The Bed’s Not Wet!

It’s been a hectic two weeks at Le Rêve as at long last we have a new roof! Although we have only lived here a year last June for the previous four years we came to the house throughout the year and always used to cross our fingers when it rained. Many nights we had to go to bed with a bucket placed strategically on the floor by the bed and listen to the plinkety-plonk of water seeping through the wooden ceiling and hitting the bucket in different places. It was very musical when you couldn’t sleep but more worrying still was the quiet thud of water hitting the bedding…. Suffice to say we had been looking forward to this moment for the last five years.

To keep the cost down we work with Daniel, the roofer. The thing is that we definitely have to watch every single cent. Part of moving to France was a search for a simpler life in exchange for leaving the rat-race. This means a massive reduction in income! The work for us involves helping to remove and dispose of tiles and old rotten wood and then lug the tuiles from the car park up to the barn which is a fair way. And I’m telling you, as pretty as terracotta tiles are, they weigh a ton!

Roof (2) Roof (3)

Well everything starts smoothly.The sun is shining, Daniel is singing as usual and my husband and son are heaving tiles. To save more money we had opted to just have new under tiles and to use the best of the old tiles as the over tiles. So far so good! Daniel starts tile hurling with his young mate Kevin until we hit un petit problème, all the tiles are porous and can’t be reused. This translates into a bill for eight hundred Euros on top of the estimate! Of course, by this time a good chunk of the roof is naked, Daniel is surrounded by broken tiles and my husband’s excitement  of the possibility of a dry bed has slightly waned. It’s not an insurmountable problem; I have a little money saved for a new kitchen so we can use that. I take a deep breath and tell him to go ahead and order more tiles. I hand over a signed blank cheque, against my better judgement after eighteen years of banking, and keep my fingers crossed.

The next day they have removed the old rotten volige and are ready to check the chevrons (rafters). They were expecting to  adjust them, but on  closer inspection they resemble bananas, rotten bananas. They all have to be replaced, of course. Another few hundred to fork out and another blank cheque. I am amazed at how you can walk into a shop and exchange goods for a cheque for a fair amount of dosh without identification!

By now you may be muttering ‘stupid woman’ or something similar, but I do know Daniel as he did some roofing for us last year. He is a wiry 57 year old who struts about on the roof as if he’s at a nightclub and spends his time calling me Madame ,which makes me feel very old, and also le boss!  My husband asked Daniel if it would keep the birds and rodents away from the roof, as they often have a late party going on….he said not.

Roof (4)Roof (5)Roof (6)

After a week the roof was finished. The bowed front edge was no more, all the rot was gone and new, but distressed tiles, laid in place. It was a massive relief tinged with sadness that my kitchen would be put back on hold. I know it’s not the end of the world,I mean, what’s a little rust on the oven, a tap that is almost removable, manky old units to someone who spends their life in the kitchen?

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It seems then, that to finally get my kitchen we will have to be yet more frugal. The next few recipes are ones my family love but are tasty, easy and more importantly, cheap!

Thanks for reading,

Amanda

x

Weddings and Jelly….

This week we were lucky enough to have been invited to a French wedding. How exciting! The strange thing is that we had never met either the bride or groom but it seems to be custom here for the parents to invite their neighbours to the ceremonies. We sort of know our neighbours, I mean we can just about make out their house across the field so we don’t bump into them very often. Occasionally their little dog, who lives outside, trots down the road and says ‘bonjour’ to our dogs but mostly it’s waving and, when we do meet the normal kissing.

So curious, and a little nervous, we planned the afternoon. My mother had a hair appointment and asked if we should cover our arms and heads seeing that France is a mostly Catholic country, especially in the countryside. We were told that arms should be covered so with modesty in mind I donned a beige shift dress, jacket and shoes.

Well, I don’t think it really mattered! The bride looked beautiful in a very elegant straight white dress but with the guests it was clearly a case of anything goes. The men and boys all seemed to be wearing cloth caps and the women, well it is a case of ‘anything goes’. All in all it was very entertaining and we couldn’t wait for the next bit.

So all the guests then go on to the ‘vin d’honneur’ which is basically a drinks reception with nibbles before the close friends and family have the wedding breakfast. By now it was about 5pm, and as I’d been on a bit of a diet I was starving. Luckily there was a choice of wine in a fairly decent sized glass! Normally it’s Rosé  but there was a choice .What surprised me were the nibbles and no….it wasn’t jelly, it was little doughnuts and door wedge sized hunks of brioche loaf. How on earth do you elegantly consume that whilst holding wine? Well the bride sauntered over, took a slice and expertly folded it with one hand into  a sort of mammoth sandwich thingy…..I’ll say no more. She still looked elegant but I wasn’t chancing it!

By the time we got back I was starving but I was a good girl and had some chicken on the barbie with salad but what I really fancied was my Dirty Ducky Dauphinoise with Raunchy redcurrant sauce. Stand by for my recipe for redcurrant jelly.