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  • Writer's pictureCatherine

Winter is Coming

I know I say it every time, but this month has flown by. I don’t understand how quickly the days can pass and that we’re already entering Autumn. It was only a week or two ago that we were going through the heatwave and enjoying the long summer nights, now it’s starting to get colder and the nights are getting shorter.

It’s been a hard month as there’s been a lot of waiting and we’re still not in the house. The good news is that we now have taps installed and after waiting a couple of weeks with just cold water, we now have hot water! Who knew it could be so exciting?! The chimney for the fire was installed and Magali made the first fire so we could test it out and it all works, great to know as the colder nights are quickly encroaching in on us. The woodworkers started making the cabin for our compostable toilet but were missing some wood and as they’re currently short staffed, we’ve been waiting for two weeks for them to finish it which is quite annoying as it means we can’t use the toilet until it’s done. They returned last week to fix our wooden floor where the builders had dropped some of the old chimney during the demolition of it as well as adding the bits where we’ve gained spaced in the wardrobes due to the chimney being removed. We asked them to reuse the old wood we’d removed from the bedroom that's now the living room so that we’re not wasting it and it looks really good. They also finally installed our toilet window glass that we were missing and they're finishing the cabin today as well as sanding all the wooden floors. Once that’s done, we can apply the linseed oil we bought to protect it and then we’ll be ready to move in!

As we’ve been waiting, we’ve been working hard. We’ve finished the last two bedrooms (with the help of Jean-Guy) so everywhere is now painted! We’ve also finished the tiling of the bath, we even made a trap to access the pipes underneath the bath so we’re super proud of how great it looks. Magali also put all the silicon around the bath so we can have a bath now! We’re still deciding on how we’ll finish the shower tiling but that’s not urgent so we have a little time to make that decision. We’ve installed all the door handles on the new doors since they’re now all painted, I removed them from all the old doors, Magali sanded them and polished them and I attached them, they look really great and so happy we didn’t buy the ugly new handles that's now the fashion here in France.

We’ve been working a lot in the garden too, not just harvesting our yummy tomatoes, courgettes, green beans and strawberries that we started growing this year but also planting new seedlings for the next season, so mainly kale, purple sprouting broccoli and romanesco. We haven’t had much luck with them over the summer, they’re constantly being eaten by flea beetles so hopefully we won’t have that problem in the colder months. We’ve tasted some of the cornichons we pickled last month, they’re slightly too vinegary, like stick in your throat vinegary, so we’ve tried two other recipes and we’ll see how they go! We’ve also been harvesting our peaches and pears, giving loads away to the family so they can make compote and cakes as we can't make them yet in the house. We harvested nuts and wild blackberries but now that the season is over for them, we’re starting to cut back some of the trees that we lost during the storms over the summer as well as coppicing the hazelnut trees to harvest the wood so we can use it for our compost heap structure as well as shaping them for how they’ll grow next year.

There was lots to do this month with the big Vide Grenier in Segré on the first of the month, we’re still in search of lights and things for the house but we only came away with beer from the Alpaca brewery. There was open doors at the apple farm not far from us at Chaussée where we visited the trees, learnt about their processes as well as talking to some of the locals. They also had a food truck (Picnic Box) that was run by an English couple so it was nice to chat to them, as well as enjoying their yummy burgers. We went to the cinema for the first time since we arrived to see Tarantino’s latest, it was nice to do something that we used to do a lot in London but a little strange that it had French subtitles and we had to drive to get there, something that we’re still getting used to. It was also Patrimone weekend, where lots of historical buildings and sites open their doors so the public can learn about French history. On Saturday, we visited the Chateau de la Lorie in Segré as well as dabbling in some archery and on Sunday, we visited the Chateau La Douve in Le Bourg D’Ire (so not far from our house) which was the first time they’d ever opened their doors to the public. Both chateaus were beautiful and it was great learning about the history of them, even though I didn’t understand everything. My French is getting better though and a lot of people have been commenting on how much better it is. My lessons with Claude twice a week are obviously helping a lot! It was Magali’s birthday who is now another year closer to crazy cat lady! We went out for a lovely lunch at L’Ecluse in Grez-Neuville, a little restaurant on the side of the Mayenne with a view of the lock. It was super delicious and we had a great time. In the afternoon, we cut trees in the rain and some of the family came for Paté aux Prunes and sparkling rosé to celebrate with us. This weekend we’ll be celebrating with some friends as well as going for lunch with Magali’s parents. A birthday should never just be a day!

The other big news is that Magali has a job! She’s found a part-time job at La Verrière, a restaurant in St Gemmes that we’d been to earlier in the summer. She’s working just the lunches during the week for two weeks every month, just easing herself back into the job market…. I’m still trying to find one, it’s quite hard on the ego getting lots of no’s and it’s hard to keep my spirits up in the face of so much rejection. I’m keeping at it though and hopefully the right job will come along soon.

I’m still counting the days until we can move in, we’re spending more and more time in the house, having all our meals and evenings in it. The only problem is that as the windows aren’t fully finished, there are little holes that the smaller and more acrobatic insects can get through and as the evenings get colder, the more they’re trying to come in, from giant fucking spiders to mosquitoes to moths (which are the only thing Bowie catches and eats!). On the top of our to do list for next month is: oil all the windows and floors; clean and move in all the furniture; sand, oil and install the skirting boards; move in; and Martina is coming to visit!!!!!!

A bientôt!


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