The kitchen door installation has now been completed. I replastered the frame surround this morning. In the afternoon we went to the aged FIL’s house to fetch the washing which LSS had put in the machine this morning.

I stuck my head in the kitchen door to say hello. After saying hello back, “Mouton,” the aged FIL mumbled.

My brain flicked rapidly through the dictionary section, finding the index cards for the letter M.
“Um, sorry, I don’t think this is going to help,” it told me. “According to my records, Mouton is mutton, or sheep. So why the aged FIL is saying ‘Mutton’ to you does not compute. To quote Spock, ‘It’s not logical.’ So I’m afraid you’re on your own.”

I must have looked rather blank, because the aged FIL repeated it again.
“Mouton,” he said.

I could see him thinking “Why didn’t my daughter marry a nice French bloke instead, then I wouldn’t have all this trouble.”

“Er, I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” I said in French, and hurried out to the washing line where LSS had just about finished removing the dried laundry.
“Mouton is ‘mutton’, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Yes, why?”
“Because that’s what your father just said to me.”
Her eyebrows shot upwards. We re-entered the kitchen and she asked him to repeat what he’d said to me. He did.
“Ah!” LSS exclaimed. “He said, ‘beau temps.’ (Nice weather) Not ‘mouton'”.

Oh dear……


Today we went to visit Friend L in Bonny-sur-Loire. The hand-built kayak was examined and was found to be very impressive.
After lunch, she suggested a short walk to see the Loire river.
“Why not?” we said.


Canicule (heatwave) warning? Check.
Temperature outside 43 degrees Centigrade? Check.
Bottle of 1.5 litres water for three people? Check.
Fifteen kilometres and three and a half hours later….

LSS has blisters on her toes from not wearing proper walking shoes. If we’d known we were going to do a fifteen kilometre walk we would have been more properly dressed! Other than that we’re fine, so we must be a lot fitter than we thought.

Mind you, we did see some fish in the river from the vantage point of one of the bridges. They appeared to be salmon, and must have been nearly a metre in length, not kidding.

We also bumped into a retired English couple in their campervan and stopped for a chat.


Seeing that the 2012 Olympics have now finished, I have 3 last-minute medals to award.

Let me explain.

On the 7th August we ordered three large items:
1. A Separett composting toilet from a company in Germany. Why Germany? Well, their prices were the cheapest, and the French distributor promised delivery in four months. Yes, dear readers, you read that correctly. Four months. (The toilet itself is made in Sweden).
2. A woodburning stove with integrated back boiler from England. Why England? The prices were the cheapest, the selection of stoves was larger, and the French companies we looked at do not sell boiler stoves. The attitude seems to be “Why would you want a stove to heat water? That’s what electricity is for, n’est pas?”
3. A borehole pump from a company in Belgium. Why Belgium? Well, once again I didn’t want to order anything from a French distributor. As it’s now August, most French staff are on holiday. The reason I chose this Italian-made borehole pump is that it has integrated pump protection. I’ll go into more details when I put up a page about our borehole.

The above items were all paid for on the same day, Tuesday 7th August. Delivery for all of them was promised for the week commencing 13th August.

The bronze medal goes to:
The composting toilet arrived today. (I installed it this afternoon in the outbuilding with the recently-discovered concrete floor). We’re both delighted with it as this means that we don’t have to apply mosquito repellent to our bottoms any more.

Second place, and the silver medal goes to:
United Kingdom.
The stove arrived yesterday (Wednesday). Weighing in at a hefty 130kg, it has not been installed yet, but we managed to move it into the lounge with the aid of two trestles, a wooden beam, some nylon rope, and my hand trolley.

But first place, and the gold medal, goes to:
Not only was the pump delivered on Monday this week (its scheduled delivery day), but it was hand-delivered by the Benelux area Sales Manager himself. (Thanks very much Frank, it was great to meet you!)


Yesterday we visited neighbour J, as she had telephoned to let us know the elderberry trees were ready for picking! We took a large bucket and filled it with berries, so today the 2012 batch of elderberry wine is on the go.

Today we received the borehole pump we ordered from Belgium. Not only did we receive it today as we were promised; but it was actually hand-delivered by the Area Sales Manager (Benelux) with whom I had corresponded regarding the order. Pay attention, French people. This is the definition of outstanding customer service.

Granted, he was going to be in the vicinity anyway, as he was visiting family in the area, but it’s still amazing service. We were in complete shock for the rest of the day. I’ll be putting up a page on the website about the pump installation, and you’ll be able to read all about this innovative pump manufacturer then.

I also booked an airline ticket to South Africa to visit my aged mother (who is 92 this year). Unfortunately we can’t both afford to go, so LSS will have to soldier on without me for a week.

The rest of the day was spent working on shortening the new kitchen door which we bought. The door opening measures 194.5cm in height; the door is 220cm high. I managed to dismantle the bottom section using the radial arm saw and the router, and having cut the door (and frame!) to the required height I am now in the process of reassembling the bottom rails and weatherstrip.

Oh yes, and the cat has gone missing. Again. She didn’t turn up for dinner last night, but first thing this morning we noticed her bowl was empty, so she must have come home during the night. We have a Sureflap electronic cat flap programmed to her microchip, so it could only have been her that ate the catfood. (Unless one of us was sleepwalking and fancied a snack. Yuk.) But we haven’t seen her all day, and she hasn’t turned up for dinner again. She does tend to treat this place like a McDonald’s drive-through, but this is becoming ridiculous. Perhaps we’ll get a dog instead.

Wildlife diary:
Yesterday morning LSS was in the garden, weeding the green beans, and I was catching up on computer-type stuff. I looked up to see her making faces at me through the window and pointing towards the road.
I went out to see what she was on about, and as I opened the door she made hushing gestures (the finger to the lips type thing). Then I heard it.
“Oink, oink”. “Snort, snort”. “Oink, oink, snort”.
I moved cautiously to the property entrance and not ten metres away was a family of 10 wild boar. I don’t know if they saw us or not but they trotted off down the lane, and turned off into one of our fields. Well, I say “fields”, they’re more like “forested areas”.
Not long after that, boar number eleven trotted out from behind a chestnut tree where he had been hiding, and he proceeded to try and catch up with the family group. My first sighting of the elusive Sus scrofa scrofa! Obelix would have loved it.


Well, it’s been a while since my last post.

We did get another number plate made up and I riveted it in place as required by French law. The trailer was put to immediate use; we went to Brico Depot near Bourges and bought three pvc double-glazed windows, a pvc double-glazed front door, and a wooden door. The wooden door is for the kitchen; the problem is that the existing door is far from a standard size. (Actually none of the door and window openings here are standard. Well, I suppose they were standard in 1850-something when the house was built, but that doesn’t help when buying modern doors or windows!)

So rather than chopping out the lintel and installing a new one, I’ve figured that the easiest fix is to cut a piece off the bottom of a new door. So I’ve made a start with that – at least the radial arm saw will get a bit more use!

We’ve also ordered a borehole pump, our dry toilet, and a wood-burning boiler stove. These things should arrive next week.

Speaking of the dry toilet, it’s quite amusing – next to the workshop is another small double outbuilding, one half of which we’ve been using to chuck in all the scrap metal we find, with a view to taking it all to a scrap metal dealer and getting some cash for it. The other half of the building has a wooden door, and a slot for a window. Up to now, I’d just peered in through the slot but never actually entered the room. All that I saw in the gloom was a rotten plastic chair and some barbed wire on reels. Well, a couple of days ago I decided to add the barbed wire to the scrap metal pile, so prised open the wooden door and went inside. Immediately I was cursing, because I’d banged my head rather hard on the lintel. The doorway is only about 4′ high. Mopping up the blood with my handkerchief, I went inside again, this time bent double. I proceeded to clear the room of rubbish. Then I made THE DISCOVERY!

No, not a pot of gold under the two ceramic toilet bowls resting in one corner. But the room has A CONCRETE FLOOR! It is in fact the best floor in the entire building complex. So this will be the room in which the dry toilet is installed, until such time as we can cast a proper floor in the barn. No more wearing a raincoat to go to the loo!

Unfortunately I had to kill a viper two days ago. The cat was displaying her usual interest in something moving, asking her usual question “Oooh, it moves. Can I eat it?”

Fortunately LSS spotted that it was not an ordinary lizard, but something with a much longer tail. The cat was rapidly removed to the kitchen whilst I dealt with the snake. I didn’t like despatching it – after all, they are useful in keeping down the population of rodents etc. but we just can’t take any chances with the cat. As you’ll no doubt have read from previous posts, she already had a punctured eye from (we presume) a bramble thorn after having been (we presume) chased by a fox. She’s recovered fine but one of her pupils does not close as much as the other, so she looks a bit like David Bowie.

We also now have our freezer installed so have been able to have some ice cream!