We had a lovely trip to the UK but I have to admit I'm glad to be back in France! No sooner was Calais behind us and we were driving through the open countryside, the feeling of peace and space overwhelmed us.
We stayed with Danny's youngest son and his family when we were in the UK and these pictures may give you a flavour of what life is like with them!
The "upside down" one on the swing is our daughter-in-law so it's easy to see where the children get there dare devil characters!!
One day, (while I was chin wagging the day away with an old friend!), Danny went to Duxford with his son and two granddaughters. They obviously enjoyed it!
There's never enough time to see everybody that we'd like to see and I have to apologise to all of those we missed this time. We've no idea when we might make another trip back but when we do, we'll hopefully see some of those we missed this time.
Anyway, we are back "home" in France now and life quickly resumes its normal routines, starting with the collection of our animals from their second home at Saint Pardoux Pension Pour Chiens (and now Chats!) All of them were perfectly happy there - well maybe not our old girly cat, Whisper, who likes to be in her own home and away from all the others except Finn!
We've been especially lucky to have come back to some glorious weather and everyone I speak to is hoping that this is 'IT' now...... a long hot summer! Danny and I have been able to get out in the garden and do some much needed work out there. All of the grass has now been cut and is starting to look better - even though it is still quite boggy underfoot, thanks to the incessant rain over the winter. I am doing some general tidying up; weeding and pruning etc.
The big event this weekend has been our acquisition of Dog Number 3 - Bertie. His foster parents live near Limoges, some 3 or 4 hours away from us. So we arranged to meet them in Verteuil-sur-Charente, where we would have some lunch and the Bertie handover would be made. You might remember that when we first came to France in January 2012 we rented a cottage in that village and going over there yesterday gave us the chance to look in on our lovely landlords.
So, after lunch in the Dixieland Café we said our goodbyes to Bertie's foster mum and dad (with promises to keep in touch), loaded Bertie in the car and set off back home. When we got here about an hour and a half later, we let Finn and Liam loose to play with their new 'brother'. They all had great fun running around in the garden. Unfortunately, Bertie forgot he's nearly 10 years old and can't really keep up the pace of the much younger Finn and Liam. So later on, this was him - worn out on the sofa!
This coming week is an exciting one for us because at long last, some major work is starting on the house. Or rather the garden! Have I told you before that we are not connected to the mains drainage where we live? It's very common in these rural areas to have a septic tank (or, in French, a fosse septique). A few years ago there was a massive review of these fosses and standards were uprated. It means that virtually everyone was supposed to upgrade their fosse but naturally, France being France, it's almost impossible to police and very few people have done it. The main time that it becomes relevant is when a house is sold; by law the new owner has a year in which to upgrade their fosse. Again, no one I know has ever been checked but it does make a great bargaining point when you're buying the property. We were no exception and we got the house at a much reduced price because the existing fosse was below the recommended standard. We decided that we would actually get a new one - for a number of reasons - and this coming week, it's being installed.
Now, on its own, that's not terribly exciting is it? But Phil, the guy who is going to install the new fosse, is also going to dig out the ground for our swimming pool! Plus remove a row of superfluous hedging. This picture then is going to be my "before photo" and I shall keep you updated as we go along!!
For me, this is also the start of a domino effect of work we've been waiting for. Phil is also going to put in a soak away pipe behind the barn as Danny has noticed he has some damp in there. Once that is done, we can fence off the area and after that I'll be able to start my potager (kitchen or vegetable garden). It has to be fenced off to keep the dogs away from it! I have been buying some plants ready to start that but again, they have to be dog-proofed. This is my collection of plants ready for the potager -
So far I have raspberry, blackberry, apricot, lemon and tomato plants. I also have some strawberry plants in another (safe) area! Plus, I have various seeds to sow - mainly salads and herbs - but they will have to wait a bit longer until I can sow them safely!
Anyway, once the pool is in, the builder will pave around it and will then put in double doors at the back of my kitchen, replacing the existing window, and these will lead out on to the terrasse. And then... then... maybe just maybe, I'll be able to have my kitchen remodelled so it's exactly how I want it! Ah well, all in good time. For now, let's just see how the installation of the new fosse progresses!
Au revoir for now!