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.

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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

Half term in beautiful Cauterets, Hautes Pyrenees

img_2464Set off Friday February 9th stayed in Rouen, then arrived in Cauterets about 6pm. We stayed in the Hotel du Lion d’Or which is located in the center of Cauterets and much closer to the gondola than we were last year.  Cauterets is a lovely little spa town spread along the narrow valley of the Gave mountain stream and surrounded by the Pyrenees. The town is well known throughout France for its health giving thermal springs.  They are still used in the treatment of respiratory and skin diseases, rheumatism and many other ailments. We’ve not yet sampled the thermal baths and spa but it’s something I think is a must in the future.  The Hotel du Lion d’Or was a real gem. Family owned since 1913 and now run by the fourth generation of the Lasserre family. The hotel was built in 1840 and is full of authentic memorabilia in every nook and cranny.  The chap (I forget his name) who was the family member that we had most to do with was so helpful and welcoming to us.  Nothing was too much trouble and we felt at home immediately.

Lovely bedrooms, so homely in a French style, clean and fresh with a fantastic shower.  Breakfast was a buffet with an array of homemade pastries, marmalade (the best that grandma has EVER tasted) and yoghurts.  There was a huge fresh orange juice machine which involved crates of oranges being delivered to the hotel daily.  There were fresh meats, eggs, together with the usual tea, coffee and hot chocolate.  Yummy!

We’re a fairly fussy party of eaters (OK I’m a fussy eater – vegetarian and so is my son) so we decided to eat out in the town throughout the week.  The first evening we ate at the Bar L’Aragon, where we’d eaten last year and were happy with the food and service. Back again later in the week for another meal.

Sunday – Day 1 skiing

Left the hotel about 11. Lovely nights sleep and Lovely breakfast, taking full advantage of the fresh orange juice, boiled egg and homemade cakes and preserves.  My first time up the mountain and I began by falling off the chair lift, then proceeded to fall 4 times on the way down. Always being dragged to my feet like the proverbial sack of potatoes. I really should have done those thigh exercises. When we finally made it back to the café I had to sit on the floor hyper ventilating #oldladyonamountain glad I did it though and at this stage thought I might be able to concur the mountain. So proud of Callum who really takes advantage of the resort carving up the snow on his board🏂.  And hubby too, who has much more confidence than me.

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In the evening we ate at Le Bistrot du Boulevard, Cal had crepes, hubby had duck and grandma and I had pizzas.

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Monday – Day 2 skiing

First stop one of the many ski shops so that Cal could purchase some mittens because his hands had been so cold and wet the first day.  As a snow boarder, every time you come to a stop it means putting your arms down in the snow and it was so deep that the gloves he had were filling up with snow and making his hands freezing.  Got up the slopes about 10.30. The visibility was awful you couldn’t see in front of your nose. Cal went straight up the top of the mountain but hubby and I are stayed doing the lower slopes. It was really difficult to see and snow blind most of the time. Big snow drifts on either side of runs making them much narrower for novices like me. In the evening we ate at La Créperie du Moulleau.  Staff very friendly and all enjoyed their food but my cheese crepe was just so bland and boring.

Tuesday – Day 3 skiing

Now having been to the top of the mountain I really thought that this day would be my day to conquer it. I was wrong. Started the day with an egg as usual.  Had a practice run and then up the mountain with the boys. Unfortunately fell off the chair lift again as I was getting off and then off down the mountain which started off well but then it all went Pete Tong as the weather suddenly came in awful. Fell over in what was effectively a blizzard, hubby struggling to get me up and me struggling to get up. Then fell again. Once down didn’t feel like going up again. Saved by the fact that they closed the chair lifts because of the winds and visibility. Came back early to the hotel for a well deserved rest. Once we’d recovered it was into the town to eat.  First it was into my favourite spot for a vin chaud, La Cheeserie.  This is a tiny little place with only two rows of bar style seating and serving only cheese and meats.  Last year we ate here but grandma wasn’t a fan and even I can only have so much cheese.  Mind you we were very tempted with their warm Mont d’Or cheese dip which some other customers were delighting in.

Back to the hotel for an early night, this was definitely not a relaxing holiday. I’m jiggered already but the scenery is just stunning.

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Wednesday – Day 4 skiing

Felt like I’d lost my nerve the weather conditions were very bad. You couldn’t see anything. Just white snow blindness. I couldn’t face going up the mountain but hubby and Cal both did. Visibility so poor. I had a rest in the café, should say that everyday up the mountain we had drinks and snacks in the Station de Ski.  You did need to be in before 12 or after 2 to be able to get a seat.  Somehow none of the queuing bothered us as when you’re skiing you do get so used to queuing.  Aaarrrrrrgghhh!!!!

While I was waiting for the boys I thought do a bit of investigation into a possible trip to Lourdes.  Always fancied going there and did think about when were in Cauterets last year.  But, having done some research it appeared to be full of tacky religious souvenir shops so decided not to bother. Left the slopes about 3.30 again as the weather was so bad.  In the evening had another vin chaud at the Cheeserie. Then another meal at Bar L’Aragon.

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Thursday – Day 5 skiing

Arrived up the slopes to a helicopter, camera crews and many mountain rescuers together with their dogs.  What we didn’t know as we headed up the chair lift was that there was going to be some very sad news – 3 French skiers had been found dead in the morning.  Missing on Wednesday evening.  It appears that they had been skiing in an off-piste area and had been buried by an avalanche.

Once again I thought that this was going to be my day to conquer the mountain ⛰ And once again, that was not going to be the case.  Went up and got down without a fall and then went straight up again, bad idea. Disaster, fell and then became terrified and had to take my skis off and walk a long way down the mountain before I had the nerve to put them on again. What a mega wimp I am. So lost my nerve and had to recover in the café with a hot chocolate. In the evening we ate at a small restaurant that we’d had to book.  I can’t remember its name but once we’d been served the food I did realise that we’d eaten there last year.  Nothing special and I wasn’t over keen on the very lime green spaghetti pasta that they served with a very average arrabiata sauce.

Friday – Day 6 skiing

Up earlyish and on the slopes. I couldn’t face going up the mountain as it was icy and slushy. Did the lower blue runs. Tired legs and knees was part of my problem I think. Also different conditions again. Sunny and snow melting and icy underneath in parts. So very difficult to ski on.  But this didn’t stop Cal and hubby enjoying their last day of skiing.  Slush aside we will definitely be back next year.

Saturday day 7

The long drive back. Cauterets to Boulogne and then an overnight stop at our usual B&B hotel.

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Sunday day 8

Boulogne to Harrogate via Euro Tunnel. #homewardbound

avoir le cul borde de nouilles – to be a lucky bastard

“Avoir le cul borde de nouilles” I’m happy with this label.

And it’s great to be back en France again, even after that 15 hour drive. Not so nice to be greeted with a load of builders mess though. I’ve just been out in the garden armed with bin liners to try and do a spot of tidying up, then the heavens opened so I’ve dived inside for cover. We are all very tired and I don’t think much else is going to get done today. Why are builders so messy????  A response from Instagram suggested it’s because they get paid to build and not to clean up.  But I think the best builders will do both.

So even after tidying up, I’m feeling vraiment avoir le cul borde de nouilles. The extension has now finally got its coat of crèpi and the only thing left to do is the covered area at the back of the house. So next summer we can just kick back and relax and really enjoy ourlittlehouseinfrance. So this all too brief break will involve lots of tidying up, repairing earlier builders disasters, planting lots of little cuttings that I have brought from the UK to improve the look of the garden and having several bonfires of Leylandi branches that we cut down at the end of the summer.  Oh, and of course, some trips out and about, after all it is a holiday too.