Monday, 31 March 2008

Tag -Here You Go

Gosh this is going to be a hard post today because I have been tagged for the first time and by my daughter Party of 5. I may have to have a word with her later :-) As I said, this is the first one I have had so here are the rules:

Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules.
Share six non-important habits/quirks about yourself.
Tag three other people.

So here goes, Ummmmm.........Errrrrrrr

1. This one is on both my daughters quirks as well because it seems to be a family thing. I have always said if I was rich I would have clean sheets every day, I just love them especially when they have been dried outside and the smell of the fresh air hits you as you snuggle down.

2. When I butter bread or toast, I HAVE to have the spread to the edges and it becomes quite an art. I hate dry bread, in fact, I'm not a great lover of bread at all, so when I do eat it, it has to be perfection.

3. I panic dreadfully when people are coming, the girls laugh at me because even though the house may not need dusting, hoovering, I will still do it again, toilets, sink, dusting, polishing, you name it, if it stands still long enough it will get a feather duster over it. The silly thing is, I know it doesn't really matter, because people should take you as you are. This leads well into the next one.

4. I have no self confidence at all and this stops me from doing so many things you just can't imagine. I won't drive anywhere I don't know because I panic of getting lost, does it matter? No.
I perhaps don't start a project because I don't think I can make it, could I? Probably. When I meet people, I stand back because I'm not happy with myself and I'm worried that they won't like me, who should care? Not me. I could go on but I won't, this one is a bit boring.

5. Again, if I had the money I would definately have fresh flowers in the house all the time. In fact I did in the UK, but over here in France I am very disappointed because cut flowers are so expensive.

6. I was struggling with this last one and I asked Richard and my youngest daughter and they have come up with one each so you have an extra one. Richard says I couldn't find my way out of a paper bag, which is true, my sense of direction is zilch. In fact when I am walking down a high street and turn into a shop, when I come out, I can't remember whether to turn left or right to carry on with the way I was originally going!! Clare says I make a mean pavlova and all the family parties we go to, that is my speciality.

Now to tag 3 people and I too am sorry to have to do this, but firstly it will be aims because her blog is just a gripping book about her life. Incredible. The second one is dnd, I just admire her so much with what she is doing and also, she is not very far from us in France and one day, we may just meet up with her and the third one is flossie teacakes, it was Florence who insisted I started this blogging lark and thanks to her I have found some wonderful friends in the blogging family. Sorry Florence because I know you have been tagged many times before.

There that is done, oh! I also won't go out without making my bed and I won't leave washing up, although Richard does that bless him. It sounds as though I am a house proud person, I'm certainly not that, I believe a house should be lived in, not a show home, just as well if you could see the way we are living over here at the moment.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Clear Up and Tidy Day

Because the weather hasn't been too good lately and we haven't been able to do some of the jobs we wanted, we decided today, because the sun was shining, we would do a lot of tidying up and putting away, so that when we could get down to the serious "stuff" we would have a clear space to do things. Neither of us are very tidy I'm afraid, but Richard is a bit of a nightmare bless him. We set too and Richard cleared one of the rooms that is now going to be used as a store room for things like tins of food, wine, bottles, kitchen roll, toilet rolls etc. We did use it before but the ceiling "fell" down when he was doing the floor above it, so now we have a lovely new ceiling and no dirt can fall in so we can start using it again. Brilliant as it will free up some of my drawer space in the kitchen where I have been keeping all the tinned food, so lots of sorting out to do, but that is the fun part where I can stack and put things in order. How sad am I??

While Richard was doing that I washed out an old herb garden that I had brought with me and decided to put it together and fill all the compartments ready for the herbs that I hope to buy in the market tomorrow. I had been given some garlic chives which were desperate to be planted as you will see from the photo, but hopefully they will soon take hold and look a bit healthier. I suppose you treat them just like normal chives and just snip off the greenery? (When they are standing straight that is :-) )While doing that, the rain started which was such a shame because it had been the most beautiful morning, very warm and we sat outside and had our lunch listening to the frogs and looking at the mountains who had their very pretty dresses on today, white shimmery with just a hint of silver.

A new english person has moved into the village and is living in a caravan in the middle of his field ready to build his house. Bless him, he couldn't have chosen a worse couple of weeks to do this because you are up to your knees in mud in the field and it is so cold, especially in a caravan with no heating or anything. Anyway, we have now met him and he seems very nice, so we invited him to dinner and if he wanted, a shower. My goodness, you have never seen anyone move so quick in your life, he came down from the shower positively glowing and couldn't thank us enough. Little did we know when we did this, HE IS A BUILDER!!! Thank you God, even if we can't afford to hire him, in exchange for meals and showers, he will give us advice and help us when he can't do his own.

We looked at the weather forecast and it looks as though we are still in for more rain, our pond is now full and beginning to overflow into the field at the back. Very strange though, because the frogs are very, very loud and there are so many of them, but I can't see any frog spawn. I even telephoned my mum and dad yesterday to let them hear the frogs and they couldn't believe the noise they made. It was good to do that because I like to give them a taste of what it is like here as they have never been and probably won't now because my mum doesn't like to travel, so the more I can share with them the better it is. Well....... I wonder what tomorrow will bring......

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Planning the visit home

I was wondering whether to post or not tonight because I didn't know what I had to say, but once you get going, all sorts of things come into your head don't they? Firstly I am very excited because I have been talking with my youngest daughter about some projects we are going to work on when I go over and visit. As I have said before, she has just started coming back into craft and she is learning to knit, and we are going to have a go at knitting one of the bags from the book she bought me for mother's day. We have been really busy talking to each other on the computer in the evenings, looking at ebay and seeing what wool is on there and she has even put some bids in, something that I have never done. Hopefully, when I get over there, she will have the wool and I will take the needles and we can have some quality crafting time together. With this we can include my mum, she will love that and it will be great for 3 generations to sit together crafting. Bliss.

With my eldest daughter, it will be hanging out with the children and having fun with them. I have missed them so much this time, I can't wait to give them cuddles again. I hope they remember me when I walk through the door, I would hate it if they didn't run to me, arms open wide, but I realise I will have to give them a bit of time. I will have to be busy looking around here because when I get back, my little grandson comes to me and looks at my handbag. "What have you got in there Nannie? Can I see? Is there anything for me?" It's adorable and I started it from the first time I went back to visit, because I had hidden a little dinky toy in there for him to find. The trouble is, now I have to find 3 small pressies for them all, not so easy, but a lot of fun.

We are still planning our room, but the weather has been so bad with wind and rain that we haven't been able to do much at all. Still, at least we can get the materials in so they are ready, but it would have been good to get the walls built and windows in, because the wind blows straight through. We found this date carved in the wall and it would be good if we can incorporate it in the inside of the room. I look at this piece of carving and you have to wonder who put it there, was it a young couple just starting out their married life on this farm, were they happy, oh if only these walls could talk, there must be so much history to be told. The house was very primitive and here we are planning putting in en-suite bathrooms and the like and still the house has a lovely homely friendly feel.

The birds here are very busy at the moment going around with pieces of twigs, feathers, fur etc in their beaks ready for their nests. We have the swallows, though they have slowed down a bit during this horrid weather, and we are watching a redstart which is building in the barn and also a black redstart. I had never seen, or even heard, of one of these until I came here. A flock of goldfinches were here today and of course, every tit, especially the bluetit and the great tit. We have put fat balls all around but a couple just outside the kitchen window and it is just wonderful to watch them. Not a very good photo because of taking it into the light, but you get the idea.
I am really surprised I haven't seen a hedgehog here, I always look when we come in if it's dark, but nothing so far. Fingers crossed though. Well.... I didn't have a lot to say and look what's happened. Thank you for dropping by, talk again another day.

Monday, 24 March 2008

More on the Living Fences

Thank you all of you for commenting on our Living Structure Day and asking more about it. I will try and be brief, but there is some brilliant information on this site. We prepared the site by putting down a weed suppressant (not a clue how to spell that), and then cut the outside "stays". These were thicker than the other ones and if I remember rightly they were planted 45cm apart. This was done by making a hole with a metal rod, and pushing them into the ground to about 30cm, then bashing the ground with a hammer to firm all the soil around them. Talk about easy planting!! This created the main shape, then we got thinner ones to plant in between, same method and we put 2 in the one hole between the bigger ones, and arranged them each way so as they crossed on the main uprights. You tied these where they crossed and then you had fun weaving them in and out. Perhaps if you clicked on the photo on yesterday's blog, you would get a closer look. Otherwise, the site I have said above, shows you some pictures. I just can't wait to see it when it has grown. It only takes a few weeks because willow takes almost immediately and it will start leafing very soon.

I thought I would also show you that I have finished my grandson's cardigan. I say finished, I just need to get some buttons to put on so I may need another trip to the wonderful shop I was taken to last Thursday. I know, I know, but someone has to do it. I have to say though that I'm not happy with the end result at all, seems rather a funny shape and not a good pattern to follow. Still, at least it's done. One UFO out of the way. (Unfinished Object) - I seem to have a lot of those. I have now found a jumper I started for myself at least 10 years ago!! Has anyone else got any of those or is it just me? I looked at the pattern and luckily it would still look OK today, whether or not I will be able to get into it is another thing!! Perhaps if I flatten my boobs a bit, suck in the stomach and walk as though I have piles, it might work. At least it will give me something to do in the evenings while listening to the radio.
Well I hope you all had a very happy and peaceful Easter, this was my first one without any of my family, so very strange, but hey! we did it. Talk to you all again soon.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Living Fences and Structure Day

We had a very interesting day today even though the weather was not so good. It just so happened it was perfect for what we were doing. We were on a day course on "Planting Living Fences and Structures". It had rained during the night and all day yesterday was dreadful and we thought today would have been called off, but no, "dress up warm in wet weather gear and get your buts over here", I seem to remember hearing. The wind was bitter cold but it had died down a bit by the time we got to our friends house, so after a coffee and introducing ourselves, we set off to check out the site. We prepared this and then went to cut the willow, they were wanting a bower so they could sit and survey their land. I can't believe how quickly it all came together and it was such fun to do. That's me with the pink wellies, and so many clothes on I could hardly move. Half way through building the structure it started raining, not hard so we carried on, we were on a roll now and could see it all coming together so quickly. With Richard being tall 6' 4" he was the one to hold the arches together while they were being tied. Once again the weather was very kind to us and it stopped raining, well, just drizzle, so we were determined to finish it. We had to keep going back and cutting the willow, all different sizes for the particular jobs they were doing, whether they were the outside structure or ones for weaving. Of course near to the end, the rain really set in, but would we stop, NO, we were determined to sit in this bower and drink our health and congratulate ourselves on a really good mornings work. So satisfying to see it grow so quickly and it was really quite straight forward to do, so we were all planning working parties at each other's houses to build whatever we required. We have a hot tub that hasn't been used for a very long time, so we would like a fence around it for a bit of privacy, and one of these living fences would be superb. You can't really see in this photo the shape of it because of the trees behind, but once it has leafed up, it will be really good. We were absolutely drenched by the time this last photo was taken so it was all back to the barn for a late lunch. We all take something to share and our host had made a wonderful soup, and in their barn they had a roaring log fire going, so it was soup, quiche and salad, cheese, cake, strawberries and cream. Wow, what a feast and superb company. All in all a very interesting day and one that we shall certainly put into practice at some point.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Happy Easter Everyone

I think this is going to be a short blog today because although we have been busy, we have been doing the same things so not a lot to tell you really. Planning for the upstairs is being done, looking at bathrooms etc. and deciding how big windows are going to be, so nothing terribly exciting. Richard going to pick up the windows tomorrow and then we start building walls and try to make the room weather-proof.

I had an afternoon off today and went out with one of my sewing group ladies who took me to a town not far away which she loves to visit because it has a shop that is like an Aladins's Cave in the way of anything to do with sewing. I walked into the shop and to be honest I wondered what all the fuss was about, but the further you walked in, the more it opened out and there was wool, tapestry, cross-stitch, threads, ribbons to die for, and then we came to a "wall of buttons". That is the only way I can describe it. Drawers and drawers of buttons, there were - cheap plastic not nice, and then........wooden, mother of pearl - all shapes sizes and wonderful colours, ceramic, glass, hand painted, pottery, silver, metal, brass. Would you believe we spent nearly 2 hours there oohing and aahing over these. We will certainly be going back there again and I was thinking of my daughter while I was in there because she loves buttons. A really good afternoon spent with a very nice person who I didn't know very well when we started out but I'm sure will become a good friend.

It is Good Friday tomorrow and one of the things I miss a lot over here is going to church. I just don't know where an Anglican church is around here, and yes I can go to the local church, but not speaking the language makes it difficult. I would like to know that we are welcome, so I think we are just going to take the bull by the horns and go sometime this weekend and see what reception we get. I wish you all a very Happy Easter. God bless.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Clarabellesprinkles home safe and sound

I am a happy bunny today because my youngest daughter is home safe and sound from her trip to California. I always worry while she is away, but that is the fun of being a parent isn't it?

We have had some busy days and after the floor laying it is planning and getting ready to fit windows and build up the walls. We were so lucky with our friend helping us, and Richard works so much better when he has someone with him. He hates working on his own and it's always good to chat things over, because people see things from a different perspective don't they? They work very well together and we are pleased because he has asked Richard to go over to their house tomorrow to do some plaster-boarding, so at least we can repay the favour.

The weather today has been fantastic again and this evening we planted 3 trees that have been given to us, one weeping willow which we have put fairly near the pond, a fig tree which was given to us from a neighbour in Tunbridge Wells and lastly a philadelphus which some friends here had given to us. We are hoping to go to a garden centre soon because, for our anniversary, we are going to buy ourselves some soft fruit. Not sure what yet, though I fancy some gooseberries and perhaps some raspberries. I have never grown anything like that before but can't wait to have a go. There is so much that needs to be done to this garden and we can only do a little at a time just keeping it under control, but we can only do our best. It is glorious seeing everything coming into bud and one of the fantastic things that happened today............ the swallows are back. I do hope they stay and nest again because we are doing so much in their "living space" we don't want to frighten them off. Mind you, if they can sleep in our bedroom with us, which they did last year, I'm sure they can put up with a bit of building work.

Friday, 14 March 2008

The floor is finished - YAY!

I have no idea where the time has gone since I last posted, but somehow, I've lost it. I have been reading other peoples postings, mainly because it is difficult to go through a day when I can't, too addictive, but just haven't got round to doing my own. We have been really busy and laying the floor to our "guest suite", how posh does that sound?? and Richard and our friend finished it today. They have done a wonderful job and it looks fantastic, so now we can start putting in the walls and windows etc and it will begin to look like a room. Then it will be planning the bathroom etc. All the time they have been laying the floor I have been having to paint the floorboards with woodworm "stuff" to stop them nibbling away at our new boards. Luckily the weather has been superb today, I even got a bit burned, so I was able to do this outside, otherwise I may have ended up high with the fumes. It got a bit frantic in the end I was having a job to keep up with their demand, so my poor little arm was having to go faster and faster. No matter, it's done. We think we are going to dry-line the walls because the originals are so bad, it's a shame not to keep them traditional but needs must. That way, we can hide the plumbing and electrics behind it. Not all the walls will be plaster board, and we have eaves and beams showing, so that should be good.

While I was clearing away all the tools etc and watering the plants I came across this stunning little tree frog and he was kind enough to stay still long enough for me to take a couple of photos. I took one close up because he is so beautiful and another one so you can see just how small he is. This is mainly for the benefit of my grandson, so enjoy little man, with love from nannie. I love you very much. xxxxx You will have to see if you can spot the frog near the pansies.

We take Marmalade back to the vet tomorrow to have her checked over, but I'm not sure she is a particularly happy cat at the moment. She desperately wants to be loved and she tries so hard, but then she gives you such a bite. I wonder what has happened to her before we came here, what a shame she can't talk, she must have so many stories she could tell. I often think that about animals. Talking of the vet, I was very proud of myself today when I telephoned them to make an appoinment. I much prefer to do this face to face because I can sign language, but that doesn't come over very well on the phone. Well I was doing OK until they asked what I was taking her for and I have no idea how to say "For a check up after her operation". So I stumbled a bit and spoke in english and we both gave up and he gave me the time for tomorrow and I'm not even sure I have that right. Ho hum, the sooner I go for these wretched french lessons the better, it is so frustrating.

Not sure whether or not I will post again tomorrow because it is our 39th wedding anniversary and we are going out in the evening to a St Patrick's night "DO". It is also the anniversary of the death of my father-in-law, so we will be drinking to absent friends as well. If he is watching us, as I'm sure he is, he will be having a knees up with us at the "DO". God bless you Pa, we miss you.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Hot Air and Sore Lips

We went for Sunday lunch with some friends and they are very musical, in fact P.. has a really good assortment of instruments. Guitars, flute, recorders, drums, keyboard, piano and various percussion instruments. Well.......... we had just finished our lunch, I have to say it took 5 hours, and we started talking about music, something I have always been interested in. They got me playing the recorder which I used to play at school, and I said I had always wanted to play the saxaphone. Wow, he, nipped out of the room and came back with.........yeah! a saxaphone. Was I in for a shock!!! I was rather naive because I thought it was a wind instrument, not a reed. It was hilarious, just trying to get a note out of the damn thing is something else, a lot of the time it just sounded as though I "passing wind" and other times was a dreadful screech!

I was not going to be beaten though and P.. was very supportive and encouraging so I kept trying and eventually I managed to find a note. In the end I found quite a few and even managed a scale, but I certainly need to know the technique of how to hold my mouth and where to put the pressure. I was trying to feel the vibration on my lower lip but I had to give up after a little while because my top lip was really sore and my cheeks had got cramp. I will try again another day though and I am very lucky P.. will let me play it. I will keep going until I can play the beginning of Baker Street.
The weather here has been really horrid for the last couple of days but Richard has been working on preparing the floor, ready for laying a new one on Wednesday when our friend is coming round to help him. Gosh, it will be so good to have a floor we can walk on, that means we will be able to work on that room much easier and get some windows in, well, and walls actually!
For my girls who hopefully will read this post, we will get it ready for you as soon as we can, but it could be a bit drafty in the summer if we can't fill in all the holes!!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Cooking with Confit

It's a long time since I blogged, but somehow I just couldn't get round to it. I have had rather a sore back for a couple of weeks now and no matter how many times you tell yourself that there are a lot of people worse off than you, it doesn't seem to help. When I am unwell all I want to do is go home, then I remember I am home. Very strange but I suppose I will get used to it.

Today we went for a "Cooking with Confit" day and it was really interesting. We cooked 4 traditional french meals from around this region, they were Potee de Gascogne, also known as Garbure. This is basically a cabbage soup with dried beans, carrots, turnips, garlic, onion, belly pork, pepper, potatoes confit duck legs or any other part of the duck that you have had the chance to confit. Basically a fantastic soup best taken with a red Madiran or Cahors wine. Then it was Cassoulet, a rich bean and meat stew that is so filling it is really a meal in itself. This can be made in large batches and put in kilner jars and steralised and put down, just like the confit of duck. Another french fast food, so when the farmers come in from the fields, there is instant meal for them, rich nourishing and very tasty. This meal can take literally a day to cook and prepare with the soaking of the beans etc, and after this one, our teacher showed us the way to do a quick cassoulet. Then it was Confit with petits pois and ending with Confit aux Cepes. A very good day and we all learned a lot. We all had to bring something along for the bring and share lunch and today I made a cut and come again cake, a family favourite of ours and it seemed to go down well.
It was a lovely day again and after we had finished the cooking part, we went for a guided walk around the grounds to show us what could be picked from hedgerows and fields to make salads etc. I would love to have the knowledge of foraging, and once picked have the nerve to eat it. There is so much "free" food out there and how lovely for the children and grandchildren to go out into the garden and lanes and pick and eat your lunch. Sadly it doesn't happen much any more does it? I did learn about a few more plants today though which is good. While we were walking round the garden the donkeys came to say hello and I was going to take a photo of them, but as you can see, he became just a little too nosey in what I was doing!!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The Wanderer Returns

Well Marmalade finally decided to come home, though it took her a long time, she finally arrived back at 8am the next morning. She certainly gave us a worrying time, though she seems OK. As I write this, she is curled up on the sofa so obviously feeling quite settled again and has forgiven us for taking her to the vet! When she came home yesterday, she had something to eat so at least she has had her medication, but she still didn't want to stay indoors, much as I tried, so, with it being a lovely warm day, I put her box and little bed outside in the sunshine and she settled there. Phew!! After a friend spoke to the vet, the prognosis isn't great, this is going to be a recurring problem and it may not be worth operating again, so we shall enjoy her while we have her. The last operation she had was just over a year ago, so we have a while yet.

Richard has been getting on really well with the mud walling and is now ready to put mud on top of the bricks. Not able to do it today though because we are having very strong gales, hail, snow and rain. Very bizarre because it was shorts and t-shirt weather yesterday. The sound of the wind as I write this is very scarey. I really don't like the wind, the cold is OK, quite normal for this time of year, but the wind does so much damage. The "bricks" you see here are the mud bricks that were in the fireplace, huge things, but good we can re-use them to be traditional. We then "mud" over them, so you don't see the bricks at all. He has done very well for a first time.

Strange having this weather today because it is usually, red sky at night, shepherd's delight. This was the sky last night. Well we will see what tomorrow brings........
I have been looking through my 25 bags to knit book and I have written a list of wools that I need, they are all Rowan wools, so expensive of course, I will have to look out for some, perhaps on ebay or in the sales. Do Rowan ever have cheap wool, probably not. Ho hum.....

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Happy Mother's Day

A very happy mother's day to all you mums out there, and especially to my wonderful mum, the best in the world. Very difficult not being able to see her on this special day and even more so not being able to see my girls, but I had my little "stash" waiting for me. Like a child I opened them up and of course, I had to take some photos. I had a lovely book which has some fantastic patterns in and I knew I was getting that and I also had a packet of felt so I can do all sorts of "crafty" things. Well Clare called me and while we were chatting she asked me if I had looked at the book and I said I hadn't because I had seen it at a friends house, which is why I wanted it. Well she was quiet so I knew I then had to go and look, so hot-footed to pick up the book. What a treat! She had obviously taken some time to look through and marked various pages...... There was ... so cute and I like this one, I could put lots of "stuff" in this one, and various other little ditties. All I need to do now is get a stash of wool, something which I don't have. Plenty of fabric, but no wool. While I was talking to Clare I was standing by the pond in the garden and was thrilled to bits to see a newt, the first one I have seen since we have been here.

Vicki called me while I was having a cup of tea in bed this morning, early for us but even earlier for her, that's what comes of having 3 children, a wonderful boy of 3 and beautiful girl identical twins of 1.

My boy came on and wished me happy mother's day as well and it is just glorious talking to him on the phone because sometimes he will chat away and then you know he has handed the phone back to mummy because it's "your turn now mummy". The girls try and talk to me and "natter" away and I am told they wave to me all the time. If there was a screen on the phone, the girls would see that nannie is waving to them as well. The things we do........

After speaking with my girls I then called my mum and had a long chat with her. She is fine but I wish I could be with her today. I was telling her about my book and we were giggling about all the little stickers that were in there.
Our cat Marmalade had an operation yesterday because she had a couple of tumours on her teats, and when we carried her outside this morning so she could go to the loo, I just went back indoors to make sure her bed was OK and she vanished and we haven't seen her again today. I expect she has found somewhere to hide because she is probably hurting, but I wish she would come home because she needs food and medication, not forgetting tlc. We have looked everywhere but with no luck and it is dark now and quite late so she won't be coming back tonight. The trouble is she is a little bit wild because she lived here while the house was empty for quite a few years, we inherited her when we bought this house, but one side of her really wants to be cuddled by a human and she is getting better, but obviously needs her own space. I hope she will be alright, but I think it's going to be a long night. I do hope she will come back tomorrow.
Thank you for dropping by and I will talk to you all again soon.