Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It is our 3rd Christmas in Provence and I can honestly say I hope I never spend another one in the UK - sorry folks back home! The weather, the peace and the beauty of the area just make this day extra special.
This photo, taken at the Chapel at the top of the village seemed appropriate.Happy Christmas.

Karen sporting her new outfit on Christmas Day!

Drinks on the terrace - well it is December!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This will be the last blog before we leave for the UK tomorrow. We are already in the Christmas spirit having spent a day in Aix en Provence yesterday where there is a Christmas market, lots of nicely dressed shop windows and a great light display. We also went to our first Christmas party at 'Abbys' which was most enjoyable although walking home at gone midnight at minus 6 degrees was less fun!

Tonight we are going to our friends wine Domaine where this will be Vin Chaud ( hot mulled wine), a bbq, music etc so we will be nice and mellow when we are arrive in blighty!

Our building team finish for Christmas shortly. Yesterday the upstairs floors were poured on both houses. So we should have some more walls going up early in the new Year.This is our house

And this is the second house.

And our Garage.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The houses continue to progress. The plaster has been poured to create our Provencal ceiling which will be revealed this week when the 'shuttering' is removed. The concrete first floor beams have been added with the actual floors being poured next week.

For the first time I was able to stand at first floor height - 'upstairs!' and this will be the view from our bedroom and balcony.

We ordered the swimming pool for the second house yesterday to be installed either next April or September!
Thijs is going to build ours at it will be more individual with a pool house and summer kitchen.

The project managing of the builds takes much of our week, not so much on site but sorting things out from Satellite systems for TV to door and window furniture.We have just chosen the flooring for the living area and kitchen.

Our Toyota Rav 4, which are normally so reliable has developed a serious fault , which appears to be common although not reported anywhere in the press !So we have traded her in which has also taken much of the last week. We arrive in Avignon where there are endless car garages, the particular area is called car city - and they all close 12 to 2pm for lunch! if you can't beat them join them!

The weather has been fabulous over the last week, warm and sunny by day if not a little cool at night! we try and walk 3 times a week about 8 Kilometres usually passed these vines which have just been cut for winter.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This week we have at last had some rain, fairly sertious stuff actually, 100 millimetres in 48 hours - that's 10 centimetres - so yes I have to admit , it does rain in Provence!

It has actually been nice to spend time in the house getting our website sorted and adverts for the villa on various holiday websites.We have also been back to Avignon to order our kitchen which is scheduled to be fitted May 5th!

Despite the rain Thijs has only lost one day so I sent Karen to sort out the lack of activity!Thijs calls Karen 'the Admiral'.

This is our dining room ceiling, the beams are added and then it is shuttered with plaster poured betewen the narrow joists, creating a true Provencal ceiling.

Of course we have to white wash the timbers which are yellow as a sign they have been preserved.

This is from the lounge going into the Dining room.

And the Gites are going up!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Thursday we went with Martin, and friends Robert(pictured with Karen)and Francesca to Avignon to taste the first of this years Cote du Rhone wines.

The event is held in Les Halles, a huge indoor food market where you can buy delicacies from France and around the world. Many vintners turn up to offer free tastings which we were forced into trying!There is a great atmosphere and after consuming many tastings we headed off for lunch.

We spent some time today on site . The house is coming on well and pretty much on schedule.This is me sitting outside what will be the dining room terrace with the kitchen windows to the left and lounge to the right.

The walls to the gites are next to be started which are outlined here.

The second house is about to receive the first floor

And finally despite the temperature falling last night to minus 8 it has been a stunning day - sorry!

With a lovely sunset.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

With help from friends Steve & Connie and Martin we completed our Olive 'Harvest ' today. We have about 8 large trees on our land plus a further 20 that we have moved so next year will have a huge number once they are re planted.

We took the Olives once picked to the mill in the village.

Some people literally have hundreds of Kilos.

The Olives are then weighed. We had a whopping 48 Kilos which we were really proud of! That means we will get about 10 litres of Olive Oil for next to nothing at the end of December (it normally costs 43€ for 3 litres, expensive but superb quality and award winning)

The Olives are then put into be crushed by the mill wheel.

After this the paste is then spread onto these corrugated plates which are then put on top of each other and pressed.

The press with the oil dripping through on its way to the storage tanks before bottling.

The Storage tanks

Us with some of our harvest!

And the receipt from the Mill confirming our catch!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another week has past, and a glorious one it has been although there is a hint colder weather is coming so its time to harvest the Olives and winterize the pool.
We have 9 Olive trees here at the villa we live in, but as we had them pruned very hard this winter they have only produced a small amount of Olives. Last year we picked 19 Kilos.Karen gets to start

Whilst Martin and I set about cleaning and then half draining the pool before we add
antifreeze and put the winter cover on.

After a mornings work its time for lunch, which we are still enjoying outside.

Wednesday we have the Olive trees to pick from on our land before we take our haul to the 'Moulin' in the village for pressing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The first fortnight in November normally sees our weather change from Autumn to Winter. As I have already rubbed it in,sorry, but it has been fantastic but I am sure will soon change. And by change I mean get cold - thank fully still with bright Sunny days though.

Accordingly we decided to take off to the Coast for the day - Bandol, on the Cote D'Azur is less than two hours away. Of course this is all in the name of 'Tourism research' So we started by checking the quality of the beer.

And that lunch was up to scratch.

After lunch we checked out the local sporting opportunities, traditional Boule

or taking to the water, sailing.

Conscious that we have French lessons Tuesday morning we took our home work along to do - however someone couldn't concentrate!

Wait till teacher finds out in the morning!

And a very nice Autumn day came to an end

This is Bernie & Jenny who recently stayed with us for a few days with their daughter Katie, who kept us and the cats on their toes, or should I say paws!We had a good time (and I think they did too!)- this is in our local restaurant 'Les girls'!!

This is Katie, who clearly has excellent taste in Jumpers managing to combine the colours that Karen and I are wearing.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

It has been just the most beautiful weekend, this is one of my favourites times of the year (not that there is a time I don't like really), glorious sunrises, warm clear days and cold nights out side with the fire alight inside!
We went to the market in Apt yesterday, which was surprisingly busy, although it is still half term here for another week. We met up with friends for a customary beer, in the sun of course. After lunch on the terrace we went for a 2 hour walk and then to the garden centre.

Today after breakfast outside we walked for a couple of hours where we took a few snaps of the Autumn colours,

the vines are a delight varying between gold, brown and red

The cherry trees are bright crimson.

We returned home to lunch outside with a bottle of chilled Rose after which, surprisingly we found the energy to plant the Lavender we bought yesterday.

This is the second house, as we saw it today together with the view from the terrace.