Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas 2009

P1000559P1000562 My first Christmas day at Enmatte and thanks to one plumber prepared to be late for his family festive celebrations we have a working cooking stove in the main house giving us oodles of hot water, a warm house. It was great to steam the pudding on the hob and I’m looking forward to using the oven. We are all busy learning how to manage the fire –the technique seems to be lots of flame. It all seems a little unnecessary in today’s warm sunshine but will be very welcome as darkness descends. 

Friday, 18 December 2009

and then it snowed ..

The forecast was correct- we have a light dusting of snow and at just past 1pm the sun is starting the meltdown. From a comfy vantage point in the stables, close to the burner, I can see blackbirds and blue tits enjoying the red and yellow pyracantha berries. Its a day for inside work, my jobs include putting the almomd paste on the Christmas Cake and the challenge of making madeleines that don't stick to the pan!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Returning in December

Its great to be back here once again -there's lots of changes, its rather cold and snow could be on its way. The two front rooms are now one great space with the hall an intergral part of the house and on Monday we are promised the fitting of the burner!! Paul and Tracey's space is very cosy with their new burner: it sits in the middle of the lower stables and rotates -very posh and an example of how the very modern goes well with the very old. Upstairs now has a wooden underfloor without holes to possibly fall down and a cupboard for the hot water tank.
The chai is doing well as a temporary kitchen -and I'm looking forward to some baking tomorrow and sharing cooking festive meals with Paul. James arrives on the 24th thanks to a rebooked flight with easyjet.
Dagga, Cookie and I went for long walk in the sunshine this morning, we could see Paul's bonfire of the old wood from miles away -he is busy transforming the 'builders yard' into a garden (again).
... and we are all thinking of John on this special day. He would have so enjoyed sharing all this with us -we miss you so much and its wonderful that your DIY genes (amongst others) live on.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Absent but ....

Well. Marilyn is in England but has news that the burner has now been installed in the stables and beams have been found for the work at the front of the house. The main event here was Bev and Andy's wedding - such a happy, fun time by the sea and in the sea for some of us! Lots of photos on James web albums.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Time to leave for a while ..

Its been a wonderful summer here for me: family, friends, sun, sun and more sun. Plus places to walk,, Sunday village fetes and car boot sales, and so much done in this wonderful house. All have inspired quite a few poems -material to be workshopped with my new seminar group this term and at Mole Valley Poets. My room is all but empty -just the bed for one more sleep and ,of course, the indispensible internet radio left now. I've grown fond of the patchy plaster, dreadful lighting, and continued dust and have done some good work here. That said, I look forward to moving into the first floor space -perhaps this time next year? And to making this room with its fresh lime plaster. new floorboards and ceiling into a room for more friends to enjoy when they visit. Now I leave this blog in others' hands until I return in December.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Moving out and in

We are nearly there with the move out of the front of the house ready for the last of the major building work and installation of the burners ... and the hot, dry weather continues. Fingers crossed that when the rain eventually comes its the gentle sort that will soak the hard cracked clay. School has started so Tracey is back at work, Viv has been here for a few days now and is planning to drive back to UK on Monday. Sadly, I also leave then but I'll be back early in December.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Lectoure Firework Festival

From Lectoure Fireworks 2009
A short drive to Lectoure - normally famous for being only blue - but tonight many colours would light up the sky... At least that was the plan.

Viewing the fireworks from above the stadium where the fire show was taking place lead to a different view – still fairly impressive. And being able to sit and eat pizza and watch the display for free was a pleasant way to spend a late summer eve.

I even managed to capture some of the firework effects – but the noise is missing – even from the distance of the city ramparts each burst of light was accompanied by a bang…

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Still hot and sunny ...

Its been quiet here as Paul continues with the plumbing -there's water upstairs now, and Marilyn gets ready to go to Malaga for a weeks work. The beds are ready for James and Viv who arrive next week -one in the caravan and another in the middle room. Our speckly hens have settled in, 5 eggs today, and we are picking young carrots from the raised beds. The drought is having an effect in the fields with deep cracks appearing and it seems our water supply has changed in the past few days . The blackberry crop is not looking good this year -some rain would be very welcome.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Taking shape

Progress on the chia... Tracey has done her bit (for now) and is on her way to a flight to UK and a weeks holiday. Paul says he'll be plumbing tomorrow and Marilyn plans to search Auch for something to wear to Bev and Andy's September wedding -watch this space!
The heatwave continues but under a few clouds today -the rain has missed Puycasquier and our garden is a picture of drought.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Another room and the next visitors ...

The hot weather continues ... and work focusses on the chai, making work surfaces, plumbing and finding space for a temporary kitchen. On Friday Nicki et al. arrived on their way home to Berlin via Portugal -how nice it is to have a house that can so easily accomodate 7 extra people. We shared a great meal -more tomato sauce, aubergine salad and blackberry ice cream were quickly made, a bottle of the Bordeaux 2001 opened and soon the children were ready for their sleep. This morning Lena and Zoe discovered 9 eggs in the rabbit hutch -evidence of flying hens, more wing clipping is needed.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Marilyn's birthday 2009

August 18th was another hot and sunny day -we had lunch in Lectour, visited the Lectour Bleu workshop, and then a gourmet supper at the Michelin starred Une Auberge En Gascogne. Jen is now on her way back to UK, with plenty of (local) foie gras for her friends -it was great having her here for a few days. Dagga in hospital for the day having a small heamatoma removed from his ear -lots of tlc will be needed when he gets home this evening.

Monday, 17 August 2009

the heatwave goes on ...

We're enjoying the heat -its tough going slow! The office has moved from the sitting room into the stables, leaving behind lots of room. This is ice cream weather -so I am making mexican milk ice cream tonight -ingredients include chocolate and pecans ...

Saturday, 15 August 2009


The summer heat has arrived, and so has my friend Jen -now enjoying a post prandial nap on the deck. Paul has made electric socket holders from a chunk of Grandad Carpenter's wood -shipped from UK 5 years and well worth keeping to hold some very smart plugs -just one is proving a challenge to attach to the wall! The office is slowly taking shape ... Meanwhile I'm wondering if the kitchen is cool enough to cook in so that I can keep the ripe tomato population to a reasonable level and start some ice ceam -a suitable pudding for supper when its 30+C. We had the annual flying black beetle invasion two nights ago -last night it was just the frogs that inhabit the deck keeping us company and Dagga amused.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Stable floor tiled

  • Celebrations on this very hot day for the finish of the stable floor. Well done, Tracey and Paul. It looks great -the result of much hard work, there are some very sore knees around here tonight! Cookie has just gone walk about in the sunflowers -at least she has had enough exercise today now, and Paul had to shepherd a speckly hen back into the run -it all happens around here, sometimes.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

More tiling -but its nearly done

Well, the tiling is nearly finished in the stables -much preparation at the end of last week, including digging the doorway down to the foundations, lots of sweeping, and a layer of wonderful self levelling concrete. Tracey's design is looking great and the colour blends so well with the lime plastered wall. Paul and Marilyn spent a very long time in the burner shop on Friday choosing bathroom radiators only to be told later that they are no longer made -so that's a job to be redone next week! We've had overnight rain, a blessing for the garden -the tomato crop is almost at its peak and we are enjoying wonderful purple aubergines day after day.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Only one more floor to tile -for now

Everything is back in the newly tiled middle stables (except the inevitable donation to the dump -tough decisions were made!) and now work starts on the rest. First job is to remove the staircase so Paul & Tracey are relocating to the house for a few days -mainly because the dogs can't climb a ladder to go to bed. My bake day produce has now all gone -hard work needs lots of biscuits and the brown bread ice cream was also a hit. In the garden the rocket seeds have germinated so need a close watch in case they bolt, and the tomatoes and courgettes just keep ripening ...

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Progress on the stable floor, lots of vegtables from the garden ... and Bruno has found a new place to sleep, effectively putting my tapestry out of reach! A more gentle day today, some clouds and I spent some minutes watching the guinea fowl bully the hens for some courgette peelings. The flowers by the front door continue to delight, making the 45 minutes to dead head them worthwhile.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The stable floor had a layer of self levelling cement today, and the plum ice cream finally got made! Paul is planting leeks and winter cabbages ... and Marilyn has sorted out the herb vinaigres & oils. The burners have now been ordered for the barn space and main house. There's lots of work before they can be installed ... walls to knock down, a floor to build -worth it for a new family room/kitchen at the front of the house, first floor bedrooms for James and Marilyn and a living room with a great view.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

New hens in the pen

Just back from Fleurance market with 4 speckly hens -additions to the flock of bare-necked hens and guinea fowl that live in some comfort at the bottom of the garden. We're looking forward to more fresh eggs -plum ripple ice cream is on the menu.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Catching up with previous work ...

Now for the catch-up, The middle barn floor is ready for tiling, the original manger has been converted to a rail around the edge of the mezzanine, and roof beams are being sanded ...
and Nanny Hammick's furniture is being put to very good use in a new home.

July 2009's work on the house

It's hot and sunny, work continues, this time on the front wall of the first floor space -the penultimate coat of lime plaster. My Dad's pulley system (what did he use it for?) put to good use getting the buckets up for Tracey's expert hands & Paul already has the mixer going for the second batch. As for me -well the freezers are now defrosted and I am searching for ways to use the many baskets of plums we picked at a neighbours yesterday. Jam, jelly, chutney, plum brandy, into the freezer for winter crumbles ... and the flowers by the deck keep blooming.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Spring brings changes to house and garden

April 2009: after a stunning blue sky day of 20C the setting sun brings the newly plastered back wall to life, there's blossom all around the garden and we are transplanting seedlings in anticipation of a hot summer with flowers, fruit and vegtables aplenty. The new birds have settled in with Gloria, only survivor of autumn's deadly visitor; one egg a day so far this year but the little bare necked hens are growing fast!