Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Sun has got his Hat On....

It is a beautiful day, a little brisk, but nice enough to have all my windows and doors open, even though it is now warmer outside than inside - you know one of those days....a hanging out your laundry day.

Everything is coming up at an alarming rate. The magnolias and forsythia are putting on their once a year show. Love these plants but such a shame their true glory is so short lived. 

A bit like spring around here so I plan to make the most of it. Soon it will be too warm, hence the pool is being opened. It was 28 degrees here Saturday and Monday so we are honestly not being premature.

So lots of nice sunny photos.

I know, this needs a bit of weeding but I will wait till all the forget-me-knots have gone over, they are too pretty.

Meanwhile in France, they now have satellite TV. I hope the progress doesn't slow too much because of this :) Son was out today with the electrician buying all the materials and work should commence tomorrow. Son has also dug a trench in order to connect to mains drainage but the plumber can only do that job when it is raining and he cannot be on his other job!! So guess what, the weather has turned gorgeous over there - typical, if we were having the roof done........

France Telecom finally made an appearance only to inform us that apparently they got the address wrong at the beginning of negotiations and it seems we cannot have dial up internet, apparently we are too far from the central station (?). Which seems strange when our neighbours across the street have dial up. What's all this I read about 99% of the Limousin having access to broadband by the end of June?  You watch we will be that 1%.  Son raised this and the guy is going to look into it further and only installed the phone only cabling (!) and we are now waiting with baited breath to actually be turned on. We are praying we can get dial up and that it is all (a further) misunderstanding because to get satellite broadband we have been told will cost 650 euros - if you know different let me know.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Has it been a week? It must be because my zucchini seedlings are three inches tall and need thinning out, there are buds on the trees, some blossom starting to bloom, the baby afghan is complete - so you can see I have been busy, I do have excuses for not blogging more regularly! I mean, how could the blossom bloom or seedlings germinate without my constant vigilance :)

En France things continue apace, we may not have a shower yet, or a toilet that works properly, no mains drainage and very make do kitchen amenities, but ......we will have satellite TV in a week's time. We know our priorities ...sad isn't it. Anyway another major breakthrough is that EDF ( or I should say their representative) actually came to the house this week, he did not DO anything but issues were discussed, questions will be raised and one day we might get the meter updated and moved but we are not holding our breath.

The same with France Telecom, they keep calling to delay the connection. Apparently the wire has been cut and needs to be replaced and once this is done (hopefully 27th) it will take another week to get service connected. Pourquoi?!
I am tempted to send them copies of my phone bills which scarily arrived this (eekk) just to show them what they are missing out on. Phone calls are now on a time limit. We have lists before we call. Next week the electrician comes to re-wire and the beams are to be sandblasted, plumbing might possibly commence.

Also we have seen the evidence at last, girlfriend uploaded some photos to Facebook - boy it does look rudimentary, but I would still rather be there than here. Once I have worked out how to get the photos from Facebook (maybe you cant) I will share them. They have planted seeds and are planning on getting a few chickens but the most exciting thing in their lives at the moment is that they are getting fish and chips from the chip van that travels around the villages. Home Sweet Home!

Friday, April 17, 2009

How Time Flies!!!

Today is my birthday and another year bites the dust! I am sitting here in bed and so far I am the only person that has acknowledged the fact. That's how it goes I find, the more birthdays I get under my belt. But I just remembered my sister-in-law called me yesterday to wish me happy birthday, she thought she was already in the 17th! I know that feeling! Anyway she called as much for a chat as to let me know as it was their 25th wedding anniversary this year, and if I was going to France to make sure I planned it around a certain date. Well now that does make me feel old to think they have been married 25 years, I remember that day clearly.

My daughter was a 3 1/2 yr old bridesmaid. I had made the dresses and the page boy's outfit so was running around making sure everyone looked wonderful while also trying to keep a 3 1/2 yr old and 18 month old happy. I remember we went shopping that morning and, as is tradition in English weddings, we bought the bride a good luck horseshoe. (Actually it seems strange now but it was a foil covered cardboard horseshoe on a ribbon!). Anyway when the time came for my daughter to give it to her, much excitement on my daughter's part, followed by much screaming when sister-in-law had the audacity to actually take it!! Luckily my mother-in-law had a handbag full of sweets and after much bribery peace once again reigned, with daughter in possession of the lucky horseshoe.

When I look at the photo now I think how brave of me to take on the task of making the outfits, although I did sew a lot more in those days, making the children's and my own clothes (it USED to be a money saving effort - it would not be so today). Note the strange expression on daughter's chubby face, a cheek full of fruit gums as I recall.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Footloose and Fancy Free

The wanderers have returned.  Apparently they took a little side trip with their friends, by way of Bordeaux and San Sebastien, they made their way down to Barcelona.  They loved the city.  They have lots of friends there who new all the best (for that read cheap!) haunts and all the best places to see.  It must be nice to be so free. They drove back to the French house on Saturday in monsoon-like conditions and I think it has been pretty wet and miserable since.

They were a little down on Sunday when I spoke to them as the house was chilly from having been left for a week, it was rainy and very quiet in the village, it being Easter Sunday and all, plus they couldn't get anything done until today, when life kind of returns to normal.  

One of the things we did decide is that they will look for a reasonably priced washing machine.  They said they haven't done any washing for THREE weeks, poor things :)  Also we went over the list of chores etc. they can be getting on with.  I looked at the long range weather forecast and it doesn't look promising.  That area had a very dry March and apparently garden fires have been banned, but April seems to be making up for it!

Here however the weather has been more cheerful and I spent my weekend in my garden raking up all the winter debris and cutting back everything (a little late I know but my plants seem to survive despite my ruthless ministrations) and my garden looks a lot more inviting.  It was warm enough to work out there but not quite warm enough to sit out there.  We moved in to this house four years ago this coming weekend and I remember once all the stuff was unloaded we sat on the deck for a few hours soaking up lovely warm sunshine while dispensing with (quite) a few beers - so I am keeping my fingers crossed for similar weather this weekend as I have two open houses and the good weather tends to bring out the buyers.  Having said that it has been known to snow later than this in previous years.  So keep your fingers crossed for us.

I have also started a major de-stuff (that's my terminology).  It was one of my new year's resolutions.  As we are planning a major move in the next 18 months, a downsizing, life changing move, I thought we definitely needed to have a big sort out and get rid of a lot of "stuff".  So I started with my bedroom yesterday and have packed up a box of breakables that will go to France with us as they are precious but I don't actually need around the house at the moment.  So one box down, god alone knows how many more to go.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ou sont-ils?

Well son and Australian girlfriend seem to have gone walkabout (!).  We haven't heard from them since Saturday.  At that time all was well with the world.  They were reveling the their heat and hot water.  Like every mother I keep telling myself "no news is good news" while, of course, thinking up much worse scenarios.  Probably the most likely is that the phone is lost, has gone back to Austria with their friends or some such idiotic reason.

So instead of more blow by blow accounts of my French house renovation, I am posting a picture of my crochet-in-progress.  I have been taking lessons as I was taught by my left-handed aunt and could never get the hang of it, I think I have it now. This is to be a baby blanket.

After getting a sun tan on the deck Sunday afternoon, we had SNOW for the next two days, but now we are back to more normal spring weather, bright but cool.  Hope the weather is as good where you all are.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What a difference

Yesterday here in southern Ontario it was a truly gorgeous spring day, sunny all day long.  GWE is home for the weekend and we spent the entire afternoon sitting on the deck soaking up, if we're truthful, a bit too much sun, but it was hard to resist as it has been many months since we have been able to do so.  He was happy reading and I was crocheting and resisting the temptation to get my hands dirty.  Then in the evening it was over to daughter and son-in-law's for dinner, a lovely Sunday.  This morning we have woken up to the wild winds and rain (monsoon-like) that we experienced on Friday. What crazy spring weather.

I am glad to report that son and girlfriend are now the happy owners of heat AND hot water, what is the world coming to :)  They also picked up the van which meant they could return the rental car.  They had some friends drive over from Austria for a couple of days, (they had given them fair warning of the amenities) and they were sleeping in sleeping bags on cardboard....I guess you have to be young.  They were having a bonfire and cooking steaks when I spoke to them so I guess everyone was having a pretty good time.  The only hiccup in the new facilities is that they cannot have the hot water tank plugged in during the day when they want to use other electrical appliances so have to remember to turn everything else off before they go to bed and plug in the water heater.  The electrics in their current state just aren't up to it!  

The builder who installed the new hot water tank brought over some "junk" he was throwing away; some plastic lawn chairs, a barbeque and an "ugly" but much appreciated brass bed frame for which they will purchase a mattress, so that was very good of him.  A nice bit of recycling.

Also they have had a couple of devis in, one for re-wiring which seemed quite high considering the current size of the property (3700+ euros), one for plumbing in the bathroom, which includes taking up the floor relaying the waste pipes in order to connect to mains drainage and all other first fix plumbing to make it a shower room and re-connect the toilet (approx 2000 euros), this one has son doing a lot of the digging labour and doesn't see that unreasonable and a third one for just relaying the waste and connecting to mains drainage (500 euros).  Son is going to get a couple more so no decisions are being made yet.

While GWE was home this weekend, we took another look at our original plans for the house, and we have decided we won't draw up anything definitive for the barn end of the renovation, apart from installing the floor, until we are on site and can actually stand in the space. For now we will concentrate on making the house truly habitable and start on the attic of the house, which will eventually be our bedroom with en suite and walk in closet.  There are lots of things son can be doing in the meantime; sandblasting the varnish off all the beams, taking down the kitchen ceiling to expose the rafters, insulating under the kitchen floor, getting estimates for building and installing a staircase to the attic, repairing and sanding the oak floor boards in the kitchen, stripping walls and painting and of course, when the bathroom is plumbed, decorating that room.  I think that list should keep them out of mischief, depending on how long they continue to enjoy the quiet life in Limousin.  If they just stayed until the bathroom was complete and we had the phone line installed they would have done us a big favour, so anything on top of that is gravy.