Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Idyllic but not for the Idle!

To be sure, there is a huge difference living in France and summering here. For me France is an Idyll, not reality. It is our escape into a dream where we spend dreamy days, hopefully in the sunshine and surrounded by extraordinarily beautiful countryside and food to die for!

Nevertheless, the maintenance of our ‘Idyll’ is considerable and our little farmhouse and small orchard require The Man a great deal of hard work – which he more or less enjoys – I would bet that at nearly 70 years of age, ‘less’ enjoyment at the necessary jobs that need doing. In addition is the trudge all the way down to the Lot and this year a long period of torrential rain which make it rather difficult to see to the damp wall, a major issue and a roof tile that upon investigation was split in two and easily replaced. The Man has as of an hour or so ago replaced the tile and within a few days will tackle the damp wall, which requires much more extensive work – again on the roof. 

However, I’ve managed to digress from my point that our chosen place of Idyll is one hell of a long drive, that requires at least two overnight stays and leaves us rather exhausted by the end of it. So here are some photos of how the place looked upon arrival:

Everything looks best in the sunshine and the place looked much better than expected. April, May, and June were extremely hot and the result was that the growth of weeds and grass was stilted. In the next day or so we will be buying some hanging baskets of flowers and fill our tubs with geraniums and other annuals such as 'bizzy lizzies' and begonias. 

The Man 'scrubbing' the patio -- so glad I don't get to do this! This year the surface is extremely grubby and taking longer than expected to complete. Of course endless torrents of rain do nothing to speed up the process...

The orchard is its usual mess. The first cut is with something called an 'Allen Sythe', I believe. It has huge teeth in the front that move back and forth as sit 'saws' through the grass. In true Lotois style this machine is at least 40 years old!

Oh Ugh! Not again. This problem confronts us every year. This wall backs directly on to the neighbouring farmer's 'atelier' and the problem is the guttering between the two roofs. The Man attempted to solve the problem last year -- obviously to no avail -- What looks like it might be 'mold' is not, but where The Man has scraped of the wet plaster and paintwork in the first step to trying to dry out the wall -- not easily done when it's constantly pouring down rain!!!


However, the living room is snug and dry and the fireplace is working perfectly. Last night, the perfect relaxing end to a busy day. Maybe next week sunshine will prevail ... More anon, an Internet connection providing!


  1. Hello Katherine:
    We were so pleased to reach the end of this post and to see the interior of your lovely sitting room where, in contrast to the damp wall and the knee high grass of the orchard, all looks serene and comfortable.

    How lovely to have this attractive house in what is clearly an idyllic situation but, as you point out, there is always a price attached to everything. In this case the very long car journey followed by routine maintenance on arrival.

    We do hope, though, that the sun will shine for you shortly and that you will enjoy a wonderful summer in your idyll.

  2. Oh, lovely pictures of your gorgeous little corner of France, Broad! Sorry you've got the rain too, but looking at the dry grass in your orchard it seems to have been needed after the months of drought. Hope The Man can sort out the wall problem once and for all.

    If it's any consolation, we've had the wood-burner on today too - it's just so darned cold for July!

  3. What a beautiful home you have, Broad! It looks worth all the trouble -- the driving, the maintenance. I hope you have an absolutely idyllic time there this year!

  4. I think a second home is always a lot more work than we bargain for! But it looks like a beauty and after the hard work of the first week or two, you'll be able to relax more with lots of food and wine! Enjoy it!

  5. Oh, I well remember doing a similar job of cutting an overgrown field during the times when My Dad was in hospital and I drove to his place to tend to it. Backbreaking sort of work, especially on a hot day. And I was relatively young then! God bless!

  6. It's Saturday at 10.30 a.m. which means I'm in the village library and able to respond to your comments!
    @Jane and Lance: Yes, the cozy fire at the end of the day is heartwarming, but at the end of July unfortunately necessary! The rain has slowed down in its persistence, however it is still grey and cool. On the positive side it is not too hot for The Man to get all those odd jobs done!

    @Perpetua: Yes, indeed, we did need this rain -- and underneath the grass that has been cut, but not yet raked it is green and lush. Will probably need a fire until the end of the week, but at least we have plenty of wood, wine, etc.! Hope your weather is improving and coming our way! -- or does it work the other way around?!

    @Kathy: Thanks for your positive comments. We hope to be able to adorn the place with some hanging baskets on Tuesday and so far we are feeling very relaxed and laid back despite the weather -- who knows maybe it's because of it!

    @Craig: Glad to report that relaxing with lots of food and wine has not been impeded by the weather!

    @Suldog: Your blessing is greatly appreciated! I can't get over how dogged The Man is at almost 70! How are you at roofs?

  7. Hey, Broad, that looks a delightful place you have there. Enjoy your stay.

  8. With heat and humidity making it seems like 104 degree (40C) in the shade it is hard for me to imagine a fireplace right now. I do not go out in the yard as fierce mosquitoes attack me and this year we have the “tiger mosquitoes” which are dangerous (yellow fever, etc.)
    I admire you driving in France for two days. Now that I have lived in the US for so long I get scared when I am a passenger in a car in France (I don’t drive there.) This is the reason why we don’t go to small places in France – we use public transport like trains and buses. I can’t believe that when I first started driving I thought nothing of driving around the place de l‘Etoile in Paris (around the Arc de Triomphe.) Your little country place sounds very nice.

  9. We can sympathise with your 'plight', having some damp to sort out in a room below our terrace, overgrown lavender plants and a mole(s) in the lawn. Still, ask me whether it is worth it and I think you know what the answer will be!

    Prior to our current house we had a new apartment near to Evian. There we didn't have any maintenance worries, but did have to pay well over the odds to have a management company do it all for us.

  10. Vagabonde: Mon Dieu! I do not miss America's hot humid summers. In Northwestern Connecticut, where I come from, we had mosquitos and gnats, not to mention deadly tics -- everyone I know from that part of the world has battled Lyme Disease at least once!

    Sitting outside means sitting on screened in porch I am not so afraid to drive in France as I am terrified in England -- my problem is that I cannot cope with a manual transmission!

  11. Gaynor: I just realized from your comment that this year -- no evidence of moles. Quel Surprise! Yes it's all worth it -- especially today with the sun out, but it's still just in the 70's -- perfect!

  12. Having so much work to do when we arrive would definitely take the shine off our holiday - how lucky we are to have help with this. It would be hopeless for us when we only spend a week or two there at a time. I hope you get the chores done pretty quick so you can relax and enjoy yourselves.

  13. Jean, I suspect after so long with The Man, that he would find work no matter what. Me I'm through my first book and on to the second! And at last the sun is shining!! Nice to see you are one of my 'followers'. Thanks for coming!


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