Posts Tagged ‘French countryside’

This is probably the coldest winter I’ve ever had to deal with and right now I’m trying to deal with it with a boiler that keeps turning itself off and barely any wood. This country living lark is certainly an eye opener and there are A LOT of things that I will be doing differently next year! I’m welcome to any tips also!

I know some of you readers live in places where it gets really cold so you may read this and think “whatever!”, but for me -2 is cold, so -11 to -20 degrees Celsius is simply unimaginable (actually it’s not, I’ve been this cold before on a chair lift whilst skiing and I cried and ran off to the nearest bar).

Pretty, but there's no way I'm going out there

Running this house is worse than running a business. There’s always so much to keep on top of and our “to do” list seems to be getting longer by the day. We used to live in a house in Lyon but it was connected to the mains gas system so heating was never an issue as nothing could ever run out!

I recently spoke about my woes with our wood burning stove, well, no sooner had I got the hang of it we woke up one morning last week and realized that we had run out of oil! Suddenly, mastering the stove was no longer an option, I had to keep it going otherwise we’d all be mighty cold!

Thankfully I was able to order in some more oil which was delivered the very next day so only had to slum it for 1 and half days. Unfortunately though, the boiler needed some attention and the oil guy was luckily able to recommend someone to me! Convenient that!

Just as I was congratulating myself and saying how lucky we were that it happened last week, our log delivery was delayed by another week and guess what? We’re running low on logs! We used so many whilst we didn’t have any heating that our supply dwindled VERY quickly.

Real feel temps -16 to -20 degrees!

So fast forward to today… almost -12 degrees Celsius by the back window at just 0850 in the morning. The boiler has decided not to work as it’s too cold so we’re back to square one. No heating, nearly no wood left and no way to keep warm other than reversible air con in our bedroom and a small radiator in Baby Piglet’s bedroom.

Right now I’m trying to decide what to do, I’m tempted to lock up the house and leave as I haven’t been out for a week due to the snow and my lack of suitable snow equipment for the car. Right now I am getting cabin fever and feel as if I may explode. I suppose that would keep the house warm wouldn’t it?

The walnut tree

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I am not a domestic goodness. In fact, I don’t even feel like an adult. I feel like a big kid who’s playing house and even has a baby doll to dress up. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) my sheer tiredness and aches and pains prove to me every day that this is real life and not a game. Some things still feel like a game though. Probably because they are new and interesting, such a far cry from life in the city.

We have lots of fruit trees in the garden; red & orange raspberries, cherries, loganberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, apples, 4 different types of grapes, peaches, wild strawberries, walnuts (or brain nuts as Mr Piglet calls them) and mures (which I don’t know what this is in English and Google translate hasn’t been very helpful). Some of our French family pointed out that we had so much fruit we should make jam. We’d never made jam before.

Fruit picking in the Piglet garden (which is rather overgrown!)

As a fan of kitchen gadgets and always on the look out for ways to save time, I’d already spotted that my bread machine could make jam as well, so there would be no standing slaving over a pot for me. I made the most of having guests and quickly managed to organize a competition to get the fruit picking done. Perfect after dinner exercise with ice creams as the prize!

Mr Piglet and I spent the rest of the evening washing & weighing fruit and sterilizing jam jars. We ended up with 2 jars of loganberry, 4 of raspberry, 5 of blackcurrant and 4 of redcurrant. Proud of our accomplishments I quickly sent an email off to my parents bragging of our new domestic goddess status.

Next morning, my Mum had replied asking how we had set the jam. “Set the Jam?” I had no idea!

I quickly ran downstairs (it was 5am in the morning) and looked at a jar of blackburrant jam. It wasn’t jam, it was coulis – it hadn’t set!

Gah! What a nightmare, “what had we done wrong” I wondered? Why didn’t they mention this setting business in the jam recipe in the bread machine book? So much for saving time with shortcuts.

Thankfully most of the other fruits had set which was lucky, so when Mr Piglet woke up we started the process again and thanks to some Twitter research, we reboiled the jam with more lemon juice and this time round tested for setting point. It worked!

So we now have our own jam enterprise with plenty more fruit on the trees but no more jam jars. I now have a valid reason to hoard jam jars.

We have jam!!

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