Saturday, 30 January 2010

I can't say I got the same childhood kick today

Today we had planned to go to Montebourge to the "fete des pepinnieres", The town is transformed into a street market and the local nurserymen come to sell this years bare rooted trees and bushes. I say we planned to go, because I was ready and waiting, and so was HOSS, but the Explorer was as flat as a strap and would not start, what a good job we still have theMondeo so we decamped, left HOSS behind because we were by now highly strung and not in the mood for a family outing. I only have to say..."back later" and HOSS settles at the front door to do his duty and guard the house.....We have to let him fulfil his ambitions sometimes to justify his name ........Head Of Site Security........ The fete was good, we did not need to buy anything but we did need to take a good long look at the amount of bare root these professionals leave on their trees. We have some big willows and conifers to move next month and are struggling with the concept of lifting all that root and mud, so we need to take a leaf out of the French pepiniere bible of bare rooted trees and take the minimum root, then say a pray, it must work for them. We now have the confidence, by looking at their stock today to just dig the trees up and replant them, we must stop talking ourselves out of it by reading our books .....sorry Mr Titmarsh......but we need to get radical and take a few risks or we will never do it..... We did a big furniture swap upstairs this afternoon, I remember doing it as a kid and what an uplifting experience it was to move all your stuff from one room to another and somehow it felt that you had turned a corner and was setting off on a new adventure. Mike and I were pleased to get a few furniture issues sorted, but I can't say I got the same childhood kick today.....

Friday, 29 January 2010

Patients is a Virtue and I really don't have either.

It's 21.44 ( it is dark outside) and I have just come in from HOSS's last run for the day and just had to tell you about the amazing moon high in the sky tonight. The light from a full moon is just so bright and clear and the moon shadows beautifully defined and crisp. I was able to walk around the field without a torch, which unnerved HOSS a little as I am sure he uses that last walk to get up to no good whilst I am not looking.......Mike has built us a wardrobe cupboard in the middle room so that all our spare and off season stuff can go away and de-clutter our everyday space. It is unfathomable why we keep such a stock of clothing and I suspect we are Conservative, but there you have it, two bulging wardrobes and no desire to have a chuck out as we both know we will need it all at some point ....yeah right...I thought about going to prepare the allotment for the shallots but the weather turned against me and it has rained steadily all day. We did a visit to the Maire's office in Brevands to see if they had any plans for the reconstruction of our house in 1977 and low and behold, the project plans were there so we now have architechs measurements but no chimney or plumbing plans so we will have to start making our own to find a way to get the sink plumbed into our bedroom missing the chimney stack and the dodgy plumbing. I wanted to to get some pruning and trimming done this week and had been ready to go several times but Mike was stalling a little, then mentioned that we needed to wait till March and April to get that work done and as usual I am getting way ahead of myself. Patients is a Virtue and I really don't have either.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

then to Brico Marche and Vive le Jardin to shop till we drop.

I threw the shutters open this morning and saw a tanker-lorry parked at the gate, we had no delivery scheduled so I ignored him and hoped he would soon find his delivery destination as he was sending HOSS into the cosmos barking out a warning " there's a tanker at the gate". the phone then rang and it was the tanker-man full of the joys of spring here to top up our gas. We have learnt that you don't argue with these merchants, we are under contract and it seems they can come and fill up when they fancy it.....or need to russel up some business. We took on a half load so the anxiety of more cold weather forcing us to order gas in a hurry is illiminated. Our unscheduled delivery did however get us both up and breakfasted before the sun was confidently in the sky so we set off to St Lo for a day out in town. We started at the "Archives departementales de la Manche" and ordered a viewing of all documentation for Brevands which had us enthralled for nearly 4 hours. We read through years of newspaper cuttings and maps of the area revealing some amazing facts about our little and seemingly sleepy village. We knew that there has been a house here since 1750 and the soup warming stone in the kitchen is the oldest part of the house, what we didn't know is that in 1765 the sea was only a quarter of a mile from the property making it a nice little seashore residence, in the following 200 years the dykes had been built and developed to bring Brevands from 780 hectars to 1290 hectars putting our house and land bang in the middle of the village. We found pictures of the boarded- up and derelict chateaux in her hey day and promised ourselves a naughty little look soon, it is a fantastic structure, I am told that our Maire has tried to contact the owners to tell them they have a civic duty to put it back on the map for Brevands but his letter was returned not known at this address.........someone needs to go and squat there for seven years and take it over.......but fear not, it will not be us. The other job for the day was to get vaccinated against flue but having found the place, it only opens two days this month for three hours each day...shame they did not mention that on the invite to take part so I called our caisse maladie office and gave them a true Viv style piece of my mind and suggested that France was doomed as nobody was vaccinated and we were all going to die.......I hope the poor chappy on the other end just thought I was mad and has not taken his cyanide pill to end it all sooner. We visited the depot vends in St Lo, had lunch, big event for us.. then to Brico Marche and Vive le Jardin to shop till we drop. Happy birthday Debbie....30 today

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

trim some bushes and crop those trees.....

Wow, it has turned cold again. I have just got in from choir practice and the conversation is all weather and how chilly it is...who said only the British talk about the weather, this crowd I sing with, average age of 70, were wrapped up like Eskimos but it did liven up discussions about what's happening in the UK and how is my mum coping.........! We did a first attempt of Handel's Saraband and it is every bit as lovely as I hoped it would be but the other two tunes were dia, so roll on more practice sessions. Mike and I stayed in this morning, I wrote up the blog, late.....and then blanched the sprouts and they look good, I had them frozen and in bags by late afternoon. I put the leeks in my largest pot with just about everything you could imagine that goes into soup, the house smells like my grandparents house in Brussels, boiled leeks and cress soup, every house should smell like it except that Mike hates it and I need to seriously air the kitchen after a cooking session of that magnitude. We went out to the post office with letters to Australia and Canada, the post mistress is now full of chat and interest about who I am sending to and of course then she wishes she had never asked once I launch myself into the explanation. We visited my friend Anne for afternoon tea and sat by her roaring fire, she is a retired art teacher and also has a great voice, we sing together and now we have a plan to paint together so I am looking forward to a bit of tuition. Mike and I both have hurt hands today from being spiked and battered by the hedge yesterday but it all feels a lot better this evening so tomorrow I hope we will be able to go out to trim some bushes and crop those trees.....

We will fill the day, and that will move us on a little further.

I am a fraud.....I sit at my mac before I go to bed and send you a little taste of what has happened today but as I sit here at 9.57am waiting for my porridge to thicken I can only give you a taste of yesterday, doesn't that happen so automatically and without warning. So, yesterday, we had a bright and warm invitation to finish the hedge, Mike cropped the top and pulled out the brambles at one end and I just pulled out brambles starting at the other, theory being that at some point Mike's job gets easier at the point where he may start to feel he is doing all the work.........good theory, and it worked. I then man handled all the dechete from the hedge 20 yards down to the bonfire site which it is looking very 5th of November so as soon as the wind is in the right direction, because we do care about our neighbour's washing, we will have a fab fire. After lunch we went back onto site to clear up and I pulled up the last of the leeks, only good for soup now, and I picked a huge basket of Brussels for the freezer. Oh, and I am blanching those as I write.........I will get the soup pot ready to boil up on our half price electric that clicks in at midday. Here we go again, another not so bright day, we haven't decided what to do today yet, but we will fill the day, and that will move us on a little further.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Not playing games yet, but maybe looking at the challenge

What a lovely day off, I prepared a roast lunch for Peter and Sarah and HOSS got to run around the field with his little doggie friend Dana. A couple of weeks ago Leclerc was selling their Pork at half price and I cooked, carved and froze 4 joints. Putting a roast dinner together has become quick and simple, but oh so good. I picked the brussel sprouts on my walk with HOSS before breakfast and all the other veg were from stock even the apple source was bottled compote from the orchard. We sat down at midday and as Mike and I were not driving anywhere in a hurry we let the wine flow and chatted about all and nothing. Peter and Sarah have been in France five years longer than us and we always manage to learn a little from each other about the ins and outs of surviving the french system, it is never an ex-pat reunion, just good mates sitting at table enjoying lunch. We all got up at four o'clock did a turn around the field and then said our goodbyes. The end of the day was in true "day off" style, curled up on the sofa. I am reading a book based on the story of Pompeii and it is gripping stuff so I wrapped myself up in my favourite blankets and had a good read. Mike is enjoying his new laptop, it is fast and he is surfing the Internet like a real youngster. Not playing games yet, but maybe looking at the challenge

Saturday, 23 January 2010

back to the grindstone, Brevands style...gently.

We seem to have a new routine these days, which suits me as we both get a little work done before lunch, during which we can then deside what's to be done next. In the winter months we stay tucked up in the warm until the sun is up and that, at the moment, is 8:30. During our 33 years of married life we have had a cup of tea first thing and I can honestly say that it is a rare day when that has not happened, so, tea, bit of french news on the TV and it is 9:30 before HOSS gets his walk and then it is too late to go shopping and beat the midday shut down. We are more relaxed about this phenomenon and I am much happier that the work is done in the morning so we can play in the afternoon. Today we cleaned out the grape vine in the poly tunnel. We now know that to get good grapes you need to slash and burn the vine all year round to keep the growth in control and I am looking forward with our new found "vine skills" to a good crop this year. I finished trimming the geraniums of which I suspect I have lost over 50%. Mike noted that the tunnel got as low as -7 during the cold spat. We have a thermometer that logs the highest and lowest temperatures and it has proved to be very useful even if it gives you bad news...... This afternoon we went to Cherbourg to Brico Depot for a stroll through the tool department and a saunter down the electrician's aisle, we talk about what we should have and what Mike needs and then we make mental notes of prices and availabilities and come home. We did stop at a furniture shop on the way out of town... well, more like a posh MFI store, I say that because while Mike was looking in the bargain corner I witnessed a queue of people bringing things back and talking about bits missing and it all just rang a bell in my mind. We did however find a solid teak cabinet with white round sink and chrome mixer tap at a cool 60% reduction, not flat packed as it was ex display so we thought it was a fairly safe purchase for the bedroom sink unit we have been looking for. Mikes jobs are starting to back up now, we are due a day off tomorrow with friends coming for lunch , then back to the grindstone, Brevands style .......gently.

Friday, 22 January 2010

I am a total wimp when it comes to injections.....

The barn staircase is complete and while I did the ironing, ...(oh yes, it does not get done on it's own, unless your mum is over to stay) Mike swept out the loft area and we stood there with a cuppa in hand, faces looking into the big barn roof wondering "what next" it is so beautiful. While I was ironing today listening to radio 7 on the Internet, some play about a lady and a fox, I pondered at how many items of clothes I have ironed in my life time.....not a whinge, I actually enjoy the whole process but as with the dish washer...hate putting things away. It was damp and miserable after lunch, Mike was tired, so we hunkered down in the lounge for the afternoon. I did take HOSS for a walk on the roads around the house. I want to start getting some discipline on the lead so I took my walking stick with me and rested it on his back so that we were in contact with each other. I have seen a chap walking his dog doing just that and wondered what effect it would have and it did remind HOSS that I was there and he was much more attentive. A good bit of training accomplished and we both had a peaceful walk. Two letters arrived with the French Government logo on the envelopes and my heart skipped a beat as to what they might want now......!!! but today it was good news and we are both invited to have the swine flue jab. It is called "grip A" here as the pig farmers got very upset complaining that if you make reference to pigs people will stop eating pork...they have a point, As this is a giveses, I think we will go to St Lo and queue for the privilege, although, (Mike will confirm this).... I am a total wimp when it comes to injections.....

Thursday, 21 January 2010

You just can't help taking a deep breath

The smell of spring is in the air, it is only if you live and work out of doors that you might recognise the sensation and I am so very privileged to be able to put my hand up to that . I had the feeling of having just moved in here this morning, the air was new and refreshing like your first day on holiday...... We both set off on two different paths this morning with the vigor we wish we had every day but you have to be realistic and enjoy it when it actually knocks on your door . Mike spent all day finishing off the stair case in the barn and it is a fantastic job done, He uses his stocks of material and brings out tools I never knew exisisted and know why moving his workshop is a thought we do not want to visit, ever again. I have a need to check in on him when he is working with electrical tools and ladders, I try to send HOSS in true Lassie style, to see how his master is getting on but I get this stubborn wide open face asking, why...."you're the one who feeds me"....but checking in on a regular basis gives me the chance to look objectively at the job in hand so I can ponder on the possibilities of the next project, and with this fantastic attic space now so accessible, I am visualising a summer house and hobby room........thoughts for the future. In our lifetime we have seen the development of the Internet and the computer we all have needed to become so very expert at, and today I ordered a book from an Australian bookshop paid for it on my card to be delivered in the next 7 days to the Pearse house utterly amazing is that, we use the internet for an amazing amount of reasons, I must google for something or another every day, we had a Ford Explorer car manual delivered yesterday and I got an e-mail this morning to say that our printer ink cartridges are being despatched tomorrow. We both feel that life is thrashing ahead and developing on one hand but the other hand has to hold back to allow nature to recover and come to terms with itself. We are happy to hold both hands up and take advantage at every level where technology meets our "good life" living, and a quick visit to google earth to look at the bigger picture of where we are ....well just can't help taking a deep breath...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

In true Meldrew style, I don't beleeeve it.....

It has been a day of two halves, Mike was up and atom with a plan to start trimming the front hedge but put his Victor Mildrew face on when he noticed the rain dancing off the pond. I always have stuff to do and just got on with something else like bringing in the wet washing I forgot to bring in last night......I switch Mike's PC on every morning to check that Australia is active, it is a bit early for Canada but Debs is breakfast and George is Lunch if we need to talk. Mike had a play around on French e-bay which is dia! then the sun made an appearance and we set off with all the cutting, trimming and lopping devices we own. Looking at an over grown hedge full of bramble and rambling rose is enough to both be Mr and Mrs Meldrew and the first fifteen minutes is just purgatory finding the confidence to handle the hedge without getting pricked, bringing on a bout of's OK we got ourselves protected last month....however the anticipation of pain brought out the whimp in us both, we then found the way to work and pulled out yards of runners strangling the trees and bushes beneath. We got half way and had to stop for lunch, because that is French Law, and as we set off for the second half an hour later the heavens opened. We stood in the barn doorway hoping it was a passing shower but Mike started to look at the stair case and within 3 hours had the boards up the rafters cut, the engineering considerations dealt with and I just watched in awe that he can tackle such a big job without a cooked British Breakfast inside him. I have always been a little wary of the barn loft, it is very dusty and unfamiliar place, not my domain, but with a hole in the ceiling and a clear view to the cathedral space up there, I am now wondering how to find the cash to re-tile the roof so we can use this wonderful space. .....But we have access now and that is a great start. With the light failing we've had to leave the finishing until tomorrow but job well done and in true Meldrew style, just have to say...... I don't beleeeeve it.....

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

I am happy to be part of something that is so much bigger than me.

Good, bright and warmish today, the field is drying out nicely so we wandered into the allotment to try to get a handle of what needs to be done before planting starts again, then walked out a bit overwhelmed by the apparent collossalness of it all. We will do as we did last year and just let the progress schedule flow over us, it all works out in the end......she says with great confidence. Mike has planned the installation of the staircase in the barn so a visit to our favourite shop "Point Vert" to buy the bits he needs was called for. We then took a quick run up to Ravenoville for a brisk and windy walk on the beach. We took yet another of those "la mer" roads and HOSS got his promised run off as far as you like walks. The carpet looks great but now the scatter cushions look naaf so I will need to think about that one another day. We are not into designer interiors but when something starts to grate then you have to apply yourself. I went to choir practice tonight, we are a week behind already and the prospect of learning so many new tunes just turns my stomach but the good news is that we are singing Handles Saraband ( the old Levis Ad music) and I am totally in love with it. When we had our hall in Watten I used to play it full blast just for the thrill. I did try to convince Georgie it would be a great tune to walk down the aisle to but she wrinkled her nose ....I guess it is a bit heavy...but I am singing it this summer season, and I am happy to be part of something that is so much bigger than me.

Monday, 18 January 2010

All in all, life is once again very much back in order

Even in the loveliest place ever you can start your day with pointless activities and outlook. I needed a post office to post Georgina's "have a nice life in Canada" card and Debbie's birthday prezy but we spent so long getting out of bed we were still tucking into boiled eggs at 10:00 and as the shops shut at 12:00 there was no point in going out until 2:00. Having had breakfast so late we missed lunch and you all know how grumpy you get when that happens, so we set off at 2:00 and ambled aimlessly through the countryside thinking and chatting, we do our best problem solving in the car and ended up by default in St Lo at the second hand shop ( if in doubt go to Troc in St Lo) We are always looking out for a number of things like good quality garden furniture, a piece of furniture to put a sink on in our bedroom, wardrobe ideas and anything that takes our fancy and today we definitely had our fancy tickled. A huge carpet in reasonable condition to replace the hanky sized rug in the lounge and a wooden stair case to put in the barn for easier access to the loft area where we store lots of garden material and all of Beema's spare sails. So, now we are motivated and ready for action. Mike will build his stair access and I will clean the carpet and re arrange the Lounge. HOSS will be delighted that he has free range of the field for the day and all in all life is once again very much back in order

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Blue skies shining on us both ....and him...

Blue skies shining on me, nothing but blue skies and the temperature is at a very sensible 6 degrees so we were able to get the normal run of the mill feeding animals, dealing with the compost and generally cleaning up without layers of coats and gloves but did need wellies. I picked some lettuce leaves for lunch and Mike put up 5 coat hooks in HOSS's room so that we can use that entrance as the dirty weather room to hang wet coats and dump muddy boots. Every time Mike gets a job done I feel we have moved forward a little further and coming to grips with the sort of housework to keep the place looking authentic and good just makes every day purposeful. In the supermarkets we can buy all sorts of chemicals by the litre and are learning how to use them, the latest is a turpentine based solution that when applied to wooden furniture takes off the top layer and leaves a lovely clean stain free surface to start re-waxing. I am sure all this exists in the UK but we have never tried to keep our furniture in good nick and I am delighted just how easy it all is. The field is still scarily waterlogged, Mike cleared out the overflow pipes from the pond to keep the flow going. It is an important part of living on low lands and people are out making sure their flow is clear to move the water on. We went for a little ride out this afternoon and took one of those obscure little roads out towards Utah beach sign mer...and there it was, clean, wide and breathtaking. HOSS was as always totally beside himself and made sure that we walked and talked and laughed to take in those blue skies shining on us both....and him... of course......

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The word is all we have to work with

I know that I winged about having my green field back but it was not a request for a waterlogged dull, messy and cold field. What a shame we have to endue this bit of the thaw. HOSS is on house arrest as his enthusiasm for the run and chase just turns the fragile grass areas to hippopotamus waterholes..... So, not much today except that we found my old friend Phil Salton on skype and had a good old natter. We took a look in town at the possibility of organising the wardrobes in our bedroom but the quality of build just turns Mike's stomach unless you want to pay an arm and a leg. We have a set of three room divider doors from Watten and got really excited at the prospect of using stock from our previous life, but sadly they will not fit.......I am disappointed as I get such a kick using up stock and making good from old. Back to square one and we will need a trip to Brico depot in Cherbourg to get this little project underway would have been a good one during this down the pan weather.... I am talking to a very patient apple mac man somewhere in La Manche who is giving me ideas and tips to try to fix my picture upload problem, once that is done you will be able to see what is going on, until then.......The word is all we have to work with.

Friday, 15 January 2010

warming up the outside to a perfect 12 degrees

2 years ago we bought 2 wood burning fires, dirt cheap, with the determined objective to put a wood burner in the kitchen fire place. Our determination was put to the test when we found a well worn but serviceable mini range in the second hand shop and then we came across the new all whistles and bells shiny version in the wood burner shop and it became difficult to know which way to turn. We got a quote to have a fire installed by a professional wood burner expert but the bill amounted to a cooooool 6ooo euros which included lining the chimney with a stainless steel tube and that part of the quote was an even cooooler 2000 euros. We questioned the need for a liner, and were flattened by the words ... it is the we talked my sister and brother in law out of their authentic looking wood burner that runs on calor gas and that suits us just fine..... We now have wood burners galore and today Mike set one up in the back yard with a flue, attached to the herb bed (which actually is a metal bedstead) and lit it to see if it leaked. The snow has thawed in the back yard except for a heap that Mike pushed off the roof of the camper and as Mike and I stood watching the little wood burner do it's best for global warming, HOSS sat on the pile of snow in his own little way helping the thaw along. The fire did not leak, and we are seriously now considering installing it in the potting shed to up the anti on the seed growing season by warming up the outside to a perfect 12 degrees for good germination.......

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Paper is read to firebrick to compost, mission accomplished

We have stayed off the roads today although the thaw is well underway and the green grass is appearing if not a little quagmirish. Mike has asked HOSS, and me, to choose a different line each time we go into the field to try to cut down on the mud.....tough call. I had a moment of recycling today and took a trudge into the field via a different run HOSS on the snow because he couldn't care less where he exercises, we sprinkled walnut shells over the budlia garden as mulch, deposited coffee grounds around the azalea in the garden-garden to up the Ph levels, dumped yesterdays wood ash onto the compost heap and collected a few leaves off the cauliflowers for the chickens. The poor little chickidee chicks whom I am very fond of have been living in the garage since mid December to protect them from the fox during our visit to the UK, then the weather turned and we left them there. They are better off in the dry but have no greenery and cauliflower leaves are just the best. On the subject of recycling Mike has truly got into the spirit and is carting heaps of my paper bricks to burn along with the logs. I worked consistently all summer stripping our waist paper, soaking it in water then packing it into my brick form to produce a burnable paper brick. My friend Sarah delivers all her waist paper and recycles her jars and champagne bottles and anything she feels I will use again. If we manage to use things twice we are delighted but three times is missions accomplished. and the paper goes from read to firebrick to compost and is truly.... mission accomplished.........

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

When down on the beach, run on the snow

Today we were utterly stir crazy and as the thaw has now truly set in after our dump of snow last night we decided to go to the beach at midday. I have become the worlds worst passenger and the sensation of slipping and sliding just gets my nerves on edge and I just want to turn back but Mike is made of sterner stuff and we made it out through Carentan to Utah beach. HOSS starts his "play with me" whimpering as we leave St Marie Du Mont and we are always amazed if not a little tired of this ritual as we are still 3 kilometers from the car park. I am sad I still can't attach pictures but can you believe it, the beach was covered in snow above the tide mark and would you credit it even more that HOSS ran the entire length of our walk in the snow after all the effort to get him to the beach for a snow free zone to exercise and take in a fresh outlook.......just like kids, you go out of your way to please and they like it the old way, doggie proverb, he say...."when down on the beach, run on the snow, it really makes your people growl".........!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

good game, good game, but I want my green field back

It is a week today since we had our first snow and now the vista, though stunning, is icing over and today is the coldest I have felt it here. I came in straight from the cold having havested some brussel sprouts for tonight and the fridge felt warmer compared to the outside, it all felt a bit silly. The bin men slid their way to our gate this morning and I pulled our neighbour's bin onto the road as they, and I, had no hope of seeing them this week but in the muted atmospheric sound of a snowy scene I heard them trundling down the road and had time to get my bag to the gate. Can't say the same for the post woman as we saw her in leclerc yesterday at the very time she should be delivering our letters and we have had no news or bills for that matter since last Thursday. Mike is developing a small-bird haven around the cart and garden table with corn, bread and fat balls we have never been keen twitchers but there is very little else to do so watching the great tit, blue tit, fatso robin and his slimmer robinmate have us both glued to the window just watching nature deal with this cold spat. As we speak the Brevand's commune gardener is driving his tractor around the one way system to clear the snow ridge so he is pretty fed up as well. I know it is the same for everyone but the joke is wearing a bit thin now and I want my green field back ............

Sunday, 10 January 2010

when you know you have made a mistake

More about the title later. Today has been an indoor day due to yet another snow flurry and as it is Sunday we are entitled to stay in. Mike lit a fire mid morning and we went about our jobs knowing that soon we were going to be sat in front of a blazing fire and that would be our RIGHT. Despite the need to sit tight there are still chores that need to be done, feed the ducks and chickens empty the compost buckets walk HOSS and check the rabbit trap and today I coaxed Mike out to do a circuit of the field with me in the deep snow and he noticed that the wood was under attack...only he would see that . Two years ago we planted 50 trees to create a wood and at the time we put 50 little chicken wire collars around the bottom of each tree to protect it from the ravages of the rabbits. Durng this summer I removed a row of these collars in the firm belief that the trunks were beyond the rabbits delight but today we saw they were not and I had to do an emergency cover up with plastic bottles. I cut and placed 9 bottles so that the bottom of each tree is now protected from nibbling rabbits. I knew I had made a mistake by taking the chicken wire away and Mike did say at the time perhaps I should not, but there you go, look, learn and take heed.......I also got my water colour paints out today. To get over the fear of a blank piece of white paper to paint on, I painted on a piece of is absolutely awful but a very positive start. We toasted bread on the fire for afternoon tea today the toast tasted the same but we felt a warm glow for being so close to the fire while we ladened our toast with oooodles of home made jam and fresh coffee....yummmy

Saturday, 9 January 2010

snow snow and more snow

It has snowed again over night and all our tracks are covered so lots more virgin snow to trample. HOSS is in his element and his "play with me" bark echos around the field, we both walked the field this morning to check the rabbit trap but it is windy and very cold so back in for a day of warm activities. Yesterday I got my mac to see Mike's wireless printer technology is just amazing.....but safarie still quits when I try to upload a picture here so perhaps today is the day I sit at my desk and sort it......
We have fed the ducks, swan and chickens and the cats are on bigger portions as the mice and juicy snacks are way down in the snow, both cats are bleating and complaining everytime we make a move but hay.....they need to get into the barn and eat what is in there...mice and rats...that is their job and duty.
We didin't go to drinks gathering with the Maire last night cause it is just so snowy and this morning I got a call from Genevriere to see if we were both OK, I explained that we don't take risks in the dark, if we have an accident it is a language nightmare for us, we are not yet hardened country folk and that is how it is......she was a little miffed but that is who we are..........

Thursday, 7 January 2010

4x4 and on

Mike wanted to get out today and drive the explorer in real live snow and ice. Our roads are not treated and I was curious to see if Brevands was not actually cut off. We did a ring around and got an order from Jacqualine for butter and bread.....forget the milk as long as she has butter and as we ate all her bread Tuesday lunch I was glad to be of service. Carentan is well salted so no problem there but the moment you drive outside the town centre then the roads are white and slippery but the car behaved well and I was very impressed. Nobody is shopping in this bad weather and the meat department in Leclerc slashed their prices and I bought 4 pork joints and roasted them on our half price lunch time electricity and sliced up enough pork to make 16 dinners for two for 12 a bargain.....We have stashed our 300 bottles of new cider in the garage and had a bottle of last years tonight.....lovely

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

frosty and snowman came to visit today

Still no safari, no pictures so I have contacted a mac man to see if he can help. EDF have written twice now to say the monthly electricity payments need to go up at least 25% so I called to say no way, so we stay as we are. I have no idea why EDF try it on as they never quibble about us not wanting to put the monthly payment up, very different to the UK.
Well, finally it snowed overnight and I couldn't wait to get out and tread some fresh powder and it was great. HOSS just went bonkers jumping in thick snow up to his belly and the whole atmosphere was magical. Morning constitutional over, I made coffee defrosted pain chocolate from the freezer and went straight back to bed and joined Mike watching French TV proclaiming it helps with the lingo but I just think we like sitting in bed with coffee and pain chocolate. We cleared the snow off the poly tunnel which is all about weight of snow verses stretch of plastic but it was a good job done and if the sun does make an appearance at least the tunnel will heat a little. In for the rest of the day, it is bitter and we deserve to stay in. see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

cider comes but once a year

It is cold, I woke up at 7:30, still dark out and there was a definite chill in the air, we spoke to Deb in Australia over breakfast and it is 24 degrees with the air con on. We finally got a message from George and it is -12, so extremes rule in our family now. We filled, corked and secured 300 bottles of cider today in Jacqueline's cold, nay arctic, cellar with freezing cold cider all over our hands. In order to get the syphon to work from the barrel mike had to suck up pints of the golden nectar, needless to say he swallowed a good percentage of it and at 10 in the morning was next best thing to alcohol abuse and with the added issues of the obligatory 3 hour lunch with our 84 year old hostess Mike's alcohol levels were way up and probably illegal. We took a look at Beema in the Marina this afternoon to see if the electric supply had been reset and relieved to report all heaters were alight and she was as warm as toast and quite beautiful despite looking like a neglected marsh boat. The brac water in the Marina transforms any white surface into a green slimy hue and Beema is mostly white so put your imaginations to work on that. It was choir night and we had the annual....prend la gallette....this is custard pie with two favours baked inside that you share with your mates and family to celebrate the return of the three kings from Jesus's stable. If you are lucky enough to get a favour and probably have broken a tooth in the process you are presented with a paper crown to wear and in our case have your photo taken looking very silly and guess what .....I I will be looking through all the papers to see if I made the news. Georgina skyped tonight they are both well and it is -21 in Calgary, far too cold for me .........

Monday, 4 January 2010

first day back at work

I tried to add a picture of the house for those who have not seen where we are, but Safari quits every time I try, so that will be the next challenge I think, I will need to upgrade my system and as always that means change which means frustrating hours at the desk getting everything to work as it did......we hate being in doors, but the shorter days help us to accomplish a lot more admin stuff than we do in the summer. Today Mike has changed the seal on the washing machine, not very fab France-living for the first blog but that is life, and the seal just had to be changed. We had the seal flown in from the UK and after 11 days away for the festive season the wash epic has begun. Today we have been in melancholy mood as Georgina starts her new life in Canada and I have watched the screens all day not daring to venture out in case I missed her news but did, and got an e-mail from Debbie in Australia to say George had arrived and all was well.......cry, I could have auditioned for a mothercare TV ad, parenthood is tougher than you expect and there are no courses to cover it. Right one over, the temperature outside is plummeting and we have closed the shutters and hunkered down.