Monday, 20 March 2017

Did not see this one coming!

last Friday we had the chimney in our lounge swept. We are waiting for the certificate to arrive.
We have just had a chimney fire!
I was washing up in the kitchen and heard a roaring. We knew immediately what it was so I phoned the pompiers ( French 🚒)  the lady I spoke to was very calm and coped with my French! As it happened one of the pompiers was our neighbours son from the next farm! The house was full of smoke upstairs and down. The muck had fallen onto the plate in the flue and ignited.
The pompiers were great and very efficient.
I put the three cats in my mini and the two dogs in the Rav to keep them safely out of the way.
Tomorrow we have to find someone to repair our wood burner. We probably need a new liner and flue.
I hope to never experience that again!
Makes a change from calling an ambulance for him indoors!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Our Gite business will grow this year

Thought I would tell a bit about our Gite business and our future plans.
When we bought this place we had no thought of running a Gite business. Our plan was to renovate our house and be retired. When we first moved here England covered our health care as we had paid into the system right up until we left. They gave us two years after which the plan was to enter the French health system. Unfortunately the French government decided to change the rules and we had to work to get the cover. Without a good command of the language we had no hope of gaining employment here other than in the chicken factory....that was never going to happen! So we looked at one of our barns and decided to turn it into Gites! We had the pot of money to renovate our house so used it to build the Gites. After lots of research we came to the conclusion that three two person Gites was the way to go. We signed up for a business regime which gave us health cover and had two years to start earning money and pay into the system. And so Le Tertre Rouge was born!
La Jonquille is almost ready and will be on board for the summer season. Le Beau Champs will come on board hopefully by August.
With the Gites just about there we are now looking at developing our business further. In particular we are doing lots of research on marketing. We have decided to upgrade and will provide a better welcome pack and good toiletries in the bathroom. We will also raise our prices a bit. We think we are priced too low and that couples are willing to pay a bit more for a quality product!
We have other ideas for making this a place to choose but it will take time to put things in place. 
The hardest part of this had been regarding this as a business not just our home! We are learning!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Buzz buzz 🐝

We have had a few much warmer days and my bees have been very busy. They are out and about again and coming home with very full pockets. I needed to check the situation with the fondant I put on in January so one warm afternoon I togged up and opened the hive. Loads of bees I'm pleased to report so they have survived the winter. The fondant had almost gone but the bag was full of bees so I  left it on top of the hive. I did not open the brood box as it is obvious the queen is ok by the behavior of the bees. I have now put the first super on ready to be loaded with honey. We are now starting to look for a second hive in preparation for the swarming season.
As part of developing my wildlife area I am going to construct a bug hotel. I have a large wooden container the roof tiles came in which I will put near the pond. I will then gradually build all the different habitats inside this. It will interesting to see who moves in!
I have treated myself to two rambling roses. I have bought David Austin scented white roses. This is my favourite brand. I now need to construct an arch over our front gate for them to scramble up. I then plan to buy some pots of heather, purple and white to line the fence at the back of my house. I very much want to get some colour into our garden and also help the bees. It has to be done in stages due to the cost.
I was given loads of blackcurrant cuttings that I planted. They all seem to have taken and are budding. I am very pleased about this as I want to make blackcurrant cordial to go with the elder flower cordial I make each year. Soon I will go to the garden center and look for more soft fruit. I would love to find some gooseberries. Also red currants. I hope my quince tree comes good this year. We also have some new plum trees we hope will fruit. The big damson tree in the corner of my veg plot is thick with blossom. With my bees in place I hope for a good lot of fruit from that too. That will be jam....mmmmm damson jam! I plan to grow loads of tomatoes this year too as I make it into passata which I freeze. This is used for pasta sauces and soups through winter. I am hoping to get a couple of old tractor tyres to plant potatoes in. They can sit in the veg patch. I have not been able to change around the veg patch so will have another year of the potager garden. I will be out there soon digging over the beds. I need to get the onion sets in soon.
The warmer weather brings work but I enjoy doing this. It reduces my shopping bill and gives us a taste of summer during the long winter months. My veg garden is organic as is my land. No chemicals are allowed! Means a lot of weeding but better that than use chemicals. The only weed killer I use is white vinegar.
Life feels much better today. Him indoors is over the worst although still not sleeping properly. He is off all medication now. Next session of Physio is booked as is another appointment with the surgeon, hopefully the last one.
Tomorrow we are sorting out a mini digger to create the petang court! We are all excited about finally getting this done. Next year our little pub will be created and we will start making beer and mead!
Everything is back on track again and with the arrival of spring we are all much happier.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Had to put my nurses hat back on

We made the horrific discovery last weekend that what I thought was a cold was actually withdrawal from tramadol. Him indoors is very bad, like a drug addict going cold turkey. His sleep patterns are disrupted and he has had several emotional crises.
When he went to the doctor because he was not sleeping post op I can only think it was a misunderstanding due to the language. He was given tramadol which I now know to be an opiate. At no point were we warned about how addictive it is. I have been out of nursing for around 15 years now so did not know the drug. With hindsight I should have asked questions and looked it up. No good going there now as I have my work cut out trying to help him through this. I am currently sleeping in the spare room so he does not have to worry about waking me up. After one all night vigil I am happy to do this.
I have spent years removing chemicals from our lives, firmly believing they are bad. This drug has undone all I have achieved by poisoning him indoors. I am very angry about it.
We are taking things very slowly. He has no appetite and no energy. I am managing to get him to have small amounts and do a short daily walk. I have removed all the tramadol from our house and tomorrow will take it to the chemist for disposal,
This will take a long time and yet again puts a big burden on me!
Thank goodness Spring is not far away which improves everyone's mood.
Yet again big business profits come before what is best for people. What it has done for me is to make me with draw even more from all big business. If I don't make it we don't have it!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

A week of hospital visits

not an easy week this last one.
Last Tuesday we had to go to a poly clinic an hour away for him indoors to have a scintigraph...bone scan in English. We found it easily enough! We arrived in the department 1/4 of hour early and checked in. Within minutes him indoors was called. First an interview with the doctor who amazingly spoke English and even more amazingly was happy to use it. Then he went into the scanning room. I settled down with my crochet. There was no one else in the waiting room and it was very quiet. I could along the corridor to the waiting area for cardiology. An older couple were sat facing me and just sat and stared. No smile! Maybe they had never seen crochet before. After an hour Him indoors came back and we were told we could go but be back for 2.50. He had been injected with a nuclear substance and had had the soft tissue scanned. It would take a couple of hours for the radium to get to his bones. We went to a big DIY place to get some bits we needed then found some lunch. Before going back to the clinic. Again no waiting. After the second scan we waited about ten minutes then him indoors went to see the doctor again. It was confirmed him indoors has algodystrophy from his left elbow up to his left shoulder. This has been caused by the injury, surgery and being in plaster so long. It will take up to a year to recover and for a minority it never gets better. All that can be done is Physio and pain killers. It has caused decalcification of the bone which causes chronic pain. We left with the scans on a disc and a diagnosis.
Then on Friday we had to go to another hospital, an hour away in the opposite direction for an X-ray. We were to go back on Saturday morning at 9am for an MRI to the same place so were  told the X-rays would be given to the MRI department. Again I took my crochet to do whilst he was being scanned! He found this one uncomfortable as he had to have his left arm above his head and The MRI scanner is a tunnel with little room for someone just over six foot! This just confirmed the diagnosis we were given on a Tuesday. Again we left with the films and a diagnosis. The health service here is fantastic!
Tomorrow he sees our GP with all the pictures, letters and other paperwork. Then we have to go back to see the surgeon again with all the pictures, letters and paperwork. Here we keep all the X-rays. It is all held on the health service computer system but you are expected to bring them to any future appointments to do with this problem!
Yesterday him indoors went down with a cold. I reckon it is because he had to get his kit off so many times! I have dosed him up with lemon and honey.
It is hard keeping his moral up, he is suddenly feeling old!
I finished my moorland blanket and gave to my eldest daughter. She had admired it as it was growing! I have now started the cupcake blanket which is very different...the colours are cloud blue, fondant, sherbet.. 15 different lovely colours.
I have finished one of the mug cosies from my little box of crochet, but it was too big for a mug. It is on a parfait jar and looks great. I will make more to go on the other jars that are on a shelf.
The baby blanket is growing but I must get on with that as grandson arrives in about five weeks. I have been gathering a few bits to go in a basket as a gift. My current grandson loves all things orange so I want to make him an orange and white snuggle blanket. I will make him a little basket of things too so he does not feel left out.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Things that make me smile...

Mrs Goose has three eggs in her nest. I am hoping yet again that she will hatch some goslings this year. She carefully covers them up each morning before leaving the nest and they are both very protective. I will keep you informed. Only one duck egg so far and no sign of a broody hen. I always hope for fluffy balls but will leave it to them!
My crochet along blanket is almost finished. All 115 stripes are done. Today the final edging part will be published and I will finish the blanket over the next few days. I think I will give it to a friend who needs a hug just now! The next blanket is waiting to be started!
I must get the sewing machine out again soon and finish the cotton skirt. The fabric for my petticoats should arrive today and I want to get those made too. I am beginning to think about warmer weather and cotton skirts and t-shirts! I am trying to reduce my possessions and have decided four skirts and tops , two pairs of shorts and two pairs of jeans will be enough. The jeans will do for all the seasons. As far as possible I will make my clothes. I would prefer to have natural fabrics as part of my bid to ditch plastic.
All the bulbs are showing now..just waiting for some flowers. The snow drops are everywhere and I love to see the white flowers poking through.
Using the weekends for doing our house is working well. My utility room is now framed out and most of the insulation is in. Tomorrow the first fix plumbing and electrics will go in. That really does make me smile. Before long we will start on my kitchen. Exciting times!
I have been given a bundle of blackcurrant sticks. Hopefully they will take as it will top up my jam store and also enable me to make cordial. We all love blackcurrant. I want to increase the fruit we grow so that I can bottle more for winter.
Very soon I will get going on the veg! My wild flower seeds have arrived so I want my mini meadow sorted by the end of March. Lots to look forward to.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Spring has sprung

The last few days have begun as thick fog and by lunchtime has turned into blue sky and sunshine. There has been warmth in the sun too. The bees are out and about again and have returned laden with something.  I love meeting them for a chat whilst Inwork in the garden.Lots of snowdrops are coming up which are a joy to see. The flowering cherry has blossom starting. The trees are budding. My camellia trees look ready to burst into colour.
Winter is hard here and always makes us feel we should go back to England and rejoin life. But when the sun shines like today I do not want to go anywhere. We live in such a beautiful area, rolling green fields and small woods where deer and wild boar hide. The birds are singing again, such a lovely sound. Before long I will start planting seeds. Flowers and vegetables. I also think about chicks, ducklings and goslings. The ducks and geese have not started laying eggs yet but should start soon. As always I hope they will all hatch some young this year. They are such a joy to have around, watching them grow.
Today we have almost finished doing the electrics for the other two Gites. It had fought us but apart from the final connection is now there. We also finally took apart the old duck house. A bit more cleaning up to do and then I can prepare the area to become a mini wild flower meadow. This is next to the pond. I am going to make it a wild life area. My bees will love it!
I love this time of year, all fresh and new. It is a feeling to hold onto through the depths of winter.
Gite bookings are still down but we live in hope! We have to make a bigger effort to motivate ourselves to get the remaining  Gites finished. As bookings are virtually non existent we ask ourselves why bother. But we will plod on and eventually all the work will be done!