Christmas again….. Tuesday, Dec 25 2018 

It’s been a long year,mostly good but with a number of disappointments.

The wood-burner was not used until that cold snap in November & seems to be worth all the agro of getting it installed…though I do wonder how people can afford them when they have to buy wood, they positively eat up logs at an alarming rate & are labour intensive !

Thank goodness I am self sufficient in wood…

The weather though was just perfect with a long hot summer & an exceptional autumn,with an abundance of blueberries, plums & walnuts.


View from landing window.DSCF8817DSCF8826

Another set of double doors were fitted to the front of house, over the oak front door this time.This to allow light into the house whilst keeping out the elements, birds,cats leaves etc. It has made such a massive difference to the atmosphere of that room, now with 3 sets of  French windows letting in sunlight…

This now completes the doors & windows,….all 6 sets of French doors are finished. I will say, the house seems to be noticeably warmer for the double glazing.

The next challenge is the roof … which is turning into a real challenge.

As I want to switch from thatch to slate, I suspect this is the problem for roofers.

I have contacted 7 roofers via email in reply to their adverts.

Four did not respond. One asked for a photo of the roof to save him coming to view it , another made an appointment but didn’t turn up & the last one replied saying ‘busy until next year’…….. I replied saying that suited me as it wasn’t urgent,but no further response came !!!

I am assuming this is because I was too honest in telling them the roof is  presently thatched ?

Wait until I tell whomever agrees to do the job that I have plans for some modern glass  roofing panels or even a part lantern ridge, photovoltaic solar tiles & a weather vane. :-))




Naturally all depends on cost,but in the meantime I continue to search for find a willing victim.

Soooo, in the meantime standby by for another saga on the trials of trying to find willing workers in France ………..

The Saga of the Woodburner…… Finally Wednesday, May 30 2018 

It’s 99% complete…6 months on !

Last November after months of trying I placed an order for this very expensive stove for my TV snug…well actually not an expensive stove but the whole package was.                                            I’d contacted dozens of manufacturers & fitters & received just 3 replies …such is life in France.

The company I chose had all the info needed on their website & even the prices clearly displayed.Later removed.                                                                                                                     Whilst they were the most expensive of the 3 companies , their ‘devis’ had more details, the salesman ,although he got my name & address wrong & could not find the house,he seemed efficient……. I should have known this was an omen, but I signed away €4,200

I waited the obligatory 2 months for the big day to arrive but my excitement soon faded.

The men duly arrived [an hour late] & no sooner were they inside my gate than they were shaking their heads saying, ‘ NON , ce pas possible’ !   They informed me that, they could not work from my roof as no one told them it was thatched.                                          On my pointing out there was no need as the lane alongside gave them direct access to the chimney sitting right on the gable wall. Next they maintained they could not work from a ladder……cue many phone calls, a long wait & by late morning the arrival of a cherry picker hoist…

This dear reader is how 6 months continued, what should have been 1 day’s work turned into 6 additional visits,3 stove fittings /corrections,3 spring cleans of the house after 3 men pathering in & out on wet days, weeks of waiting for them to order new parts, months of stress, many emails & as I write, still 1 correction to be made plus a magnetic thermostat to be delivered ….. as per the quote.

I won’t bore you with every detail,just a brief outline.                                                                The company having done no research found that after struggling to ram down the flue, conceded defeat & that the round flue tubing they brought was the wrong size for my chimney………

I spent all those windy the cold days of winter looking at this, a 6 week [2 weeks they said ] delay for new Oval tubing to be delivered.


Once this new flue arrived,it was fitted from inside the house, no ladder or hoist required.

The company had given no thought to the hearth levels which I’d pointed out from day 1. Their answer to this on the day, was simple [ in their eyes] & without any consultation with me they decided to cut the back legs off the stove.

They went off to lunch, I came in from the garden & saw this.


I could not believe my eyes…….I could have wept…..

Later I noticed they’d damaged the door step wheeling in the heavy cast iron stove & the junior knocked a painting off the hall wall, smashing the glass.

On his visit to bully me into accepting a 2 legged stove, the boss said they’d just solder the legs back on then ! On me pointing out that was not possible with cast iron, things became hostile.He threatened to take the stove & was shocked when I said ‘ Take it’.

He & his mate struggled to get the stove in the boot of their car, I quietly smiled.

A new stove was ordered.

I spent another 4 weeks [2 weeks they said ]  looking at this with a log stuffed into the pipe….this is an open chimney pipe facing the east gable & open to those easterly gales, plus, they’d drilled a socking great hole to the outside for an air vent.


In the meantime still no solutions from the company , I offered & personally altered the hearth levels in preparation, to this….


Now of course the height of the pipe was wrong for the stove to sit with all 4 feet at the same level & so the saga continued with more alterations,yet another team of fitters……the protrusion from the chimney was ugly & had to be amended, it was not at all like the birdcage type normally sees.


I’m cutting out the following couple of months as it was more of the same, a company stumbling from one disaster to another.

I’m now showing you what I have today.I doubt I shall ever get final closure, the company at present seem to be ignoring me, but due to my own work & perseverance, I think it does look nice……

I still want to decorate the back plate but ……. to have got this far seems like a minor miracle ! DSCF8495

It’s been a long time….. Monday, Feb 6 2017 

But here I am alive & kicking in 2017.

Christmas was overall dire, for the first time in years I decided to stay home,this proved to be a bad decision. Too many happenings to list,but the worst had to be no phone & no internet for 18 days. Imagine not being able to contact or speak to loved ones at all 🙂

Since then I’ve been busy with more artistic creations.

For sometime I’ve been looking at a window shelf which was in fact useless.All my windows open inwards so a shelf is redundant on the south side where windows are opened daily.

This is a window which get lots of sun so, I’ve cut out the wood,dropped the level & made it a window seat.


I was so lucky to find a genuine Kilim the exact size I needed.


Needless to say the paint brushes came out again too ! After much deliberation  & fed up with grey stone I did paint the inside of 2 archways , you wouldn’t believe how different & bigger it feels as one walks through.


Next, I’ve really indulged myself in a canvas painting. 🙂  I know I’m no artist but……have always wanted a large painting on a wall in my big room,so set to & painted a Rooster, a French symbol & I’ve also found an icon for a number of things dating back to the middle ages.

Only when I was well into it did I find that 2017 is also Chinese year of the Rooster… coincidentally, my timing is very apt.


So,here I present to you, my Coq de France. Not sealed or hung yet as it’s in oils & I shall have to wait a few months, for drying time, before I can seal it. .


All in all,I’ve enjoyed my winter, there’s nothing more enjoyable than lighting a big fire,loading some Rachmaninov & lots of time to paint.

Soon it will be spring & work outside starts again for another year……..

Well, what an Autumn it has been… Wednesday, Nov 16 2016 

Update on my terrace = Another job finally completed, spring 2018, repointing the main terrace.As you can see it’s no mean feat, on such a large area, but well worth doing.It now  looks & stays clean sans weeds !DSCF8540


Not only the biggest crop of walnuts for years but the beauty of a dry Autumn brought out unbelievable colours.dscf7565


The Walnuts for some strange reason all fell in their green husks,this meant time spent peeling them off when rotted down & washing well,such a slimy horrible job but well worthwhile. The gloves I used, leaked & consequently had to hide my hands for 3 weeks !

dscf7547Walnut stain is like no other & can only wear away.

With all that was finished I added another step,this time for the entrance hall,then set about trying to repoint the crazy paved terrace.p1050240

Sick of weed killing all that came up between the joints I made the most of the dry weather.I managed a third of the area so it’s an ongoing project.


Next up was something I’ve wanted to do for a while,to paint a little piece used as my bedside table.I tried to team it with the wall paper & this is the finished effect.


Not the easiest to photograph.

I also shabby chic-ed my little dressing table,some won’t like it,but I love it ! Maybe I should spend less time on Pinterest. 🙂


There’s many other minor items who’ve had the treatment since I now have bought some white wax & all furniture is now a possible victim.

I think I maybe addicted to paint as I’m now contemplating the purchase of an electric paint gun,this would enable me to paint the wooden ceilings in the kitchen & snug, not the beams just the planks & some of the stone work……


I’m enjoying all this a great deal & so aware of how lucky I am, to be single & not having to consult anyone when making these decisions. Free as a bird . 🙂




Progress…. Wednesday, Sep 7 2016 

So, I did paint fireplace in the snug & now wonder what took me so long ! The dark red stone now a thing of the past.



It’s been a busy two weeks… Saturday, Jul 2 2016 

Tired of climbing a ladder to cut back ivy on this gable end,done twice a year,I decided to strip it all off & rethink the planting at the base.

This took a week to do,some areas pulled off easily in huge mats of ivy,others lower down needed a saw, hammer & chisel to release the thick roots,boy do they grip.Fortunately even after 26 years,the stone work is fine.


Oh what have I started !


Thick ivy roots.


It isn’t the work that’s exhausting it’s the clearing away & dragging all debris over to my bonfire area in the orchard..

Eventually ,all done & look I found the 2 wood corbels of the fireplace,I had no idea they came right through the 3ft thick walls.Surprising after 26 years under damp ivy they’re still rock hard .

At least now some pointing can be done unhindered.


Almost done,much better.Cleaner & tidier. I shall replant the base where I’ve cut down all the Arum lilies ,some will get planted elsewhere & a climbing rose placed at the back.



Next I’ve been experimenting with cement/concrete. I need to upgrade all my paths,so I set about trying to find the best pattern or mould for stepping stones.I’ve used cake moulds,cardboard boxes & even an old frying pan….so far !


Having expected disasters,I couldn’t believe how easy this craft is.The hardest part is lifting the bag of ‘beton’ from the car !!


Just a test


This the very first stone, impressed with a shortbread tin,but not hard enough.


Not sure what I shall do with these little hearts . 🙂


This will become a step for my studio ….once out of the cardboard box !

I Got Him…Her !! Thursday, Jun 16 2016 

Of course this little visitor arrived after the children had left which is a shame,but never the less a thrill for me to see this little treasure.

Those who’ve read my blog know that for the past 5 years I’ve been trying to get a photo of a red squirrel,first spotted scurrying past the conservatory around this time of year,just before the cherries ripen.

Obviously not the same one but sightings have occurred on & off over the years,but not once last year. So, imagine my delight when clear Squirrel damage was evident last week-end,seen here, small half eaten cones & the new shoots bitten off my damaged Italian Cyprus.


Half eaten fir cones/nuts & nipped tree shoots

I spent the next day watching the ground, the tree to see if branches were moving, then decided to take this photo, as I did so I felt bits falling on my back indicating activity in the tree . From then it was a case of not cat & mouse but squirrel & me…..these little mites are like lightning & move at such a speed there’s no time to adjust camera settings etc.

 I put out some walnuts out to see if they would tempt squirrel onto the ground.

Finally the next day walking towards the area I saw this.


Middle of the Step.

I shot inside grabbed the camera & took this next photo from inside the house.



I cannot believe how tiny it is,surely just weaned or is there a family here ?

Of course this all takes place when the grass needs cutting & a mole has surfaced right near this spot !

So there we have it ,there are confident red squirrels in this area,I always wondered why they were not here, but after owning the house for 26 years, with multiple shrubs & trees bearing berries & oaks,beech,walnut,chestnut,hazelnut,many fruit trees,conifers & broadleaf trees,this has to be paradise for them,maybe until now the trees were not mature enough for them ?

Hopefully now the word is out & they will stay.Even during a poor Beech-mast year there’s always other foods available.

Funny thing is, I was so close to taking down this damaged tree during the winter,whilst healthy & growing I couldn’t understand why it had bald patches, maybe this is why ?

Oh & as yet, the walnuts are untouched.


Squirrel up on left.




Next Page »

The Last Refuge

Rag Tag Bunch of Conservative Misfits - Contact Info:

Guido Fawkes

Parliamentary plots and conspiracy


Apple News & Mac Rumors Breaking All Day


living well off the beaten path

Beetles In The Bush

Experiences and reflections of a Missouri entomologist