Sunday, 11 May 2014

It's been a long time....!

I think I'd better start by saying "sorry" as it's been about four weeks since I updated the blog.  There are a variety of reasons but I won't bore you with them now.  Suffice to say, I'm here now and ready to tell you what we've been up to these last few weeks.

Well, weather-wise, we've had a mix of warm sunny days and rainy days.  As ever, when the weather's nice, we take advantage of it and get out in the garden where there is never a shortage of jobs to be done.  The garden is gradually coming alive with colour although I think it will be a while before the summer plants show their faces!  I was very pleased, though, when I spotted this little beauty... my first rose of the year!

Danny has been spending quite a lot of his "outdoors time" on the shed.  Or, I should say, the 'pool house' as I believe this is its correct name!  Although it needs another coat of paint, you can see what it will look like when it's finished, from this picture.
You can also see some of the pipework that is now in place.  Despite not being a technically minded sort of person, I am fascinated by all the equipment that will make the pool operate.  I've never stopped to consider all the hidden equipment that keeps a pool functioning and it's an eye-opener.  It also makes me feel a bit better about the money it's costing us!

In addition to putting the shed together and painting it, Danny has also run electricity to it so it has its own fuse box, not to mention various sockets and lighting (both inside and out!).  Here is Danny at the point when he was fitting the fuse box  and a picture of what the floor of the shed - oops, sorry!  I mean pool house - floor looked like while he was doing all this...

So where are we now with the pool?  Well these two items have arrived this week.....
The one on the left contains the plastic liner which will 'line' the walls and floor of the pool - yes really!  I have left the folded wooden chair next to it to give you an idea of the size of the parcel!  I had thought it would arrive as a big roll and Danny thought it would be folded flat so we both had a surprise!  The box on the right contains the 'summer cover'...something else I assumed would arrive as a big roll! 

We are dependent on the weather for the fitting of the liner as the air temperature must be at least 18 degrees.  The "Weather Channel" assures me that from about Tuesday onwards we can look forward to a run of nice warm sunny days again so we are hoping that the liner will go in on Wednesday.  If so, then the water will start to go in around then too!  You never know - I might be able to swim in it next weekend!

As well as that, all the machinery is now in place, albeit not yet connected!  It all looks terribly complicated but I daresay we'll get used to it.  Evidently there are routines to follow at the start and end of the winter and of course, on-going routines during the summer.  We will be having a heat pump but that (evidently) goes outside the pool house!

Once the pool has been filled with water, our intrepid builder is due to return to lay the terracing around the pool.  There is quite a lot of work to be done and we're not expecting to have the finished article before the end of June.
Unfortunately, our ginger tomcat, Charlie, isn't prepared to wait and has taken to sunbathing by the (empty) pool, on the bare earth....

On the days when the weather has not been good we have been doing  indoor jobs.  That usually means me catching up with domestic chores as I tend to ignore them when the sun is shining! Danny has now finished filling the various holes in the walls of the utility room and, apart from some sanding down and a wall to which we need to apply a sealant, the walls are ready to paint.  Danny has spent time drawing a scaled plan of the room and designing how it will be he is in action!

Next time I write, I hope to include some pictures of my potager (kitchen garden) and the fruit cage, all of which is flourishing nicely.  I have onions, beets, potatoes and radishes coming along together with various other things growing from seeds under cover.  It's very satisfying to see them all growing.  Before we came to France, I read in more than one place how the French like to advise you and give you the benefit of their knowledge of vegetable growing.  Well, it's true!  A few days after I planted some cherry tomato plants, our next-door neighbour, Jean-Marie, called me to the fence to tell me I had planted them too early.  He has also since given me some special "sleeves" to cover and protect them.  Co-incidentally, a friend of mine here has just been given the same advice by her neighbour!  It's impossible to take offence or think of it as interfering because it is meant simply as help.  And I appreciate it - not just to improve my gardening knowledge - but Jean-Marie doesn't speak a word of English so it helps me to improve my French too!!

The other interesting thing that happened in the garden recently, was my discovery of what appears to be the stone floor of an old building, perhaps a store or animal barn of some sort.  I went to dig over the area behind the fruit cage, as I plan to use the area to grow haricots verts (or French beans to you!).  The earth should be very fertile as it was where our predecessors had their compost heap.  As I started to dig I hit something hard.....not a chest of buried treasure unfortunately but this...
Now I have asked Danny if he will make a compost bin from some of the wooden pallets that are lying around the place and then it can be sited just here!

I shall leave you now with two totally unrelated pictures but hopefully both will bring a smile to your face.  The first is just of a rather special dinner I made for us last weekend.  It happens to be a favourite of one of my stepsons which is why Danny took a photo of it - to taunt his son on Facebook! (In case you're wondering, it's grilled skate with "sauce vierge")

This last photo is of our black cat, Whisper, and is here merely to demonstrate that it is not only the dogs that jump in the car when I get back from a shopping trip to see what goodies I may have!

Well, that's it for now folks. 

See you soon or à bientôt!