“Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus”, on Saint David’s Day – our February 2022 newsletter
“Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus”, on Saint David’s Day – our February 2022 newsletter

“Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus”, on Saint David’s Day – our February 2022 newsletter

Spring, glorious Spring

Spring, glorious Spring has arrived and on St Davids Day, I’m looking at the bright clumps of proud daffodils and the drooping purple fritillaria lanterns in the flower bed in front of the Warehouse kitchen whilst frying Lee some Welsh cakes and trying to work out where February has gone and what we’ve achieved this month.

Spring, beautiful as it is, brings the various tree pollens that cause havoc in Tracey’s eyes and whilst the trees are still bare, in February they all wake up, so the safety goggles are back on and Tracey’s gardening time is limited.  Lee has two top requests when friends ask if they can bring us anything over – HP Brown sauce and English mustard – I just ask for a box of Piriton please!  The tablets I’m given here just don’t work the same even when I add copious amounts of wine or whisky with them. (Don’t try that at home)

February Jobs

February Jobs So the tedious, dusty sanding of the Pump House kitchen units is complete, and the wax oil has been applied.  Most have been secured in place apart from the wall units.  We need to complete the kitchen tiling before we can put these up and tiling has started this week.  We chose the same Spanish tiles that we’ve used in the bathroom because we found them to be superb quality.  The tile thickness however led to a high number of drill bit casualties – Lee must have got through at least ten just trying to attach a single radiator to the tiles in the bathroom.  Anyway, the kitchen and open plan lounge / diner are taking shape now and Lee has installed some 1950s aluminium alloy bulkhead fittings and some 1950s Revo factory wall lights on swan necks.  Tracey, traumatised by French wiring since her electric shock finds Lee’s fiddling around with French electrics all very unsettling but happily, the end result is fabulous, and he’s done a great job.  We’re waiting on a delivery of some more of these bulkhead fittings for the bedrooms in The Pump House. We’ve also survived a flat pack bed installation without rowing for The Pump House double room – German engineered so we were actually able to follow the instructions and all the parts were there.

Our lovely carpenter Monsieur Barranger returned to fit the last 2 doors and a window to the old toilet block which is now, finally, a water tight and secure building once again.  Possibly 50 years or more since it’s been like that.  We alternate between calling it the old toilet block and the lamp room but as we’ve now removed the toilet holes in the ground we think we’ll start calling this building “The Lamp Room”.  It will be for push bike storage, some garden furniture, a lawn mower and some tools.  We had planned to extend it for the tractor but the whole planning process here has been so complex with various flood plain issues that we’re re-thinking this option.  We stayed in a converted railway Lamp room once in a place near Uzes – so tiny – but they’d managed to get a mezzanine floor in with a bed in the eaves and a bathroom with a cramped but useable shower. 

Lee’s been sneaking around putting up signs this month as well – signs just seem to appear from storage boxes in his garage and when he gets the right inspiration, out comes the drill & up goes a sign – you can get quite a bit of mileage out of playing what “SW” is an abbreviation of in the photo of the Pump House kitchen above and check out our homage to the brilliant Six Nations tournament in the picture below of the Pool House loo!

We came here in 2020 with some beautiful Bournemouth Blue railway carriage fabric with the intention of getting our 1930s sofa re-upholstered.  In the end we decided to use the fabric on the waiting room seat which needed re-upholstering – see the picture in the waiting room – easy to imagine waiting for that steam train, when you’re sitting here with the door to the platform open and the sun streaming in.

In Matters of the Stomach & Sport

In Matters of the Stomach & Sport – Do you remember the half of a wild boar that got delivered at Christmas? Well, we’ve finally eaten our way through it, saving the last “gigot” for Daphne’s 9th birthday who cheekily joined us at the table for a few birthday morsels.  We’ve found the best way to cook the boar is always long, slow, low temperature braising with lots of onions & red wine and served with a mountain of mash.  Lee had lots of wild boar and brown sauce sandwiches too.  We had another pleasurable evening in Sos this month with a delicious home cooked meal with our Yorkshire friends who live up in the village – a real reminder of Sunday dinners in the UK, and on a school night too (!) – a leg of lamb with mint sauce, followed by sponge with custard and then followed by the Villa Leeds game, where Villa let our staggering 3-1 lead develop into a 3-3 draw!

We’ve managed two Sunday lunches out this month as well, Les Marroniers in Vianne and our Bistro Sotiate in the village here – both splendid value for money if you have the local wine in a pichet  – if you order from the wine list, you’ll push your bill up accordingly.  Half a litre of decent local red will cost around 5 to 6 euros. What’s always agreeable to us is that Daphne is allowed into most restaurants here and she sits quietly under the table. In one restaurant, another dog came in after we were settled, which makes us a bit tense as Daphne can be quite territorial and behave as if the restaurant is hers alone, so we were very relieved to see the teeny-weeny dog get stuffed into a furry dog carrier where it stayed with its head just sticking out a bit and Daphne didn’t even notice it, neither did the proprietors.  Look at the pictures of the mountain pork being cooked over the open grill at our local restaurant – it was delicious, so was the melted reblochon cheese to start and the homemade cheesecake pudding! 

Now, this bit might start to nark a bit, because we heard about storms battering the UK, but by the 23rd February it was warm enough to eat lunch outside – the usual clear blue sky, lots of warm sunshine with no wind, around 16 degrees.  Clarence has started going outside again now in the day – he loves the sunshine and is already terrorising the lizards on the platform.  We love it when he awakens from his winter slumber routine of sleep, sleep and more sleep and we have some photos of him out & about this month.


Language – Tracey had an unexpected bit of chit-chat about Aston Villa with a French delivery driver who spoke a fair bit of English and having spotted the logo on my tee-shirt commenced the naming and positioning of every player with a lot of emphasis on French players that have played for AVFC.  To break the perpetuity of this conversation Tracey thought she’d best “crack on” and mumbled something about getting ready for the Watford game to be told “ha, fingerrz in zee noze” with the driver simulating two fingers in a V going up his nostrils.  Mystifying, absolutely mystifying.

And Locally – Église Saint-Barthélémy de Gueyze, Sos

Locally – Église Saint-Barthélémy de Gueyze, Sos – this church looks just beautiful in the sunshine – and is on one of Daphne and Tracey’s regular walks.  This month we found a new freshwater spring on our walk, having stopped at the memorial cross for Daphne to have a sun bathe and for Tracey to chew on  some sticky Agen prunes we could hear trickling water and followed the sound to “la source” and sure enough, a little old lady came along with her plastic bottles to fill up.  There’s lots of places to go for free water around here and the French take car-boot-fulls of bottles to these springs to top up their water supply and for some it is their only water supply.

In other local news, a bit sad I’m afraid, holiday makers who have been coming here for years will no doubt recollect the little pony down the railway track – he shared the field with a donkey at one point too.  Sadly he’s gone to pony heaven, he was very old and Pony Field has now been planted up with poplar trees, above photo with Daphne in.  We witnessed the most enormous, noisy forestry-tree-planter-remover-machine-tractor-thingy going past the station one day and when we walked down the line, we discovered the field had been planted with rows of poplar trees – the wood is used to make fruit & veg crates – might be a tax break advantage because lots of very small fields end up planted with these straight rows of poplars.  These little saplings will eventually look like the photo above of another field near Gueyze church. This ultra modern bit of forestry kit is amazing but you’re more likely to see and hear and smell ancient, tiny French tractors round here chugging along at that slow pace of times and sounds long gone. We love them.

To finish then, nearly time for tea & Welsh Cakes, I’ll nip back to that strange expression mentioned above that we’ve now discovered the French really do use, in English – “Fingers in the Nose” it means, well, it’s a dead cert, an easy victory, it’ll be so easy, easy-peasy etc etc

We lost, at home, to Watford…