Thursday, 20 December 2012

The joy of old buildings

We have all seen it.  Those tv shows about people buying an old ruin and thinking they are going to restore it on the weekends and live in it.  Grandoise schemes float through their conversations like thistledown on a summer breeze. 

We sit there in morbid fascination watching them uncover dry (or wet - why discriminate) rot, sagging foundations, rising damp, rotten roof supports... the list goes on and on.  All the while we mutter things like "silly beggars, anyone could have seen the place needed knocking down - not renovating!"

The dream home..... that quickly turns in to a nightmare....

Whilst we are far from falling into the above category, there have been a few hiccups so far and works have not progressed as quickly as planned and wished for.

We knew the electricity board needed to be replaced.  Fine, not a problem as Wayne could handle that. We did realise (after the purchase and start of works) that some of the wiring was so old that it was tinned copper coated with a woven cotten cover!  However, we did not realise that the whole board had been mislabelled at some dim dark distant time in the past, so that when wires were reconnected they did not correspond to what they were supposed to....Hmmmm.  Something wrong here that needs to be sorted quickly!

The psychedelic, nightmare inducing wallpaper was the next suprise.  Normally there is one layer of wallpaper on a wall.  More than one layer usually indicates a complete change of decor and hence colour/pattern/style.  As time has passed between layers being added, it is normally an annoying but not difficult job to remove it all down to the plaster walls.  No such luck here.  There were two or three layers of THE EXACT SAME wallpaper on some walls!  I swear to you that it must have been adhered with some super sticking, magic never to be removed wallpaper paste.  Who, what and why are about the only comments I can repeat from those discoveries..... Luckily I had the help of our wonderful neighbours and their kidlets (and friends of kidlets) the day of that discovery.  I think I would have had a meltdown otherwise. lol  We all laugh about it now, but it was a bad day for us all.  Hours of backbreaking labour and hard slog to clear less than a metre of wall in some rooms.  I tell you, this stuff was tenacious!

Then there was the half tank of fuel for heating that was generously included in the house price.  Only to find after less than a week in the house that in fact there was no fuel left and the fuel guage for the tank was in fact broken and permanently stuck on half full.... Four freezing cold days followed until fuel could be delivered.  Why four days I hear you ask?  Yes, normally it is next day delivery on fuel..... but of course this problem arose after business hours on a friday evening.... and we had to wait till late tuesday for a delivery. Sigh.

Or the waterfall and lake that appeared in our garage after the first heavy rains.  That was impressive.  Unfortunately the loaded trailer was directly underneath the deluge, but fortunately we had been so exhausted on the last day of moving that we had not even thought of taking the tarp and straps off.  Phew, disaster averted there!  Thank goodness for exhaustion and procrastination.

Seriously though, whilst we have had setbacks, in general we have been very lucky.  Our extremely thorough inspection prior to buying paid off and we have a house that is full of character and has remarkably few problems in comparison to what others find during their renovations.  OK, we do not have a straight line in any room (in fact the bedroom and office are trapezoids!), and having to stagger downstairs for the loo in the night is annoying, but really in the big scheme it is nothing at all.  We have heating, hotwater and a(n almost) finished kitchen so hot meals are easy.

OK, it might be nice to have power in all of the house, not just the kitchen, but we are working on that and when it is done we will appreciate it. REALLY appreciate it!


The fur boys love the house.  They are so happy and content here it is wonderful.  We are also content with our decision and think we will be very comfortable here for a long long time.

So think of us this weekend when we attempt to replace the toilet.... no unpleasant suprises please!

Footnote:  Whilst everyone here seems to have horror stories of tradesmen who did not or could not do the work etc, we have been very lucky here (different story our first 2 years in Paris... but will leave that one rest).  I have constantly asked questions of the real estate agent, neighbours and anyone else I come in to contact with and have managed to find a fabulous maçon and plumber!   It does pay to be a bit assertive and keep asking questions till you are satisfied - not till you get a good sounding quote or the person seems nice.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

la fermette

 We have had a project on the go for the past few months which I want to talk about today.

 After much deliberation and soul searching, we have bought a mini farm here in rural France.

Yes, I hear you all laughing and saying it doesn't suprise you..... my penchant for chickens and gardening, and Wayne's hankering for a big atelier means we had to do something like this eventually.

We actually made the decision a few months ago and started the paperwork to buy this place.  Unfortunately, in between we have had two deaths in the family which left us feeling unwilling to shout our good news out to the world.  To be honest, we have been devastated and mourning for most of the time and my last few posts have been vapid attempts to continue normal life.

For the past month we have been doing the necessary renovations ready to move in.  Tomorrow is the big day!

In fact we have been very fortunate to find a farmhouse in really good condition - a rarity in France where they are normally ramshackle ruins falling down around the owners ears!

The only real work we HAD to do before moving was to repaint (the 60's wallpaper was nightmare inducing...lol) the interior and to redo the electrical wiring in the house.  Oh, and put in a kitchen because the existing kitchen comprised a sink and an oven..... no cupboards etc to be seen.

Poor Wayne has spent every weekend and quite a few extra days crawling around in roof spaces and trying to make sense of ancient wiring that is in 3phase.  Some of the wiring is so old it is the old tin plated wires covered in woven cotton!!! Scary!

It is going to take a bit of time to get everything restored and looking how we want it.  The walls are thick stone over a metre in width, and there are many layers of plaster going back over hundreds of years.  A challenge I am looking forward to immensely.

We have three outbuildings along with the house, surrounding a gravelled courtyard.  Then there is half a hectare of land as well.  A lovely chook pen and roost, clapiers (rabbit hutches) and pigeonnier.  The orchard has over 30 fruit trees planted, plus berries and grapes.

With this much land situated on the edge of a tiny village, surrounded by fields and forests and a pretty stream, it is idyllique.  Wayne can finally have his viewing platform for the telescopes, and I can have an enormous veggie garden as well as animals.


So, I sit here on the day before our move, surrounded by boxes - packed with the assistance of two good cats - and contemplate the next few weeks.  We will have no internet or tv, and there is no mobile phone reception in the village so no using my iphone to keep up to date either!  I am going to be in communication isolation!!
 
Photos and updates will be posted once internet restored and I have unpacked sufficiently to justify the time spent playing on the computer.




Monday, 22 October 2012

Les chats

We are well and truely into autumn now.  The trees are bare and the rains are falling almost non stop.  Everything is vibrant green again and preparing for its last big burst of growth and show before the cold really hits.

The neighbourhood cats have been taking advantage of every sunny moment.  If you want to know the most warm and sheltered place to laze the late afternoon away ..... find the cats. (The mornings find them arranged along the top of our firewood stacked behind the house...the first place the sun hits each day.)

It is quite common to have up to eight cats lined up along the base of our front walls, or in the gutter along the road, making the most of the thermal mass and the suns last lingering rays, before the sun sets.

One of the oldest cats in the allée is Maiena.  She is so pretty and has a cute little tiny meow.  I managed to catch her napping on the terracotta tiles on top of our neighbours wall, soaking in the last of the suns rays for the day.

I love the way she has melted in to the undulating curves of the tiles so that as much of her as possible is absorbing the warmth from them.  The dreamy expression on her face shows exactly how much she is enjoying basking there.

It is a cats' life!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Poitiers, City of Churches

Yesterday we had a treat.

One of our neighbours has lived here all of her life, and in fact her family has lived in the same house for generations.  She works for the city giving guided tours to all age groups.

What she doesn't know about Poitiers, is not worth knowing....

She very kindly offered to take a few of the neighbours on a guided tour in the afternoon. Something that we all jumped at!

We walked around a small section of the city for over two and a half hours and she had us captivated for the whole time.  Incredible stories and fascinating "extra" information that is not usually found in the books about Poitiers.  It was fabulous! 

In fact it was soo good that I forgot to take photos most of the time.....ooops.

The top picture is from Notre Dame la Grande.  The sculpture is fabulous, and having been restored fairly recently, it is in great condition. 

Poitiers is known as the city of churches as it has so many of them.  Below is a detail from another cathedral we visited.  It is undergoing restoration, and looking beautiful in the late evening sunshine.

Jeanne d'Arc is one of the patrons of this area of France, and statues commemorating her life and deeds can be found everywhere.  She is also a popular subject for stained glass windows.  This one dates from more modern times, but is still very beautiful.

As it was late in the day and the sun was low in the sky, we had beautiful views of the stained glass in the churches.  An added bonus was the wash of colour across the floors from the windows, and the somber interiors and darkened aspect.  Very atmospheric!




Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sureau

How I love this tree.  It is attractive all year round in itself, has beautiful blossom in spring, and gorgeous dark purple berries in late summer/autumn.

Perhaps one of the best things is that the beautiful creamy coloured blossoms smell divine, and can be used in many ways.  Some people pick the blossom and dip them in a tempura batter and fry to make elderflower fritters.  Others sprinkle the flowers on desserts as decoration.  Myself, I prefer elderflower cordial.  Refreshing and aromatic, it is perfect in fizzy water on a hot day.  We won't talk about elderflower champagne.....

The part of the annual cycle that really gets me interested however is the berries.  Dark, glossy and deep deep purple, they are reminiscent of polished jet beads, or maybe tiny black pearls.  Absolutely gorgeous to look at, and even better to eat.

Unfortunately the stems and leaves of elder are poisonous, so it is vitally important to prepare the flowers or berries properly.  Also, all berries must be completely ripe - no green ones!  They are poisonous too.

Each berry contains a rather large seed (for the size of the fruit), which is rather unpalateable.  It is best to prepare them in such a way that the seeds are excluded from the finished product.  Yes, this means straining I am afraid.... the most time consuming part of playing in the kitchen.

There are four ways in which I like to prepare the berries.  A jelly, cordial, syrup and a booze.  Recipes for the drinks to follow.  Jelly recipe saved for another time.  Sorry.  I cannot tell you where these recipes come from.  Really they are a melange of recipes and ideas that I have read in various sources and tinkered with till they suit my taste.  Apologies to those that I have read and now cannot remember to give credit to.


Elderberry Cordial (medicinal)
1kg ripe berries, destemmed carefully
1 cup water
6 cloves
good piece of ginger, peeled, sliced and bruised
500g sugar

Boil the berries and water for 30mins.  If you think it is not enough water to start with, add half a cup more before boiling.
Mash the berries and seive to capture all the seeds and skins.
Return liquid to pan and add rest of ingredients
Simmer for 1 hour
Strain ginger and cloves from liquid
Bottle
Store in a cool dark place

Take 1 teaspoon of liquid every 2 hours for a cough.  Alternatively, mix a tablespoon of liquid with boiling water and sip for a cold or sinus relief.

Note:
Depending on sweetness of berries, you may not need the whole amount of sugar.  Taste liquid before adding.
I usually strain out the ginger pieces, but leave in the cloves.
The amount of ginger depends on the strength of it.  I usually add a thumb sized piece of reasonably strong ginger.

Elder Syrup
1kg berries
4 cups water
500g sugar
juice of half a lemon

boil berries and water for 20mins
mash and sieve well
return liquid to pan and add sugar and boil 15mins
add lemon juice and stir well
bottle and store in fridge

Elder Liquer
In a clean glass jar (I use a massive le parfait jar) place destemmed berries to 2/3 of way up sides.
Add vodka or another flavourless clear alcohol to within a cm or so of top of jar
Shake gently and place in a cool dark cupboard
Gently shake every week or so for up to 6 weeks
Filter out the berries and replace the liquid in the jar
Let rest for 2 months before drinking

Thank you to Sheila over at the blog love and wild honey for prompting me to post these recipes.



Thursday, 16 August 2012

Fruit, finally

 
 I am sure that everyone is sick of hearing about the weather conditions here, but it is a fact of life when living in the country.  The weather is vitally important.

Fruit and veg have been so horrible.  Poor quality and expensive.  Something we are not used to, as normally the quality is very good and the price is low.

After our wash out spring (literally!) the stone fruit is almost non existant this year.  We had 6 weeks where it hailed every day - right when the blossom was setting on the fruit trees.  Thank you mother nature.

Since then we have had to rely on fruit from Spain and other countries.  Not such a bad thing in the big picture as it has helped their economies, but the price went up as a result, and the quality was just not the same.

Yesterday was a public holiday here.  Assumption Day for those of you interested.  We decided to join friends in the town of Parthenay for coffee.  A drive of about 45mins for us, but worth it to spend an hour socialising with lovely people.  Whilst at the café our friends mentioned that they have far too many plums on their trees and cannot keep up with the demand.  What to do??

So I have kilos and kilos of lovely Damsons and Mirabelles to turn in to jam and sauce.  Bliss!

The reason their trees survived the storms is that they are planted thickly and in some places form the hedge.  So they protected each other.  Genius!  A lesson learnt here for future reference.

I was in heaven at their farm.  Cuddling cats and dogs, picking fruit and fussing over the horses.  What a great life!

The highlight of the day for Wayne.... brunch was served by our friend, and it was cumberland sausages and english bacon..... one happy boy!
I have the most beautiful sunflowers in the garden at present.  Each stem has half a dozen or more flowers on it!  The bees are going wild for the pollen and come away looking like they have been gilded.  The bright bright yellow of the flowers is so clear and sharp that it is almost brighter than the sunshine.  Such a treat as the flowers in my wild meadow area are just about finished and it was looking a bit faded, and then these beauties have decided to pop up and show how flashy and bold they can be.


P.S.  Normally fruit trees need to be planted with space around them to discourage mildew and rot and to encourage ripening of the fruit and good air circulation.  Don't know why the opposite is providing such healthy trees at our friends, but it is working well.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Le Brassage

With the advent of warmer weather, comes the start of brewing season. 

Unfortunately, it is far too cold to brew beer in winter without heating equipment and a lot of palaver.  So, it is solely a warm weather occupation chez nous.

So far I have 2 different beers brewed.  The first (pictured) is a bitter, and the second is a Scottish heavy ( a dark beer).

I enjoy the chemistry of beer brewing.  Knowing how much sugar and yeast to add and how long to leave before bottling, and then again before drinking to obtain the optimum flavour and alcohol content.

Wayne has enjoyed drinking all the commercial beers to obtain sufficient bottles for my home brew..... 'nuff said about that.

Our french neighbours have been fascinated that I brew, and I have had to allow them to assist in the brassage.  Fun and nice to have someone to chat with while I work, but not easy as it is really a one persong operation.  Mind you - no one seems to be around when it is time to scrub out all the bottles and sterilise them..... hmmm.  No matter. 

The fact that it is so easy to do and with such pleasure at the end, means that they all want to start brewing their own beers.  Our only problem is that the equipment is almost impossible to buy in France.  Slight hitch in the plans.  I have found a brew shop in the UK who will post orders across - for a large fee, so that is what we are going to do.  If we all club together and place one order, then we can split the delivery price and it is affordable.

My first batch was the bitter, and it has turned out to be a lovely summer beer.  Light and fresh, perfect for l'heure d'apero with all the neighbours.  The second batch will be ready in a week and I am keen to try it and see how it turned out.  Not my taste normally, but the boys all asked for a dark beer, and who am I to say no.

Speaking of brewing...... I put up 8litres of elderflower champagne this season also.  Well, I made 8 litres, but we only have 3 litres left to drink.

One of the problems with making fizzy drinks is that they tend to explode... and when they go, they go with a bang!

First 4 litres wound up all over the kitchen floor.  A sticky, intoxicating mess that took hours to clean up and resulted in an improptue scrubbing of the kitchen floor mats.  Mind you the heady floral scent of the booze was very pleasant and the kitchen smells delicious.

Another litre  decided to abandon itself to the heavens after we moved the bottles to the cave.  So now our cave and garage smell like elderflowers and alcohol also.  Oh well.  Have since degassed the remaining bottles and we plan on drinking it as soon as possible!!!

Gratuitous cat photo, just because it has been a while...  Eric is now becoming a lap cat!  Finally our baby is maturing into a lovely sooky boy


Monday, 28 May 2012

Finally, the rain has stopped

We have had 2 months of almost continual rain.  Fabulous, I can hear all the family and friends in Australia saying.  Miserable and depressing for those of us here in Europe.  Spring has been a long time in coming this year.  Up until a week ago we were still lighting the fire each morning in an effort to stay warm and dry.

Combine the rain with hail almost everyday, and gale force winds, and you have a scenario that is not good for the keen gardeners.

Luckily, my garden has pulled through without too much stress.  Sadly, I did not get the riot of spring bulbs that I had hoped for, however other plants have benefitted from the rain and are showing a glorious array of flowers.

The irises are particularly good this year.  I have a pale violet, and a deep dark chocolate with hints of orange.  Both are a mass of colour and scent at present.  The dark iris was a surprise.  I had been given it at a cemetary in the Somme Battlefields (they were replacing the plants and throwing away all the old ones.... what a waste!).  No one could tell me what colour it would be, so it was nice that it is such an unusual shade.

My tiny - and very spindly - elder tree is flourishing also.  I have already picked a huge amount of flowers and they are fermenting away in the cave to make elderflower champagne.  An experiment.  We shall see if it works or not.  All depends on how much natural yeasts are floating around in our garden.  There are plenty of flowers still on the tree to turn to berries and make gelées and sirop later in the year.

The pea shoots have been galloping ahead.  So much so that I have taken to picking them and adding to salads and as garnishes to our meals.  They are nearly 2metres tall and only just starting to flower!  I have been picking rhubarb and strawberries already, and my herbs are looking lush and green.  Tomato plants are in as well as butternut and queensland blue pumpkins.  We shall see if they grow here.

We went to a bbq last night at a neighbours house.  It was a great night, but it was even nicer to be able to go in to the garden and cut fresh flowers to make a bouquet for the hostess.  The roses are magnificent this year, and the sweet peas are heavenly.  I made a pretty posy of pink roses, lavender and deep burgandy sweet peas and pink and burgandy dianthus.  Beautiful and fragrant.

Le brassage (beer brewing) has commenced this weekend with the start of the warm weather.  I am starting with a bitter, to get my hand in and refresh my memory.  It has been a long time since I home brewed!  Hopefully I will be able to bottle next weekend and in 2 weeks after that we will be able to commence sampling the brew.  Tshirts have been made to commemorate the occasion and I have 3 official taste testers waiting (impatiently!) to pass judgement and select the next type of beer brewed.  Think they are going to keep me occupied over summer with requests for new batches.... Photos will follow in a future post.

The last photo is of a neighbours garden.  She has 9 different colours of iris planted in groupings under the fruit trees.  It is spectacular!  I think it rivals Monet's garden at Giverny actually.  Hope you enjoy the colours as much as I did.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Les Lilas

One of the joys of living in Europe is being able to see, and smell, lilacs in flower each spring.

These plants flower in a variety of colours ranging from white, pink, lilac (funny that) through to a deep purple.  Some are solid colour, while others have the petals outlined in a second colour.

This is what I purchased.  A beautiful medium purple with white outline.

I have been impatiently waiting for it to flower, and over the past week it has blossomed, leaving a tantalising hint of scent on the breeze in the garden, and a shot of colour.

A neighbour has kindly given me some lilac seedlings from her garden, so next year I will have white and lilac coloured lilacs flowering as well.  Something to look forward to.

To let you know.  It seems our internet problems are not making huge difficulties for us at present.  The problem is the cabling under the street..... so unless the works is approved to rip up the street and replace the cabling, then we will have to live with dodgy internet, phone etc.  A small price to pay to live in such a beautiful place I think.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Sunday Walk

I love this time of year.  Perfect for a walk in the countryside.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Winter Sunshine

What a difference a few weeks makes.

When last I posted, we were shivering under a thick blanket of snow and wondering if winter would stretch on forever.

This weekend the sun came out and showed us that there is hope on the horizon for a glorious spring.

We decided to revisit the Chateau de Perigny.  A beautiful place near the town of Vouillé.  Approximately 20km from where we live.

Our last visit there had been to have dinner in the restaurant and as it was night time, we did not get to see the full charms of the Chateau, which is now a restaurant and hotel.

As you can see it is a lovely building overlooking a small valley. The outbuildings are used as the actual restaurant and accomodation, leaving the fabric of the Chateau untouched.

The meal was superb!  No photos as it was a bit too posh to be whipping out the camera to take snaps of the meal.... not that I have ever done that before....   For entree, I had a carpaccio of seafood and salicorn.  Wayne enjoyed mini croquettes of pigs feet.  We both ordered the wild boar with cranberries and quince paste for our main meal, and dessert was figs poached in spiced wine with fromage blanc for Wayne, and a crisp chocolate shell containing passionfruit mousse and a quenelle of mango sorbet for me.

The entrees and main course were sublime.  Roasted loin of wild boar with quince paste was a new taste pairing for both of us.  The boar was succulent and flavourful, and the quince paste brought out the savoury notes while adding a hint of sweetness and a tart finish. Toned down the richness of the boar and made it possible to enjoy every mouthful.  The sauteed wild mushrooms on the side were just a little bit of heaven to add to the whole dish.

Wayne loved his dessert.  I had wanted the figs, but they had orange in the poaching liquid... tant pis!  So I ordered the alternate dessert.  It was nice, and the presentation was gorgeous - but I found it too sweet for my palate.  I said to Wayne later that I probably should have had a cheese course instead of dessert and it would have been a perfect meal.  Oh well, always next time.

After a short walk around the Chateau grounds to take photos, we headed to the village of Sanxay.  All of the Poitou-Charentes is known for its Roman history and huge amount of ruins and remains.  Sanxay is the site of a large complex containing a theatre, thermal baths and temple. 

Whilst it was gloriously sunny, the temperature left a lot to be desired.... especially on the windswept slopes of the theatre.... We both wished we had taken our winter coats, instead of optimistically wearing spring weight jackets.  Not even gloves or hats had been thought of in our eagerness to go and make the most of the sun.


It was worth the effort of braving the cold though.  I would highly recommend a visit to this site if you are ever in the Poitou-Charentes.  Incredible ruins and well thought out plan for the visit.  No hard paths and obvious signage, but each person is given a guide book at the office which explains the site step by step and also gives information on the trees and plant life on the site.  A more personal approach.  You can read the hightlights, or go into more detail as you prefer.

Next weekend I embark on a new project, courtesy of our lovely neighbours.  Their father has vineyards and usually makes his own wine and pineau.  This year I too am going to learn how to do this, starting with the pruning of the vines and finishing - hopefully - with a nice table wine sometime next year.  I am looking forward to learning this skill and will ensure to keep you all updated as we accomplish each task.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Fun in the snow.....


video

otherwise known as "just another sunday in Buxerolles"

 15cm of snow fell on saturday, and was still dry and powdery on sunday.  So what else can you do except get outside and play.

A major snowball fight was held first (not sure if the adults really won as small children can be very devious....), followed by sledding for the kidlets.   What you see above is the activity for the last third of the day.

After exhausting ourselves, everyone descended upon a neighbours house where we made poffejties and crepes washed down with glogg ( a Swedish mulled wine).

Who said life in the country was too quiet and boring?????

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Neige!

Yes, it is finally snowing here.  I don't know who is more excited... the neighbours kidlets or me....

I love when it snows.  The world goes all quiet and peaceful and there is such a special atmosphere.  Everything ugly and harsh to the view disappears under a dusting of white.  It is like a return to childhood.  The anticipation, butterflies in the stomach - waiting for the moment when the world is completely changed into something magical and unreal.

One of my great pleasures is to go for a walk, camera in hand, and watch the transformation.  My eyes are constantly watching for the traces of the small animals normally hidden from view.  Finding the path taken by a badger, marten or other wild creature is almost as exciting as seeing the animal itself.  Those lovely little prints through the pristine snow are a delight to find.  I know, I am a bit strange.  Wayne shakes his head in disbelief that I have a book on animal scat and traces.  My theory is that if you want to understand and really know the environment that you live in, it is essential to learn about things like poo and paw prints.  It goes hand in hand with living in the country to my mind. Nerdy I know, but very very interesting....lol

Monday morning the cats and I spent hours glued to the windows watching the transformation of our neighbourhood into a snow fantasy.  Every few hours I ran outside with the video camera (new toy) and filmed the progress of the house turning from a typical maison Poitevin into something from Hansel and Gretel.  You know what I mean.... the frosted eaves and fairytale garden coated in a layer of snow, with smoke curling lazily from the chimney.

Tuesday afternoon saw my garden become the venue for a heated snowball fight between a neighbourhood 4 year old and myself.  No comments about picking on someone my own size.... this kidlet was an expert at snowballs!!  After nearly collapsing with laughter at his antics in the snow, his Mum and I retired to the comfort of the salon and a cosy armchair each in front of the cheminee.  Well deserved mug of tisane in hand - of course.

Today is a half day for all schools.  As it is every wednesday.  Another snowball match has been scheduled with the neighbours kidlets for 1300hours.  May need to have a few cups of full strength coffee before then I think...lol.  Yesterday at a routine checkup, the doctor asked about my exercise habits, and was puzzled when I burst out laughing.  Had to explain about the championship snowball battles every day while the snow lasted.  She had a good giggle over that and her only comment was that I was obviously getting enough exercise running from the neighbours kidlets.  Hmmm.

Seriously (?) though, the snow does change the whole outlook of people as well as the area.  On monday evening one of the neighbours arrived home with his wife.  Their young adult daughter drove in at the same time.  Within seconds of exiting their vehicles the father had commenced pelting his wife and daughter with snowballs.  A hilarious snowball fight ensued for about half an hour.  All three dressed in business attire and the women in high heels!  It was fabulous to see them having so much fun, and to hear their laughter echoing down the street.  What a great way to let off steam after a hard day at work!

I cannot imagine the heat and humidity being suffered by our family and friends in Australia right now.  My world is too full of fluttering white flocons de neige and crisp cold air.... and we have another 2 weeks of minus zero and snow to come.... YOUPI!!!

The photo at top was taken in my neighbours garden about three hours in to the snow.  The pic of our house was only one hour in to the snow.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Home Again....

Phew!  What a whirlwind tour of family and friends that was.  Think we need a holiday to recover from the holiday...lol

A good time was had by all and it was lovely to see everyone again.  We both wished we had more time to spend at each stop and with each person.

The boys had a lovely time at their pension in the countryside.  In fact it was extremely difficult to convince them to get into their carry cases to come home!  They did not like the Christmas week with all its coming and going, but loved the outdoor exercise area and the cosy beds.

It has been a relatively mild winter here so far.  No snow as yet and no ice, although high winds and lots of rain.  Fortunately for me, I missed all this and from the day I arrived back it has been cold and fairly clear.  In fact winter seems to have made an effort for me and the past week has seen temps below zero and severe frosts.  A few mornings I have awoken to a garden that was so iced over that it almost looked like it had snowed during the night!

I have spent the past 2 weeks catching up on things here and getting organised again.  Thought I was at the stage were I could relax and kick back a bit.... when 3 steres of wood was delivered yesterday.... and needs to be stacked quickly as they are predicting snow for tomorrow.... and Wayne is away on business... comme d'habitude.... sigh.  So guess what I am doing today.

Had a lovely visit from a friend this week.  She was passing through on the way south for work and stayed here, and then on her return trip she also stayed over.  It was great to catch up and to welcome her to our home.  First time she had visited here, and so it was extra special for me that she made the time to stop by twice.  A real treat to see her.

The cats in the neighbourhood were all very glad to see me back.  Little Salameche is now a big boy.  Still gorgeous and super affectionate.... and still spending the day and night everywhere else except his own home.  When he saw me outside he ran down the road and leapt into my arms. I had my face thoroughly smooged and patted (close eyes, grit teeth and don't breathe in all the cat hairs...lol) and he told me a huge tale of the past 2 months, before allowing me to put him down and continue to the letter box.  A funny little character.

A note.  My computer is about to reach the end of its life, so for a few weeks - until I can replace it - I cannot do much on it.  Most functions, including emails, meet with a message telling me that no space or memory or capacity or just simply a fail message.  So emails will be a bit quiet from me till new computer is installed.  Apologies to all that I owe emails.  I am using my iphone to answer urgent stuff, and having to let all other emails wait.

The photo at top is of a King Parrot (male) taken in the Blue Mountains at a friends place. 
Second photo is a view through the gardens surrounding Circular Quay, (from the Rocks towards the quay).