Monday, 29 December 2008


So our first ex-pat French Christmas was largely an exercise in attempting to recreate a proper English Christmas, so I guess that means we are homesick and 'miss everyone' - bah! We have a proper Christmas tree (our second as the first dropped all of its needles in three days) and everyone rebelled at my highly artistic idea of a replacement of 'painting a stick white'. :D Presents were opened on Christmas Eve, as per French tradition, and we went next door for Christmas dinner (cooked by Bev) of proper English fayre. Jim & Monique very kindly invited elderley neighbour Paulette for dinner too but I failed to understand more than one word in four of what she was rattling on about, but she seemed quite happy nonetheless.
I made mince pies, a la Jamie Oliver, tres bon and got to do an emergency mission to the English Shop at Saintes for mincemeat and sherry. As it was nice I got to go by motorbike, pretty good for Christmas Eve.

Births & deaths
Boubou, the Jack Russell, gave birth to puppies on the 14th. Harry was witness to the first birth and came back shrieking and waving his arms about, so we were lucky to be on the scene for all seven births. Unfortunately two of the weedy looking ones have since died, one of them holding out for nealy two weeks. So that's sad, yet lovely and educational if you want to look at it that way. The remaining puppies are very healthy, four boys and a girl - the owner of the stud dog gets first dibs on the pick of the puppies and Jim hopes to keep one, so that's three that will be sold I s'pose. Over the weekend also saw the demise of Frofrou, the silky bantam, to a fox we think and Dotty, the pintade (guinea fowl), throat torn out by a weasel (!). Bonne chance mes amis. All go down on the farm! We are now avian-less - maybe I should go to market and buy myself a duck? I counted the horses and donkey this morning, just in case ....

We viewed the most fab house today at La Brousse; fantastic position for us as it's less than ten Ks from where the boys are at school and close to decent roads for trips up to La Rochelle and over to where the folks are at La Tremblade. Also it's habitable and has plenty of scope for improvement & enlargement into the numerous outbuildings. Fingers crossed that the pound/euro rate doesn't drop any further then or it'll start to drop out of our price range. Pictures below, though they don't really do the place justice.

Just in case any of you fancy popping over to see us when it gets warmer, here's a link to a website I put together to advertise Jim & Monique's business so you can get an idea of what this place is like.

The boys haven't played competitive football for a good month now but they had their footy squad photo taken. Harry 1st boy on the left, back row; Alfie 2nd boy from right, front row.

la brousse maison

... more la brousse pics

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


So, a little interlude while: we get on with integrating (I am less than good at this, my French is getting worse); I turn 40 (the shock of this greatly tempered by Mark & Helen & family visiting for a week); and a flying visit to the UK on business (I am granted a filthy English cold).

Harry has been bumped up to Secondary school - so far not too dramatic as he had got to know a few potential classmates from his new football team; so now Harry & Alf go to different schools. Both's spoken French coming along really well and relatively unfazed by spending 100% of their school time learning in a foreign language. Football matches have become rather sporadic mid-season, so we don't have to spend every weekend hollering on the touchline. Alfie is developing into a pretty deadly striker with a hattrick last Saturday (I missed it as I was flying back from Stansted). Harry hasn't had a match for a few weeks now but is still enjoying being a centre back.

We're still looking at houses with a view to buy. Seen absolutely heaps of overpriced, mad rubbish (houses with no garden; houses with a massive garden and a teeny, tiny house wedged in the corner; houses near stupidly busy roads etc blah blah). We do, however, know plenty of people who've bought reasonably priced characterful places, so all hope is not lost. Bev is masterminding the search and regularly spends a morning searching for the property that will be 'the one'.

The boys have started to learn to horse-ride and trot happily around the paddock on a brown & white pony called Cartel. Even Bev has had a go so I guess this means I have to learn now too - I'm a scaredy pants. :( The boys are very excited because Boubou, the terrier who lives with us, is having puppies in a few weeks - I think they are secretly hoping they'll be getting one.

Thinks I miss about the UK:
'Proper beer'

My little pony

My great big pony

Saujon House

House for sale locally at Saujon.