NEWS FOR DECEMBER 2011.
Very quiet period in the lead up to Christmas and apart from that the weather has been "B" awful since we came back from UK and Holland. Had all these good intentions to cut the grass but it is just far too wet. I have adjusted the tractor to just mulch the grass back down on to the lawn as it is so wet that that if I try to colledct it I will just end up binding the collector. All I want now is a couple of dry days bedore Xams to have a go at it.
We did go out with Stewart and Barbara on Thursday 1st, to Le Jardin restaurant which is in Villeneuve-de Duras. They had come over to have a look at our camper van and of course to lunch. Joan and I had been to this restaurant a couple of times in the past, but never for the daily "Plat-du-Jour" luncheon. Have to say that this one was really good at only 12.90 euros each and that included a half caraffe of wine between two in the price.
Saturday 3rd was Haddock and Chips night over in Lauzun. Kim and Paul have changed their restaurant for this Saturday special as the kitchen gives more room to work and the restaurant holds 70+ and they were sure full this evening. As always the quality is excellent and guess we will have to wait now until after the New Year for another of these evenings.
Yesterday, Tuesday, Joan and I went over to Eymet as I wanted to go over to the computer shop there and buy a plug in DVD player for our laptop. Also we needed to go to the garden centre there to get more bird seed and fatballs for our ravenous garden birds. After we had done the basic shopping things and had a coffee at The Kismet cafe, we went over to drop a Christamas card off for Steve and Vi as we had heard they were leaving at the weekend for the UK and would not be back until mid March.
Steve had heard about our camper from Barbara and suddenly produced a satellite aerial and dceoder all boxed up and unused. They had bought this a long time ago when they had thought of buying a camper themselves so was happy to get his original cost price back and it was doing us a real favour. Now we have to change our tactics a little as if this is going to work we need a small TV that will fit in the van and then I could even change the existibg basic TV aerial, fitted on our roof, then we should eb able to get satellite TV wherever we are.
As Stewart is going over to Cyprus at the weekend to sort out some bank things there, we all four decided on a lunch out. This time we went back to Rouffignac, on the road from Eymet to Bergerac, just as the last time a nice lunch. We will have to contact Barbara next week and meet her for lunch someplace as Stewart is not back until 20th December.
Also this morning we have booked our Smudge in to the vets to have her neutered. Don't want any more kittems around here and she is now over 6 months old. We are going to have lots of fun next Tuesday and Wednesday, as we have to lift her food and water and lock her cat flap, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and take her to the vets by 9 a.m. on Wefdnesday morning. After we pick her up we then have to try to keep her in for a couple of days, could be a bit of a noisy time I think.
Joan and I went over to Bergerac today to try to source a TV that will be suitable in the van. It is possible to buy ones that work off 12 volt as well as 240 volt but these cost a small fortune so we will settle for a small 240 volt version. After looking around in a number of stores we spotted one that is exactly the right size, but it also has the advantage of a built in DVD player. At only 150 Euros for LCD, High Definition and DVD player I guess this might be just the thing. Will check it over with Steve at the weekend as he has much more experience in these things than I have.
Steve and Vi came over to look at our camper van and to lunch with us, Steve semed quite impressed with it as good value for money. They have considered them in the past but not actually made any decision about buying. We discussed the TV that we had seen and it appears that we would be quite sensible to buy this as it should work well with the satellite dish that we bought from him. We also looked at the possibility of fitting the dish on the roof and came to the conclusion that we would need to have a ladder fitted up the back of the van, to enable me to get up and adjust it on sites. I have decided that the sensible thing is to keep it free standing during our trip to Portugal this winter and then recruit Steve's assistance when he gets back here in March 2012 to make a fiiting.
Poor Smudge, kept in all last night with no food or water and she could not understand why. Apart from that her yelling all night kept us awake as well. This morning at 9 a.m. we had her down to the vets so that she could be snipped to prevent any future kittens down here on the farm.
We collected her at 5 p.m. and she was remarkably wide awake and started chasing her toys around the place as soon as she had eaten something. Our big problem now is keeping her in. The vet advised that the ideal would be 7 days but if we succed until Sunday he would be happy.
We locked the cat flap but that was not enough, we ended up putting a large plank across the bottom of the door with two heavy tool boxes to keep it in place and that finally seemed to have worked, because by the next morning she had given up trying to get out.
We also got the rabies injection done which means she now has a pet passport so she should be able to travel with us in the camper. She needs a second booster injection on 13th January so shortly after that we should be able to get away.
Small panic last night. Joan had made the Xmas cake and was putting the unused ingedients back in the wall cupboard here in the utility room, were I was happily typing away, when the cupboard fell off the wall. Only one samll glass vase broken and Joan will have a nasty bruise on her arm, but all is recoverable. The problem here in the utility room is that we only have the outer original stone walls, which are very uneven, so when Chris and I put up the cupboards it was by fastening timber battens, to attach the cupboard brackets to. The batton for this cupbaord was a piece of pine and clearly on inspection not such a good piece either as the screws had just pulled out at one end.
Only one answer, I had to go and get a suitable hardwood batten and that is when you realise that living out in the sticks can make life difficult.. I had to drive a 30 mile round trip to get a 2 meter length of timber suitable for the job, but at the end of the day the new piece of timber makes sure that the cupboard is firmly secured.
Who said "Until the next time"?
Earlier this week, I think Monday to be exact, I ordered a whole pile of books on Motor-Homes and Camping Sites in Spain and Portugal. Tremendous service both from the book company ( Vicarious Books of Folkestone, Kent) and the French postal service, because today they were in our post box. Now we can start reading and planning.
Joan and I went to Le Cabri, near Duras, for lunch today. We had planned to see Peter, who said he had lots of books on campsites in Spain and Portugal, but when we got there we found that they had all gone to the UK until Friday. Still didn't matter much, we had a nice lunch in their restaurant anyway. I suppose that this means that we have the problem of having lunch there again in the New Year, not really a problem as we cannot start our trip until after the 20th as we have to get Smudge's passport finalised first.
Maybe I should not have said "until the next time" about our wall cupboard. I was just setting the table for breakfast this morning when there was hell of a crash from the utility room. When I went to investigate I found the whole cupboard smashed on the floor and the contents scattered everywhere. Good job that we had made the decision to only put plastic glasses etc, for outdoor use, in there. Even so there where a few of these broken.
The new hardwood batten was absolutely fine but the plugs had just pulled straight out of the wall. The problem we have in this room is that the walls are original stonework with cement in-fill and rawlplugs just don't hold when the item is heavy.
OK, so now it is back to the drawing board. Joan and I discussed the best solution and decided that the best was to re-hang next to another double cupboard which has the brackets screwed to an oak beam set in to the stonework. Not quite as convenient for Joan as she is too small to be able to reach into the corner of the cupboard. But then I suppose that that is why we have the small steps.
Once again I have the job of hanging this damned cupbaord, but guess the built in oak beam will be strong enough to hold things up.
Stewart and Barbara came over at lunch time today, bringing Richard,one of their sons, who is over here for Christmas. We all went to Le Jardin for lunch and then back to us for coffee.
After they had left Joan saw a little mouse run across the floor so we started to investigate. Clearly one of Smudge's little presents to us, but this one must have been in overnight because further investigation revealed little piles of cat biscuits under the sideboard and under one settee. It took us about one hour of joint effort to eventually catch it and put ti outside, during which time Smudge just watched our antics, no doubt she will go and catch it again tonight and bring it back. The joys of having a cat and living in a farming community were there are probably hundreds of them.
Joan and I started off the Christmas day in the way we always do. Champagne, smoked salmon and scrambled egg. The day looks as if it is going to be really glorious but we have to say that the grass around was very white first thing, obviously a night frost, so we did the sensible thing and took coffee back to a nice warm bed. Who wants to rush around on Christmas morning.
The day did in fact turn out really warm and sunny so we went for a nice long walk in the woods around us here, before getting back home about three p.m. so that Joan could start getting dinner ready. We had decided, this year, to have a quiet dinner together and had bought a nice fresh turkey. It was in fact very moist and beautifully tender, so with the traditional parsnips, sprouts, roasties etc we were able to indulge ourselves.
Stewart and Barbara had invited us round for a Boxing Day dinner and we had got round there about midday. Richard is of course still over here with them and we were all able to enjoy one of Barbara's five course meals.
We got back home at around 5.30 and just settled on the settee in front of the TV for the evening as we for sure did not contemplate any supper.
Today we went to Bergerac airport to collect Anne off the Southampton flight. She had been staying at her son's over Christmas, is now staying with us over the New Year and then going back to UK before returning to Cyprus at the end of the first week of January. It was great to see her again and catch up on all the news from Northern Cyprus. She brought with her a copy of a local Cyprus magazine and a DVD of the pantomine, Aladdin, in which Anne played the part of the Genie of the lamp. Great fun to watch and these things serve to remind us of the great social life which is one of the things we miss about Cyprus.
We enjoyed a nice sociable evening together over dinner and a couple of glasses of the local wines.
We had arranged to go, as a group of seven, to Le cabri restaurant on the outskirts of Duras. We had a super evening there and the food was just superb. A six course meal, with wine and champagne to close and it was nicely spread out over the evening so that we were all able to finish just before midnight.
The above pics show Stewart and Barbara, Anne and Shelagh in some sort of serious discussion, Joan getting another glass of champagne and trying to get me up to dance and finally Peter's fireworks, which despite the fine drizzle at midnight were a nice closing to a great evening.
We all five from Loubes arrived home in time to catch the UK firework display at 1 o'clock our time,so we also managed a glass of scotch to celebtrate again. Remember, I had been driving, so had behaved myself very well during the earlier celebrations.
IT NOW ONLY REMAINS FOR ME TO WISH YOU ALL VERY HAPPY 2012 AND TO HOPE THAT WE MAY ALL ENJOY ANOTHER YEAR OF GOOD HEALTH.
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