Sunday, May 27, 2012

Compromise de Vente

The river after much rain

During the first three days of this week we have had almost continual rain. Varying from a slight drizzle to torrential rain and the valley has been wreathed in mist cutting off the tops of the trees. Every vista from the house is of dripping greenery. It seemed, at times, like living in a bowl of wet lettuce!
Fortunately the electricity supply and broadband have not failed so I have been able to amuse myself with several games of online scrabble.

Wednesday – The signing of the compromise de vente. Jim (acting for Matthew) and Bernd attended the notaire in Maurs. The business was conducted in a mixture of English, French, German and some Dutch for good measure. Bernd has until the end of August to find the purchase money and after completion the place will be his. All we have to do is to enjoy ourselves for the rest of our time here and then remove our belongings. Some task.

Later in the day when walking along the Nature Trail we saw further, more recent evidence of wild boar including footprints.

Boar footprint
I also spotted another flower:

Bastard Balm 
Before he left for Frankfurt we drank a toast to the success of the sale with Bernd using his homemade schnapps. It is quite tasty. He gave us the remains of the bottle and I gave him some Welsh cakes.

Bernd and Jim exchange farewells
Today as we walked with Rufus along the Nature Trail we met a snake lying across the path.. Rufus saw him first and alerted us by barking. It was a splendid Western Whip about two – three feet long. He made threatening movements, although they are not venomous, but I removed the still barking Rufus so that Jim could take a photo. The snake then disappeared quickly into the undergrowth.

Western Whip
Friday we collected Peter and Jennifer from Rodez airport. They will be here until 3rd June. 
Weather continued fine on Saturday so we all chilled out enjoying the sunshine and the wine. Jim did a bit more wall building. The wall is nearly finished.

Peter reading Barnaby Rudge under the trees with headless dog

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Life is a Bag of Nuts

Referring to the title of this post - I mean three and a half bags. These are the walnuts that were/are going to be made into walnut oil. It seems that after we gave them to our friends in the village they were cracked open but the kernels and the shells put back into the bags. We now have to separate them before taking them to the miller. Jim has made a start and done the half bag. I see the job akin to ironing or doing my tax return but I suppose I will have to do my share. I don't even like walnut oil!

Bags of cracked walnuts
The walnut trees are the last to come into leaf which is a good thing here because the terrace is overshadowed by two large ones and it is pleasant to sit in the spring sun. Later on in the year when the sun is hotter we are grateful for the shade.
The young walnut leaves are very attractive as they emerge. They have reddish tinge to them, which when set against the green backdrop of the forest resemble flowers. I have tried to capture this on camera.

There have been many emails flying back and forth between the interested parties concerning the sale of the Moulin du Clout. Events are moving on and our buyer will be signing the agreement to purchase next week. As Bernd is here until next Thursday he has asked to help with the work around the domaine. We have given the vegetable garden over to him which, if all goes well, will be his anyway when the vegetables, if any, are ready to be eaten. He has set to with the weeding.

Regretfully, I have abandoned the boules piste. This needs a good weeding also but I see no future in it. 

The weather has been very mixed this last week - some fine days but mostly colder. Not at all seasonal! We might just as well be in Wales although everything is very green and growing fast.

On Wednesday Caro came to supper and we invited Bernd to join us. Conversation was a struggle although we managed to get by. Caro was a great help. Both she and I are back on the Dukan diet although she was more self-denying than I was. I ate the pudding.

We talked about the forthcoming Shakespeare Show.  Caro and Den have agreed to do two scenes from the Scottish play. Which leaves me with an extra piece - 'Portia's speech'. No matter, although I have found it more difficult to learn the lines than I thought it would be. This morning I can't remember what I learned yesterday afternoon. Is this show a good idea?

I continue to find the occasional new flower and insect. Not that I am that bothered about the insects but some of them are intriguing. I cannot find the names of the beetles - I think they are some species of leaf beetle - if anyone knows I should like to hear.

Muscari comosum   Tassel Hyacinth



On Saturday we went to Figeac market to do a bit of shopping. Always a pleasure wandering around the old streets. Here is Jim walking down my favourite one:

Rue Emile Zola

I leave you with these two views taken from the terrace yesterday evening. As you can see Jim has made progress with the wall. You will also notice it is raining and still is (14.00 Sunday). Rufus won't go out and we are unable to go to a Foire aux Fleurs and Vide-Greniers in Viazac which we were looking forward to.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


As you may remember Moulin du Clout is up for sale again. Matthew has reluctantly agreed that he can never spend enough time here to give it the attention needed and it is a drain on his resources. So it is back in the hands of Hanneke and Tony Herbert, agents.
We have had two viewings this weeks with interesting results.

Steve and Kerrie
Meanwhile, we have had our visitors, Steve, Kerrie and little Amelia. The weather has been very mixed for them. Monday was beautiful and we mooched about the domain. Our trip to a vide grenier in Junac on Tuesday was scuppered by the rain. We had planned to introduce Kerrie to the skill of haggling for stuffed animals. It was not to be.

We watched a DVD of Tinker, Tailer . . . the new version. Confusing. The following evening we watched a DVD of Inception - also confusing.

They left on Wednesday morning for sunnier Spain and Jim and I spent the day cleaning and tidying the place ready for our first viewer, Bernd, a German, who is coming on Thursday and also renting the gite for two weeks.

We have a language problem. Bernd speaks a little English and perhaps some French. Jim speaks a little French. Neither of us knows more than a few words of German. 'Zwei kleine Biere, bitte' was not much help, especially as we were supplying the beer. However, we struggled on, with help of a beer each and a dictionary. It seems Bernd likes the place and he asks a lot of questions. I hope he understands the answers. He impressed us with walking into Maurs and back. Bernd is looking for a place to retire to, and be self-sufficient. He seems an ideal owner of the Moulin.
We are doing our best to be sociable and to invest him with some of the delight and affection we have for the place. 

View from the crags taken 13th May 2012
On Saturday we had the second viewing, that time from a Frenchman. Tony showed him round and that seemed to go well too because he asked if he could return in the afternoon with his friends. Jim had planned to walk the domaine with Bernd but I was available to welcome them. It turned out that one of the ladies in the group had a grasp of English and Jim was able to converse with them partly in French. 
It would appear that they are a quartet of purchasers and after they had spent some time exploring the grounds and the house informed us that they are 'firmly interested in a purchase of the Moulin du Clout'. We are now a bundle of mixed emotions. Naturally we want the best outcome for Matthew and his family but are we really prepared to let this little bit of paradise belong to someone else? 

They were unable to get hold of the agent to make any offers of purchase as I think the office was closed so that may have to wait until Monday morning.

We also have a third viewing booked later in the month by some Dutch people wanting to set up a nudist camp! You may well laugh.

Entrance to the 'Sleeping Beauty Garden'
To take my mind off the drama I spent some time with my other plans for drama - my Shakespeare show. I have mentioned this before as I originally planned it last year but it didn't come off. I have selected some well-known passages from Shakespeare to be performed by us when Peter and Jennifer are here and including our friends from Lassal, Dennis and Caro. The show will take place on the 'lawn' using the 'treehouse' as a backdrop/set piece/dressingroom and be preceded by British type refreshments (cucumber sandwiches - does anyone really eat these?, scones and cream, Pimms etc.) I have even rummaged in CADS dressing room and smuggled out some suitable costumes.
I have been at work on the poster for this  event - please feel free to correct the French if you want to.
What do you think? Lots of fun too be had with this.

We learned this morning that the French party have made an offer not unadjacent to Matthew's price but Matthew has made an agreement with Bernd, who will pay the full price on selling his own place in Frankfurt. He has until the end of August to achieve this. What a day! 

I have spent some time learning my lines, for I am to play Titantia in a scene with Oberon and Juliet (the balcony scene) - only about 60 years too old! I am not doing it in French.

Meanwhile we are getting on with the projects already started like finishing building the terrace wall (see last year for this), the Japanese Anagama kiln and planting vegetables and the tubs etc. We have not yet found any more suitable Workawayers (see last year for these, too) so I may have to do the woodwork varnishing myself.

Lily of the Valley - it didn't make it for May 1st this year

Don't forget your comments or email me with any feedback or chat.
A bientot

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cuckoo, cuckoo!

Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula) 

We have arrived back at Moulin du Clout for a stay of about three months. On our second day here we heard the cuckoo in the forest and he/she has been calling ever since. That makes me feel at home here.

Our journey down through France was wet - steady rain most of the time but Tuesday dawned warm and sunny however, the weather has changed again growing colder and more rain, albeit at intervals.

When we checked out the nature trail we found evidence of wild boar activity. The pictures show 'rooting' which is just that - the pigs digging up roots and fungi. We have yet to find other signs - scat, wallows and rubs or possible sleeping sites but we will carry on searching. We might even get to see the animals themselves and I hope we have a camera with us when we do.

This is a beetle but I haven't found out it's name yet. Rather pretty but I would rather it stayed in the garden and did not come into the conservatory. Below is a little friend - he let me get up quite close.

My nephew Steve and his family arrived on Saturday to stay for a few days on route for Spain where his father, Eddie lives. The weather is not good which is a shame.

Amelia - aged 6 months
All the bulb planting and tubs of winter pansies have come to nothing. The winter weather/mice or whatever has done for the lot. We went out and bought a load of plants to put in the tubs to brighten things up.