Thursday, 5 December 2019

Blog takeover - Mortimer's tale

My parents* listen to the BBC Today programme on the radio. I don't know why as it makes dad shout but anyway each year between Christmas and New Year they have a guest editor so I thought why not a guest blogger? I'm sure readers must get fed up with mum wittering on about France and house renovations. She's actually very busy at the moment so I thought she might like a break.

I was a cute puppy!
When I adopted the parents nine years ago we lived in a place called Eastbourne which is by the sea. I loved the beach, which I went to everyday, you just never knew what would wash up. And the crabs! Gosh they were delicious, I know dad thought so too as he was always wrestling them from me. The first winter we were there it snowed, now snow I love, really refreshing to roll in.

My first snowfall

Never too old for snow!
We didn't live there that long as parents bought a 'project' in Norfolk. I wasn't sure exactly what this meant although it seemed to involve leaving a really nice house for one that was, well quite frankly shabby! But I did appreciate the garden and the walks. The project was surrounded by apple orchards and I developed quite a taste for Bramleys and Howgate Wonders. It was a very social place with a regular dog meet on a Sunday morning, I really enjoyed that.

Me and the gang
A couple of years ago I heard the word 'project' again. I couldn't believe it! They had just finished the house, made it lovely and comfortable and we were off again. I was not a happy dog. The next few weeks were very unsettling. We went to stay with my friend Dexter in London, that was fun as I do like London parks with all those dogs. We then went to the lettuce lady for a couple of nights, just as I was getting used to my new manor we were off again. I was in the car for hours, it was so boring. Mind you the stops were good, I didn't know where we were but the food was definitely an improvement. But to cut a long story short we eventually made it to the new project in a village called Corrèze.

Had to make sure Big Ted was packed

Waiting for the removal men
I wasn't sure at first, dad disappeared for a couple of weeks and mum was very busy, there were 100's of boxes to empty. To give her credit she took me everywhere with her. I particularly liked the nice lady in the mairie's office, she obviously appreciated my fine qualities.  I discovered mum was a pretty good hunter, that surprised me as she's not really built for speed. But every morning we go for a walk, stop in the same place and mum disappears. She's rarely gone for more than a minute and she reappears with a baguette. Very impressive.

Morning walk

They don't spray round here so the wildflowers are prolific

Table d'goats! (mum put that joke in)

The walks here are really good, once I got used to the hills. We don't have to get in the car at all to have a great 'promenade' in the country. In the morning I head up out of the village to Belle Vue, usually stopping to have a word with a couple of Limousin cows and the goats. In the evening we go though the old town (mum wrote quite a nice piece on it here). I particularly like it in the summer as there are special evening markets. There are lots of stalls selling meat, bread and wine, once you've purchased you take your piece of beef or whatever to the people who run the barbecue and they cook it for you. You can also buy fries as well. We then sit at long tables in the square and eat with our friends, I can be very persuasive and usually manage to get given a few tasty morsels. There are also some ordinary markets in Tulle and Egletons that I get taken to, now they are great! I'm always on my best behaviour and there's always interesting food for snaffling, you've no idea how much gets dropped.

My favourite stall

Patiently waiting

Friends at the night market
I've just read this back and have obviously picked up mum's habit of rambling so I'll stop now. Mum always puts in this bit about 'if you want to be my friend then click here'. That's quite sad really, she just needs to go up to people and give them a sniff, that's how I do it and it never fails. If you want to know more about my life here I'll see if I can stage another take over.

* parents. Yes that's what I call them and no I'm not anthropomorphising humans! Us dogs always call the male and female pack leaders parents, after all they are responsible for the well being of the pack. I don't think it's a problem that they're not canine as long as they're kind and respectful. It's humans that seem to struggle with difference in packs, does it really matter what colour, race or mix the family is made from? After all I'm a mix - half poodle and half labrador and get the best of both. I know a pack that has four adults, an Italian Spinone and a miniature dachshund and they all get on just fine, everyone looking out for everyone else.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Two years ago...

I woke up alone to a freezing cold house. Under the duvet was cosy but the boiler was suspiciously quiet, I'd lived here for less than three weeks but already I was used to the daily noises. Definitely the boiler had not fired up. I pulled on thermal pyjamas and a dressing gown that made me look like a purple wooky and, followed by a puzzled Mortimer, I trekked through the house to the garage to see what the problem was. The boiler sat there silently. I looked at some buttons but quite frankly it was pretty useless and I knew the manual would prove the same. If I thought my French language skills were lamentable then my German was non-existent. I decided that we must have run out of oil. The previous owner had said there was about half a tank, but the tank is underground and the gauge wasn't working.

Back upstairs I had the fastest bath and hair wash you can imagine. It was minus six outside with snow forecast. Andrew had left London at 4 a.m and had a 12 hour drive home in really bad weather. He'd had to return to the U.K after we signed for the house as he couldn't work until we had internet connected, so I'd been here supervising the move and getting the house sorted. I couldn't have him coming home tired, to a cold house and a problem to solve, so it was down to me.

It was the first (but definitely not the last) time I was grateful for our decision to buy a house in a village with facilities in walking distance. I had seen a company that sold heating oil during my daily walk and at 8.30 a.m. Mortimer and I were on their doorstep trying to explain my problem. I thought the guy in the office said that he would deliver that afternoon, I questioned it - definitely after lunch today. I was so relieved.

The driver arrived and decided that I was pretty useless (probably right) and slowly took me through the procedure for re-igniting the boiler. It turned out that there was fuel in the tank but we initially thought that it must have been dirty and caused a block somewhere, fresh fuel seemed to work. It did do it again the following February and we realised that it wasn't dirt but really cold weather thickening the oil. We now buy fuel with an 'anti-freeze' additive and haven't had a problem since.

An hour later Andrew arrived home, Mortimer was beside himself - the pack was together again! He'd spent the first week lying on the balcony looking at the gate waiting for the car to come down the drive. Fortunately it was Thursday, pizza van night, so Andrew could have something tasty to eat - a kitchen didn't happen until two months ago!

We woke up to a warm(er) house, bright blue sky and snow. I walked to the boulangerie for croissant and chocos and then we went for a long dog walk. It was the perfect way to start our new adventure in France.

Corrèze town in the snow

First walk together
As always if you want to find out more about our life in Corrèze as we restore our house and barn then please feel free to friend or follow me here on Facebook

Monday, 25 November 2019

A Sunday walk

One of the joys of our area is the number of well marked footpaths and walks. We have several that begin in the village and are graded from the easy to a tad more challenging. We are just inside the Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches which has some spectacular scenery and great hikes and cycle paths. Yesterday however we were taken in a different direction by friends and went to Aubazine for 'Le Canal aux Moines, l'Ermitage et le Cromlech du Puy de Pauliac' walk.

Village walks
Aubazine is about a 30 minute drive from us and in a beautiful setting, centred around the 12th century Cistercian abbey. As a side note the convent in Aubazine used to run an orphanage and it was here a 12 year old girl arrived and spent 6 years learning to sew. Her name? Coco Chanel.

The monks were responsible for the Canal des Moines, started in the 12th century as a way of diverting water from the Coyroux stream to provide fresh, running water to the abbey. 1.5 kilometres long, the canal is partly hewn from rocks and partly built. Despite yesterday's damp and grey weather this section of the walk was very popular.

The start of the canal

Standing between the canal and river

I confess I didn't realise the significance of some of the rocks that we passed, only finding out this morning that they were a neolithic stone circle consisting of 59 menhirs, so apologies for the lack of photographs. I did however recognise the hermitage, now semi-ruined buildings but still beautiful and in a tranquil spot. Part of the walk is on the Chemin de St.Jacques de Compostelle and we saw plenty of the distinctive cockle shell route signs.


The walk also went through the Puy de Pauliac quarry, now closed but at the peak of production in the 1930's it supplied paving for the streets of Paris, Lille, Bordeaux and Toulouse. The Puy is at 524 meters and is great viewing point, even in the misty weather!

Artwork in the old quarry

Puy de Pauliac viewing point

The view was lost on Mortimer!
If anyone wishes to do the walk, details can be found here. You do need to be sure-footed, particularly around the quarry area as there are some quite steep steps cut into the stones as well as a lot of pebbles underfoot. I would recommend it though as it's a really interesting hike.

As always you are welcome to follow or friend us here on Facebook to find out more about life in Corrèze.

I loved this house!

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Blog takeover - Mortimer's tale

My parents* listen to the BBC Today programme on the radio. I don't know why as it makes dad shout but anyway each year between Christma...