Honeymoon Suite

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As I write this I feel like the chap in the Money Supermarket ad.  I have spent the last year wearing nothing but wellies and work boots.  With the wedding less than 2 weeks away it dawned on me that I was intending to wear smart high heels for the day.  Firstly I had to find the boxes with heels in. Then dust them off. And try to squeeze my feet into the shoes. I have been teetering and tottering around the house in red suede heels with shorts and sun-top doing housework trying to get used to them and stay vertical!  Work in progress! No photos available!!!!!

Following David and Jess’ wedding, all three boys (and wife and girlfriend) are coming back to Quatre Chemins.  David and Jess will have 3 days with us  before they go on their official honeymoon, so the summer house has been dubbed the honeymoon suite and we have decorated the bedroom and bathroom and moved furniture in.  It is amazing how it has transformed the space.  When finished we won’t have a problem living there whilst the QC is let – it will be like playing at house!

The work schedule has intensified to be prepared for over 2 months of guests, with lots of finishing off of projects.  We finally tackled the pergola’s – and despite the rubbish instructions, managed to construct them.  However, lifting them to bolt to the wall was an impossibility for just 2 people.


Friends to the rescue for a pergola raising.


The two canopies also took some fitting – given a storm warning they’re not going to be a quick job to take down.  We then had to move yet more stone blocks to stand the legs on to raise the height above the windows and shutters.  Rod resorted to using his saw to cut them down to size where necessary.  Not quite a stone mason, but it worked.

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With temperatures close to 40oC the shade is not just welcome but vital.  So the terrace seemed a good spot for my hammock!


Night time temperatures have also been high, so a quick swim before bed has been a lovely way to cool down. (I STILL can’t believe that we have a pool!!)

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Before the concrete was set or the paint dry, Ginger was exploring our new bbq.





20160724_182551 The new pool furniture.

The Stone Fairy’s daughter and boyfriend have come out to France for the summer to help him with the rebuild of their derelict barn.  Danny had done a bricklaying course to help with the blockwork, and he and Rachel honed their skills by practicing on our covered terrace by the summerhouse, building a retaining wall.  Rod and I had no idea how to get a level wall with the changing ground levels across the front.  They have done a pretty good job of it too.  Apprenticeship ticked!



The levelling of rubble and infilling is a job for the autumn/winter – so the honeymoon suite does not have a great outlook at the moment!

We have had a bit of a disaster with our slurry (as one does!).  The ground is now rock hard and all the new trees and potager need daily watering.  And we have about 120000L of brown water in the slurry tank. However, after a couple of waterings, leaves started to fall off the trees and the plants began to look decidedly unhappy.  The liquid must just be too potent!  So we have talked to the farmer who cut the hay and he is going to pump it out in the autumn and spread it on his fields.  It will be interesting to see if the tank then refills with rainwater – we may need to divert some guttering.  In the meantime, we are using the submersible pump to recycle bath water!


The sunflowers are finally out and are fabulous.  Everywhere you go there are fields of yellow brightening up the countryside.  We have them to both sides of us, so see them whichever way we look. I still have a secret smile to myself every time I look at them.

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Breakfast with sunflowers



The bleuets are also out around the lake, with their ethereal blue flowers like a haze in the air.  The flowers only last for the morning – by afternoon they are gone.  Maybe that is why they are the French flower of Remembrance.


In spite of all the work, we have had time for jollies.  July and August are packed with activities and festivities in all of the  local communes.  On some nights it is difficult to choose which to go to – one could eat out every night and never cook!

So, have picnic hamper, will travel!


20160714_204330Castillones 14 July Repas, Dance and Fireworks

20160710_193023 Lauzun World Cup Final big screen BBQ and disco

20160709_193229 Lauzun BBQ and Dance by the lake and chateau.

We have also been to a “vernissage” – an opening night for an art and ceramics exhibition in Castillones, showcasing local artistes. Wine, nibbles and art.  Feeling very cultured! We never went to anything that in UK!

I have picked up some leaflets for events whilst we are back in UK for the wedding that Michelle, (the house/animal sitter) and her family, might be interested in. There is just so much going on. Spoilt for choice!

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Whilst the boys are here we will go to Soumansec for Sunday lunch, sitting out on the hillside under the plane trees with panoramic views.

Eymet night market is another must, setting up camp next to the watermill and river and making forays into the square for food.  Moules are very popular, but Rod still drools at the thought of his duck burger and my seafood risotto wasn’t too shabby either!

The Gasconnade in Lauzun is actually on Ed’s birthday this year so what further excuse do we need to party.  Last year it was held indoors because of the rain, and it was still one hell of a bash.  Outside in the street it will be  so much more festive and atmospheric.  If it’s the same band as last year then they’ll be literally dancing in the streets before the aperos have even been handed out!

All these foody events are in addition to all of the little daytime markets – there is one every day in the area, including the lovely Sunday one at Issigeac.  One job for the winter is to add a page of links and information on all of the activities in the area – in case anyone reading this is contemplating a holiday next year on a smallholding in the Lot et Garonne!  There will certainly be lots to keep all ages occupied if one wearies of chilling by the pool.

Animal antics.

Surprisingly, Monty has been very well behaved this month and has no misdemeanors to report.



We’re good dogs, we are!



We have a Little Owl nesting in the barn.  Sadly, Rod found an owl chick dead on the barn floor one morning.  We are hoping that it was because there were 2 of them, apparently in the fight for survival, one will push a second one out. But it is very quiet in there now, so we are not hopeful.  Sad.

We also have bats in the barn, as we found this little chap (or chapess)


Pixie continues to disappear for days on end, then return hungry, thinner and matted.  I would love to know where she goes.

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Tiny Tim is proving to be a naughty little kunekune.  We have had to buy an energiser so that we can put a strand of electric fencing tape around the pig pen.  He manages to squeeze his now fat little belly through the stockproof fencing and go wanderabout.  I am worried about him ending up in the lake! Or encountering a wild boar!!

The sheep are now totally bucket trained and all but one will eat out of your hand.  The Dartmoors are starting to grow back their fleeces and are now very cutely covered in short curls.

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20160725_090913  Surrounded by sunflowers




Published by

Judith Jenkins

I have just given up teaching to move to France and run a smallholding. I taught Biology and Environmental Studies at a private school in North Yorkshire. We lived just outside Thirsk, which, at last count, was house number 10. My husband, Rod, was initially in the military, so we have moved around quite a bit, spending 5 years in Germany. Ironically, we never lived in France! We have 3 sons, the youngest left home this summer and has gone out to Australia to join our middle son there. The eldest is a teacher in Buckinghamshire. We have had a number of animals - sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and pets - horses, cats and dogs. (Not all were for the freezer! )

One thought on “Honeymoon Suite”

  1. I have been reading your blogs ,sent to me by the curtesy of john tomes ,a friend and neighbour .
    I have found your news very interesting,and w ell written .
    I think you have done a super job ,made a fantastic home ,overcome some very difficult times .
    So I wish you a very happy happy future,you have certainly ear to if Kind regards. June perry june

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