Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Breathalyser rule suspended;

Will we won't we?

For some time now the French government as been planning to make all drivers in France (including holiday makers) carry their own breathalyser kits, I am assuming in an effort to cut costs to the Police and it has to be said there have been  a few drawbacks, the main one being that the manufacturers couldn't get them made quickly enough and drivers were unable to get them, I know we tried several Pharmacies around but to no avail. So the powers that be decided to postpone again and again..

..It seems now you can get them and everyone has been out and bought them to avoid the fine of being found without one (well in fact two is the obligation) we no longer need them as the law is being shelved, it seems they are not too reliable or accurate, it makes one wonder if the ones the authorities use are, not that I drink and drive you understand..... watch this space!

France is an outstanding sporting destination with some of the prettiest countryside and at this time of year it is open season for le chasse (The Hunt) although I am never quite sure when it starts and finishes but I think it is September to March. of course it isn't fox hunting as we know it in England although they do hunt and shoot foxes to keep the population down, probably the only thing the French don't eat. 
it is not the usual racing across fields but more in the forests and really is a sport that also provides food, Red deer Stag, Roe deer, Wild-boar & Hare to name just a few.

And so the hunt starts
Apparently they have special days to hunt certain animals and cannot kill a different animal on that day so if Tuesday is for deer and they see a wild boar they cannot shoot it.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Radiator

Back up system 

We love our wood burner and have been topping up cold corners with the Chauffe petrole but we are now thinking ahead to our very old age when perhaps we would not be capable of lugging wood into the house let alone cutting it with a chain saw and stacking it so we are slowly fitting the oil filled radiators around the house and of course trying them out.
Everyone says that electricity is expensive but when you way up the cost of wood, approx 180€ a cord and petrole at 26€ for 20ltrs I reckon the electricity would work out cheaper.

So here is the living room radiator fitted by Johns own fair hand.

It has an economy button but we haven't figured out how to use it yet, it is amazing that the instructions are in Arabic but not in English and of course French. anyway our living room is a fair size and it heats it adequately, I am a good guide as I feel the cold enormously and if it didn't work I would know.I have to say though since we insulated that roof space we have been 100% warmer in the house.
  1.  Always have a back up system or plan B
  2. Always insulate to the hilt

Monday, 28 January 2013

Chickens in Winter

Well I have often wondered about chickens in the winter and my question is, should they be out in all weathers, I mean when it is snowing etc:

Gold brahma hens in winter 
These guys look happy enough and hopefully they will go in at night.
I guess if they have a house to go into when they want with enough straw or similar to keep them warm then it is not too bad, assuming they are intelligent enough to know when it is cold and to get inside.
I do know that they won't be laying this time of year under normal circumstances but they still need to be kept healthy in preparation for when they do.
Any information on this would be appreciated..

Today could have started better for is my birthday but no coffee in bed for me today as you might think but an early start with no coffee or breakfast to get to the laboratoire for a blood test (analyse de sang in french), my 3 monthly test for my diabetes, I had developed an infection urinaire (I know, too much information) in England I could have gone to the local chemist and got something for it but on Saturday I trundled off to the Pharmacie to get such a thing but was told in no uncertain terms non! you must visit your Doctor, now I know before I go and see him I must have the blood test or he will not be pleased so we dash to the laboratoire to get it done, the receptionist was just booking me in when I realise I have eaten so it is a no no, hence the trip there on my Birthday, she remembered me and said with a smile on her face ""now you haven't eaten this morning have you""
The good thing here is I don't need an appointment for either the blood test or the Doctor, I just turn up when it suits me (but be prepared to wait your turn) I will have the results in the post and received by Wednesday with a copy sent to my Doctor also, so I guess it is off to the Doc's on Wednesday for me. such glee>>

let me know your thoughts on the chickens please :-)


Thursday, 24 January 2013

How time flies

Yes time really does fly when you are enjoying yourself.

This week marks the 4th year of us leaving our life in the UK and getting on that ferry to France with everything but the kitchen sink, we gave so much to charity when we were trying to decide what to bring and what to leave behind and to this day I will search high and low to find something I know I have somewhere only to realise that I probably didn't even bring it with me, I find myself saying "what possessed me to get rid of that" but we have this saying, "if we haven't used it in the last year we most likely don't need it".
We set sail with our good friends Fernando,Joy and (Gemma who was returning to France) who helped us load up and came over to unload for us and take back the hire truck, it was an overnight crossing to le Havre and we didn't have a cabin trying to save money but Fernando bless him treated us to a cabin as a going away gift, oh how grateful we were, when we reached Le Havre we said to Fernando wait for us before you leave the port so that we stay together and also as he was driving the van not to go into the tunnel as it is for cars only (they have this system whereby cars go through the tunnel and Lorry's above to keep them separate,) well firstly vans came of the ferry at a different gate so we had to leave the port and try and find them, which we did re-iterating to Fernando not to enter the tunnel as the flappy bits overhead detect you are a van and go rigid, so off we set, I kept looking in the mirror to check they were still behind us, we went through the tunnel and came out the other side waiting very  for Fernando, Joy and Gemma to catch up, they never appeared, so I telephoned Joy on her mobile who said, "we went into the tunnel and now can't get out", so we said we would try and come back to them, we quickly realised that it was rush hour and the van was by now holding up all the traffic causing a very long traffic jam which we were at the back end of, Joy saved the day leaping out of the van and putting on the required yellow jacket, she started backing all the traffic up so that Fernando could reverse enough to get on the correct path, Joy doesn't speak french but it is surprising how much you can communicate by body language, luckily Fernando had stopped the van before it got stuck in the flappy things, they were now able to travel on the right bit of road, sadly we were now stuck in the long tailback caused by them, we eventually found each other.
It hadn't finished there though, you may have realised by now that Fernando is an accident waiting to happen (he won't mind me saying that) and we missed the services on the motorway to fuel up, we got a text message from Joy saying we have very little diesel, ok I say we will look for a garage (not so easy here) plus we didn't have a can to put it in..we  then get the awful text ""we have run out"" I say put your triangle out with your yellow jacket on and we will leave the motorway to get some diesel, within approximately 10 minutes we luckily came across a carrefour with service station so we had to firstly buy a can then get diesel and get back to the van which involved a bit of criss crossing on motorways, by now we were starting to feel that someone was trying to tell us something, we got to the house eventually which although it was very cold we felt safe at last.
The journey back for Fernando and Joy was almost just as eventful, firstly after some considerable time they realised the sat nav was taking them in completely the wrong direction then they stopped at a pull in with toilets and Joy got stuck in the toilet, Fernando to the rescue.. there is more but I won't bore you with it now, thats for another time.

Just as a little footnote - we would like to thank all of them for their wonderful friendship and help on that very special Journey also a very big thank you to our son Andrew whose experience at packing a removal van was second to none.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Thanks be

At last 
All the snow in our little corner of France has gone but it has made way for fog and rain, still quite cold too but then I am always cold even in the summer. oh Summer, it seems so far away at the moment but I am being a bit hasty we have to have Spring first and hopefully this year we will have a good one not like last year with so much rain, Spring or le Printemps as it is called in French is so welcoming after the soggy winter, when everything is coming back to life after a long sleep, the dullness turns to green, it is like mother nature is stretching her arms as you do when awakening. it is a busy time for us gardeners too and this year I am very much looking forward to experimenting with container gardening and vertical gardening in earnest, hopefully all the foodstuff I have been composting will be ready to go back into the garden and with the bad year for farmers last year I think veggies will be a little expensive to buy.

Here is a photo I took yesterday of the progress John is making, this bit will be the walk in wardrobe where John is coming through the doorway (it makes me smile as he always walks through the doorway but he could walk through anywhere as there are no walls yet) with the store room to the right where you see the steps

it all looks like a mixed up mess of metal at the moment so it will be nice to see the end result and have this to compare it to.

Couple of silly facts

La bise

The French like to greet with a kiss, or should I say two, or three and sometimes four depending on how well they know you or how closely related you are, It isn’t so bad when there are only 3-4 people, but when you arrive at a party of 20+ people, it’s just an awfully long exercise that’s keeping you away from your drink. Everybody has to stand up to greet you with a kiss on both cheeks, Without exception. And I actually have to make huge efforts to do that –  And once you finally do get your hands on a drink, doesn’t mean you can enjoy it right away…


Cheering in France is no simple happening. Why go simple when you can go complicated? There are specific rules to follow to cheer as per the French rules: you have to look every single person you cheer with in the eye, say “Santé!” or “Tchin Tchin!”, without crossing your glass with someone else’s – otherwise you will be entitled to seven years of bad sex. You’ve been warned!
Enough rambling today, see you tomorrow.................

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Milder days

January seems to be a very long Month probably because it includes my birthday which needless to say is at the latter part of the month..Birthdays always seem a long time coming (like Christmas) "John says" as his birthday is Christmas day, difficult for him as he really loses out on it and difficult for me as I always have to get him double pressies.

Well at least the snow has gone for now but it is raining and everywhere seems so soggy even the birds don't seem to be feeding so ferociously as they were when it was cold and white, The blue tits continue to hit the dining room window and stun themselves for a second before dusting themselves off and flying away wondering what the hell hit them, I guess they can see the reflection in the glass of the garden and think they can fly through, maybe I should put a sign up "No birds beyond this window".

We drove past Dobbin yesterday and it is so comforting to see her snuggled up in her new barn, she looks so happy, sadly I didn't have my camera with me but I will try and get a photo of her for you all, she looks so much better than when she was just stood in a cold field, we could go past a couple of hours later and she would still be in the same place just staring, I had got quite worried about her..But she is fine now thankfully.

John is in the roof space putting the metal studding in ready for plaster boarding, we are making it into a guest bedroom and I must say it is much warmer down here since John has insulated it, at the far end there will be a storeroom and a walk in wardrobe, then the bedroom part in the middle which is going to be quite small due to the roof slant and beams but I keep telling myself it is only a bedroom and we spend most of the time lying down, then at the near end there will be a bathroom, the beams are such that we couldn't make it one bigger room so had to break it up into three.

This is the roof space with just flooring down, I will get an updated one for tomorrow.

Ok finally I would like to hear from any or all of my readers as to what hobbies they like doing, especially if any of you are crafters. and can any of you speak French?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Second Coming

The Meteo last night said it was going to rain overnight but when I awoke this morning I realised the vehicles driving past were travelling really slowly, I eventually decided to venture to the bathroom thinking it is very light this morning, I tried to peer out of the window but it is frosted so couldn't see anything, on my return to the bedroom I went to the window and there it was in all it's glory - SNOW - and quite a bit of it, I have no idea what time it arrived but it doesn't look much like it is leaving anytime soon and the sky looks as if there is still plenty up there to flurry down, I am thinking quietly to myself how lucky I am to not have to travel to work in this like those we see in Paris on the TV (they have had a lot of snow) I haven't taken anymore photos as they would be exactly the same as previous ones ( once you have seen a snow scene once you have seen them all) but it is quite beautiful to look at.
We remain very cosy in our house with our petrole fires and wood burner, admittedly there are some areas of the house which remain cold for instance the stairs but we are only on them en route to the bathroom and feel it doesn't warrant being heated all the time, John has decided today that it is too cold in the roof space to be doing any work up there so now he is loitering not knowing what to do, give me a few minutes and I will find him something....there are always little finishing off bits which tend to get left when John does something not that I am being critical well not much..

I think I will make some soup for lunch (home made with all the bits of veg lurking in the fridge) it always warms us up, we call it the vegetable thingy, John doesn't ask whats in it for fear I might tell him :-)

The birds are very thankful of the food we put out for them, when I first looked out I could see bird footprints in the snow followed by a paw mark so I am hoping that the cat did not get the bird, we very often see the sparrow hawk swoop down to try to catch a bird and he has been successful on a couple of occasions but it is a fight for survival, it must be really cold as the crows are coming into the garden looking for food but they can't get onto the bird table, I know they have to eat too but I don't like them.


At last the local farmer has seen sense and opened up the big barn and the old grey mare or dobbin as I call her is in there with loads of hay, she looks so cosy and I am more than pleased that she is inside and warm where she should be.

Well I had better get on if I am to make this soup.

A Bientot  et garder au chaud

Friday, 18 January 2013

Chilly Breeze

Well everyone,

If you haven't got snow you must be in the tropics somewhere, it seems to be laying a blanket over most of Europe and the wind is very chilly, The Meteo says it is going to turn to rain later which inevitably means slush, very messy stuff, the good news for us is that the village is pretty much traffic free as they have stopped lorries coming through and what cars there are have to travel very slowly due to it being very slippy.
John managed to get to the Tabac to get the lottery ticket, we are hoping for some luck with it as we had a black cat in the garden yesterday which we have never seen before so here's hoping....

here are some pics of the snow covered village

Our House on directly on the right with green shutter

This is the restaurant opposite

The car park nearby

looking down to the pharmacie

Looking towards the post office and church

Looking towards our house on the right way into the distance
Looking towards the bank on left  and Gendarmerie on right

 Well folks I will sign off for now and might not be back until Monday, going out to play in the snow
Note to self "must get a dog"

Friday 18th January

Here it is.

The snow has arrived and as promised I have taken and posted a new picture of our garden, if time permits I will take some more.
It is very dangerous outside in our road as the lorries are slipping and sliding around, our road is on a bit of a slope so as soon as we get ice or snow it becomes very slippy, the first lorries through were all over the place but there doesn't seem to be any now at all so maybe they have been stopped.
The council boys have been in their pick up with buckets of sand to throw around, very Heath Robinson but it works.
never mind we are inside and nice and snug.. watch this space x

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Just for now

Hi Blog readers,

I have put on last years snow picture taken as you can see on 30th January 2012, this is because we haven't had any snow yet - boo hoo -  so watch this space, as soon as the snow appears I will change it for the real up to date stuff, keep watching my friends..... let me know on here when you get snow so that I can gauge which way it is rolling -

l'hiver est arrivé

- 3 and dropping

Sorry it has been so long since my last post but you guys know what I am like...

It was - 3 this morning in the garden and I suspect we will see lower temperatures over the next few days, the winter has hit at last and the Meteo says we will have snow tonight and tomorrow, up until now it has not been too bad for the time of the year,  we have found most of the sources of draft (these old houses can be very cold and unforgiving) but now we have been here 4 years permanently it seems to be a lot warmer and snug, if there is any cold anywhere it will find me, John however never feels the cold  and I am always saying to him as he is disappearing out of the door put your coat on. but does he listen, no!
We heat the house with a wood burner in the lounge and those wonderful petrole fires with electric fans (we used to call them paraffin fires in England) but they don't smell and are very efficient, we have an oil filled electric fire in the bathroom and that ticks over all the time with electric fire in the bedroom which is timed to come on morning and evening - No central heating for us.

The birds are finding it hard with the cold but we do feed them in fact it costs a fortune to keep them in food, I have realised that the fat balls we put out freeze over night and they can't eat them, so I bring them in and pop them in the microwave to thaw them and break them up so that the birds can eat them, I know it's silly but I would have them all in the house if I could.

The old grey mare in a field near by seems to have lost her foal, I guess he has been sold and she looks so sad, I am worried they leave her out all night in this cold weather and she doesn't seem to have any straw or shelter but I could be wrong, John has drawn the line at me buying a bale of hay for her.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased one of those Halogen cookers and I have to say I haven't turned my big oven on since, I even cooked the whole Sunday lunch in there and the chicken was so moist with really crunchy potatoes, it cooks steak to perfection and real chips too, all very healthy as no fat used.I am very impressed.

Well if the snow comes I will post photo's for you all, please do feel free to leave comments for me..

A demain