Saturday, May 25, 2013


It's said that people who write about the weather show a distinct lack of imagination. So, to prove that point, I'll once again write about the remarkable meteorological inclemency that currently prevails.

Nodded off on the sofa last night and woke up at around midnight. Peered out the window at a street light that lit up what I thought was rain, but on closer inspection I realised it was snow. Went to bed half expecting to be snowed in this morning. Fortunately the snow must have been just a quick flurry because most of it had melted away. However, as I made an early morning cuppa, shoved another log on the dying embers in the stove and let Jock out for a quick wander around his estate, it started snowing again.

Have just checked the calendar and, yes, it's almost June. I can hardly see across the valley for falling snowflakes and, according to the thermometer thingy, it's minus two degrees. This is all very strange. Think I'll go back to bed.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Been under a blanket of cloud for what seems like an eternity. Grey, dismal, rainy and surprisingly chilly for the time of year. Woodpile continues to shrink due to the kitchen stove being lit in the evenings to keep warm while cooking. Seems like this winter will never end. Might even have to ask Christian to deliver yet more logs if this weather doesn't improve in the next couple of weeks. Looking out the window there's no sign of wind, just a stubborn greyness that refuses to move on. Still, I suppose all this rain is good for the countryside. Certainly looks green and lush out there with tall grasses shooting up in the fields and trees bursting into leafy splendour.

Down in the valley the little river has turned into a raging torrent of brown water that crashes into bends, further eroding the muddy banks. Took Jock down there for a walk a couple of days back. Kept well clear of the river though, didn't want him washed out to sea, so he drank from puddles instead.

Yesterday we went walkies up the mushroom forest. Mentioned this forest in a posting a while back. All the trees have unfortunately been cut down, their trunks stacked and lorried off to one of the many woodyards round these parts. However, I was pleased to see that the discarded tree branches have now been stacked into long rows with hundreds of newly planted saplings lined up in the open spaces inbetween. The old stuff will eventually rot down and disappear as the little saplings grow into towering trees. In about thirty or forty years time they'll be cut down, and so the cycle continues. At least those little saplings appreciate all this rain. Gives 'em a good start in life.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Had some rubbish weather recently. But on the bright side, it's saved me the chore of wobbling around the garden with a watering can. This morning dawned bright and sunny so I nipped outside and took a few snaps of some recent blooms. The little apple tree out front is in full blossom and one of the irises has burst into flower. They look rather rather impressive in the low morning sunlight. Clouded over a bit now. Might rain again later. Ah well, ç'est la vie.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The chateau cottage

As briefly mentioned in a previous posting, we put in a low offer on a little cottage just to the east of Tulle. We were then informed that someone had beaten us to it with a higher offer. Fiddlesticks! Rats! Houses like that (19th Century, stone, unmodernised, in a quiet location and very reasonably priced) don't turn up that often. And when they do, they usually don't hang around for long, despite the sluggish property market and France's current economic woes. Still, it appeared we were in with a very slight chance, but only if the other buyer had difficulty in raising the dosh. In our favour was the fact that we were cash buyers. But, we knew that the other agent would be working like mad to find another buyer if his current buyer dropped out. The odds seemed stacked against us. All we could do was to wait for confirmation either way the following Saturday.

On the Friday, a day early, our agent contacted us to say that the vendor had decided to give up with the other buyer and was happy to accept our offer if we still wanted to progress with the purchase.

Crikey! Now it was serious! Buying yet another property in France hadn't really been on our agenda. We'd sort of been thinking about selling 'the barn' and maybe buying a cheap shack in England, or maybe Wales. Or maybe selling our current house and chucking everything at 'the barn'. And now here we were facing the unplanned prospect of owning three properties in France. On the one hand it was madness, but on the other, it kinda made sense. Better to have our tiny bit of dosh invested in property rather than languishing in a lousy British bank where it earned pathetically little interest. Furthermore, we could sell 'the barn', do up this new property (I call it 'Chateau Cottage' because it's next to a chateau), then maybe sell our current house and live in luxury at the cottage. Or keep both and maybe live in the cottage in winter (it has proper heating and is in a slightly less chilly area) and rent it out in summer (touristy lakes and the popular Dordogne Gorges are nearby). Or, if all else fails, then maybe sell it for a profit.

So, what to do? Say yay or nay? Being bonkers, I was all for it. However, Georgie, being the sensible one, was reluctant to commit to what was essentially a totally unnecessary purchase. But, with the winds of change already blowing in her life (she's chucking in work and planning on coming out here for the summer and going freelance, armed to the teeth with new Apple computery stuff), she said "another fine mess you've got us into" thus confirming a green light to proceed.

Turned up at the notaire's office (the sale solicitor) in Tulle last Monday where I met the vendor and the selling agent, signed the agreement to purchase papers, handed over a deposit cheque and am now looking forward to the official purchase meeting sometime in June.

Next project is to sell 'the barn'. Could be complicated, but ç'est la vie. Never a dull moment.

(P.S. - I'm probably stating the obvious, but click on the photos to enlarge.)

The forest house

About four years ago I discovered a new dogwalk up in the high forest across the valley. The winter winds blow fiercely up there so the tall trees have to be strong to survive. And strong they are. Big too, especially the tall pines. It's a great place to walk when the evening sun sends shafts of light between the moss-covered tree trunks. And it's very peaceful, but not when it's raining or snowing, or when the winds are howling.

On my first trek up there I was quite surprised to discover a dilapidated old house and barn by a disused track in the middle of the woods. Intrigued about its history and whether it might be possible to buy the original front door which was still in quite good condition, I asked neighbour Christian if he knew the owner. He responded by saying that the local council were now the owners and that they had plans for renovating the wreck as a hostel for visiting walkers. I later discovered that the Creuse region had recently been granted government funding to boost tourism and attract nature lovers to explore its unspoilt countryside - the Creuse region is one of France's least densely populated regions with little industry apart from farming - hence the renovation plan.

Work began the following spring. The overgrown garden area was cleared and the barn re-roofed. However, nothing was being done to the house, which I thought a bit odd. That summer, as is customary in France, a big board was put up on the barn wall listing all the different companies that were involved in the renovations, such as electricians, plumbers, masons, etc. Then winter came and work stopped. Started again the following spring. However, still nothing was being done about the house. The following spring, I suppose last year, the barn had been almost finished and was presumably ready for its first visitors. Then, for some reason, I stopped going up there. I think it may have been because there was now more likelihood of meeting other dogs up there so Sprocket would have to be kept on his lead. Far less risk when walking up the Sprocket Hill area.

Anyways, now Sprock's gone, I thought it safe to venture up to the forest house for the first time in ages. Went up there yesterday evening with Jock. Big surprise..., the barn was finished but the dilapidated house had been demolished. All that remained was just a small pile of rubble. I wonder what happened to that front door...

Cherry blossom

Georgie's asked how the blossom's coming on. Told her the cherry tree seems to be blossoming quite well, but the apple tree's lagging a bit behind. Then she asked for some photos. Took a few snaps yesterday evening, then noticed the cherry tree blossom had grown a bit overnight, so I took another snap this morning. Could be in full bloom in a few days.