Over The winter we discovered that our builder had gone bankrupt, luckily we were pretty much up to date with work and payments. Just before this happened he had given us a quote to do the roof and Nigel had put it off as he thought it was too high. Thankfully we had not paid him up front to go ahead and do this for us!! The clay and rocks had not been cleared so we still had a garden that to say the least of it was a mess. We had discussed this with our neighbour David via email and he said he would see what plans he could make to get it cleared.
1 April 2007
The drive to France was pretty uneventful apart from strong winds and occasional rainstorms. We arrived to a warmish house, as David had thoughtfully turned up the heating for us. Part of our new fence had been blown over by the gales, so much for the extra posts the builder put in, but David had temporarily fixed that as well!! We're very lucky to have such a good neighbour. The house emerged from the winter fairly unscathed, with only 1 minor roof leak in the barn that we could find, and very little dust! David had also removed all the rocks from the garden and taken them off in his trailer to the nearest dump. He had also arranged (with Nigel’s blessing) for top soil to be delivered so we could hopefully replant the grass and get a lawn that looked reasonable.
2 April 2007
22°C but very windy again, not too bad a temperature for April though. It was a shopping and settling in day, so the real work was planned for tomorrow. We did at least get our bikes put together which we had brought over on this trip so we can start cycling when the wind settles a bit!
3 April 2007
Nothing went smoothly today, eight truck loads of top soil were delivered and the only way the trucks could get in was to take down our new fence!!! It was due for repair because of the panel which had blown down in the wind but now the repair has grown seriously in size. Nigel had been sanding the ceiling in the kitchen in between trucks arriving so he had a sore back and aching arms. I had the easier job of doing some washing, which got caught on the line in a shower of rain! The other job I had was to go to the bank and get some money so we could pay for the soil etc. also to buy a pipe to put in the ground so we could put up our whirly clothes line. David came over after work and with his chain saw sawed up the dead tree which up to that moment held up the old clothes line so the whirly one (ex S.A.) was now a necessity.
4 April 2007
The guy who delivered the top soil came in with a grader and spread the top soil for us so we could go ahead and think about planting the grass.
We went to visit Brian and Erica for a coffee (very cold wind). Nigel spent the afternoon finishing rubbing down the ceiling, more aching arms (and dust everywhere!). I spent the afternoon going around the edge of what will become our vegetable garden - aching back - and I clobbered my hand with the hammer putting in the corner posts! The guy who delivered the soil dumped all the top soil for the vegetable garden on the spot exactly where we need to dig, this means we need to move it all so we can get to the grass cover to dig it out!!!!! Not very bright but what is done is done.
5 April 2007
Nigel washed the entire kitchen ceiling down with sugar soap (more aching arms yet again). I tried to clear a forsythia shrub that was being strangled to death with ivy. In the afternoon we went into Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure to buy some new fence posts and to stock up with food for Easter. They don't appear to have a holiday here on Friday, only Monday but I did not want to take any chances.
We also ended up buying a garden table and chairs which for the moment will also have to do for the dining room. We really want an old French table from the antique shops but with the present expense sorting out the garden and some more cupboards to be put into the kitchen the coffers are a little low!! The table and chairs we want will have to wait.
In the afternoon Nigel and David tried to break up a concrete block to take to the dump, it was too large to lift. It was part of where the original posts had been concreted in and we needed to start afresh. It was seriously hard and needed a lot of work done to it but in the process Nigel managed to hit his hand not once but three times!! I think he may be glad to return home and leave me to it at this rate!!
6 April 2007
This morning I cycled to get some fresh bread from the local boulangerie. As I have done almost no cycling over the past 18 months and I found it pretty tough but..... Going there was a piece of cake all slightly down hill, coming home was another story. Nothing really steep but enough to tell my legs they were doing some work! It was only 15 kms; don't think I am ready for another End to End at the moment!! (I cycled from Landends to John O Groats for charity with a friend in 2004 covering 1569.61 kilometers.) Nigel finally broke up the concrete today and this afternoon David and Nigel took it off to the dump with a whole lot of other rubbish in David's trailer. Thank goodness we have such a helpful and willing neighbour. This morning we had a delivery of heating oil, 1000 litres which has doubled in price since the last delivery in 2003. I don't think it has been used for the last few winters because the house was empty. I must say this year the whole place smells much sweeter simply because David has kept it running on minimum and the smell of damp is now non existent. Nigel has also helped me working on the vegetable garden so I can get the rhubarb planted A.S.A.P.
ot much else to report at this stage. The fire is burning well in the evenings. The days are very hot and the evenings although warming up are still cool. Nevertheless the fire looks so good we light it anyway. It looks from the weather report we are in for a very hot and sunny spell, this could be a problem now as we want to plant grass!
The whirly clothes line is now up (thanks to Nigel) and the washing was done this morning. Nigel hung it all up while I struggled home with the bread!!
7 April 2007
Nigel dug and dug today trying to get ‘my’ veggie patch ready for planting. It was hard work with the top soil being moved, the turf dug out and then the top soil being returned. We also needed to buy some manure, and I would hopefully soon be eating home grown veg for the next few months. The rhubarb root we brought from Auntie Renee is growing well in its plastic bag so that will be first in the ground. The top soil for the grass which was spread had gone very hard, no rain and sun beating down! David arrived after lunch with the grass seed he had got for us and he was not impressed. He went off to collect a hand rotovator from his mother and spent the next couple of hours rotovating! Once again I wonder what we would do without David. Meanwhile I carted off many wheelbarrow loads of weeds and grass that Nigel had removed from the vegetable garden, to what has become a ‘bank’ in the corner of our property. There was a small bank there before which I suspect was builder’s rubble that had, over the years grown grass through it. It has now grown in size!! Supper was quite late and although I had not realised it was a first, I gave Nigel snails which he had never eaten before. A new French experience for him! Lucky for me he eats anything so he is very easy to feed. He did say that he would not rush back to have snails again but he eat what was put in front of him. I have always liked snails - well the garlic butter that goes with them anyway.
8 April 2007
After petit dejeuner Nigel started painting the kitchen ceiling and beams, by lunch time his arm was about to fall off once more so the brush was cleaned and we called painting to a halt. In the afternoon he sawed up some planks for the fire, all ones ex shelving that had come from the barn which was now our bedroom and that were riddled with wood worm! Good way to get rid of the wood worm, burn them! In the morning I cycled to Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure to a different boulangerie to collect the daily loaf of bread. On arrival the queue was about 10 people out the door, not sure how many inside! When I left the outside queue was up to about 25! Popular place. The Easter chocolate bunnies, chicks, even a little pig with a ribbon round his tummy had to be seen to be appreciated, each and every one were a work of art. There were also little cakes made like small nests, each with a little clutch of eggs inside and one cracked egg and a tiny chick standing next to it, all quite beautiful. I did not think I would arrive home with them in one piece on my bike but I did manage to bring home a couple of little glazed fruit tarts. I was tempted to bring back a large one but I thought that the chances of survival in the saddle bag on its side were minimal.
In the afternoon I removed the remainder of the turf for the vegetable garden as well as giving Nigel a hair cut that was well overdue; he looks quite respectable again! It has been really warm and sunny today and now at 20h45 there is a huge red sun setting in the distance which we can watch from the lounge window.
Easter Monday 9 April 2007
Nigel rubbed and painted the kitchen ceiling down until he appeared to be overcome with either dust or paint fumes and had to take a break. Never the less he still got a lot done. David and I raked over the spread top soil to free of most of the small stones; we ended up with a full trailer load, David’s trailer of course! Leo his elder son picked up all the piles and put them into the wheelbarrow to be loaded on the trailer; he really worked hard. After lunch David was back and scattered the grass seed and then using a small tractor borrowed from his mother-in-law he rolled the grass with a roller borrowed from his mother. How would we have got all this done without David’s help and his family? We are just so lucky to have someone like David right on our doorstep, literally.
It was hot and sunny all day again today; there was just a small shower of rain just as we finished everything in the garden. Perfect timing but not quite enough and the sky has now cleared again. Off to Market Day tomorrow and to do some shopping, hose pipe and sprinkler are priority on the list. As always the things we require are in the wrong country!! Our hosepipe is in the garden shed in the UK but I think it is too short anyway. Also we must get some manure so the rhubarb which is growing madly in the bag can be planted.
10 April 2007
We had a look around the Market in La Rochefecauld this morning; I was very tempted to bring a couple of baby geese home, they were so cute! We did lots of shopping and made it home for baguette, cheese, goose pate and cider for lunch. We went to the Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure later to buy a circular saw (to save Nigel’s arm!), and the hose pipe, garden spray etc. to keep the grass watered. No water restriction at present as there has been a lot of rain over winter so hopefully we can at least get the grass growing well. Nevertheless, water is not cheap so we will have to take care. Wild salmon from the pacific for dinner; it tastes so different from the farmed salmon that we normally get in the UK. Much firmer meat; they obviously have to swim a lot harder and they are very much more muscular!
The Rhubarb is at last planted. We seem to have in invasion of moles suddenly popping up this year so hope we can keep them away from the vegetable garden. Not good though for the newly planted lawn!!