Peddling in semolina

Pédaler dans la semoule which is a french saying meaning, having trouble doing something.

And for the past two years we’ve had trouble getting our French house extension completed (something you will be aware of if you’ve been reading my blog). But on the Monday after we arrived it felt like the semolina was being thinned down by water and positively washed out of the bowl and down the sink.

There was some rain on that Monday but this didn’t dampen our spirits. 8.30am the tiler arrived and began work on the sitting room floor. Laying the tiles we had purchased back in October last year. 10am and the joiner arrived to fit the staircase rail (not fitted by our previous and now fired builder). At 11.30am our Maisons du Monde bed was delivered and by 12.10 Paul and Callum had put it together. So now no more sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Yea!By The next day the tiling was complete and only the grout to do on the following day which was Wednesday. And on Wednesday we had a lovely visit from the Mais family and spent an entertaining evening at the Eymet night market. At the end of this first week on the Saturday we ordered a Candy fridge freezer from Pro & Cie. Not keen on the idea of two fridges in the kitchen but there’s just not enough room in the small one for cheese, drinks and vegetables.

So great achievements made by the end of week one and definitely no more peddling in semolina.

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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.

BakeliteFinds

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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Meeting Greeny the frog, more gardening, removing the pool and getting ready for the long journey home

Common tree frog

Common tree frog

Callum meets tree frog

Callum meets tree frog

Did I mention how wet it has been in France over the past two weeks?  Well we have only had two days where it hasn’t rained.  This, of course, is ideal for some species, not humans.  Meet the Common Stripeless Tree Frog or Greeny to his friends.  Apparently it has seen considerable population decline and is considered vulnerable according to the French National red list, so it was super to see one in our garden.

Prune tree cutting

Prune tree cutting

Our garden is a work in progress and at the moment is taking up a lot our time when at the house in France. We have a reasonable sized garden but it was previously a vineyard and so the land is undulating and is full of various weeds, such as dandelions, clover, daisies and couch grass.  The plan at the moment is to create some structure to what is a flat plot of land, with some minimal planting, as we don’t want to end up producing the traditional English country garden in France.

I would like to have a space with several fruit trees.  We are lucky enough to have a boundry that has two established prune trees in it, together with numerous self seeded small infant plants.  These we have dug up and transplanted.  These plants will form the basis of the small orchard style planting we are trying to achieve.

Last October, while walking and travelling around the local area, I gathered as many small cuttings as I could and very crudely dipped them in rooting hormone and then stuck them in the ground.  Some of these appear to have taken and are now growing. We have transplanted one of the willow tree cuttings into the garden and will be interested to see if it survives until our return in July.
 
The garden is mainly south facing but suffers from cold north westerly winds.  We have decided to plant a slow growing barrier in the form of Laurel and Elaeagnus (Ebbingei) to the west of the house, in the hope that this will provide some shelter in both the winter and summer months from the prevailing weather.IMG_2851 We have an Olive tree that came with the house and that should benefit from this shelter.  In the same area we planted a Salix and a Red Robin back in April 2012, these are not doing very well. We have also planted a couple of Vibernum Tinus close to the gates, that should provide a display of white flowers in the future at this time of year.
IMG_2847
IMG_2862We inherited an overground pool and gazebo with the house but decided to dismantle the pool and retain the gazebo to produce a seating area in the garden.  I’m afraid this meant we evicted several creatures including toads, beetles and leeches.  Although the weather has been dreadful and wet we planted a pair of Cyprus trees either side of the entrance to the gazebo.  We also purchased a Buddleia and a Feijoa Sellowiana (pineapple guava) and have planted these in the gaps between the uprights of the gazebo.imageimage Today we went to a quarry near Marmande and purchased some very large stone pebbles to put around the edge of the gazebo.  While we were gardening in the very soggy ground my son was aquaplaning across the bottom of the garden, becoming a complete mud boy.

Not Callum but he did looked like this!

Not Callum but he did look like this!

So after hand washing his clothes, my husband bathing the dog and grandma raking we are all bushed and ready for an evening of TV.

Below are some ideas for garden furniture and terracotta plant pots.  It’s always good to have ideas I think:)imageimageimageimageimage

Pâques en France 2013

Plum tree cutting

Plum tree cutting

Arrived at Le Petit Coquelicot on Friday 28th March at about 4pm after delays on the tunnel meant we only had a couple of hours sleep at the hotel in Rouen. We were all very tired and still are.
The house has wintered really well and there were only a few wood lice to dyson up.  There’s a little condensation too but other than that it’s as we left it in October.  Unpacking was once again quite a task as I had made purchases back in the UK destined for France.

Garden obelisk

Garden obelisk

Garden obelisk from UK

Plum tree is growing

Plum tree is growing

Then it happened, when we decided to go to the toilet we realised that we have the same problem as last year with the fekafoss not pumping properly. We have, however, discovered that there is a toilet in the village. This may be our saving grace.

Willow tree cutting

Willow tree cutting

Saturday was therefore spent deliberating what to do about the toilet, checking out portaloos and doing the shopping at Leclerc. I then made homity pie and plum crumble. We were planning to get out and about, in particular the Chateaux de Duras is open, but it was tipping down with rain, so will be leaving these touristy things to a better day.  Lundi de paques was the vide grenier at St Sernin.

Eclectic mix at vide grenier

Eclectic mix at vide grenier

Old tin bath tub ideal for Bella!

I purchased a lovely silver bracelet that commemorates a trip to Paris.  Will need to add this one to French Finds! We also came across a strange structure in the village, what do you think this is?

St Sernin-what is it?

St Sernin-what is it?

Figs no more plus toilet troubles!!

 Back at Le Petit Coquelicot on Saturday 27th October. 

Up very early at the Premier Inn in Liverpool to get to John Lennon Airport for our 6.40 Ryan Air flight to Bergerac.  Grandma is with us and we had an early breakfast and then walked to the Airport which is about 500 yards away from the hotel.  I have a very close friend staying at our house in England, looking after all the animals, so we are good to go!

The Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport

The Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport

Landed in Bergerac, earlier than Ryan Air scheduled, and it was cold.  Very cold.

Arrived at the house having had a quick look around Bergerac, which looked lovely, I definitely want to go there again.  Looks like it would be a spectacular place to investigate in the sunshine.  When we got to the house, after a couple of us went to the toilet it was clear that we had toilet trouble.  The water began to rise and you know that always means trouble.  

After a lot of hard work by my hubby we finally could see the Fekafoss lid, which is the pump that is installed to pump all the house waste/water to the local sewer. 

Fekafoss lid

Fekafoss lid

Meanwhile Grandma and I headed off to one of the last local vide greniers in Ste Foy La Grande, where I found a very tatty mirror that I gave the French shabby chic look to when we got back.  What do you think?  Not sure what to put in it though.

Painted French mirror

We also now have transplanted 4 plumb trees in the front garden. 

Transplanted plum trees

Transplanted plum trees

So we shall see whether or not they survive.  I’ve also created a little nursery of tree cuttings from the local area. 

Tree cuttings

Tree cuttings

To my utter shock and horror, somebody!!! has chopped down the beautiful fig tree that stood on the edge of our garden.  Why oh why would you want to do such a thing I really do not know.  In fact it has freaked me out somewhat.  The figs were to die for.  See earlier post.  I am now determined to fill my garden with fig trees.  Just you wait, you chopper down of beautiful fig tree!

I have checked the Internet for info on taking fig tree cuttings and found this thread curtesy of www.botanicalgarden.ubc

” In the spring before the tree leafs out, cut a 12 inch long piece of branch up to 3/4 of an inch thick. Bury it all except the last bud on top. It will root itself quite easily and grow vigorously throughout the summer.”

Two meetings with architects about the proposed extension have left us in a bit of no mans land at the moment.  Not always quick to make decisions we will have to take this one home and mull it over during the winter.

Anyway today, although the weather is not that good, we are heading out to Bordeaux.  Meriadeck shopping centre is central and has a car park.  Not sure whether shopping in Bordeaux is a good idea but the main aim is to go to the cinema and see the new James Bond film “Skyfall”.

Skyfall

Skyfall

And there lies a tale of the famous shoes.  Grandmas shoes went missing for sixth months and they turn up in a Hollywood blockbuster, the new James Bond film “Skyfall” worn by James’ and M’s arch enemy in the film Raoul Silva. 

skyfall-Javier Bardem

skyfall-Javier Bardem

And here are Grandma’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Like Raoul, she’s not allowed laces either, you understand!!!! Tee Hee.

Grandmas Kappa trainers

Grandmas Kappa trainers

I always like cooking when we are in France and while there this time, I cooked a mean Homity Pie, though I say so myself.  This is a good old English recipe that I came across in my Cranks recipe book years ago.  If you read the recipe book, there’s lots of specific amounts of ingredients but the way I make it is with no weighing or measuring at all.  Here goes!  Nice lot of potatoes, peeled and then boiled.  While they’re doing I make pastry, in this case with plain flour and just butter.  Loads of red onions, garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan.  Make sure not to burn.  Then drain the potatoes, no need to be too careful, add to the frying pan, together with lots of fresh parsley, grated chedder cheese (yes you can get this in France now), salt, pepper and a slurp of milk.  Place the pastry in a large oven proof dish and then add the ingredients from the frying pan.  Place in the oven (200 degree) for about 20 minutes.  Hey presto!

Homity Pie

Homity Pie

To finish we had the most gorgeous French pastry from a lovely little shop in the local town.  Yummy!

French pastry

French pastry

To change the subject quite dramatically, I must also talk about the dazzeling array of crysanthymums around at the moment and how I finally came to realise what they were used for.  In France La Toussaint or All Saint’s Day is a Catholic festival celebrated every year on 1st November. 

La Toussant is the day when all the Saints are honoured by the Catholic church. The following day is Le Jour des Morts (All Soul’s Day), when people pray for the souls of the dead. La Toussant is a national holiday and children are off school for two-weeks (half term).  La Toussaint is celebrated by decorating the graves of loved ones with chrysanthemums, the flowers associated with death.  The cemeteries are awash with flowers.  In fact I first noticed that the flower shops and supermarkets were awash with these types of gawdy flowers.  Very bright and clashing colours.  I prefer paler coloured flowers like lillies but here are some pictures of our village church which, I have to say, looked so alive with colour.

Village church

Village church

The church in our village

Anyway we are back in Blighty now and I’m just finishing off this blog.  Weather is awful here, so I sometimes cheer myself up with a look at what it’s like in Bergerac via the webcam Not always a good idea though but I’ll keep looking.