La Belle Vie en France

Our journey into purchasing and rennovating our fermette in the South West of France

Since our last blog about the dog’s life in rural France, it has remained slow and tranquil except for the last 3 days which have been fun, lively and well, pretty much full on. We will come to that later.

After what seemed an age, but in fact was only about 10 days, the snow and ice finally disappeared. It disappeared everywhere else quicker than in our location, but we weren’t too bothered that it stayed with us a few extra days. However, this did make driving conditions a little precarious to say the least. One cold morning the local district nurse came knocking on our door and was speaking far too fast for us to understand, but turned out she had gotten her car stuck. I donned my warmest gear, followed her down the hill to see what all the fuss was about. She had managed to get herself stuck in the ice and snow. After a few minutes of digging, and explaining (in my not so good French) not be too heavy on the accelerator, and pushing at the same time, she was finally free and away to see the old man at the back of the hamlet. Albeit the ‘not so heavy on the accelerator’ didn’t seem to ‘comprehend’, and she snaked all the way to the top of the hill. A few days later, she presented us with a lovely box of chocolates which was very kind of her.

Now that the snow and ice has moved on, it has been replaced with rather cold temperatures and a significant amount of rain. The type of rain reminds me of the times I spent in Sennybridge, where the rain was so fine, coming from all angles and rendering me soaked through to the bone within minutes. We are however, getting some sunnier, drier days where the sun is reasonably warm brightening up all our spirits, even the animals.

We have pretty much remained in the dry and warmth of the cottage with the log stove burning away in the back ground. Things on the crafting front for Mandy’s small crafting business is moving forward slowly. She is making some stock and has advertised one item on her new Etsy shop which is currently live. More items will be advertised very soon.  We have both even tried our hand at bead jewellery making which is not as difficult as it seems.  Mandy has made some great stuff to sell.

Down in the man cave, limited progress has been made due to the cold weather and having no heater to keep me warm. On the bright side though, I have managed to get my brand-new chainsaw fixed at no cost. The chain tensioner mechanism had got stuck due to over tightening as a result of metal expansion. The mechanism to tighten and untighten the chain by the user is plastic so once its stuck you need a special tool to release it. The man in the Stihl shop sorted me out and said was a common problem!

Over the last few days, we have been non-stop, the land around our house has started to take on a new look and feel. We have had a tree surgeon in and a two-man crew to fell some trees for us. I have been working as a groundsman for them to keep the cost down, they fell, I chop and clear away. It’s looking like this may lead to some further work…paid as well.

The true hero of the 3 days was Mandy, who kept everyone in the team supplied with hot tea and coffee even when the rain was hammering down and the wind was blowing a gale, never forgetting to be the perfect hostess.  She even provided bacon and egg baps each day, but on the second day they all got a full English breakfast before work started.

In the last couple of days, we have also moved into the 21st Century and finally upgraded our internet to fibre broadband and French TV. After running on ADSL for last couple of months and nearly dying from either boredom or stress from the ‘slower than the old days of dial-up internet in the early 2000’s’, things now do seem to be a lot better, and the average upload for our blog pictures is now taking a few moments rather than a couple of hours.    

Van outside a house

Finally, it has been a sad day and a happy day yesterday (Saturday), we picked up our French Registration plates for the van and packed away the British number plates. Slowly and surely, we are becoming more French. Just a residency card and a French driving licence to sort out and then we are good to stay forever. French bureaucracy is not the fastest and that’s putting it bluntly, however once you understand this, and adapt to the French ‘way’, it becomes far less stressful and annoying. As we have found out in France, it’s all paperwork, paperwork, paperwork and expect to send documents multiple times to achieve your end goal. That’s the French way!!

As is customary in our blog, for now it’s time to hang up the keyboard, sit back, relax and have another cup of tea, as it is January and both of us have gone “Dry January”.

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