Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gardening and memories

I spent some time yesterday sorting out my coldframe.

Lesson 1, throw out the dead snails immediately. If what looks like an empty shell is actually a rotting, maggot ridden carcase, it STINKS.

Lesson 2, if my overwintered geraniums look totally dead, they probably are and won't revive with water and sunshine. And actually are but that makes much more room for other stuff.

Lesson 3, (one I will never learn) stop planting too many of everything. If you have planted 2 seeds per pot in order to throw away the weaker one. Throw it away.

Of course, there should be a picture here of productive coldframe but camera got left at the house.

Domestic day today. Him Outdoors left asking what was it you didn't want me to strim? Can't hold my breath or cross my fingers all day, perhaps the orchids; what I think is a clump of gladiolus Byzantium; the remains of a deer eaten rose and what looks like a clump of Michaelmas daisies will survive. Perhaps.

Sunny, peaceful gardening makes my mind wander. My mother died at the beginning of last year after a decade of increasing dementia. My mother-in-law died in February. Superficially, I find myself thinking 'oh must be time we rang your mum' and being brought up short. Got a reminder for her birthday........... But underlying that it has brought me a real grieving for my mother. Not the dementing one, but the person behind that. When she died the overwhelming feeling was one of relief that she didn't have to do that anymore and that she was settled back with Dad in the beautiful Suffolk churchyard.

What I miss so much suddenly is the only one that really cares about the female things. I am my mother's daughter, she has passed on to me all her domestic loves and hates. She would love the domestic details, the cake that did (or didn't) work, the plants that were special (or eaten by deer), the fact that I am sitting doing this rather than changing the sheets. She would be interested in the details of my French mammogram, the hairdresser, we would share the latest books we have read. I picked up Mrs Dalloway at a friend's house yesterday and dipped in while waiting, she would have read it and shared her opinion.  Her rural Suffolk life has so very many parallels with this rural frenchness. I miss her.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


It's nearly Easter, school holidays have started and the first tourists are upon us.

Ambling around supermarkets, wandering around in shorts and sandals that no self respecting local would be seen dead in.

The weather is glorious and the countryside is delightful.

Given that the town is alive again, what better time for the local supermarket to shut for its annual holiday. For a month.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Him Outdoors has a new toy

Lovely new gadget. Built by moi from Chinese French instructions. It makes lifting the huge sheets of plasterboard much, much easier.
Finished the last bit of jointing on the landing.

Put up a bit of brush fencing between us and the neighbours to stop them looking at us, looking at them, looking at us while they eat. If they ever come. They are the sort of neighbours that only come for some of July and August but just in case they decide to come for Easter .......................

And the first sunny lunch on the balcony. Lovely.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Slowly, slowly

More digging. The garden is being designed by purchase of irresistible plants or lack of soil. I sit on my grandmother's bench and plan big plans of sweeping flower beds and then am stumped by the terrain. Ho hum. Still I'm getting there, slowly slowly. Dug another veg bed today probably for tomatoes but maybe not :-)
Great news, the balcony has returned. After several promises, it arrived with man to help and they proceeded to try to put it back where they got it from. There was a moment where the whole weight was balanced on one stuck out foot!! Eventually it was cut in half and soldered back together - you can't see the join and it's lovely. Sunny every day until after lunch, well, if there was sunshine it would be.

We've done a lot of plasterboarding. A concerted effort to get the area around the stairs ready for stairs. Eventually decided that it really wasn't essential to have stairs just so workmen could spoil them and we have put them back a month.
So Him Outdoors - or more recently Him Indoors - has been tackling the plumbing. Turns out he was really not looking forward to it but as you would guess, once he started it has all proceeded slowly but beautifully. (I'm sure this is a really interesting picture to somebody, just not me.)

Tomorrow we have a day off. Well, we are hosting a 10k walk with lunch - in the rain............

Friday, 21 March 2014

This week

What's been happening this week? The electrician has finished the first fix.
Which means that we can start wrapping the rooms up in brown paper.

Or lining them with teddy bears. Your bedroom wall has been pointed.

The balustrades have been fitted.
Him Outdoors has been playing with frames for the plasterboard and lining them with cork.

A man came and fitted the only handle that will fit on the tiny space left on the door frame.

And spring has arrived (swallows this afternoon.)

Peach blossom.

And the neighbour's plum tree.

Yesterday we had drinks with our Parisian neighbours. We had a form to fill in and they spent ages discussing the exact wording necessary. They couldn't decide whether we were doing a 'renovation totale, or a totale renovation'. If they don't know what hope have the rest of us. There was also huge discussion about what a difference it made if you said 'ce matin, il faisait beau' rather than 'il faisait beau, ce matin'. The most important thing comes first ?????????? Beyond me.

Thursday, 20 March 2014


Oops made the mistake of telling our 75 year old Parisian landlords that we were going to Paris in May. Could be the fact that we have just been given prawn crackers, salami, bread and butter, frankfurters and three large glasses of wine! Now we are committed to dinner at their house and a tour of Paris by night driven by them............. I'm sure it will be lovely.

The nicest part of the day was discovering that the man that owned our house before always planted his potatoes on 19th March -and I just had too. That pleased me no end.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A good day

Yesterday the guy came to fix the guard rails to all the upstairs windows. Wish we didn't have to have them but with floor level windows and huge drops they are essential. He also apologised for not bringing the handle because it hadn't come in as expected. 'What handle?' says I, 'I haven't ordered any more'. Someone said they were coming to show me something that might do but nobody came and I certainly haven't ordered anything!

Called in on balcony man to gently enquire about where the balcony had got to and there it was in his workshop, all done and ready to fit. He will come and fit it when he has got someone to come and help with the huge weight at great height. Sigh of relief from Him Outdoors.

One of the kitchen/bathroom sheds sent us a '20% off one item' offer letter. They can't mean that the cooker I like which costs nearly 2,000 euros could be included................................ But they can, and it is, and it will be delivered at the end of April!!!!

Only slight downer is that there is a leak next to one of the chimneys when it pours with rain - not normal rain, just downpours - and when asked when they were coming to fix it we were told that it was fine now and to plasterboard over it. Mmmmm maybe not, further discussion required.

The garden is looking brilliant. I know that it is that time of year when everything is just gloroious and I am in control and it won't last but hey. I only see the tiny shoots and peach blossom, not the burgeoning nettles.