Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas 2010

Well after my last post about the balmy weather the snow God obviously heard me and decided to sprinkle a few centimetres of the white stuff over us just before Christmas. This is unheard of here and so promptly caused a 19 hour power cut on Christmas Eve.

Fortunately power was restored in time for me to cook Christmas dinner. We also managed to get the satellite dish connected so we had TV over Christmas. Inspired by Gordon Ramsay does Christmas, we had scrambled egg and smoked salmon on toasted croissants for breakfast and then went for a walk. Most of the snow had melted by this point but there was enough to create the feel of a white Christmas.

The rest of the day was spent eating and resting. For the first time in many years we didn’t have to worry about how much we drank because we didn’t have to drive various parents everywhere.

On Boxing Day (not a holiday in France) we went for a longer walk around the lake and visited some neighbours. It was all very non commercialised and low key.

As we now have a ceiling in the dining room we have decided to have a New Years Eve party amid the building site. It has given us a focus to work towards in our endeavours to make the place feel comfortable and we are looking forward to welcoming our English neighbours to see in the New Year with us.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

In transit

We are slowly making progress into our new life in France. For a start, the snow and freezing temperatures seem a bit of a distant memory as we bask in daytime temperatures of 12 degrees. The other thing that seems different is the daylight. We are no longer surrounded by buildings, we are few hundred miles further South and the clocks are an hour ahead so although it has been grey at times it hasn’t had the oppressiveness of the greyness in England.

We now have a warm room to sit in, our clothes are sorted (nice clothes packed away in boxes and thermals, work clothes and wellies are unpacked), we have a warmish kitchen, an area that has potential as a dining room space, Internet (except for two days when we didn’t have it!) and now we have TV via a satellite dish temporarily installed on the end of the terrace.

On a spiritual level I am not entirely here. I still dream of packing up, dangerous journeys and not reaching my destination but last night I was in France in my dreams for the first time. I have not entirely finished all my business in England and have a long way to go before I have things set up here (Governments don’t understand this, expecting you to be either resident in once place or another; they don’t understand that you can be in-transit for a while even if your body is in one place.)

The cat also seems a bit in-transit as well. Some days he is bold and runs out exploring his new environment, getting muddy and excited; and some days like today he prefers to sleep under the bed all day.

But, at the end of the day I can sit and watch Herman’s sheep as they make their way across the field in search of warmer and lusher pasture, and look out at the tidy wintry field that is South West France.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The shortest day

It is the shortest day of the year in a few days and one of the main things I notice is that there is just that bit more daylight than further north. It is 5.30 pm and I have just taken this photo of the sun dipping behind the trees. Now, as I look out of the window it is almost night. Dusk does not hang around here for long.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


God it's cold in the kitchen! With a temperature of 1.7 degrees I have to dress up in thermals to cook the dinner! Main problem is the butance gas freezes at 4 Celcius so it is a race to get the dinner cooked before the temperature falls! Once on the plate the distance from the kitchen to the dining table is enough to cool down the dinner considerably! Mandi the cat decided that today he wouldn't venture out of the warmth of the bedroom and really, we should have done the same!

Early days

The first few days here have been spent acclimatising to the change in environment. For a start, we are now ‘camping’ in one room, with the rest of the house looking like a building site! (And now full of our possessions in boxes and packing, spread randomly around).

We have arrived to typical winter weather. The nights are cold and clear; going down to minus 5 or 6, and the days are sunny and crisp. The contrast in temperatures between first thing in the morning and the evening requires maximum flexibility in terms of clothing and heating.

When we arrived the temperature in the bedroom was 6 degrees and in the kitchen around freezing. With our heating we managed to get the bedroom up to a comfortable 18 and now it feels quite comfortable. However, the kitchen was 0.1 degrees this morning and I can only cope with 10 minute spells at the moment!

However, the positive thing is that washing dries on the line in two hours! Unheard of in the UK.

Plan is to finish the kitchen ceiling and insulate it as soon as possible so that we can get some heat in there!


Sunday, 12 December 2010

We made it.

When I asked people here how their move went they all sighed and said pretty much the same thing. "Well we made it". It's only now that I can fully appreciate what they meant!

We made it but the journey was long and stressful! We were still packing the trailer at midnight on Thursday and putting the last things in the van as we were due to leave the following morning but somehow we made it onto the ferry and heaved a sigh of relief. We drove in convoy with Ian only managing 55 mph (less uphill) and me behind with the cat. We kept in touch using walkie talkie radios. Friday we stayed in a nice hotel but collapsed into bed and passed out. We overslept the following morning but continued our drive southwards by mid morning and got here, finally at 8.00pm.

So we are here and keep having to remind ourselves that we don't have to go back

I will write more details as the days progress but for now we are resting!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

One step closer

Today we drove up to London to collect the trailer. The snow here has gone but from Crowborough northwards it was still there beside the road with a most spectacular hoar frost through the Ashdown Forest. On the way there we stopped off to get rid of some scrap metal we had collected in the course of our work. I have never been to a scrap metal yard before and it felt very much like a scene from Mad Max minus Mel Gibson. The old copper and lead pipe paid for the fuel we used today.

The car park by Ian's garage was covered in a thick sheet of ice, so prising the trailer from its cave was a long job, involving a lot of digging, scraping and heaving. It was a hectic day but eventually we got here with the trailer and managed to park it outside the house. Tomorrow we start packing!

Monday, 6 December 2010

D (for departure) Day

Well, we've gone and done it! We've booked the ferry crossing for Friday morning. Over the past week the house has got emptier. Yesterday I gave away my bed frame and now we are sleeping on the floor. This evening the dining table and chairs went to a good home.. The kitchen is half packed, most of my clothes are in a suitcase and the cat has definitely realised that something is up!

We have no snow here but tomorrow we are driving up to  London the get the trailer, and that is still snowed in. I think we will have to do some digging.

I still don't know whether everything will fit in the trailer, van and car but I suppose we will sort out that problem if and when it happens.

Am I exited yet? Well, I don't really know. Sometimes I feel a twinge but then I think of all the things to do between now and getting on the ferry and I have to put my excitement to one side. Maybe when we are driving to the port I will feel a bit exited?

The journey down will take two days as we are driving slowly and in convoy. Thursday night we are having fish and chips at home, Friday night we are eating in a hotel. The hotel is cat friendly and will let us keep Mandi in the room in his crate.Mandi has a very special travel crate designed for a small dog so that he will have room to move around a little.

By Saturday evening we should be in the house..

Friday, 3 December 2010

Halted by the cold

The limbo continues and our progress has been slowed further by the coldest December that I can remember; with no sign of a let up! I went into town today and was stunned by how cold it felt. I had underestimate the weather and did not have nearly enough jumpers or socks! Tonight the temperature is -8 and there is still 10cm of snow and ice everywhere. We are making good progress with the jobs in the house but desperately need two snow free days to do the necessary outside jobs and then to get and load the trailer. We have not booked our tickets yet but hope to go next Thursday. I have now got rid of most of my furniture and we have packed most of our things. Last night I almost felt exited. If we have a thaw tomorrow and manage to get on with things I will more so.