At times it feels like we are making slow progress and it can be somewhat daunting to think of all the things we need to do, many jobs needing to be undertaken at the same time.  But this week we seem to have gained some control in some areas around the house and garden….

An Open Door

Since moving into La Biochère, we discovered that we are missing a key for one of the three doors that face the courtyard – it’s the one that leads into the living room.  While we can still gain access to the house through other doors, it was bothering us that we couldn’t open it, especially as we are coming into winter and it may need some draught-proofing.  So, we went to see M Ory and he gave us the name of a chap in St Pierre-sur-Orthe, who previously fitted the windows to the house.  He also gave us the name of an electrician, who would be able to help Edward sort out the electricity supply to his workshop…..

On a local outing, we popped into see M Lebreton, the carpenter, to tell him about the problem with the door and asked him to come out to have a look.  Surprisingly, he offered to come first thing the next morning, and, as we’d asked him where M Fouquet, the electrician, lived, he said he’d call him to tell him that he may have a new customer and that he may well come with him in the morning!  Edward said afterwards, ‘It’s like Trumpton here!’  He’s not wrong, in the nicest possible way – everything seems to be more joined up and logical – people work together – how radical is that?!

M Lebreton arrived at 8.30am, as promised.  M Fouquet wasn’t with him but turned up about 10 minutes later, on his way to a job, to assess Edward’s workshop and arranged to come back next week.

In the meantime, M Lebreton fitted a new lock for the door and came and sat with us for a cup of coffee and a chat afterwards.  It’s such a nice way of working and it allows us to get to know people at the same time.  Turns out, La Biochère was used as a venue for parties such as weddings, anniversaries, etc.  It was really interesting to learn more about it and it explains why everyone about seems to know the place so well!  And we now have a door that opens with 5 keys to boot!!

Strimming duty

We have a bank bordering the property just before we drive into the courtyard.  I had planned to sow a seed mix of summer flowers along here, to add colour and to give us time to plan more permanent planting at a later date.  Unfortunately, although the vendors had done a good job in keeping the weeds down, over the last couple of months they have put on a real spurt and it was beginning to look unkempt and unsightly, never mind an even bigger job to sort out the seed bed…

So Edward got the petrol strimmer working for me and while he was busy fitting new electric sockets inside the house, I strimmed the bank and other areas of the garden – it was a messy job….

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A visit from M Ory

Our lovely neighbour, M Ory, came to see us the other afternoon, apparently to thank us for some flowers we had left with his wife, to say thank you for all his help lately.  As always, it was so nice to see him and he came inside for a cup of tea, yes, he has gamely tried drinking our English tea when he comes to visit, as we drink his coffee when we visit him!

We told him about finding the stone steps at the end of the terrace and showed him the big stump of the cherry laurel that Edward cut down…. The next thing we know, he has offered to come back with his tractor to help pull out the stump, which he said would be better than trying to cut it out…

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What an absolute star!  He’d even brought his chain-saw, just in case…

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After several attempts and broken chains, M Ory did some expert chain-sawing- on the stump – success!!

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We’ll need to reset a couple of the steps but what a great help M Ory was – it would have taken us weeks to hand-saw that stump out, which even the chain-saw struggled to cut through 🙂

Tea urn??!

Edward decided we needed to set the urn we purchased for the courtyard onto a plinth, so over a couple of days, he set to making a concrete base, which he then topped with flags to match the urn….

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Of course, it wasn’t long before I had it planted up with bulbs, heathers, violas and a pretty Pittosporum

Then we decided that even when the courtyard is re-gravelled, it still needed something else to set it off and we thought an oval bed around it would be just the ticket….

In actual fact, we had several jobs going on at the same time – one thing seemed to lead to another, as it often does here!

The first barrow-loads of soil came from the bank where I had discovered the stone steps and from where the laurel stump had been removed, but these wouldn’t be enough to fill the bed.  So, I enlisted Edward’s help to dig out soil from the bank you can see in the background, which had just been strimmed, to start the process.  Several cups of tea later and there was enough soil to fill the bed – it was full of weeds, so my job was to sift them all out ready for it being planted up.

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Since the bank looks like it has slumped somewhat over the years, Edward stayed to set some of the big stones we have around the place to hold in the soil… it was heavy work but the results aren’t half bad….

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And the island around the urn is taking shape too….

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Oh, and I almost forgot, I’ve edged the lawn too – all I need to do now is weed the rest of the courtyard and we’ll really have things under control!!!

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Bats in the belfry?

Well, not quite (!) but we do have them in the barns….

 

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This little critter is a brown bat and is roosting in what will eventually be my studio.

 

Life with a cow whisperer

Edward has a little following of cows.  Two-triple five hasn’t been seen for some time, not since she had a calf but Two-six-seven-nine seems to have taken her stead and calls Edward when she wants more apples and now follows him around the field…

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So, when Edward is nowhere to be seen, I can bet my bottom dollar he is out talking to the cows and feeding them our windfalls….

Impromptu day off

It has been unseasonably mild of late, even for this region of France and on Wednesday we decided to take advantage of the good weather and explore some of the area.  We’d thought about having a walk in the nearby woods of Sillé le Guillaume but instead had a walk around the town itself.  It was quite lovely, even in the mist that rolled in… The view from the church steps was quite lovely across the roof tops and the chateau was very picturesque.

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We found the train station and plan to have a train ride into Le Mans sometime soon.

Coffee on the terrace in town finished the visit off nicely 🙂

 

Progress inside the house

Sometimes it feels like its one step forward and two steps back.  Having finished the dining room area (bar the inside of the door), I thought redecorating the living room area would be relatively quick but I hadn’t banked on the level of preparation work that was required….

So everything was moved out of the way but there doesn’t seem to be much to show for a day’s work…

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Edward, in the meantime, has done a great job of restoring the chandelier we bought from the brocante at Fresnay, a few weeks ago..

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After he’d installed it, we’d left the window open to let some air into the room (I’d been spray-painting the old radiator).  In the kitchen, I heard a noise coming from the living room – on opening the door we saw a great tit, bold as brass, fly from the chandelier and out the window !!  Cheeky little bugger J

A few more days and the living room should be finished – just in time for Christmas and putting up the decorations!!

Two peas in a pod

The other evening, Colin came in and perched on the arm of the chair that Jim was occupying.  I said to Edward – ‘… they’re quite similar, aren’t they’, to which he replied, ‘yep, they’re black and they’re cats….’  I think that about sums it up!!

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Sunday, a day of rest – not at La Biochère!

It was breezy but dry and the sun came out for most of the day.  We were keen to get on with what we’d started – I wanted to finish the centre island bed around the urn and Edward wanted to get the kitchen work-top cut out for the sink and hob…

Once I’d started putting retaining stones around the urn for the flower bed, it sort of looked like an oval, but not quite!!  It took further help from Edward and a measuring tape to get it right!  It also took me well into the afternoon to finish sifting the weeds out of the soil that Edward had dug out of the bank and fill the bed, but it was all starting to take shape…

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Jim kept an eye on things….

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By late afternoon, the bed was finally full of soil…  Now time for planting it up…. Hellebores, grasses, arum lilies and Libertia formosa form the structure and in between I’ve planted miniature daffodils, tulips and celandines to add some spring colour – hopefully they will complement those in the urn…

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So now we have something to look at in the foreground, as well as the views across to the lime tree and beyond 🙂

Communications update

Not really much to say here.  It looks like we are in a ‘white zone’ where internet via cable isn’t possible.  Valerie is looking into further possibilities and we are investigating as much as possible too.  We have several possible options, the most likely being that we connect via satellite, for both the phone and the internet, we shall have to see.  Although, just today, at the Maire’s office, we were told that internet at La Biochère should be possible…. In the meantime, thank goodness for McDonald’s free wi-fi!! ♥