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Boys are back in town…

Little did I know that spring would be sprung and long gone before my next post, but here we are!  My husband and I decided to spend a few months in the UK: my (soul)mate had his leg operated on and the best place to be was surprisingly not by the foot of the Montagne Noire, in a house consisting mostly of stairs.  However, we are back Chez Nous for the summer and I’ve got so many things to write about!  There will be more projects executed in varying degree of success by yours truly, Cowboy Builders – Mazamet edition (spoiler alert, I become the restoration charlatan) and so much whinging about la canicule.  Yesterday the record for the highest temperature in France was broken twice, finishing at a scorching 45.9 °C, observed just outside Nîmes.  Our region has enjoyed sunny days of around 35-39°C and quite frankly, that is hot enough for me.  I blistered my bum on a car seat the other day and the poor dog is boiling in his furs.  If you know a witchdoctor specialising in weather magic, have a word.

Anyhow, before I start to unload the latest from our hellishly warm building site, here’s a wee tongue-in-cheek picture post of the top 3 reasons why I have been too busy to blog.  Enjoy!

  1. We are now living on the outskirts of Wells, the smallest city in England. Population density ’round these parts is measured by cows per person and everyone drives a combine harvester. Posh people hire chauffeurs for their combines and they have gold-alloy wheels.  Pip pip! The social calendar revolves mostly around the Royal Bath and West Show and consuming copious quantities of cider.If you don’t know who this man is we cannot be friends.

    Roger Wilkins, the maker of the worlds best cider

  2. There are too many great walks in the West Country…I left the house to take the dog on a quick piss and got lost once on the footpaths near our house.  Three hours and around 17k later we ended up home.  My alsatian loved it all, but I still have flashbacks to being chased by a herd of cows.  For my fellow townies out there, cows are much bigger than you would expect.West Country Cows

    Much, much bigger.

    About half a tractor, I’d say the official unit of measurement in Somerset.

    Another funny thing about walking…  Watch your step!  I made the mistake of letting Rusty off the lead once without checking my surroundings properly.  He took off like a rat down a drainpipe, towards a field in the distance.  There was a waft in the warm evening breeze – a familiar scent of the countryside.  The time stood still when my pup took a leap toward the stinking ground.  I let out a shriek, but it was too late: Not a day had passed when I observed a farmer spraying these field with something that stank suspiciously like fermented cow shite.

    Funny that, I thought to myself when on closer inspection my sweet dog turned out covered from the tip of the nose to the end of his waggily tail in exactly that, – fermented cow shite.  Despite two baths Rusty smelled like a thousand burning landfills for at least a week.

    Clothes were burned, lessons learned etc.

  3. We were busy hunting essentials in the UK.The place we rent was unfurnished and having moved our stuff to France we had very little in the UK.  The houseboat we used as a base had built-in furniture so beyond cooking stuff and bedding we had very little to set up home with.Luckily family stepped in and helped us out and we were able to get some good deals on gumtree and carboot sales.  A daunting task, but an interesting one.  Put in that situation, what would you buy first?

    We got a baby grand piano.

    He is called Graeme – free to a good home so we only paid for the delivery and he’s the centerpiece of our front room.  A logical purchase, really.  Oh, and did I mention, I when we got him I could not play to save my life.  Few months later I am learning Beatles and stuff, but mostly Graeme the Baby Grand serves as a three-poster-bed for Rusty.


Here we are – a little catch up before the work begins.

I’m off to find some rosé now – gotta keep hydrated during a heatwave!  Keep cool and see you later – à plus tard!

T xx

Le Petit Jardin vol. II

Salut from scorching hot Mazamet!  As the mercury climbs all the way up to the thirties, certain things get rather difficult to bear – such as maintaining a healthy work/life balance, any type of cooking what so ever… and pants.  Taking care of even the tiniest of gardens, too, changes from a simple pleasure to something akin to torture under the merciless blaze of our nearest star.  Even the poor dog is tired, but joins me regardless on my daily rounds of watering and weeding.  It can be hard work, especially for a townie like me, but each time a nail brakes or when I am slugging my two watering cans back to the patch from our back kitchen, our nearest water point, I feel a certain satisfaction examining this little patch of un-barrenness in bloom.

A month or so ago I planted wisteria with my mother as well as two different types of grapes to slowly start training them up the cast iron framework covering most of the footprint of this little yard, adding shade to our small oasis, and keeping us cool on summers to come.  She is one of those people who can make anything grow, my mother, and she doesn’t mind sharing her green thumbs either.  It was on her urging we got around sorting out the space and thus managed to restore some order to the garden that was left to grow wild when we departed to England last October.  On her orders I was spreading fresh compost, clearing out space for new plants as well as tidying up the roses while she was potting up a bit of dill, runner beans, Aeschynanthus, Geraniums and other stunning summer blooms.

It is also courteous to mention the upheaval of this wee garden of ours would have not been possible without a bit of grunt – in the form of my darling husband James, who did not only endure hot afternoons queuing up at the local déchèterie and endless tours around garden centres with mother in law in tow, but also upcycled an old pallet into a charming vertical strawberry planter.  And the honourable mention, with all my love, goes to my amazing neighbour, the owner of the most beautiful kitchen garden AND a flower garden in Mazamet.  She donated spare seedlings of tomatoes that are already bearing fruit and smelling gorgeous in the warm evening air.

Looks like this is all folks, for now.  Until I find motivation to edit the photos of the next face of my spare room project.  The post will be about using a chemical paint stripper and re-finishing wood.  Stay tuned and au revoir!