Friday, 11 January 2019

Things That Go Scratch in the Night...

This is the countryside.  The French countryside. With animals.  And insects. And birds. And spiders.  And lumpy lawns from the moles. And squirrels that steal your fat balls...

But I've been woken up a few times in the night by a scratching at my bedroom door.  Soooooooooo loud! Well, I assumed it was the cat, of course, but there was no miaou - just the constant scratching.  I shouted, and it stopped.  I banged on the door, and it stopped. But nothing stopped it for long.

Then, a couple of days ago I noticed bits on the floor at the doorway...

and they had obviously come from the bottom of the door...

Blasted cat, I thought!

But, this morning I found out it was NOT the cat. She was already in the room, asleep on my bed when I heard the scratching again.  I opened the door, but saw nothing.  I left it ajar so that, if it was a mouse, or a dormouse, Cinders would see it and catch it, hopefully.

She sat on the edge of the bed, watching, and the culprit was obviously there, as she was VERY interested.  She jumped down and sat by the doorway and then, along came the culprit! Just as if it was out for a Sunday stroll. A little brown furry creature. 

Cinders saw it and cocked her head to one side (no sign of chasing it!) and the vole (for, yes, that was the creature) saw Cinders. Neither moved for a second and then, fairly leisurely, the vole turned tail (a short stubby one) and pattered back along the landing. After a few seconds, Cinders moved out of the doorway and looked along the landing - no vole. So, nothing happening, Cinders returned to the bedroom and looked at me. 'What's for breakfast then' that look said...

Monday, 31 December 2018

Squirreling It Away

The birds are hungry now and are voraciously eating the fat balls we put out for them. I bought 4 new packs two days ago and filled up the container I keep them in in the shed. Forty new fat balls.  Enough for a couple of weeks there, I thought.

Today has been very cold and all the feeders were empty. So out I went to replenish them.

The plastic  container was lidless and only one fatball remained in the bottom! my first thought was that I had not put the new fatballs into the container, so I searched the kitchen for where I had left them.  Then the dépendance.  Then the cars.  Both of them. Then  I searched the dépendance again. And the kitchen again. And the shed again.

I searched the kitchen rubbish bin for the plastic bags the balls were sold in and when I found all four at the bottom of the bin, I knew I wasn't beginning the long downward journey into Altzheimers.  What a relief 😊

To cut a long story short, Roy moved all the plastic boxes we had stored in the little shed and we could see a pile of fatballs on the floor, down in the corner. All forty were there, although some had had their green plastic mesh removed and been sampled by whatever animal had cleverly stolen them from their plastic container.

We found some droppings - obviously from a rodent - and it seems likely that the culprit was a squirrel, getting ready for the winter. forty fat balls certainly would have seen it through a few cold night!

So now the fatballs are all back in their plastic container, and stored INDOORS.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Christmas Past

Well, only just past - yesterday was Christmas Day.😊

On Christmas Eve, paying homage to the French tradition of Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve, Roy and I sat on the terrace in the evening, drinking pink champagne...

It was a warm evening, and we had just finished cutting the grass and tidying up the leaves that had fallen from the two oaks bordering the lawn, so we were warm enough in our indoor clothes, and it was magical, being there together as the night drew in and Christmas approached.

Today is the day after Christmas - Boxing Day as we call it in England.  But no such thing here in France.  It is just 'open as usual' and Roy went shopping for some cement to finish round the door in the kitchen, in his ongoing battle to make my house just as perfect as he can get it.  He's already finished off the upstairs landing and it looks fabulous now...

So tonight our festive meal will be Swordfish steak, with roast potatoes, roast parsnips and roast shallots, with a few french beans on the side😊

We have a bottle of rosé chilling in the fridge and all will be ready when Roy has washed himself  and the floor clean of cement.  This is our first Christmas together and it has been magical. Roy is magical. I never thought I would find love again, but we are to be married next February and I'm looking forward to living the rest of my life with him.

I hope all you readers are as happy this Christmas as I am.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


Well, you may have gathered that I am not the world's best DIY-er.   It does not come naturally to me.  Is that because I am of the fairer sex (is that sexist)? It seems to me, from nothing but a gut feeling, that men are more inclined to understand the 'workings' of things than women. PLEASE DON'T SHOOT ME!

Thousands of women are probably protesting that this is NOT TRUE, even as you (or they) read this.

Well. Let me be clear.  I am not talking  about

Image result for Painting and decorating

 or what I would loosely call Homemaking, I am talking about things  that are a little more technical. Things that have not come into my orbit, at least, before. But things that are not beyond my capabilities.  I can wield a screwdriver with the best of them and I can even hit a nail on the head, both figuratively and literally.

But recently I needed to change my front door lock and I didn't have a clue on how to do it.

Let me explain.  I live in France, so it will be no surprise to you that my front door is French. Bonjour, porte d'entrée.

...and behind the fancy ironwork...

Door handle and lock

...the lock is French too.

side view of door lock

No surprises there, then.

I was told by a friend that it was a simple job to change the lock barrel (that's the bit that the key fits into).  Apparently you just have to undo the little Torx screw (it's the 3rd one up)...

Torx (pronounced /tɔːrks/), developed in 1967 by Camcar Textron, is the trademark for a type of screw head characterized by a 6-point star-shaped pattern. A popular generic name for the drive is star, as in star screwdriver or star bits.

...and the barrel will simply slide out.

What he omitted to mention was that I had to take off all the fancy door furniture, and even then the barrel would not slide out, as the bit where the key slides in is bigger than the hole where the barrel goes through.


I re-assembled the lock plate (the flat bit you can see in the second picture), and screwed all the screws back in and screwed the door handles back on.


The screws that fixed the door handle plates together were  strange to me.  So that they could not be unscrewed from the outside, one 'screw' was a hollow tube, and the other screwed into that - but through the door, of course.

Are you following this? Or have I finally found a cure for your insomnia?

Anyway, the top fixing of the pair went together like a dream, but the bottom one refused to tighten up, no matter how much welly I used.  I eventually discovered that the hollow part of this fixing had some wood shavings in it and, once I had scraped these out (and checked that there were no more in the hole in the door) it went together OK.

So now I can close and lock the door.

But with the same old lock, of course, not the new one I was planning to install!

And now it is dark.  Tomorrow I plan to try again, with the help of a YouTube video I have found. 

Wish me well!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Rosemary for Remembrance...

 So - it's March already.  in 2018. How did that happen?

Time seems to slip through my fingers these days without my noticing.  Is that how we get old? Without really noticing?

I went back to England for a couple of weeks, to visit old friends.  I wanted to visit more people, but the time slipped away, as ever, and I was exhausted after seeing only five.

I went to see my daughter and the grandchildren and spent the half-term week there, which was lovely.  I see them so infrequently and yet, when I am back there, it seems as if I never left. They grow, of course, but that is no surprise as I  see them regularly on Skype and Facebook.. I am so thankful for digital media.

This time, I caught the ferry, and I was ridiculously early...

Waiting for the ferry...

But I got there finally.

The weather was good for the whole fortnight, although England had some really dreadful storms with rain and snow after I left. We had some bad weather here in France, too, but mostly just freezing cold.

But now it's March and we're hoping for Spring to show its face.  We had a few windy days and some rain too, but the garden doesn't mind that...

Surely Spring can’t be far away...

Surely Spring can’t be far away...

Surely Spring can’t be far away...

Surely Spring can’t be far away...

...and the Rosemary is in flower yet again.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Well - I know you're agog with excitement at the thought of a continuation of the Door Saga...

And quite right too!

So here's a picture of the door so far. And it probably won't get much better than this...


... apart from a tidy-up round the edges, a coat of paint and a  handle.  Then there's just a little matter of the differing room heights, which will require a step on the dépendence side, which will need to be built over the soil pipe coming along at the base of the party wall! Quite when that will be achieved I don't know, but at least I can get my wood in without going out in the rain now!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

When One Door Closes, Another Door opens...

Not that there has been any closing (of doors) yet - or any opening (of doors) even.

This is how it all started out...

dresser in 2008 when the kitchen was renovated and decorated.

The only part of the room that was never plasterboarded and insulated was the bit of wall behind this little dresser.

So this was the obvious place (not to mention the ONLY POSSIBLE place) to knock through to create a doorway into the dépendence on the other side which is like a little brick-built building/workshop on the end of the house.  Formerly used as a small cattleshed  many years ago and then as a workshop, it now houses all my DIY tools and my log store.

For 10 years I have walked around the house to reach the entrance to the dépendence to get logs, come rain or shine. And, as I only use the woodburner and the logs in the winter, that ends up being mostly rain and very little shine!

But a week or two ago I decided to finally have a door put in.  This is the space where the dresser was...

wall - first coat

And this is the beginning of the doorway opening-taken from the dépendence side...

And finally I will no longer have to walk round the house in the rain to bring in the wood...

It took two and a half days to make the opening and tidy it all up and I'm still waiting for the concrete poured into the frame to set, so it will be another week, I'm guessing, before it is anything like finished.

At the moment the door that will eventually go there is simply wedged into the opening to stop the draught which was blowing in like a force 3 gale, so it currently looks like this...

What’s behind the green door?

I am assured that the 'dirty' work is over, so I can start the clean-up. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is covered in a heavy layer of dust. It got everywhere.