Monday 28 October 2013


Hmmmm. What's about to make something nice for pudding.

There's a packet of readymade pastry. In France they sell circles of readymade short crust and puff pastry that you can unroll and put in the tin still on the greaseproof paper they arrive in. Having bought a tin that fits them, life is simple. Bit past its sellby date but hey who's counting.

Some perfectly good but slightly sad apples in the fruit bowl.

Let's try some butterless cake on top. Weigh two eggs in shells, put same weight of ground almonds, castor sugar and rapeseed oil in bowl with the now broken eggs, pinch of salt. Mix.

Scatter cored and thinly sliced apples onto pastry. Dollop cake mixture. Bake for half an hour at something between 180 200 depending what the oven's feeling like............. et voila.

Impressive huh.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Stained Glass

In our last house we commissioned this stained glass for a west facing window in the bedroom part of our barn. The light through it made lovely patterns on the opposite wall and it was (and is) a delight.
In the new house we have commissioned these guys to make something for the little holes in the end wall. He is the local man that did the last one, spends a lot of time repairing medieval stained glass in local churches. She is his new partner Lots of talk about the angle at which the light will come into the house, where the horizon sits when you look through them.......

Hard to photograph but today they have come and fitted them.


and right
What do you think?

Monday 21 October 2013


Started at last. Him Outdoors strimmed the back garden on Saturday.  Huge bonfire and we
have space to imagine.

Today we brought over the bench and chairs that belonged to my parents and my father's parents before them. Something hugely connecting to be sat in my new garden admiring my handiwork somehow in the company of my mother and grandmother. (I realise that it is not just a female thing but it feels like it.)
This is the view from the bench. Halfway through. Dug one bed which was originally for raspberries but then after sitting on the bench decided that the asparagus would get more sun (and appreciate it more) if it had that bit. Dug another one for raspberries to its right. Am now totally knackered!

The jumper is hanging on the middle post of the washing line. There are huge lumps of concrete with holes in them to hold posts running down the garden. For the moment, I have left paths under it so that I can hang out the washing.

And here's the view from the balcony. They look much smaller from up here :-(
The soil is lovely. Dark brown and crumbly and although there are surface weeds there is very little at any depth. And only one worm!

Friday 18 October 2013

A good day

Today they took the scaffolding down. And took away all the piles of poles, planks and jointy thingies that were cluttering up the place - as if we hadn't got enough stuff cluttering up the place. So now our lovely house is revealed in all its glory. With new openings, newly exposed wall stones and the basics of a balcony all painted, railing to be replaced. Pause to delight in it .................................
Him Outdoors has also cut down the hedge. Not quite sure why this hedge is here. We don't own the bit of garden on the other side which is between the front garden and the view. At some point, someone has planted leylandii along our house wall and between us and the view. We politely asked the next door neighbours if we could cut it down a bit over the winter. They agreed. At least I hope they agreed, because it is too late now!
It's still 2 metres high on their side which apparently is the legal limit and they did say we could! It makes a huge difference to the light in the front garden. Also today another neighbour popped in to admire the house and view and was completely, racistly scathing about the Parisiens who live next door. Apparently it is she who has had the yellow line in the road put in because they were so difficult about leaving a metre of space so she could park her van, that she has had the mayor put a line and if there is a problem in the future, the gendarmes can step in!
Today was also the first day after the summer that we are able to have a bonfire. We have got rid of such a load of stuff and apart from the heaps of stone from the enlarged openings and the piles of wood, the garden is beginning to look respectable. And also, because it was such a glorious day, possible.

 This is a picture of the new kitchen window. Love it, perfect double glazed replacement of the old one. (Apart from the handles which are coming later.)

This is the wrong one for the spare bedroom. Which had been reordered with only 6 panes to match the kitchen window which it is above.
This is the sitting room window. To be honest I wish we had divided it into 5 panes high, not 6 but it is better to match the other ones that are already there. But the balcony floor is in, scaffolding now removed and it is absolutely spectacular.

The view from our bedroom window is so lovely, I spend ages gawping. (And the proportions of the window panes are better too.)

Today I finished the end bedroom wall jointing too. (This is a nearly finished photo.)

At the end of the day Noam (like Noah but Noam) appeared. He is happy to do the screed for the cellar floor on top of the underfloor heating - no problem. So now we have to investigate pipes, insulation, and all the gubbins that is involved in underfloor heating. He will also crepi the breezeblock wall - no problem. Lovely guy that speaks enough English for Him Outdoors to be able to communicate well with his French and also son in law of the local builders merchants!
Also. yesterday I popped in to the Mairie to get some recycling bags and to check that they are still thinking of having our tree for a Christmas tree. If not, we will have to think of getting it cut down. Today the guy rang back announcing he was from the Mairie. OMG what have I done, what have they found out, help.................. what it is to have a guilty conscience :-) it is all fine, they will come at the beginning of December to cut the tree.
A good day.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

I'm so sorry it's all my fault!

Never thought I would hear that from a workman French or otherwise.

Today was window fitting day. Got to the house for 8 am to prepare for the fitting of four windows with appropriate handles, new handles for the one already fitted and balustrades for two of them.

Not quite according to plan. The sitting room window is lovely, the kitchen window is lovely, the bedroom window is lovely. Muttering from upstairs about the spare bedroom window. Problem seemed to be resolved but after a little while I went upstairs.

That's not the right size. (And you're trying to make it fit.) Huge gaps all round. Excuse me but I don't understand, is this the right size?

Having been found out in their trying to fudge it, they couldn't have been more helpful. (Thank heavens we were there.) No, I'm sorry, that won't do, I will need another one. OK I will call the office. It's fine, the man will come this afternoon and remeasure.

Meanwhile the bedroom and sitting room were cracking on and the kitchen looked fine.

Where are the balustrades? What balustrades? We haven't got them, I'll call the office.

Where are the new handles? We have them. Oh, no we don't. We ordered the right ones but they have sent the wrong ones.

So they continued with what they could do, were everso apologetic about what they couldn't, the boss would come this afternoon to talk to us.

OK I'll just go and admire the ones that are brilliant. (Pictures later.) Opened the large bedroom window and there is nothing to hold the unopened half shut. What, you expect to have the window half open? But it's not a door, they are not built like that. You should have ordered the fitting if you wanted that. Oh for f's sake, enough is enough. And the kitchen window is the same.

Talk to the chief who is coming this afternoon.

We await the chief, thinking that he is going to be some slimey bugger trying to weasel his way out of sorting out the problem. We couldn't have been more wrong.

Oh madame I am so sorry it is all my fault. I did the measuring incorrectly, I will order you another one to come as quickly as possible (and you would like to change the layout of the panes in the new window, no problem).

I am so sorry the handles are wrong, that wasn't our fault but we should have checked before we came, we will order the new ones for next week.

I am so sorry the balustrades haven't arrived, the blacksmith is making them and he is delayed, I will fit them as soon as they arrive.

How could you possibly know that you have to order the fittings for closing windows, I will get them for next week too and that will be no problem.

You could have knocked us over with a feather! They may have messed up but their customer service was gobsmacking - especially from France who don't know the meaning of the word (sorry couldn't resist that).