August 2006

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Het weer in de Gers  

Bras, Bart and kids arrive
Don't look behind you!!!

figs and rasberries from the garden
Taste the summer

No honestly, I couldn't eat another...

foot through floor
You put your left leg in...

first meal in kitchen
Just light the rings and stand back

Malcolm and Linda arrive
Malcolm and Linda fell in love with our part of the world

toucans placed
Garçon!! Three white wines and a cola

Alain et Damian
Alain and his son Damien
add the finishing touch

Drying our onions before braiding the stems and
hanging them in the cool of the barn

card for Alison and Wil
Perry's ink wash for Alison and Wil's wedding

Our new kitchen
And here's one we prepared earlier...A lot of hard work,
but worth every bit of it.

Business as usual
In spite of the inconveniences of workmen in and around the house and having no roof, we have been trying to get on with everyday life. Like welcoming visits from our friends. This time it was Caroline's best mate Monique, her husband Bart and their two kids, Frederick and Guusje. As the chainsaws, hammers and drills blasted away behind us, we had some grand dinners in the garden. Perry designed the site for Monique's previous company Klei en Zoo.

Things that go thud in the night
The blue fig tree is heavy with fruit. Succulent bombs that fall regularly with a dull thud in the grass. Competing with the hornets who get drunk on the sugar, we filled a large bowl each day and exchanged the excess with our neighbours for pears and confiture. Complimenting the figs with our home-grown rasberries and strawberries, we eat like gods at our sunset-bathed dining corner, under the mimosa tree.

Tomato anyone? Please?
Tomato sauce, tomato soup, fresh tomato pizza, ratatouille... the beef tomatoes were weighing in at almost a kilo a piece. We picked carrier bags of cherry tomatoes every day and ate them like sweets, adding them to everything. The basil became a jungle and we made pots and pots of fresh pesto. We haven't seen the vegetable shop for a month and won't for the foreseable future.

Ok, you're saying, so what's so special about picking a few vegetables? Where's the beef? Well, for us townies who were used to having little or no garden, a vegetable garden of our own is a joy. If we need something for a recipe, we wander down with a fork and dig up carrots, onions, garlic and leeks. Grab a huge handful of parsley and basil and scoff a few rasberries en route. Bliss. The down side is fighting off the weeds and bugs, watering it all and pruning and deadheading to keep stuff producing. But there's not a drop of chemicals or pesticide on them and our tomatoes and carrots grow into very wierd shapes, but it beats the soggy, tasteless and expensive alternatives at the supermarket any day.

Mind the gap
The kitchen was almost ready. The pots and pans, spices and herbs, kitchen roll and utensils all in place. The paint brushes put away and the wood oiled for the last time. Meanwhile, we were above the kitchen, talking to Terry about where we want the window to be placed in our bathroom-to-be. Caroline had warned us not to step through the gap between the temporary floorboards and promptly turned around and disappeared up to her groin. A mix of laughter and shock combined, we pulled her out. The damage was not so much to her but the ceiling of the kitchen below. Thankfully, the beams were close enough to each other to keep her from going all the way through. Thankfully, the ceiling panels didn't hit anything on the way down (see the glass jars!!). Thankfully, Terry had the ceiling back in place within an hour.

I name this kitchen...
The kitchen officially came into service - and how. We filled several large pans with our produce and made litres of tomato sauce and soup. They now are lined up in stacks of labelled jars in the annex. Still trying to find out where the other had decided to place the cutlery or bowls, there was a lot of draw testing going on, but all the work surfaces make it heaven to use.

Mally Moo
Perry's mate Malcolm (and his best man at our wedding - remember the speech?!) came with his wife Linda to spend a few weeks in Southern France. It was wonderful to see them here, looking so relaxed. They fell in love with the area and are even contemplating buying something here. They drove to Aix-en-Provence on black Saturday and spent nine hours in traffic jams. Two days among the hordes and they were back for some peace and quiet to round off their trip. Thankfully for Perry's liver, Malcolm doesn't drink any more. But they were still in tears, laughing, on a just few cups of tea.

All that jazz
Jazz in Marciac came round again. Two weeks of the world's top jazz musicians turn up to play for us country bumpkins. We saw Richard Bona and Jamie Cullum. The latter took the place by storm and we were surrounded by young french girls shouting "Jamie, je t'aime!".

Toucans come to roost
A lot of the houses here have a piece of broken tile, shaped like a bird, at each end of the roof. We like the idea but thought that we might put toucans up instead of doves. Alain gave us a couple of old flat roof tiles which Perry drew on. Alain then carefully cut them to shape and came to place them. We all went up on his Manitou crane and watched him at close hand cut a groove in the crown and slide the two toucans into place. The crowning glory on a job well done. Some might think it a bit cheesy. It is, but they stand for our achievements so far. Two can in France.

Other highlights...
Wow, looking at the diary, we did a lot this month. Perry took Malcolm and Linda to the vide grenier at Puntous, an annual market in a village up the road. They always give a lunch on long tables in the shadow of the poplar trees. We had a fine time chatting with the locals and picking up some great bargains.

Friends of Caroline's parents popped by for coffee. Rob and Pauke have a house in St Frajou, 45 minutes to the east. They split their time there with their house in Holland. Caroline made a delicious figue clafouti.

Stuart and Caroline Harris, friends of ours from our Holland days, popped by for lunch on the way to Biarritz. Perry served up his home made pizzas with rosé. They were very impressed with the developments on the house since their visit last year. At that time, the drainage trenches were being dug out.

The skylight windows were finally placed in the new roof. The next day we had an enormous storm. Unknown to the other, we both spent time standing under the roof as the wind and rain came down. It was such a comforting feeling to see no leaks and know that we were ready for the winter and quite a few more after that!

To the Mechoui, an annual dinner where the Mayor of Puydarrieux grills lamb on a huge fire and the village youths serve the dishes. Three long tables and the wine and pastis flowed. We got to know a few more of our fellow villagers and now know who we are waving to as they pass in the car.

We were invited to the wedding of Alison and Wil, a young English couple who live in Trie. Alison runs the Spot On centre de bien-etre, where she gives reflexology, reiki and acupuncture. Perry made a painting in inks as a present (he wants to make the frame from old wood from our roof, so they'll have to wait a bit). He is also about to start designing her website.

OK, that was August. The weather was a bit iffy, but we heard that Holland and England also had it bad. The seasons have been strange this year, let's hope that this is not the trend.

September's diary can be read here.

A bientôt.


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© 2006 Perry Taylor and La Baguette Magique, France.