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

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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. 

Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles

I’m carrying on the theme of the French idiom, so here is the second one. I’m not sure that we feel our asses are surrounded by noodles BUT we do consider ourselves very lucky to have ourlittlehouseinfrance.

Dimanche 30 Juillet – up early and off to a vide grenier in Pujols.
On Monday morning the paving slabs for the terrace were delivered, the lorry only just managing to squeeze through the hedging.Also purchased a small chest of drawers via LeBoncoin from Eymet. A bit insignificant and so I ended up painting it cream.


On Tuesday morning our neighbour Margaret popped around with her daughter and children. She has been a resident in the village for a long time and knows many of the other residents well. Sylvian the plumber came to give us a devis for putting in an outside tap and changing the lavabo in the bathroom. He was very efficient and came to complete these small works the next day, Wednesday. Wednesday evening we drove to Saint-Loubes near Bordeaux to purchase a pine commode via LeBoncoin, bringing it back precariously strapped to the top of the car.Thursday 3 Août – Callum’s 16th birthday. Can’t believe I have a 16 year old son. Where did those 16 years go, in the blink of an eye!!!!!  There would be a picture of him here as he’s very handsome, but he won’t let me post any pictures of him😟 so here’s a piccie of Bella between his legs. Candy fridge freezer delivered in the morning and then we went to Callum’s favourite city of Bordeaux. Had a good mooch around and Cal chose his pressie. Then on the following day we went back to Bordeaux again to the cinema to see “Spider-Man Homecoming”. Very entertaining but had to dash there from the car park as usual due to our late arrival.

Samedi – evening went to the Bastid’Art festival in Miramont de Guyenne with Michele and family. Super entertaining with a reggae band, acrobats and then a swing band.Dimanche – sad face as the boy’s return to the UK. Not before Paul and I had a snoop around the vide grenier at Sauvetat du Dropt. The boys flight was due to leave at around 3.30 but it was delayed and they didn’t get home until late.

Most of the week on my own was spent cleaning and oiling the staircase and painting the small chest of drawers purchased from LeBoncoin. I did meet up with Barbara a couple of times and had an evening with Lune and her family. Also, on the Friday I had a nice trip out with Margaret to IKEA. It was a bit of an epic trip as I hadn’t realised how long it would take to get there and walk around. In the end it meant leaving Bella for 6 hours. Luckily she coped with that. The evening I spent preparing for the girls arrival the following morning.

Saturday morning, the girls landed about 10am. It was great to see them and they both looked excited to be here. We didn’t get up to much and as they were acclimatising we just went for a walk along the Dordogne river in Ste Foy La Grande.
Dimanche 13 Août – the girls were happy to get up and go to a vide grenier in Pellegrue not far away.  It was hot, hot but we managed to mooch around and pick up a few bits. In the evening we stood, and stood for over an hour to see “Mapping” at the Château de Duras, together with a fireworks display. It was well worth the wait in the end, although my feet were aching after all the standing about.
On Monday we went in the morning to Duras market, where I also caught up briefly with Barbara and Sharon and purchased a small common perennial plant in this part of France called “Gaura Lindheimeri”. In the afternoon we headed to Meilhan-sur-Garonne where we had a lovely walk along the Canal du Midi and down by the river Garonne. In the evening we had a pizza in the village restaurant. I wouldn’t go back.  Monday night there was a tremendous thunder storm. Lightening lit up the sky and the bedroom. Wasn’t sure I’d get to sleep, but I did. On the Tuesday morning the girls and I decide to go to the Monflanquin medieval festival. We took Bella and enjoyed browsing the stalls and watching some of the festival acts.  Although Bella didn’t like the drums. Mercredi 16 – visited Les Jardins de Beauchamp which is in Marmande. Catch my next post to see how beautiful these gardens were. After the gardens we went to see an armoire I’d found on the dreaded LeBoncoin (think I’m addicted). Needless to say it wasn’t as nice in the flesh. In the evening we went to the Monsègur night market. Then back for jollies around the kitchen table.

Jeudi – I am up very early writing up this blog. The plan is to visit Eymet market this morning and then go to Duras night market this evening. It’s hot today and we all enjoyed our mooch around Eymet market. The girls are enjoying the sunshine and I’m about to post this blog before joining them.

Bella’s séjour chez le vétérinaire

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Yesterday Bella was most definitely not herself.  She wouldn’t eat or go for a walk and was obviously very weak.  So off we went to the local vet here in Duras.  After the initial examination which involved her temperature being taken and the vet probing up her bum, a blood test was taken.  Then she was taken into a separate room to be ex-rayed to see if there were any blockages anywhere inside.  The blood results revealed that Bella’s liver marker was really high.  The vet said he had only seen this in 5 other cases.

Bella blood test results

This called for an ultrasound scan.  So the poor dear had to be laid out on her back in a vice with her legs stretched out down the examination table and her tummy shaved.  Grandma and I were acting as veterinary nurses, I was comforting her by stroking her head and grandma was holding her feet down.  After sometime the vet said Bella’s liver and gallbladder appeared to be fine.  Throughout all this she never made a sound or complained at all.  So after two hours the vet concluded that she probably has a virus that has affected her liver.  He said she would have to stay the night because she would need an intravenous drip to support her recovery.  We reluctantly left her and were advised to call back at 10am this morning.  The vet called at 9.15am to say she had improved and eaten and if she didn’t vomit we could pick her up at 4pm.  This is what we did.  It was great to have her back, we’d missed her and she had missed us too.  She has to take three tablets, Silycure, Marbocyl and Amoxival.  We will need to take her back to the vets before we leave France and she will need more blood tests in a months time back in the UK.  She is snoozing in her bed now and we are hoping she is on the mend.

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les mauvaises herbes

Set off at 8am from home and well 26 hours later and we’re back en France.

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Callum’s happy, he’s playing with Matthew and Nathan, the neighbours children. I’m happy, Callum’s happy AND my little fig tree survived the winter.

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Grandmas happy the internet is working. The only one down in the dumps is Bella.

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She’s been off it all week. Took her to the vets on Thursday tea time and he couldn’t find anything obvious so gave her antibiotics. But she’s still not eating properly and was sick in the hotel room during the stopover in Tours. If she’s no better I’m going to have to take her to the vet here in Duras. The vets assistant at home is bilingual, so she wrote out Bella’s symptoms for me to give to the vet here. Just boiled some rice to see if she’ll eat.

A little bit of French “mauvaise herbe” – WEED, and we have a few.  I love the translation “bad grass”.  Here’s a beauty!

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Have some not so bad grass too.

IMG_3267Grandma thinks these gorgeous little purple flowers are Common Vetch.

IMG_3268But also lots of Daisies and Dandelions.

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Bella now snoozing and seems a little better:)

 

Dune du Pilat

Dune du Pilat

Dune du Pilat

My main fear about setting off for this tourist destination was “can I take Bella, the dog?”.  I couldn’t find any information on the web that told me whether dogs were allowed or not.  So we set off anyway.  Bella had to come with us, as it would be an all day trip.

Getting to the Dune du Pilat takes about a couple of hours from where we are.  It is a straight route apart from navigating the Bordeaux ring road.

On getting closer we were slightly confused by the use of two differently spelt names for the dune. 

Signs Dune du Pilat

So Dune du Pilat or Dune du Pyla?  In official/historical documents the spelling is Pilat.  For example the official document “Mise en place du suivi de l’évolution récente de la Grande Dune du Pilat”, (Implementation of monitoring the recent developments of the Great Dune of Pilat), (Décembre 2010).

Pilat comes from the Gascon word Pilhar, which means a heap or mound.

The term of Pyla appears to come from the proximity of the seaside resort of Pyla sur Mer, which was founded in 1920 and is to the north of the dune. So the Dune has also come to be called Dune du Pyla.

Good news, as we headed out of the car park and towards the Dune there was a sign.  Dogs on leads are allowed on the Dune.

Dogs on leads are allowed on the Dune

Dogs on leads are allowed on the Dune

Steps up the Dune du Pilat

Steps up the Dune du Pilat

Climbing the Dune du Pilat

Bella , Cal & Ad climbing the Dune du Pilat

The Dune

The Dune

According to Wikipedia, the dune has a volume of around 60,000,000 m³, and is approximately 500 m wide by 2.7 km in length. It’s height is around 110 metres above sea level and it has more than one million visitors per year.

Cal mounts Dune

Cal mounts Dune

Cal descends Dune

No dog on the beach

No dogs on the beach

No dogs again

Bella enjoyed the climb up the Dune and having settled ourselves down for a sunbath on the beach to the other side of it, we were disappointed to be told that we couldn’t be there with the dog.  Shame, long walk back up.  But despite this I would recomend this destintation as a great day out.

Bella digging on the Dune

Bella digging on the Dune