Thursday, 30 December 2010

I was back home within the hour and happy to be there.

It is faire to say that these past two days have been quite wonderful for lots of reasons. Mike made a quick recovery from his good night out and I took the liberty of leaving him quiet and warm in bed to restore himself from his over zealous wine drinking session and  late night. I say that I took the liberty, because throughout our entire married life Mike has patiently restored me back to the living after my very own over zealous wine drinking sessions and I felt usefully humbled at being able to pay back that level of respect for the hung over dead with a cup of tea and a slice of brioche and butter at midday.
We had a call from Mark to ask if we were up for another party and with Mike’s colour well and truly resturned we agreed to get together and go to Jill and Tony’s for an evening of games wine and good food.  The evening was a true Franglais event with a good cultural balance from both sides of the channel and the conversation sea sawed from French to English and a patois of both tongues in between and it transpired  that at a certain level,  speed and  waggling of arms just about everyone got a good understanding of  games rules and how to cheat. I am in awe of these new friends we have recently made who revel in French artefacts and have a natural and enviable attention to detail and presentation. Both homes we have visited these past two evenings have been candy to our eyes and senses with  old and ancient combined with the new and practical. All in all, I feel revived and inspired,   happy to have made the acquaintance of  people we can talk to and learn from.
My other bit of wonderful happenings was a request from Genevievre to drive to Carentan Church and sing one of our Christmas songs at the funeral of a chorister’s husband. With nothing in the diary I agreed to join her and we set off both draped in black with manuscript in hand to participate. I have never been to a French funeral so this was a first and I am not Catholic so it was a double first. Half of the choir were there and I sat with my fellow altos to sang couronnee d'etoiles  as the coffin was walked into our huge and impressive church and I for one was filled with an emotional charge that lifted every hair follicle on my neck. We then sat through the convoluted and crowd bonding process of saying goodbye to the dead. Monique played the part of song master and sang the congregation into the hymns and responses.  Monique showed a strength and confidence I had not identified in her before and bearing in mind she just had her eightieth birthday she proved to me that she must be an angle living amongst us with her pure voice and patient approach to encouraging the grieving and shy to join in.  The sounds of a catholic service in France is completely different to the sound of a  C of E service so I was unable to participate but I had the privilege of people watching and the honour of just being there. I listened to the readings and I must admit to having  had a good understanding of the sentiments but when we were asked to sit and meditate to the sound of our choir master playing Ave Maria on the full and magnificent church organ I was crushed by an emotional avalanche and I cried my eyes out as though it was my Dad in the coffin in front of me.  When we left the church I told Monique that I believed she is an angel on earth and that got her going as well and we cried together in the cold wind, patting each others shoulders, Sarah standing by raking her gloved hand across her face not wanting to make this emothional outburst into a team event. What an amazing afternoon, and when I got home Mike had cleaned out our little stove and she was bubbling over with heat and good cheer, I was back home within the hour and happy to be there.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Caught up in the moment of an aggressive and satisfying act.

It’s all over and we are now looking forward to the new start, which happens every year, and only lasts a day or so but the application of a new and positive outlook is a real tonic to our battered and abused digestive systems and numbed TV brains. 
It is eleven in the morning and Mike is still in bed. We went to the Simply Chateau Xmas Party last night and what a fun time we had. Mark and Shirley certainly know how to put a party together with lashing of food and drink and party games of which we have not experienced or participated in for many many years. Mike got into the swing of things early on in the evening and I instinctively knew it was my opportunity offer to drive home. I say my opportunity because since moving to France my driving opportunities are limited to taking Genevievre to choir and the odd trip out alone in the Ford mondeo but to get the opportunity to drive the explorer, well, Mike was really way beyond the fairies grip to allow that situation to develop, and it did, and I drove home. I didn’t really enjoy the drive back with fog and driving rain all the way home but the joy of watching Mike laughing and playing party games was worth it’s weight in gold. We met another couple who live in St Marie Du Mont, my favourite village on the way to Utah beach and we will make the effort to call in and see them and their house, which it is steeped in history and I just love a “steeped in history" house.
We have started the wood collection program, and for two mornings now, not including today as mike is nursing a good night out, we have presented ourselves in front of the far hedge to cut back all the dead wood, which is good to burn now and we are piling all the other stuff to prepare for the  wood shed. It is satisfying work if not a bit painful, If you thought God loved us all you need to ask why he left the bramble behind in the big scheme of things. The Bramble bush is a  persistent and aggressive plant which offers   the sweet blackberry for our delight once a year then just becomes a pervasive enemy trudging  through our gardens with very little thought to the consequences. The snow brought down a lot of the cathedral sized black berry bush structures which when you look closely are just a mangle of very prickly stems and air. I do enjoy the sensation of tugging on a prickly tentacle and have it give way disentangling itself from the trees and bushes it has kept prisoner for so long and if the root ball comes up as well then I feel I have totally achieved. Am I qualified a gardener now?   or just a bit caught up in the moment of an aggressive and satisfying act. Happy Birthday  to Geoff

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Rethink the Viv Baker 2011 personal goals.

Well, here we are and it is Christmas day 2010. Life is full of punctuation and of all the commas and exclamation marks in our lives it seems that the 25th of December is the most reverent, awaited for and esteemed.  Yesterday we kicked off our Christmas celebrations with a  lunch for six friendships which have blossomed and evolved into the comfortable and fun filled gatherings Mike and I have so much missed in moving to France, and now we find that we have within this year alone acquainted ourselves with  another four people we can relate to and have fun with and that is a very important development for both of us.
Sarah and Peter were unable to come yesterday and as I sat amongst my friends I reassured myself that we could have easily fitted another two people around our table that has accommodated so many happy gatherings in the twenty years that we have owned it. So, eight nutty expats around a lunch table was fun and full of  relevant “living in France” antics  and we each all shared our long tall stories to the point of disbelief and wonder as to why we are still here, but deep down we all know why. If I could bottle up and sell this convivial and happy few hours in my home yesterday I would be a millionaire by now but still here developing this fascinating lifestyle in a foreign country.
Debby and Jez skyped from Australia last night on their Christmas morning and the boys were there in  T shirts and shorts taking this distant  relationship we have with them in their stride. I am glad to be recovered from the emotional tug of war I have experienced in the past and a Skype conversation seeing my baby’s face is now just an accepted part of the way we live. I thank goodness we have these life tools in our kit to enable us to  be so  close but oh so far away and yet OK and acceptable..
HOSS is off colour again and I am having to walk him and care for him on double duty which is not difficult as he is so trusting and dependant on us, it fills an emotional gap in my life that will always need filling. 
I am doing this blog at six thirty in the morning because I over indulged at our Christmas eve luncheon and although I am pretty sure I did not drink too much Mike suggested that my new style of eating, counting calories and keeping my plate simple and small was thrown my system into a panic with all the rich and complicated food I had just indulged in. Two more days of indulgence and then back to the counting and manoeuvring of calories, proteins and carbohydrates to reach my goal before April when I will be able to recalculate and rethink  the Viv Baker 2011 personal goals.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

So we both gave up and went for a cup of tea instead.

Mike and I have done a full days work today and it has been a long time since I can say that, we are both knackered. We brought our country life style into the 21st century  and borrowed Sarah and Peters electric log splitter. Peter gave us a short and precise training sesh before we loaded it into the car then off we went with the intension of getting all the wood we bought in October 2009 to a usable size for the stove. All the miss shapen and just plain ugly logs were triaged into the open fire pile then we split and sized everything else for the stove and now I recon we are set until the end of the winter, what a great feeling that is. 
Mike and I sit down to lunch every day and always have a good chat,  Jeremy Vine puts plenty of fuel on our topical and political discussions but sometimes we do just chat and I commented that I have barely switched on the electric kettle since the stove has been lit and Mike, with his logical and well organised mind worked out that ten boiled kettles of water a day over the winter period might equate to about fifty quid  and that is a quarter of my wood bill. So then I suggested that I note down how many times I don’t switch on my electric oven and how many times I don’t take water from the water heater for washing up and Mike just gently asked me to get a life and just enjoy the ride…..which I promised to do.
We are still in white-out mode and this morning the drive was an ice rink so we have to tread carefully but the field is a completely new experience for me as it is white with snow but hard like ice. When you put your foot down it crunches in like walking on meringue, fantastic, but HOSS is totally unsure and as I set off on my power walk this morning I became aware that there were no doggy sounds anywhere near me and when I turned to call him he was standing on the only bit of thawed garden by the barn with no intention of putting his paws in a Pavlova pie, not even for me, I hate power walking on my own it feels so pointless so we both gave up and went for a cup of tea instead. Happy Birthday Mum...xx

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Without the day that has just past us by.

With so much time on our hands due to the fact that we are snowed in again it is easy to sit down virtually every day to write a blog, but sadly, there is very little to write about except that, blow me down,  it has been snowing again. There is no more news in that, and there is no more joy or excitement. We decided not to get up this morning, well not true, I got up to free the chickens and show HOSS the vast expanse of white with no intention of making my mark and treading on virgin snow,  he was disappointed but barked and jumped about with an instinctive joy for the little time allotted to him this morning. I then got the fire going, made coffee and toast and went back to bed and we watched Plus belle la vie which is the East Enders of the French soap audience without the screaming, shouting and deplorable behaviour. When I was nicely settled and getting into the story the inevitable phone calls began from the choir to say this afternoons concert is cancelled then three friends to ask, is the concert cancelled ? so once up,  we got up, and started the day with log carrying, digging out chickens, filling the bird feeders and pushing the snow from the poly tunnel roof, there, I said it was uninteresting, not quite yet boring, but any more days like this and I will use the word boring in anger.
We have sat around all day on our computers, we have taken a meal every three hours, taken aperitif at lunch time and dinner time and all the while I am trying to keep tabs on my calorie intake with my on-line weight loss site, I am sure that if there was a real person watching over my  nutrition page they would send me a motivational e-mail and demand I get a life but I am doing this with the ether  and the either don’t talk back.
When the sun went down, and I have no proof or recollection of  the day being that  long, I took HOSS for his walk and to shut the chickens in. I was duly rewarded with the most fascinating spectacular of a snow covered garden and a full moon shining. I have often been out there at the top of the moon cycle and it is always a privilege, but tonight, it was stunning. I walked to the other end of the field as if it were day time but the sounds and the smells were unmistakably night time. The moronic sitting around watching every Christmas movie ever made, was put into perspective tonight because you can’t get a night time walk like that, without the day that has just past us by.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Keep this mode of heating Cheap and Eco.

On Thursday John and Linda did one of their famous day trips to visit us from Bracklesham Bay and arrived at midday in time for a walk around the place to see what changes we have made then lunch. This years visit however they managed to get a late sailing from Caen and didn’t need to leave before eight in the evening so we were able to fit in tea and scones, a walk around the village with HOSS and a good chin wag in front of the fire.  Mike and I are really quite tough and I felt that J & L were feeling the cold despite the stove blaring and the lounge open fire banked up. We talked about heating and the such like and realised that they keep their flat at 20 degrees and there we were knocking back our central heating to 15 degrees, and with an array of draughts to deal with I suspect they may have been a little uncomfortable..
I was so tired from talking all day that yesterday morning despite setting the alarm I slept through to nine fifteen and had to run down the stairs to get the phone when Ann called saying that it was snowing to the point that they had lost sight of the church and should we perhaps postpone our coffee visit, but I reckoned that if it was just starting to snow then we had a few hours to pick up out UK shop and get back to baton down the hatches again. Mission accomplished with my Tesco shop put away and a new UPS to keep my Mac alive when we have a break in the electricity supply, which does happen, but a break in power is more than likely to be  when we overload our system. The other day I had the dishwasher going and Mike was using  the electric heater in the bathroom, I put the kettle on, fatal,  the breaker gave way and we had to reset all the clocks and my Mac crashed, and it really does not like that, but with my new UPS installed  the Mac will stay alive for at least 40 minutes without crashing and that gives me time to reset the breaker or close down in a more controlled way. We have contemplated asking to have a larger supply to the house but we would loose our lunch time half price electric with a new meter installed and whilst I can keep an eye on what we are doing it is worth it to keep my 12:30 to 2:30  half rate period as I do get a lot of cooking and cleaning done but I still have to take care about the loading.
It snowed for a whole day yesterday and we are plunged once again into winter wonderland, but this time we don’t feel so wonderful about it but the weather and it’s consequences are well out of our remit and it is a question of putting up and shutting up.
We had a huge hunt for wood in the afternoon yesterday. I had kept a tree load of branches that I assured Mike I needed for pea props and wig whams and a long and concise list of  practical uses around the garden which in the end I never used so by accident I had a tree load of branches dry and ready for the cutting process and the burning of. We are staggered at how much wood is required to keep a tiny little fire box going and Mike is weighing up the effort we are going to have to put in to keep our hungry little treasure going. We took HOSS for a run on the beach and brought back a chunk of wood to burn and I think that is going to be the way we will need to  apply ourselves to keep this mode of heating Cheap and Eco.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

festive cheeriness around the place.

It is mild enough to step out and dash up into the field to relieve HOSS but not mild enough to stay out for any amount of time without a coat on, so it must now be “Mid Winter”, we are racing through this season at breakneck speed but I knew that we were still far from coming out on the other side when I threw back the  shutters this morning at eight fifteen and it was barely light. No rush then, the chickens have no intention of rising until the sun is way up in the sky and HOSS got a midnight walk so he could wait as well.  I did however need to get to my stove to see if we had sustained a night fire and the excitement of seeing a few little burning embers gave me a sense of purpose and I opened up the flu and loaded the box with wood and then decided I had a couple of  minutes while the process of  catching fire took place and HOSS got a dawn walk of which he was eternally grateful because midnight was a long time ago in doggy hours.
Today was shop day, we have John and Linda coming for the day tomorrow so there is a meal to cook and a token gift to decide on.  The shops are looking more festive now, only ten days to go and a little sign at the till reminds us all that, we, most amiable customer, can shop all day on Sunday 19th and for that I for one say, it is the end of  civilised life in France but all those who work say thank you to Monsieur le prefecteure for letting our Leclerc open just this once on a Sunday. I have our last carol concert on that Sunday and that gives me leave to ignore the sign and be organised and shop on Saturday.
Mike was in  his full humbug posture after lunch but  graciously and without too much groaning and tutting put the Christmas lights up outside. I took care of  in doors, no tree to clutter the house, why would you kill a tree for Christmas so we have all  our family relics and  trophies that used to go on our artificial tree hanging from blue peter style hanging things, two wire coat hangers cello taped together, I am sure you can visualise , if not, you need to  book yourself in for next year .. I have dolled up my dried flower arrangement  with a bit of tinsel and  have put a plastic poinsettia in with my lavender vase. I think it looks great but poor Mike is retreating into a mushy mess asking just how long will this last, and have I not finished with the tarting up process YET.  I am happy and so is HOSS and Mike will be too when we have our guests Christmas eve and they all wow and coo at the attention to detail and festive cheeriness around the place.  Happy anniversay to John and Linda

Monday, 13 December 2010

And I know how that feels.

My goodness me what a difference a sweet little wood burning cooker makes to the feel of our home. It does not manage to keep a fire going all night despite Mike and I staying up until one in the morning, pretending to watch a film but actually wanting to stoke the fire up last thing to give the fire box a real chance to stay aglow all night, but it is not going to achieve,  which then introduces the new routine of  getting the fire up and running before breakfast.  I am enjoying the experience of driving this unique yet age old phenomenon of having to work for your warmth and well being. Opening the flu and regulating the fire box gives you a notion of how things may have been during the good old days of steam power.  If I need the kettle to warm I open up the box air intake if I need the fire to start up to use the oven I open up the flu and the regulator and when I have finished cooking I just shut everything down and it becomes a heat source until I need to cook again. Mike is of course cutting wood to size and groping in all his wood collecting areas to find enough to burn but we have plenty for this year and the summer will have to be taken up cutting out the head grow ready for the next “keep your home warm” episode. 
We did a great deal in Carrfour supermarket yesterday and bought a huge pack of beef for bourguignon. Meat is not sold by cut  but what dish you are suppose to  create with it and we always have a chuckle,  you don’t buy king Edward potatoes, you buy potatoes to make chips.   Today I had a casserole bubbling on the top all day and the promised beef bourguignon in the oven so we will eat well this week.
As I am writing this blog sitting next to my cooker and enjoying the warmth I became aware that HOSS was sitting like a good boy staring me out, those big telling eyes talking to my subconscious and I am up with my  coat on before I can say "do you need a wee" and we go up onto the field in the pitch black. HOSS runs off and I do my stretching exercises, I may sing a bit, I check the hens, count the ducks and just take  a few moments to fill my lungs with fresh and tonight cold night  air.  I also had to listen to the haunting baying of  cows in the distance and this has been going on since this morning. The first time it  happened I could hear this constant herd moo ing and it went on all day and all night I even woke up to hear it and the next day I told Mike that I needed to go to the Maire to ask what it was all about and to make sure the cows were not being mistreated ‘cause that what us Brits do here in France much to the French consternation. It was a good job I did not go ahead with my head strong idea of complaining about country ways as we discovered the next day that this two day moo ing event is the  sound of the Mummy cows calling out to their calves that have been taken away to market, and I know how that feels.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Reaping the benefits of experience and local knowledge.

I am really enjoying looking and promenading on green and lush, it is good for my soul and better for the garden. I am disappointed with the progress of my brussel sprouts and can’t help thinking the soil is tired and as we have been growing there for three years perhaps the time is right for some goodness to be put back into the earth.  During the summer we made acquaintance with a lady in St Jean De Daye and we got onto the subject of horse manure and made promises of visits and aperitifs of which none came to fruition. Stupidly I let that potential friendship fall by the way side, I e-mailed Cassandra yesterday to say what a silly gardening dapper-head I have been not to keep in touch but could  I still come over for some manure.  I have had no response so I can only assume she took offence and is giving her black gold to somebody else, heart breaking.
Mike and I had a routine day, today, Mike gathering, sawing and stacking wood for our fires and I baked and pottered around the house, it felt very wholesome and healthy and true, but by lunch time we had achieved all we had to achieve and sat across the table not wanting to get into a long term project but guilty about doing nothing.  We are quietly wracking our brains to find a revenue stream as we will be running out of capital to keep up the project plans some time soon. We could sell the boat but that is a very difficult decision,  I don’t now why, but it is. I believe that if you are challenged over a decision then  you have to take time  to think it through, and we are seriously challenged,  but need the cash. During  “don’t know what to do next” moments I know we both ponder on the possibility of a revenue stream with out being in business and the riggers of the French tax system, now there is a challenge.
We spoke to Debbie and George in the space of two days and that feels good, they are both finding their own ways through the difficulties of living in  foreign countries,  and we can sympathise as the learning curve in dealing with other cultures is huge, even that we only live 100 miles from our UK life it sometimes feels like 10,000 miles,  upwards in the direction of the moon, but the longer you work at it the easier it gets and we are now just reaping the benefits of experience and local knowledge.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Well worth harvesting …for free.

What a relief to be able to leave the house without a full haute couture five layers and rubber wellies, green of course, the snow is practically gone except where the tractors have made “encounters of the third kind” mountains and where the snow lies in a no sun zone and is destined to stay there until April.   I have had to walk HOSS around the block rather than let him run on the lawns because the garden is a lake, pretty, but a lake non the less. I had forgotten how good it feels to power walk on the road and as we live in a one way system we can walk facing the traffic, one tractor an hour and be safe. I put HOSS’s body harness on as he is OK off the lead but I do need a way of restraining  him and clipping a lead on and off is a drag, so with the handle on his back it is like walking with a four legged suitcase, but not going on holiday.  I also put the harness on after reading Alex’s horror story of his beagle falling though ice and I hoped that with the handle on HOSS's back I stood a good chance of hauling him out of trouble, at 44 kilos though I think I was probably in pick-your-dog-up coo coo land.
The builder made a surprise visit at lunch time today and fitted the liner in the chimney. He is a young-ish bloke and as I had reported in an earlier blog that I suspected he was retired and saw a niche market building for the ex pats here, well,  I was wrong and he is running a pukka  business and is very energetic and efficient. He even helped Mike get the cuisiniere into the fire place and we got the whole job up and completed so all we had to do was light it, which we have, and I can not describe the joy and satisfaction of having our own little wood burning cooker cooking away heating up water and warming our tea cakes. I feel that we have met one of our big wants in having a self sufficient heat source because little branches of wood are abundant in the hedge row and now well worth harvesting …for free.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Danger of getting our feet wet in the kitchen.

We woke up to the soothing sound of running water and looking out beyond the shutters of which I opened just to see what was going on I saw a thaw like I have never imagined possible. We had just got used to the two foot deep white vista around us and this morning it was gone.  Anna called from her mobile to say her village was flooded but they had found a way out and we all met at Jacqueline’s for cider bottling with  little difficulty  but lots of intake of breath along the way in shock at the quantity of standing water in the ditches and in the fields.
We had 600  bottles to fill and between the six of us it only took two hours, but it was cold, wet and dark. Dark because the French amaze us by being satisfied with so little electric light to work by. Our kitchen had one forty watt bulb over the table when we moved in and now we have six low energy bulbs hanging from the beams and another in the fire place, Mike assures me we are burning very little more electricity but by golly it is worth the extra just to have light to live by.
This afternoon we lit a fire and warmed ourselves before unloading our 150 bottles of cider. I noticed that Graham had marked his bottles with a stick-on dot  to identify the year, so I spent an hour marking mine as well and double checking my closures as we have used a new design this year and I didn’t  really take the time to check that they were secure enough, and not wanting to loose sleep counting  plastic corks popping off my bottles, I gave the wire secures an extra special twist.
Whilst I busied myself in my cider store, or should I say my cave now storing in the region of 500 bottles of cider, Mike went on a discovery walk around the site to see where the water was draining away and check that it was. We have discovered that there is a drain by the garage. It is constructed under the outbuildings on the other side of the court yard, we imagine that these old and primitive buildings did not include any thought about  the water courses and escape routes, but they did and we have been told that these old barns were constructed with  drains and sumps benieth them to ensure that the working parts of the farm were kept free from water logging. We are learning that water courses have to be respected and maintained, and  The Maire often puts up public notices to say get your Foss  cleared and maintained,  it is your responsibility and today is why he is so insistent. We have also discovered that the field drains down in front of the barn and into the pond so if the pond outlet becomes blocked then it is very feasible to imagine that the water would keep rising and start to march towards the front door. So Mike has a pond-drain-cleaning-rod on 24/24  patrol at the front of the house so we can be in control of the pond level and eliminate the danger of getting our feet wet in the kitchen.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

We can get back to normal.

What a fascinating couple of days we have had. The snow fell in a silent, yet persistent flurry day and night from Tuesday night to Friday morning, it settled so deeply that we lost the Boule Park and the Beach Garden was a blob on the landscape. We had a pang of conscience Thursday night with our feet up in front of a roaring fire in the lounge and decided that first thing we would make a shelter for the ducks and the swan who in the cold and difficult terrain of a snowy pond area spend all their time bobbing about in the water, which, incidentally, is warmer than plonking your feathery bum on the snow.
After breakfast yesterday, we set off in boots and woolly hats to dig out the path from hen house to winter quarters, again, and then Mike got corrugated sheets out of stock and made a great little lean-to, and to get this water foul hotel up there in the five star category he put a layer of hay down to make it even more accommodating. Mike made the passing comment that Mary could pass this way and we would be prepared for Jesus and comments like that stick in your mind and I will need to watch out for the bright star in the sky and singing from the  heavens, we have the Shepards with their sheep and a few kings are no so hard to come by these days…
The builder called to say …laters…and that he will call next week with a new flu date, I am not too upset now I am used to having the cuisiniere in the middle of the kitchen so a few more days is just fine and mike is now seriously  planning the final installation so I know it will happen, sometime in my living memory.
This morning is tinged with a wholesome feeling of optimism, Jacqueline called to say the cider is ready so I had to rally the troops and we have decided to bottle now as we all have commitments and things to do before Christmas, so my morning resonated to the gentle clink of champagne bottles getting their freshen up rinse and dry before bagging up for the off at ten o’clock tomorrow morning.  The rain has fallen all day and the snow is virtually gone from the hard surfaces, the field is still white but we are as quickly in a winter nightmare as out of it and frankly it was short, sweet with a tingle of excitement and now it is gone and done for, and we can get back to normal. Happy birthday to Dick...

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Simply enjoy the vista.

I did a Skype with my Sister Gig the other day and what a great way to stay in touch, we none of us really appreciate the joy of a face to face chit chat, watching people laugh and hearing the sound of happiness and concern coming from the face is priceless. Whilst chewing the cud over family developments and lots of other stuff Gig suggested I prepare this blog in word,  read off line, to make all the changes and adjustments then just copy and paste,  and that way I will have a digital version to keep for ever, or at least until I die and the children decide it no longer has relevance. So for 2011 I will be keeping a digital version, why, I have no idea, but longevity is all about being digital, and the written word will probably get lost in the library 
I got a call from Teresse from choir this morning who just said “bonne fete Vivian, reste bein chez toi,  a bien tot”…….I sat at the kitchen table wondering if she had lost touch with the world then realised that today is St Vivian day, and if you share the name you are in fete mode, and how lovely is that. Mike and I will celebrate my Sainthoodness  status with a beer at lunch time. I was seriously keeping my calories low today as we are quite sedentary whilst in the winter wonderland but a saintly slug of beer won’t harm the overall concept of having a little less today,  I could just trudge around the field in Mike’s wellies and give HOSS a treat at the same time as burning a few calories but we just have to see how the weather develops.
The field  this morning was the best I have ever seen,  a light but long snow fall yesterday and all night has deposited a 6 inch layer over everything and whilst there is no wind the branches look as though they all have a shadow, it is a  4th dimension and it is stunning.  I took a few pictures but sometimes you just have to stop and look and tell your brain not to take this for granted and remember how beautiful it is at this moment. I called my friend Ann who said she hates this weather and as she looked out of the window a feeling of dread and fear came over her. They were house bound for nearly 2 weeks at the beginning of the year they live on a small road that leads nowhere, at least here in Bucaille we have passing tractors which clear the way and if we had to get out we could we just choose not to but poor Ann is a prisoner until the thaw sets in. I hope she settles and takes a good long look at her surroundings and simply enjoy the vista.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

We also have two baked potatoes sitting on the top ready for dinner.

It's a white out, and we have been stuck in doors all day but I did get out to the chickens to clean them  before the snow really took hold this morning.
I have a  routine at night, or should I say HOSS has a routine at night, because he will not settle unless the chickens are locked up tight once it is dark, so we  go out together,  I shut the hen house door and he runs like a demented hound on his possibly last chance to wee before bed time. We shut the hens in to deter the fox,  although I am pretty sure  Mr Fox is capable of getting to my chickens behind a flimsy wire door and it was at that point last night in sub zero temperatures that I wondered about the shutter on the sleeping area entrance which I never use,  I could completely shut them up in  and make them cosier and perhaps safer from the the hungry fox.. It was this thought  that motivated me to go out to them in the adverse weather to clear the shutter runner and collect their poo for my compost heap.  In the summer I clean the hen house  once a week. During  the winter, it is every two days as  they spend so many more dark hours crashed out together in their pad, and one observation I have made from owning and caring for chickens is that they do not get out of bed to poo at night.
Mikes Heath Robinson temporary fire hit a problem this afternoon after he had cut up lots of chunks of wood to go into the tiny fire box,  it seems that this little temporary fire prefers coal. It is a good thing that we went out yesterday to buy a bag and I am hoping that we will not have to wait too long to get the wood burning range in. We had a very smokey and slow fire going this afternoon and with all the temporary joins and the connector flu being made out of a dog food tin it all felt quite dodgy. But at least we have a heat source in the kitchen and we also have two baked potatoes sitting on the top ready for dinner.