Friday, 22 November 2013

Brrrr.....hibernation calling!

I can't complain as we have had some lovely sunny and even, mild, weather recently.  But we have also had very heavy rain and high winds.  (So much so, that the pool hole cover that Danny spent two days working on, simply couldn't take the strain and he's now come up with yet another design, this time with the sole aim of trying to preserve the sides from collapsing). 

Anyway, what have we been up to this last few weeks?  Not much actually! Although we seem to be busy all the time and the days just fly by.  Danny - when not battling with pool hole covers - has been making good and painting the walls in the kitchen.  When I started writing this post, all that was left for him to do was paint the ceiling.  But today he's even done that!  As I've said before, the kitchen won't actually be finished until the new door out to the garden has been done.  And that's not going to happen before February 2014!  And aside from that, there are a few other bits that need to be done by our intrepid kitchen fitter over the next couple of weeks.  I'll include some photos next time, hopefully.

We have done more tidying up in the garden (in particular putting away all the sun loungers and other bits and bobs) and although it still resembles a building site, it is a whole lot better.  We gave in and paid out to have all the old conifer hedge and other similar debris removed because we finally accepted that it really was too big a job for us two.   I belong to a forum on Facebook which is for us ex-pats in this part of France.  I think I may have mentioned it before but it is so useful for advice, information, etc.  I wrote that I wanted someone to come and do some garden clearance for us and among others, a friend of mine and her husband  offered to come and do it.  I knew they could do with the money so we helped each other in a way!  Here are some 'before and after' photos to show what they did and how much it's improved the garden.

First, this is a pile of the hedge trimmings that we acquired when our old neighbours from England helped us trim a boundary hedge to a more manageable height.  Going forward, the hedge itself will be far easier to trim as it won't involve going up and down ladders but, as grateful as we were for their help, it left us with this mound....

and after the clearance exercise, the area looks like this....

The leaves will either just blow away or Danny will pick them up with his tractor mower! And of course the grass will grow back in time.

The other area looked like this....

In the foreground of the picture are old hedge trimmings from last year and toward the back is the old conifer hedge that was dug up in April (and which we'd started to shred before the shredder packed up on us!).

Now the area looks like this....

Again, the grass will grow back and obviously the weeds that grew around the original pile of hedge trimmings will need to be cut down.  But apart from that it's all a whole lot tidier and the work left to do is not insurmountable.  As soon as is possible, Danny will be able to go over the whole area in his tractor mower and it will improve the appearance no end.

Now.... what's hiding in here do you think?

Now that we are moving toward the last week of November, I knew that frost wouldn't be far away and that meant I'd have to give in and put away the window boxes.  I say 'give in' because they are all still flowering beautifully.  As you drive around here you often see geraniums still flowering right into the winter but I didn't want to take a chance with leaving them out.  We had bought the item above (what do you call it?) in the UK last time we were there.  It was intended for starting seedlings but I decided it was ideal for.....

.... window boxes!!!
Well, there's not much more to tell you about.  Since I started writing this post the weather has become much colder and one morning this week we even awoke to find the grass covered in frost!  Danny is back in his wood-chopping routine!  We thought we would economise and buy our logs in metre lengths this year but the downside is that pretty much every day Danny has to go and chop them up!  We will need more deliveries of wood I'm sure, so I think we'll end up paying a bit more and having logs cut to maybe 30cm.  Obviously, the shorter they are the more expensive they are as the provider has the work of cutting them.  It wasn't so bad last year because the old wood burner took half-metre lengths. 
I took this photo of Danny as he was on his way out to chop wood a couple of days ago.  I think it shows just how cold it's getting out there.  But also, look to Danny's right and you'll see Finn.... it looks to me like he's thinking 'Come on dad!  Where are you?!'  Perhaps we should have a caption competition

On that note, I'm off to feed us all.... so until next time...à bientôt!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Some sad news...

I had started to write my next post but was halted by what has been a very difficult week. I have decided to do this short post now to let those of you who aren't already aware that we lost our youngest cat, Cali, this week.  She went missing last Thursday and on Sunday we discovered that she had been killed in a road accident. All of our pets are special in their own way but I have to admit that Cali held a special place in my heart.

Those of you who have stayed with us know that we live in a very quiet and peaceful hamlet. Our house is set back quite a way from the road....or I should say, lane, because it is really no more than that. So it seems doubly cruel that an animal should be so unfortunate as to be hit by a vehicle.

I don't think Danny and I have felt this low since that first week after we came to France and Danny's sons went home after helping us with the move. But finally today we both feel a lot better; we know that it gets easier as time goes by and even being able to write this post is proof of that.

Tomorrow I hope to continue with the post I had started writing last week and things will be back to normal! But in the meantime, I'm going to leave you with this picture of the cat I always called my "baby girl"......

(Obviously the roses have been added by me!  She was actually perched on a mound of earth at the time!!!)