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.

Posted in Food and wine, Renovation and restoration diary- France | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

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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Interesting food and drink available in La France

OK, what are these?

Most mysterious variety of veg on the seed display. Wonder if they will go well with this bottle of Blanquette given to us by our remaining neighbours, with flakes of gold leaf in it!?

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All manner of pretty things

You are going to see lots of posts like this.

If you aren’t keen, look away now; I am not at all offended if you un-follow or un-friend me or whatever it is you can un-do.

In the middle of French house restoration nightmares and dust and detritus, I need to open some boxes and look at stuff, even if I can’t put everything up, away or in it’s proper place yet.

This box has panels of patchwork Chinoiserie embroidery for bed drapes in terrace room, the hand mirror from my silver dressing table set, hand made beads, some silk tassles and tie-backs and the heavy damask door curtain for the tulip room.

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What a day!

It’s glorious here in le vrai sud de France weatherwise; perhaps not the ideal day for running around.

Down to the dechetterie with renovation detritus, all super-heavy. Then had we to get three big solid twelve foot roof joists down two flights of twisty stairs to the cave.

Answer? Tie a rope around them and lower from second floor into courtyard. Avoiding windows of course.

Then race to Carcassonne to pick up chest of drawers that is in a blog-buddy’s way and as she was kind enough to save it for us for weeks, we needed to pick it up asap.

Then back to move stuff around in cave and check on whether shower room door is “setting”.

Handy  hint- Trev experimented with biscuits rather than wood dowels/pegs on his second hand-made door. Unsuccessful so all had to come apart and be drilled and dowelled.

Just use pegs, guys


Posted in Renovation and restoration diary- France, What we did, how we did it and what we used | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments