Rent  A  Traditional  Country
Farmhouse  in  South-West  France

Week 37

Day 249, Monday 15th November

The sky is cloudless, but there is frost on the ground. The Boss says, "I told you it was going to be cold".

She's off to work this morning so I'm on my own. I go the builders yard, wondering if the guys there have noticed an improvement in my French. No, its not yet good enough to ask them and have a proper conversation about it. But it is good enough to tell the guy I want concrete blocks, but want to look at the choice before deciding which ones I want.

When I have chosen the ones I want, we load them and they are heavy. My UK credit card with a chip on it works with a PIN at Brico's. However I had to stop using it until I got my PIN as their tills would no longer allow swiping the card and signing. But the builders have yet to catch up with chip and PIN technology and I sign as usual.

While its still cold, I have dispensed with the gloves while unloading. After the Boss's return and lunch, we work on the hearth for the "lounge". Spencer arrives for the weekend on Friday and we expect he will want to be warm, so the fire is essential and the sockets would make lighting easier. And the work goes like this.




The sun shines on the good, so why am I not in the picture?






Not as easy as it looks. Those blocks are heavy!





By the days end, we're cream crackered, but the fireplace is on the way

Day 250, Tuesday 16th November

I'm out all day today and tomorrow. The Boss spends the day recovering from a headache probably brought on by all the cleaning she did while I was out. So nothing interesting, and no pictures!

Day 251, Wednesday 17th November

See yesterday!

Day 252, Thursday 18th November

Spencer won't want to sleep in a room without heating. The only man I know who has the heating on full and then has a fan going all night! However, we had better finish the fireplace.

The usual routine. The Boss mixes cement. Normal cement for seating the tiles, and she uses a special mix of sand, white cement and lime to get the right light sandy colour for the plaster and grout. We don't have enough tiles all the same size and the ones still in our hall, are so soft, that trying to lift them they just crack.

That means I have to cut those that are larger. Thank goodness for the angle grinder I borrowed, which is so heavy it needs two hands to lift. Also, the remaining tiles we have are not quite as nice as the ones already used in the kitchen. But the standard excuse is used; "Well, it's rustic".

And tomorrow, Spencer can have a fire in his bedroom.

Day 253, Friday 19th November

Today we visit Sarlat, in the heart of the Dordogne and real expat country. It rains, sometimes hard, for most of the 2 hour journey, but by the time we're there, its stopped and there is an occasional glimpse of the sun.

While I'm off elsewhere, the Boss takes a leisurely lunch because everything is closed from 12 to 2:30. Then she wanders around the town. What I see of it, it has more hotels and places to eat than anywhere else I have ever been. Despite this, at 3:00, I still can't seem to get a sandwich anywhere, so its off to Bergerac hungry!

The journey is all along the Dordogne river. Its easy to see why this is such an attractive place for tourists, with lovely scenery, many places with access to the river to swim and canoe, and often surrounded by hills.

When we get back from the airport, Spencer is complaining about the cold. That's rich for someone just left London at 2 above freezing! Anyway, we struggle to get the chimney liner fitted on the fire and then he has heat.




Yes, I know it's not in the middle, but it will keep Spencer warm for a while

It will have to come off again at some time as the chimney is still not sealed so most of the heat goes up to help global warming, but he's happy.

And tomorrow, well of course it croissants

Day 254, Saturday 20th November

Croissant day. I go and get them on my own at 9 o'clock, as Spencer is still asleep. I get back and everyone is still asleep! Must be the country air, or perhaps they are just too cold to get up.

No work today, shopping in the afternoon so the visitors can take back "stuff", and then out for dinner in the evening.

The dinner is in a small local hotel, run by the owners (as are most around here), with the husband doing the cooking. The wife serves and still remembers Steve's original visit in May when he told her jokingly that the dinner was horrible. She's probably waiting for his return, with the ground glass prepared.

We aren't allowed to pay; not even half. Perhaps we should invite more visitors, and arrange a commission from each local restaurant. That way we can get taken out to dinner and come home better off than when we left.

Driving home, its a clear night with the usual array of stars; no George Clooney is not amongst them. This means another ton of wood on the fire.

And tomorrow is rest day; again

Day 255, Sunday 21st November

Perhaps there is something about the country air. Apart from me, no one is awake until well after 9. The sun is shining and its warm enough to sit outside in a T-shirt.

No work today, but a trip to Bergerac in the afternoon, and on the way home, we come round a corner and a wild boar is crossing the road in his (or her, I'm not sure) own time. So there really are wild boars in the woods, despite all the hunting, and they are big!

If I took up hunting, one of those would feed us for three months.