Argeles-sur-Mer late spring cleaning #1

One of the many benefits of living here at the French house is that we can actually spend time at, or even have a holiday at the Argeles apartment!

Many others have benefited, including family and friends, just NOT US.This will now change I assure you.

Though only 90mins from the village house, it’s vibe is totally different  and we love it for what it is; a seaside town that  has existed as a tourist spot only since the 1950s-60s when the beach area was developed.

Often overlooked in favour of it’s more famous and decorative neighbours Collioure (pretty, but you can’t park in summer and beach is vestigial) and Banyuls  (ditto, but slightly more spread out) Argeles has a spectacular 7km beach and a similar length promenade under umbrella pines. 

Trev, water boy, went off for a swim of course. An hour in the sea is one of his greatest pleasures and the main driver for buying here; I have long got used to his initially disturbing habit of swimming out a mile or more, which used to freak me out big time.

I did a change over (by choice) and decided to do a real deep clean – paintwork, windows, walls, tops of doors,  wash anything that isn’t nailed down. We had to buy new chairs for the balcony so in the spirit of neighbourliness I put the old ones by the bins. They disappeared very quickly. The new cushions went in. People do odd things to cushions as I have noted in previous posts…..

We are happy here too, in a different way. Even my little car is happy to be in France and you can’t see Madame B’s dent in above photo. When we came out of the Accountant’s office last week it was 48 degrees and the satnav announced that it was too hot to work, but my car copes just fine and has never overheated, even with ridiculous temperatures we have had for last few weeks.

Shots from balcony (great sunset)  left & right


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The door stalker

So, dear readers and loyal blog-buddies, you know that I like a bargain; and the bestest bargain is a freebie. Recycle, Re-use, Restore, Repurpose.

Just after we arrived in France last month we noticed these three doors/windows stacked against an empty  house in the impasse opposite. We also noticed a stack of old stuff heaped up at the end of the other impasse between us and the river. We had no idea who had dumped it, but our neighbour explained that on the first Tuesday of each month the Mayors’ boys pick up your bigger trash.

Yes , of course I rooted through the junk, but there was nothing of interest to me; I still kept passing these lonely, abandoned doors though and thinking what I could do if I got my hands on them. Then AFTER this month’s junk pick up, these suddenly appeared across the street on the dumping ground. I was on the way to the street bin at the time so I just yelled up at Trev in the salon “DOORS!!”. He had no idea (as usual) what I was squeaking about so I just grabbed them (boy are they heavy) and heaved them into the cave.

Lovely old, worn, distressed harwood. A picture was forming of potential deep new corner storage wardrobe in Tulip bedroom. Take out the glass and replace with light fabric, voile, muslin, lace etc….aiding air circulation in the steamy South of France

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Episode 155- Chez Nous le dimanche

The reality of being here in France, and not having to fill every waking day with work on the house because we go back to the UK tomorrow, is kicking in.

Little milestones (we will have been here a month on Thursday)  and the luxury of doing nothing on a Sunday.

Well Trev did nothing but teach himself Facebook  (I can now have video chats with my family) and lie on the terrace semi-snoozing. I can relax, but I am always thinking of stuff to do next so I got the sewing basket out and started on some hand sewing tasks.

These cushions probably epitomise my  mad mix and don’t match approach to my textile projects. The cushions are relatively new; I liked the striped linen but not the hideous motifs on the front panel.  So I sewed on these little heraldic style mats which are around 100 years old and are edged in  a classic gimp with a fine metallic thread woven through it.Great juxtaposition I think.

I have just opened a big box of vintage scraps of fabric and trimmings so the cushion cover production line will soon be up and running. Each will be entirely unique.

The dyed antique cotton lace was added a while back; the broken toe post for those of you who have actually been paying attention………..

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The Thursday Three – Esperaza Vide-Grenier

Let me just say that I am not unaffected by what is happening in the world. I may be idyllicly located now, but life is not rose-tinted and terrible things are happening elsewhere.

My child works an inherently dangerous and stressful job in a vulnerable, major UK city;she and her own little family live on the edge of what is now a volatile, overcrowded melting pot. Yes, I worry.


But I will live this life without letting fear and angst chew up my soul; and I will feed my soul by looking at and listening to beautiful things.

I found these at the Esperaza VG; large hand made and glazed lustre bowl, embroidered table linen and a tasselled lace curtain that exactly fits the front door to keep the big bugs out. I have neglected my French stuff Thursday Three slot this year. It will be remedied.

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Almost civilised-Pate Pâtes

Been an odd day today. Some achievements, some  less successful stuff. In between all this I am trying to work for a living.

At least we were properly fuelled last night. Having a temporary plaque to cook on means I can make real food other than in the slow cooker. I can’t wait for the floor to be finished so we can get the cooker in!

We bought this delicious gluten free artisan pasta from an authentically terroir focussed restaurant/deli in Limoux. It is better than a lot of regular pasta I have eaten.

Trev unpacked one of his carefully chosen new pans and I put on the water to boil which gave me time to thow together a cheat sauce from what was in the frigo. Into olive oil I threw some finely diced onions (red spring, no shallots to hand) followed by diced peppers and a pile of lovely firm, fresh tomatos. Seasoned and added half a teaspoon of chilli pimente paste; then what? Trev does gluten free but NOT meat free and I had only minutes. So I pulled out some rough local country terrine, diced it and put it in for last few minutes. It worked excellently well.

Today I raked out the horrible, messy plastic mastic from the holes left by the Orange guys and refilled in the appropriate material, of course.

And we have some art up.

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Four hours of fun in France- or, my house has an attitude as big as a chateau

We now have Orange landline (sans phone right now) internet and TV (not yet set up) In the interests of complete candour, I will keep you posted as to it’s efficacy and utility…………..

I also have a few holes in the front wall

The house fought the Orange engineers every step of the way.



Confident they were, at first. We were booked into a standard two hour slot for the full works.

We stood outside and discussed where the wiring connections would go. We “walked the line “around the house  looking for optimum installation point. I already had all this sussed; inside and out. They demurred. The starting point was the existing landline box high up on front of house. I can live with that if no further wires/pipes/crap is dangled across the front of the my house; see earlier posts and the massive bill we paid to EDF to move the tangled electrical supply lines draped like grotty necklaces over the front of house) and the meter from over the toilet to a more sensible spot in the workshop.

YE (young engineer) clearly  had a hot date and was looking for an easy fix. would madam not like the wiring concealed behind the external pipework outside shower room? NO!!!!… Madam has paid a fortune to have all that rerouted internally!

I want the cable run neatly concealed under the roofline and dropped down behind the existing downspout then into corner of salon. End Of.

OE (older engineer) had apparently rewired the local chateau and village hovel was going to be a doddle. The house resisted all. Every car in Campagne came down the street and the ladder had to be moved so many times YE was in despair. OE tried every drill in his arsenal and still could not breach the stone walls or find an acceptable spot avoiding river pebbles.”This will have a rubble core inside the stone skin” quoth he confidently . “It doesn’t” I said. He soon took refuge in despair and said it couldn’t be done and they might have to come back. Oh no, not that old chestnut.

It took over four hours (the poor soul with the next appointment got postponed) several tries at several spots to breach the wall and YE virtually pushing drill through wall manually with every bit of muscle he could muster to achieve a single hole for the cable.

I did not blame the guys, the house rejects many attempts to drag it into the 21st century from a practical perspective. We need internet access and telephone service. They didn’t expect a four hour slog. How unusual are solid stone walls here? It seems most have a skin/core construction; who knew? How unusual are picky restoration stress-witches who want authenticity and the complete avoidance of plastics/synthetics where possible? Apparently they are unheard of at our budget point. Only grand houses and chateaus require sympathy and the preservation of authenticity. Don’t get me started……

They finally left. A neat job has been done with external wiring and we can now lose the old tv aerial threaded through the window frame (I wonder why…..??). The holes have all been filled.









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La chambre d’amis. Guests at the French house

It’s not easy finding a battery operated light that is bright enough to steer you to the bathroom in the middle of the pitch black, light pollution free nights we have here. We have wiring, but it’s not connected up in the tulip room.

So I draped a beaded glass cover over this plastic mushroom. I hope to distract our imminent guests with the old pencil drawing of a tulip. It would distract me anyway. And I ironed the pillowcases too. I vacuumed the cobwebs and checked for loose rubble amongst the stone walls above. And what if there are all the components of a wooden staircase stacked under the bed?

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