Posts Tagged With: Living the French dream

Baaaa

Yesterday when sunbathing on our deck I thought I heard sheep baahing; the sound seemed to be coming from our neighbour Colette’s garden. Further investigation proved correct – she has invested in some sheep to help keep her grass down. She has a white ewe and ram and a 2 black ewes and ram.

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They are very small sheep I’m not sure what breed but ill find out and report back.

They are very friendly and came straight to meet me to say hello.

My first thoughts were what will Barnaby Pickles think of them and will he bark all the time? We took him down to introduce him and after a few initial barks he seems fine and very interested in his new neighbours.

When sheep sit down does that indicate rain, like the old wives tales about cows?

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A vineyard tour at Clos Rocailleux

We are in the midst of a heatwave here in France as are a lots of countries in Europe, today was the hottest day of the year so far, the thermometer in the garden hit 42 Degs and its due to get hotter later this week.

Even the pets stayed inside all day, Miel was out this morning but she soon came running inside as the day heated up.

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After a day of working on the computer and a quick swim in the pool we headed over to Clos Rocaileux which is owned and run by Jack and Margaret Reckitt who have been making wine here for the last five years. On Tuesdays at 6pm they take people on tours of their vineyard and winery.

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We meandered through each of the wine plots tasting the wine that is produced from each grape variety.

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Jack explaining the intricacies of caring for the vines.

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We did try the wine in the bottle he had in his hand.

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Glasses in hand

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Stunning views

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Yes that is a box of wine in Kevs hand, 3 of the early vintage red and 3 of the reserve red which will be laid down for a few years… well maybe not all of them.

I would highly recommend doing this wine tour or just a visit to the vineyard, you will receive a very warm welcome.

Visit the website here closrocailleux.com

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The last few weeks…again

I wrote this blog post last night and for some mystical reason it has vanished from our blog site, but that wasn’t before it decided to do some very strange things on Facebook along the way, so here i go again and no doubt this one will be slightly different from last nights efforts.

So lets see what we have been up to over the last few weeks…again.

The weather over  has been really lovely, hot sunny days and even a few hot evenings, which is unusual for this time of year but most welcome as we have had visitors.

Firstly my niece Helen and her friend John joined us for a holiday and also to do us a favour and look after Barnaby Pickles and Miel Miaow whist we went to Barcelona for our friend James 40th birthday, more on that later.

Before Helen and John came i decided to have a go at recovering the footstool that Kev made, it had got a bit worn, mainly due to one pesky cat called Miel Miaow, who on many occasion used it as a scratch toy.

I covered it in an old coffee sack which i bought in Shoreditch in the east end of London for £1, i love a bargain and i must say it dosnt look half bad.

Guests get to relax and have a chilled time here in Maison Murier but not before being put to work, Helen is a keen gardner so i put those skills to help get our potager ready for planting, John helped out as well.

And after a hard days work everyone deserves a rest and a nice drink.

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So with the pets safely being looked after Kev and i headed off to Barcelona by car for James 40th birthday weekend. Barcelona is only a 4 hour drive from us and takes in some beautiful scenery along the way.

Paul and James had organised an amazing weekend packed full of fabulous meals at amazing restaurants, but the special nigh was James 40th birthday dinner which was a private function organised by The Supper Club, they hold dinner parties in unusual places and the place they chose didn’t disappoint, it was a private residence overlooking Plaça Reial.

A fabulous night was had by all, it went on into the early hours, just how a birthday celebration should be.

Back at home all was well, apart from  Helen and John getting stuck with us as the French air traffic strike cancelled their flight home, so an extra five days was added to their holidays, i don’t think they were too upset, and all worked out for the best as they got to spend some time with Cheryl, Chris and Louis our cousins from London.

As mentioned earlier we do like to put our guests to work.

Helen and John departed and kevs birthday was upon us.

The blossoms have been blooming and the lilac trees have been so heavy with flowers, i don’t think mother nature will miss a few, they scent was so heady and sweet, i could resit.

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Oh yes and here are the finished deckchairs, i used paint i already had and the fabric was a steal at €4 a meter.

And after all our guests departed back to good old Blighty, Kev and i set back to work on the garden.

We bought 30 geraniums for all our window ledges and set about potting them up.

And heres the house in bloom.

The house adorned with geraniums, 30 in total for all the windows.

The house adorned with geraniums

And whilst we worked all Barnaby could do was survey his kingdom.

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After a few glorious weeks the clouds rolled in and a crazy storm was upon us, mind you it saved me watering the garden.

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Have a lovely week everyone.

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Blue Sky & Blossoms – well sometimes!

What a varied week this has been weather wise, it started with grey skies and cold wind, but by mid week we had lovely blue skies and on Thursday it reached 28 degrees in the sun and 25 in the shade, which is pretty amazing for this time of year, i got sunburnt arms whilst i was sanding beams in the garden.

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The blossoms are bursting out on our almond trees, the smell is exquisite, as is the smell from all the violets that have popped up on our front garden, mother nature is full of surprises, she didn’t let us see or smell them last year, i think she likes keeping secrets to surprise us with.

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These lovely magenta flowers have popped up in a few places, i think they are anemones? But i may be wrong.

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We have had a really busy week on the conversion of our loft space into bedrooms and bathrooms, we have been installing the  patrician walls using a mix of old and new materials. The new being metal stud walling with is just like building meccano, its amazing stuff to use and very lightweight, but when assembled incredibly strong. You won’t see any of this once the plasterboard is on, but you will see the lovely old ash beams we have been using as the main supports.

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We are also using old reclaimed doors that Kev found at a fab new reclamation yard in Albi.

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We ran out of beams so had to pop over to Johns reclamation yard in Virac which is only 15 minutes away from us.

This pile of dirty old ash beams will look great in our house, well they will after a lot of hard work sanding them.

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This is how we got them home.

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As i mentioned Thursday was such a beautiful day we headed over to Chateau Du Cayla which is just a 20 minute drive away on the outskirts of Andillac.  You can do a 5k walk all around the perimeter of the grounds, Barnaby Pickles loves it there as there are so many interesting areas for him to explore and a lovely stream for swimming in. The Chateau is now a museum which you can visit, we haven’t done that yet so ill report back when we have.

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Its a very striking building.

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The grey skies were back today, so i missed the eclipse, it has been warm but windy.

The garden has been calling for ages, i need to get my potager back into shape as you can see from the photo below its looking rather scruffy.

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Two beds edged, weeded and dug in, just four more to go!

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The artichokes seem to like their new home, i moved them in the autumn from another part of the garden as they didn’t seem to like it there.

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Clear skies to end the day so hopefully that bodes well for the weekend.

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Have a lovely weekend everyone.

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Goodbye January, Hello February

As January faded out with a beautiful sunset, February breezes in with a cold wind but the bulbs I planted last autumn under the trees in our garden are beginning to poke through to say hello. Let’s hope the impending frost and snow doesn’t make them change their minds.

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By the time we come back from our holidays to Cape Town, hopefully spring will be well on her way here in South West France.

Our last week on January has been very eventful and busy. Here’s what we have been up to.

We have started work on the garden area at the back of the house, here we want to create a concealed herb garden. We have started by creating a walkway with Cherry and Mirabelle trees [tiny yellow plums] very delicious, either side of these will be a hedge which will be planted later in the spring when we have decided which type of hedge we want. Then walking through the trees you can enter either side of the herb garden which will have raised beds, eventually the horrible fence at the end will be replaced with wrought iron railings to match the ones we have put up on the the walls of the front gardens.

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Doesn’t look much at the moment but when they are blooming I’m hoping it will look much nicer.

The rest of the week has been taken up by renovations on the interior of the house. Before we can do anymore work creating our two new bedrooms out of the loft space we had to put in a staircase.

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So we set about cutting a hole in the floor.

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Then support beams had to be fitted to strengthen the floor and all the existing plaster removed to reveal the beautiful old wall beneath.

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I have never seen so much dust, we started with a good old hammer and chisel but thankfully Ian soon charged up the air compressor [one of the best presents ever] and the task in hand was made so much easier and quicker, but still as dusty.

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We are really happy with the results, although the stone and bricks still need sand-blasting: another dusty job for another day me thinks!

Now for fitting the staircase and what staircase to fit! Anyone who knows us will know that we love anything reclaimed, so it was by great chance that we were introduced to John Dene who as well as being a fully fledged industrial engineer has a fabulous reclamation yard and if he hasn’t got what we need he will either know where to get it or will build it for us. And after looking at a number of unsuitable staircases he decided he would make one for us.

So off we popped the other day to see the fruits of his hard work and WOW we were not disappointed, he had created a stunning staircase using floorboards from an artists studio. Now i know some of you will probably be looking at this photo and thinking, why are they getting excited about dirty old staircase? But as i mentioned if you know us you will know we see beauty in anything old and battered about a bit.

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And today John turned up with Lucas and his dog Tigan to fit our staircase, with some help from us.

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Did i mention it weighs a ton and needed to be hoisted up and through the window?

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Finally in, now all we have to do is lift it into place!!!!

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And after a lot of brute force it’s finally in place and looking like it has always been there, which is the effect we were after.

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And finally what have the pets been up to whilst we have been busy?

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Well Miel has become a wine conoisseur….

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But only after a hard day on her laptop…

Categories: Living in France | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Brocante bargains

A freezing visit to our local weekly brocante market in Albi brought some great rewards, it was worth braving the cold as i founds lots of lovely bargains all for €1 each, yes its like my very own pound shop in France, well i say pound but the euro is worth so little at the moment soon i will have to say the 50p shop.

Anyway you never really know what you are going to find when you pop along on a Saturday morning and today as  it was so bitterly cold there were very few stalls, which was actually good because the more expensive stall holders were obviously all snuggled up in bed, so the stalls that were there were my favourite kind with their goods all laid out on the floor and big signs saying “€1 par Piece” i love that sort of signage, it get very excited as i get a huge swag bag for very little money, kevs even more fond of that sign as he knows i wont spend much.

So here are a few pics of my finds, now bare in mind that one persons junk is another treasure and yes i know everything looks a bit dirty and grotty but you wait until Phyllis Poppins get his hands on them.

You will have to pop back in a few days to see how they all scrub up.

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By the way the trowels are not for decoration they will be used to build our walls around the pool area.

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Apparently these used to be used to store water when their was no plumbing, People would wash their hands with the water that dripped out of the tiny spout at the bottom.

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When i got back from the brocante we had snow flurries all day, not much settled just a light dusting.

Happy week ahead everyone.

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January days….

Well January is flying by, the days seem to come and go, mind you we have been busy.

No more hoar frosts but still very cold, lots of jumpers and log fires.

Heres a few photos to show you what we have been up to this January.

Click on any thumbnail to enlarge it.

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The kitchen windows in, well not quite!

 

 

We spent all day Thursday  fitting the new window, all went well putting in the frame.

 

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But when we came to hang the doors, they wouldn’t close, we tried so many things, adjusting the brackets, moving the frame up then down, but nothing worked, then we measured the actual door frame opening and it turns out that the top is 7mm wider than the bottom, we we weren’t going mad.

 

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So there it is looking lovely but not working, so now we wait for the window company to come out  on Monday to see it and hopefully work out how to make it all ok, keep your fingers crossed.

 

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Its changed the whole feel of the kitchen, its so much brighter and the view of the garden is fabulous.

 

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Muriers are planted

On Monday our Murier [mulberry] trees were delivered, we have been waiting and waiting to get them as the ideal time to plant them is in November, so the local tree nursery told us.

We had booked John the dig for Thursday to dig the holes and do various other things in the garden that needed doing, but alas he couldn’t come as his new baby boy was born in the early hours of that morning [congratulations to him and his lovely wife]. So Kev and and I decided to dig the holes for the tree ourselves, we could only do the one side of the garden as the established tree have to be dug up using the digger and moved to a new home on the other side of the garden.

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So dig we did and dig and dig and plant and plant until we hit a patch of solid rock which we had to break through using one of our industrial strength power tools. Just think of all the calories we are burning off I offered up to Kev in an attempt to keep him motivated.

We finally managed to get through the rock and plant the last tree and mighty fine they look as well.

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Now just the other side of the garden to do, hmmm how long is male maternity leave?

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Re Roofing

Well at last after waiting for an extra 6 months the roofs over Marion & Ian’s and our house has been started.

We have held out as everyone we have spoken to has said that our roofer Mr Coucoureux is the best roofer in this area, and also his quote was the cheapest.

I have to say we have not been disappointed so far, his workmen have been fabulous, very friendly and accommodating and most importantly their work is really good.

Here are a few pics of whats been happening so far.

 

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