OU blog

Personal Blogs

Col d'Arize 12th November

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:46

Philip felt that as I’d missed out on the mountains yesterday, I should go today. He had spotted a peak across the valley close to Pic du Midi which would give views of the big mountain. So 7am found us heading south in a November dawn. We parked in a layby near the start of the walk and set off up a valley towards col d’Arize with Pic de Midi rising up on or left and our destination, Pic Montagnette, further along the ridge to the right but out of view. It was easy walking, the path was across pastureland used by cows in the summer, we saw some horses grazing, wearing bells, they can cope with harsher conditions than cattle, in this part of France horses are raised for meat. There was a small group ahead of us, when we met the snowline we realised they had gone slightly off route, you had to look carefully for the odd splash of yellow paint which marked the path, now under snow.  Walking up hill on soft snow is like climbing a sand dune, hard work, but a bit higher the snow had refrozen and walking was easier. Once at the ridge we could see for miles, maybe with better binoculars we could have seen our house, I could recognise some landmarks nearby. The group ahead stopped at 1230 promptly for their lunch, in the way that the French do, even though the peak was only 10 minutes further along the ridge. So we had the summit to ourselves. Sitting next to a large cairn built by generations of walkers, we had spectacular views all round. Pic du Midi was just across the valley, spoilt by the construction of an observatory and cable car station, but the snow hid the ugliness of the concrete buildings. After our picnic we packed up and started the descent, coming down the first 300 metres was fun, we didn’t follow the path along the ridge, but just went straight down to the lac d’Arize, running and slipping and sliding through the fresh untouched snow.  It was an easy descent from there back to the car. On the way home we made a short detour to Chiroulet, I had left my walking poles in the auberge there, a few weeks ago, absentmindedly after enjoying a beer after climbing Pic montauban. The patron had been so friendly and talked about the lack of sun light in the valley, only one hour a day in mid winter, four hours in midsummer. It was all closed up when we parked outside, and then I noticed lots of burnt furniture lying outside. They had had a fire which had destroyed most of the interior, though the roof looked intact from the outside. How sad for them. I’ll have to buy some new poles.

We had supper with friends in the evening and some new arrivals who had bought a house not far from us. They too had lived in many far flung places, so it was good to talk about shared experiences, especially of Lagos. Our host had made lots of delicious curries and homemade ice cream. We sat in what used to be the old stables of the house they had bought and renovated. It was all so clean and pristine, with white cream sofas. I’ll have to some serious housework before we invite them back. Entertaining is easier in the summer, always outside on the terrace, so no one sees the cobwebs and tired looking sofas inside.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Sue E., Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 18:33)
Share post

11th November

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:45

I had vaguely thought about going to the mountains again today, the weather was beautiful. We live in a valley, but on clear days like today you can see many of the peaks from the bedroom window. In the end I surveyed the backlog of housework and unfinished Open University activities and decided Philip could go on his own (which he secretly enjoys as he can walk faster, and climb higher peaks. So I caught up with domestic tasks, vacuuming and mopping floors took up most of the morning. Two of the cats joined me for lunch on the terrace, hovering hopefully until I gave them some morsels of cheese. My intention was to sit at a desk in the afternoon and work systematically through some of the OU activities, but I am so enjoying Bill Bryson’s 'At Home', I was distracted from my efforts.

Philip came home looking suitably exhausted, and with lots of photos of snowy peaks. He had been disappointed to find other walkers on the trail, forgetting it was a public holiday. Armistice Day is more widely observed in France than in England. Every village in France has a memorial to those killed in the two world wars. Wreaths are laid, the mayor will make a speech and school children will recite the names of those who died. I always look at the names on the memorials when we are walking through a village. Often as many as three or four young men from the same family were killed, especially in WWI. One can imagine their mothers' grief. WWII is still talked about in the bars and cafes, not just by those who fought, there are not many of them left, but often by those who have heard the stories of the occupation from their parents and grandparents.  A French friend told me there are still deep divisions between families and villages, between those that collaborated and those that joined the resistance.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 12:27)
Share post

10th November

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:46

Every Thursday we have lunch out with friends. I had tried to book a favourite restaurant in Samatan, but was told by the chef that it wasn’t possible as they had a group booking. I do have this small worry at the back of my mind that our booking was refused because of the behaviour of our friends’ guest on our last visit. In fact he wasn’t being an awkward customer, just old and forgetful. He didn’t like duck, but after being told it was a fixed lunch menu he agreed to have it, but then sent it back when it arrived, much to the confusion of the waiter.  Then we had all the restaurant staff offering him various forms of eggs, which he didn’t want ether, he finally settled for a plate of chips. I think the staff were a bit put out. I sensed his abrupt Dutch manners were perceived as rudeness. Oh well, I’ll use a pseudonym next time I try and book a table and see what happens. In the end it worked out well, we went to another restaurant in the Gers and today their menu was just wonderful. Smoked fish & salad starter, pork medallion with assorted vegetables for main course and the most delicious chocolately desert with crème anglaise, (interestingly the cold custard so popular in France and sold in cartons is ascribed to the English.) It was Philip’s turn to drive, so I was able to enjoy a bottle of red wine with our friends and their house guests who had flown from the UK to stay for just a few days. It was a couple David knew well 45 years ago, but hadn’t seen since. I was amazed that anyone could keep in touch with old friends for so long, especially as he doesn’t use email, they had regularly corresponded with hand written letters for all those years.  It is probably something to do with the Jewish connection; they attended the same synagogue all those years ago. Shirley, an actress and her husband Tony, an accountant, were both very chatty & articulate. I felt David’s wife was feeling left out, they were friends when he was married to wife number 1 so she hadn’t met them before.

Now back at Blanquette and faced with the realisation that despite the double glazing, and having all the windows back in place, lighting a fire the wood burning stove in the sitting room isn’t going to heat the whole house. Another discovery I made when taking the basket to collect logs from the wood pile was that one of the cats has been using it as a loo. We know the culprit. We installed a high tech cat door a few months ago that recognises the magnetic chips in each of the first batch of kittens. The two unchipped ones look so confused as they paw away at the cat flap and push it with their noses after a cat has just gone through ahead of them.  It was never our intention to keep the second litter, but somehow, two kittens stayed on, unchipped. One of them has moved in and is loathe to go outside as she has realised that unless she finds an open door she isn’t able to get back into the house, so evidently has decided a log basket makes a good loo. I suppose we’ll have to get her chipped, unfortunately her sister kitten isn’t tame enough to catch yet, so that will be a second expensive trip to the vet at a later date. We should have had them chipped and neutered at the same time.

I really should be working on my Open University activities, there always seems to be a distraction, or some domestic task that has to be done first.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

9th November

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:47

The day after climbing a mountain I always get a sense of well being, despite this time being a bit battered and bruised. It is always wonderful to wake up to clear blue skies. There was a huge backlog of washing after a week of wet weather, I'd put on a couple of loads yesterday evening, so soon had it all hung out to dry. Wednesday is Market day in Boulogne, there are always more stalls and visitors in good weather, I bumped into lots of friends, stopping to chat in the sunshine. Regardless of nationality, everyone adopts the French greeting here, bisous, or shaking hands if it's a tradesperson. Lunch was outside sittting at the table on the terrace, then we moved the sofas and cushions into the barn for the winter, there won’t be many days warm enough to spend curled up on a sofa with a book, we’ll bring them back out next spring.

The terrace looks over the pond, now full to the brim after a week of rain, it looks so much prettier than when there is a couple of inches of liner showing. After lunch I did some grass cutting, just the awkward bits that need the small lawnmower. I'll leave the rest of the garden until all the leaves fall off the trees; I can pick them up at the same time, the last cut of the year. The whole afternoon was devoted to outdoor activities, pruning, (I think I have may have over pruned the lavender, I checked on google afterwards, one shouldn't cut through the woody stems, so I may have killed it) and reseeding the bare patches in the lawn where the heavy rain had washed away the seed and soil I had laid last week. I managed to move some huge planks of wood the builder had used to mould the concrete. The van is so useful for making heavy tasks easier, by levering them into the back and I could push them in leaving a couple of metres overhanging and drive them round to the garage,  I've stacked them in the corner. I hope the builder doesn't try and reclaim them, it was hard work. Yoga this evening, everyone is more purposeful on sunny evenings, there were ten of us, sometimes it is only two or three or in wet cold weather. Sandrine as in her 'let's push ourselves to the limit' moods, we left feeling quite exhausted but well stretched.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

8th November Vallee Rioumajou

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:47

 

I checked the weather forecast when the cats woke me at 6am, it had changed since yesterday evening and promised sunshine all day in the mountains, I felt morally obliged to wake Philip and after a frenzied fifteen minutes sorting out the picnic, rucksacks etc we headed off. Philip, after inspecting the height of the snowline as we drove towards St Lary, decided there would be a good walk from the Rioumajou valley to a view point. So we parked, had a quick cup of coffee (in fact this was a bit complicated as we'd forgotten to pack the filter cone...the secret is to raise the filter paper very gradually after adding hot water so it doesn't break and leave all the grinds in the cup.) It was a beautiful walk through the forest. The scenery was so dramatic with the new covering of snow, all pristine and white above 2000m, the only problem was that although the route was clearly marked on the map, the path hadn't been used since the tempest of 2009 which brought down so many of the huge conifers, so we had a lot of clambering to do as every few yards there would be a fallen tree across our path. A picnic at the view point, we could see up along the valley and into Spain. To make the walk more interesting we took a different route down, which should have been easy, but with the fallen trees and the odd land slip the route finding was difficult, we somehow lost the path and ended up clambering down steep slopes. There was a thick layer of pine needles on the ground, but it was so steep and slippery, I fell twice, so did Philip, slipping a few metres down the slope, happily brought to a stop by fallen trees. It was a relief to stumble on the path.

Back home now, I've inspected my bruises, they are huge, Philip has cooked supper, we have lit a fire and are now surrounded by sleeping cats

 

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Tony Kelly, Tuesday, 8 Nov 2011, 22:23)
Share post

New blog post

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:46

It was still raining this morning, Philip bribed me with an espresso and piece of chocolate to go and speak to the conservatory people, to get a date for the start of the construction. The conservatory man, Pascal, is such a nice chap, always stressed and behind with his jobs, I really didn't want to stress him further; however, it is nearly eight months since we paid our deposit, so I set off into town. I am always assigned tasks that require speaking in French, not because my French is better than Philip's, but I am quite happy to speak bad French and he isn't. I was lucky to find Pascal in his workshop. I hung around next to the machinery while he rang the supplier to ask when the aluminium would be delivered, no answer, so we are no nearer to finding out. It wasn't a wasted visit though as I asked if he could incorporate a cat flap into the design and he agreed to that, so the cats will be able to enjoy the conservatory and we can stop them bringing mice into the rest of the house by closing the intervening doors.

It finally stopped raining late this afternoon, so I abandoned my sewing project and Philip climbed down off his ladder where he'd spent most of the day, (still filling in holes around the windows with polyfiller) and we walked the circuit, a circular path that conveniently starts from the end of our lane and climbs up a steep hill where we get spectacular views across to the Pyrenees, though today the mountains were hidden by thick cloud. It will be interesting to see how much snow there is when the skies clear tomorrow. As we walked we discussed potential plots and storylines for my unwritten book. We'd recently read and enjoyed the Martin Beck detective series, Philip thought a combined effort might work, we could write alternate chapters like Sjöwall and Wahlöö. At the moment I'm reading Bill Bryson's "At Home", it is so good to read a book that isn't intellectually challenging, (last week's books were Julian Barnes' sense of an ending and the Tea Obreht's The Tiger's wife.) I'm learning odd but interesting facts about Britain’s social history.

Butternut squash soup for supper, it is amazing how many meals one butternut squash provides. There are still forty two in the barn.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

6th November

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:52

It hasn't stopped raining all day. This is payback time for the long dry summer. Something like 4cms of rain has fallen in the last few hours. I have seen photos on the internet of flooded roads not far from here, but when I drove this afternoon to visit a friend (on a mission to sort out her laptop) there was no sign of flooding. The road side drains were full of fast flowing water, but it was still contained. All this rainfall means the end of walking up to any of the higher peaks in the Pyrenees until the snow melts next spring. We have snow shoes, but when you cannot see the path, route finding is impossible. (Quietly happy about this, I won't be expected to trudge up big mountains to keep Philip company). I would love to use this time trapped inside to do some serious housework, but feel I cannot frighten the cats with the vacuum cleaner.

The cats have changed the way we live, we had never considered having cats in France, but a stray kitten we left food out for occasionally suddenly turned into a pregnant cat and brought her litter of four kittens into the house at the end of last summer. I think she had calculated they would stand a better chance of survival in our care. We trapped all five and took them to vet to be neutered. Then a few months later word must have got out that Blanquette was a safe haven because another stray cat had a litter of 4 kittens in the barn. We managed to trap the kittens but not the mother, then negotiated a discount with the vet for the neutering of four more kittens. For a while we were feeding 10 cats, the mothers have since moved on, in the way that mother cats do, to encourage their offspring to be independent. I found a home for two of the second batch, so we are down to six cats and since the installation of the cat door they are becoming increasingly fearless and friendly. They eat huge quantities of food but there have been benefits; in our first year here we had so many animals living in the loft, beech martens, edible dormice, rats, owls and bats, all of which romped or fluttered across the bedroom ceiling in the early hours. To try and persuade them to move out we used traps, sonic alarms, the radio, nothing worked, but since giving the cats a free run of the house they have all moved on and the loft has fallen silent.

The problem with having resident cats is that whereas we used to go away for months a time, now Philip and I feel we should take it in turns to go back to England, not because we don't have willing neighbours to feed them, but, pathetically, we have an irrational concern that the cats will miss us or move away. We were novice cat owners when they moved in and didn't realise they would all develop such individual personalities and voices. Now it has reached the stage where if don't seen all six at feeding time we wander round the garden and along the lane looking for them.

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

5th November

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:52

It isn't meant to rain like this in the South of France. In fact when I checked the weather forecast I discovered we are on "vigilance orange" and can expect flooding tomorrow. It hasn't stopped raining since midday. This morning we went out and slotted some pipes into the end of the down pipe from the guttering, to take the water away from the house and the newly built conservatory foundations. It is a bit of a mystery that the guttering takes the rain water to the uphill side of the house and we are trying to think of a way to solve this problem, what to do with the runoff, maybe a second pond, except the children would be forever fishing out croquet balls. I must check to see if they float. I was happy to find there is only about half a centimetre of rainwater in the bucket I carefully positioned in the loft, so it isn't a major leak in the roof, in fact it might be the flashing around the chimney, so we'll have to get up there and check when it stops raining. It is easy to climb out the velux window.

I managed to get to the market in a nearby town before it started to rain. There is an Irish couple that have a stall there selling soda bread, it is so delicious, I was there just in time to buy their last loaf. I met our neighbours, the Dalmatian owning ones; they have friends staying which is badly timed, given the weather forecast for the next few days.

All those British people who have organised bonfires and fireworks must be struggling in the heavy rain, we are happy to be curled up on the sofa with a log fire to keep us and the cats warm. Philip was in the kitchen for hours this evening, it was a labour intensive supper, vegetable samosas, quite delicious with the chilli sauce I made earlier this year. I picked over a kilo of birds eye, scotch bonnet and other chilli varieties from my potagere. We have a window installed again in the sitting room. Just a few empty window frames upstairs, waiting on the filler to dry.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

4th November

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:52
I spent today catching up with all the open university activities, sitting in darkness with my laptop while Philip was still working on filling in the gaps around the window frames. The filler takes ages to dry, and we have all the shutters closed to keep the rain out in the absence of any windows. I feel immobilised by the chaos around me. I ventured out briefly to break up some more wood for kindling, but other than that I have scarcely moved from the sofa. Butternut squash risotto for supper. Now trying to ring the changes to our butternut squash based meals with fried halloumi cheese or chorizo.
Permalink Add your comment
Share post

2nd November

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:54

I have finally finished making the five metre cushion, complete with piping, maybe this is an indication that I could finish writing a book. Like writing, once one gets in the throes of sewing it quickly becomes an obsession. It is sad that the onset of winter means we have to bring in all the terrace furniture. It is like a sitting room, sofas, carpet, table lamps. On the odd occasion we have driving rain we have to push everything into a sheltered corner and throw over tarpaulins.

Other useful tasks accomplished were spreading grass seed over patches of earth created by building work.  Then I started to tackle a huge pile of sharp sand and gravel that the builder left behind. The blue Ikea bags are so useful for removing unwanted masonry. Hoisting it into the back of the van was a bit tricky, but I managed to get ten bags full to the local dump, where a helpful young Frenchman helped me decant it into the right place. I'll try & finish that task tomorrow. Philip is busy helping son number two with job applications so I am quite happy to do manual labour. I'm not much good at job applications.

Yoga was good, though I was a bit exhausted and kept wobbling when attempting the balancing postures. The class is given in a restored chapel next to a chateau. Stone walls and oak floors, mullioned windows and an array of Tibetan and Indian wall hangings and statues make it perfect setting. Sandrine gave a short recital with a didgeridoo at the end of the class, it stands in the corner of the chapel and we'd never heard it played. Interestingly, none of the French girls had heard of a didgeridoo, they were evidently brought up without Rolf Harris.

Back home and Etienne was out on his tractor in pitch darkness, ploughing the field next to us, in preparation for the winter wheat. He works so hard. I can still hear the noise of the tractor engine as he drags the plough up and down making neat furrows in the clay soil on the hillside opposite.

Philip had defrosted one of the butternut squash vegetarian curries for supper. Just forty two more butternut squashes to use up. They look quite decorative, arranged along the ledge running the length of the barn.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

New blog post

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:49
We hadn't prepared for the public holiday, the shops were all closed, so milk was strictly rationed today, for Philip's porridge and a limited number of cups of tea and coffee. Basking in the after glow of our strenuous day climbing a mountain yesterday, I felt no obligation to do anything useful. Friends dropped by for coffee (black), it rained a little, Philip was busy polyfilling around the new windows. I continued making and unmaking my five metre cushion for the bench on the terrace,the ends don't want meet in the right place, will persevere tomorrow. I might have to tack the seams in place first.
Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Suzanne Tomlinson, Tuesday, 1 Nov 2011, 19:36)
Share post

Mont du Lys

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:50

We climbed a mountain today, Philip is always happiest climbing mountains, I try and negotiate the ascent, more than a thousand metres I find a bit exhausting but he always lies or fails to mention there are a few ups and downs before we get to the peak. Today we started out from a car park beyond Luchon and headed up to the col de Pinata. It was so beautiful with the autumn colours, the first hour was walking up through a beech forest and the shades of yellow and orange this year are stunning. There was no one on our trail, everyone else turned off for Lac vert, which is where the sign posts encourage everyone to go, but really the ascent up to col Pinata and then the walk along the ridge is far more impressive. We had a picnic on Mont du Lys with 360 degree views across the Pyrenees. Philip always prepares the picnic, a fresh baguette sandwich, gentle encouragement to persuade me to spend a day in the mountains. We did have a few anxious moments, I think the route down the mountain is only used by livestock in the summer, and cows are not entirely rational in choosing their trajectory. It was a relief when we finally found the right path down, always more interesting than going up and down on the same way.

A bit of a panic when we got back, dogs and cars whizzing everywhere, the neighbours Dalmatian had escaped the garden, while in season, and had chased the unneutered Pyrenean mountain dog belonging to the other neighbour, The damage already done, and the vet is closed tomorrow as it is a public holiday in France.(All saints day, when all the cemeteries are a hive of activity and glorious colour as flowers are laid on every grave.) I didn't realise morning after pills existed for dogs. Rather sad, I find the thought of  Dalmatian cross Pyrenean mountain dog puppies quite intriguing.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

28th October

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:55

With the rain we have had over the last few days the lawn is changing from a dusty brown to a lush green and all the shrubs and trees that haven't yet lost their leaves are a beautiful array of autumnal colours. I love autumn. We drove to our nearest big town this morning to buy a few diy bits and pieces and the route took us along roads lined with plane trees, the leaves a glorious yellow, in fact you could look across the hills in the distance and pick out the yellow lines marking the roads. It will be such a tragedy if they all succumb to the disease that has hit the plane trees further south.

Our six kitten-cats have moved indoors and sleep most of the day, apart from the odd sortie to find a mouse. They started life as feral kittens and were meant to be outside cats, but now we have installed a cat door they have become rapidly domesticated. If we hear a cat coming in it we have to rush to check it is not carrying a live mouse as they tend to lose them under the sofas, the base of which are at mouse height and inaccessible to cats.

Our builder has just come by and dropped off seven metres of flue pipes, we have to paint them black before he installs them in the barn. The flues will go from the wood burner through the ceiling. It will be another small dwelling for relatives, or for us if we have another cold winter.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

27th October

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:56

We started closing in the pool today, which involves cleaning it and putting on the winter cover. So many small animals are mysteriously attracted to the pool and throw themselves in.  We regularly scoop out mice, hedgehogs, frogs, lizards etc, our predecessor once rescued a small deer. There was a thick layer of leaves on the bottom, they started falling early this year as it was such a dry summer. We spent a couple of hours of scooping and brushing the pool sides and throwing dead mice into the neighbouring field then rolled the cover on and fastened it down.

I tentatively prodded the cow manure on the vegetable patch, it is a huge fairly solid block, hopefully if we get a few heavy frosts it will become a bit more friable.

We treat ourselves to lunch out on Thursdays, regularly meeting up with another couple of expats, Kenyans, Cathy & David. This week we met at a restaurant in Samatan. They have a daily special, 13 euros with wine. Today it was homemade mushroom soup, then guineafowl on a bed of cabbage and lardons. Apple pie for pudding. A good time had by all, especially as it was Cathy's birthday, and she was treating us. We went back to their house to toast her birthday with champagne, though as driver I was only permitted a trickle. Back at Blanquette I have spent this afternoon trying to sort out Cathy's computer so she can watch bbc iplayer. I've just given up after several hours wasted.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

26th October

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:54
I am quite exhausted and will skip my yoga class as I have an aching back. Self inflicted, I have been hauling around septic tank risers. Like everyone else in rural France we have a septic tank, it is inspected annually by someone from the Bionest organisation. It failed its inspection this year as we, or rather the builder had buried all the inspection hatches and we had forgotten where they were. A couple of months ago we spent several days digging up the lawn at the back of the house and finally found them, so now we have decided to have the lids at ground level, the problem was sourcing the right size concrete blocks and lids. So I have been to-ing and fro-ing to the local builder’s yard and found a few bits and pieces that will do. The other major event of the day was the delivery of a load of cow manure. I’d asked Etienne a few days ago if he could spare some and this morning he pulled up at the gate with about 10 tonnes of it in a huge trailer. I think he likes to confuse me. I tentatively suggested in my best French that it might be too much for my 50 square metre vegetable garden, he thought that was hilarious, in fact it was for one of his fields, he arrived later with his JCB carrying a shovel full of fumeur and dropped it in the middle of the potagere...the spreading can be a job for Philip, cow manure is very sticky. Given that he spent today taking time off and climbing a mountain he’ll have to make up for it tomorrow! Another task which I have finally managed to do I was the washing & storing of the butternut squash. We gathered them all (forty seven!) last week. Now they are all in a neat line on a ledge in the barn protected from the frost. I will have to Google recipes. I am glad I have something to give to kind neighbours, they only seem to grow pumpkins and haven't seen butternut squash before. Then I tackled the cleaning of the new windows, I wondered why they were all covered in finger prints. Unfortunately it isn’t easily removable dirt, but hardened Tung oil, transferred from the oak frames, so I had to tackle the job with rubber gloves and white spirit. I gave up after window number three, just eleven to go.
Permalink Add your comment
Share post

New blog post

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:44
Well I have to keep going with this blog now I've started and we are all meant to be getting practice at this sort of thing. This morning was devoted to catching up with domestic tasks. In a 1800s wattle/ daub/ stone house, which is crumbling in places, it involves more than a whip round with the vacuum cleaner. The ancient oak floor boards need special treatment, an application of a   heated linseed oil & turpentine mixture. Always a bit scary with a pan of inflamable substances on the hob, timing is crucial. What I didn't realise is that the team of carpenters had yet to finish off all the windows, they arrived in the afternoon and tramped around with their dusty boots, so I might have to do it all again. Those chaps worked so hard, every window a diffferent size, so there was endless sanding to get the new double glazed windows to fit  into the old frames. Their task wasn't made any easier as half way through the afternoon we had an amazing hail storm, accompanied by lightning and peals of thunder. The farmers need the rainfall, so no one was complaining. I positioned the buckets carefully in the loft, not entirely sure why the new roof and velux window are leaking. While the carpenters were adjusting and sanding in every room I planted the remaining hedging plants and Philip pruned the roses..we both felt we should appear to be seriously industrious while the carpenters were working. We shook hands when they left, in fact here in France one greets the builder every day on arrival with a handshake, likewise when they go. We addded a British touch which confused them initially..a cup of tea/ coffee at intervals. They bring their own lunch and battery powered microwave, always eaten sat at a table. Nobody eats on the hoof here, it would be deemed very uncivilised.
Permalink Add your comment
Share post

Today

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Cathy Winsor, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 11:43

I have been given a blog. All I have to do is type into this box, that seems a lot easier than all those other means of blogging. So what do I write? I will start with today. That's easy, I don't have to express an opinion or be knowledgable about anything in particular. Today was in fact a full and busy day so filling this box won't be a problem. Having fed cats and myself Philip and I planned tasks as we stood in the kitchen as he stirred his porridge. A good day to do an outdoor task as the carpenter was inside putting in new windows. We'd bought fifteen new hedging plants yesterday, they just needed to fill a gap, the last 20m towards the gate. Philip would do the holes and I the planting. Whilst gathering tools in the garage Etienne came by, he'd been out hunting yesterday and had a spare gibier..which turned out to be a pheasant. and yes we would like one. I gave him a bag of butternut squashes, aubergines etc in return. In fact he also gave us lots of confiture, so my offering ddn't really match his, but we'll make it up somehow. He came over and advised on the position of the holes. Digging holes right next to the cypresses proved difficult and we did as he suggested and realigned them. I have three holes still to fill so will go back to the garden shop tomorrow. Monday closing is very annoying.

Soup for lunch, we ate inside as the carpenter was sitting at the table on the terrace. Then back to work. In fact I got a bit waylaid after lunch, There is always a mind bending killer sudoku on Mondays, so that was 2 hours wasted. compensated by doing a couple of unpleasant chores, emptying the kitchen compost bin into the outside one, a very smelly task as goo had accumulated in the kitchen bin. Philip meanwhile plucked the pheasant after googling the method. Glad he did that outside, it looked a bit messy. By that time we thought it a good idea idea to go for a walk to get out of the carpenters way. Once back the carpenter broke the news that a window would have to come out again as the sill was preventing the shutters closing. Lucky he discovered that before he left. The joy of double glazed windows, we will no longer feel the wind around the rotten frames or watch the rain dripping down the inside walls.

I have lit our first fire, with difficulty..I had forgotten which way the lever should go to allow an updraft, it was only after the third fire lighter I realised it was closed up.

Pheasant for supper. I am not sure if I would be able to distinguish it from chicken in a blind tasting but it was very nice, with chesnuts and mushrooms.

Off to clean up the kitchen before my second glass of wine. Philip has just told me he can't eat any more eggs as they cause prostrate cancer.

 

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Niall McAllister, Monday, 24 Oct 2011, 19:51)
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 7420