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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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. 

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!