June 2007

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Het weer in de Gers


We wonder how many faces have been reflected in this mirror.

The neighbour's oak went like a matchstick

Our fruit trees were badly damaged

The August in Gascony site, designed and built by Perry

Plums in armagnac and plum jam. The trees still gave us
a lot, even after the storm

Fresh garlic from the garden. Pwaaaaauh!

frog in kitchen
An unexpected visitor in the new kitchen.

You can't BEET home-grown produce...

The post mushroom hunt debrief is a serious affair!

New potatoes. Delicious with our own mint and salt and butter

Vide grenier season really begins
We don't go as often as we used to, but the odd vide grenier is fun to go to. As the Summer progresses there are more and more each weekend. One sees the same sort of stuff each time, but occasionally we come across something that would fit perfectly in our house. One such item was a mirror that now hangs in our guest bathroom. A simple yet ornate affair that looks like it was always hanging there. The haggling (which Caroline loves and I cringe at) and repartie is all part of the game. The stallholder, who works at the local builder's yard, even offered us a pastis after having had 30% from his asking price knocked off. Try doing that at the Conforama furniture superstore.

Hanging out in Marciac
Our friend Liselotte has a beautiful chambres d'hôtes in Marciac, which is full to bursting during the jazz festival. She invited Perry to hang some of his paintings and drawings in the upper corridors. This was followed by a delicious dinner in the garden with her usual exotic mix of friends from all over the world. The pictures will still be hanging during the jazz, so we even may sell a few!

Nature at its most frightening
We have all seen hurricanes on TV. One hot, sunny day here turned into just such a nightmare. It lasted less than eight minutes and brought 20mm of rain and hail almost as big as golf balls. Our farmer, Christian, was busy mowing the meadow in front of the house when the wind got up and suddenly roared. The hail came in horizontally and Christian had to turn his tractor to stop it coming into the cab. We saw him cowering behind the glass as the hail peppered the field like machine gun fire.

Meanwhile we went to the back of the house to see how everything was holding out. We were confronted with waterfalls coming in from around the newly fitted skylight windows (Velux) and down the ventilation shafts and chimnies. We heard violent cracks and saw branches fly by as the trees succumbed to the incredible power of nature. Our neighbour's old oak tree was torn out of the ground, rivers poured across freshly sown fields and the drainage ditches overflowed with muddy water acorss the roads. Suddenly the power went and it was eight hours before the overworked electricity engineers could connect it all up again. We lost three fruit trees and many large branches. The tiles on our large barn were flipped around like leaves and the car has a few hailstone dents in the roof. And we got away with it lightly.

Apparently people in south Puydarrieux, a short kilometer away, stood in the sun and watched this narrow corridor of menace tear across the hillside, enveloping the church in its dark cloak. Scary stuff.

Last minute holiday?
August in Gascony is a new site Perry developed for our friend Marina. She has decided to let out her house for four weeks around the time of the Jazz in Marciac festival. We went across and took photos in the early evening light, had a great dinner, slept over and took lots more early morning shots. Two days later Perry had the site ready and loaded on the web. You can see it here. The last two weeks are still available!

Birthday boy
It was also Perry's birthday in June. We were pretty busy with sanding and painting our bathrooms before the summer visits, but still managed to shower off, get into our glad rags and go for lunch in Trie. It was market day and a lot of the usual suspects were to be seen chatting at street corners and catching up on the news. Next year it's Perry's 50th (gulp) so that may well be a little more elaborate affair...

Wood hunting
Ernest, the retired carpenter, has been showing us how to shave and cut planks to make a door. He went with us to an old wood yard to select some old oak planks of assorted widths. Being old, it is dry and has a prettier colour and feel than modern wood. It will also match the old beams and doors we already have in the house. We will create a door, a cupboard for our hand basin and another for all the towels. The latter will be fitted with an old double window we found in the house. Caroline has worked hard to sand and prepare it all and has the muscle ache to prove it!

Loss of a new friend
We met Klaus Hammann a month or two before. He came with his work mate, Jorge, to quote on our bathroom tiling. Our first meeting we shook hands, from then on it was bear hugs, from a bear of a man. He was a big hearted man who invited us to his home to meet his family and brought huge albums of photos to show how the house had developed from ruin to mansion. He was an architect and had rebuilt his own home from four empty stone walls. It took him ten years and he was slowly adding the finishing touches in the house, such as bannisters and handrails. Unfortunately they came too late and he fell to his death from the first floor. We were all in shock and poor Jorge must now continue the business alone. A larger than life character came into our lives so quickly and left it far too soon.

House front
On the house front things were moving along fast. The bathrooms were finally taking shape. You can read all about it in Our House.

Until next month,

A bientôt.

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© 2007 Perry Taylor and La Baguette Magique, France.