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

La Rentrée – Nous rentrons a l’Angleterre 

Approximately 10 hours to Boulogne Sur Mer yesterday and an overnight stop there and now next morning we’re sitting on the train ready to depart for England. Looking forward to seeing Rose (pussy cat), Tamarind (our UK home) and friends. Leaving behind sunny, blue skies and grape vines. Interesting new places and people. New friends. Le Petit Coquelicot (our French home) and fig trees, full of ripening figs. 

Woo hoo, C’est l’été and it’s vide time again

 

So there was another storm the night before last!

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Then yesterday morning it was not as hot as it had been but we have our friends, Karen and Keith staying and there are vide greniers to go to and a possible wine tasting at St Émilion so it was up early and out for the morning croissants and then into the car, leaving my teenage son in bed.

First stop was Saint Avit Saint Nazaire and just as Karen said “I wonder if we’ll see any demijohns”, we did, and it was only 3€.  What a bargain.  I’ve never seen any that cheap before.  No way she’ll get it back on the plane so it will have to stay in France until we can get it back in the car.  Karen has a spot in her Gloucester cottage for this one.  Looking forward to seeing it in situ.

Then it was onto Pujols.  A gorgeous little French town, that is not far from us, although we’ve never been before.

 

I found all this lovely Bakelite.

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We’ll definitely go back to Pujols, it was a lovely French town.  Had a quick rendezvous with Barbara, a friend of ours and then it was on to St Emilion to have lunch and check out the wine tasting venues.

And finally this evening there was just time for a game of Pétanque.  The guests won.

 

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From veg to velos and beyond!

It’s cold, damp and dreary here at home in the UK and with all sorts of horror taking place around the world, I felt like cheering myself up today with a blog.  We’ve just had Blue Monday (18th Jan) and I just about came away unscathed because I’ve been off work all week with a flu bug.  Do I need the jab? Anyway that’s another question!

So, having seriously neglected the blogging scene, something of which I still don’t really understand, and being still on my poorly sick bed, I began looking through some of the photos from our past 4 summers in France.  We have certainly done many things, been here and there, met with friends and family and had some fabulous times.  However, there is something, that although not dominant, has taken up a good deal of my time and that is the good old vide grenier. The title says it all “From veg to velos and beyond”, it’s all there.

I’ve always been into old “TUT” and so a trip anywhere can quite often involve a trip to a charity shop, junk shop, car boot sale, fleamarket, you get the gist.  For example, many moons ago (back in the 20th Century) when we passed through Paris briefly on the way home from our holiday in Bonnieux, South of France, I dragged hubby, not quite kicking and screaming, to have a look around it’s famous flea-market.  Clignancourt (“Clee-nyahn-cour”), also known as Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, is just outside the 18th arrondissement.  I do recall how amazed I was at all the different stalls and range of different things for sale.  At the time we had no money to spend having just had our holiday in the South, so we were just window shopping.

Faire du lèche-vitrines

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I love this French phrase, “licking the windows”.  And what a great passtime, it’s free!!!!!

 As we now have our little house in France, I decided, at the beginning of this year to try and be more focused with my visits to vide greniers and I decided to make a list of the things that I would be looking for.  Items for the house and garden.  Vintage decorative items that can be purchased from the likes of Maison du Monde but at a very inflated prices but that you can find local vides.

On my list is the vintage armoir and large mirror, together with a large sideboard.  I’m up for doing some painting and have already had a go with some Annie Sloan chalk paint.  Very easy to use and a little goes a long way if you’re looking for that distressed finish.  The bamboo mirror and demijohns were purchased last summer.

I also want a bottle dryer.  Don’t ask why?  I’ve seen one in a magazine covered head to toe in vintage glass bottles and it looked gorgeous, so I’m out to recreate something along those lines.  Loved the 1930’s head but didn’t much like the €250 price tag.

The enamel water/milk pitcher I purchased a couple of years ago for €8 and the three wooden coat peg rack was €2 (Deux Euro) this is my favourite price.

This was a lovely friendly shop that I visited in Castlejaloux last summer.

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 imageI only came across this little yellow book last year towards the end of the summer but I could have done with it at Easter.  I spent several wasted journeys looking for vide greniers that had obviously been cancelled.  I wasn’t the only one either.  I met others, who like me,  were wandering around small French villages/towns looking for the vide that never was!

VOCAB

Brocante – junk/antique shop/fair – Marché aux Puces – flea market.
Vide Grenier – Sale of all sorts that take place in a village or town.  Meaning “to empty the attic”.  You can buy anything and everything, from veg to velos and beyond.   Foire à tout – This is another term for a Vide Grenier.