A week in Cauterets, Haute Pyrenees 

A week in Cauterets, Haute Pyrenees ⛷🏂🎿Missed the Mais.

This was a lovely half term week skiing. Didn’t think I could manage all week but I did. It would have been nice to do the spa and Loudes but there just wasn’t the time. Our skiing has progressed really well. Particularly Callum’s snowboarding 🏂. We’ve filmed him on a red run for his GCSE PE and he’s also used his GoPro to film himself.

Cauterets is a really gorgeous place to stay – really busy all day long so a great atmosphere, interesting architecture.  There were lots of Eataries BUT as usual for me as a vegetarian, food was an issue, unless I was happy eating pizza all week – and most were booked and/or had two sittings so we booked one night and most nights just wandered till we found one with a table free. The evening we were going to venture to the cinema, La La land was cancelled.  However, there were lots of things to do, if you have the energy after a days skiing.  A swimming pool, spa (x 2), salle de jeux (mini arcade with pool tables / air hockey / pin ball etc) and several play areas for younger children.

Hotel Edleweiss, where we stayed was a family run hotel – the mother and father had very little English but one of the sons spoke really good English and as it happened another family staying at the same time could also speak very good English too.  The cousin of the hotel owner even bought Grandma a gift when we left! On the down side the restaurant had no choice, only plat du jour. No bar and the sitting area was for a max of 10 people. We did manage to get tea, coffee and wine every night delivered to this area. Not the same as having a huge open fire and views of the mountains as we have had in previous hotels.

Skiing – a bit daunting  when we first got up to the top! Blinded by the sun and what appeared to be very steep runs. Even my son, who is very brave, was a bit overawed to start with but ended up loving the steep slopes.  The food at the top was fine – there was a restaurant (but we tended to eat sandwiches / hot dogs / chips / waffles and crepes from the bar) it was busy but we always found a table and never queued for more than 10 minutes and that was a one off.

Our lessons this year were “ok” – the instructor just said that we could clearly ski and knew the techniques but just needed confidence (more of a psychology session!). He wanted to take us up to the top but I was too nervous – he said we would be fine!

Queues were horrendous – 45 minutes (at its’ worst) for a turn on the “source” pommel. However queues to go to the top on the proper lifts were actually very quick and if from 8am till 10am the queues were manageable.  But it was half term school holidays in France too.

The basic small blue runs (3 choices of routes down) we started on were a bit of a pain because of “moguls” that were created every day by the sheer number of skiers going through one crossroad – and then bumps just after (on two of the options) where you would take off and needed good balance to get through – these didn’t exist at the start of the day but were very difficult to handle at the end of the day. Also hard because of the number of people who congregated at this point / slowed down to get through them.

Tapis wasn’t too bad – reasonable for warming up / cooling down and queues easier to handle – lots of under 8’s to slalom around!

I lacked confidence so stuck to the green and blue runs. The instructor took us on a steep part of a blue run and taught us how to slide so we would know how to get past steeper bits we didn’t feel like skiing! However, I fell and that knocked my confidence.  Quelle wimp!

The weather was brilliant, although no new snow.

Oh I forgot – there was an avalanche but fortunately not on the pistes. My son was on the chair lift and saw it all but Paul and I were having a coffee so missed it!

Really looking forward to being en France again at Easter.  6 weeks to go!

Open garden, South West France😍

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First lunch at B’s.

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Then to Loubens where one of B’s friends lives. She has a lovely Girondaise farm house that is on the market at moment.  House near Loubens

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Super place to check out which plants will grow in this part of France and for garden design ideas. We will return to check it out at the start of the season. At the moment it is so dry and parched. Still looking good

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I always think it’s lovely to stumble across a hidden oasis and treasures within a garden. Hydrangeas to die for and lots of hidden object d’art to stimulate the senses.image

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To get all the details about open gardens in France go to:

http://rendezvousauxjardins.culturecommunication.gouv.fr/

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Summer 2016 phlog part 1

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OK, a phlog’s a bit of a cop out. More pictures, less words.

Visit to Taillecavat vide grenier this morning and then a walk through the grape vines with Bella and grandma.

Gorgeous vintage wicker bag, a necklace and some gentleman’s cuff links were my finds at today’s vide. Was looking for some wooden dining chairs but these were trop cher, at soixante euros😳

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Eclectic stand at vide today, followed by antique French confit pots, a Western horse saddle and a little black vintage car.  And our lovely village moulin à vent from our walk today.

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Aaaarrrrgghhh, blasted wifi down AGAIN😡😡😡

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OK, so I’m starting with grapes. Not sure why, just had a lot of time to take snap shots of the garden as we just couldn’t get a decent WiFi signal at the beginning of this week. Whaaaaaats up!  So now we’re back in Blighty I’m updating my blog.  This was the picture on our return to LBA early on Thursday morning.  What no sun!  We’d got so used to 30 degrees that 12 just didn’t cut it.

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Anyway back to the building work.

You need the right tools!  This magnificent red contraption (a dry wall lifter) is a must when you are fixing plasterboard to the ceiling.  Hubby and I were chuckling, just imagining ourselves doing this job without the correct tools.  I know there would be lots of cursing and blaming each other!!!  Just as well our builder is putting the ceilings up.

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This would have been hubby and me with the 4 x 4 propping up the board and one of us having a very achy arm/shoulder the next day.

imageUpstairs we now have a toilet and the shower tray has been installed.  We’ve also  purchased the shower, awaiting installation, and the sink/unit which has been installed temporarily, this we bought from IKEA last year.

We’ve now chosen the tiles for the en-suite, together with the wooden floor for the bedroom but because of the French holidays, we won’t be able to order these until September, so who knows when they’ll be fitted😦

Downstairs we’re going for a traditional French style tile and not sure of the pattern yet. Again this won’t be available until September. It would seem sensible then, to wait and decide on the covered area and patio tiles when these have been laid.

Watch this space👀

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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Nothing will happen for 2 years!

The decision not to enact Article 50 means that the UK’s Brexit could take up to two years.
But who knows???
The only short answer is, we don’t know.  Now that Britain has voted to leave the EU, we will just have to wait and see what the future negotiations bring.  The worst thing will undoubtedly be the uncertainty.  There will probably be a fall in house prices and therefore the value of our French home.  So what, as we do not intend to sell it any time soon and were always in it for the long hall.
 Triggering Article 50, formally notifying the intension to withdraw, starts a two-year clock running. After that, the Treaties that govern membership no longer apply to Britain.  The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions.
According to http://www.thelocal; “Tony Emery, who sells French homes, said if the exchange rate drops further then it could mean real problems for home buyers”
At the moment it’s £1 = 1.23 Euros.  This is better than when we bought our house in 2012.
The crucial thing is will this be sustainable in the longer term.  The concern will be if the rate moves closer to parity.
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But there will be many people who had plans to move to France and realise their dreams. They may want to speed these plans along within the 2 year time frame and this could have a positive affect on property prices in the short term.  I would imagine that people who are hoping to move to France will be in shock this weekend.  They, like me, probably thought that we would pull back from the brink of a Brexit vote at the last moment and vote to remain.
The more far reaching concern is when Britain finally unpicks itself from the EU then the right to live, work and own property in any EU country will no longer be there.  What will the arrangements be then?  Will it be harder to make the move to France?  Perhaps not, in view of the number of French people who live in Britain and the number of British people who live in France, an agreement between the two countries is likely to be reached. However, according to http://www.completefrance.com it is possible that British expats will have to apply for visas or the carte de séjour, in order to live and work in France.  They also go on to say that Britain’s decision to leave the EU should have little effect on the tax a British expat in France has to pay. The double tax treaty agreed between Britain and France will be unaffected by Brexit and if Britain decides to remain part of the (European Economic Area) EEA then tax treatment wouldn’t change because the same rules apply to EEA residents as EU residents.  The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU’s single market.

Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market – this means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

One of the major areas of concern according to www.completefrance.com is for retired British expats in France is whether the NHS will continue to pay for their healthcare via the S1 form. Expats who work in France and pay social charges are entitled to the same state healthcare as French residents however, retired British expats have their healthcare paid for by the NHS. It is uncertain whether this will change if Britain leaves the EU.

Those who visit France but are not resident are currently entitled to access the French healthcare system for free using the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and there are some concerns this would no longer be the case in the event of a Brexit.  However Britain as an EEA member Britain would be likely to remain part of the EHIC scheme.  There is a precedent for this – Iceland, Lichenstein and Norway all have the option of belonging to the EHIC scheme, even though they aren’t part of the EU.

If you have lived in France for five years then you can apply for French residency and this would give you access to all the same rights and benefits as French citizens.

Find out how to become a French citizen

On March 25, 2017, European leaders will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the EU’s founding document.  I do hope that we don’t live to regret not joining in the celebrations.

In the meantime keep calm and try not to panic.

Thanks to http://www.completefrance.com for the links.