Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Gite modernisation update

The gite is now nearing completion and we have done alot in the last 6 weeks to get to this stage. When we started, to be fair most of the major work had been done and to a good standard, but we needed to install a kitchen, change a window to a door, lay new floor and add a terrace, change the electrics, and add all the furniture and appliances, not easy when all the walls are made of stone and very uneven.

After the initial hicup of not getting the kitchen when we were supposed to and putting the job back 2 weeks, we are now back on track and it looks fab, I am quite jealous of the kitchen and no doubt when it is not rented out I will be in there using the facilities!

I know I am biased, but I can honestly say when it is finished for our first guests to arrive on 24th july, I would like to stay myself. I feel like I need a holiday too!

Anyone fed up with the football yet?

I am sorry to be a kill joy, but what is all this football hype about? I have watched one or two games and fail to see what the shouting is all about!

Tennis is the same, although I did breathe a sigh of relief when venus Williams was knocked out of the Wimbledon finals, it gets boring when an athlete dominates the sport for so long without giving anyone else a chance.

Schumacher, was the same in F1, I'm all for the underdog winning the day, as long as they perform, unlike England against Germany!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Is it really worth me blogging?

Just wondered if it was worth me blogging about my life her, does anyone really care?

Is it me on an ego trip or do people really want to know how some run of the mill English family have undertaken a mad adventure and up sticks, sold everything and embarked on a new life in France!

Might have started a trend though, as a close friend emigrated to Australia on Friday, much bigger move but at least the same language!

Answers on a postcard please!

Bye the way, love it here, even if no one else is really bothered.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Nearly burnt the kitchen down!

Oops, took my eye of the ball this evening and whilst cooking the meal was called outside to help lift a double glazed door unit into place in the new gite. When I returned to the kitchen I could not see through the smoke and thought I had burnt the kitchen down! Infact, I had left the pan on the hob, it had boiled dry and the vegetables were worse than burnt offerings!

Oh what to do at short notice to serve a meal. Ching.... good idea - Cut off the burnt reboiled them to remove the bad taste and served them with a sauce! voila, perfect.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Am I a bad Mother?

My 8 yr old has just gone off on a school trip to Biarritz for a week. I am distraught as I have forgotten to send her with a dictionary! Poor kid is already nervous about spending a week away from her mum and dad and now she has gone off with the school, the only foreign kid, not speaking the language and no dictionary!

Her French is improving, but put in her shoes I would not be overly happy. The teachers are good, but to make matters worse when she got on the coach she was split up from her friends and wouldnt look at me through the window as she was crying so much. One kind little girl was trying to comfort her, but I could do nothing to help.

Whilst away they have a full agenda of things to do and I am sure she is enjoying herself, but no phone contact is allowed as the children can get upset again talking to parents, so only letters home are permitted.

I am left with the dreadful sight in my mind of the coach driving away whith her crying her eyes out............needless to say Monday was a wipeout for me!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Broken mower No 3!

Got my dad visiting this week and asked him to take a look at the mowers as they have been taking a bashing since we have been here. I have been doing about 4.5 hours twice a week cutting the grass and they are now in need of a bit of TLC.

Little did I know that the mower I have been using was hanging together on a thread as the chassis was broken in half! Two ride on mowers and one push-along broken in three months not good, and expensive to repair! Good job my dad is handy with a welder!

Now have one machine back in full working order and the other will be sorted in a week or so when the new parts arrive...... Mind you the weather here has been so dreadful i have not been able to get anywhere near the lawn for nearly two weeks and now it is growing like mad!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

An evening of culture

We have experienced a variety of activies since moving to South West France earlier this year and last night was no exception.

I had been told by my friend that an open air concert held at the local chateau a couple of times a year was worth a visit if i liked classical music; last night was the first of two annual classical music festivals. Tickets were only 6€ each and we enjoyed an evening celebrating Mozart under the not so clear evening sky. Despite the unusually cool weather the stroll up the tree lined chateau Lamothe driveway set the scene.

As we entered the chateau grounds and found our seats on the circular lawn in front of the main entrance and terrace, the orchestra started to play. We were entertained spectacularly for over two hours with renditions from a variety of Mozart's work and professional singers alike.

Half way through, I found myself closing my eyes and imagining a large group of crinoline clad ladies with tiny waists and big skirts with corresponding men in long jackets short trousers and wigs offering their hands to dance.

The chateau itself is a large cream colured "U" shaped property with beautiful old grey shutters on all the windows and a terrace at the front with stone balustrades around it and the roof line. It has a place in history linked to the Cadillac car and an early French explorer Sieur de LAMOTHE-CADILLAC.

The next concert is 6th August and will be an evening with Chopin with a grand piano on the terrasse. Hope the weather is better by then as I am deffinitely going to attend!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Short trip back to the UK

It is a new experience for us as a family to be split up and although my daughter is staying with my sister, it is still hard for us to be apart.

Therefore, I thought that after 2 months here in France, a trip back to the UK would do me good. I had tried a month earlier in May but ended up sitting at the airport for over 8 hours only to be told the flight was cancelled due to volcanic ash cloud problems, however, door to door when things go right in less than 5 hours is a result.

Since my daughter's 17th birthday, just after we arrived here in France, she has been learning to drive and by all accounts doing very well from reports I had received from my sister and my father that had been taking her out in her little car to practice.

So when I arrived on Wednesday evening and hugs, kisses and evening meal were over with, my daughter was keen to take me out for a drive... well I was very impressed. No use of the second set of invisible brakes and no hanging on around corners.

Day two of my trip was a hectic day at work and meetings to review my progress for the company I am working for remotely from France on the internet. All well so I can breathe a sigh of relief!

Friday 5.30am start for a breakfast meeting to promote Le Farat and got a good lead so worth the effort. Then off to meet friends for coffee at Costa and to say good bye to a friend emigrating to Australia next week. The next few days were spent trying to catch up with family and friends and all important shopping with my daughter.

Sex and the City 2 cinema one evening was a bit of a let down and as per usual the press had over hyped it! DVLA theory driving test with my daughter on Monday afternoon...........yippee she passed and then back HOME to France Tuesday morning.

Blimy I need a rest.... hang on this is not the permanent holiday everyone thinks it is.............the lawn needs cutting again, but after drinks with neighbours of course!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Life is good!

We have made huge efforts to integrate into the local community since we arrived and my friend Natalie has been fab at introducing us to all manner of notable people in the village.

It does of course help when you have you have young children at school, but the village of Auvillar has a real community spirit about it, something you do not find much in the UK anymore, unless something major happens that affects everyone.

On Friday we went to the school concert and joined in the event by making a cake (with cherries, of course!) After the singing and presentation by the mayor to those children leaving the village school for the next level of schooling in Valence d'Agen, we all decamped into the garden at the salle de fetes (village hall). The spread of food donated by everyone was fantastic and we spent a convivial evening getting to know more locals and enjoying the balmy summer evening under the stars.

Last night I prepared a selection of English finger food for Natalie and her family to enjoy chez nous, sausage rolls, cheese straws, scones in both cheese and fruit, tuna dip etc.... while all the kids enjoyed swimming in the pool. The evening passed quickly and before I knew it, it was midnight.

Tonight, perhaps the same with some neighbours. Life is good!

Cherries, cherries and more cherries.......

Having lived in the UK all my life, it is so nice to come to a country where different fruits are abundant and even better when they are in my own garden!

Auvillar and this area of the Midi Pyrenees is renouned for its fruit production.
You can buy anything from figs, to peaches, apricots, kiwi, apples, plums, strawberries and fantastic cherries all grown locally and everything tastes so much better when ripened on the tree or bush.

Since moving here in April the garden has come to life, we have discovered that we have grape vines, plums, figs, strawberries, pears and 4 cherry trees, and I will soon be planting others including a mulberry bush.

Strawberries have almost peaked now, but the cherries are fab. One tree is a wild cherry and is loaded with quite sour red cherries, I am told by the locals you can make jam with them but you need lots of sugar, I might just leave them for the birds this year.

The other trees however, are producing the best black cherries I have ever seen. We have to date picked over 15kg and probably eaten over 5kg. I know I have eaten alot as I have had to pay frequent visits to the little girls room! Having sat for hours de-pipping them before freezing to use later, I decided to try and be a domestic goddess and make some jam.

Having never made jam before and not following any recipe(me all over!)I thought I would have a go and set about boiling 2kg of cherries with sugar (not measured), lemon rind and a cinnamon stick, I then added an undetermined amount of Arrowroot to the mixture to thicken and let it cool.

Wow, I am a domestic goddess it worked! The result is fab and you can really taste the cinnamon too. I have had the thumbs up from my friend Natalie who lives in the village and I will deffinitely be serving it to my Chambre d'hotes guests as part of their breakfast together with home made scones and a dollup of cream, if they think their waistline can take it!