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.
We’re here again, in our favourite place, South West France. Long trip again, with no stopping. Hubby and I sharing the driving and with a it much better plan this time as each of us only doing 2 hour stints. Still exhausted by the time we reached the house. My nephew and family set off at the same time and only missed each other by 30 minutes at Le Tunnel. We actually like our epic journey to be honest as it feels like the start if a big adventure.
Actual time of arrival was just about 9am and it was straight to Leclerc, to pick up some provisions for lunch and tea. Arrived at the house to find an even bigger nest of House Martins. Poo all over the tiles outside the front door. Bella leapt out of the car straight into the garden for some well needed exercise. As I surveyed the garden it was pleasing to see all the plants doing so well, many thriving.
We also have produce, so there will be plumb crumble and fig jam, all being well.
Then once we’d gathered our thoughts it was off to Bricorama in Marmande to change the shower thermostat, which was only allowing us to have scalding hot water coming from the shower.
Back to house, replace thermostat and relax. Not doing anything else today.
Sunday it was up early to go to a couple of vide greniers close by. Thought my son would like to join us but he was spark out. Hubby and I spent a pleasant morning mooching around vides at Les Lèves et Thourmeyragues and Ste Foy la Grande.
Chines du jour (antiques of the day)
So no wonder we were exhausted by Monday. The tales of Monday and beyond to come.
So last weekend saw hubby and grandma take a very short trip to France, with a view to meeting a plombier, a menuisier (joiner), and a plâtrier (plasterer).
Le plombier spoke very good English and grandma wouldn’t let him go – had to show him Duolingo! He was called to sort out the leaking shower pipe that our former builder left us with, together with the hot water tank which doesn’t work properly (fitted by former builder too)
He replaced the pipe valve just in case – it hasn’t leaked at all! Much tighter fit now.
Will quote re outside tap. Through kitchen units. Said he will drill in from the outside because the crèpi will break off if he drills from the inside. Re the drain – he said preferable to have one but with tiles it shouldn’t be a problem – just should’nt let the water lay on bare concrete as it soaks in. He will put an isolation tap in under the sink so we just turn it off when we’re not using it.
Re shower – Hubby found receipt and plombier rang Bricorama for us and they have said take back the tap piece only and they will replace it. Receipt now clipped to the board in the kitchen and this must be our first job when we return in late July as 12 months is up on 4th August. They have none in stock at the moment but still sell them. Said they will be in stock by end of July.
Le menuisier, Josh, has been in France 30 years. Covered area – the minimum height would be approx 2.2m. We could have the posts inset a little and would give more height. The crèpi needs doing first he thought – makes their job easier and less mess. He wouldn’t do the faux stone pillars – he would get Andy (the tiler) to do them and work together. They are filled with concrete and wire for strength. If we wanted wood he said they can be on studs which are very low to the ground but raised enough to stop water rising into the wood.
Shutters – again the crèpi needs to be on first – he needs to know the depth to have them fitting flush. He said the holes for hinges would not crack the crèpi. We want anodized metal hinges which match our existing shutter hinges – he said his supplier no longer offers anything but black. But he will buy the shutters from them and the fixings probably from Bâtiland as we know they have them.
Stairs. He thinks he can sort (see pictures later) will cut a bit off the bottom and place at the top and then the bottom post would be adapted a little to fit flush.
Balustrades – he can make some to fit – same colour but unlikely to be in beech! He will have them overlap the wood floor edge to hide the finish / edge of wooden floor.
Le plâtrier, manually plasters. Looks older when finished he says. More dimples than staccato. He doesn’t have a machine. He has to do one wall a day. Also can’t do it if over 30 degrees temp so July / August would be difficult. Paul explained the idea that we were trying to achieve the look of pigeoneer being older and the bungalow being the extension. He started suggesting one or more sides would look good in faux stone. Then the longer he was talking he started suggesting all in stone OR we would need to get a firm in to do the crepi with a machine. He is going to give us a price in a week or so for faux stone. He needs to chat with builders merchants.
So all meetings were relatively positive. When things can begin is not so straight forward as it sounds like the crèpis must be done first. So another important job when we return is to find a professional crèpier. Answers on a postcard please😳
Difficult to see, but the willows are growing. One day a willow arch.
Let’s end positively with pictures of flourishing 🌱
We’re looking forward to our summer in France now, with really just the finishing touches to the extension to organise. Our relationship with our former builder now over and even though he owes us money, we are moving on. Perhaps next year our extension will be finished but I’m not going to hold my breath. All in good time. Things do take longer in France. But hey ho!
So this is my take on how to make your own fig leaf tea.
Stage 1. You need to find the ideal tea pot. I found mine at the local vide grenier today. Usually I’m not a tea pot person, favouring the quick bish bash bosh of the tea bag in the mug, but I felt that for fig leaf tea it had to be a tea pot. And not just any tea pot, I wanted a delicate small one, something perhaps a little Oriental. So this little tea pot found me on an animal charity stall. 2. You need to find a fig tree. If you don’t have one, then I would recommend growing your own. There are many varieties and the fruit is delicious. I have planted 8 in our French garden. There are 4 Brown Turkey, an Israeli variety, a Rouge de Bordeau, Panache and an unknown one which has grown from a cutting that I plucked from the local road side and it has really tasty bright green figs.3. Gently pull away several leaves.
6. Very gently dry them out, either in a very low oven or in the sun.
8. Pop them in the tea pot and pour on the boiling water, leave to infuse.
9. Pour into a tea cup.
10. Sip and enjoy the flavour and all the health benefits of fig leaf tea. See my previous re: blog, Fig Leaf Tea.
So here we are and it’s our fifth Easter in France. It’s four years ago that we acquired Le Petit Coquelicot and we’ve spent every Easter here in France since 2012. There is a part of me that misses being at home at Easter. The last Easter egg hunt we had when the weather was gorgeous and all our friends were round for a barbecue and the children racing around the garden looking for the eggs. But most of the children are now in their teens and struggle to get out of bed before midday; and I’m sure an Easter egg hunt would no longer inspire them.
So how does your garden grow? It always seems such a wait until we are back in France and can take stock of our jardin français en cours. And even though Callum was reluctant to travel surrounded by plants, I brought these little babies with us. At the front of the picture are three little cat mint cuttings (Nepeta). These cuttings were taken at home about three weeks ago but seem to have rooted nicely. Then to the left and right of these are two small Jerusalem fig trees that I purchased from Holland via the internet. These are very young and look very delicate. To the left and at the back is a Brown Turkey fig cutting from a colleague at work who has this tree in her garden in Knaresborough. When we took this out of the pot it had lots of roots and looked very healthy. Finally to the right at the back of the shot is a Rouge de Bordeaux fig tree, purchased from Primrose online garden shop.
And as for the French garden! Although it is a work in progress, it certainly has been growing. Lots of wet weather in May, June and July has helped. Gorgeous prunes that are so sweet. I’ll certainly be making a plum crumble this holiday.
And the self seeded prune trees that we transplanted from underneath the conifers are doing really well. No fruit yet though.
In fact all the plants we have put in are beginning to show promise. The Viburnum hedging.
The Brown Turkey fig tree.The Phormium that I originally got from Grandmas neighbour, Joan.The Buddleia.This is the new Rouge de Bordeaux, that we’ve planted at the edge of the pebbled seating area.These are the tiny fig cuttings from Zena.This is a Brown Turkey fig tree from Morrison’s. Only a twig when I bought it last year.And, oh look!, my Buddha has found a new home.
The Cypress tree in front of the house is now so big it is starting to lean over and we have had to stake it.The pebble garden was full of weeds but Paul spent three hours weeding it.Some beautiful plants were already established like this stunning Trumpet Vine.View across our vines.Sad to say that this tall Cypress has been a casuality.And I found this lovely image on Pinterest of all the tools needed to create the perfect garden.