Sunday, December 18, 2011


Typical! One minute I'm saying the weather's fab for mid-December (see previous posting), and the next, the clouds move in and dump mega-gallons of rain for an entire week. And yesterday it turned noticeably chillier. No surprise that it started snowing in the evening. Not a lot, but enough to turn the landscape white. It's that breadcrumbs on the window sill time of year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The calm before the storm

This is getting silly. Mid-December and it's still sunny. Bit weird doing Chrissy cards in bright sunshine. Mind you, I read that snow's recently fallen in Val d'Isère. And not a moment too soon according to the hoteliers and ski-ing instructors etc. Personally, I'm quite happy without the stuff. Think I'll go and Dubbin my boots, just in case.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Presbyterie renovation

Popped into the 'presbyterie' across the lane a couple of days ago (nosey!) to see how the renovations were coming along. Last visited there way back in July (see posting 1st July '11) when they'd just started work on rejuvenating this historic old building. The place has now been transformed and will presumably soon be ready for occupancy. Haven't a clue who's going to live there though rumour has it that a young couple with kids might move in - an effort to considerably lower the average age of the hamlet's few inhabitants. All I know is that the house won't be sold; it'll remain a state asset, which is a good thing.

It's been interesting watching from a distance as work has slowly progressed. Obvious changes include a new roof, new window frames, a new west-facing side window (kitchen) to catch the evening sun, a new front door, re-pointed external walls and structural renovation of the attached barn which, presumably, will become a garage with a storeroom above. All very impressive. But, knowing how the French generally love all things modern when it comes to house renovating, I've been long concerned that the original character may have been gutted from the interior - hence my 'nosey' visit.

Armed with my camera I explained to the workers that I was a nosey neighbour who just wanted to see how work was progressing. Luckily they didn't tell me to get lost so I had a quick look round saying "wow" and "cor, splendide" each time I visited a new room. However, my apparent enthusiasm hid a slight disappointment that, as suspected, the original character had been ripped out. All the internal walls had been plaster-boarded over, the old doors had gone and the original floorboards had been replaced by prefabricated cement blocks. The only original feature remaining appeared to be the fine old stone kitchen fireplace in the new lounge. I then checked the window frames, thinking them to be plastic. Interestingly, they're wooden, despite everyone round these parts reckoning (wrongly?) that plastic lasts longer.

Having said all that, I have to admit the house will be absolutely fab when it's finished. Perhaps a little too moderne pour moi, but a highly des res for a young family (or whoever). I was particularly impressed with the newly installed staircase. A brilliant piece of carpentry. Perhaps lacks the character of our squeaky old woodwormy item but will no doubt stand up to the pitter patter of tiny (and grown-up) feet for many years to come.


Bleu et orange

Crikey..., December already. Almost at the shortest day and it still hasn't snowed. Or rained. Still quite warm with that gentle southerly breeze. Bit cloudy today though, unlike last Friday when I nipped down to Felletin for market day. Blistering sunshine. Sat outside the caff with a coffee and a fag (table on the left). Chatted to a couple of anglais couples. So hot I took off my sweater. Teeshirt weather in November? Very odd. (Click pics to enlarge.)

Knock on the door in the afternoon. Guy (pronounced 'Gie'), the ex-mayor, clutching his mobile and a chimney sweep's business card. Asked me to phone the number 'cos the sweep's an anglais who's not exactly fluent in frog lingo and Guy doesn't parlez-vous anglais. Rang the chap and arranged for him to visit Guy's gaff on the following Wednesday at 10.30. Come the appointed hour, I popped round there just in case there was a communication problem. Sweep had already started cleaning the chimney and all was well. Guy offered me a scotch (!) which I politely declined. Sweep had recently retired after a heart attack and moved to France a few months back (heart attack had convinced him to emigrate while he still could). Fell in love with the place on his first visit last year. He'll probably get stacks of work now 'cos Guy knows everyone and he'll put the word out. And I loved the trading name on his business card - Toute Sweep!

Anyways..., having done the market, the sun continued to blaze. Perfect weather for doing some washing. Did a load and hung it out to dry. Had to keep reminding myself it was late November. Felt more like summer. But despite the heat, I wheel-barrowed some logs in for the evening stove. Seemed a strange thing to do in all that sunshine. But as soon as that sun goes down it gets really chilly. Could be frosty so brought the flowery things in that had spent all summer on the outdoor window ledges. Then went for a dogwalk out the back. Bright orange leaves against a clear blue sky. And the orange became deeper as the sun slowly set. Wonderful colours.

But, of course, that was a week ago. Today's dawned grey and damp. Not exactly perfect weather for visiting the market and sitting outside the caff in a teeshirt. Just spoken to Georgie on the phone. Apparently sunny in London. Ah well, there you go. C'est la vie.