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

Govtinfoondogs

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.

BedsideChests

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:

CafeNeroTable

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.

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

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.

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. 

Les Jardins de Beauchamp, a garden in the South West of France

Mercredi 16 Août – visited the lovely Jardins de Beauchamp which has an associated garden centre called the Jardinerie Jay and both are found on the outskirts of Marmande, which is a largish town not far south of Duras, in the Lot et Garonne. 

Formally named the Jardins de Garonne, they were renamed the Jardins de Beauchamp in 2009 when the garden was given the award of  ‘Jardin Remarquable’.   Beauchamp is made up of various themed gardens in which water plays an important part. There is a large pond which has been inspired by the orient and is full of beautiful big yellow water lilies.  The Italian garden is made up of two separate long water rill with clipped box hedge on either side and tall cypruses trees.

The garden was newly planted in 2006 but is very well established and layerd out. It was designed by the son of the garden centre owner after finishing his horticultural qualifications. 

There is inspiration at every turn for the would be garden designer. From the unusual garden ornaments and large stone water features, to the pergolas and piegeioner. 
You enter the garden via the Jardinerie Jay. We didn’t look around this that thoroughly, however, it looked to have a very good selection of interesting plants. The gardens and garden centre are open all year round and so we will certainly be back in October to purchase some trees for ourlittlehouseinfrance.