireless.

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And so I lament

Le rêve impossible

To dream the impossible dream
To paint the unpaintable armoire
To bear with unbearable sorrow
When gazumped from afar
To gaze into Maison du Monde
To search from brocante to brocante
To try when your arms are too weary
To search one more time through Leboncoin

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right to spend cash
And be willing to march for that heavenly cause
To reach the unreachable armoire

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And already this week, several have slipped though my fingers.

Wish me luck!

We’re off, we’re off, we’re off in a motor car!! Quelle longue journee!

Yey, it’s that time of year again. France is but a long drive away. We all love getting ourselves packed into the car. Pooch (Bella) in the back, sandwiches and a flask for the over night drive to the Lot et Garonne. So O.K. The weather won’t be wall to wall sunshine but it will be warmer than the UK. And so too, we have lots of jobs to do. There’s painting the new shutters, fitting two electric radiators, sealing the wooden frame of the covered area, replacing the kitchen tap not to mention cutting the grass which will be more like hacking our way through the Amazon jungle. Yes, we love it.

So the day before we leave, that’s this evening, I’ll be making the sandwiches, packing the car and making  sure that our cat, Rose, has all her food and litter ready as she is looked after by a cat sitter for the next two weeks. Not cheap but I can’t imagine what shinannigens would go on right at the back of the car if Bella and Rose were bunked up together. Fur would definitely be flying.

I usually have quite a large stash of booty to take to France with us (anything from plant cuttings to our favourite refried beans) but this trip we’re having to travel light as we are taking two electri radiators with us and they are taking up most of the remains space in the back of the car next to Bella cage.

My choice of outfit is dungarees. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. OK I find them the comfiest thing to wear when sitting in a car for 18 hours. And they’re always an underground fashion statement. Well, I tell myself that.

Funny how Bella always knows when we’re going to France. It’s probably due to the mad panicky atmosphere that ensues just before we all get in the car. Most important thing is “have we removed the key from the back door, otherwise Rose’s cat sitter won’t be able to get in and feed her. Quelle horreur!

So now we’re all sat in the car at Folkestone, @LeShuttle Eurotunnel waiting for our train. We made good time and that means the wait will be longer as our trains delayed by 20 minutes. Should mean we arrive in France at 11.50pm for our overnight drive down to the house. Should arrive about ???? In the morning.

This is not my favourite part of the holiday. But, means we have an extra day. Be it we’re tired.

Arrived at 9.15am Friday morning, having set off at 2.30pm on Thursday. Drove through some torrential rain and were met with a very soggy garden and by the looks, the loss of some new plants that were put in October half term. Sad face.

However, not really sad as some will survive I’m sure and the sun came out onto our very nearly complete extension. Just the shutters to go. Yeah!!!img_1899

Late blog post – half term en France 2017 – better late than never😉

It seems a long time ago now but it was a great week with fantastic weather. Even though a lot of time was spent going backwards and forwards to Bâtiland to try to organise shutters for the extension but with the same pentures and espagnolettes. That’s the hinges and bolts. It was great to be back in France in our French home and to catch up with my friends M & B and generally chill out from the hustle and bustle of normal working life and school. And we finally got to see the crèpi in the flesh. Very pleased. The building work is now nearly complete. Just the covered area and the shutters to go. There was quite a bit of digging to do as we brought a lot of cuttings to plant around the garden. Figs and Elderberry, together with two Eucalyptus trees that friends bought be for my birthday back in June. We must have 10 fig trees in the garden now. So I’ll be collecting fig recipes from now on. We took a couple of trips to Jardinerie Jay in Marmande to buy hedging plants and I also bought a Pomegranate tree courtesy of Lynda, who very kindly looked after Bella and Rose in the 🇬🇧 Had a lovely trip to Bordeaux on the Wednesday, just mooching about in the warm October sun. Weather glorious, it was 25 degrees on the Thursday. Thursday pm went to see the joiner who is due to build our covered area. He lives in a lovely old former water mill. Very interesting property.

We a couple of lovely bike rides around our local villages.

Friday evening we were invited to where our neighbour will be living when we return at Easter. She’s finally sold her house and is moving in with her partner. His house is lovely and I can see them making it into a wonderful family home. They have big plans to extend into the grenier to make more bedrooms to accommodate her two boys.

We left with some trepidation or I certainly did as we were told that our French neighbour had been burgled. After her gold apparently. And, now that our closest neighbour has sold to a couple who are going to run the place as a holiday business I fear that the area will be quiet for the winter months. Such a shame as her house next to ours is a lovely family home. Maybe one day it will be lived in all year round again. C’est la vie.

En fin, looking forward à pâques already. Oh, M has purchased this gorgeous little jalopy, Angélique. Hoping I’ll get a ride in her sometime next year.