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!!!

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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. 

Encore en France

We’re here again, in our favourite place, South West France. Long trip again, with no stopping. Hubby and I sharing the driving and with a it much better plan this time as each of us only doing 2 hour stints. Still exhausted by the time we reached the house. My nephew and family set off at the same time and only missed each other by 30 minutes at Le Tunnel. We actually like our epic journey to be honest as it feels like the start if a big adventure.

Actual time of arrival was just about 9am and it was straight to Leclerc, to pick up some provisions for lunch and tea. Arrived at the house to find an even bigger nest of House Martins. Poo all over the tiles outside the front door. Bella leapt out of the car straight into the garden for some well needed exercise. As I surveyed the garden it was pleasing to see all the plants doing so well, many thriving.

We also have produce, so there will be plumb crumble and fig jam, all being well.

Then once we’d gathered our thoughts it was off to Bricorama in Marmande to change the shower thermostat, which was only allowing us to have scalding hot water coming from the shower.

Back to house, replace thermostat and relax. Not doing anything else today.

Sunday it was up early to go to a couple of vide greniers close by. Thought my son would like to join us but he was spark out. Hubby and I spent a pleasant morning mooching around vides at Les Lèves et Thourmeyragues and Ste Foy la Grande.

Chines du jour (antiques of the day)

So no wonder we were exhausted by Monday.  The tales of Monday and beyond to come.

Un petit séjour pour mon mari et sa mère

So last weekend saw hubby and grandma take a very short trip to France, with a view to meeting a plombier, a menuisier (joiner), and a plâtrier (plasterer). 

Le plombier spoke very good English and grandma wouldn’t let him go – had to show him Duolingo! He was called to sort out the leaking shower pipe that our former builder left us with, together with the hot water tank which doesn’t work properly (fitted by former builder too)

He replaced the pipe valve just in case – it hasn’t leaked at all! Much tighter fit now.  

Will quote re outside tap. Through kitchen units. Said he will drill in from the outside because the crèpi will break off if he drills from the inside. Re the drain – he said preferable to have one but with tiles it shouldn’t be a problem – just should’nt let the water lay on bare concrete as it soaks in. He will put an isolation tap in under the sink so we just turn it off when we’re not using it. 

Re shower – Hubby found receipt and plombier rang Bricorama for us and they have said take back the tap piece only and they will replace it. Receipt now clipped to the board in the kitchen and this must be our first job when we return in late July as 12 months is up on 4th August. They have none in stock at the moment but still sell them. Said they will be in stock by end of July. 

Le menuisier, Josh, has been in France 30 years. Covered area – the minimum height would be approx 2.2m. We could have the posts inset a little and would give more height. The crèpi needs doing first he thought – makes their job easier and less mess. He wouldn’t do the faux stone pillars – he would get Andy (the tiler) to do them and work together. They are filled with concrete and wire for strength. If we wanted wood he said they can be on studs which are very low to the ground but raised enough to stop water rising into the wood.

Shutters – again the crèpi needs to be on first – he needs to know the depth to have them fitting flush. He said the holes for hinges would not crack the crèpi. We want anodized metal hinges which match our existing shutter hinges – he said his supplier no longer offers anything but black. But he will buy the shutters from them and the fixings probably from Bâtiland as we know they have them. 

Stairs. He thinks he can sort (see pictures later) will cut a bit off the bottom and place at the top and then the bottom post would be adapted a little to fit flush. 
Balustrades – he can make some to fit – same colour but unlikely to be in beech! He will have them overlap the wood floor edge to hide the finish / edge of wooden floor.

Le plâtrier, manually plasters. Looks older when finished he says. More dimples than staccato. He doesn’t have a machine. He has to do one wall a day. Also can’t do it if over 30 degrees temp so July / August would be difficult. Paul explained the idea that we were trying to achieve the look of pigeoneer being older and the bungalow being the extension. He started suggesting one or more sides would look good in faux stone. Then the longer he was talking he started suggesting all in stone OR we would need to get a firm in to do the crepi with a machine. He is going to give us a price in a week or so for faux stone. He needs to chat with builders merchants. 

So all meetings were relatively positive. When things can begin is not so straight forward as it sounds like the crèpis must be done first. So another important job when we return is to find a professional crèpier. Answers on a postcard please😳

I received pictures of the garden, with many plants flourishing. Of course the grass needed cutting. 

And there was time for a bonfire 🔥 

Difficult to see, but the willows are growing. One day a willow arch. 


Our former builder (no longer employed) never fitted the stair rail and now we know why. Shoddy!!!

Let’s end positively with pictures of flourishing 🌱 


We’re looking forward to our summer in France now, with really just the finishing touches to the extension to organise. Our relationship with our former builder now over and even though he owes us money, we are moving on. Perhaps next year our extension will be finished but I’m not going to hold my breath. All in good time. Things do take longer in France. But hey ho!

Thé feuille de figue

So this is my take on how to make your own fig leaf tea.

Stage 1. You need to find the ideal tea pot. I found mine at the local vide grenier today. Usually I’m not a tea pot person, favouring the quick bish bash bosh of the tea bag in the mug, but I felt that for fig leaf tea it had to be a tea pot. And not just any tea pot, I wanted a delicate small one, something perhaps a little Oriental. So this little tea pot found me on an animal charity stall. 2. You need to find a fig tree. If you don’t have one, then I would recommend growing your own. There are many varieties and the fruit is delicious. I have planted 8 in our French garden. There are 4 Brown Turkey, an Israeli variety, a Rouge de Bordeau, Panache and an unknown one which has grown from a cutting that I plucked from the local road side and it has really tasty bright green figs.3. Gently pull away several leaves.

4. Give them a rinse in cold water.

5. Hang them on the washing line to dry.

6. Very gently dry them out, either in a very low oven or in the sun.

7. Chop them up ready for infusion.

8. Pop them in the tea pot and pour on the boiling water, leave to infuse.

9. Pour into a tea cup. 

10. Sip and enjoy the flavour and all the health benefits of fig leaf tea. See my previous re: blog, Fig Leaf Tea. 

Enjoy😄

Cinquième Pâques

So here we are and it’s our fifth Easter in France. It’s four years ago that we acquired Le Petit Coquelicot and we’ve spent every Easter here in France since 2012. There is a part of me that misses being at home at Easter.  The last Easter egg hunt we had when the weather was gorgeous and all our friends were round for a barbecue and the children racing around the garden looking for the eggs. But most of the children are now in their teens and struggle to get out of bed before midday; and I’m sure an Easter egg hunt would no longer inspire them.

So after Breakfast Club at St Peter’s we set off at 11am on Good Friday morning and drove for 18 hours to get here to France. I’m still recovering from an awful virus that I’ve had for the past 4 weeks now. So it was great to get to the French house where I can really relax. Even though the building work is still way off being finished. We do have two sides of a tiled roof😀image
So what have we been up to, well the weather has been up and down. Yesterday it just rained and rained. We were in the garden on Saturday and Sunday and the weather was lovely then. There was much investigation into the roof space of the extension and the boys mowed the grass. I took some more fig cuttings from the fig tree on our boundary and decided to try putting them straight into the ground as every other set of cuttings that I’ve taken have failed and gone mouldy. Fig trees are apparently very easy to propagate but not this variety.
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I also purchased three little Bay trees and planted them to break up the grassed area and to hopefully provide a bit of a wind break eventually, as the wind just whips across and tends to blow plants over.
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Monday we went to a vide grenier at St Sernin just down the road. I was initially disappointed as I saw someone walking away with a bottle dryer which is just what I am looking for, so I immediately thought I should have been up and out earlier. But then I purchased a lovely set of Bakelite bangles for a euro each and was actually given the maroon one on top by a stall holder.  When I asked how much it was he said je vous donne. How nice is that?
I also bought a lovely little old green glass bottle but it was not to be, as my son accidentally smashed it before the end of the day.
We also met my friend Barbara at the vide grenier and then went over to hers after for coffee and a chat. I ended up helping her put a gîte that she has on Airbnb. This seems to be the go to place if you are looking for accommodation theses days.  And then later on we all went through to Bordeaux to the cinema.
Well today it’s Vendredi and the sun is beginning to shine, hopefully the sign of a good day to come😯