Friday, 30 April 2010

Antiques hunting at reasonable prices!

I have been on the look out for the last few weeks for some single bed headboards and have had no joy at all. I wanted something in natural wood that was single and if I found two I could push them together to make one large headboard for the superkingsized bed. Well it was like hunting for something that wasnt even designed yet.... Ooh a business idea!

Last Sunday Natalie, my new french friend, introduced me to Lucie after my regular visit to the farmers market. Lucie was dressed in her nightdress and proudly showed me round her holiday home with no airs or graces! She is from Paris and has recently bought a house in Auvillar in need of substantial rennovation. Far more than we could even contemplate, but each to their own! Lucie has it set in her mind that the project will be 5 years and is doing alot of the painting and non structural work herself whilst her children are on school holidays. Only one room is almost complete at present and it looks fantastic, the rest however is like a demolition site. How she lives there on her holidays with three children and husband is beyond me! However, she loves doing the work and is sourcing original materials and antiques in the Louis style which suit the house perfectly.

Lucie told me that she had some friends in a local village (Saint Nicolas de la Grave) who had an antiques shop. Antiques shops here in France are quite different to the UK in that they generally are a rundown property filled to the gunnells with all types of antiques and rubbish. It is your job as the buyer to sort through the piles of stock to see if they have what you want. In most cases as the furniture has come from a house clearance it is not in a good state and most has lots of woodworm. However, there are the little golden nuggets if you look for them.

So, Thursday I collected Lucie and we drove to the Brocante (antiques shop). It was as I had thought a rundown farm building, covered in climbing roses and full of cobwebs, but the owners were delightful. Owned by an old couple in their 80's and run by their son in his 40's it was a real find.

On entering the room, I was surprised to hear an American voice coming from my right. Sat on a chair in the corner was an American antiques dealer from New Orleans! He told me that this was one of the best places to buy genuine and nice antiques in the area and he had been coming to the same shop for over 20 years! I was deffinitely in the right place!

After exchanging pleasantaries, he left leaving a large amount of the stock labelled for shipping to the USA. I glanced around the room, each time taking in something different. There were three rooms each filled with furniture of different eras. Some painted Louis furniture, large ornate mirrors, beautiful chairs, screens, fire guards and fabulous lighting of a bygone age, none displayed properly and not shown off to their best. I had a good poke around and was surprised to find nestled in the corner of the middle room just what I was looking for, a single wooden sleigh type bed! Made from Walnut it did have some woodworm in it but nothing to really worry about. I asked the price and was surprised to find that even though there was a price tag hiding on one side I got it a half the price displayed. Re..sult. I paid and put it in the back of the car for the short drive home. Lucie also had purchased 4 chairs, a lamp and a small louis painted table with a marble top. After completing my purchase, I was invited to take a drink and was then proudly shown around the owners garden with its beautiful wisteria canopied walk way, pond and bushes neatly trimmed into different shapes. Accross the road there was another section to the garden and I was told the history of the 16th Century Church that shaded one corner of the orchard. I finally left with Lucie after 2 hours feeling that I had made another new friend in Lucie and that the old couple had welcomed me to the fold so to speak!

The bed was unloaded from the car and treated for woodworm before putting it into the B&B room, I now just have to give it a bit of TLC and rewax it. It looks stunning and I am very pleased.

Off tomorrow early to the first vide grenier of the weekend (equivalent to an English car boot sale) and another two on Sunday. I am told by the locals it is a great place to find small items of furniture at very reasonable prices. Will let you know how I get on!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Perpearing the Maison du Soleil

We are now almost in to our second month here in France and wow how time has flown. Most of the boxes are now unpacked and my husband is getting on well with the installation of the kitchen in the Pigioneer that will be the first gite to open in June. We originally hoped to be open for the end of May, but as usual time scales always have to lenghthen. The situation has not been helped by the fact that we had to wait for so long for our furniture and all my husbands tools to arrive in order for him to start work. Most of the house was in a really good state of repair when we bought it but there are pockets that need attention and modernising. The Bed and Breakfast room (Chambre d'hote) Chambre du Jardin has already been used and I just need some extra furniture that I have ordered, so by the end of May we will have one room up and fully running.

We have received approval from the Marie to change the shutter colour from Dunhill Red, to a more subtle grey that will not fade as quickly and is more common in the area. The next stage is to get permission to change a window to a double door in the Pigioneer, giving access to the new terrace area. We have to butter up the mayor and keep him on side if we want to be part of the community and obtain the permission needed to do the changes here at Le farat.

The pigioneer was almost complete, with bathrooms installed, just needing separate showers and the main kitchen and sitting area needing fixtures and fittings. There was a staircase in one corner of the main room giving access to the pigeon loft, which has now been removed. We are now installing the plumbing and sorting the electrics ready for the kitchen installation and need to get on and order the Kitchen asap so it is here and installed in time for our opening.

I have the nice bit to do which is buying the furniture for the bedrooms and lounge areas. I have already bought a georgious Louis Armoire which is nearly 8ft tall and two antique headboards, and am off to an antiques shop tomorrow to look at some bedside tables, mirrors, chairs and pictures for the walls. I also need headboards for the Kingsize ziplock bed for the other bedroom. I have decided as it is so difficult to find nice single bed headboards that fit together to make a large superkingsized headboard, I need to find a complete bed that has a matching head and footboard and use both ends.

The carpet currently is seagrass throughout but I will need to change the flooring particularly in the kitchen and sitting area to tiles as the carpet is not practical.

The stone walls have been coated in a clear PVA to cut out dust problems and plenty of white paint is need for the walls in the bedrooms. More updates and pics to follow.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

French Frogs in France

We have, now been at Le Farat for nearly a month, wow how time flys. When we first arrived the weather was miserable. It was raining, cold and clouds on the ground! Great I thought, we have moved all this way to get away from the British weather and it has followed us!

However, within four days the sun had come out, it was much warmer than in the UK and the feel-good factor started to kick in. Since 30th March I think we have only had the intial four days of rain, and one day yesterday when it was overcast. The rest of the time the sun has been shining and it has been really warm during the day.

With this warm weather we noticed a strange noise coming from the lake. I thought it was ducks squabbling, but wandered down to take a look and saw nothing. After a few days of this strange noise I mentioned it to my new French friend who said it was frogs!

My husband, my daughters and I crept down to the waters edge and sat and waited for something to happen. We did not have to wait long, although the frogs were shy, once one started to make a noise others joined in and soon there was a crushendo of 30 frogs or more croaking in unison, sort of a cross between ducks squawking and witches cackling! Then one or two started to take scuicidal type leaps from the trees and banks, adopting a starfish like pose and plopping into the water and then jumping on top of each other. I am sure it is not still mating season as the pond is already full of tadpoles, so we are unsure why they are acting this way now!

The fish however seem unphased and my husband has been sitting regularly with Abigail on the bank with a rod to see what they can catch. Result, so far each time they have caught something without much of a wait and Abigail is over the moon (generally, a kids attention level is not the same as their avid fishing fan dads!). All the fish caught so far have been Roach (silver fish with deep red fins). They are not huge, probably at present only a few ounces and about 4-6 inches long.

So the lake at Le Farat is deffinitely a great spot for dads to sit with eager youngsters who want to catch something on their first fishing trip as the fish are not too timid. We have been advised to add in a few carp up to about 8lbs soon and they will keep the frog numbers down and make the fishing a bit more interesting. Now on the hunt for some stock carp!

Saint Jacques de Compostelle

I thought that the route of Saint Jacques de Compostelle was for ramblers and pilgrims alike making their way through France from a number of different locations on foot. How mistaken I am!

There I was mowing the lawn (yes again!!) this afternoon and off to my right appeared a procession of horsedrawn carriages, some with living accommodation (like romany gypsies) and others with open carriages, the horses were all heavy carriage types and matching pairs in colours, size and markings. There must have been 10 in total and what a lovely sight it was. It made me think of Windosr horse show and the carriage display with the drey horses, although the carriages were much more utilitarian. At that point I had a pang of regret, as I had had to give my horse away before coming here due to a sunlight allergy he suffers with. I really miss him but I know he has gone to a good home. Perhaps if I had kept him the grass might not have been such an issue!

Anyway, I stopped the mower and ran inside to find a camera.... typical when ever you need something in a hurry you cannot find it! Eventually I found my phone and dashed outside to take a few snaps.... I am soo blonde, by the time I had worked out how to use the camera and take the phone out of video mode, they had all passed by!

By the way I seem to be developing muscles like a wrestler as I am having to empty the mower box every 5 minutes and it is really phycsical work, even if the mower is a ride on!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Lost in France!

Worked from home this morning for a couple of hours and then went off to Agen to buy furniture. I had found a nice shop called Maisons du Monde close to the airport last time I flew from Blagnac Toulouse, and picked up a free catalogue.

On looking at the store list in the back of the book I found a local shop in Agen. They have lots of french style furniture as well as more contemporary stuff too, a bit like Next and Laura Ashley or Zara at Home and really reasonably priced. I Parked in the free municipal carpark on the banks of the River Garonne and walked into the high street with Abigail. It felt really nice to be shopping with no stress and Abigail happily skipping along beside me holding my hand! I know now I have made the right decision to move to France!

On arriving at the beautiful shop with a huge glass dome in the centre of the ceiling and an impressive sweeping oak and wrought iron staircase, I Presented the helpful shop assistant with a shopping list that I had compiled from the website. (I did try and order it online, but if the truth be told, I didn't understand the payment process and the security password system installed by the bank to safeguard my account) So I decided to print off what I wanted to buy and take it to the shop with a cheque instead! I later learnt that it is safer to do it that way, by a neighbour, who has had her bank account in France hacked into 3 times since she has lived here (about 10 years).

I spent 25 minutes organising the best delivery method to get the items delivered free of charge, the shop assistant then told me that she had given me a discount as I had come to the shop instead of ordering online - result! This meant I got an armchair absolutely free. She also told me that if there was anything else I wanted in the shop to take away today, she would give me 25% discount - even bigger result! So I came away with a lovely large ornate mirror at a bargain price.

Therefore, the moral of the story today is, even if you cannot order what you want online and don't mind getting lost on the way home, it is all worth the extra hassel - just ask for a discount!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Exciting Events today!

Day started normally, me falling out of bed at about 9.30am (as my sister still here, got a good excuse!)wandering aimlessly for an hour until I get myself into gear and then into the office to work.

Managed some skype calls to UK companies today for work and then after lunch we were all just about to go off to Agen Go-Karting for my nieces 16th Birthday, when the Pompier, (firebrigade) arrived in the drive with their lights flashing and wanted to dash into the house!! Whats going on I cried! and they told me that they had had an emergency call for a doctors' help at our address and were coming to sort it out! We explained that we had not called anyone and after a few phone calls to the firebrigade headoffice, told me that it must have been the previous owner pressing her panic button in the UK and it must still be linked to their system.

I later discovered that my husband had been removing the alarm system in the new gite to install something more upto date and when he cut the cables. It must have sent an emergency message to the firebrigade!! What a comotion and we are obviously going to keep a low profile with the emergency services for a while!

Once it was all sorted, off we all went to Go-Karting. On the way there discovered the wine tasting vineyard for Cote du Bruhlois (think that is how it is spelt, must look it up) and made a note to self to pay a visit shortly. The circuit was great and even Abigail who is only 8 had a go on her own. I was not too successful as I was busy keeping an eye on Abigail and ensuring she did not hurt herself, while the others belted round the circuit like loonatics for their 8 minute session. Mind you I did manage a few pics whilst driving one handed and a short video of goings on including a few swerves and crashes!

Once we had finished we all decided it was a good idea to go in to Agen (only 10 mins away) to find somewhere to eat and do a spot of shopping. Not much shopping done but plenty of eating and drinking! Now home eating birthday cake on a full stomache, before going to bed - not good!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Volcano Crisis!

Our first guests since we moved here are my family. My sister, her partner and the children. They arrived last Wednesday for a short break before the children had to return to school.. They are still here! All was going according to plan for their return on Monday evening when the news hit about the volcano in Iceland. All flights cancelled accross Europe, children are quite happy to stay and miss school, but my sister and her partner need to get back for their jobs.

All avenues of travel have been explored, unfortunately brickwall syndrome reigns! The car hire company want an arm and a leg to take the car from Toulouse and leave it at any of the northern France ferry ports, then they need to actually get on a ferry! Easier said than done. All phone lines are busy for hours and if they can get on as foot passengers the costs are prohibitive as it is not guaranteed that they can recover any expenses incurred from either the airline or their travel insurance. So, bad luck eh...... they have to stay at Le Farat for another week until Saturday when the airlines are saying they might resume flights. It is such a hardship for them I know, sun (well not today!) saltwater swimming pool, Auvillar and sight seeing to do, and for the kids the Parc Wallaby in Agen, oh what to do with enforced holiday time!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Shopping - what every girl needs!

After completing the mamouth task of mowing the front lawn yet again, this time with help from my sister and her family, us girlies decided we deserved a bit of retail therapy! Off we went in the car via the A62 only 1.90€ one junction and it took just 20 mins. We decided we were going to look for a shop called Maisons du Monde which sells all types of interior design and soft furnishing products. Tomtom took us straight there and the carpark was right nextdoor. Note to self (dont take landrover discovery into multi story carparks in France! very narrow and very low - panicked when nearly took side and roof off the car. perhaps I should buy a soft top, or just make the disco into one!) Wandered around the shopping streets of Agen and then went to a large garden centre to look at some specimen trees to plant in the Autumn. Saw the pet corner, which was not pleasant as a rat had just had babies and was nursing 10 blind pieces of pink skin...urrgh! On to Carrefour and stocked up on cider, wine and Floc... oh and a bit of food.

Arrived home at 8pm and decided that we couldnt be bothered to cook. A neighbour had recommended a restaruant in Auvillar called Baladine that specialised in grilled meat and pancakes. Fab place and unusual in that the decor was all upside down and attached to the ceiling, pool table, piano table and chairs etc.. sort of reminded me of a beer advert that was around a while ago. Ordered mixed grill but we were too late! obviously popular, second choice was Lamb and Steak for others. Resounding success, followed by sorbet and washed down with copious amounts of alcohol for those that wern't driving, not me!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Mowing the grass!

I have spend the whole day with my sister, husband and her partner mowing the lawn, what a nightmare, I hope it stops growing soon so we can actually enjoy the place!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Week 3 in France

Thursday 16th April

Spent last weekend milling around waiting for furniture. Pool man that had been recommended came to look at the system and tell us how to get the pool working and cleaning for the summer. We have no idea! Pool man great but had a very broad Toulousiane accent and found it hard to understand what he said. In the end thought it best to give him my email address and asked him to email me with the info so I can translate it at leisure instead getting the technical info wrong. Bit worried when he started playing with the electric time clock without turning off the electricity and gave himself two electric shocks. He did laugh it off but I told him I did not want a dead French man at my house in my first month so please turn off the electricity!

Furniture arrived at long last at 10am on Monday morning, feeling full of cold and not in the mood to start unpacking. So much stuff!! I really didn't realise we had so much, even the removal men said there was a lot! They finished unloading at 5.30pm without much of a break in between and we sat in the Spring sunshine with a well deserved glass of Champagne!

Next morning we started unpacking with avengance and cracked a huge amount of boxes by the end of the day. I also managed to fit in a trip to the supermarket and to the petrol station to fill up the gerry cans for the mowers. Unfortunately, I had another blond moment and put my card into the petrol pump machine the wrong way round and got it stuck. Shop was closed, no one in the petrol station to help. I was in panic mode as I couldn't just drive off and leave it in the machine, I couldn't get hold of hubby on the phone and considered leaving the children at the petrol station to guard the card whilst I did the 20km round trip to collect my husband from home. Managed to collar some unsuspecting teenagers to help. No joy, the card was well and truly stuck, so off they kindly went to get some pliars to pull it out of the machine. Eventually we were in luck and I returned home feeling like an idiot! Yet again the French people came to our rescue, love them all they are so kind and thoughtful.

Yesterday, Wednesday 15th April my sister and family were due to arrive for a few days and we had done nothing at 9am to set up any area for them to sleep. All hands to the pump to set up the B&B room. After dashing about all day and kids helping out too we managed to set up the room to a high level just before they drove up the drive! I must say I am rather proud of our achievements in such a short space of time. The room looked fantastic and with just a few more pieces of furniture and finishing touches, it will be finished and available for rental.

Cracked open the Floc (aperitif, like Brandy in white, rose and red versions) after a number of large glasses and a pasta tea we all flopped into bed at midnight.

Still suffering with a bad head cold and feeling pretty rough, but putting a brave face on it all and today everyone mucked in and helped mow the part of the front lawn, about 1 acre! two sit on mowers going, two people on wheel barrows to get rid of the grass, one on a hand mower and Abigail, my youngest belting around the garden on her quad bike having a fab time. The weather was like a summers day and after a spot of R & R we set off for a bit of a tour of the area to show my sister and family where we live and the region. First stop pool centre to buy a cleaning bug, most expensive hoover we have ever purchased! Second stop the lake at Saint Nicolas de la Grave where you can sail, windsurf, canoe and hire mountain bikes. It is a huge lake 400ha which is fed on the eastern side by the river Tarn and the River Garonne. Kids jumped around on the pontoon and fed the ducks while we adults enjoyed the sunshine for 20 mins.

On to Moissac to look at the Church and Cloisters, walked around the pretty town centre and then spotted a bar..............well we did deserve a bit of a drink! Returned home after a nice meal in the bar and had a crash course on twitter, hence the new updates. New pool bug installation tomorrow will be a major attraction, plus the rest of the lawn to be mowed!

More updates tomorrow.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Nous sommes en France!

Sunday 28th March - D day

We shoved the car and the van full of all the things that would not fit into the lorry on the Thursday and any last remaining washing, suitcases, dogs, quilts, pillows and the all important portable DVD player for my 8 yr old. We bid a tearful farewell to my dad and friends and started our epic journey to the South west of France. After a few loo stops for the dogs and children we arrived at Dover ferry terminal 10 minutes too late to catch the ferry! Fortunately, the next ferry was available so we loaded and I slept for the short crossing to muster the energy for the next leg.

The route we had chosen was to minimise the cost of the toll roads, as in France if you use the motorways most of them are chargeable. We had worked out for the two vehicles from Calais to Auvillar via Tours, it would cost us about €160. In fact, with the deviation to Tours to spend the night with friends the tolls had just cost us €98 and 4 tanks of diesel with the two cars, so if you decided to drive on the motorways through France, be creative, also look for the motorways that do not charge. We used one from Castelroux to Montauban and it was free for most of that section.

Monday 29th March

We arrived in Miradoux at 3pm for an appointment with the Notaire to finalise the purchase. We spent the next 2.5 hours going over documents and signing a mini rainforest, while the dogs and kids got irritable outside. Finally we arrived at our new house with the estate agent and a huge bag of unlabelled keys. We were in!

Everyone was excited……………. Except me! I dont know why really, perhaps it was because I was tired from the journey, perhaps it was because I had been to the house many times before, perhaps it was the text I had received as we drove up the drive to say our furniture was not going to arrive for a week, or perhaps it was reality had finally smacked me in the face!

Equally, the pool equipment had been taken, some of the firebacks we had bought at the auction were missing, the place looked like it needed far more work than I thought and it was cold! Not a good start.

However, don’t let anyone tell you the French are arrogant or un-friendly………. They are definitely not. We had only been at the house an hour and a local farmer dropped by as he had seen strange cars in the drive and wanted to check all was ok. I explained who we were, pleasantries were exchanged and he told me that since the furniture auction he had dropped by twice a day to ensure all was in order and the place was secure, how nice. Shortly after a car pulled up and out jumped a woman I had met at the auction to welcome us to our new house (she was the daughter of the farmer who had been looking out for us). We greeted each other in the customary French way and she asked if we had all we needed. At this point I was close to tears and explained that we had nothing until next week! So I was hustled into her car and taken to her parents’ farm just up the road to gather items we would need for the next week. Towels, cutlery, eggs, lettuce etc… and 10 minutes later in a trailer on the back of her husbands car a fridge freezer……… wow how kind of them.

After finding out how to turn on the electricity and water I cobbled together and excuse for a meal with sausages I had brought from the UK, bread from the bakery, lettuce and a fried egg. After washing up with cold water decided it was best to go to bed to keep warm and start afresh the next day. We had not sussed the heating system and it was only 8 degrees outside… freezing. Where was the warm weather we had come all this way for?

Tuesday 30th March

No phone or internet! Complete nightmare. Enlisted the help of friends in Tours to search out the best deal on the internet. Best package found was with SFR which was unlimited calls to the UK day and night and 2.8mbit internet access including line rental for €34 per month (we cannot get faster internet as we are in the country). My UK phone bill is going to be a nightmare this month, but needs must!

Found the local supermarket and stocked up on essential food items and the all important alcohol; I was going to need it, if nothing else but to keep me warm. Early evening my new friend arrived with her son and sorted out how to start the heating system. Only hot water for a wash really, so open fire was the order of the day, well every day so far! Other neighbours arrived and offered their services. We gladly accepted help with a battery charger for the mower and went for drinks that evening. After rather too many alcoholic beverages we arrived home at midnight.

Wednesday and Thursday 31st and 1st April
Still no credit cards or cheque book from our new bank! Now running dangerously short of cash and Easter break just around the corner. I called the bank to discover that they had in fact (despite telling my husband they were being produced only days before) sent them to our old UK address on 9th March!! After a number of highly charged phone calls later, my sister came to the rescue and collected them from our old address and arranged a special delivery to arrive with us for the early part of next week. Eeking out €80 over 5 days with diesel needed would not be easy.

2nd April

Our daughter Megan’s 17th Birthday. She is in love with the house and France and I feel very upset for her that she has to stay in the UK and finish her A levels. However, to move to France in the middle of exams is just not an option and as she will be living with my sister and coming out at every opportunity, I hope it will not be too painful for her. I also intend to return to the UK every so often to see her and break up the term times, as well of course to catch up with friends and fill a suitcase with things from the UK that are cheaper than in France! Equally now she is 17 she can start to drive and she will be taking lessons as soon as she returns to the UK after the Easter break. She is so desperate (like most 17 yr olds) to be independent.

We had a day of sight seeing today and went to Auvillar, Saint Nicholas de la Grave and the lake where during the summer months you can hire boats, windsurfers, canoes etc.., then on to Moissac to look at the Cloisters and then on again to Lauzerte, which is a beautiful bastide town on a hill top, and all attractions within only 35 minutes North of Le Farat. We are located exactly on the border of Gers and Tarn et Garonne so are close to Auch, Lectoure to the South West, and Montauban and Toulouse East are within an hour, so lots to see and do. Equally, Auvillar and Bardigues, our local villages are on the famous walkway Saint Jacques de Compostelle, so hopefully anyone walking by from June this year may want to stop the night in our new B&B (chamber d’hote)!

Farmers markets selling local produce are everywhere in the area and there is one each day of the week at a different village or town. So far we have worked out. Sunday morning is Auvillar, Monday morning is Moissac (much bigger), Tuesday morning is Valence d’Agen. The region is important in the production of fruit for France and Europe and grows a huge amount of apples, plums, cherries and pears and apricots as well as melon in the summer and nuts in the autumn.

As you will probably see from my website, (when it is up and running!) That the region is also well known for the production Foie Gras, a type of pate and Armagnac, a brandy made from plums. We have also discovered a sweet aperitif called Floc made from plums and it is available in a white or red version, ummm yummy. Not that I am an alcoholic or anything but I do like a tipple now and again!

Easter Sunday 4th April

There is something about living in France that makes me feel totally relaxed and I have not really felt stressed (except for the credit card and cheque book issue) since we arrived. The area is rural and calm, the people are friendly and when the weather warms up it will be everything I hoped for. I can honestly say it is like the UK was 40 years ago. We have no MacDonalds close by, hardly any traffic, but do have a number of supermarkets within 10-15 minutes drive. Most people are committed to buying local and regularly visit the local markets to buy fresh produce rather than shop in the sterile supermarket environment. If we need building materials we have established that there are a number of DIY stores Castorama, Mr Bricolage and Bricomarche that are like B&Q and Homedepot but also the larger towns have builders merchants which is a more cost effective option if like my husband you prefer the more cost effective route and you need large quantities of things.

We were invited to the Sunday Market and Easter egg hunt by my friend today and introduced ourselves to the locals. One lady selling vegetables was from the next farm across from Le Farat and she told me that her son used to help out at our property with gardening. Three hours later he was on our doorstep introducing himself and handing over his business card!

Abigail my 8 yr old has made a friend too and although there are awkward silences between them they seem to get on OK with the language barrier. The friend will be in the same class as Abigail and it does mean that when she has her taster day next week she has someone to stick close to. The school in Auvillar is a small village school with about 130 children up to 11yrs old.

Wednesday 7th April

Yipee received cheque books and cards, solvent again! Slowly settling into French life and spending most of the time on the mower! Weather great now, sunshine and 24 degrees. Just what the doctor ordered.

Thursday 8th April

Abigails first day at new school. Poor child, she was absolutely terrified. School teachers very kind and settled her in quickly. I then had to go to the town hall to register her for school lunches and pay for lunch tickets. Huge form to complete but the secretary at the office was very helpful. Arrived at 4pm to collect Abigail expecting the worse, only to find she had made two new friends and was happy, wow kids are amazing! Off to Toulouse to buy a light for the hallway from a fab lighting shop I found close to Blagnac airport.

Friday 9th April

Who was it that said it would be easy living with your husband and few friends around you! Had an almighty row over the new light etc... and now not talking! Furniture still not arrived and promised for Sunday, beginning to wonder if we actually need everything as we have now survived with nothing but a few deckchairs and a fridge for 2 weeks!