Thursday, 11 March 2010

March - April 2009 Part 22

28 March 2009
We spent the morning packing up the car plus two railway sleepers; we had already moved 4 last year! This was a purchase we made on the spur of the moment, not really thinking ahead as to how we were going to move 10 sleepers to France! We bought them as they were in good condition and a reasonable price and we wanted them to edge our verandah area. The idea was good, moving them was not.

Speed ferries let us down seriously this year by going into liquidation, just after we had bought 6 tickets – we got nothing back sadly, as we had not bought with a credit card!! We ended up buying a ticket with P & O from Dover to Calais so I had a little further to drive to our friends near Boulogne-sur-Mer where I stayed overnight.

29 March 2009
Everybody slept late so I was only on the road at 09h00. As I was late leaving and I had a new satnav, I decided not to go my usual route but rely on this little machine to get me home the fastest route. It did this very successfully and I was home within 6 hours, my fastest trip yet. Just before I got home I dropped off to let David and Florence know that I had arrived. They had just built a new house and sadly had moved from directly opposite us. They now live just down the road, a 10 minute walk to the next hamlet.

All was well at home; David had turned up the heating, so the place was nice and warm. I had a walk around the garden which looked tidy thanks to David’s efforts. I had a chat to Nigel and unloaded the car; David popped down to help me get the sleepers out of the car. I had hurt my shoulder just before leaving England, so I was not really much help with lifting! After unpacking the car and a snack to eat I went straight off to bed with a hot water bottle.

30 March 2009
Tidied up a bit in the morning, then went off to do some shopping, so I had a stock of food  in the house.  Arriving in Chasseneuil it reminded me that they have a yearly wood carving event each year and some of the new carvings were out on display.  I will put in more pictures later in the blog.

31 March 2009
I spent the morning digging over the garden and after my back said "enough" I took a trip around the hamlet saying ‘bonjour, comment allez vous’ to everyone. Everyone seemed happy to see me back and I got the usual kisses and also a few hugs.

1 April 2009
I went into Chasseneuil and did some shopping. On the way home I dropped into see other neighbours Nicole and Jean and while there I arranged to go with them to the pensioners' lunch in Vitrac on 19 April. The advantage of getting to that magical pensioner age is that the meal is free; at least there is something worth having when you get older!! Erica phoned to say she would pop around tomorrow to collect the freeview box that I had taken over for them. I spent a bit of time in the afternoon digging over more of the garden.

2 April 2009
I was up early and tidied up a bit before Erica came over to collect the freeview box plus some tea which I had brought over for them. I have to say the French tea does not taste as good as old English tea! As neither Nigel nor I drink ordinary tea it does not cause us a problem, but we struggle to find nice herbal tea in France. Erica and I had what was supposed to be a quick coffee but we ended up nattering for a couple of hours; lots of news to catch up with. In the afternoon I made some South African rusks using my favourite recipe. (Click here for the recipe) Nigel and I are both very fond of them and it is a rare moment when there is not a tin of them in the kitchen waiting for us when we need a snack between meals. David and Leo popped around later on their bikes and David stayed on so we could have a quiet pastis. I saw a robin at the little bowl that I had put out with some water in it.

3 April 2009
The weather was much colder today and at mid-day I lit the wood burner to warm up the lounge. I did some gardening in the morning and planted the seed potatoes. Tidied the house up ready for Nigel’s arrival tomorrow.

4 April 2009
I popped into the village and did a bit of shopping. Went to see Cathy and Andrew in the English shop for a quick coffee. I went home to get a meal ready and then off to Angouleme to collect Nigel from the airport. It was still not very warm, so I lit the fire before I left, so Nigel would arrive to a nice warm lounge. We stopped off and saw David and Florence just before arriving home.

5 April 2009
Nigel slept late. I did a bit of gardening but we generally had a lazy day. We watched the Malaysian Grand Prix, but it was a bit of a disaster and was rained off half way through. Nevertheless, Button was classed as the winner but was only awarded half the normal points.

6 – 18 April 2009
We spent the two weeks while Nigel was with me generally doing odd jobs. Digging the garden and planting the onions. Nigel bedded the railway sleepers into position on concrete to hold the patio gravel in position. Brian and Erica came to dinner on the 10th and we caught up on all the latest news. We searched all the second hand furniture shops for a bookcase, but could not find one the right size. It seems like we either have to move the house around to fit what is available or we have to get one built to our specification; the latter would be ideal but….

On the 14th we had our new sit-on lawn mower delivered; this was after several days deliberation and decision over which one we should buy. David and family, also Octavie came around for aperitifs on Easter Monday and we went to Nicole and Jean for a drink on the 16th. Suddenly it was the 18th and Nigel returned to the UK from Angouleme.

19 April 2009
Phew, what a day. Sadly Nigel went home a day too early and missed out on the luncheon. Nicole and Jean picked me up at 11h45 and we off we went to Vitrac Community Hall where the luncheon was  being held. I got to sit on a table where there were 3 other English people but the hall, as was expected, was chocabloc full of French pensioners. There were a few younger people who had come with their families, (they had to pay!) but they were few and far between. The menu was headed ‘Repas des Anciens’ ;no comment needed here…..
It then read:-
Punch (this was very strong!)
Velouté de legumes
Fois gras et melon
Pavé de saumon sauce St Jacques
Trou charentais
Tournedos & ses légumes
Salade et fromages
Tarte aux pommes

I need hardly mention that a good time was had by all. We made our way home at around 16h00 feeling not only very full but not walking quite as straight as when we arrived!!! After chatting to Nigel on the phone, I fell into bed and slept like a log, waking up very late on Monday morning. I had to go and collect some compost bins from the Mairie and on arrival I saw several people walking around holding their heads and complaining about the punch. I think that there was much more to it than just the punch as there were a lot of empty wine bottles at the end of the meal as well.

21 April 2009
David came around to give me a driving lesson on the lawn mower and it was with great excitement that I set off for my first lawn mowing session. What fun, I now actually enjoy cutting the grass but it takes some working out how to cover all the area as I could not just go up and down any more. The turns are too big to go back down the row next to the one that you have just come up and of course we have a good selection of trees to get in the way. Practice sort of makes perfect and I did improve over the next few weeks.

22 April 2009 onwards……….
I spent some time renewing the skirting in the spare room, it was not easy and with crooked walls; need I say any more! Many seedlings were planted in the vegetable garden. There were a few slow rides on my bike trying to get some fitness back after a quiet cycling winter in the UK. The countryside was just stunning, with daisies, buttercups, cowslips and bluebells all along the sides of the road. There were also other flowers which I think were lupins, wild hyacinth and forget-me-nots. I planted runner beans and put up the canes in the hopes that they would soon be climbing up them.

I spoke to France Telecom and it looked like we would be able to arrange our phone line so we can switch off when we are in the UK as France is a second home. I also discussed having adsl so that I did not have to put up with the very slow dial up connection and it appears that all this will be possible – it is a case of wait and see.

Nigel phoned on the 26th to say that his Dad had been rushed into Swindon hospital after collapsing but it seems to be a blood pressure problem so I hoped that they would soon sort it out. Nigel had not been too well himself so I hoped that there would be some quick answers and not too much stress.

The  fire liner at the back of the new wood stove cracked so I phoned up the guy who put it in and he said he would order another one. Apparently this does happen from time to time but he said it was not a problem. Over the next couple of months I tried to contact him many times as I had heard nothing. I never once managed to get a response from either the phone or his email – guess what- we still have a cracked liner!!

The sparrows meanwhile were having a great time in the bowl of water which I had placed on the railway sleepers.

I was having serious pain in my left shoulder which I had somehow hurt in March, so I took myself off to the doctor. Unfortunately he was away and I saw a locum who put me on to many tablets and arranged for me to go for x-rays. The x-rays (and scan) were pretty inconclusive and I went back to the regular doctor, who was then back on duty. He arranged for me to go the physio for ten treatments. I had a lot of massage and although I did not feel 100% there was certainly some improvement. As I type this, 10 months later my shoulder is still not right and I have now seen the physio in the UK. This was quite frankly  a complete waste of time. I will go back to the one in France if I have more problems.

On the 29th I received my adsl box and with David’s help I was up and running on the internet – what a difference a day makes!

I received a form from the Mairie which had to be filled in with all the details of the house. Size of rooms, how many rooms and many other details. Hmmm, my French was really not up to this so David and Florence came to my rescue and filled the whole lot in for me.

We had a cold spell and quite a lot of rain, but thankfully by now I had brought over the small TV from our bedroom in the UK so I was able to watch both the snooker and also the lousy weather (from inside) with a roaring fire burning brightly. I managed from time to time to get out and cut the grass, but it was difficult to find a dry enough day to do this. I also managed a couple of rides on the bike between showers and I planted some butternut and pumpkin seeds. This was my first time at trying either of these. I had lots of sorrel in the garden so decided to give sorrel soup a try – yummy I will definitely make this again and again.(For recipe click here)

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