Thursday, 31 May 2007

An excuse to post pictures of goats

We stopped off to look at some pygmy goats in a field (where else?) on the way back from the open all hours tabac/bar/restaurant/grocers/breadshop (they also sell flowers).

And they had a look back at us.

I can't help but think that two of these (at least) would be just the thing.

I like goats. I've liked them ever since I fed one with a bottle of milk at Scarborough Zoo & Marineland. Since that day I have planned to have goats. Good job it wasn't an elephant I suppose.

TS says "goats? we can't even control four 'king chickens"

I have to agree having watched him from the kitchen window this afternoon trying to herd them back from the woods. Stick in hand, like a cross between the Little Goose Girl and One Man and His Dog (cum bye bup bup bup)

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

UK and France it's just the same. Bank holiday Monday and it siled down all day. This is the third rainy bank holiday in a row between days where the temperature has got up as high as 28 degrees. Go figure.

It's a phenomenon I may have to add to the Olde Breezy Breake Almanac "If the shoppes be shutte rain will fill your butte". Has quite a ring I think.

I used to like rain as an excuse to curl up with a book and do nothing at all. Now rain means I have to work in the house on DIY stuff instead of being out in the garden talking to the chickens and weeding, urrhumph. So I'm torn.

We have our "crops" out in the garden a couple of dry hot sunny days and we're looking at the sky for clouds to save the hauling up of water from the well and trudging about with watering cans but it means breaking out the toolkit and doing real work.

What the world needs is sunny days and rainy nights everyone says so. Someone ought to sort it out.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Flavours of Eyrrie Indiana

They say travel broadens the mind and opens you up to new experiences. Today I am going to do something I've never done before. I'm going to a tupperware party. I can't wait.

I bet they've got all sorts of useful gadgets of the ilk that you see in Sunday Supplements. I absolutely love those little magazines. Mind you I love looking at the tools and bits and bobs in hardware shops too.

We got two of the little magazine things with the advertising bumph that arrives every Wednesday (handy for picking up French words). They sell everything from garden furniture, hunting equipment through to sex toys. The difference is the magazines arrive, you have a good browse (will it be the thing for opening cans or do I need a gadget for storing string?) then about a week later a lorry turns up in a village car park and you can go and buy all the stuff off it.


Friday, 25 May 2007

I think I'd better think it out again

Today I have been waging war on the perenial weeds and any others that got in my way. When we looked at the area that was going to be the veg plot we naively said "Oh look at all those buttercups doesn't it look nice". What fools we were. Everytime I turn my back the buggers advance across the veg beds. Opinion seems to be divided on whether hoeing is going to help or hinder but it's a nice easy job on a hot day and it makes me feel all gardenerly so I'll keep doing it. Plus that hoe cost me nine euros, I'll have to get my wear out of it.

Hedgewizard is making weed tea sounds like just the sort of treatment creeping buttercup things need to me I may add it to my list of things to try.

He's also having problems with moles.

This plant so people keep telling me repels moles. What no one seems to know is what it's called. Anyway we've not had any mole problems (yet) so maybe it does.

My Or du Rhinn climbing french beans are doing just that. They're my kind of plant stick em in the ground green side up and off they go. I may plant some more but I'm running out of dug over bits of garden, unless we move the chicken run to the orchard. I'm a bit reluctant to do that cos I like to talk to them while I'm in the garden. They'd probably enjoy it though. Another thing for the list.

I've sown seeds for groundcherries, amaranth, melons and a last go at tomatoes. No idea where I'll put them either if they decide to grow.

Mmmm we should of got someone with foresight and planning for this job.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

God of Chickens

The Dinnerladies are enthusiastic gardeners. Usually they shout encouragement from their run but they are happy to get involved especially when the God of Chickens (Tech Support) is weeding.

I can be doing absolutley riveting things like digging up ants nests, shouting and tapping look at these lovely grubs but no when their hero is in the garden they only have eyes for him.

Their garden time only lasts about an hour though, eventually they get carried away and start trampling the onions and vandalising the peas. So one by one they are picked up and put back in the run and they have to be content with getting the weeds to scratch through till the God of Chickens smiles on them again.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Sometimes You Should Buy Things - Self Sufficient or Not

Bob has been and done some electrical work today.

Ha ha we have hot water that comes out of our taps. Unfortunately it doesn't come out of the shower boo hiss.

Ha ha we have lightbulb holders and switches upstairs (no light though, you need bulbs and we didn't think to buy any). But it's another giant leap forward in the facilities here at Chateau La Pants.

We now have
A toilet that flushes and doesn't bite your bum
Walls around bathroom (but you can't shut the door completely because we forgot doorknobs)
HOT and cold water upstairs and down
Half the wall that is a kitchen done

A satisfactory end to a day that started with a most traumatic incident.

We were bustling about getting ready for the arrival of Bob. Tech Support had taken the dogs out I was drugging the cat when I glanced down at my left bosom. A speck of dirt. I brushed at it. It didn't go away. I brushed harder. It still didn't go away. It was attached. My heart started pounding. Surely not I thought, please no.

I asked Tech Support to check my bosom when he got back. He was surprised but happy to oblige. He confirmed my suspicions A TICK A TICK ATTACHED TO ME uuuuuurghh just doesn't describe it. Even uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurgh doesn't do it justice.

Luckily we were able to borrow a tick removing thingy from next door but one. The very type of tick removing thingy that I have been meaning to buy since I got here. Thinking of the dogs not me. We didn't have any antiseptic so a dab of Jack Daniels had to surfice.

The shopping list for tomorrow is
Tick Removing Thingy

I wonder if they do Frontline for people.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Pees Please

At last we have walls around the bathroom so not only do I now have a pot to pee in but I can pee in it in peace. The luxury is overwhelming. Hot water at the weekend. Bloody hell life is good!

I have been on slug patrol this evening. All our slugs are reddy orange so at least they are easy to spot. I can't bear to touch them so I wonder round the garden with a plastic pot and an oversized dining fork collecting them up (no I don't spear them just sort of manouver them into the pot). Then, since I can't bear to kill them either I relocate them to the woods. Strangely I have no qualms about feeding them to the Dinnerladies but they won't eat them even though they promise to when they are lined up at the wire saying "What you doing? Give us some". They just stab at them a bit then spend ages going "Yuk slimey slugs" and wiping their beaks. (well they do in my world thank you very much ).

Some stuff in the garden is doing really well. You could string a hammock between the spuds , honest. Other suff, well it's crap and just not trying like the leeks or it didn't bother to grow at all. Yes kidney beans I mean you. So tomorrow I am going to start some more stuff off. In pots because I can not distinguish between weeds and veg yet and I'm sick of having myself on that there is a row of food there and not a general blotch of weed seedlings.

I love gardening.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Slugs Ate My Collective Farm Woman

Well you turn your back for a minute. Several days actually. Because it's raining and because there is stuff to be done inside and before you know it your crops are devoured. It's goodbye Collective Farm Woman Melon, goodbye Gigante Liscio Tomatoes and goodbye brave solitary little Heatwave Chilli.

There you are rain and neglect it leads to slugs you heard it here.

We're keeping an eye out for colorado beetles (they call them doryphores here) The only way to deal with them apparently is to pick them off the potatoes and squish them although we might see if the Dinnerladies fancy picking them off and eating them. (Big event this weekend we got a double yolk egg!)

Everytime someone mentions colorado beetle it takes me back to standing in the post office with my gran while she was waiting to collect her pension. There was always a poster of a colorado beetle and details of who to contact if this scourge of potatoes was spotted. This was in a part of Leeds where the houses all led straight onto the street or if they were posh, had a couple of feet of earth and a privet hedge. I always hoped to spot one so I could call out The Man From The Ministry but surprise surprise I never did.

There wasa cobblers shop next to the post office I can smell it now or it could be the dog.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Flash Bang What a Picture

Oh I've started something now mentioning Carry On films he's turning the house even more upside down looking for his DVD of Carry On Up the Khyber. He'll be shouting "Strawberry Mousse" next.
Today started much earlier than we'd planned with a huge clap of thunder. Within moments we were joined in bed by a quivering dog and slightly later by a cat who was acting fairly nonchalant but thought he'd make sure we were OK.

Little Borg has perked up a lot so we tempted him out for a walk in the garden. The old beams at the side of the path are perfect when he wants to sharpen his claws, he huffs and puffs between each session like he's run a marathon though.

In between putting up the stud work for the walls upstairs (yes we now have a framework with doors in!) Tech Support finally got his scarce swallowtail on the rhododendron picture.

All in all a pretty good day but it looks like ending on the same note it began our canine thunder detector is looking decidedly nervous.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Chateau La Pants

Yesterday our friend sent us some pictures that really cheered us up.

No it wasn't puppies and kittens doing cute stuff. It was pictures of her house looking like what it is at the moment, a building site.

So I thought I would post some candid shots of our bathroom to be and our kitchen/dining/living room to be. To cheer up anyone else who thinks they're the only ones living like that.

Having said and done all that it actually looks better in the pictures than in real life so if you're thinking "Oh my god how can they live like that?" I'm sorry but it's worse than you can imagine. But it only bothers us intermittently, certainly not enough for us to really crack on with stuff. You'll notice we missed our deadline on the bathroom walls but tomorrow quite possibly they will be done.

I apologise for the title of this post but it has made Tech Support laugh for the last two years now and he insisted.

It's back on the pills for him tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Cool Cats Drugs and Chicks

We took Borg back to the vets today for his check up. This weekend we had been worried about him as he couldn't find a comfortable position to sleep and he looked really depressed.

However over the last couple of days he has managed to sleep and has perked up to the extent that he is giving the dogs black looks even if he can't be bothered to swot them and he is going upstairs to find a sunny spot on the bed to kip. At his age we can't expect a full recovery but as long as he is happy I'll keep drugging his food. I'm getting so good at it that Tech Support is starting to wonder just what goes into his meals as some days he finds he does exactly what he's told without realising.

The chickens have discovered that they can get out of their run. Well actually it's just Dolly and her mate Jean at the moment. Anita and Twink are not so adventurous. Luckily they are happy for us to go and pick them up so no comedy chicken capers yet. Tomorrow we will have to sort out a move for them. Their run is looking a bit bald and the grass is definately greener on the other side. They'll be on the lunch menu next door if they hop over that fence .

We noticed our first little peppers forming today so we are full of anticipation for the culinary delights to come. I've told the tomatoes they've got some catching up to do.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Bank Holiday

It's a bank holiday today in France our second of four this month. Let's all move to France I hear you cry, but wait, I have to disillusion you. Just as in the UK it's a bank holiday and the weather is cold and rainy and generally miserable.

Unlike the UK though the shops are shut so having run out of crepi I have the perfect excuse to sit in front of the fire and do mostly b***er all. Which is what I am doing. Well when you find something you're good at . . .

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Mostly Crepi

We've been applying ourselves again which for me has meant filling in plaster and putting crepi on the walls. Well one wall so far, there is such a thing as too much application plus I thought I would see if it fell off that wall before applying myself to the others.

I have also earthed up the spuds and hoe-ed weeds with my new hoe which I bought at the same time as the crepi. It's really sharp, I have the cut finger to prove it.

Crepi is fabulous stuff, it has the texture of school semolina pudding (maybe with less lumps), it's equally sticky and covers up a multitude of cracks and other wall related blemishes. What's more it's only five euros for a 15kg tub. This means once you get past the one splat for the wall and one splat for the floor stage it's very economical compared to a plasterer. It is viewed by some as naff, akin to artex I think and you can do artexy things with it if you like but I'm just going for the rustic look. Which is just as well cos my best efforts are pretty much, well . . . rustic.

So we have one lovely white wall plus a rather nice shelfy/dresser thing that Tech Support has been making for the wall that is the kitchen. If we sit here with sort of squinty half closed eyes we can almost see a cosy little kitchen/dining/living room. It has inspired us to concentrate and finish this room so we can have one place where we are not reminded of the zillion and one things on the to do list. It would also be good to repay the hospitality of those who feed us and let us use their bathing facilities fom time to time.

But not today we're having day off.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Vets in France

Today has been a bit crap. We had to take Borg to the vets. He seemed to be panting a bit yesterday and what we had thought was a growing spare tyre increased in size dramatically. It was out with the dictionary first thing this morning to look up breathing difficulties, swollen stomach, appointment, today, as soon as possible, and so we got our first experience of French vets (who to our relief spoke excellent english). They kept him in for tests and it seems his heart is enlarged and he is retaining fluid. We have been calling him a lazy fat git and the poor old love has got a dicky ticker. Que guilt trip.

So we have had an anxious day where basically all we have done is driven him up there come back and poked around and stuff then driven back to pick him up all the while expecting the worse. Even when we saw the vet tonight and he showed us the ultrasound and the fluid he had drawn off I was thinking "Yes this is leading up to the nothing can be done speech". But we have some tablets for the fluid and some for his heart so we'll keep our fingers crossed that he starts slapping the dogs around again soon. By the way all the above, consultation, ultrasound, drugs came in at 79 euros much cheaper I think than our old vets in the UK.

The chooks have excelled themselves by delivering four eggs today except that they've taken to sleeping in the nest box and laying their eggs on the floor in the middle of their house. We've given half a dozen to Madame next door to store up some goodwill for when they decide to raid her veg plot.