Rent  A  Traditional  Country
Farmhouse  in  South-West  France

Week 49

Day 319, Monday 14th March

Just back from the UK, and what a trip. It started at 6:45 at Chalais station, waiting for the 6:50 train. As there were public service workers strikes on that day, the train never arrived however a coach turned up at 7:30.

That meant we missed our TGV connection. That meant we had to get our non-changeable tickets changed which we managed to do. Then at Paris, when checking in for the Eurostar train to London, I realised I had no passport and had to get through both French and British immigration.

I also had no credit cards, no driving licence or anything else for identification. All I can say, is if you've got the gist of the gab, use it! Oh, and many thanks to the British immigration official with a sense of humour.

By the time we reached London, it was peak time and that meant a 2 hour wait as we had off-peak tickets. We reached Suffolk at 9:00 at night. Only one remaining problem. How do we get back without my passport?

Despite several calls to the Passport Office and the French Consulate, I got nowhere. So the return trip went like this. I miscalculated the time we had to leave, the train to London was not running due to maintenance work, and the Bank to Waterloo underground line does not run on Sundays! Inevitably we missed our Eurostar train.

Eurostar changed the non-changeable tickets and we got the next one, but missed our connection in Paris by two minutes. They too agreed to change our tickets, but only after lots of discussion which I could not follow. And we arrived at Angoulemê too late to get the last train to Chalais.

Thanks to Richard and Lynette who came out on a Sunday night and collected us. Now we're back we can have a rest, and next time I'm travelling light. All the changing trains and stairs carrying suitcases, is too tough a workout for me.

Lucky the UK has all those security measures in place to stop terrorists getting in unnoticed!

Day 320, Tuesday 15th March

Slept like a log and didn't wake up until 8, when the birds decide its time to run around on the roof. It rained in the night, but looking at the ground, one wouldn't know it.

After breakfast its back to the gulag, but in four days, I must have gotten soft. It's so cold, I have to get the heater back into the bathroom. And if I say so myself, it really is starting to look good.




That heater is coming back in here!

In the afternoon, with the sun shining, we go to collect the extra tiles we ordered, and a few bits from Brico's. But this is not our local, new, improved Brico's and they have one out of three of the items I need. The Boss needs some shopping, "If you want to eat tonight", which I most certainly do.

On the way home, we stop at Mick and Tracy's, as their computer has stopped working. A little bit of magic and hey presto, it's back, but not as good as new. Computers more than three or four years old, can't actually ever be as good as new.

That earns us a duck, reared by them. And then its back to real work, but not for long as it's getting late. I end the day by sanding two of the beams in the bathroom, which are likely to get wet when the shower is used. They are then treated for woodworm, albeit about fifty years late.

Day 321, Wednesday 16th March

I'm up at 7:30, to a blue sky without clouds. It's too good to work indoors, so I get out the rotovator. We dig over the vegetable plot, again.

Then, the Boss gets out the lavender which we bought last week and plants them along the edge of the grass mound. While she's doing that, I make a start on levelling the area behind the house. They say that raking is good for the abdominal muscles. Well I'm just waiting for the six-pack to appear.

In the afternoon, its back to working on the bathroom, but as I'm making a door, I can do most of this outside. By evening, we have a door, as yet without hinges and a lock, but made to "look rustic" as the Boss keeps telling me.





Not a bad looking rustic door; well, for an amateur anyway!

This is the first day we have not had the wood burner going all day. Which means I have to light it and use up the remaining logs.

Tomorrow, back to Mick and Tracy's as their computer seems to be on its final legs.

Day 322, Thursday 17th March

Inside on another almost contradictory day. Only last week we were looking at the hard frosts in the morning, and now it's well into the twenties centigrade. First, a bit of computer work, which didn't go well.

Then back to the gulag, to at least get the door on the bathroom. Although much of the finishing of the door was done outside, with sun cream and a cap on, to fi the door, of course it has to be inside.

By the end of the day, the door is on, and the lock works. So while I have not achieved my objective of a fully finished bathroom before Spencer arrives, At least it is usable, with only a few aesthetic items remaining.

The ceiling needs to go in and the lights have to be changed. The ones we have will need to be placed carefully to meet the French electricity regulations, and I would rather locate them to suit the lighting requirements. To place them anywhere in relation to wet areas; bath, sink, toilet and bidet, we will use low voltage lights, which will make the EDF inspector happy, if that's not a dichotomy!

And tomorrow, an early start as I've got a days casual work in the Lot region, three hours away and starting at nine!

Day 323, Friday 18th March

A full days work in temperatures of well over 20° and full sun. By the time I'm home at 9 in the evening, Spencer is there, waiting for his usual (pre-ordered) spaghetti bolognese.

Day 324, Saturday 19th March

Well, diet or not, it's croissant day today. So early drive to the croissant shop, and then back, and still they are all asleep!

While the Boss goes shopping for a few food things, Spencer and I go fishing. Its a lovely spot, with no one else around, and even some reasonable fish visible in the water. But try as we may, not so much as a nibble.

After lunch, we take another walk in the woods. We pass some neighbours walking the opposite way and they offer us a plastic bag. It turns out we are just next to an old well, where the water runs off on the surface and there is water cress going wild. They have collected some and thought we might want to do the same, which we do.

Then, it's time for me to impersonate Percy Thrower. I put the sprinkler on the grassy mound, and get the rake out to start clearing the next area to be grassed. Clearing the stones is slow and back breaking, but they say a little suffering is good for the soul. By evening my soul is in really good shape.

A barbeque in the dark to finish the day. Yes we have an outside light, but for anything other than finding ones way home, it's not much good.

But the steak and langoustines are good all the same.

Day 325, Sunday 20th March

We're off to Bergerac, just to walk around, sit in the sun watching the river and have some lunch before Spencer goes home.





The sun better be shining like this when I get home!

We eat at a restaurant in the old part of the town, which is over-priced and mediocre, but c'est la vie. After dropping him at the airport, we stop at a large garden centre and then home, with a few more additions to the garden.

And tomorrow, back to the gulag to find out why water is coming through the kitchen ceiling