Thursday, 11 November 2010

I should go away more often!

Well it is really good to be back home. It's great to go to England to see my mum, sisters and their families, and of course Thomas my son, but it is exhausting trying to fit everything in.

It starts as soon as we get off the boat. Traffic, endless streams of it. Going where - who knows? Even at 11 o'clock at night the motorways are still full. Cars and lorries travelling at breakneck speed, going where? On travelling up to the Lakes we decided Windermere must be full, it was. But not with all the lorries we had been following.

Anyway, it's good to be back (just wish the weather would cheer up again).

Whilst I was away, however, OH was really busy. He'd arranged a painter and decorator to finish the painting downstairs rooms. So now the hallway up to our bedroom is done, and the mirror the girls bought us is up. The massive window wall in the dining/kitchen has been painted a beautiful fig colour - and it looks great, not at all dark like it did in the hallway when I tried it. The sitting room is now an off-white/yellowy colour with a lovely clean white ceiling.

I still have the guest side to do, I could be doing that now, but's bank holiday here today, so perhaps next week. OH's family are coming for a few days over christmas so I'll really have to get the bedrooms done.

We have even put the pictures up in the newly decorated rooms, and are fetching the curtains tomorrow. I bet they'll be up by Saturday night.

Oh, and the water-but (which I bought in July) has been installed and we're saving loads of water now all the summer plants and veggies have died! But it all goes to help water the sheep.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Happy Hols.

Would put bonne vacances, or is it bon vacances? I'm sure someone will put me right.

Depart this morning for the UK, but can't sleep anymore, so instead of tossing and turning thought I'd do a quick blog. Am picking LD up at 9.00 a.m.ish and going with the satnav up to Dunkirk. It was a worry last week with the diesel situation, but I managed to fill both the van (for OH while I'm away) and the car up last week.

It's good going with Laura as she is very easy company, and she looks after the music en route. As we go through Paris, though, I don't think we'll have Tina blasting her tonsils. I need concentration music, if any at all.

I hope that when we get to the port the weather is not too bad, no wind. I'm not a good sailor, in fact I could get sick on a lake! Anyway, we'll have a meal and a small glass of something to soothe the tummy, and then set off for Leicester once we get on the other side. Mum has already got the whisky ready!

And tomorrow? We're off to the Lakes for 2 days to see Thomas.

Did I say bonne vacances? These trips back somehow don't seem like a holiday. See you all when I get back.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Brocanting we will go.

When we sold our last farm and I had the task of packing up all the kids bedrooms etc. I was amazed at all the stuff (yes, ok - junk) we had collected. It seemed such a waste to chuck it all away in the dustbin or take it to the "decheterrie" (our re-cycling centres). So, two large packing boxes later, I had the start of my "vide greniers" - car booty. LD insisted she didn't have much junk, it was "memorabilia" she said, and took it off to her dad's (so he now has more junk). Note, these two large packing boxes are just from their bedrooms. The rest of the house harboured much more.

I have only done 1 other car boot sale, when we were in England, before the move to France. Pride of my car boot sale - my wedding dress! Gasps of horror? Don't forget those were the days before e-bay and all the other on-line auctions, have since divorced him who the wedding dress was worn for, and the damn thing didn't sell anyway and went to the local jumble sale!

So in early September this year I loaded up the trusty Berlingo, borrowed a pasting-table and some boards and stands, organised LD and set off for my first "vide grenier" in France. I never slept a wink the night before, worrying about what time I should get up and get there, and also about seasoned bargain hunters that accosted you as soon as the van doors were open - if not before. I shouldn't have worried. I got there about 7.30 a.m. and was placed next to and opposite other Brits (LD was not arriving until 9.00 a.m. so I was pleased to have some moral support). The seasoned bargain hunters must have clocked the van as soon as they saw it - and left me alone!

LD (Laura) arrived and organised me and the tables. I always say I would rather work with her, than for her. She then went off to get some breakfast - I'm not that domesticated that I do sandwiches or the like at 7.00 in the morning. The van had been loaded the day before so I just had to get up, have a cuppa and go.

The day went very well, only for LD telling me how much that item that I sold for 2 euros would be worth in the shops. It was hot and sunny, thank goodness I had the forsight to pick up a bottle of sun cream on my way out, and we actually did quite well, saw loads of people we knew and met other car-booters who will no doubt be there with us next year.

We also had some laughs - one (old bat) French lady was quibbling about a large-numbered telephone, went away, we sold it, she came back to find it gone - then when she went to leave the event her car wouldn't start as she'd left the lights on! I know you shouldn't laugh, but wouldn't you? The photo shows LD with some of our booty.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Auction fever

We have a new "attraction" in our local village. It's an English-style auction house - or shed. They do house-clearances, and anyone with something to sell can put in through the auction. I entered an outside streetlight style thing with a matching wall light. It got to 70 euros!!! Would have been chuffed with 20! But at the time of blogging still waiting for the cheque.

You meet all sorts of bargain-hunters, English and French. It's a pity the "Essex" man who does the auction can't speak French. The lowest you can bid is 2 euros, so it's not that out of the way. At the first auction I went to I saw a lovely blue pot that would adorn my new dresser, it was lumped in with other bits of pottery.

Auction day - I duly went and got my registration number, saw other would-be bargain hunters and took my seat. A quite nice mirror went through, with another one to follow. "Where can I put a freestanding pine mirror?" thought I, and got the next lot, a freestanding pine mirror, for 3 euros! That is now in a guest bedroom on top of the pine chest of drawers, as if it were part of a set!

A silver-coloured photograph frame and clock came next. Now LD had bought us one for Christmas one year, I put a photo of OH and I on our wedding day in and it was great. "LD needs a clock" thought I. Snapped it up for 2 euros.

My blue pot came along. No-one was interested (except moi). Another massive 2 euros!!

Well chuffed with my purchases, I paid, collected my purchases and went home (after the lamps got 70 euros). On getting home I showed OH what I had bought, and justified them all. Well, girls, you know what it's like. Short of saying "couldn't afford not to buy them" he was quite happy.

I then inspected the pottery I bought for 2 euros - the blue Stilton pot that I actually wanted, a soap dish with a cracked lid, two naff teapots, wait for it ...... two Wedgewood egg cups and two Royal Worcester trinket dishes! All, but the teapots, are now proudly displayed in our house and have their own tale to tell.

The teapots have now gone into "stock" as I am also bitten by the Brocant bug. This is out of necessity as my eldest daughter is getting married next year and I have promised to buy her flowers and wedding cake. The dress is already hanging upstairs (waiting for her to slim into it). It's amazing what you can get just selling "things". I still have boxes waiting to be unpacked, so don't think I need to buy too much stock yet. Anyway, can't sit here blogging. Have to prepare the "stock" for the next brocante/vide grenier. Wish me luck!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Back by popular demand!!!

Yes, someone actually reads my blogs, and asked to be reminded of my site (their old computer had lost my previous ones). Now that I have actually done a new layout, which was confusing in itself, and have a follower, I will be doing more. So watch this space.

The title of my blog now seems to be somewhat misleading though, now that we have retired. If it didn't cause too many problems I would do a new title, Farming-frenchstyle Retired, perhaps. I think I'll sidestep those problems and leave it as it is.

This week, however, I have actually done some farming. Well, I've driven the tractor and wormed 100+sheep, so surely that equates to farming. Doesn't it?

OH is busy fencing (again), so that we can put our fields into hay production next summer, and keep some control over the animals. Talking of which, we had another "bonding" session with our neighbours again. Even though the river on the limit of our land is fenced on our side, with the river actually being dry again and said neighbours having no fence (??) on their side, one of our tups and some of his women jumped our fence and went visiting the neighbouring ewe-lambs! The French neighbours are very good about it all, but short of slapping a saddle on the tup and waiting for the river to fill up, which means rain, rain, rain, am not really sure what more we can do. Our fence stops the cows (all 2 of them) and the horses, but not this Grand National tup. Encasing him in the freezer seems to be a good idea. Must ask the Chambre d'Agriculture what the rule is on fencing rivers. So, I've had a proper farming week.

Yes, we are still waiting for the rain. The ground has been as brown and as flat as our dining room table this summer. However, the memory of last winter's snow has not been erased. Let's hope we don't have snow like that again. Looking at the BBC weather forecast there seem to be swathes of rain over France, but it all goes over England, or perhaps the north of France. I'm sure when it does start it will forget to stop again.

Have booked my annual week to England for the last week in October with Laura again. I enjoy the week when she is with me as she is such easy company. Just keep feeding her and she's ok. She has already asked my mum to book the local Deli Belly for Sunday lunch while we're there, they do a buffet-style come again lunch, and we certainly take advantage. Let's hope we don't come back with Deli-belly!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Summertime blues

Well summer has come and nearly gone again. Since my last blog - April (I really must try harder) we have had visits from my family, been hit by the ash cloud, had more kittens, chicks and pea chicks and both daughters have moved house.

My niece called in to see us on her way back to England from a winter job in the mountains. On her way to us she was vicitim of a French rail strike, and had to go right up to Paris to come back down to Limoges, but she made it. She was very grateful to be taken to the Chinese restaurant not far from Limoges station. As she tucked in I thought "blimey, she can eat for a little 'un."

She and my girls got together during the week and had a good time, Louise saying "can't you stay over the weekend?". She was supposed to return to the UK on the Friday. Enter ashcloud. Louise got her wish and a good time was had by all, with plans to fly back on Monday. Ash cloud remains, so flight plans on hold until Thursday. By now I was thinking "what on earth can we do now with my niece?" Both girls were working, but plans had been made for the following weekend. Wednesday - cancelled flight for Thursday had been "uncancelled". All arrangements made for the Wednesday night were rapidly re-jigged (we were going out and niece was to be entertained by Laura). Anyway, Thursday morning arrived, the girls arrived back at ours at 7.45, and we left for the airport at 8.00 a.m. My niece was last seen getting on Ryanair flight after her extended holiday with us, with promises to come back again!

My mum came back in July for her second visit this year, and again loved it. The weather was great, we had some lovely meals out and an impromptu picnic at home! We had arranged to go to the races with a load of friends on 14th July, but the day was horrid, so we got everyone to come to us with their picnics. A great day was had by all.

Again, we have got kittens and chicks a-plenty. Sadly with dogs about their numbers are soon reduced. Laura chose two kittens for when she moved house, but the mother took them all hunting and some have never come back. We now have a kitten in the utility room that is bound for Laura's new home, the mother cat is doing a great job in keeping all the dogs outside.

The peahen hatched 3 peachicks, but the fox has been responsible for 1 so we are now down to 2 - a male and female I think.

We are deperately wanting some rain. Everywhere round here is brown, and we will soon have to start feeding the sheep. Hopefully they will be ok until we get back from La Rochelle next Monday. We are treating ourselves to a mini-holiday to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversay, so Laura is (again) farmsitting.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I should've kept my mouth shut!

Following my last blog it has rained, and it has rained! But - we did need it. So now the grass is looking slightly better, the spring flowers are looking lovely, and the weeds are racing on!

I have also sold the last of the pea-chicks. They were both bought by a very nice French family last weekend, after being advertised on a French small ads site. I did get quite a bit of interest, but most people were wanting pea-hens, I only had peacocks. Let's hope she hatches more females next time.

Why is it when I get time to sit and do a blog my mind goes completely blank? When I'm out and about I mentally prepare a blog that, to me, sounds quite witty and entertaining, only to be gone when the computer is in front of me. If I dry up next time, I'll fall back on "name that silly tune".

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Just when you think it's getting warmer..

At last the snow and cold have gone. We've even had some nice warm days, and have been heard to say that we could do with some rain! So this weekend it's gone a bit colder again, but we have some much needed rain. You can almost see the grass freshening up - I am reluctant to say growing because as quick as it grows the sheep eat it. The spring flowers are now starting to appear in the hedgerows, and the birds are singing away. We have got one of those (annoying) clocks that have birdsong at each hour, so having identified all the birds on it, I can also identify some of the birds as I hear them.

However, said clock is a little confusing as since the clocks changed in the autumn and I put it back an hour, the clock has been 6 hours out with the birdsong. We now get the cuckoo at 12.00, and the owl at 6.00 o'clock, and it's a nightmare trying to work the others out in between. Let's hope when the clock is put forward tonight it right's itself.

Lambing is all but finished, though we have had two more born this week. Those born earlier have all gone out and are eating their creep-feed well. The sheep are still having to be fed concentrates as they are short of grass - nice gentle warm rain is still needed. So our work load is much better now, we even had time to go to the Sunday market at Poitiers last week.

OH is doing great with the fencing, especially along the river. Hopefully there will be no repeat of last summer's escapes across the river over to the neighbour's lush fields. I do have to say though, the neighbours were very understanding - especially as there was no fence on their side either.

My mum has been over to see our new place. It was the first time she'd been to see us for two years. Luckily during that time she hasn't lost her knack with the washing line, cooker cleaning or pet lamb feeding! She enjoyed her stay so much - I wont say holiday as she never stops when she is here - she is coming back when the weather is better. She was a bit dumbstruck when she saw the house, but in no time at all she was finding her way around, and finding where everything lived. She just has to go and see my sister in her new house now.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

You can never tell with sheep

This snowy cold weather plays havoc with the sheep, as it does with all of us. As we are short of barn space for them, we are bringing ewes in as they lamb. Not ideal, but the best we can do in the circumstances. We were feeding outside the other day and we spotted one that was definitely doing death kicks, so along with another that was thin, they were duly caught and taken inside. The thin one was given a dose of wormer and as I had the wormer handy gave the "death-kick" lamb some, expecting it to be dead next time we looked.

Ilater asked OH if "that lamb has died yet", to which he replied "no, it's running around like a good'un!". As I said, you can never tell with sheep (the thin one is also still alive).

Friday, 5 February 2010

Is there no peace?

Just as the builders finish - there are 2 days work to do when the weather is better, visitors start arriving. Frist of all OH's cousin comes. They are trying to kid me that he is here for 6 months. Please, please let it be a joke. Then at the end of Feb my mum is coming for 2 weeks. At lease with said cousin here I've already started on the "mucking out" of the house - even though it is newly renovated, it still gets filthy. An industrial vacuum cleaning is needed, not the piddling domestic things you can only get in the supermarket, or shares in hoover bags.

OH gave in and hoovered up the other day, jammed the hoover and then decided it was time for a new one. Just a new bag was all that it needed. And his new Domestic God status stopped at hoovering, there was no putting out the washing or cooking. I suppose you just have to accept what help is given, look on the bright side and get on with strawing up the sheep.

So before mum arrives there is painting, garden tidying and a thousand and one other jobs to do, as well as the daily sheep chores. Perhaps if the weather improves I can do the sheep chores this week, and then start on the others. But if cousin is here for 6 months, he could give OH a hand with the hoovering!

Sunday, 31 January 2010

A bit of peace and quiet

Even thought the computer is now in the office and not in the kitchen/sitting room/dining room (they were all one), p&q is still difficult to find. However, OH has gone off on a social morning (or to collect the bread), and there are no builders here. Even though it's Sunday they did threaten to come and finish our job, which has taken so long due to the naf weather we have had here in France. It snowed again all day yesterday. Again and again I ask OH "will we ever get warm again?".

I really should be doing some cleaning, or even decorating, as we have OH's cousin arriving this week. He arrives Wednesday, but has not given us a departure date. Should I be worried, I ask myself. The frightening thing is he is wandering around the UK, visiting his kids for about 5 months, hopefully the 5 months will be nearly at an end. Anyway, as we have bright warm sun today at least the bedding is on the washing line.

Lambing is well underway, with only a few bottlefed lambs. We seem to have had a spate of old, infirm ewes lambing - those lambs are definitely bottle-fodder. One poor little thing, named Arfa (as she is only half a lamb size), has a broken leg, which Laura and I splinted up with ice-lolly sticks. She is doing well, holding her own and "sticking it out".

This year we have had to clear out the barns of workshop stuff and furniture, the weather has been too bad to leave the lambs outside. Consequently, the controlled incoming of furniture and boxes that still need unpacking did not materialise, and there are boxes and furniture everywhere. Once the builders and snow have gone I will have more enthusiasm to get on with the painting, unpacking and sorting out rooms (she says). The trouble is, the garden will need attention then. Ah well, better get on and have something to see for my morning.