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13th January

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We had a French lesson this morning, there was a new pupil there who put us all to shame, she’d done her homework beautifully and had even cut pictures out of magazines to illustrate the 2 minute talk in French which we each had to give; she did a good one on the yeti. I did mine on that Australian girl who survived a swim in the Zambezi through rapids with her ankles tied together after her bungee cord snapped.

We took younger son out for lunch to a local restaurant, it wasn’t the best meal we have had there; perhaps they have a new chef. We are always looking for simple ingredients cooked to perfection. This meal had a strange use of rosewater and an overly imaginative take on chocolate mousse which is usually my favourite pudding. We went back home for a quick cup of tea then off in the van to collect logs. Our neighbours had sourced firewood from an English couple who had chopped up two huge oak trees the year before, so it was fairly well seasoned. It was amazing to see how this young couple and their newborn baby lived on so little. She told us they had bought a crumbling barn wall with a few hectares six years ago, and built their house from concrete blocks with straw insulation, her husband’s sole income is doing odd jobs, often in exchange for building materials. They had left holes in the wall the right size to take readymade wood framed double glazed windows which are so much cheaper than the made to measure ones we installed. There were highland cattle, sheep and pigs grazing on pasture next to their home.

We loaded up the van with logs, until it looked as if the suspension couldn’t cope with any more and drove home. I have just stacked them. Stacking logs is a bit like doing a jig saw puzzle. The edges of the pile are all important; the logs have to be laid in layers at ninety degrees to the one below to make it stable enough to pile up the logs in between. It looks so pretty when finished, neatly stacked against the garage wail. We’ll go and collect some more later.

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