Sunday, August 28, 2011

Comings and Goings

Sunday 21st August
Another lazy warm day for most of us. Daniel and Amelia set off this morning for a walk to the ruined chateau. Jim joked with them to be careful about falling down holes and not being found for three weeks or so. Daniel queried if they wouldn't be missed before then. We did miss them around lunch time but went ahead and ate without them. They finally turned up later in the afternoon having got lost by following the wrong stream. We consoled them with tea and scones.
Memo to next walkers - take map and perhaps and compass and phone number.
They told us that they had seen deer including an injured one.

I made peach jam and used my new steriliser (following the instructions) to pasturise it. Nothing exploded. Amelia and Ollie followed this by making a pear cake. Delicious.

Alfie spent the afternoon quietly drawing pictures.

Still no good news on Tony's vehicle. The garage is now telling him that the gear box is kaput and it will take €4000 to fix it. He says 'no way'. He is hoping to get his family and Landrover the repatriated to the UK so that his own mechanic can look at it, but this awaits the RAC's decision. They are keeping him waiting. And waiting. We are more than happy to have them all stay here as long as they need to.
Meanwhile as we have two more visitors on Tuesday Daniel and Amelia have bravely volunteered to sleep in the tent until the gite is free.
Igloo tent
The tent is from the 80's and used to be ours. We have camped all over Europe in it. It stands vertical by virtue of the five ribs which are inflated with air. It sleeps five and you can stand upright in the middle. Folk used to come from all over the various campsite to look at it. Now is not the time to tell you of the time it collapsed in Madrid.

Daniel gets a very short back and sides - including the top!
Going out tonight, Sir?
Gill and Brian have arrived so we really have a houseful now. Gill has brought me some jigsaws and some DVD's. Thanks Gill.

Tony and Jim set off for Souillac to confront the garage and to try and get some resolution to the problem of the Landrover. When they return we learn that the RAC are prepared to get it back to the UK and to pay a proportion of the family's air fares back to the UK. This is better news. Charlotte books the air tickets from Limoges to East Midlands. 
Gill has a telephone interview in the afternoon and after that we hit the gin bottle while Brian keeps the boys amused.

The weather is beginning to change. Thursday morning starts with a storm and I was worried that we would lose the broadband connection and would have a problem printing out the boarding passes but all is well. Another snag surfaced. Tony has to return the hire car to Aurillac and then the family has to get to Limoges somehow. I offered to drive them there which I did. There were no problems and I got back to the Moulin in time for dinner - cottage pie and rhubarb crumble very kindly cooked by Gill and Brian. In my absence they went to Decazaville to look at the geology museum.
We shall miss the family in the gite especially the two boys Alfie and Ollie. Rufus has enjoyed having some lively playmates.
Here is the pottery made by Alfie and Ollie after the Raku firing.

Busy day on Friday. More storms early in the morning. Lights go out as a fusible has blown. Jim fixes it. Jo and David Ilsley arrived for lunch with their two friends from Autoire - John and Ann. They brought the rain with them again - it was so wet we were unable to show them any of the domaine or the nature walk although Jim did his mill tour. A very jolly time was had.

Anne, Daniel and Amelia
Friday evening some members of Amelia's family arrived from Paris. They spent the night in the gite. Saturday we all went into Figeac to look at the market and have lunch. In the evening we watched 'Mary and Max'. Gill said that it was the most depressing film she had ever seen. 
It's not.
Tomorrow Gill and Brian leave and we are going to the Poterie du Don - again, taking Dan and Amelia.
Message for Ruth - Rufus is very happy to have another Duckie, but this is to show you that he now loves the other toy you gave him last year

Sunday, August 21, 2011

House Parties

Amelia and Daniel

Sunday 14th. Big clean up today - Daniel and Amelia, our new workawayers arrive. They are already in France and have been staying with friends near Rodez.
I am cooking a big meal for all of us this evening - the old standby - gigot of lamb, together with Jim's potatoes, Jim's cabbage (cooked with red onion and lardons), leeks (not Jim's) in cheese sauce. Followed by Moulin du Clout peach clafouti.
The peaches are now ripe and there are hundreds - or so Jim says. We also have a quantity of ripening pears and apples. Charlotte has previously been making crumble with the pears and the remnants of Jim's rhubarb - delicious!

The workawayers' friends, Stephen and Sylvie dropped them off around six and first impressions are good. We are going to get along just fine.

Monday morning very early Tony took Chloe to Limoges. We loaned him Kate - our Tom Tom who has now changed sex to Tim (I got fed up of that bossy madam) to help him on his way. All went well and he got back by lunchtime.
Meanwhile we have discovered why the vide-grenier in Quezac is on today - a Monday - it is another Saints day and consequently a holiday. I need some shopping but will have to wait until Tuesday. 
We went to the vide-grenier which was average. No taxidermy, jigsaws of note or family photos in interesting costumes. Amelia bought two hats (she haggled and got a reduced price) and some French books. Tony got a coffee jug and the boys some games.
After a day weeding the vegetable garden and working on the old bikes out of the stables which they hope to restore to a rideable condition, Daniel and Amelia, with Jim's help have got the equipment ready to make apple juice.

- or perhaps not
Also Tony and Jim have embarked on the project enlarging the terrace. The ribes has been re-sited and the ground marked out for trenches. It's all go at Moulin du Clout.
Excavations for terrace extension

Tuesday - Shopping, ironing and cooking day. Tony and family went to the animal farm at Gramat. It was lovely day weather wise. 
Daniel and Amelia are proving to be very resourceful in their labours. A lot of strimming and hacking down weeds has been done. We spent too much time after supper putting the world to rights so the apple mashing has been put off. I have bought a steriliser and am occupied translating the French instructions. I always read the instructions. I am a woman.

Tony has investigated the swimming pool in Maurs. he says it is good and open to the general public at reasonable cost.

Wednesday - good day today. Amelia and Daniel, apart from other things made a start on blazing a trail across the crags. Daniels father is/was a trailblazer. They also set to enthusiastically to make apple juice with our equipment. The novelty soon wore off. It is hard work for little reward although the resulting apple juice is delicious if rather murky. And nobody read my instructions.
Amelia mashing the apples

Operating the apple press
Tony cementing the ridge tiles in place
Tony got on with the roof and Jim with the terrace extension. I set to for an hour weeding the boules piste which I am saddened to report has a fine thatch of weeds. 
Before weeding
During this episode Rufus snuck up into the gite and raided the boys bedroom, stealing a treasured toy and running up and down the Redwood field avoiding capture, tossing the teddy into the air as he ran with the owner, Alfie screaming in protest. Wretched dog. No real harm done fortunately, that a quick wash and a turn in the tumble dryer couldn't rectify.


Charlotte's excellent Tarte Tatin
Even Rufus enjoyed himself
In the evening we had a grand barbecue with all the adults imbibing freely and swapping stories, with Rufus and the boys playing on the lawn throwing his toys for him to fetch. Great, convivial evening.

Thursday market day and a fun fair appears to be being assembled in Le Place de l'Europe.
Work continues on the nature trail, the terrace extension and weeding the boules piste. The weather continues hot and sultry. In the evening Daniel and Amelia agreed to baby sit so that the four of us could go out for a meal at L'Auberge de Mourjou. Excellent meal as usual. 
On the way to the restaurant we are treated to spectacular skies with brilliant sunlight behind us and an electric storm with rain ahead. The light all around is a strange yellow.

Still no news about Tony's Landrover. Charlotte took Ollie swimming in Maurs and Alfie helped Daniel and Amelia trailblaze the crags.

Saturday - we lit the breadoven and tried the pizzas again. Jim also prepared a sawdust bin for Alfie to fire his clay pots.
It is so hot energy is sapped and we all sit lazily around all day or doing odd jobs.

The pizzas worked well this time - only Jim's fell apart on the oven floor but we learned the lesson - plenty of flour on the plates and shovel.

My pizza is in there somewhere
Here it is - perfectly cooked

We later watched Withnail and I - again, for the benefit of Daniel and Amelia - it's still very funny.

'Hortensia' blossoms

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oh dear! Deer

Sunday 7th - Matthew and family are leaving today. Their three weeks had very mixed weather with quite a bit of rain. They are planning to come down again at half-term and October can often be very pleasant.

Their friends, Tony, Charlotte, their daughter Chloe and two young boys will be staying another week in the gite although we have agreed that we will share the cooking and the living accommodation. 

The family have a problem with their Landrover - it is making a funny noise and Tony wants it fixed before they attempt the long trip home. On Monday morning he calls the RAC who promptly send out someone to tow it to a garage. We learn later that it is sent further away to a specialist garage as it seems they cannot find out the cause of the problem. 
Charlotte, Chloe, the boys and myself went to the Vallee des Daims. This is a deer park where you can wander about feeding the deer with a bag of grain. 
Fallow Deer Dama dama
Chloe and Charlotte with deer
Look at their budding horns
Jim and Tony have spent a good deal of the week working on the roof of the mill replacing and adjusting the tiles so that it will no longer leak. To this end they constructed two bamboo ladders lashed together at the apex of the roof which could be slid along to reach all parts. Clever, eh! They also managed to find a source of 2nd-hand replacement tiles.
Bamboo ladder
Tony in situ
Jim acted as roofer's labourer.

The sunflowers are now out and we have some pumpkins of varying size.

Ollie and Alfie having a quiet co-operative momemt

Saturday 13th - Chloe's birthday. She is 17! We are going into Figeac to look at the market and to have lunch.

Spice stall
At the spice stall we bought something for the boys that we both remembered from our own childhoods - liquorice roots. They didn't like them. Alflie said as I have him the root, "A stick!" in a tone of voice that suggested I was unhinged. 
Liquorice sticks are dried roots and they strengthen the immune system, stimulate the adrenal gland, and are a diuretic and a laxative. The roots contain glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar. I don't like them either.
Glycyrrhiza glabra (European licorice)

Alfie and Ollie have made her birthday cards and Charlotte has made a chocolate cake.

Tony cooked us a barbecue for our evening meal - steak, sausages, chips and salad.
Getting the barbecue going
Lighting the candles
In anticipation
Blowing the candles out

Tucking in!
The Party's over

We have now learned that Tony's Landrover won't be fixed for another week. He has the use of a hire car so will be able to take Chloe to Limoges airport Monday morning. We have had to make an adjustment to the sleeping arrangements for Daniel and Amelia who arrive on Sunday. A houseful! Splendid!