Wednesday, 22 August 2012


OK, so I have very little time these days to do blog posts and quite frankly posts all about 'we have done this and we have done that' become quite tedious after a petit moment for you, the reader. But the daft thing is that our new life here is made up of so much more than 'doings'. This is a whole new 'experience', made all the richer by the characters that make up our community here. I still can't put a name to them all, although of course the introductions have been made. Give me a chance.... it's still early days! But suffice it to say that I have never felt so 'at home' in France. Allow me to just give a nod to the characters who have contributed to this feeling. I'll start with the Maylins. Other characters will no doubt form the basis of future posts.

Monsieur Maylin no. 1;
One of three Maylin brothers who live in the next three houses down the road from us, all aged in their 60s/70s. No. 1 is the chappy who held the key to our new home ... literally. He opened the door to the agent and ourselves when we visited for the first time back in May. He is also the owner of the 5 horses that I invited to feast on the lush grass that was preventing us from creating my longed-for potager. He is a quiet, unassuming, patient, hard-working chap who is worth his weight in gold. He is also the owner of a bonkers boxer (dog) who is confined 24/7 to the house or (if he is very lucky and the wind is blowing in the right direction) to the little yard/garden. Said dog is still 'intact' which could conceivably explain his totally manic/frenzied behaviour whenever anybody passes the gate, behaviour which reaches fever pitch should Taff decide to tease/taunt him with a playful bounce as we pass by on our morning walk. I have suggested castration as a possible remedy for his seemingly intolerable behaviour. M Maylin was unimpressed. On the other hand, I could just accept that said dog it just bored out of his mind. It is not for me to conjecture. I comfort myself in the knowledge that M Maylin 1 has a big pile of well rotted horse manure that is going to render my fledgling potager the most productive potager in the hamlet. Thank you M Maylin 1.

Monsieur Maylin 2
This is the second of the Maylin brothers. He is also the most rotund. He has a strong regional accent. He apparently suffered a stroke a few years ago which explains why his speech is almost unintelligible to myself and even more so to Andy. Fortunately, M Maylin 2 is very aware of the communication problems that this generates and apologies incessantly for being so incomprehensible but the important thing is that we are able to communicate and besides,  M Maylin 2, you have given us the use of your fantastic, ancient, still fighting, 6 blade rotavator (which you get going with the aid of a length of rope, I kid you not) which has allowed us to turn over the patch for my potager, which M Maylin 1's horse manure is now nourishing and in which the most delicious winter greens will be grown, I assure you. M Maylin 2 also has two of the most delightful grandchildren that you could ever wish to meet, although I have no idea of their names. Suffice to say that the young lad (around 10 yrs old?), is made up when he is allowed to take the big quad bike out.

Monsieur Maylin 3
This is the third of the Maylin brothers. He has a cat that gave birth to kittens behind the tractor. His wife grows lovely lettuce. Apart from that, he is, so far, an enigma to me. But it's still early days, early days

Monday, 20 August 2012

Renovation works and Blighty visit

I headed back to the UK for a week at the beginning of the month for the joint Birthday celebrations of my sister (50) and mum (75). They had a chosen a fantastic venue for the small family party, right on the beach at Branksome Chine Dean between Poole and Bournemouth.

It was a wonderful evening and a fantastic opportunity to catch up with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends that I have not seen for far too long. A reet good bash, as they say up North!
It was wonderful to spend some quality time with my immediate family during my stay. Many people who are considering a move overseas worry that they will not see their family as often as before, but in my experience, I see more of them now than when I lived in the UK! It's great!

While I was away, Andy set about the hardcore prep work for the new bathroom upstairs, making holes in walls...

....removing a rotten staircase which was in the way of the toilet outlet pipe drop in the room next door and knocking through a doorway to the back of the house to where our terrasse/outdoor eating area is going to be. All noisy, dirty, dusty work that I was pleased to be away for! But he was finding it hard going with the tools that he had, so I picked him up a new toy on my way back from the airport which he seems quite pleased with!
One of the first jobs when I got back was to attempt to tackle the capricorn beetle damage in the new bathroom beam which has involved the removal of a lot of dusty, powdery wood. The beam wasn't very pretty once the damaged wood was removed....
... and needed another 5-6mm taking off the surface to remove all of the capricorn evidence and to make the beam worth staining/varnishing. So Andy deployed the planer and then the belt sander, both of which gave up the ghost in the process! So new tool buying is now on the agenda in order to finish the job. Fortunately, the two beams in bedroom 2 (the current 'guest' bedroom) were in a much better state when we removed the pine panelling a couple of days ago and just need some Xylophene treatment and then a good varnish/stain to bring them up to their best. Wonderful!
I made some scrummy plum jam before I went away and by the time I got back the pears were starting to fall off the trees. It has been a few years since I made Blushing Pears, but they are a great way to use up a glut of the fruit. They can be kept in preserving jars for up to a year and are simply delicious with cheese and cold meats. Miam Miam!
But the most exciting thing that has happened recently is on the 'growing your own stuff' front. I bought some young broccoli and red cabbage plants from the market a couple of weeks ago and planted them in pots, hoping that I would at some point be able to plant them in my own potager which was still just a field. I have also sown some brassicas in modules which again I have been hoping I would be able to plant out before the autumn. Then today, M Maylin dropped his rotavator round and Andy spent a couple of very hot and sweaty hours turning over the hard soil. That rotavator is a thing to behold and is probably nearly as old as me ....the string on the handlebar is part of the starting mechanism!
But it did the job beautifully and I now have over 140m2 to play with! We will have our own veggies this autumn! Hurrah!