Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Modern cathedral ?...

I had to pop into the train station at Tours,when there last week, to see the progress of the works. The scaffolding is still up and made for interesting (I think) photographs.

Great contract for some scaffold company - probably won't need to do anything else this year! 

Monday, 27 February 2012

Barn roof progress...

The rear of the barn with all-new tiles - almost finished with two of the three 'Velux' windows fitted.

These are good to see as it brings the much needed natural light into the roof space and we can begin to visualise the room formations. It was also pleasing to see that we will have a pleasant view from them, even though we are surrounded by other houses.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Distorted view of Paris...

 Still have a few posts re Paris visits - here are some pics from our strolls around the city.

The old and the new

'Trained' eye.

Towers - Institut du Monde Arabe

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Its all in the small (green) print...

On Thursday we had to go up to Tours to deal with some French bureaucracy - always fun - so we decided that our bus option was the best way to get there.(see here) Now the particular office we were visiting was only open in the morning so that meant we had to get the earlier morning option (there only is two) from Le Grand Pressigny. This meant an early rise as we had to catch the bus at 7.15am. Pauline then noticed there was a bus from nearby Ligueil at 9.20 -much more civilised. So we set off after breakfast for Ligueil and found a parking space for the car immediately behind the bus stop-perfect. There was a girl already waiting for the bus as we arrived,always a reassuring sign. She spent a fair bit of time on her mobile,naturally, circling the bus stance as she did. 9.20 came and went as did she! It wasn't until 9.30 that we realised she must have been told on her phone that the bus wasn't coming, but didn't think to let us know. It's not reassuring to know that the youth of today seem to be universal in their response to situations such as this.(Jim GOM)

Anyway we at least had plan 'B' up our sleeve -so it was back to the car. Not nearly as inexpensive - the bus journey both ways for the two of us would have been 6.80 euro all in. The drive up saw us passing bus stops in places like Veigne where we wondered if we should have let the waiting people know that the bus wasn't coming but traffic conditions made this difficult (the usual Frenchman stuck to my car's rear magnet).

Is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem with orientation within Tours? From LGP, or on this occasion Leguiel, we normally take the scenic route and arrive in Chambery-les-Tours, in case we need a DIY fix, before slipping down the hill onto Route Saint-Avertin where we make our way onto the motorway to cross the Cher. This way into the city then takes you on to Boulevard Heurteloup which is great for getting you to the bus and railway stations and the convenient parking just beside them. As it happens the office we were looking for was also on this street a short walk from the parking - great!.

Now to my orientation problem, no matter how many times I have driven in this way I expect the stations to be on my right hand side and I am always surprised to see the tourist office and the theatre's 'skip' jutting out from my right - it always feels as if the city has been turned on its head! I'm sure the problem is only mine "my name is Jim Craig and I'm a man who finds Tour disorientating"

The office visit was handled very well by Pauline, who always underestimates her French, as she had the necessary photocopies of all we needed and more in reserve, well you never know! It was also made easier by the very pleasant and helpful lady behind the desk.
That done we headed for a coffee - almost as expensive as our bus fares would have been- and then decided that our planned lunch would have to be forgone due to the lack of cheap travel - and anyway we're lunching again tomorrow in Barrou.

Before heading back to the car I wanted an explanation as to why the bus hadn't turned up so did the manly thing and sent Pauline into the information desk to ask - well its she who has the French! She seemed to be doing a lot of talking and I thought perhaps she was negotiating the return of our additional travelling expenses - but no - turns out she had misread the timetable and the bus we were waiting for only runs during the summer or on school holidays. It's as well we didn't tell the waiting passengers in Veigne that their bus was not coming as they were obviously waiting on a different one!  Interestingly our 10.29 from LGP does not run on Wednesdays as its not a school day nor on public holidays, so she can be forgiven for this misunderstanding. Anyway she never did pass her diploma in French timetable reading -I'm sure there must be one - nor indeed geography - but then that's another story...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

What's in a name?

Nestling between the Creuse and Gartempe rivers on the southern boundry of Indre et Loire this little hamlet could perhaps cash in on its name. There is actually a small private vineyard nearby on the way to Vicq-sur-Gertempe so it could have its own vintage 'Champagne' - or could it?

View Champagne in a larger map

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

More progress...

The front of the barn roof is finished other than the 'lucarne' - now for the rear...

Monday, 20 February 2012

We progress

 After a week of no progress due to the weather, work on our barn roof has moved on a pace.

Today, Monday should see the front re-tiled using the salvaged old tiles before commencing with new tiles on the rear..It is important to maintain as much of the original appearance and authenticity as possible - I would have actually liked to see  a new roof with some undulation built in but can understand the difficulty  in achieving this look!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Kid goats can develop 'accents'

Stumbled on an article in which, according to the BBC, (so it must be true) it seems "Pygmy goats can develop "accents" as they grow older." Apparently, "the animals join an elite group of mammals, known to adapt a vocal sound in response to the environment, that includes humans, bats and whales."  Don't think it means the next time you visit the local goat farm that you are going to hear the 'neah' in a heavy French accent but it got me thinking, if donkeys could join this 'elite group' we might hear a very unFrench 'eyore, eyore, eyore' !

BBC article here :

Saturday, 18 February 2012

What a different a week makes...

It was good to get out and about again yesterday and as we were checking out some friend's houses in Angles sur l'Anglin after the thaw, we stopped off at La Roche Posay for lunch. The Friday market was making a brave come-back with the pleasant weather change and it felt good to be walking about without having to think about underfoot. We chose to eat in 'Les Douves' a restaurant we had used and enjoyed before..

Inside it is a curious mix of themes and colours  - but it seems to work as on both visits we noticed that it seems to be a place where friends gather for lunch and a chat producing a good ambiance.They have a 2 course menu at 11 euro and a 3 course at 13euro. We had two, with a main of  wild boar stew (daube de sanglier) which we hadn't tried before plus a lovely desert of apple crumble and ice cream.

As we passed the racecourse at La Roche Posay we noticed they are on the ball with the early posting of this year's meetings - if you haven't tried it you should - you can bet on a good day out.

You can read about our last visit here... races

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Raising the roof...

While we were away in Scotland work started on replacing our barn roof at our Barrou house. David,our neighbour was kind enough to take some photographs for us in our absence.

Bad timing?
The timing was slightly unfortunate as it was no sooner removed than the heaviest snowfall we'd had in years started!

So before they could start to put up the new roof they had to clear all the snow from the first floor. They continued to work in sub-zero temperatures to get the frames up so they could get a cover over it as more heavy snowfalls were predicted.

It was a good decision as no sooner had they the covers on, that more snow hit!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Life goes on,,,

Despite sub-zero temperatures and snow.

A depleted Sunday market was in evidence yesterday in Descartes, showing a bit of defiance to the winds from Siberia.

We had intended going for a walk through the town's gardens but were denied this by a locked gate 'cause' of the snow!

We did manage a short walk around the outskirts to see the snow's effect.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Back to life...

We returned home to a very cold Le Grand Pressigny on Monday, after a very sad trip to Scotland.

I understand new records are being set as to how cold it is! Don't remember signing up for this - one of the main reasons for coming to France was to escape the Scottish weather, ironically its been warmer over there recently. I remember when we were thinking about buying our first house in Barrou, we spent time here during the winter months without the 'rose coloured spectacles' on and were happy that although it was naturally colder.and wetter, it was fine and talking to locals we were reassured to learn that it was a fairly typical winter and was over before you knew it!.

During the first winter (2005) we had the house, we were a little concerned as to how it was standing up to its first winter empty, so we made the trip across in January to be met with snow - apparently the first in twenty years and we have had it every winter since! As it happens the house was fine and it has proven to be a good house to 'winterize'.

We have chosen to live in our LGP house during the winter months as it needs heating and we are as well to take advantage of it! It will be an expensive exercise as our central heating system is currently run off electricity which is not cheap!. It is a dual option boiler but we only just got it working again after bit of modification to the system and did not have time to check out the fuel oil option - maybe next winter!
It is backed up by our log-burner which gives off a super heat so we are quite cosy!

Footnote: Just as I was typing "as to how cold it is" '(Love is like a) Heatwave' by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas started to play on my Motown Gold CD - raised a smile!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Friends and family...

Pauline and I would like to thank everyone who has offered their support through what is a difficult time. It is at times like these you become acutely aware of the value of good friends and family. I am very lucky to have the support of a large family - I am one of seven children - and my heart goes out to those who have face this situation alone. While never actually 'living in each other's pockets 'The Craigs' have always been there for each other and when we get together as we have over the last few weeks we come to understand what it is that bonds such a motley crew. It is this bond along with that of our adopted family, our wives and husbands and their families, that makes us who we are. Even though as individuals we have grown and changed over the years the values instilled by our parents have thankfully, endured.

Our friends old and new have shown us that one way to offer support is by communication - in whatever form, a few words in an email (or blog ) a telephone call and even in writing, yes, some people still do! With this now being simplified with modern technology there is no excuse for not getting in touch with someone who might appreciate some contact. It is very easy to lose such contact and take the apathetic approach of 'well they never contact me'- don't let pride stand in the way, make the first move - you will be glad you did!

Many thanks again,
Jim & Pauline