Saturday, October 30, 2010


Perhaps not quite the last post as we still have a few days to go. The weather is sunny but cold. The fruit trees (2) are planted and so are the bulbs in the tubs with pansies and in the millpond border.
When we went up to Peter’s Place to get some photographs of the (almost) completed viewing platform I also took some pictures of the nature trail hacked out so far from just below the seat to the river walk.
This picture is taken partway along the track looking back to the start
And this one from the same spot although in the other direction
A bit further along - there is a gradual gradient along the contour of the broomfield
And a bit futher again - you can just see Rufus running ahead
I've missed out the tricky bit where we need some steps
Perhaps a bit more work to do here clearing that branch
This is where the path connects to the work done last year. The river is on the right.
This is the original river path
View of the river from the path
'Bridge' into Didier's land

I can't get rid of this gap no matter what I do!
Beach - taken in the spring
Looking back - the river now on the left with the beach
The path contines to the left of this field - the Redwood Field where we hope to establish a Boules piste and a Badminton area next year
 On Friday we took a last trip into Figeac, firstly to our French bank to try and learn how to view our account online so we can keep track of our money from back home. So far we haven’t managed to log on with the information we have.
Secondly, to look at the clothes shops. I want to buy a Festive Season dress or something now I have lost some weight. Bought something the first shop we went into. We then returned to our favourite tea shop (down Rue Seguier) for a pot of smoky green tea. The owner speaks a little English which is a help.
As we have made a great effort with the packing, tidying and sorting out we shall have another outing tomorrow to the Poterie du Don which we haven’t visited at all this year although we have directed others there. Will add any information about the trip later. Sunday: We went to the Poterie du Don at Le Fel as we planned. We went the route through Cassaniouze, Junet and Montsalvy and came back along the valley of the River Lot. The drive was delightful - all the trees have turned their autumn colours and were dazzling in the sunlight and the vistas of hills, valleys and colour was just amazing.
Near Junet
trees above the River Lot
The pottery hasn't been a Le Fel for very long and it was funded by various bodies. It is spectacular - rather like three copper-coloured baked bean tins shoved into the ground. But inside it hosts a shop and a gallery. Well worth a visit - take your credit card!
Poterie du Don - Le Fel
 The pottery is of a very high standard and some of it quite quirky. We always get a good welcome from Nigel, the owner. His wife Suzie Atkins is the potter and she once showed us over the pottery at it's old home.  We have bought several pieces over the years that we have been coming here and we intended to do so today. We have had our eye on one of the hares, but the one we preferred, a standing version was not on display and anyway at 950 euros we decided to leave it until next year.
Sitting Hare
I looked at this:
Nude Vase
We both looked at this below and nearly bought it - 550 euros - but as we are coming back to the Auvergne next year where would it go - Cowbridge to be stored or the Moulin? Decision deferred.
Bird - the post was a long piece of wood and the sculpture was designed to hang on the wall

 In the end we bought something more practical and less expensive. The items will remain at the Moulin for use.
Casserole and a dish
 There is a link to the Poterie du Don website on the left if you are interested. So, tomorrow is our last day - cleaning and packing and visiting neighbours perhaps.  I leave you with a view from the terrace taken this morning.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


View from Mourjou
 This week I saw the kingfisher. It is the first time I have seen him. He was sitting on the metal fence by the millpond and he flew off down the length of the canal as I came out of the gîte. Delightful.

We heard and saw La Chasse this week. A multitude of cars sped along the commune road past the Moulin. Later when walking Rufus Jim saw some deer hoof prints along the river path. Let’s hope the deer escaped.

We have decided to plant a small orchard in one of the fields. It would seem that the French don’t grow cooking apples like our Bramley but use tart dessert apples so we will have to bring a Bramley from the U.K. Also we have been unable to find a Damson tree so that will have to wait. We are planting an apple – Granny Smith and a dark plum Quetsche d'Alsace We will have to provide protection around them against rabbits and deer.
Meanwhile I have been making some jam with the fruit we already have – the quinces. I haven’t made jam for about 30 years but I have more time here and the quinces were too good to waste.
Jelly and Jam
 Matthew and his friend Andre, from Amsterdam, arrived last Thursday. There had been fears that their flight would have been cancelled, or the hire car be unavailable because of petrol shortages but neither of these events happened and they arrived safely.

Work started immediately on the platform at Peter’s Place. It is a solid job.
Site Foreman
Andre looks doubtful

This is it almost finished - it needs some more rails and prettying up a bit with some plants, a table, a cocktail cabinet and fridge - perhaps a sunshade - it was very hot up there even today.
 Matthew also found time to paint the entrance hall – white, of course.

Red dragon head piece
 On Saturday afternoon we had a break from our labours – I was finishing the dragons – and went to the Chestnut Festival at Mourjou. It was the best yet and we had an enjoyable afternoon. Just as well we went when we did as it rained heavily all day Sunday – a washout. I felt sad for the stallholders and organisers – it must be heartbreaking to see all your efforts washed away.
View down the road showing some of the stalls and the chestnut roaster in the field on the right.
Matthew playing a game
A colourful group making music
Stilt walkers and musician

 Note: I have a small movie of this pair but I have to make it work upright - a technical problem. I will insert it when I have solved it.

I cooked the leg of venison that Malek gave us last time they were here. I casseroled it with red wine and vegetables. Very tasty.
We are hypocrites really because although we don’t want the hunt killing animals on our land we are quite happy to cook and eat those shot elsewhere. Well, as Jim would say, what do you want – consistency?

As the rain prevented more work on the platform the apple press was dug out, cleaned and put to use.
Chopping the apples prior to mashing

Chief bottle washer
A primitive masher
The press
The result
The tasting - Cheers!
Next year we plan to get a proper masher and a steriliser to do the job properly. At the moment the juice will only keep about a week in the fridge before it starts to ferment.

Malek has emailed to say that he and his family won’t be coming for the last few days of our stay here as one of his children are ill. A bit disappointing as we were planning a small Halloween party for them if Jim’s one pumpkin ripened. However, it does mean less work as I shan’t have to sort out the beds in the gîte etc. Also, it is so cold now and rain is forecast for the weekend.

We still have a few more chores to complete – the bulbs need planting, leaves swept up and general tidying up. We are leaving on Tuesday 2nd November and should get back to Cowbridge on Thursday 4th so see you after that.

The quilt I made for the main bedroom
A bientot.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I’m a bit late with this post as not a lot has happened recently except that the weather has got a lot colder with occasional rain and mist. We have stopped eating on the terrace and have got the woodburners going most days.

On the return from a shopping trip to Aurillac we took the back roads in an effort to find some ruins. They are to be the subject of this years calendar; “Ruins of the Auvergne”. We found four rather good ones. I was devastated to discover that one of my favourites, on the way to Decazaville, had been demolished. I never did get round to photographing it so that, sadly, will not be featuring on the calender. I nearly have my dozen, so if you are interested put in your order now for a calendar. . .

Last weekend 9th/10th October we had a craft fair in Maurs. The stalls are spread around the town with musicians playing – quite a jolly affair. The only thing I bought was a new bag – shhh! Don’t tell Jim – I have enough handbags to stock my own stall.

pottery stall

Another pottery stall
A colourful pair
The highlight of the week was a visit from my brother-in-law Eddie, who lives in Valencia, Spain. He was on his way back to the U.K. to visit friends and family and made a stopover at the Moulin. It was his first visit here and Jim was eager to show him the mill workings and the domaine. I think Eddie enjoyed his visit especially the time on the tractor.
Another occasion for a meal at L’Auverge de Mourjou – excellent.

Much progress has been made on the Nature Trail – mentioned in earlier posts. The route has been hacked through from the river path and up through the Broom field to the rough road and thence to Peter’s Place. There is still some work to do tidying this up and putting in a step or two in places but it is a grand achievement. Jim has also traced a route partway across the crags although we are not quite sure where we are going with this yet. We need to get down to the weir somehow and then back to the other side of the house. However, from the top of the crags you get this view of the house:

Next year I am hoping to get a couple of Wwoofers or similar here in April to do some work around the place. For those who don’t know what Wwoofers are look at these sites:
To this end I have prepared another blog to explain all: If any of you know anybody who might be suitable ask them to check it out and contact me.

Matthew and his friend Andre are coming for a few days at the end of this week. They plan to do work. I think Jim has a scheme to build a platform out from Peter’s Place for what purpose I’m not sure. If the weather is inclement they will be painting the kitchen. I shall be cooking the leg of venison that is in the freezer and various other housewifely chores jobs.

We have started to sort our belongings for our return in two weeks. And we are watching the French News with interest. If the current fuel situation here gets worse we may have difficulty getting enough petrol to make the long journey home.

And finally, Ruth, if you are reading this - Rufus still loves his Duckie and plays with it a lot.