Monday, 31 January 2011

Job done!

The hall, stairs and mezzanine are now well and truly painted.

We weren't that far out with our estimate of  paint quantities: we used a total of twenty two litres to complete walls and ceiling, but we under estimated the amount of masking tape required, using approximately two hundred metres of the stuff!

Things we learned in the course of the work:
  • French masking tape is better than the English equivalent and worth the bit extra that it costs. 
  • A broom handle makes a perfectly adequate extension to your average paint roller handle.
  • The telephone/mobile/door bell are guaranteed to ring when you're up to the elbows in paint.
  • The only time you spill paint is when you don't have a damp cloth handy.
  • One-Coat paint isn't.
  • The roll of masking tape will always run out 15cm from the end of the skirting board.
  • The time the kettle takes to boil is in inverse proportion to the time the paint on your brush takes to dry out
  • It is not true that a couple cannot decorate without arguing; the secret is a large house, even larger garden and an empty grenier.
Well, what's next on the decorating merry-go-round???

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Christening the Potager

Yesterday we did our first planting in the potager!

Using these simple tools the soil broke up beautifully after Monsieur Bourreau's fine ploughing.

 It was a perfect day for transplanting all the raspberry canes and assorted currant bushes.

These were soon planted and watered in from the well.

 We look forward to seeing them fruit later this year - hopefully!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Our garden birds

Yesterday we noticed another new visitor to the garden - a Goldfinch, who loved the niger seeds.

This prompted us to get out the camera and in the course of the day we spotted all of the following:

One of the many Bluetits who eat us out of house and home.... looking through the kitchen window for more!

 Then came another newcomer, the Brambling

Surprisingly this one was ringed but unfortunately we couldn't get close enough to read it.

It's colourful plumage is really attractive.

And now some group photos:


The Brambling was perfectly at home with all the other birds

Bluetit, Female Chaffinch and Brambling

And here's another one flying in!
This pair of Collared Doves settled on the rose arch, which seems very fitting...

 The Jay is very timid despite it's size

Now a daily visitor, the Nuthatch has a voracious appetite...

The chaffinches are happy to venture close to the house

Whilst the thrush chose to stay at a distance

At one point we had four thrushes feeding all together but we only managed to catch two of them on camera

One of our rarer birds to visit the garden is this female Goldcrest

This lovely little bird stayed in the dappled shade of the tree but we could still see her striking gold crest from which she gets her name. The crest of the male is orange in colour.

 Seen next to the bluetit her tiny proportions are revealed

These were some of today's visitors. We also had the Siskin, Robin, Blackbird, Green Woodpecker, Wren, Tree Sparrow, Dunnock, Starling and Kestrel.

Quite a collection!! And all from the kitchen window.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Amazing Growth

We have had the tape measure out a lot recently and not for measuring our waistlines..

We bought some narcissi bulbs in the New Year sale at Homebase in Preston and brought them back with us to France, still in bulb only state, on January 9th.

As it was already a bit late in the day for planting them we got them in compost on January 10th. From then on the rate of growth has been amazing. I took this picture for the blog on 19th January, and as you can see the plants had already grown considerably.

They now stand an amazing 28 inches tall (I'm still working in old money!) and are in full bloom..

Thank you Homebase!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

How do you ask for masking tape?

It's been raining today but as we've begun the next stage of our decorating we had rather more pressing concerns.....

When we were last in the UK we stocked up on decorating supplies as we've found the cost of paint in particular to be much higher here in France. Having come back with 25 litres of the stuff we are now anxious to confirm that we've got enough to complete the job.

The 'job' in question is the hall, stairs and mezzanine area... And now that we've got most of the first coat done we can relax a bit about the paint.

Colin starting on the corridor

This was pretty run-of-the mill stuff but because there are so many doors leading off, it was painstaking work.

Then came the more dramatic stuff...

The hallway is double height going up to the mezzanine and as we've not got scaffolding there was only one thing for it

Colin as we know him best... up a ladder without a paddle!
The configurations of ladder and Colin were endless. 

I didn't even dare to show the balancing act going on here!

But by the end of today we were had most of the worst bits done (note the casual use of 'we' there??)

That's when we ran out of masking tape. And how do you ask for masking tape?

Well after a hard day's decorating, you don't. You take the old rolls to the local DIY place and say "Comme ça, s'il vous plait?" A simple solution that works every time!

To be continued.....

Monday, 24 January 2011

A real basket case!

Elizabeth is 'branching' out.... (see for background)

Willow waste paper basket

Perhaps she should 'stick' to her 'roots' instead of going out on a 'limb'...... It'll send her 'bark'ing mad!

........There's a trunk load of others (some are real chestnuts) but it needed trimming for publication!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Hungry Nuthatch on the balls!

The latest visitor to the 'all-you-can-eat' buffet has certainly entered into the spirit of things. 

The nuthatch (sitta europaea) was a little shy and flighty at first but as you'll see from the video this soon changed! He even poses for the camera now but you certainly would NOT want to mess with his beak !!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Local wanderings

A little bit of background on the area around Braye-sous-Faye...

Braye is a small village of 340 inhabitants in the Centre region of France, in the département d'Indre-et-Loire, in l'arrondissement de Chinon and the canton of Richelieu and that's just for starters!

The area is made up of arable farmland, growing everything from sunflowers to maize, and acres of woodland, in which the local hunt are active at this time of year. Fortunately for us their presence is well marked with "Chasse en cours" signs so when we're out walking we know where not to go.

Another rather more unusual sign we've come across is this:

I don't think you'd want to mess with that one!

Despite these warnings there is plenty of scope for walking in the area. On our doorstep we have le Bois de Gigny, Le Bois du Fougeray, le Bois Robin and le Bois de Beauregard, all with numbered paths, or sentiers pedestres. In addition we are not far from the Parc de Richelieu . The Parc is approximately 475 hectares and its perimeter wall extends7 kilometres, at times coming within 400m of the house

To give a hint of the terrain, here are a few photos taken during the last month on walks out from home.
Going from the village in the direction of Braslou, the lane takes you past hedgerows of spindle -berry.

These attractive berries look even more so when in a large cluster..

Or when touched by the frost:


Turning off to the left the path leads through the Bois de Gigny. I disturbed a roe deer (thanks to Susan for helping with that one!) which took off into the depth of the wood leaving little chance for me to get a photo of it.
With 20/20 vision, a good magnifying glass and a vivid imagination you should just be able to make it out!

The path is sheltered from and the dappled shade gives a lovely quality of light

Further on the path opens out to reveal the magical views of the Bois du Fougeray. Here the trees are planted in a strict grid pattern which catches the eye from every angle and plays tricks with perspective and distance. It comes as such a surprise after the more dense woodland of the Bois de Gigny.


Then the lane runs alongside farmland and woodland rich in flora and fauna

Many of the trees are prey to the parasite, mistletoe, which doesn't appear to be as sought after here in France as it is in England

You see it everywhere you go in the countryside.

The route home takes us past the chateau at Poulesse, which was where we saw the warning about vipers displayed.

Looking over the field our house can now be seen! Quite a difference from the tree enclosed place we show at the top of the blog page!

And so it's back home again to Braye-sous-Faye and to the house that has already given us so much joy, fun and laughter, La Croix Blanche!