Friday, 29 February 2008

Ducks and Parcels

I may not have written a blog for a couple of days, but I am always popping in to people's lives to see what is going on. It is just delightful to envisage people, now becoming invisible friends, going about their day to day business and especially going on to the crafter blogs and seeing what they are creating. A favourite of mine is flossie teacakes, and from her blog, you get such inspiration from the links on her blog. I wish I had more time for my crafting, but I expect the time will come. My eldest daughter Party of 5 has really got into the swing of it as well and has made some good blogging friends. She is having a really bad time with illnesses and has been in and out of casualty with the children and her husband, so it is good for her to write it down and get things off her chest. You realise then, when you get lovely comments, that you aren't the only one having a bad time and in actual fact, things could be a lot worse, so you feel better. Puts a good light on things and gets life back into perspective. I was very lucky to receive an envelope in the post from her, all ready for Mother's Day. It's hard being away from the girls, but it's lovely to know they have remembered. I have my little stash all ready to open on Sunday.

Yesterday we were really pleased with ourselves because we made our first confit of duck. It is France's answer to fast food and it is delicious, so we thought we would have a go. It was a brilliant day and we now have our first store of ready made meals. We were doing this at a friends house because we haven't got all the equipment yet and while we were waiting for various stages to be ready we were outside and they have been given this wonderful "thing" to hang in a tree and it is an optical illusion because as it goes round, it looks as though the ball is going either up or down when in fact it isn't moving at all. Anyway, when I got close up and looked up at it in the tree, you could see the whole tree through the glass ball. Just beautiful. Not sure you can see it very well in this photo, but perhaps if you click on the photo to see it larger, you will see what I mean.

Today was wonderful because the "Postie" arrived with a parcel. Oooh lovely! Addressed to me! Don't you just love receiving parcels. Well I thought I knew what this was, but there were a couple of surprises in there as well. This was from my daughter clarabellesprinkles and I ripped open the brown wrapping to reveal, 1) a book, her favourite, P.S I love you, so I can't wait to read that, 2) a packet of yeast to make our bread, 3) a book I had ordered, but as a surprise it is all wrapped up as a gift for Mother's Day, and 4) Not a clue!!! I have prodded and poked but I really cannot guess what it is. Also a card for Sunday. How lucky am I? Have a wonderful weekend everyone and a blessed Mother's Day to all, especially to my mum, whom I love very much and in fact I have just spoken to her on the phone.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The birds and the bees

Once more the weather here has been very warm and we were getting a little concerned about a problem we have in our detached barn. When we moved here it was left with an awful lot of "stuff" in there and we needed to try and clear it out. Last year we thought we would make a start with the help of a very kind neighbour. Funny really because Richard and Henri get on really well together and "chat" away and Richard doesn't speak a word of french and Henri doesn't speak english, but they are really good friends. The arms are waving and making all sorts of signs and shapes and that seems to work. Well we thought we would start at the back of the barn which was the worst, but unfortunately there was an old mattress there and when it was moved, the boys came running out rather sharpish, followed by hundreds of bees. Once things had calmed down, the bees that is, they settled quite quickly and didn't seem very aggresive, but what should we do, we obviously didn't want to kill bees. We made a few phone calls to various bee keepers but no-one was interested, so what happens? The bees get a lovely detached barn all to themselves, view of the mountains through open windows, well actually, the wall has fallen down so no windows, and freedom to come and go as they please. One of the doors has fallen off!! Anyway, I digress, on Friday, another friend came round to help because we needed to get it done before the bees come back. Do they come back? No idea. They pulled the old mattress out and there was a bale of wood shavings on it and that is where the bees nest was. It was HUGE, perfect compartments and lots and lots of honey combs which had now all dried up. I wish I had known they were there last year, though how I would have got to them I have no idea. Perhaps we should get a hive? Anyone out there got one and knows about these things? Oh well, we managed to clear the back of the barn, found a massive cart wheel, about 4 feet in diameter, metal rim with wooden spokes and hub. Superb. Anyway, that was about the best thing we pulled out of there; how is it you hear of people finding "treasures" in their barns, old cars, bikes, pictures etc. Not us, a bees nest and a cart wheel. Ho hum....

Because of the weather, all the birds, frogs, insects etc are very friendly with each other at the moment, how do these big black bees fly around one on top of the other, you think they would crash wouldn't you? Then you see these little red beetles with black spots, not ladybirds I know them, I think they call them gendarmes here, well the one in front seems to walk along, pulling the male behind her. No changes in the insect world there then!! And then, every time you look around, there are these wonderful little lizards and let's face it, they should all still be asleep, at least for a few more weeks. The blossoms are coming out, the mimosa smells divine, so what will happen when spring really comes, do they hop back for a little while, then all jump out again shouting "surprise"!! I hope you can see the lizard in the photo, he was hiding pretty well and I couldn't get too close otherwise he would have vanished. They are about 4" nose to tail, so really very small. I love them, but then I love newts in the pond as well and they are very similar. I just wish I could catch one, but they are too quick.
Well I suppose that is enough of me rabbiting on, I seem to have spouted a lot of rubbish tonight, sorry for that, but you know what it's like, once the old fingers get going it's a job to stop them.
Take care everyone and pop by and read me another day. A bientot.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

The Fruits of our Labours

It seems ages since I last posted but in fact it's only a couple of days, and the only reason I didn't last night is because we were invited to some good friends for dinner which was delicious. They are the friends who have the magnolias which I took a photo of the other day.
Today Richard has been doing really well and getting a good start on the room above the barn attached to the house. He has now taken up all the old rotten floorboards ready for the delivery of the timber and we can lay a new floor. Once the floor is down it will make things so much easier and we will be able to get windows and walls in place. Oh it sounds so easy and straight forward when written down but in reality....... I can't wait for this room to be finished because at least we will have somewhere to put our guests, but the pressure is on and we can almost hear the pitter patter of our grandchildren's feet which of course is the reason we are doing this anyway.

While Richard was slaving away there I cut back the grape vines on the house. I am not used to doing this job but as I was brandishing my pruning gear and snipping and cutting I was remembering what people had said to me when I asked if it was time to do this. They said yes do it now because the sap is "up there". I had no idea what they meant by that until I snipped the first bit off. It was just as though the vine was crying.......water, sap or whatever it is, was dripping from the vine where I had cut and not just a bit either, a lot, I was getting quite wet. I hadn't seen this before but was assured that it was supposed to happen. I find it difficult to get my head around the fact that I have just cut them back to within an inch of their lives and yet in September, there will be all the fruit we can eat. We have a white grape on the left and a black on the right and they are delicious. I have taken a photo of how they look now I have had a go at them and I will try and find a photo of what they looked like last year with their fruit. There is quite a lot involved with the looking after of grape vines, and there seems to be an awful lot of snipping and cutting because in the summer when the vine has made a lot of leaves, you have to cut a lot of these away to let the sun get at the grapes, but leave enough so they have some shade as well. Like I say, quite incredible, because it looks dead now, yet somewhere lurking there is this life form forcing it's way out.

I tried to be a bit clever this evening, because we had been working quite hard, we decided to have a glass of wine sitting outside to catch the last of the sun again, it was about 5.30 and it was still very warm. Well I saw the sun going down through my wine glass and thought....what a lovely picture that would make. I tried and it didn't really work but you get the idea. I may have to another drink tomorrow night to see if I can manage it properly next time.........

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

One step forward, three steps back

I was hoping I could have taken a photo of the finished project of the filled baskets on the old cart today, but if you remember, I did make mention of my wonderful husband being known (lovingly) as a bull in a china shop, Well............. he thought he would make the cart more stable so he changed the stays keeping it up. Uh oh!!!! yep, it happened, an hour later and the whole thing collapsed, baskets, which had been made heavy so as not to move by placing very large stones in the bottom, upside down with the pansies somewhere underneath. I could have cried. We were just going out so we had to rescue the pansies, digging them out of the compost, and leaving them there until we came back. We got home early evening and it was the task of re-planting, but somehow they don't look as good. Perhaps because some of the flower heads had vanished so there didn't look as many. Give it a few days and I will try and take a photo again! I certainly didn't have the heart to take a photo of them all tipped out on the floor.

Today we were invited to a friend's house to see a couple of their magnolias which had come out, albeit early and they are fantastic. The cream one smells of lemons and they both look as though they are made of wax. So beautiful. We had a cup of tea with them and I took some rock cakes with us, a recipe of my mums, so I have a standard to live up to. I hope I did. A very pleasant couple of hours were passed with good friends, in a very beautiful garden

Our mimosa is looking really good now and still has quite a few flowers to come out, and the smell that fills the garden is amazing. I only wish I could send the "real" thing and the smell to my daughter who is feeling really unwell at the moment with a horrid cold and a very sore throat. She is going away with work at the weekend so hopefully she will be feeling better soon. Love you clarabellesprinkles.

Being here in the south-west of France, at certain times of year duck is really inexpensive and we bought some yesterday and we are going to have a go at making confit of duck. This should be quite an experience and I may take some photos later on to let you know how we have got on. I never thought I would do anything like this, but coming to live here you have to embrace the whole experience and try to live the same way as the locals. Some things we don't agree with and I'm certainly not going to go into any of those, but as they say "When in Rome...."

Monday, 18 February 2008

Eating alfresco, knitting and becoming chimney sweeps!!

Various things have been happening over the last couple of days, firstly we had a lovely day on Sunday with hubby's sisters visiting for lunch. It was the most glorious day again and we decided to have our lunch outside which is such a bonus. It's difficult to remember that it is only February. It was good to catch up with his eldest sister who we don't see very often even when we were all in the UK. She is always very busy with work, so she was here having a few days to relax and catch her breath a bit. In the evening I had a session of knitting, I have to say I have been making this cardigan for my grandson for ages so if my daughter should see this photo she will laugh because it will probably fit one of the girls by now. Anyway, I hate it when it gets to this stage because the knitting part is OK, but I always seem to spoil it by the sewing up and picking up the stitches for the collar etc. I find this really hard, but, needs must. I will probably feel very chuffed when it is finished.

Today, after we had been to the market to buy our fruit and veg and of course some more pansies and polyanthus we came home and waited for a friend to come round with some rods so we could have a go at cleaning our chimney. The fire hasn't been drawing at all so we thought we had a blockage. Did we?? Oh my goodness I have never seen so much "stuff" in my life and I was going to take some photos but we were so busy, hubby and friend shoving the brush up, and me running outside to shout when it came out of the top! The only good thing is, that with it being a stainless steel chimney pipe going from the log fire up the existing chimney, it was a type of klinker (is that how you spell that?) coming down, so although a lot, not too dusty. We now know we have to do it quite often because the build up was in quite a short time. Funny how we always find things out the hard way......

After that was done, I carried on with planting my baskets and Richard came to help me at one stage. Well, he has been known to be called a "Bull in a china shop" because he is rather heavy handed, this was proved again to be true when I asked him to just pass me a pansy and take it out of the pot so I could plant it. How do these things happen, suddenly there was this beautiful little face looking at me from the floor where it had "somehow" come adrift from its body. Although being a bit miffed, I brought it indoors and just look what I have on my dining table now. There is very often good comes out of bad isn't there? I also couldn't resist another photo of these lovely little friendly flowers. The end result in all its glory will have to wait until they are a little more established.
Well tonight it is back in the lounge with the fire alight, so more comfortable, and you never know, perhaps the fairies will come in while I'm asleep and sew up my knitting for me.........

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Baskets of little smiling faces

How long can this weather go on for, it is so warm and we are in spring/summer clothes, although we have very hard frosts in the mornings. Having said that, the farmers are desperate for rain because the ground is so hard and dry and the crops that were sewn have been eaten by the birds and done nothing. We don't mind obviously, but I suppose we will pay for it later on. We spent the day over at hubby's sister's house yesterday because his eldest sister was over from the UK for 5 days. We had a fantastic walk but in the evening the sunset was superb. I tried to take a photo, but I certainly need to improve on this front, I was trying to get the red sun with the outline of the trees in front of it. I know what it's supposed to look like anyway. There is something very special about a lovely sunset isn't there, it gives you warm and fuzzies.

Today I carried on with the preparing of the baskets ready for them to be planted out. I did find out that I didn't have enough pansies so I need to go to market on Monday and buy some more. I have taken a couple of photos to show what I have done so far. I think they are going to look very pretty when they are finished. They have such beautiful faces don't they, they are always smiling. You just can't be sad when you look at a pansy. Over here when you buy plants, whether it be summer bedding or anything, you can only buy them when they are in flower, they don't buy them like we do in the UK as small plants, not knowing what colour they are going to be, only by reading the plant labels. They believe in having an instant garden, so different to what I am used to. A really good productive day with the added bonus of a couple of friends dropping by for a cuppa in the afternoon, and then hubby and I sat having a drink watching the sun go down. Ho hum.................... Talk again soon.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

One giant step for mankind - well me anyway

Today has been another "tick" in the To Do list for me because I drove myself to a restaurant for lunch with the girls from the sewing group. I know you will probably laugh by my saying that, but my girls know how big a deal that is. I don't drive at all in the UK anymore and I have only driven over here with my hubby beside me, so with backup. He is so good to me because whenever I want to go anywhere he always takes me and picks me up, but I have to do it sometime and today was the day. It was fine, I drove for about 20 minutes and didn't actually see another car on the road until I got to the village where the restaurant was, so although I was saying to myself, stay on the right, I didn't need to. Anyway, over here, they all drive in the middle!!! We had a lovely lunch and I got back feeling very pleased with myself. As it says in the heading of this post - One giant step for me.

When I got back home I decided to get some baskets out that we had found in the barn, (they look as though the previous owners used to take their chickens to market in them), and have a go at putting some preservative on them because I think they may look quite nice with some plants in. I bought some pansies from the market on Monday, would you believe 12 pansies for €5 which is about £3.50, and he threw an extra one in for good measure. I took a photo of the before and after and I have 3 of these and we know there are more in the roof of another barn. I hope they look OK, and we found this bit of machinery which looks like a turntable for an old carriage, so I was going to put the baskets on there when they are all planted up. I will take a photo of that when it happens, see what you think. We have found all sorts of things so it will be good to put them to good use. We still have the big detached barn to sort through yet so it will be interesting to see what is in there. We tried to do it last summer but came across a bees nest in an old mattress so had to stop. We called a couple of bee keepers to see if they were interested in collecting the bees, but no luck and we didn't like to kill them, so they had a lovely home for the summer. Thinking about it, we need to get rid of that mattress quickly or the little darlings will be back again.

We have spent a lot of time watching all the birds, they are so busy at the moment and we are now putting out 4 fat balls a day on average, and there are a couple of collared doves that are building in the palm tree quite close to the house so that will be interesting. Also the frogs are beginning to make a noise, not terribly loud yet, but they are on their way............

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

This is when it's tough

You probably think I am going to say it's tough doing the renovating, but nothing as simple. I can do things about that, but there are some things that are really difficult to deal with when I am here. There are two things so far this week, both completely different but hurt in the same way really. Firstly my eldest daughter called to say that she had been in the hospital for the night with my beautiful grandson who had a really bad bout of croup and at 1.30am was having great difficulty in breathing so she had to take him to A & E. He was treated and is now OK and at home, but oh how it hurts not being there to give him a cuddle. The silly thing is, if we were still living in Henley, we wouldn't be there to give him a cuddle anyway and I know he is fine now, but............

The second thing is my youngest daughter is learning to sew and knit as I have said before and she emailed me a photo of her first square of knitting. It is brilliant and I just want to be there to touch and feel it and see her enjoying "making things" like I have done for quite a few years now. We could do things together and have fun, but now, not until the holidays. Having said that, she does work, so realistically, I couldn't be there for a lot of the time anyway. I suppose it is a challenge not being "there on the spot" like I have been before, but it is good that they call me and let me know what is happening and keeping me involved in all the events whether good or bad. I love them very much and miss them, that is the tough bit, but I certainly don't feel like this every day, this was just a hiccup, we are going to have them.

As I said, that is the "tough" bit, the easy bit is being outside this afternoon in the garden, in our t-shirts enjoying our dream, albeit working hard, still stacking all this wretched wood - nearly there! After all, we have to get this place up and running so I can have all my family over to visit this year, then I can cuddle all my grandchildren as much as I like and see them running around in the huge garden, picking figs, peaches, apples and pears, and I can knit and sew with Clare for as long as she wants me to. Now that is what I call perfect.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Another Day of Fun in the sun

I didn't think I would post anything today, but how can you let a day go by without having fun. As you know both my girls have blogs and my youngest daughter has just posted hers clarabellesprinkles and it is brilliant. She has been with my mum today, learning to knit, and use a sewing machine. What fun they must have had, I know my mum enjoyed it because I have spoken to her. She is 88 this year and hasn't wanted to do much for a little while, so this has really cheered her up and she said she was so thrilled to be able to teach something to one of her grandchildren. She really does hope that Clare will go round again because she loves getting all the "stuff" ready for Clare to be able to take home and start her stash. I got my mum into quilting when she was 80 and she is very good and has made some beautiful quilts, so perhaps this will just get her interest back and give her an incentive.

My other daughter Party of 5 has a really good blog as well, but she isn't into crafts at all, well not yet because of the children keeping her busy, so if there is anyone out there who writes about family life and wonders - is there anything out there other than nappies and clearing up toys, perhaps you would pop across to her blog and say hello. That way, you can keep each other sane.

Today, Richard and I were out in the garden all day, still clearing up and stacking and storing wood. I was allowed to play with my new toy today....... Why should the men have all the fun, boys and their toys. Well, no more, this lady wants to play!! While we were slaving away I noticed the Marmalade looking exhausted too. As you can see, she is really stressed with having these English people come to live in her house.

We were very lucky today because our french neighbour called me over and said she had been cooking and gave us some quiche for our lunch. It was soooo good. Who said the french aren't friendly, we have found them so welcoming here, we are so lucky with this village. We can't speak the language, though we try, yet they always stop to say hi, sorry, no, bonjour.

After lunch Richard finished making his rustic log store, attached to the back of the barn, so tomorrow is the last of the stacking of the wood. It will be brilliant to see the back of that job, our backs are rather sore. Are we made to be doing this at our age I wonder?? Hell no. We just have to take a day off every now and then, we have learned this the hard way, with bad backs etc, and to be honest, it's not too bad to sit and look at the scenery from time to time. What do they say, take time to stop and smell the flowers, well our mimosa is nearly out and I can't wait to smell that. I will have to take a photo when it comes out. Oh such much to do.....

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Who would have thought?

I just can't believe the things we are doing at the moment. Just 4 years ago, whoever would have thought that we would have gone shopping in Spain? Before we moved here, I hadn't even been to Spain, we never went abroad on holiday when we had the children, we couldn't afford it, but we had some fabulous camping holidays. Wonderful times to remember. Yet, yesterday, we went to Spain for a spot of shopping! We are only just over an hour away from the border, so an hour and a half and we were there, unbelievable. We went with some friends of ours and once we had done the shopping it was time for our picnic. We headed off into the mountains and we found a lovely spot in a village quite high up and we parked by the church where it has picnic tables. Just wonderful, the weather was amazing, and my friend and I actually stripped down to camisole vest it was that warm. Just as well there weren't many people about, not a pretty sight. I took a photo of the colour of the sky and the skyline. As you can see there isn't much snow on the top of those mountains which is quite bizarre for this time of year. Climate change is everywhere. If my son-in-law sees this photo, he will cringe because I obviously didn't think of the pole there on the right hand side. Sorry Kenny. This is where it would be nice to have a really good camera that had a decent tele-photo lense or am I making excuses for not being very good at taking pictures?

Today we have been out in the garden for most of the day trying to get rid of a load of wood that was delivered for the fire. It all needed sorting and chopping up, then stacking away in the barn. It had been in the meadow for a little while, so it looks so much better now that the "stack under the tarpaulin" has gone. Richard had been down to the local stables and picked up a trailer load of horse manure, so guess whose job that was? Yep, me! I spread a load on the vegetable patch and hopefully it will rot down quickly. We have never grown vegetables before so we have made a very small raised bed and will have a go this year. Just trying to prepare the patch first. Haven't a clue what we are doing, but unless we try we won't know. While doing that, I couldn't resist taking a photo of the little crocus, I just love this time of year when Mother Nature is waking up and beginning to stretch her arms and pushing all the bulbs and buds out for an airing. My neighbour here said that she didn't like it so warm in February because it was going to make for a wet and cold March and April. We have been told that April is the worst month, so we will have to wait and see.

Tomorrow it is back into the garden and clearing the remnants of the wood pile and another bonfire to clear the rubbish. The warm weather is supposed to carry on until about Thursday so we will make the most of it while we can. Tonight while we were watching the bonfire, we made ourselves a drink (as you do) and just couldn't believe we were out there at 5.30pm in our t-shirts watching the sun drop down behind the mountains. By the way, the mountains had put on pink pyjamas tonight and looked very fetching.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

My daughter says "Don't Panic it'll be fine" It was.

Today I had a few women, who are the sewing group I belong to, come to my house for the first time. Well, if you could have seen me this morning, hoovering, dusting, moving furniture, cleaning toilets etc just for the 2 hours they were going to be here, how stupid is that?? Are we all the same or is it just me?? It was made worse of course because we are renovating our old farmhouse, but then, they have all done that so they know exactly what it is like. We shut a few doors and said, we won't let them in there. Yes, you've guessed it, they arrived and said, "Oh what a lovely house, will you show us round and tell us what you intend to do with it?" All the doors were opened, all the cobwebs from the attics pushed to one side, the holes in the stairs were avoided and it was fine. They loved it, and of course, because they have all done it, or some are still renovating, they have good ideas, so why did I worry? I have no idea, but one thing I do know, I will be exactly the same next time they come around. In all the fuss though, I forgot to take any photos of what they were making, so that will have to be next time.

While we were out yesterday, we were driving down a road and I had to do a double take looking into someones garden. You know when you think you see something and are not quite sure. Well, I asked Richard to stop and turn around so I could have another look. Quite amazing. There must have been about a quarter of an acre of snowdrops. I have the pictures here, but of course, it is nothing compared to seeing them in real life. I don't think I have ever seen so many in one place. It's funny because while we have been here, I really haven't seen many bulbs at all, not like in the UK where we all love our daffodils, tulips, snowdrops and crocus, so it was a real thrill to see these. To get these photos, I had to creep half way down the drive and this was just a few of them, there were carpets of them all nodding their little heads in the sunshine. Not sure what I would have done if someone had come to ask what I was doing. Not speaking the language, I feel a little vulnerable. You can just hear them can't you, "'Allo 'allo, what 'ave we 'ere then ?" I have 6 snowdrops out in my garden at the moment, I wonder how long it will take for them to multiply like these?

We are off to Spain tomorrow to do a bit of shopping. Nothing fancy and exciting but we will look at tiles while we are there for the kitchen, and we want some spices for making paella and I suppose we had better look at wine while we are there. Well someone has to do it!!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Micen or Denby

I do realise that isn't the correct spelling but just a play on words. Richard and I were looking at various bits and pieces we still have in store and went into our barn and thought we had better check the Denby dinner service we have there. We opened up the large laundry basket and saw that all the newspaper was eaten so here was a job that we hadn't intended for today!! It was the most glorious sunny day, we were in t-shirts so we brought out washing up bowls and started washing all the denby. It is incredible how these mice make their nests, they are so perfectly round, I took a photo but it doesn't show it up very well. All the paper is chewed up and inside the cup it looks like a birds nest. We didn't find any mice, though we were ready because we knew they would make us jump if one ran out. It would be just our luck to have transported the dinner set all this way without harm and then drop it because a mouse runs out of a teapot.

I was also unpacking some of my fabrics that were in store and I have brought them inside, so hopefully they won't smell "musty". My daughter who has started a blog clarabellesprinkles has decided it is time for her to start craft work again and I have found some fabulous fabric for her. I need to make up a parcel and send it over to the UK, but I only wish I was there when she unwraps it. It's just lovely having presents for no reason isn't it, it could be a flower, a poem, a hug or a smile, anything and it just gives you warm and fuzzies.

My other daughter has now started a blog Party of 5 and it is a brilliant way for me to feel close to them. I love being here in France, but there is no doubt that family and friends are very important to me and I miss them a lot, so every little helps.

At the moment, Marmalade is in her usual place, in her little bed on the sofa, next to Richard, I look over and the cat is gently snoring and Richard's head looks as though it may drop off if it falls forward with any more force. Isn't that just horrible when you are dropping off and your head jolts forward. You have to laugh though, he does look funny. Bless him.

Monday, 4 February 2008

On Your Bike

When we arrived here in France we said we would try and look around the area by riding our bikes from time to time. Well we bought a couple of mountain bikes and to be honest, I have NEVER sat on anything so uncomfortable in my life. I found the damn thing so difficult to ride and the saddle..............need I say any more?? Anyway when we moved here I had brought my comfortable bike over with us but it has been in storage for a long time and the gears wouldn't work properly, I could get 1st and 3rd but no 2nd. Do you remember the type, 3-speed with a basket on the front. Wonderful. One of our friends here used to own a bike shop in the UK so I asked if there was any chance he could look at my bike for me, so he came round at lunchtime and sorted it out. He has even said that later on he will service it for me, and in return for this today, he went home happy with a rice pudding. Oh bliss, my little bike. The only downside is that I am going to have to go for bike rides now and there are a few hills round about here.
I think I said the other day that firstly I thought I had lost all my bulbs because the mice had eaten them, then I said I had found some pushing their little heads through, but today, the miniature iris are waving hello to everyone in all their glory. It only takes a few days sunshine doesn't it to make all the difference. Yesterday the weather was glorious again and in the morning the Pyrenees were being really "girlie" because they just didn't know what clothes to wear. Firstly the sun and they were in sparkly white, then a bit of a shadow and they decided to wear pinky purple, then it clouded over and they put their grey clothes on. Fascinating to watch. Anyway, back to my bulbs, I am finding more and more every day and not in places that I remember planting them.
I love this blogging, isn't it fun reading everyone's blogs, they are all so interesting, it makes me sound very boring. I have our local sewing group meeting at our house this Thursday so I will try and remember to take some "crafty" photos to show you what people are making.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Sew Addictive

One of the things I miss most while living over here in France is having the time, space and dust-free work surface for my sewing. I haven't even had my machine out while I've been here, but recently I joined a sewing group which enables me to indulge in my hobby and I can sew, knit, craft one afternoon a week. Don't get me wrong, I could do more, but with the renovations of the house, we really don't have the time and I have to pack everything away each time I finish to keep it all clean. At the moment I am working on a quilt made up of 24 blocks 14" square so at least I have something small enough to work on and it is all done by hand. Well the blocks are, they will be put together by machine - that is if they ever get that far!! I finished a block this week and I will show you. They are based on celtic knot designs and I just love doing them. I have done 4 designs so far so you see I have quite a way to go yet. Oh if only there was more time in the day to do things like this, and why is it, if you "sneak" some time to "play" you feel guilty. It will be better in the summer because the evenings will be lighter, much better to sew in than artificial lights.

When we bought this house we inherited a cat, ginger and white and we named her Marmalade. We couldn't do much with her for quite a while, but now she is getting used to us and in fact she loves being brushed, but only in the places she likes. I can't get near her back legs or under her tummy.'s a start. She has always lived outside as far as we can make out, but like I said, she is liking us being here as you can see.... We still get the telling off from her when we stroke her too hard, the odd nip with the teeth and bat with the paw, claws out of course, but she is getting better....we keep telling ourselves. We can't complain because we don't know how old she is or what she has been through, and after all, she lived in the house on her own long before we arrived so we are her guests, and don't we know it.
Another glorious afternoon and the hen harrier was back. I looked at the book again and just by the way she moves we think that is what it is, but a female, not pale enough to be the male.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Spring is on its way

The mountains had certainly come out to play this morning and were all white and sparkling in the sunshine. It just makes it so much easier to get up doesn't it when the weather is good? Richard had to be out early this morning to move our little 1935 Austin 10 out of a neighbour's barn because they were having the electricians in, so it was fingers crossed as to whether she would start. Bless her, she did. We can't wait to get her fully insured over here in France, then we can go for some runs out for picnics, (in between mud walling and flooring of course). Her name is Dorothy and here she is.

I was clearing round the base of the trees today and I had to stop because I found out I was disturbing all these beautiful bright green tree frogs. I suppose they were hibernating and I had no idea they were there. Poor little things didn't know what had happened. Having said that, it was a great way to see them close up. I did take a photo but it was very blurred and I deleted it, so I may have to go and disturb one tomorrow, just for a photo!! While I was out in the garden, I found a lot of my bulbs, snowdrops, crocus, miniature iris, daffodils and tulips. I thought these had been eaten by mice, so I was thrilled to bits to see them. Spring is on its way.
With it being the 1st February today, we took the HUGE step of putting the french plates on the car. How strange it looks to see our car with these on, very alien.
Richard has almost finished the stairs going up into the barn attic, just the finishing touches today making it all secure. This of course is a photo of the underside, but I still think they look very good for a first attempt. Bravo Richard and Ian. They look very steep in the picture, but they aren't really, a bit like our stairs in the UK, so nothing too daunting for the old knees!
I was going to tell you about the quilt block I have just finished sewing, but I think this will have to be another day as I have a few piccies to show you.
Gosh, it's nearly time for the Archers. I know, I know, sad, but remember we don't have a television. Talk again soon. Thank you for coming to visit.