All of our friends who are français d’origine Angleterre are constantly engaged in renovation projects. One friend said that his life in France so far had consisted of moving things, mostly piles of stone, from one place to another. We have been at it for three years on and off but hopefully the next four weeks will see the end of the grands travaux. There isn’t much left of the house we bought, it has all been replaced!
Despite the recent hot weather (the temperature reached 40°C in Cormatin yesterday) we are having a very smart heating system installed. It is called a pompe à chaleur and by some magic it extracts heat out of the air and sends it to warm the radiators and water even when the outside temperature reaches minus 15°C. It was delivered this morning and the only way to shift the heavy unit into the back garden was by tractor via next door through a huge hole in the hedge.
Coming through the garden
We now have a rather impressive silver cabinet straight out of Dr Who underneath the bathroom window. The next step is to rebuild the wall where all the gubbins go through and then destroy the present boiler room to accommodate two huge cylinders. The oil tank is coming out, goodness knows how. If I didn’t know this used to be cowshed built in 1850 I’d suspect the house had been built around the tank.
So soon we will be living the life of Riley in a house where nothing needs doing. Anybody need a hand?
It’s the end of term at the Pony Club and it was celebrated by the younger riders with their Spectacular. For weeks they had been practising their skills in voltige, a mixture of riding and acrobatics. With the help of Joëlle, Fannie and Caroline they put on a show for parents and friends.
Skipping through a hoop on horseback
and riding two ponies at once
And spectacular it was. I’m glad it was not my thirteen-year-old that was hanging upside down from a galloping horse! Actually it was the son of Fannie, my monitrice. Even the little ones jumped under and over the Shetland pony and skipped around the ring.
After the show we went to see the horses being released from the stables into the fields. They all know where to go, the little ones are let out first to go up the lane and the bigger ones go to a different field. It can be quite a stampede.
The little ones follow the donkey
and the big ones go to their field
The evening continued with a meal. Everyone had taken a dish to share and there was quite a banquet. It was a good end to a very busy year at the Pony Club.
This weekend celebrations were held all over France to celebrate the Fête of St John the Baptist. In pre-Christian days there was a pagan ritual to celebrate the summer solstice but in the fifth century Clovis, the Frankish king, decided that St John the Baptist’s birth would be celebrated on June 24, very near the summer solstice. This overshadowed the earlier pagan festival in much the same way as Christmas did the pagan midwinter festival.
Clovis’ Fête de la St Jean also borrowed the bonfire idea, originally a solstice tradition, and cleverly paralleled the role of the solstice of announcing summer’s light with John the Baptist’s role of proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah.
Our celebrations were organised by the group of five local villages. During the week the men went out to the forest with tractors to collect wood and tie it up into faggots which were stacked up to make the chavanade. When darkness fell everyone gathered to see the bonfire lit by the worthies of the commune.
The fire is lit....
It was an enjoyable night, sitting out on a warm clear night with friends and neighbours. The music was good with all the old favourites, and the buvette did a good trade with wine and the home-made cakes made by the ladies of the villages. We left early, about midnight, but I think the party was only just beginning….
Next day we heard the party went on until 5 in the morning.
We have always resisted having pets despite our friends’ best efforts to get us to take kittens that needed a home. Last year friends had four lovely grey kittens to give away; recently a tiny kitten had fallen out of its nest in the roof of a barn. We trotted out the usual excuses… don’t want to be tied, what happens when we go away, the expense of cat food, vet’s bills, mess, the garden dug up, scratched furniture, allergies, diseases, fleas……
But a few months ago a starving little cat turned up on the doorstep. It gobbled down a tin of best tuna and after that called by most days for something to eat. He/she (at that stage we couldn’t tell!) looked really well and then continued to put on weight around the middle. Lo and behold we now have four adorable kittens in the tackroom of our neighbours’ stable.
White Cat is now affectionate and bossy although she will never be a lapcat. She is a good mother and between stints of kitten care she spends her time with us. We will get her to the vet when she can leave her kids for the day.
The kittens at 6 days old
The kittens are lovely, two completely white like their mum, one a pretty grey stripy and the other a tiger stripy. If you know of anyone looking to take on a kitten in two months’ time please let me know.
postscript - We hear that Fifi from Chazelle has heard that White Cat gets Whiskas and has gone on a rooftop protest….
Photo courtesy of La Tuilerie, Chazelle. www.latuileriechazelle.com