March 2005

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Blooming marvelous

"Left a bit, right a bit"

Another tough day at the office

...toaster, coffee machine, uh...cuddly toy...
...didn't she do well!

The making of...

We get free nature films each evening, without David Attenborough butting in. Who needs television?


Seasons gone haywire
By the amount of penguins camping out in the bath, we knew we were experiencing abnormal weather conditions at the beginning of March. Never rising above zero for at least ten days, the locals said it was the worst winter in thirty years. During this mini ice age, we did try to make the most of the dry and sunny spells by hopping on the bikes, only to be snowed and hailed back in submission. And then, as if the wicked witch had been banished from the kingdom, the sun burst through, the flowers began to bloom and the local wildlife was seen to scatter at the sight of two pairs of very white legs in shorts. Suddenly winter turned to summer and within two days we were sweltering in 25 degrees as the cherry, apricot, mimosa and magnolia trees popped open like fireworks against the drab, evergreen background.

Meet the neighbours 1
With the good weather we found ourselves dining outside again on a regular basis. It was certainly warmer outside than in. One specific lunch is worth mentioning, since this was enjoyed with one of our our new neighbours in Puydarrieux.

Initially we made contact with them to find out about the renovation techniques they had used on their old farm. Peter and Janneke invited us for a coffee, which evolved into a delicious, two-bottle lunch and some good company in glorious sunshine. They are starting a top-of-the-range chambres d'hôtes, click here to find out more.

Border patrol
We had been advised to check the perimeter of our land and were not sure about one border, which unlike the rest, was not marked by a ditch. A Geometre expert was hired and early one morning all three land owners adjoining the perimeter had to be present as the man measured and placed the bornes, (plastic becon markers that are placed at junctions of land.)

Check, re-check and double check
With the signing of the final contract nearing, we were sent the draft documents for our perusal. It took us two days to go through them, one for the house, two for the two lots of land and a fourth concerning our testaments to work around the French law of succession. Dictionaries and thesaurus to hand, we still had difficulty understanding what it all meant. Luckily we are blessed with a good notary, (at least that is our impression) who held our hand through each paragraph, explaining that your average French person didn't understand it either. "Ce n'est pas evident!"

Just checking the walls, Dear.
The huge amount of earth that needs removing behind the house will have to be done professionally. We had a specialist come to Puydarrieux and give it the once over. A few sharp intakes of breath, a rub of the hand over the chin and we knew we were in for a large quote. We still have to see it, mind you. Artisans here seem almost incapable of supplying a price on paper.

Do the Shake 'n' Vac
With a bit of down time on our hands we started spring cleaning the pavilion in preparation for our short return and final departure. Caro was up ladders sucking up the spiders, webs and dust and polishing everything in sight. Meanwhile Perry fought with technology to get his La Baguette Magique site finally in the air. Yet with sun and warmth, it never seems so bad.

Meet the neighbours 2 - Pelle Porc au Village We received an invitation to join the Pelle Porc dinner at the village salle des fêtes. Traditionally, a pig would be slaughtered and the hairs scraped off in a large wooden bath using boiling water and sharp knives. Thankfully this was done a few days before the dinner. We were joined by the present owner, Maryse Montegut, her sister and brother-in-law.

Amazingly, one 210 kilo pig fed 130 villagers. Boudin sausages, cutlets, huge chops, head paté and lots of wine. After a few hours of apéritifs, we were summoned to sit. Lit by neon striplighting there were three 30 metre-long, double sided tables. Sitting right in the middle, we were the subject of great scrutiny the whole evening, since only a few people knew who we were. Stiff necks all round the next morning. Caroline felt awfully tall and slim (well, more than she normally does) amongst all the ruddy-faced, French, Danny DeVitos. The Mayor was very friendly and we were introduced to many of our new neighbours, who welcomed us, inviting us to pop by for apéritifs. Better not take the car...

A moving experience
Along with everything else, we have to inform our ever-growing address list of our new address details. In three languages. The actual move will only be twenty kilometers further south, so we came up with the wheelbarrow visual for our moving card that many of you may have already received or downloaded. If not, get it here.

Nest building
Spring has sprung in the groins of every living thing around us. We hear owls all night, song thrushes and blackbirds all day and Redstarts flash past left and right, building nests. Caroline saw and heard her first swallows and the deer have become very adventurous, coming very close to the house. They dig up the ground around the tree roots looking for new shoots. We are getting more excited too, as each day brings us closer to having our own nest. On 5 April we sign the acte authentique and get the keys. Then we get ready for the removal truck coming from Holland. That's if he can get around the last bend that is!

So next time you read our diary, it will be written looking out of a very different window. Our very own room with a view.

At last.

Perry and Caroline



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© 2005 Perry Taylor and La Baguette Magique, France.