Sunday, 22 September 2013

So much to show you.......!

What with Tony & Alyth's (my brother and sister-in-law) visit followed so closely by a visit from our old neighbours from England (Ron & Barbara) I simply haven't had a chance to sit down and update this blog.  And all the time, the new kitchen was coming along very nicely thank you!

So, I think without any further ado, let me show you where we are with the kitchen and how we got there!  It's quite a way off being finished and in actual fact, the final piece of the jigsaw which will be the new door out to the garden, won't be done until February 2014.  No matter, we now pretty much have a new kitchen!!

Let me first remind you that the old kitchen looked like this.....

Danny and I have, between us, taken loads of photos as our friend Les was installing the new kitchen and there are far too many to include here.  But hopefully, this half dozen pictures will give you a flavour of how it happened...

In that last one, it looks like Les is trying to hide in the cupboard!  I wouldn't blame him as he had no end of problems with the kitchen yet he overcame each one with good humour and of course, his expertise meant that he was never fazed by anything.

So, this evening, I have taken some pictures to show you how the kitchen looks right now.  There are still a number of jobs to do, not least all the painting! 

You might have noticed that there are lights under all of the wall cupboards.  Well, there are lights inside those cupboards too.  And all of them were fitted by my very clever husband!

Having a friend to fit the kitchen had its advantages especially because he always ensured that I could use the kitchen throughout the whole process.  And as soon as the new oven was installed and working, I couldn't resist using it and naturally took a photo of the event!  Here is a "toad in the hole" being cooked as the very first meal in the new oven!!

By the way, the old cooker hood has a new role to fulfil in Danny's hobby room. For those of you who didn't know, Danny makes models (aircraft, cars, boats etc.) and he bought a paint sprayer to use on these models.  Now he has created a 'spray booth' in his hobby room with the old cooker hood as an extractor fan.  This is what it looks like....

On top of all this excitement with the kitchen, we also now have the wood-burner installed in the new fireplace in the lounge.  Last week, the weather turned decidedly chilly and we thought we'd better get on and put in the wood-burner.  No sooner had Danny done so, the weather completely changed and we've had a heat wave for the last few days!  Still, never mind.  I don't suppose it'll be that long before we start needing it in the evenings.  Here is the finished fireplace and wood-burner...

I think it looks really nice and I'm almost sorry it's not cool enough to use it!!!

As I mentioned at the start, our old neighbours from England came for a week long visit and it was lovely to have them here.  They are dog lovers and keen gardeners so they fit in well!  As they did last year when they visited, they did a lot of the 'big' jobs in the garden for us; things like hedge trimming and cutting down the invasive ivies.  I was enlisted to move the cuttings from around the garden to a pile ready for burning in October when we are allowed to have bonfires again.  I had to have a 'crash course' in driving the tractor mower and when I eventually got the hang of it (!) I rather enjoyed it.  Here are a selection of photos from Ron & Barbara's visit....

And here you have it...recorded for posterity!  Me on the tractor mower!
And to finish off, just a few bits and pieces.  Firstly, we have a gorgeous flowering shrub outside the front door.  It didn't flower last year but has been glorious this year.  Even my visitors who are keen gardeners have not been able to identify it so I'm hoping that by including a photo here, someone will put me out of my misery and tell me what the plant is called...
And on the subject of plants, those of you who follow my blog avidly, may remember that I cut down our pampas grass quite harshly last autumn.  Well, it certainly seems to have done it the world of good as this is what it looks like now!

And finally, I'm going to leave you with this rather nice photo (even if I say so myself!) of Finn and I on the swing seat.  Danny took the photo a few evenings ago and in case you're wondering why I'm wearing jeans and socks when it is so obviously warm and sunny, it's because I'd put on these clothes before I realised we were going to have a heat wave!  By the time I was out and on the swing seat and had realised quite how warm it was, I couldn't be bothered to go and change!!

This will probably be the last blog for a couple of weeks as I am swapping the quiet peaceful French countryside for the noise and lights of New York for a week long trip with a couple of my old school friends! (Going to a city that never sleeps from a village that's always asleep - ha ha!).  I'm due back in France on 7th October so hopefully you'll hear from me soon afterwards!

Until then... au revoir!

Monday, 9 September 2013

A visit from my brother & sister-in-law, a camping weekend and a kitchen update!

A few days after my last post, Danny & I went camping in our VW Camper for the first time since the interior was gutted and refurbished.  It's amazing to think this was the first time in over 3 years that we have been camping in it.  Taking all three dogs would have been a nightmare so we sent Finn and Liam off to the kennels and we took Bertie with us.  He loved it and was an angel all weekend! The event was an "Expat Rally" held at a campsite only about 15 kilometres away from us but it seemed like the ideal one to test out the camper, meet some new people and not be too far from home in case of problems.  The campsite is called Puy Rond Camping and you can see for yourselves what it's like if you click here. Suffice to say, it was a fantastic site with hot water, showers, washing up facilities, a washing machine and as you will see on the website, a swimming pool!  This was the first time they've held the rally but they are thinking of doing it again next year.  There were 6 or 7 others in our group but they all had modern caravans or motor homes (oh and one had a trailer tent).  I have to confess that as nice a weekend as it was, it doesn't come close to the good times we used to have at the VW camping weekends we went to in the UK!  Unfortunately, we didn't take many photos but just so you can see how cosy the camper is, here's a pic of Danny and Bertie enjoying the new bed!

We got back from camping with a few days to prepare for my brother Tony and his wife Alyth's visit.  For various reasons, they have not been able to come before now so it was wonderful for me finally to have them here and spoil them for a few days.  Alyth loves animals and as you can see from this first batch of photos, they love her back!  She threatened to steal at least one of my cats but she didn't get away with it!

Since we "discovered" the beautiful village of Coulon, in the Marais Poitevin, we are making sure we take our visitors there!  Tony and Alyth were no exceptions as you can see in these next photos!  I've included a couple of the river that Tony took, simply because they are much better than the ones I took last time I was there!

As Tony is such a good photographer, I'm also going to include a couple of the photos he took of the cows and calves in the field beyond our garden.  One of the things I simply love about living here is that these beautiful animals live so close to us.  They seem to love humans and often wander right up to the fence.  No matter how stressful life gets, I find that a walk in the garden and watching the cows as they munch away at the grass in the field, will give me a wonderful sense of well-being and peace.

On Friday, I went off for my usual French lesson followed by a session at the physiotherapist in the village of L'Absie.  While all that was going on, Tony, Alyth and Danny had a wander round the village and then enjoyed some tea and homemade cake in the lovely coffee shop there.  Here are just a few of the pictures he took....

(The last photo is the place where I have my French lesson!)

Most of this year's visitors enjoyed two other things which I have featured in earlier blogs; they have all loved our swing seat and all enjoyed a meal at the Vue du Chateau restaurant!  Tony and Alyth were again no exceptions!

Tony and Alyth went back home on Saturday, leaving me feeling very sad.  But it was lovely having them here and I hope that it won't be too long before they come again.

And finally, just to update you as to the kitchen installation!  By coincidence, Les had his daughter here during the same week that Tony and Alyth were here so we decided to have a week off from doing the kitchen.  Work resumes tomorrow after Danny and I made yet another trip to IKEA today for some extra "bits".  I'm going to save the pictures for now but I can tell you that more than half of the new units are in, together with the new oven and hob.  And it's all looking FAB!!!

We have more visitors arriving on Wednesday so I expect to have more to tell you next week!  Till then, à bientôt!