La Belle Vie en France

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

Life here in the Correze has pretty much remained the same as previous weeks in terms of the weather and tasks around the grounds of our mini chateau. The man cave received a good clear out and reorganisation in preparation of my new toy which arrived on Tuesday. We have been waiting for this arrival since the beginning of the year. At the start of the week the weather continued its recent theme of the last few weeks and started out rather cold and very drizzly, which made for a perfect day for me to give the man cave a good clean out and reorganisation. It’s amazing how messy the cave gets given how small it is, but since the second week of December I haven’t been using it as the weather has been far too cold.

Workshop Machine

My ‘Lurem 310’ wood combination machine arrived on a cold & drizzly Tuesday morning last week.  Our good friend Steve and his trusty mini digger, son and French friend managed to just about lift the machine off his van and more or less place it in front of the man cave door.  400 Kgs is heavy even for a mini digger who’s tracks lifted slightly from the strain.  Steve owns a campsite (7 km from us) which we stayed at a few years ago and which, we have remained friends with for a couple of years. He also buys and sells wood working machinery which is how I managed to purchase this lovely industrial combination wood machine.

Lifting the machine from his van proved to be difficult, quite tricky and took about 45 minutes. However, once off the van, between the five of us, managed to pull, drag and lift the machine off the road and into the workshop.  This proved to be quite easy in comparison to lifting it from the van. We tried to use an ancient Egyptian technique of rolling the machine on steel bars, but the bars weren’t long enough, so had to rely on brute strength instead!! Just as well he bought his 16-year-old son and his French mate to offer added muscle. After much toing and froing, we successfully negotiated the ramp into the man cave. All that I need now is to buy a third wheel which will allow me to move this beast around the man cave with some ease, and sort out the electrics, oh and of course the obligatory clean, and then I’m up and running and the workshop will finally be open for business.

I have spent two days cutting the trees that were felled into the farmer’s field and in the area just below the field where our well sits. One of the felled trees landed along the farmers fence line which caused me some problems trying to break it up into manageable segments. As the trees get smaller the piles for chipping and firewood get larger.  

The weather, yesterday (Monday) and today has taken a turn for the better with temperatures reaching double figures, blue sky and lots of sun. Albeit there are still some clouds about for the sun to hide behind, but generally it’s been lovely and it could be mistaken for being more like April weather than February. My work in the field was rudely, but pleasantly interrupted by something you virtually never see in suburban Britain, our local farmers’ herd of Limousin Beef Cattle making their merry way down the hill to the bottom fields, having earlier in the morning made their merry way up the hill to have their routine blood tests at the farm.

Rush Hour Traffic in France
Bird on the bird box

Back in October, we made some bird boxes and put them up on some oak trees a little way from the house where we have been clearing the ground for the allotment. To our delight, it’s been Good News!! We have seen some bluetits investigating one of the boxes, flying in and out. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they will use the box and later in spring will see some baby tits making their way in the world. We shall be keeping an eye on the box over the coming weeks and shall keep you updated. Whilst writing this blog, Mandy has sourced a Nature Camera in which to film the birds. Roll on next week when I have to put it up in just the right spot, a front seat view of the bird box.

For the latter part of last week, the weather managed to stay dry and bright. Despite being cold (1 degree), the tree surgeon and his crew returned on Saturday morning to finish the job they started three weeks ago. To fell the last four oak trees and to release an oak that got hung on some other rather large trees on the other side of the road. In total, we requested and paid for 17 trees to be felled, but ended up having 20 felled. The amount of light and sun that now shines onto our garden is amazing and of course on the other side of the house, the allotment benefits greatly from the extra light too. It took 4 hours to fell 4 trees, and the reason it took so long was the they were dangerously close to the house.  They were leaning over and therefore had to been strapped and winched in the opposite direction to avoid them crashing down on our roof. The tree surgeons made light work of this and were a huge laugh too. They are a highly professional and courteous team which we would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone who wishes to have tree work carried out, of course, that’s providing you live in France.

The company that felled our trees very kindly offered the use of one of their men last Monday to help me complete the breaking down of the trees in the farmer’s field and along the hedge.  He was invaluable and a great help to me. Now that this job is complete, all I have to do is to ask the farmer, who offered us his services, to collect all the smaller bits with his tractor and bring them down to our land so we can chip. We have given him the trees trunks that were felled in his field to do with whatever he wishes, whether it be wood for burning, selling on, or making furniture with, it’s up to him.

Timber!!!

The end of a busy week was topped off with a wonderful Sunday Lunch at our friend Pete’s in Chamberet. We had the company of Colin, (Mandy’s ex-boss), and Fred and Isabelle. A French couple who spoke reasonably good English, although did all end up speaking the local dialect of Franglaise, a curious mixture of French, English and hand gestures.  Fred plays the guitar in a band called Honkey Tonk Men, and our local farmer, Guillaume who plays the drums in the same band. We even managed to get a guest appearance from Pete’s wife, Linda, who zoomed in from Dubai.

Mandy has been busy crafting and this week has been crocheting bath mats. These and other wonderful creations are on her Etsy store!! The store is taking shape and I am sure that soon enough it will be filled with further crafting goodies for you to buy.

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 “Dry January” has now merged into February.

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