Sunday, 31 August 2014

A New Fence and French Beans

So earlier today, we had the excitement and relief of our dear little cat Max returning after having disappeared for 30 hours! 


After we had come down from the euphoric cloud, Chris and I decided our task today was to put a temporary fence up at the front of the cottage. For two reasons: to stop Spencer running into the road (we didn't want any more animal dramas or upsets) and for extra security for the property. 

My first job was to cut back some gorse as we needed to clear an area.....


.......so Chris could put in some posts for the new fence.


Chris also cut some branches from a tree near the entrance to make it easier to drive in from the road..especially after we got stuck in the mud last week!


This long handled lopper is brilliant!


I cleared the foliage using my new wheelbarrow!


Spencer helped too!


It was very hot in the afternoon so I changed tack and cleaned the kitchen table and one of the benches in the cottage as it was cool in there.

My washing was drying nicely on the line.


Chris carried on working on the fence and by the end of the day it was in place.

No running into the road now Spencer!
For dinner we had the shepherds pie leftover from yesterday with some french beans. 


We had found the beans just down the road when we were searching for Max yesterday. There were handfuls on the verge that had fallen from the trailer so we helped ourselves. They were delicious and so tender.

In the early evening Chris ventured up the ladder to the loft in the farmhouse to try to retrieve a stepladder. He was going to use our tree lopper to try to drag it towards him as the floor is dodgy up there.  In the end he decided it was too risky and came back down empty handed.

Indiana Jones? Maybe in a different hat...
The rest of the evening I spent clearing some of the rotten wood from the barn. 


Chris drilled out the lock on the farmhouse door as it had been left locked and there was no key. We now know which size we have to buy for our new lock.

Tomorrow we need to go shopping and this time we must return with a ladder!!

Thanks for visiting!

Maggie xx

Return of the Max!

Return of the Max, Return of the Max......that's what I've been singing all day! 

I know Mark Morrison's song is Return of the MACK but I've been singing MAX instead...why? I'm sure you've guessed....

Max the cat returned last night!

Hooray, hoorah, celebrations, hip hip hooray!

SO this is what happened...

As Max had gone AWOL, I could hardly sleep at all last night. I managed to doze off for a bit then awoke at 2.30am. I got up to make a drink and thought I'd check outside for Max. I opened the door and a few seconds later, Max appeared, no worse for wear, in fact as bright and breezy as he'd ever been. My exclamations of relief woke Chris up and I heard him say in disbelief, 'Is he back?' I said 'Yes unless I'm dreaming'. 

Of course we were all awake by then, so, after lots of cuddles with the Rascal Max, I opened a tin of tuna which I shared between Max and Spencer whilst Chris and I had a cup of tea and both breathed a deep sigh of relief...

I managed to get some sleep then knowing our little family was all safe and sound and tucked up in Harvey J.

In the morning, I keep thinking I was dreaming and at any moment I was going to wake up and say to Chris, 'I had a dream where Max came back'.

But he WAS really back and we were both thrilled. I know cats go for a wander sometimes but Max had been gone for 30 hours and in the middle of the French countryside in relatively unknown territory. I will never know where he had been all that time but although he was fine, he certainly kept close by all day. In fact he followed me around most of the day apart from a long sleep above the cab. 

Max having a long snooze above the cab
I took lots of photos of him today as I was so happy to see him. Elated is more the word. 


It's made me realise how much Max means to me and how precious he is.

Max loves to find something to sit on...in this case an old piece of wood.
Following me into the cottage

And then following me out!


Even the two boys seemed particularly close today.
So pleased to have my little Max back

One of his favourite places....these metal sheets warm up from the sun and Max loves it!
From now on, I'm fetching Max in before it gets dark and I'm keeping an extra close eye on him......I don't want to go through that again!

Do you have any stories of pets that have gone missing then happily returned? I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for popping by,

Maggie xx

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Day Max the Cat Disappeared

 I had a rather sleepless night. 


Max had been out all night. When we had gone to bed, we couldn't find him. I felt pretty sure he would be outside this morning waiting for his breakfast. But he was nowhere to be seen. He hadn't eaten the food I'd left out for him so he hadn't been back in the night either.

 I was getting rather concerned so I put on my dressing gown and went outside to call him and have a quick look around for him. Still no Max.

I said to Chris that I wanted to walk around the perimeter to look for him. Then up and down the road. The road was a very quiet country road but every now and again, a vehicle would go by, probably going faster than it should. I didn't want to think too much about that scenario at the moment.

The voice of reason, Chris said we should have our morning cup of tea and then have a proper look. I think he was hoping that Max would have returned in the meantime. We had our mug of tea, then our porridge, all the time looking out and calling him every now and then.

We then quickly got dressed and walked around calling for him and checking the undergrowth. 


We listened for him as he often meows when you call him. 


I was getting pretty anxious but I tried to think positive and also took the opportunity to take some photos of the back roof.


We walked up and down the road and checked the ditches, just in case........ But there was no sign of him at all. 


During the rest of the morning, I became more worried and upset. I spent most of the day calling him and looking for him. I went through every scenario from thinking he had just gone on an adventure jaunt to explore new territory to him being bitten by an adder, stuck down the well or the septic tank, killed by a fox or just plain lost and not able to find his way home again. He had an identichip but I now wished I'd put a tag on his collar with our phone number.

I tried to take my mind off it all by making a shepherds pie and doing some laundry by hand. 

I also did some research about adders and found that usually the adder would come off worse in a cat to adder confrontation. I read one story about a cat that regularly brought home dead snakes as presents for its owner. Lovely!

This made me feel a bit better. Although I kept wondering if this would apply to an older cat....Max was 15 years old although still pretty fit and agile. Chris reminded me how fearsome he could be. Like the time when a large Staffordshire terrier had confronted him in the road back home in England. Max had launched himself at that poor dog, hissing and spitting, and the dog had ran back to his owner's van, tail between its legs.

Chris was also very concerned about Max but he took his mind off it with practical stuff. He made great progress with his workbench. In fact he finished it. He'd also fixed his wood and engineering vices to it. He just needed to decide where was the best place for it in the workshop.


I put some tuna out for Max as he loves it and I thought it might attract him back. 

Later in the afternoon, accompanied by Spencer, I cut some more brambles down by the oak tree. We cleared to the edge of the large pond.

A muddy nose, by the edge of the pond
The huge empty pond
The canopy of the oak tree branches above the pond
By the end of the day, my hope of seeing Max again was fading. I knew cats go walkabouts but Max tended to keep close to home. I had a horrible feeling he'd come to a sticky end. I was beginning to have feelings of guilt about bringing him to France. Although I knew he'd been so relaxed about the travelling......


...and had settled in so well to his new environment.



I just wanted him back now.


Apart from being upset, I was also thinking that I would have to visit the neighbouring farms and other neighbours tomorrow to ask if they had seen a black cat. I tried to translate what I would say to them in my head. 

So, at 10.15pm, just over 24 hours since I last saw him, I was still waiting for Max to come home. I truly hoped that a future blog post would tell the story of how he came home. I didn't think I'd get much sleep tonight.

Thanks for visiting,

Maggie xx

The above was my original post but just so you don't worry or feel too sad about Max, I'm adding this. Dear little Max arrived back safe and sound in the middle of the night. I couldn't sleep and opened the door and there he was! Little rascal!!


Friday, 29 August 2014

So the Bar is also the Post Office?!

We had set the alarm for 7.30am as we needed to get up early to go shopping. 

Our focus was to buy the ladder today. We also had lots of other things on the list. We planned to go to Castorama DIY store in Quimper but also the supermarket, the Mairie, the post office and fill up with LPG gas. 

Whilst Chris was in the shower, I heard some noise and noticed that a huge container had been dropped off at the bottom of our drive. I went down to investigate concerned that we wouldn't be able to get Harvey J out. The container was so full of french beans that they were toppling out onto the road. I thought that we could probably just about get out. I needn't have worried as a few minutes later a lorry turned up and the driver loaded the container (with quite a lot of trouble and swearing in French) onto its trailer. 


We noticed later on when we got back from shopping that the huge piece of metal from above the wheel that had been causing problems for the driver had been discarded into our hedge. 

Oh well what's one more piece of rubbish for us to dispose of?!

Before we went out, I put Max in the cottage living room with a bed, food, water and a litter tray as we thought he would be happier there than cooped up in the carrier travelling around with us all day. 


Spencer came with us of course. 


To start with, we headed for the post office in town. We had to pick up a letter from the bank that proved our address for our account. Chris dropped me off and I headed to a blue and yellow building (the colours of La Poste) but soon realised it was the community centre. Doh! I noticed that the bar opposite had a small Relais Poste sign above it, like this.....


I thought it was a little strange above a bar but I went in anyway. Chris was busy parking Harvey J. 

It was only about 11am but there were already a few customers sat at the bar. They turned and said 'Bonjour'. I returned the 'Bonjour' and the bar owner came around from behind the bar. I said something in French like 'J'ai un papier' and showed him the slip we'd been left by the postman. I felt relieved when he knew exactly what I was talking about. He led me to a small post office station in the corner. It was a bit like this but smaller....


The bar owner found my letter in a drawer and asked me to sign. He was friendly and didn't want to see my passport for identification. I suppose because it was pretty obvious from my English accent, stumbling French and 'camping car' parked outside! He bid me good day and I did the same to him and his customers.

We then went to the Mairie to thank the secretary for her help with the water and to ask her for the details of the plumber she had recommended and also an electrician. It turned out that they were one and the same! And the same person also did heating! We struggled a bit with the French whilst we were there but the secretary was very patient and very polite. 

We then filled up with LPG in Quimper, did the supermarket shop and then off to Castorama. This was our first time here, and I liked as it was very airy and had loads of choice. 

Castorama, Quimper
We found most of what we needed there including a wheelbarrow (hooray!), a hose, cement and temporary fencing to keep Spencer safe from the road. We didn't find the ladder we wanted though which was the main point of our visit. We decided to try Brico Depot again as they had the ladder Chris wanted but it had been out of stock the week before. Unfortunately they still didn't have it. So we headed home rather frazzled and with no ladder. 

When we got home Chris was reversing Harvey J into the drive when we realised we were stuck in the mud. The ground was so sodden from all the rain over the last few days. We managed to manoeuvre it out again with boards and Chris's driving skills. 

I let Max out from the cottage. He was stretching after a long afternoon kip. He'd eaten some food so I knew he'd been pretty happy.


After a cuppa, I picked some blackberries. Then we put the new hose together with connectors. This was going to make it much easier to fill Harvey J's water tank from the cottage kitchen. We'd been using a watering can up until now! 

Chris looking very pleased with the new hose!
I also put our new doormat down at the cottage door. Lots of new things today....a wheelbarrow, a hose, a door mat and a laundry basket!


We had a quick and easy tea with blackberry crumble and custard for pudding.


Just before turning the lights out, this pretty moth flew into the van...it was much bigger than it looks!


Thanks for visiting!

Maggie xx

Thursday, 28 August 2014

We're Going on a Meter Hunt

It was a case of great minds think alike this morning as both Chris and I had been thinking about the electricity situation.

The electricity situation = No electricity!

Due to the electricity report we had received during the sale proceedings, we knew it wasn't going to be possible to have electricity in the farmhouse. So we had kind of written off the idea of electricity being connected during this visit. But we had both been wondering if it was worth contacting EDF or an electrician to see if it was possible to have some electricity at least...maybe in the cottage. 

We realised we didn't know where the meter was. I know it would seem like one of the first things you'd usually look for when buying a house but because we'd thought we couldn't get connected in addition to being busy with other things, it hadn't really crossed our minds until now.

So first thing after breakfast we went on a meter hunt!

 We checked the cottage first. As an aside, whilst up in the loft of the cottage I took this photo of the huge bath like tub up there. 

Large tub reservoir in the cottage loft
It's the reservoir for the water drawn from the well by our little windmill and used to supply the water to the cottage......by the way it's not working at the moment!! Not really a surprise!

Our little windmill..it goes round...but doesn't draw any water at the moment!
We couldn't find the electric meter in the cottage, farmhouse or anywhere else. So Chris tried to trace cables to the source whilst I tried to find clues on the internet. The internet had decided not to work today... very very slow.....so I gave up on that. 

We had another idea that it may be in the well house which was covered in brambles. I went out there armed with secateurs and loppers but soon realised there was no way an electric meter could be hidden under all this undergrowth, huge boulders and rubbish. 

The well house
Next idea was to give our estate agent a call to see if she could shed any light on it's location. I just couldn't waste anymore time looking for something that didn't seem to exist. 

The estate agent told me that the meter had been removed!

By now it was late morning and the weather had taken a turn for the worst. It had started raining again heavily. 

A bit fed with the rain and the electric meter situation, I suggested we go out for while, maybe to the garden centre to pick up a few things. I wanted a wheelbarrow to help with the all the rubbish collection and garden waste....after all it was on our list! I also thought we could visit the Mairie to let the secretary know that our water was fine now. But Chris wanted to get on with building his workbench so in the end we compromised by taking Spencer for a walk down the lane after lunch. 

There would be no retail therapy today!

Before going out for our walk, I tried to ring EDF, the English speaking line, to ask about the meter and what the procedure was to get a new one. I tried three times, had to choose various automated options only to get cut off after 5 minutes each time. Very frustrating!

It was great to get out for a walk even though it was raining. We went down a lane just across from our house. It's beautiful countryside. 


We didn't meet any people.....



......or see any traffic.......


.......but we did meet a cow and her twin calves....


....and these friendly heifers....they were so interested in us....not frightened at all.


When we passed our house, Chris noticed a tall concrete pole with cables and boxes at the base. I pointed out that this was on our land. 

So could this be the elusive electric meter?! 

It was all overgrown with brambles as would be expected! We decided that we'd come back later to investigate. 

When we got back from our walk, I decided to scrub the stone wall in the cottage living room as it was very blackened from a woodburner that had been there previously. 


I concentrated on the worst part under the flue hole. It was hard work.


I was amazed at how many buckets of black water I had to dispose of. 


  I think the scrubbing made some difference but it needs a lot more work!



Chris continued constructing his workbench and made excellent progress. 

The workbench starts to take shape
The workbench has a top!
After dinner, armed with secateurs and loppers (seemed to be becoming standard kit), we went to investigate the boxes on the concrete pole. After much cutting of brambles, Chris cleared an area around the pole and there were definitely electric cables heading for our house. There were three boxes, one of which looked very much like a meter box. We fetched a screw driver to open it and inside the box there was the meter!


Hmmmm...so how come the estate agent had said it had been removed?!!

It didn't matter now. We were just very pleased that we'd found it. We vowed to contact EDF in the morning.

When we returned to Harvey J, there was a beautiful rainbow just above.....

There's a rainbow there somewhere if you look hard!
It kind of reflected our mood!

Thanks for popping by!

Maggie xx