Quoi de neuf cette annee



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


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.


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:


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!!!

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.


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.


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.

Pardon my French

Dents du bonheur / Dents de la chance

Lauren Hutton
Lauren Hutton

This means the gap between your two front teeth.  Dentists call it diastema.

In France it is seen to be a very attractive thing to have and they wouldn’t dream of closing this gap as they see it as being lucky.  Hence these phrases.   Curtesy of french.about.com

Figs no more plus toilet troubles!!

 Back at Le Petit Coquelicot on Saturday 27th October. 

Up very early at the Premier Inn in Liverpool to get to John Lennon Airport for our 6.40 Ryan Air flight to Bergerac.  Grandma is with us and we had an early breakfast and then walked to the Airport which is about 500 yards away from the hotel.  I have a very close friend staying at our house in England, looking after all the animals, so we are good to go!

The Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport

The Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport

Landed in Bergerac, earlier than Ryan Air scheduled, and it was cold.  Very cold.

Arrived at the house having had a quick look around Bergerac, which looked lovely, I definitely want to go there again.  Looks like it would be a spectacular place to investigate in the sunshine.  When we got to the house, after a couple of us went to the toilet it was clear that we had toilet trouble.  The water began to rise and you know that always means trouble.  

After a lot of hard work by my hubby we finally could see the Fekafoss lid, which is the pump that is installed to pump all the house waste/water to the local sewer. 

Fekafoss lid

Fekafoss lid

Meanwhile Grandma and I headed off to one of the last local vide greniers in Ste Foy La Grande, where I found a very tatty mirror that I gave the French shabby chic look to when we got back.  What do you think?  Not sure what to put in it though.

Painted French mirror

We also now have transplanted 4 plumb trees in the front garden. 

Transplanted plum trees

Transplanted plum trees

So we shall see whether or not they survive.  I’ve also created a little nursery of tree cuttings from the local area. 

Tree cuttings

Tree cuttings

To my utter shock and horror, somebody!!! has chopped down the beautiful fig tree that stood on the edge of our garden.  Why oh why would you want to do such a thing I really do not know.  In fact it has freaked me out somewhat.  The figs were to die for.  See earlier post.  I am now determined to fill my garden with fig trees.  Just you wait, you chopper down of beautiful fig tree!

I have checked the Internet for info on taking fig tree cuttings and found this thread curtesy of www.botanicalgarden.ubc

” In the spring before the tree leafs out, cut a 12 inch long piece of branch up to 3/4 of an inch thick. Bury it all except the last bud on top. It will root itself quite easily and grow vigorously throughout the summer.”

Two meetings with architects about the proposed extension have left us in a bit of no mans land at the moment.  Not always quick to make decisions we will have to take this one home and mull it over during the winter.

Anyway today, although the weather is not that good, we are heading out to Bordeaux.  Meriadeck shopping centre is central and has a car park.  Not sure whether shopping in Bordeaux is a good idea but the main aim is to go to the cinema and see the new James Bond film “Skyfall”.



And there lies a tale of the famous shoes.  Grandmas shoes went missing for sixth months and they turn up in a Hollywood blockbuster, the new James Bond film “Skyfall” worn by James’ and M’s arch enemy in the film Raoul Silva. 

skyfall-Javier Bardem

skyfall-Javier Bardem

And here are Grandma’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Like Raoul, she’s not allowed laces either, you understand!!!! Tee Hee.

Grandmas Kappa trainers

Grandmas Kappa trainers

I always like cooking when we are in France and while there this time, I cooked a mean Homity Pie, though I say so myself.  This is a good old English recipe that I came across in my Cranks recipe book years ago.  If you read the recipe book, there’s lots of specific amounts of ingredients but the way I make it is with no weighing or measuring at all.  Here goes!  Nice lot of potatoes, peeled and then boiled.  While they’re doing I make pastry, in this case with plain flour and just butter.  Loads of red onions, garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan.  Make sure not to burn.  Then drain the potatoes, no need to be too careful, add to the frying pan, together with lots of fresh parsley, grated chedder cheese (yes you can get this in France now), salt, pepper and a slurp of milk.  Place the pastry in a large oven proof dish and then add the ingredients from the frying pan.  Place in the oven (200 degree) for about 20 minutes.  Hey presto!

Homity Pie

Homity Pie

To finish we had the most gorgeous French pastry from a lovely little shop in the local town.  Yummy!

French pastry

French pastry

To change the subject quite dramatically, I must also talk about the dazzeling array of crysanthymums around at the moment and how I finally came to realise what they were used for.  In France La Toussaint or All Saint’s Day is a Catholic festival celebrated every year on 1st November. 

La Toussant is the day when all the Saints are honoured by the Catholic church. The following day is Le Jour des Morts (All Soul’s Day), when people pray for the souls of the dead. La Toussant is a national holiday and children are off school for two-weeks (half term).  La Toussaint is celebrated by decorating the graves of loved ones with chrysanthemums, the flowers associated with death.  The cemeteries are awash with flowers.  In fact I first noticed that the flower shops and supermarkets were awash with these types of gawdy flowers.  Very bright and clashing colours.  I prefer paler coloured flowers like lillies but here are some pictures of our village church which, I have to say, looked so alive with colour.

Village church

Village church

The church in our village

Anyway we are back in Blighty now and I’m just finishing off this blog.  Weather is awful here, so I sometimes cheer myself up with a look at what it’s like in Bergerac via the webcam Not always a good idea though but I’ll keep looking.