Rent  A  Traditional  Country
Farmhouse  in  South-West  France

Week 41

Day 270, Thursday 20th January, and just back from holiday

 I'm expecting it to be tough, getting back into the swing of working all day, and my expectations are not unrealistic. I don't wake up until 9:15 in the morning. No police sirens, no traffic, no voices, and its grey, so not even any bright light to wake me up. With all this, why did we need a holiday?

It takes a while, looking, thinking and examining to remind me of all the things that need doing. After the holiday, my enthusiasm has been re-ignited. After a late breakfast, I get on with the final preparation of the floor in the lounge. In case you've forgotten, this is how it currently looks, courtesy of the new digital camera.


 As if to help ease us back into working, a friends car has broken down at Le Mans and they are arriving by plane, needing a lift from the airport. So, after two full cement-mixers of cement, poured and levelled and a late lunch, at 3:30 its off to Bergerac.

The car which has stood doing nothing for over a month, finally gets started with jump leads as the battery's flat. And then the brakes don't work. Lucky the roads are empty as I drive out onto the "main" road without being able to stop. A quick bleed of the brakes and we're ready to go. And finally, once we're on our way, one tyre is flat.

Unlike the UK, you can't just pull into a garage and pump up your tyres. Most don't have compressed air. So we find a workshop, ask about compressed air using my ever improving technical vocabulary, and a very nice man checks and inflates all the tyres. And they do it for free!

 Well, that wasn't a hard days work, so I'm looking forward to more like that.


Day 271, Friday 21st January

I try and start early as we've been invited out to lunch, but the alarm set for 7:30 somehow seemed to get turned off and I only wake up an hour later. Its drizzling again. Just the weather for mixing more concrete.

Muesli for breakfast, courtesy of Tescos. I can't seem to find reasonable muesli in the supermarkets here. I guess the French think like Billy Connolly; "Why bother with the middle man? Just throw the stuff down the toilet".

Mixing concrete in the light drizzle is good for my self-esteem. I'm macho enough to brave the rain! The Boss spends more time cleaning and washing. How did we manage to wear so many clothes in a month?

Today I knock off at French lunchtime; 12 o'clock. Shower and then out to lunch, or at least that was the plan. We were going to take the car and drop it at the garage on the way, using the van to get back. As the van is parked on the grass, and its been raining for weeks, the wheels turn but the van stays still.

I know what merde means but I was looking for some expletive with a little more oomph. The Boss says I know them all but being in the French way, I just shrug and say "C'est la vie". So the van stays, and we drive the car, stopping using the handbrake as one brake pad is in desperate need of some TLC. We could never have this much fun in England.

Charlotte provides the lunch using organic vegetables for salads and soup. Even for someone whose taste buds have been traumatised by take-away curries, beer and chocolates, it tastes very good.

Its nearly five by the time we get home, so I guess that's another hard days work over.

It didn't take us long to get back into the swing of things!

Day 272, Saturday 22nd January

No car, no van, and therefore no croissants on Saturday.

Brake pads I can fix myself. However I don't really fancy trying to jack the car up on a water logged grass patch, and then laying in the mud while working. While I'm working up the courage to bite the bullet, time marches on and before I know it its after 12. The Peugeot dealer will now be closed for the weekend; thank goodness.

Saturday seems like a rest day, so I fiddle about, cleaning grout off the kitchen tiles. After lunch Louis arrives. Now we really have to work; our heads that is, speaking only French. He's brought us chocolates for a belated Christmas and two lettuces from his garden.

After the wine comes out, the Boss tells him he's famous, at least amongst our friends and family and I get permission to put his picture in my "journal". He tells us its his cousin that lives in the last house of the hamlet and he's 95. He is a little slow getting about, but I suppose that he has an excuse.

By the time he leaves, my head hurts from concentrating and after a quick snack, we go to get the van out of the mud. This is miraculously accomplished without anyone going face down. So its weekend shopping in the van.

Brico's is now bigger and organised. But being rural France, they still only have two checkouts and only one open. Luckily, I'm just looking around.

And tomorrow, I really will do some work; promise.

Day 273, Sunday 23rd January

If you're a dog-lover turn away now. Our next door neighbour, "Portuguese Pete", whose name we subsequently learnt is actually Viktor, has two dogs the size of large rats. When both Pete or Mrs Pete are not home the dogs bark incessantly, starting around seven in the morning.

By 8 o'clock I've had enough and get dressed and march over threatening them with hellfire, damnation, and the toe of my boot. Eventually we get some quiet, but by now I'm wide awake and no point in going back to bed.

The wood-burner has almost gone out. Eventually my best efforts of scraping around in the hot ash looking coals, and a quick squirt of barbeque fire lighter fluid, the heating is on again. Even so, its not cold, despite being overcast and drizzly again.

As Sunday is a rest day, I don't do much except clean up the wooden lintel, sill and the stone work around the small lounge window. Before I forget, for the benefit of our friends who planted the grass, ....

And tomorrow, perhaps a full days work?