Monday, 29 September 2014

Do you rinse?

At dinner on Saturday with French, American, Scot and us English the question of  'Do you rinse' came up.

Coming in on the tail end of the conversation, my first reaction was 'rinse what?'. Last I noticed they had been talking about dentists and the conversation had come, via flossing, to 'do you rinse'? Surely everyone rinses and spits after brushing??

Turns out they had moved on to washing up. Did we rinse our plates after washing them in Fairy Liquid?

Ummmm no. Never have, don't know anyone that does, never even thought about it except the good glasses in really hot water to drain sparkly.

Every other nationality was appalled. Horror crossed their faces. Complete disbelief that anyone could leave the residue of Fairy on their crockery/cutlery.

'Well you've eaten/drunk at ours, have you ever noticed anything soapy?' 'No but you've got a dishwasher.' Well now we have but that is a relatively recent innovation.

I do remember Mum complaining about Aunt Alice (an elderly Aunt when I was young) who always washed up in half an inch of cold greasy water which was a relic of the days when every drop of hot water had to be boiled on the stove. But Mum never rinsed, my mother-in-law never rinsed............................

How about you guys?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Le Weekend de Patrimoine

This is the weekend of the patrimoine. Certainly our town and I think all towns arrange special events for the weekend and it is free. I think in the little local chateau's case, they got more grant to do it up if they agreed to open it to the public for a certain number of days in the year. So we had a busy day yesterday.

First, the chateau. Only a very little chateau which has been done up in the last few years by Parisiens as a holiday home. Not done up by themselves (we were suitably sniffy about that) but beautifully done in a very expensive, sparse manner with everything Farrow and Ball sagey green. Expensive in a copper guttering, lead bath sort of way.

But the joy of the place has been discovered in the attics which nobody had touched for centuries.

Walls covered in the most glorious frescoes. Amazing pictures hidden away and now proudly exhibited by the new owner. Spectacular. (And apparently the macon who did our cellar wall was the man who started redoing the wall and covering them up!)
Home for a quick lunch and then off to meet a local expert at Les Habitations Troglydytique. The other brilliant thing about the weekend is that the extremely elderly experts that set up the local sites are able to come and show for the two days required where they don't want to do it regularly. We had already seen the local cave dwellings - in ancient times the very poorest lived in basically natural but extended caves under the wall of the town. They were hidden for centuries again and then found when a vehicle suddenly fell through the carpark into a hole.
Our guide had done the excavation and built or rebuilt the bits and pieces of furniture - don't touch the door it may fall down!
We then went back to his house to be shown the actual pots and bits and pieces that he had found rather than the copies for tourists and then off to Le Cluzeau de Petrou.
This is a series of tunnels and rooms built originally under a house in Cathar times (12th century) for them to be able to hide in should they need to. Our guide had spent 7 years exploring them and found evidence of them being used for various storage things over the centuries. Now they are just under a bit of corrugated plastic in the middle of the wood.
Down into the dark.

Over the pit to trap marauders.

and into the chambers. This is our guide - must be 80 if he's a day - full of information and loving to share it.

I'm glad I didn't know the French word for 'bats' so didn't realise that I was being warned that there was one on my back. I thought they just meant that it was very low and mind out :-)

Saturday, 13 September 2014


The weather is glorious. Cool, misty starts with cups of tea in bed looking out over the valley. Sometimes early enough for the breathtaking pink sunrises. By breakfast time it's warm enough to sit on the balcony and then by late afternoon it's still hot enough to swim in the river and bask on the bank. (picture to follow)

Yesterday we were joined by an extremely fit black Labrador type dog that we all thought belonged to someone else. He chatted to everyone, joined everyone in the water in turn, sometimes just going in for the fun of it. As we were the last people left, and he was still leaping about, we began to wonder what on earth was going to happen to him. Evidently it was time to leave, he had a final swim, shook himself down and trotted purposefully off up the steps. I wonder if he'll be there today.

Had to go to see a different doctor this week. Directed to the wrong clinic, but had left plenty of time, as usual, so got ourselves to the right place just in time. Worryingly chaotic at the desk with newly appointed receptionist, not helped by the French habit of always dealing with the telephone caller before the person in front of you. Waiting room like something out of the 1950s..............

Sat muttering 'it'll be alright, it'll be alright' in my head and of course it was. Charming doctor young enough to be one of my sons who explained clearly and kindly, spoke excellent English much to HOs relief, and quickly set about organising the next thing needed. Well, he tried, but by that time it was lunchtime and he couldn't get anyone to answer the phone :-)

As we walked back to the car we realised that we were in a touristy place and wouldn't be too late for lunch so sat under a tree in a shady square watching little ones catching falling leaves in the golden sunshine.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Perfect visitors

We have had a lovely week with our first visitors. Couldn't have been more appreciative and helpful. They heaved furniture willingly, made and cleared up meals, took us out to dinner and taught me how to paint furniture. And they are lovely people too.

All the painting we did was with  Annie Sloan chalk paint from It is brilliant paint and Sue turned my neglected, dead looking stripped down cupboard into a beautiful glowing finish. Still retaining the old look but nourished and loved and a beautiful colour.

We also had a go at the mantelpiece. Slightly different waxing and colour mix but they both please me enormously.

Today, I was left on my own and had a go at the orangey pine frame of this picture (sweet picture of random children that are just like ours were at that age - except M never wore short shorts, by the time he came along, shorts were longer. And HO had a dinghy at that time too.)

and the orangey pine of this mirror.

Turns out we have a lot of orangey pine when we start moving furniture. We bought such a lot of stuff in the 70s, and we've still got it!
What shall I paint next ..........................................................

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Every day's a holiday

We are loving playing at house. Some things, like the view, are a continuing delight:

Some, like the kitchen table, are a remembered pleasure. Just hoosh the clutter along a bit to make room for lunch.

The spotlights in the kitchen are brilliant - literally. After worries that all these new-fangled bulbs would be too dim, the spots over the worktop are wonderful. At last I can see what I'm doing but just over the worktops so that the light doesn't intrude on the rest of the kitchen.

The cooker is wonderful. Everything I hoped, such a joy to cook properly again.

The upstairs landing is a lovely space. We are still playing at moving furniture. Just bringing over the bits that will fit and then moving them three times before deciding. 

The view from the guest shower is amazing - well if you're six feet tall or above anyway!

Altogether lovely.

Monday, 28 July 2014

We've done it

Phew. After what amounts to a year of six days a week, we have finally got to a stage where we can move the fridge over and be based at the new house, not the rented one.
The cement mixer is finally out of the front garden - hooray.
The table is set up. The kitchen is in. The lights are done. Not all the painting is done - we've run out of Lidl paint until they have another offer - but it looks lovely. And is the biggest kitchen I have ever had.
The bed's made and waiting. And the bedhead is literally made by HO.

And the guest bedroom chandelier is up which makes me smile. (It's another faux ami, nothing a French electrician has ever heard of :-)

The telephone man came today so I can now blog in two places! And EDF promise to come on Thursday to increase the power supply - I'll believe that when they turn up.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Pride comes before a fall

HO is busy putting the kitchen together. We went to IKEA last week. Spent all day there with too much waiting and too much misdirection by Agathe (GPS). We arrived home totally smug and pleased with ourselves that we had conquered the system, manhandled the many boxes from the warehouse shelves onto a trolley and then into the van, then out of the van and onto our floor. (Now realise why we were the only wrinklies in the place!)

I counted them all in and I counted them all back. But we missed one. OFFS. There's a tick on the sheet but there are 3 of the same sort of shelf fittings missing (not paid for and missing, just never collected). OK, well we're going back to England soon, let's not go back to Toulouse (2 1/2 hours away) let's get them there. Then this morning HO rings from the house to say 'there aren't enough cupboards'. And 'you know how we carefully measured and planned this unit there, well there's room for the bigger one we first thought of.

Sigh. Looks like we'll be back to Toulouse..........

BUT. On the good news side. We are spending the night there. The meteo says that it will be a lovely evening in the square and we shall join the throng celebrating Bastille Day. Yay. I was a little concerned that the only working toilet and tap were downstairs but HO informed me this morning (with that slight 'don't you listen') that it's only the taps upstairs that don't work. All the waste is working and we now have stairs so it is very easy to take a bucket of water up and we will have washing and toilet in the ensuite.