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Posts Tagged ‘country living’

So the results are… IT WORKS!

Just two days after starting my natural weed killer experiment, the weeds had started to die after being attacked by my white vinegar spray. The solution which was 100% vinegar worked better than the 50% diluted solution, but that did also work a little bit but would be better reserved for small and young weeds.

First area - 50% vinegar / 50% water

First area – 50% vinegar / 50% water

Area 2 - 50% water / 50% vinegar

Area 2 – 50% water / 50% vinegar

area 3

It’s going to be a task to keep on top of this though as it rained on the third day and then it was sunny again but I was busy with other things and didn’t keep on top of weeding so they all came back!

We’ve now invested in a better weed sprayer and Mr Piglet is talking about buying something to burn them once they are dead so we can achieve the clean, patio look I am looking for.

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The crazy, wet, warm and then cold weather we have been having over the past few months has been a real treat for the garden with many plants flourishing. Unfortunately, this also applies to the weeds and the wet weather has meant that we haven’t really got round to treating them (what with being fair weather gardeners and having a toddler)…

We have a large gravel entrance/parking area, more gravel to the side and a large gravel terrace at the back of the house. Not my taste but to replace would cost a fortune and to be honest I am still seeking what my ideal outdoor space would be.

Last year we managed to get the local farmer to kill all the weeds but with a toddler and a cat, I am not keen on using dangerous pesticides and have searched the internet for something more natural. I found vinegar as a solution.

In the past I have tried vinegar for many things including cleaning the bathroom, the toilets and also as a way of getting rid of deodorant marks on clothes. I can’t say I have been more than happy with any of the results and the smell of it just gives me a headache.

I have chosen to treat three different areas, the first two areas with a 50% vinegar / 50% water solution and the third area with a 100% vinegar solution:

First and Second Areas – 50% vinegar / 50% water

First area - moss and mixed weeds

First area – moss and mixed weeds

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Third area – 100% vinegar

Side of the house weeds

Side of the house weeds

The weather is warm and sunny, no rain forecast so hopefully the vinegar will work it’s magic and I can report back with the results in a few days time.

Meanwhile, a couple of questions for you:
1) do you have any natural gardening tips to share? Please comment with your tip or link to blog post!
2) any other alternative use for vinegar? Again, please comment with tip or link.
3) have you entered our giveaway? Closing date is 3rd July so just a few days left and it is easy (and free!) to enter (no location restriction either). Simply comment here.

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No fire in the stove

If you’re reading this expecting some true insight into fire then I’m sorry to disappoint. My Art of Fire relates only to the use of my wood burning stove and my desperation at trying to keep the damn thing going.

 

When arriving in the countryside last summer, we quickly realized that heating the house using the oil boiler was going to cost us a fortune. A cold spell in July meant that we had to have the heating on so to avoid Baby Piglet getting cold. Our house is old, with thick pise walls, great for keeping cool in the summer or keeping the warm in during the long winter months, but when the weather suddenly turns from warm to really cool, not so great.

 

Every moment we had the heating on I spent fretting that we were going to run out of oil. I ended up placing an order and managed to get our oil tank half filled for the grand price of 1500 Euros. Having no idea how long this would last us, we were enticed by the French government’s tax incentive encouraging you to use renewable heating sources and ordered a wood burning stove.

 

The stove has been Mr Piglets domain since it was installed, but a new work challenge has meant that Mr Piglet is no longer at home everyday to keep the thing going. This has left me, not even a girl guide, yet alone a scout, at home trying to figure out what to do with it. I daren’t turn the heating on downstairs for fear of having to re-fill the enormous oil tank again, so I persist in my trial and error with the stove.

 

Each morning, Mr Piglet gets the fire going and leaves me with the instructions on how to keep it going.

 

The first couple of days I kept getting distracted by work. By the time I went back downstairs the fire was out and I spent the next 5 hours trying to get it going again. Each evening Mr Piglet would give me a lesson in the art of starting a fire. Needless to say I failed miserably again the next day as each attempt to start a fire quickly fizzled out.

 

After the first week, I became better at keeping the fire going but then I burnt myself on the door after successfully managing to chuck in a few logs and wouldn’t touch it until my burn had stopped hurting.

 

Now, I can just about manage to keep it going from 9am until gone 7pm when Mr Piglet returns. I’m even managing to do it without smoking the house out and for the moment, without burning myself. My technique? I let the logs burn almost right out and then I stoke the ashes around, chuck on as many logs as I can get in the stove and turn the air vent right up. So far, so good although there really is an art to fire and I think I’m a long way off from learning it. Just so long as the wretched thing doesn’t go out…

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I just went to post about how I’m becoming fed up of living in a show home when I realized that I hadn’t yet posted that Mr Piglet and I had decided to leave our city loft and move on to pastures greener (literally).

As some of you may have gathered from my last post when I revealed how I could easily have moved to The Grenadines, I have been restless lately and Mr Piglet and I have a common disease known as La Bougeotte. We are completely incapable of staying in one place for more than a couple of years and always looking to move on.

Since I was 14 I have counted that I have moved homes no less than 14 times in 16 years, including three international moves (two to France, one to the UK). That’s a lot of moves, most of which were motivated by ice skating but even so, Hubby and I managed to move 3 times in 4 years in the UK and it’s a miracle that we’ve managed to stay put for the last 3 ½ years in Lyon!

I sincerely thought that our current house would be our forever home but it just hasn’t turned out like that. The recession has meant that our mortgage now seems huge and staying here just doesn’t make financial sense. Couple that with the fact that I am having more and more difficulty in coping with everyday city life and my road rage outbursts are ever increasing, I have been yearning to be surrounded by green fields and trees for a while now. Finally, if you throw in the mini piglet that we’ll hopefully be having in April then we just have to get out of the city.

Life in the city has become something that I no longer enjoy; I no longer get the buzz from the late opening hours, the smell of pollution or the hustle and bustle. It just annoys the hell out of me. People look grumpy, the streets smell, there’s dog pooh everywhere and no-one smiles or says hello. Just plain, miserable city living.

I no longer go out and dine in nice restaurants or sip cocktails in hip bars, have great parties at the house that last all weekend, and cinemas have become synonymous as a place to fall asleep and have a nap whilst comedy clubs and theatres just start too late. Maybe this is all part of growing old or simply growing up? Basically everything I love doing in the city costs no longer interests me or costs too much money. Money which I don’t have (I did try to grow a money tree but it didn’t work) right now and looking into the future and how expensive babies are, money that I’m not going to have anytime soon!

So, we have decided to sell our forever home and move away to the countryside where properties are far cheaper (because no-one else wants to live there maybe?) and we can dream of possibly living a mortgage free (or almost mortgage free) lifestyle.

We would like to live in a house like this...

However, don’t feel sorry for me. I’m actually really looking forward to the new country lifestyle and have already planned many activities. Where we’re looking at, we will be close to no less than three lakes where we enjoy water sports, nearer to the mountains for skiing and still within easy reach of cities like Lyon, Chambery, Aix Les Bains and Grenoble so it’s not as if we’re going to be cut off from the world.

I can already imagine spending our weekends lazing in a garden (where I can do proper gardening), out on a boat (that we’ll be able to afford to buy one day), fishing, walking or cycling. I can also imagine myself with cash to spare at the end of the month and organizing little trips to Paris, London and Milan for shopping sprees!

But to realize this dream of moving, first of all we have to sell the city pad. This is not going to be an easy task as it’s not an easy property. Think modern factory conversion loft style, big open spaces, metal structure with polished concrete floors and a big price tag.

For Sale

We’ve only had it on the market for a few weeks and have already had a lot of interest, a very low offer and a few visits. Unfortunately however, French strikes got in the way and visits were cancelled but now we’re in business!

We’re marketing the property ourselves and have an agent onboard also; however, that was an experience in itself! After meeting a few we decided to go with one that would actually speak to me! You can read about my run-in with a chauvinistic French estate agent over on Expat Focus.

The house is totally depersonalized and all my knick knacks are hidden away discreetly at the back of cupboards. Nothing is left out, ever, and I clean every day. Cleaning has become a full time occupation for me. Dust is my enemy. The cats have been taught how to act friendly towards potential visitors and everything is neat and tidy. You would never believed that I lived here as I’m the messiest person in France (probably), however, it’s amazing how old habits die fast when you’re motivated enough!

Since yesterday we have had three visits and are currently awaiting an offer. Fingers crossed something will come through soon as I really, really would like to move before being too heavily pregnant!

Has anyone else realized a dream of moving from city to country or vice versa, or experienced moving home whilst pregnant? How was it for you?

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