Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The writing's on the wall ..

Yesterday an email arrived from a pal in England. "How's the gîte going?" she asked "I guess it's pretty quiet at this time of year .."

Well no, actually, it's not. In fact this Thursday we welcome our third winter booking of the year. Not bad when you consider this is the first winter we've owned the gîte. It's been the first winter we've had 'problems', too. Recent guests managed to trip the whole electrical system, pull a curtain rail off the wall and rip out a panel in the kitchen that was secured with three screws! Boy, those guys meant business! Generally, though, things are going swimmingly and we have to keep pinching ourselves that we're actually living in France. On that note, my pal made my smile with her email with a sentence echoed by several of my UK-based mates.  "Let me know when you're back over .." she said "We can go for a drink .."

Hasn't it sunk in yet, dear friends? I live in France now. No really, I do ..

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Poo ..

I love France and the French and everything about them. They have such a pride in their appearance, their food and their 'Frenchness' .. so why on earth don't they pick up their dog poo? It spoils the streets of every big town I've visited so far. It's so odd. I mean, they love their dogs and will happily allow them into bars and restaurants, but they just can't be bothered to clean up after them. After living here for almost four months now, it's just about the only sh*t thing I've come across ..

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Turning over a new leaf ..

New Year trips to the nearby towns of Angoulême and La Rochelle gave me an opportunity to take out the camera - as if it's ever away! - and get some fresh photography under my belt. But instead of shooting 'tourist' shots and happy snaps, I found myself drawn to numerous trees around the towns. I'm not sure why. Perhaps the fact that most of them had no leaves on them made them more sculptural. Maybe it was a photographic acknowledgement that I, like them, have put roots down in France. Or perhaps it was just the plain and simple fact that a photographer never stops 'seeing' photographs and the satisfaction of the composition is enough. Time to turn over a new leaf and stop over-analyzing photography, folks ..

Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 ..

France! There, that's my review of 2017 done and dusted! We started the year here, painting the gîte last New Year's Day, and everything else we've done in the last 365 days has been to do with the country. We've planned our move, survived the whole process of moving, and enjoyed the last three and a half months of actually living here. So yes, as it's the done thing to review one's past year, I really can sum it all up in that one word. So here's to France and our new life of chickens, eggs and brilliant off-road mountain-biking ..

Oh, and a Happy New Year to you and yours, too ..

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The best for Christmas ..

So here it is, Merry Christmas ..

I was delighted to know that some of my new French friends have actually heard of Slade, although the group's famous festive cornerstone never quite made it over here. There's a lot about Christmas that's different for Lesley and I this year - our first in France - but we're really loving it and enjoying the fact that we're a million miles from the rush, hustle and commercialism of our 'normal' Christmases past. In fact, the French are back to normal by Boxing Day and we ourselves have guests in the gîte on the 26th. On that note I'm putting up a shot from my archive - glum looking shoppers outside the window of Boots on Market Street in Manchester, circa 1981 - and just want to say Thank you for reading my blog over the past year, and have a great Christmas .. with or without Slade! ..

(Ps: Just how do you spell Christmases?)

Thursday, 21 December 2017

A bit of a buzz ..

The excitement in the gîte continued yesterday, with the installation of a gorgeous new wood-burner .. just in time for our Christmas guests. Talk about cutting it fine! And now, after the thrill over our selection for the Brittany Ferries brochure, it's time to come back down to earth .. and quite literally too as I saw my first 'dropped glove' of the season. It was a good one as well, featuring as it did this symbol for a recharging point for electric cars. All very modern, don't ya know? Anyway, despite my best efforts to resist, I just had to take a photograph and add it to my 'On the one hand' collection of 462 other shots of dropped gloves! So I'm now at 463! Man, I need help! Trouble is, just like this charge point, it gives me such a buzz ..

(Copyright : Christmas cracker joke 2007!)

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Pushing the boat out ..

I have a bit of spiffing news! Our gîte has been chosen to be included in the Brittany Ferries brochure, for people looking to book an all-in ferry journey and holiday in France. An inspector came to check out our property yesterday and gave us the nod there and then. She was going to take some photographs but realised I was a photographer and went away with a memory stick of my images instead. We'll start to appear on their website by the middle of next month and will be included in the  next brochure which comes out in the middle of next year. We are so delighted. We'd already planned to open a bottle of champers last night to mark our third month of life in France, so you can imagine how much we celebrated this extra bit of fantastic news. (Clue: sore head this morning!)
What a lovely end to an amazing year ..