Monday, 30 March 2009

Woody's sleepless night

The pretty spring primroses and violets on our daily walk through the woods.

The darling baby lambs in the field across the road from our house.

DD's wobbly tooth. At long last it fell out today, leaving a long thread of gummy skin -eugh! She asked me to put this up here for you all to see. Vain or what?

Now, onto the subject of this post. Ask me why the poor dog is lying knackered at my feet! Is it because of that cursed hour they put on the clock Saturday night? No. It's because of my homemade yoghurt experiment. How? Glad you asked me that, I was going to tell you anyway.

To make the yoghurt, we had to add a pot of fresh yoghurt to fresh milk and put it into the six little glass cups, (provided and complete with lids), then leave them in the machine, which then heated them gently so that the milk fermented and made yoghurt. This process takes 7 hours. We started around 5pm and left the milk/yoghurt mixture gently heating in the kitchen, where we completely forgot about it. What I didn't realise was that when the 7 hours was up, an alarm sounded to warn you to unplug the machine. You don't get an automatic cut-out for €12 it seems. Poor Woody had had to listen to this alarm (like a high pitched whistle) from midnight (we go to bed early on school nights) until I got up at 6 am this morning (which of course felt like 5am)! No wonder he's knackered!

Were we able to enjoy freshly made yoghurt for our breakfast this morning? No! The instructions were obviously in French, and we made a mistake between "dessous" (below) and "dessus (above) 20 degrees (the temperature the mixture had to be before you put it in the machine). Therefore the mixture was too cold, therefore we woke up not only to this peculiar whistling sound like a referee was loose in the kitchen, but to milky yoghurt, or yoghurty milk, depending on your point of view. You have to laugh!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Flying Dutchman just flew off!

I guess that was only to be expected. Apparently, Barclays won't lend him the money. Any cash buyers out there?

Moving swiftly on, I bought a yoghurt making machine yesterday (€12) so we're waiting for the milk to go sour as we speak so that we can have lovely, yummy, homemade yoghurts for breakfast tomorrow - I'll let you know how I get on. Unexpectedly, there's also a recipe for home made soy sauce in the recipe book they give you - now there's a thought. I never knew soy sauce was fermented soya beans. Pity they don't sell them here.

I'll come back later with my lovely Spring piccies.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


I was reading an article on saving money in my Femme Actuel last week (a very popular French magazine that I subscribe to) - which said, roughly translated, that many people wasted money on cleaning products, when good old Savon de Marseilles - - was all they needed. This is a much-vaunted soap which, not surprisingly, is made in Marseilles. I saw two enormous bars for 70 centimes in my local cheap supermarket, Leader Price last week, so I bought it. I'm always looking to economise on my shopping, especially in the current financial climate. I pondered for a couple of days or so on the best way to get this enormous bar of soap into a manageable form for putting in the washing machine, before I hit upon the idea of grating it with the cheese grater, which I did. I was delighted that the clothes came out clean, smelling wonderful and feeling softer than after my normal cheap all-temperature liquid wash. What with one thing and another, I didn't have time to wash the cheese grater, so I shoved it in the dishwasher as it's not used that often anyway, and we have another one. Are you ahead of me yet? Read on ...

Dear Son (15) has his girlfriend here for the weekend and they decided to make a little snack they like which involves cutting a croissant in half (the crumbs, the crumbs!) and loading it with ham and GRATED CHEESE before putting it into a hot oven and letting the cheese melt. Of course, they got the grater out of the dishwasher, without washing it, doubtless thinking that the little flakes of soap still attached to it were bits of cheese - well, you would, wouldn't you? They didn't notice anything unusual about the flavour, but I'm just waiting with bated breath for the result! I daren't tell them, of course! Ha, ha, almost a form of revenge for being a complete stranger in my own house all weekend, since the kids all speak French to each other and I haven't a clue what they're saying. This is not the "King's French" you understand (or at least doesn't resemble anything I've ever been taught) it's all delivered in slang and with a dreadful Charentais accent. I'll find out what they've been talking about from Dear Daughter (10) after the weekend is over.

Must go, I've got some more soap to grate!

Friday, 20 March 2009

The sun is shining, the birds are singing

Trouble is, it's bloody freezing! There's a strong wind blowing straight from Siberia today and there isn't much between us and there, apart from the Alps and they don't exactly help matters!

The cleaner came and cleaned today. I bought her a lovely new bottle of floor cleaner which smelt of lavender. So why has she mopped my beautiful shiny tiled floor with bleach? It stinks here just like a swimming pool. I've opened the windows and sprayed air freshener, but you can't shift it. Oh, hap, hap happy day!

Speaking of swimming pools, I'm off soon to Dear Daughter's swimming class, where I help stop the younger kids and those who have not yet mastered the art of staying afloat from drowning themselves. You can laugh, I've had more than one come up for the third time before now! I'm going to shock everybody by wearing my leopardskin bikini (not real fur, don't worry!) as I can't find my usual mumsy black number from M&S. I'll let you know what happens. This could be a laugh.

Very quiet evening planned here tonight, both DS's are out, one with girlfriend, one with friends at a school disco and then staying the night with a "mate". Dear Daughter can be an only child for a change. Hope it doesn't spoil her too much. She's got herself an MSN address now, so I'll probably not see much of her either. At least I've got the dog for company, and I don't mean DH!

Didn't hear anything back from the viewing on Wednesday - and the house didn't stay tidy for long either. It was back to looking a shambles by Thursday lunchtime. I would have blamed the kids, but they were out with their friends, there being no school as a result of the general strike. It's beginning to look like we're to blame after all.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Tidying like mad fools!

Today, we had a couple to view the new house for a change. We're used to spending hours and hours tidying up and showing people round the gites, but today we had to get stuck in this side of the road. I still haven't caught up since the kids were off school! DH tackled upstairs and I did the downstairs. I filled two bin bags with rubbish and stashed and dashed the rest! I'll never be able to find anything now. A middle-aged couple from the "north of France" arrived with the agent ten minutes late as is the way of French people. They walked round for an hour, inside and out; it couldn't have looked any nicer since the sun was on it and the garden had been tidied up too, but they didn't give anything away. She was deadpan, and he asked sensible questions, like how long does it take to cut the grass and how much is the heating bill per year.

That's that then. We'll probably not hear another word from them, but at least the house looks tidy for now.

Took Woody for his vaccination afterwards. I had a job to get him into the vet's, he remembers! Luckily for me, there was a little girl who looked just like Dear Daughter (10) who came out to see what was going on, and he followed her back in as I couldn't have forced him in there, he's much too big and heavy for me! €43 up your shirt! Why do vets assume that as you're English, you keep on nipping back and forth across the channel with the dog? I mean, why would you want to do that? If we go anywhere abroad, usually Spain, we put him in kennels, which seems much more logical to me. I had to talk him out of the "pet passport" with rabies injection at an extra €16!

Whilst I was there, I made an appointment for next Wednesday to have the youngest kitten, Shadow, castrated. Might make him less inclined to fight with the other three older, wiser and also castrated cats!

That's it for now, I have to go and get Dear Daughter (10) back from her friend Lucie's house, where she slept last night. It's seemed dreadfully quiet without her. The rest of the family are no company whatsoever - all they ever talk about is rugby! Dear Son (15) is here with his girlfriend cooking some pasta in the kitchen (they'd better not mess it up!) (they will!!) They make a lovely couple, but her mum has remarked that they're seeing a bit too much of DS, so we're taking a turn. It occurred to me that they might as well be wed since they see each other every day at school, text each other constantly and whilst they do their homework, they have MSN with webcams so they can look at each other. It wasn't like that in my day when lads ran the risk of my dad answering the phone if they tried to ring me! No mobiles in those days!

Speaking of mobiles, Dear Son (14) replaced his yesterday, it cost €269 out of his savings for his scooter (that's been put off for a while now), but it does clever things like plays games with dice which move when you shake it. You can even make phone calls on it! I'll give it a week before he loses his stylo!

I'm rambling, must get on, and more importantly, let you get on!

Well, you said you missed me!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

It's been a while!

Wow, I'm sat sitting here all alone, Dear Daughter (10) having gone to her friend's house for a sleepover, and DS's both still at school feeling all, well, alone! Things with Dear Son (15) have at last settled down and the "smoking" incident has been downgraded to "minor misdemeanour" rather than full scale addiction. He made tea last night - spaghetti carbonara which went down a treat. It's definitely a keeper. I'm listening to a presentation on the "Dawah Technique" to see if I want to bid to transcribe it. Trouble is, the speaker keeps lapsing into Egyptian! Here is the link, just click on a CD and you'll get an idea of what I mean. There are over 30 hours of audio, don't think I'll bother, I'd hardly be able to get out of bed in the morning if that was all I had to look forward to.

Spring has finally and at last arrived, along with Lesley's birthday (Happy Birthday!!! How old would that be then?) Sorry, went off subject then. We have beautiful blue skies, warm sunshine and flowers in bloom, it makes life worth living! Watch somebody spoil it.

Speaking of spoiling things, the bank in France has lost a cheque we paid in back in January! How is this possible? I just had the bloke on the phone saying they can't find it, as if I could come and help him somehow. We're sat sitting here between Barclays bank and the Credit Agricole in Saujon who between them have £1500 of our money and do they apologise? Oh, no, they just bounce cheques and standing orders and then have the cheek to charge us interest on the negative balance. How do I stay so cheerful?

We have yet more people to see the gites - we're still showing people round until things are definitely signed, sealed and delivered. Be funny if they want it! We've also got some French people coming tomorrow to see the big posh house. We put it up for sale last summer in desperation since the gites weren't moving and then promptly forgot about it, the market being so slow. We could end up selling the lot, then where would we go? That'd be an interesting problem to have....

I'll try to get more into a blogging routine and not leave it so long next time.