Each day, it seems, brings some new discovery or experience to our lives here in France….

What’s behind the barn door?

It’s amazing to think that we’ve been here seven months now and some areas still haven’t been explored properly.  The lean-to area of the small barn is one of those areas…

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The doors on this end of the barn would neither open by pulling or pushing.  Not wanting to open a new can of worms, we decided to leave it for the time being, until Wednesday last week…

By crawling through an opening on the other side of the barn, I was able to pick my way carefully through rubble and fallen roof beams to the door, where I discovered it had deliberately been blocked from opening… once opened fully, it became clear why…

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At some point in its history, the lean-to roof had fallen in.  It has a new roof now but it seems the owners decided to leave the devastation inside the barn for another day!  We think that as La Biochère was previously rented as a venue for weddings, parties and accommodation, this part of the barn was sealed for safety reasons.  I think we’ll need hard hats before we start venturing inside – my sister said ‘it needs a bit of a clean’ –  She’s not wrong there!!!

New visitors and a new place to visit

Our second visitors arrived for a few days last week – my sister and brother-in-law, Kitt and Steve.  The weather improved during their stay, which made for a pleasant time for all of us.

As for my parents’ visit, we took them to the Roman ruins and museum at Jublains and the castle at Mayenne, but a bonus trip was to St Suzanne, a medieval town situated about half an hour away, just south of Évron.

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The approach gave impressive views of the old town…

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What a beautiful place… after parking up, we made our way up the hill towards the château and the medieval village…

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Winding, cobbled streets opened onto views of the Marie, flower-covered walkways and tantalising views beyond the village…

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Around the corner, the château came into view…

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Inside the château walls, we could wander around freely, climbing the steps onto the walls themselves to see the surrounding views, which were spectacular…

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Inside the château, for just 4 Euros, there were interactive displays about the surrounding area, countryside and wildlife.  We also watched a film about the development of the Mayenne, from prehistoric times to the present day – fascinating 🙂

Back outside, we had a look around the keep, now just a shell but equipped with modern stairs to allow visitors to see all the way to the top…

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Then we continued looking around the picturesque village….

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…until we came upon an alley way which took us out onto a walk below the curtain wall of the château – more beautiful views and vistas surrounded us….

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It was a good time of year to visit, not many other people were there, apart from a party of school children and we had the whole of the inside of the castle to ourselves – we’ll definitely be back for more!

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The Roman town we’ve visited several times before didn’t disappoint for our day out with Kitt and Steve.  We had lunch at the bistro before heading out to the Roman amphitheatre…

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Again, the views here are stunning and seem to go on for miles…

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Always worth the visit, I’m sure it won’t be our last!!

New work on the house

The new slates were delivered a couple of weeks ago and Kevin and Dave, our friendly builders (!) turned up on Monday to prepare for working on the roof of the house….

We took a walk up the track at the back of La Biochère to have a look, Jim and Mouse in tow….

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As usual, the cows showed and interest in our comings and goings …

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From the field track, it looked like Kevin and Dave were going to make a start on the roof at the back of the house first…

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And after two days, they’ve made great progress…..

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We can’t wait for it all to be finished – what a difference it will make with new tiles and felted underneath 🙂

New life for old slates

I’ve asked Kevin and Dave to keep the old slates for me – they will be useful around the garden, so they’ve carted them into an empty crate…

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and I’ve used some already to fill in the decorative bed I made in front of the small barn…

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I have plans for more to go down on pathways and seating areas around the garden 🙂

And finally….

Just when we thought we’d seen and heard everything we were going to….. The cuckoo is still calling, first heard on the 1 April, we’ve had a deer in the garden, along with the hares and wild boar, the insect life is fascinating from numerous butterflies to gem-like beetles, the verges and meadow are brimming with flowers, including cowslips, orchids, columbine and Solomon’s seal, while the bird life is fantastic – resident wagtails, blue tits, swallows, sparrows and starlings, all nesting in the barn, buzzards regularly fly over and egrets come and visit in the winter.  Mistle thrushes were also common in the winter and we now have several wrens, especially since the young have fledged, along with a Dartford warbler….. Yesterday, we both heard for the first time, a hoopoe calling from the field edge, opposite.  It then came up to the house and I think was on the balcony before it flew away when it saw me – such a distinctive call, we hope it will return soon….. ♥

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