NEWS FOR APRIL 2012
April 1st and today is the annual "Banquet de la Societe de Chasse". In other words the hunt dinner which is organised every year at the end of the season.
We were asked to attend at 12 noon on this the first Sunday of the month and to bring our own full cutlery set with us. Luckily for us we guessed they also meant soup bowls plates etc and of course something to drink out of.
We had heard about this event from previous years so Joan and I decided to walk to the village which was going to take about 45 minutes, but we guessed that we might be safer walking back. We were really lucky, as we had just got to the steep hill into the village when a car stopped and offered us a lift and in fact the same two locla French people also dropped us off, when it was time to come home 5 hours later.
The proceedings were opened by the Mayor followed by two of the members of the hunt with their Hunting Horns. Then followed an incredible amount of food all beautifully prepared by the wives of the hunt members. we started with a lovely soup and this was followed by a sort of venison stew, which we were served on top of fried bread which you spread with cloves of garlic instead of butter. During all this we had copious jugs of Cote de Duras wine and then came a sort of clear drink served over a sorbet, talk about blow your head off, must have been 90% proof. The main course was huge slices of venison fillet, served up with haricot beans cooked of course with plenty of garlic cloves. All this was followed by cheese, a sweet which was a bit like a Walls vienetta, coffee and some prunes which must have been soaking in alcohol for at least 1 year.
Our neighbours, Phil and Shelagh had arrived just as we got home so were able to welcome them. Unfortunately we had a knock on the door five minutes later to say that they had burst pipes someplace. We were in no condition to assist so did the only sensible thing, offered them our spare bedroom for the night.
TUESDAY 3rd APRIL.
I spent sometime yesterday trying to help Phil sort out his water leaks but in the end he had to organise a plumber as having fixed one leak we then discovered that the safety valve on their hot water tank had blown and only a French plumber could sort that one out.
This morning I went up to the local Marie's office with our Turkish driving licemces and the hopefully necessary forms to get them converted into two French Driving Licences. The mayor's secretary was as usuual so very helpful in sorting this out and giving us documents which allow us to drive in France whilst these are exchanged. Hopefully this will work nicely and we will be able to keep renewing our UK licences for some years to come, just in case we ever need them. So now it's sort of watch this space.
THURSDAY 5th APRIL.
Spent almost the whole day up and down the ladder trying to get the roof of our motor-home clean. Obviously the birds have done their best on there during our trip to Portugal but it was quite clear that the original clean by Marquis Motorhomes in Preston was not really that good either. Anyway job done now and cleaning the rest should be quite easy in comparison. We have to get it all spruced up before we head off to Holland on 24th of this month.
One thing that I do now know, these old legs don't like going up and down a ladder all day long.
FRIDAY 6th APRIL.
George called us this morning and suggested going up to Chez Nelly, in the village, for lunch. As the weather currently has taken a considerable turn for the worse it seemed like a brilliant idea.
We met up just before 12 noon and it was a good job that George had called ahead and booked as the place was quite full. Many ex-pats there as well as workers from the local water company and local builders. Superb lunch which inclufded steak as the main course and all for 13 euros each. Brilliant guess we will be going again now that the new management have taken over.
MONDAY 9th APRIL.
Well what a wet weekend that has been so that means that I still have work to do on the outside of our motor-home. Did manage to get some jobs done on the inside yesterday so apart from a last minute hoover around before we set off in two weeks, that should do it.
Yesterday evening we were invited across to Phil and Shelagh,s for dinner. They were telling us that they have had to invite the plumber back a few times and now he has put a pressure reduction into their system as it would seem that they had a pressure up to 8 bar, which was far too high for a domestic home. Hopefully that is the end of their many water problems, we can only thnk that the problem has been caused by the farm having their two new houses built and brought on-line and that this has created an overall increase in water pressure in the hamlet.
MONDAY 16th APRIL.
I know, a whole week with not much to report, but that is just how it has been and now it is 4 a.m. and I am wide awake so thought to at least put something on the site. Why am I awake at this stupid hour, well the cat came in about an hour ago soaking wet through and decided that if she yelled hard enough at me I would get up and get her old towel and sort out the problem. That done I could not get back to sleep, hopefully this large scotch on the rocks and some typing will sort the problem. The cat ? Curled up in a tight ball fast asleep !!!
I have continued, between the rain showers, to finish the van ready for our Holland trip. we have done some trips in to Bergerac to do some shopping, bought a couple of shrubs and planted those, but apart from that it has been a standard week.
Maybe it is good that we are going away again as then we will have some interesting things to report.
THURSDAY 19th APRIL.
Received a reaction to our request to exchange our Turkish Cypriot Driving Licences for French versions. We had submitted the licences and copies of our Residency Permits, for Cyprus, and we have now been asked to get officially sworn translations of these documents in order to proceed.
There are a number of people who are registered with the authorities as official translators and we have located one of these with the help of our friend Janette, who tried to give us French lessons some time ago.
There are just four pieces of paper with nominal amounts of writing in both Turkish and English. The cost for this is 35 euros per document, so now we have had to send off a cheque for 140 euros. If we want the licences we have no choice, so hopefully this can be done before we go to Holland and then by our return we should have French Driving Licences. This is the final piece in the puzzle and with these we should be officially and legally residents.
SATURDAY 21st APRIL.
It started of as an evening out with George and James to the Haddock and Chips evening in Lauzun Always enjoyable and good food. Because I was doing the driving, we made a decision to head off back to Loubes for a nightcap in the local Chez Nelly pub/restaurant. When we got there we discovered that the Rugby Club from Duras had booked a meal and by the time we got there, clearly a considerable quantity of booze. The end result was a fun evening which ended about 1.30 a.m.
TUESDAY APRIL 24th.
Yesterday we took Smudge to the cattery and were surprised to see that she arrived, wandered round and sort of said “ OK, I like this lady and I have been here before, so its alright with me “
Then we did some shopping ready for our trip, switched the fridge on in the van and loaded up ready to go.
This morning we set off reasonably early to try to get as far North as possible. What we had not calculated was my cock up in picking an overnight stop in the North East. I had clearly turned over two pages in the guide to Aires of France and we found ourselves heading west after we got to the top of the section of Motorway. Joan found an Aire near the
WEDNESDAY APRIL 25th.
Now with Joan working from paper maps we headed off to the North again and decided that the
THURSDAY APRIL 26th.
We arrived at our pre-booked campsite near Nieuwkoop around 5 p.m. after a good trip up in the pouring rain and one stop to buy a paper map of
When we arrived the site owner walked us around the two possible spots as he saw it. When I asked about the land, as we have had so much rain over the last couple of weeks he said no problem as his ground was good. OK, second gear and no revs for a slow crawl on to the grass parking area near to an electric hook up. Next thing was serious wheel spin and no traction. OK so out came the tractor to tow us in to our spot, we will have to see what happens on Tuesday morning, when we want to get away.
This evening Arie came and collected us so that we could stop off at the Chinese take away and collect dinner for us all. We stayed there until about 9.30 when Samantha came around after she had finished giving her dance lessons. After that Arie brought us back to the camp site and we crashed out into the beds that we had made up before leaving.
FRIDAY APRIL 27th.
It was actually dry this morning so we were able to get the bikes off the back and cycle to Nieuwkoop. Takes about 40 minutes especially as this morning we were heading in to the wind. We spent quite bit of the day with our old friend Co just catching up on how things are with him now that he has now had 6 months on his own. Later we just cycled around to Arie to connect to his internet and pick up e-mails, then back to the van to sit in the sun for a little while and enjoy the view over the polder area.
The site is not very busy as it is early in the year, but clearly some people are settled in for the rest of the summer I think. This area has some beautiful lakes and is quite famous for fishing, so many come for that alone.
SATURDAY APRIL 28th
What a wet and windy day. We were going to cook dinner in the van and Arie was joining us around 5 o'clock. But it was so bad early afternoon that we called Arie and suggested that he collect us, together with the dinner ingredients and Joan would cook at his place. Good idea in the end else we would have all got blown away.
SUNDAY APRIL 29th.
Joan and I have been invited to go round to Kitty and Theo's for dinner this evening, together with Co. The wether is much improved so we stretched our legs and walked all the way to Co in the middle of the morning. It is lovely walking country, as it is incerdibly flat, but it did take us around 1 hour to do the walk.
We joined Co for coffee etc and then the three of us went round to Kitty mid afternoon, had a few drinks and then supper later. A very pleasant day all round and we were lucky that Co was OK to drive us back to the site in the late evening as he had only had one beer and lots of coke. We always enjoy our time with this side of the family as the kids are happy to join in as well.
MONDAY 30th APRIL.
Woke up this morning to really bright sunshine and nice warm temperatures. Could not have happened on a better day as today is a holiday in Holland to celebrate the Queen's Birthday.. Traditionally there is what is called a Free Market in the town square, this si where the kids have the opportunity to sell there unwanted toys etc. Some give the money to charities and others use what they get to buy new. Traditionally there are also dance groups and music stands. Two young lads had a stand were they played drums with money going to charity. One of these lads, around 9 years old was playing at a real professional standard.
Hundreds of helium baloons were let off, with the traditional address labels attached and whilst all this was going on, we adults did the sensible thing and sat on the cafe terrace and drank coffee.
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