Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today was the kind of day we moved here for, cold with a stunning sun rise, clear blue sky all day and superb sun set.I took this on my walk to the Boulangerie this morning. Lifts the soul first thing in the morning. Temperature is minus 5.

Whilst we continue to paint shutters all hands are on site which is comforting.
Note the great health and safety rules being adhered to, this is carrying the electricity to the actually!

Due to the weakening of the pound we have had to cut back on the pool - this is the replacement diving board.

Overall though the pool is advancing with the walls going up,making it look like, well a swimming pool!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

forgot to mention, I have a new routine. Buying bread daily here becomes a habit like, well you just have to do it every day. So whilst coffee is going through the perculator I walk to the boulangerie, usually around 8.15, ok 8.30am. It is amazing how many people are around!! I always see two old guys who I have knick named the old gits. It is because unlike most people they do not say 'bonjour'. So my mission has been to convert them. This morning I even got an acknowledgement it was a nice morning!

Despite the popularity of Mr Sarkozy, or maybe his wife Carla Bruni, the Fench passion for strikes continues. Before he was elected there was unrest and strikes for change in the working week amongst other things. 50% of voters chose him. Now the other 50% are striking! French schools used to finish Wednesday lunchtime but they were open Saturday morning. A nightmare for parents. So now they have stopped the saturday mornings but they close wednesday all day!! Admittedly a longer day than the UK. So which day do they strike, Thursday of course then take a bridge day Friday!!Nothing changes. Like our tabby they have attitude!

The sunshine is back, so as the French would say, we are taking profit from this and undercoating the 'volets' for Le Chene. There are 19 in total requiring two undercoats then two colour coats.I am on spraying, Karen sorts any drips!!
By the end of the second day we were shuttered!!! shattered - get it!
After threatening Thijs with, well I will not go there, its all go on site. The pool is advancing!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

For all those folks who were fed up with me gloating about our good weather, well enough is enough, you have got your own back. Friday and Saturday it rained all day, one of the worst storms to hit northen Spain and South West France in 15 years, luckily for us we just got the tail end but that was bad enough. Our land is soaking, the water is not draining away as normal. The locals are saying they have not seen anything like it. Our lower drive is not passable even in our 4x4.

So much for Global warming!! to get out the house to the car we have to put on our wellies!

Today Sunday, the sky is as Blue as we expect in Provence, it is one of the reasons we moved here.The sun has warmth. This is our pool which needs to be ready for guests in just 16 weeks.!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Well we have finished the first stage of our window and shutter painting, the gites are done.

We are now turning our efforts to Le Chene - so just the whole house to do!
Meanwhile Thijs and Ali have spent 4 days preparing the steel framework for the pool in readiness for the concrete.

After a night of heavy rain Tuesday we were woken by the sound of the Cement mixer arriving at 7.30am and the Manitou running up and down to pour the concrete. Note the health and safety rules and Christophe with fag in mouth!!

6 hours later - job done!

And after this work our drive is looking great!Just what I wanted this morning when we were expecting a delivery from Ikea.

They had texted to say they would deliver between 7am and 12 noon. I had just gone back to sleep when they called just after 7.30 to say they were in the village. I directed them to the house but they were in a large lorry and our drive was not going to be easy to navigate. So I went to meet them nearby, promptly going flying as I stepped out side on a frosty plank , then finding the windscreen frozen solid (it was minus 5). Thank fully they were very accommodating and carried the goods to the house. Certainly woke me up!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It is hard to imagine that in about 20 weeks time we have guest arriving expecting to relax by our heated infinity pool! Especially when it appears to be being built by one man and his pick axe!

Meanwhile I have started the process of painting all the shutters , each one(and there are 16 pairs on our house) needs 2 undercoats (they are already primed)and two top coats.Karen is busy doing all the windows. Then we have to do Le Chene - Joy!Actually it is quite enjoyable especially working in the winter sun.

Day 2 of the Pool and ali is working well putting the steels in the base.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The big thaw is on but there is still plenty of snow. Today we walked with friends for nearly trhee hours about 20 minutes from here and on high ground we had fantastic views of the Southern Alps.

The air is so clear hence the mistletoe growing all over this tree. The temperature in the sun was 9 degrees , in the shade minus 2.

It is hard to imagine that in July this Lavender field will be in full bloom and the temperature 90 degrees plus.

Friday, January 09, 2009

We have had some 20 centimetres of Snow bringing the region to a halt, even Marseilles had 40 centimetres the first time in over 20 years!

On Wednesday, just as darkness fell I received a call from our neighbour to say his 8 year old son had fallen in the snow and thought he had broken his wrist. Knowing I had a 4 x 4 he was calling on me to take them to hospital in Apt. Not so easy as we are on high ground, it took the two of us almost half an hour just to dig our way up the drive way out of our house . The route to Apt had not been cleared and despite this I was over taken on route - The french sure now how to drive (not!)

It turned out he had indeed broken his wrist and spent the night in hospital before being operated on yesterday morning. Good job for the 4 x 4!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Its been a while since I last blogged and remarkably having signed off with the weather I am afraid I will be back on the subject shortly!!

Well another Christmas has come and gone. Certainly on our part a good time was had by all.For the last three years Christmas kicks off with carols at a church in the nearby village of Goult. The service is in both French and English and afterwards everyone heads to the Cafe de la poste for drinks.

Just before Christmas everyone heads to the village where Father Christmas comes and all the children are taken around on horse drawn (well we don't have reindeer in Provence)carraiges. The healthy and safety inspector would have a coronary as the kids jump on and off as it goes along!After its down to the village hall for mulled wine.

Christmas Eve is almost more important in France than the day itself.

This could be to do with the feast that is traditionally eaten on the night of Christmas Eve comprising of Sea Food followed by 13 deserts and the opening of presents.
We had the sea food feast but just the one desert which Martin & Richard seemed to enjoy!

Here we are on christmas morning preparing lunch.

On Saturday 27th December we returned to the UK catching up with family and friends with new Years Eve spent with my sister, her Husband and their friends in south Wales. A good time was had by all. What was also interesting for us was to see how the credit crunch was effecting the retailers. Maybe I had imagined the Credit crunch because from Lakeside in Thurrock, to Kingston in Surrey we saw little sign of any let up in spending. Infact even the day before we left the UK, Friday the 2nd we struggled to get parked in Brooklands, Weybridge.It was also interesting to see what good value the UK was looking compared to France. Retailing in the UK is mega competative so you have some real bargains in the shops , sadly at a time when I expect, in truth, people should not be spending it, guess that's called murphy's law!!
And so we returned to the peace and tranquility of Provence ready to start painting our second house, the various windows and shutters and get everything ready for the season ahead. Since our builders stopped work on the 18th December it has been dry, cold and sunny. Again I think its called Murphy's law that when they all turned up Monday morning the forecast for the week was not conjusive to building a pool or rendering our house, so they left promising to return next week. They were right. Like the UK it is cold here and snowy! The pictures tell it all.

This is Chemin de Romanet, the road where we used to live and where our villa Les cypres is located.

This is the view from our bedroom that greeted us this morning.

The house le Chene which awaits its third coat of render and us to decorate the interior.

The peace and quiet bought by the snow is beautiful. No body is going anywhere today.Our house also awaits the final coat of render!

Still Splodge was enjoying it!