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!

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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

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September is…..Picking, Pickling and Preserving.

September

Luckily it is still warm and sunny here with plenty more barbecue days to come. The main summer guests have left La Maison Verte and our family visitors have deserted us too. The pool is free for us to use when we want but the grass is still growing and needs to be cut every four days!

More importantly, it is harvest time.We have been regularly picking tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, and chillies, among others, but now we have a glut of everything and instead of having a rest we are manically picking and deciding what to do with everything.

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The chillies are easy. The green ones and some of the red are just washed and go straight into bags in the freezer. I can just chop them frozen to add to dishes as I need them. You might be asking why I bother but I can’t buy chillies in the supermarkets or anywhere near where I live. The rest of the red ones are being tied to string so they can dry out ready to be used in some curries or added to oils which makes a great gift.

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Yesterday I spent the afternoon freezing marrows for soups and stews. I just peeled and deseeded and chopped into 1 inch chunks and threw them into boiling water for 2 minutes then iced water for 2 minutes before putting into freezer bags. They can be used from frozen.

With the tomatoes I have pickled the tiny cherry tomatoes in jars with vinegar, made a tomato sauce to freeze ready for the winter, and made home-dried tomatoes, the recipe is coming up.

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One thing is for sure…there is still plenty to do!

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I’ve been working hard on my photography. Please tell me if I’m getting better!