Friday, October 31, 2008

Oh to be in France again!

Here I am up at the crack of dawn still getting over the jet lag.  My son went to bed at 7.30pm last evening and at 6.15 is still asleep.  Oh to be young again!  
(this is the view over our land from a new installed upstairs window!)

We had a great trip, too short, too expensive for so short a time, but pretty successful.  The workmanship looks good and the builders had left the place pretty tidy.  We didn't arrive in the area until around 6pm so not much time that first night to do anything but stand and admire although we did get to meet our immediate neighbour for the first time.  P seems a very pleasant gentleman who lives in Paris and was just down for the half term week.  He confirmed our opinion that the roof looks great and it has much improved our end of the village.  He seemed very happy with the transformation.

We had managed to find a gite in the next village.  We were intrigued to check it out as the building is very similar to ours and they have extended up into the roof as we are doing and therefore I wanted to see if I could pick up any ideas.  It was a very nice place, lovely and clean with every amenity.  The only thing I felt was disappointing was that they hadn't left much of the original character of the property exposed, no beams, no stone walls.  But it served its purpose, warm and cosy and close to our house.

Up early Sunday the first errand was to pick up some groceries and then call by our friend and "project supervisor" H to pick up some more keys and have a nice chat over a strong Dutch coffee.  
(taking in some French sunshine - one day this will be a cobbled courtyard - you heard it here first)
Then off to the house for a proper explore, take some photos and measurements and generally have a good root around.  Son hadn't seen the place since we originally viewed it back in July 07, back when the property was surrounded by overgrown brambles.  At that time we couldn't even approach the property from the rear and could not open any windows at the back due to all the vegetation, so he was suitably impressed at the progress.  It was a beautiful day and we put the two camping chairs which had travelled from Canada with us to good use.  Son also went off to explore and managed to find a way over to our island (there is a cut through our land which use to serve the watermill on the other side of the bridge, this creates an island on our land which goes down to the river).  GWE will be jealous because he tried and couldn't get across!

Due to our body clocks being out of sync, together with the fact that their clocks changed overnight, we missed the lunch period at a local restaurant (you must eat between 12 and 2 in France) so we headed back to the gite for some lovely baguette and camenbert sitting in the sunshine.  Sunday was a lovely day.
(island exploration)

Monday was another story - it rained pretty much all day but it didn't matter as we had a project.  Off to Limoges to find a table.  Looking for a make-do table which we can use inside and outside for the next little while - went to a few shops and with minutes to spare before everything closed at midday, dived into (a huge second hand treasure trove) and spied a great square table, wrought iron stand and tiled surface, approximately 4ft square, perfect.  65 Euros and into the car.  Job done.

Then we headed off into downtown to find a restaurant for a nice lunch.  Again job successfully completed.  

After lunch we went to a big superstore on the look out for a kettle.  At this point it still looked as though we had no electricity at the house, and the water was turned off, but, what the hell, I had teabags and wanted a kettle.  

Then we headed home, popped into another friend's for a cup of tea and pick up the "lost" keys of our April trip.  Back to the house to drop off our loot, table, kettle, lamp....we had bought the lamp thinking it would then be obvious if we plugged it in, a definitive test as to whether we have electricity or not.  However, had managed to pick up the wrong size light bulb - arrrghh!

We popped back over to H's house to catch up proper and this time his wife A was there.  We spent a lovely couple of hours with them laughing about the frustrations and joys of life in France.  Luckily A had a lightbulb for me to try.

What do you know - we do have electricity.  Managed to find the elusive button on the scary looking electric panel and eureka - we have light!!  It sounds sad but this was a very exciting part of the whole weekend.

Tuesday was a busy day - we had between the hours of 9 and 12 to pick up the mail, sort the mail for all those outstanding bills, pay the bills, organise to have all our mail forwarded to Canada - 100 Euros - why didn't we do that before??, get to the bank and check in with B the builder who is renovating a house three doors up, business he acquired due to the great job he did on ours.
B doesn't speak a word of English so it was challenging.  However, he was thrilled that we are so happy with the results of his labour, he is delighted to have found three more jobs from our project.  Two other houses in the village want him to install dormers as ours are so beautiful!!  He said that everyone who walked past the house while he was working on it, stopped to admire it.
(B's handiwork - we will be leaving as much exposed as possible - especially that stone wall)
Well we managed to get all that done and were on the road to Paris by 12.45.  Phew!  it was a whirlwind trip but Son and I had a lovely (and productive) time together. (Of course it is only now that I am back I realise I didn't take nearly enough photos)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Your Chance to Vote

Gil over at That British Woman gave a link to a great site here where you can see who would win the US election if the world could vote. It makes for fascinating reading so go over and check it out. I was particularly intrigued to see where certain votes were coming from. I must say it gave me some faith in the world at large as well (no guessing where my sympathies lie!).
I am flying off to France this evening armed with my camera and tape measure so not quite the glamorous trip the picture would suggest! All this in order to bring back further data so that we can continue with our design plans from afar. As GWE designed the roof based solely on our photos and rough measurements and the results are pretty good, we plan to carry on in the same manner. However, even though he has 3-D design software which makes great models, you cannot beat standing in the middle of the actual space to feel where items should be placed so that is my project for the next three days. That and pick up the mail, chat to the neighbours, sit down with our friends H and A for a chat and maybe even get to sample the local fare and raise a glass or two !!
Au revoir et salut mes amis!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A glimpse of my world

To think just a few posts ago I was bemoaning the fact that fall had arrived, well make that fall is leaving. It is a glorious day here in Southern Ontario, but the thermometer on my deck says it is 5 degrees centigrade out there, at midday in the aforesaid glorious sunshine! There has been talk of "flurries" - yuk!!!

Anyway I took the hint and headed outside to clear out the pots, dig out the now goey bedding plants (we have had a fairly heavy frost the last few mornings) and brought my geraniums inside. In an attempt to pretend that I am prepared for the impending winter I have placed my geraniums in a sunny spot in the hope they will cheer me up through the next 5 to 6 months (yes you heard me right - that's how long winter lasts around here).

I thought I would just show you a glimpse of my sunny kitchen - not the most dust-free place in the world but hey, life's too short for dusting. I've shown you mine, why don't you show me yours, I'm not kidding, believe me - I am nosey.

BTW if you are wondering what the strange green glass "thing" on the right hand side of the sill is, it is a wasp catcher. My Mum bought it for me when she was here and we intend to put it to good use next summer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Funny Old Day

I came over all domestic.  Sorted out cupboards.  Did ALL my ironing - do I feel virtuous or what?
Made up a big batch of tomato sauce - the window sill was getting loaded down with ripening tomatoes and something had to be done.  Then to top it off I made a huge pan of chili - we should be eating it for several weeks.

Recently I have found the lack of structure in my days, now that I have changed careers from being an office worker for more years than I care to mention, to a real estate agent working for myself, has left me with a lot of time on my hands, and the more time I have, the less I have been getting done.  

Obviously the wedding meant my mind was off the real estate scene for a few weeks there and now I am having trouble getting focused again.  We are still in a pretty active market here in "the Golden Triangle" but I feel that I am back at square one, back where I was this time last year and struggling a little to raise my game.  I feel confident that things will pick up but in the meantime I need something ......  

With my trip to France next weekend, sod's law says that I will suddenly get busy next week, so let's see.  My son and I leave next Friday and will spend three nights down by the house and one night in Paris before we head back.  I know it seems crazy - so much expense, such a long way for such a short time, but we will rest easier when someone has been over and checked on the work and made sure everything is in order for the winter.  Then we will start saving in earnest to have a proper productive trip over early in the New Year - maybe February.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It Arrived While I Wasn't Looking

Fall I mean.  Suddenly it has arrived in my garden.  The pool is closed.  The furniture stored away.  Leaves are falling, the left over not quite ripe tomatoes are looking very sad and my garden needs a little attention.  I am not very good at being ruthless and pulling out stuff that still doing OK.  I have to wait until it is looking really sorry for itself so that attention is going to be a little while coming as yet.  My pots still look quite presentable - what do you think? 

It's hard to believe my daughter has been married  for a whole month!  Then it was summer and now it's almost winter.  A tough time of  year here in central Canada.  It's not that it is not an absolutely gorgeous time of year, the colours are spectacular, the weather is balmy and the grass doesn't require mowing every third day but we all know what is around the corner.  When winter does get here it sticks around for a long time and I, for one, am not looking forward to it one bit.

However, one very bright spot on the horizon is a trip to France.  Whoohoo!!  Unfortunately due to work commitments for GWE, he will stay behind and work his little butt off while my 16 yr old son and I will take a very quick trip over to check on the house, take many photos, pick up our mail!!! and generally soak up some of la bonne vie for a few days.