Quality time with Renée
Le Manoir de la Barrière
Klaus, the pump and our new doorbell.
Mauw, our neighbour's cat who comes for a daily cuddle.
Zoë, Ruben and Lauren Harris in the pink
"What's an elipse?"
The Antoinette barn and the trenches,
just five days into battle.
Good friends and good wine...
At the beginning of August, we went to see Caroline's friend, Renée. She was over from Australia and staying with friends in Gourdon, in the Lot. We were invited to stay with her hosts, Paul and Monette, who welcomed us into their home. They not only provided good company, but also a beautiful route for us to drive and walk, through quiet villages and empty lanes. We stayed the second night at Le Manoir de la Barrière in Le vigan, which has recently been taken over by an English couple who are working hard to get it back into its old state. On the way home we stopped off at a vineyard (at the top right of the picture above). At 10:30 in the morning, we degusté several wines before leaving with a couple of cases for our cave at home. Caroline was quite giggly for a while. We drove across country, avoiding the motorway completely, buying melons along the road and enjoying the ever changing landscape.
The day after our return, we were invited to join Pierre at the vide grenier in Puntous, just a few kms away. We were joined by our friends Addi and Max. (They had first introduced us to Pierre, who in turn introduced us to our new home.) We scoured the stalls and picked up a few nice things for the house, including a copper doorbell. Our visitors won't have to hit their car horn any more.
We had lunch under the trees on three, 50 meter-long tables. The wine, confit de canard and haricots tarbais were delicious. Merci Pierre!
All that Jazz
August brings the Jazz in Marciac festival. Last year we had a stall selling Perry's drawings and postcards. This year we decided to sit it out. We have enough to do, what with the work on the house and Perry's projects. One evening we saw Bill Evans, Randy Brecker and Marcus Miller. The second time, we swang to the Afro Cuban All stars. An estimated 14,000 people visit the festival each day, which runs for two weeks. The town people open their doors to reveal improvised galleries, bars and cafés that disappear immediately the moment the festival ends. A shame really. A jazz café with a gallery could do well here.
Fire and water
Klaus, our German plumber, started fitting the piping in the chimneys, for the two wood burners we want to install. He has also come up with a way to pump water up out of the old well in front of the door. (Read all about it, and other developments in the Our House section).
What's new pussycat?
We have started to get regular, almost twice daily, visits from a neighbour's cat. He miaows very loudly as he waddles up the drive and is very friendly. We call him Mauw. He loves to be near us, purring like a tractor, though we don't feed him.
"You're very bald for your age..."
Our friends, Stuart and Caroline Harris and their outspoken children came to stay nearby. We invited them twice to dine with us at home. One evening ended in an impromtu art lesson from Perry, involving lots of orange paint and some creative wrinkling of eyebrows. They were present when the contractor drove up to announce that he was about to start digging the hole for the fosse septique. We couldn't believe it. He'd arrived the day he'd promised. (See Our House section)
Digging up the past
Over the next three days, our fosse septique was placed and the drainage trenches were dug out all around the house. On the third day, the digger caught an underground water pipe that fed the WC and shower in the annex. We had no drawings of where the old lines had been laid, definitely something we will do before the trenches are filled in again. But anyway, there we were. All vehicles parked within the trenches and a broken water pipe. Perry jumped over the trench, ran to the old Peugeot 504 coupé in the barn, attached the battery and she started first time. He then drove her gently over the uneven field to arrive back on the road and into Trie-sur-Baïse to get the length of pipe.
The other evening we were happily reading in bed, when one by one, three bats flew through the window to chase the moths and other bugs around the room, that had been attracted by our bedside lamps. We turned off our lamps and within a few minutes they were gone, apart from one juvenile, who didn't seem to know how his radar worked. Eventually he flapped out the window in the hallway.
I'm not as think as you drunk I am...
On the way home, one Sunday morning (having turned up a day too late for a Vide Grenier) we saw a police alcohol checkpoint. The gendarme looked very serious until he saw us smiling and waving at him. He broke into a smile and waved us on. It's good to have a gendarme as your neighbour.
Six days work...
that's what he said, our fosse septique man. Only thing was, he didn't say which six days, or which month. So far we have seen him for five days, spread over two weeks, and the piles of earth, trenches and bare pipes do not look like they are going to disappear with one day's work. But hey, he has at least begun (on the day promised) and his digger is still on our premises. It has at least given us time to think of adding electricity and water connections to the Antoinette barn (whilst the trenches are open) which we hope to make habitable one day. "Komt goed", as the Dutch say.