Move along, nothing to see here.

This time last year… not much going on, of interest at least. I was heads down marking and sorting out some web sites – I think the Winter Olympics were a constant distraction and the weather outside was starting to show signs of spring. Delia was internet shopping for things we would need at the new house…

 

Food
I received our first delivery of spelt flour this time last year. I had done some intensive googling and finally found a mill in southern Brittany that sold and delivered various ancient grains including spelt. This ancient wheat has less gluten and it is of a different kind to normal flour. Delia is wheat intolerant not gluten intolerant and spelt is sufficiently different for it not to affect her. It does seem odd perhaps, here we are in the land of fresh baked baguettes and all sorts of artisan bread… yet here I am baking our own bread in a bread machine – I have tried by hand and indeed started out in the UK that way – but it`s awfully messy and the bread machine is so predictable and easy on my poor arthritic thumbs. I’ve got it down to 2 minutes preparation now.

 

Now
A busy week for us both. Delia setting up her new client and me marking again. Siena continues to delight with her puppy ways – the latest being keeping just out of reach when having been let off her lead. Infuriating but she doesn’t run away it’s just when we see people of cows in a field she need to be under restraint. Puppy class this morning – she has 5 minutes of absolutely crazy dashing around during which she’s absolutely uncatchable by the other dogs and eventually Delia and I manage to get her back on the lead for her training.

 

Quittus Fiscal – Re-registering revisited

This time last year…One of the things I needed on the road to re-registering our car was a form called the Quittus Fiscale which was essentially a proof that the VAT situation of the car was all in order. It was but to get one I needed to go to the local Hotel des Impôts , as the tax office is called, with the original purchase invoice, proof of identity; registration document and… a utility bill. I did have the contents insurance certificate for our belongings at this point but nope. The weird thing is that they knew who I was, even where I lived from the computer but they needed the actual paper proof too. And the utility bill with our name on was simply an impossibility since utilities were part of our rent. Ho hum back to Go do not collect £200.

 

Food
Mike and Sandra, the first people to stay this year – Picked up from Limoges airport after an hour or so delay circling to avoid the hailstorm going on. Anyway, eventually we headed home and stopped at a patisserie – two new things – a frangipoire, being a frangipane tart of almond and flour paste with a pear; and a café chocolat duo being a kind of Siamese twin éclair, coffee and chocolate filling and icing side by side on the same choux pastry.

 

Now
Two old friends for, Nottingham at last able to make a brief visit. We decided to try out a chateau tour of 6 chateaux in a 2 hour drive. Chateaux Brie, Cromières, Rocher, Marval, Montbrun and Chalûs. With a walk around Lac St Mathieu thrown in for good measure. Marval was unremarkable and Chalûs deserves more than being tagged on at the end of a few hours of road touring but probably to become a feature tour for our visitors.

 

Car trouble

This time last year… Valentine’s day – and champagne for my gorgeous darling wife. Real champagne is less of an extravagance her than in the UK but still a treat. Winter Olympics keeping Delia occupied whilst I am working on one or two websites (actually for pay as opposed to creating blogs for us).

The main concern this week is trying to sort out the car. Initially back in the UK Delia had wanted to get a left hand drive car for France. Thinking ahead we had visited many left hand drive (LHD) Car sales places. Eventually I hopped on a train up to a place near King Cross to test drive a Peugeot 305. Nice drive, but the car salesman was very offhand about the documentation. I had read that car documentation was a particular issue in France and I finally decided that I didn’t want to be in France with the wrong documentation and the vendor in the UK. Anyway, after a couple of months of driving our right hand drive (RHD) car in France Delia decided it was not so much of an issue and we decided to keep it – especially since purchasing (and especially selling) a secondhand car is not the simple process it is in the UK.

I started the process of re-registering our Ford in France with the Control Technique or CT the French equivalent of the MOT. RHD headlights seem to be 3 times the price of LHD ones (both from the same supplier in Germany via ebay.fr). But anyway 500€ lighter, I now have a CT and RHD headlights – so I don’t dazzle the heavily-armed gendarmes speed checking me.. The garage told me I’d need to get a Certificate of EU Conformity from Ford in the UK. A bit of research suggested that this was not strictly necessary if I had a certain section of my registration document showing the correct details’ which they were. It seems that it depends upon the Prefecture I go to and apparently, even if refused, it’s worth queueing again to get a different person. Anyway, I found that I would have needed to re-register (again) when moving to a different department (i.e. from Deux Sévre to Haute Vienne). So even though I officially needed to French register the car after 6 weeks of being in France I reckoned that having the headlights, CT and insurance would stop me from being thrown in a cell by those same gendarmes at least until we finally moved. The registration process is at least another episode anyway so watch this space.

Food

A Limousin speciality is a kind of potato pie – essentially spate-pommes-terrejpgratien_0lices of potato in a crème fraîche sauce encased in puff pastry. We just had a variation on this for lunch (treating ourselves for Valentine’s – we had planned a lunch out in Limoges but its raining so we decided to eat in… steak and chips followed by tarte au chocolat tonight!). Anyway, our lunch of Pâté de Pommes de Terre Limousin had all the above plus ham and emmental. Lovely.

dexter

 

Now

I have just seen photos of my first grandchild, Dexter… born to Phil and Becca around 7.30 this morning in Swansea – fresh out of the oven at 6lb 14ozs! After a couple of days of ‘inducement’. He looks so tiny. More photos to follow after I visit in a couple of weeks.

Poker Nights

This time last year…  I was actually spending most of the time trying to make my work… well, work; by sitting at the end of the 15m cable that led through the wall and to the landlords’ link to the internet. Not only that but I was sitting on a wooden chair in an unheated utility room/corridor. Combined with the internet dropping out anyway I wasn’t too successful. The extra extension lead that eventually arrived from ebay.fr meant that I could now get a direct internet connection working from the living room. Enough of that, I have already talked of the internet issues.

chateauniort
Our landlords were very welcoming and had invited us to their poker nights – our first experience of Texas Hold’em. Jim approached the game pretty seriously with green baize, proper poker chips and, eventually even an electric card shuffler. Each night (and there were three or four monthly ones) was loosely divided into two halves – the first being when Delia and I bumbled our way through until we lost all our chips; we’d then share the food we had all brought and the remaining players continued whilst us others chatted. The others were usually two and a half other English couples  who had been in France for up to 10 years. One couple ran a bed and breakfast in a beautiful chateau that we later saw on a property program as it was for sale.

One night, Sally and Jim invited us to an entertainment night at a nearby pub. Jim was an entertainer and ran a quiz with some good music ranging from 50‘s to mid 80’s. Jim was particularly good company as he and I shared a lot of musical history in that I had  listened and seen the same bands that he often knew. It’s a pity in many ways that we hadn’t found a suitable house nearer to them, we’d have had a ready-made social life we could just drop into. But then perhaps a slower building up works better in the long run?

Now dats wot I’m talking ’bout.

Steak
From the country in which one finds Chateaubriand, it surprised me how hard it was to find a decent steak at the supermarket – they were all too thin usually no more than one centimetre (and the sliced ham was too thick). The answer of course if to go the butcher, or the meat counter, and ask for “entrecote deux centimetre epaisseur s’il vous plait”. Faux filet (more or less sirloin) or rumsteak works too.

Now this is just a thick slice, not a real steak

Now this is just a thick slice, not a real steak

 

However steak in a Brasserie, even though thinnish, a bavette is always just right (at most medium, its illegal to eat well-done steaks in France). Oh and “jambon, trés fine” works well for the ham “problem”.

 

 

 

 

Now
This has been a cold week – figuring out how to thermostatically control the central heating helps a lot; I don’t have to get up in the cold to turn the heating on now.  It comes on if it drops below 13.5C at night and 20C during the day. There’s been a scattering of snow and taking Sienna for a walk leaves a trail of four paw and tongue prints (where she lick the amazing white stuff). I’ve also fitted a timer for the whole boiler so when we no longer need the heating I’ll still not need to get up to turn the water on for a shower overnight