Saturday, 13 March 2010

May/June 2009 Part 24

15 May 2009
After spending the week tidying up after the storm, today was a day ‘off work’. It was cold and I lit the fire to warm up. Erica popped it to see how I was doing and how much damage there had been. They were lucky as they were on the edge of the storm and had not had any hail at all. I went up yesterday with a small gift for Jean, one of our neighbours who was celebrating his 70th birthday today – tomorrow was the party. I felt very lucky and honoured to have been invited, as it was mainly family and a few very close friends.

16 May 2009

I went into Chasseneuil in the morning (another picture of the wood carvings) and then continued on to Erica and Brian to collect the seedlings which Brian had put aside for me. I got back to find that David had been looking for me, as they were today moving the last load of belongings to their newly-completed new house. I think I mentioned the move in an earlier blog, but to update, they were now going to be living a 10 minute walk down the road. Not so convenient for me, but I am sure they are going to be happy in their new house.

At lunch time, I made my way over to Jean’s party, with no idea how the rest of the day was going to develop, never having been to a private party in France before. We started off with cold meats and melon, which were followed by prawns. Not forgetting, of course, the white wine which went with it. We then went on to so-tender spit roasted lamb, which was served with beans. A choice of red or white wine was offered with this. Salad, then a cheese course and a delicious pudding followed. It took about 3 hours to slowly make our way through everything and digest and we then relaxed with a choice of pastis, whisky or cognac, served with coffee. Somehow the remainder of the afternoon just disappeared, with me trying to follow the conversation as best I could and practicing the few words I know to say my piece. Suddenly, it was then time for dinner, a smaller meal this time with a starter, more lamb as the main course and this was again followed by cheese. Need I add there was plenty more wine on the table and I finally walked (or tottered) home at 23h30.

17 May 2009
Hmmmm I almost forgot to wake up today!! I did eventually surface though and managed to get enough energy together to plant out the new seedlings. I took several hours writing a thank you letter in French to show my appreciation of the wonderful party yesterday.

18 – 26 May 2009
Nigel had not been feeling so well so he had planned a trip to our friends in the north of France for the following weekend. A trip out of the UK always helps to cheer one up! As for me, I managed to get a reasonable price flight to the UK for Tuesday 26th so I could go over for nine days to give him a break from the daily household chores. When he has to work full time, being house keeper and chef as well is not so easy. Roll on retirement so we can both be permanently in France.

The tiler came around to measure up and give us a quote to repair the roof and put on a waterproof liner, the same as he had done previously when he renewed the barn roof. This would then mean we had a good roof over our heads from one end of the house to the other. It was also a good excuse to sit down and have an aperitif, as by now we had also become good friends and not simply artisan and client.

Chasseneuil market on the 22nd was a good reason to spoil myself, so I bought myself half a dozen oysters to have for lunch. They are so cheap in France and I just love them. I also bought a pair of white flat shoes for the incredible price of €5 and a mat for inside the verandah door, as the last one was completely ruined in the storm. I cut the grass and the edges ready for my 9 days away and I made sure the potatoes and tomatoes were sprayed for blight as I did not want to return to a second disaster in the vegetable garden.

I flew from Angouleme on the 26th and then caught the coach to Oxford where Nigel met me late afternoon.

4 -14 June 2009

I arrived back in Angouleme where my faithful car was still parked waiting for me. I stopped at Leclerc supermarket on the way home, to stock up on the few things that I cannot grow in the garden. We have not yet got our own supply of milk, butter and eggs, or for that matter cider, pastis, wine, whisky or cognac! No, I am not turning into an alcoholic, but the French do enjoy their aperitifs. While shopping I saw one of our other neighbours and he told me it had been very wet and cool while I had been away.

David popped round in the evening to ask me if I could pick up one of his children for them tomorrow from school. What a pleasure; I am more than happy to do something to help as they have done so much for me.

I was expecting friends from South Africa to visit on the 15th June, so I decided that I must really do a final ‘storm clear up’ before they arrived. I washed the ceilings in the hall bathroom and toilet with bleach; where it had been so damp, with little heat to dry it out, I was getting a good growth of mildew. I lifted all the wall paper in the toilet as the lower wall was still very damp and treated the wall with special anti-humidity paint. Between times, as the weather allowed, I cut the grass, weeded and tidied up the garden. We then had a couple of days of sun, so while the going was good, I finished off the wall in the toilet and repainted where necessary. I also repainted the ceilings with two coats of paint to cover all the stains.

On the 8th we had quite a bad storm and some hail, but it was short lived and thankfully did not cause a problem. I had a busy evening, firstly with David popping in for a drink, and just as he was leaving, so Jean arrived for an aperitif. After they had left, I was just talking to Nigel on the phone when the tiler arrived with his quote for the roof, so yet another aperitif was the order of the day!

Meanwhile the garden plants were growing well and I had so many courgettes either ready, or about to be ready in the garden, that I was thinking up different recipes to alternate my meals. As the aubergines were also almost ready and the peppers as well, it meant I could soon cook up and freeze ratatouille. I the mean time I was enjoying courgette, sorrel and chard quiches. David came in one evening just as I took a quiche out of the oven and I asked him if he would like a piece (he hates chard!). He decided that chard cooked that way really was not so bad, and I could make him a quiche anytime!

On the 11th friends from the UK phoned me and said they were in the area driving back home and would I be in for lunch. Of course I said yes and they arrived to tell me that they had bought a house a bit further south from us as a holiday home and they were looking forward to September when everything would be finalised and they could start some work on the place.

The weather had warmed up quite a bit (±33°C) and it looked like my visitors from South Africa would have some decent weather. With the warmer weather I had fitted in a few cycle rides and discovered that my fitness had certainly taken a knock with my lack of exercise during the wet cool weather we had been experiencing.

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