Sunday, 31 March 2013

Sunday Sunday

Easter Sunday and although there was a lot of sunshine it is still very cold. As we do a lot of Sundays we went off today with some friends to a " Vide Grenier " I think the translation is actually Empty Attic and is generally held in the local sports or school hall and during the Summer Months quite often outside.

There are loads to choose from every weekend although generally held on a Sunday with a huge variety of "Bric a Brac" for sale at cheap prices.

The one we attended this week was at a small town called Pleyber Christ which is about half an hour's drive away.

I must admit I don't buy a lot but there is always Coffee, cake, crepes and wine available which makes for a very pleasant morning.

We did buy a brand new small deep fat fryer for 5 euros so it was not a wasted trip afterwards we went and had a very nice lunch at a restaurant called the Menez Bras just outside of Huelgoat .

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

French Health Service

If you speak to practically anyone living over here about the health service they will tell you how good it is, but it's not until you deal with it yourself you realise how good.

I have a friend who has had back problems so he went to the local doctor here who examined him and said she though he should have a scan on his back to determine the problem. Now I'm sure in the UK this would have been a pretty low priority and may have meant a wait of a few weeks. Not so over here, he was able to make an appointment for a time of his choosing within two days.

As I knew where the Radiology building was in Carhaix I went with him today for the scan. All done within 1 hour and afterward he was not only given the diagnosis  verbally but a written copy as well plus all the scans which are his to keep after showing the doctor.

All of this is pretty normal for the health service over here.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


A friend of mine happened to mention that he was trying to arrange a couple of days away in a hotel for a break and it got me thinking of holidays.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not exactly slow when holidays are mentioned so it just jogged me into action as we had been considering taking a break in Spain later this Spring. Even though we are already on the right side of the Channel to drive, it is still about a 2 day drive to Spain so I started looking at ferries from France to Northern Spain which is a 14hr sailing and not really cheap at around 300 euros return.
I then thought about flying as we have a local airport in Brest about an hours drive away. However a flight and hotel for a week in Tenerife came out at a 1076 euros each! On top of that I would have almost certainly wanted to hire a car. It just seemed a lot of money for a short flight and hotel.

As I was thinking things through an email from TravelZoo arrived, this is a weekly email with their top 20 travel deals which I have used several times in the past and can definitely  recommend.

Five minutes later I was off the phone having booked a week in late May to Florida from Gatwick total cost £389 each which includes Flights, all taxes, a three star hotel and a hire car including insurance for the week!

What a bargain, Oh well I will have to drive up to the tunnel again but I just couldn't pass that up.

Sarasota Beach at Sunset Photo: roger4336, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

It's a hard life being retired!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


I have taken advantage of the recent dry and warmer weather to start preparing our vegetable plot, I was going to plough it again but there wasn't a lot of vegetation on it and the soil here is very fine so I have just been over it with the rotavator attachment i have for the tractor.

As you can see by the photo the plot from last year is just about visible and as it is planty big enough for our needs I'm rotavating exactly the same area, the only difference is that I will be rotating what I planted last year.

What took me a little over an hour to rotavate I wouldn't have been able to hand dig in a year. It is still a bit early to put much in yet but I did put a row of shallots in.

Of course just when I was thinking Spring was well on the way Winter came back to bite us this morning!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

fishing season

at last after a 10 week break the fishing season has started today, It runs from the 9th March until the 31st December.
I was up at lake St Michel near Brennilis just after 10 am this morning along with what seemed like half the local population, an exaggeration of course but there must have been a minimum of 50 people dotted around the area that I go to.

The lake has dropped in depth by about 3 feet since last summer so although it seems like we have had rain every day for months perhaps the amount wasn't as much as I thought. The upside of it is that before there was only a limited amount of places to fish from now there is a rocky beach which gives everyone a lot more choice.

I really was hoping to come back with one on the first day and I wasn't disappointed. I caught 2 rainbow trout both between 3-4lb in weight. A result and a good omen for the rest of the year.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Dear oh Deer

Just after breakfast this morning Avril looked out of the kitchen window onto our front garden and there were 3 deer contently pruning our roses!
We don't like to lose our roses even before they flower but have decided that watching wild deer close up more than even things up.
We went upstairs and viewed them from the window so as not to disturb them.

This first picture is pretty blurred as it was taken through the glass, however they then disappeared only to re-appear around the back of the house where I got some better shots of them.

What a great start to the day and another reason I love living here.

Monday, 4 March 2013


It really does begin to feel like springtime here today, although I'm not banking on it lasting to long, we have had sunshine all day and temperatures in the mid to high 50s F so I've been out in the garden most of the day.

Last year, our first year at putting in the vegetable garden, wasn't a great success for the amount of effort I put into it. The potatoes and carrots were fine and the turnips and some of the greens were so so but the beans were a disaster as were the peas and onions.
By contrast our immediate neighbough had a huge abundance of every vegetable you can think of! So, I'm taking notice of him and following his lead. He has been putting compost down for the last couple and today I noticed he made several trips down the road to pick up manure from a farmer neighbough. I can't get hold of any manure at the moment but I did compost all the kitchen vegetable waste plus grass cutting etc so I have been laying that down today.

It has rotted down well and nearly black in colour and although I haven't a huge amount of it I am sure that it will improve the soil, I was also lucky during last Autumn to get some horse manure which has also gone down.
Next year I should have a lot more as I already have another compost bin full which has started to rot and I will easily fill another one during this Spring/Summer. My next job will be to rotavate it in all soon. Just like  +Mandy Allen I can get a lot more excited over compost and manure than a lot of other things I can think of!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Eating out "a la French style" Raclette

We went out with some friends last night for a meal in a local village about 6-7 miles away, It was a communal meal, something the French people seem to do a lot.
It was held in and in aid of a local school and a type of meal that I'd heard about but never had before that seems to be quite popular.
There was a small bar in one room and adjoining was a large room set out with tables.

 There was a set charge of 12 euros, about normal for this type of function with a Kir to start with and a main meal of assorted salami's, ham slices etc, boiled potatoes and then covered with Raclette cheese.
The Raclette cheese round was heated under a machine and then scraped onto the plates with a knife. The term Raclette apparently derives from the french word "Racler" which means to scrape.

After the meal we had a very nice suite of coffee ice cream, very much like a viennetta, there was also coffee to follow and  dancing in another local hall but we left before that got going.

As is quite typical with these type of evenings, although it was advertised for 7pm most people didn't arrive until after 8pm and there were still people arriving when we were leaving at nearly 10pm.

Another nice and different evening for us

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Joys of moving house

We have some friends here that have just moved house into Huelgoat from a few miles away and having visited them in their new house it jolted my memory about the differences between here and the UK.

Based on their and our experiences it seems like anything that isn't actually bolted down to the house is fair game to be taken away by the previous occupants. Things that are taken for granted to be left in the house in the UK seem to be taken all the time over here. For instance although the curtain poles seem to be left the rings themselves were taken from both our houses also it comes as a little bit of a shock to come into the house when you have bought it to find just a light-bulb dangling from the end of a wire, you may expect the shades to be taken but the pattrice and pendant that is screwed to the ceiling?

In our case we also had to negotiate the purchase of the towel holders, mirrors and even the soap holder in the bathroom!

Although the actual purchase is made easier by it being carried out by one Notaire rather than solicitors acting for both sides in the UK the costs are a lot higher, anything around 6-8% of the purchase price for the Notaire and even more for the agent.

Of course this is countered by the lower house prices over here, our friends bought a detached property with gardens on all sides and a gate into the woods at the rear it has 3 reception and 4 bedrooms plus a huge garage/cellar that extends under the whole of the house for the equivalent of under £100K You would struggle to buy a flat for the same amount in the UK.