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Posts Tagged ‘Snow’

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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Christmas this year was at our house, I had expressed that I didn’t feel like traveling anyway after having such a rough year and invited both my and Mr Piglet’s family  to come.

A few days before Christmas we enjoyed a couple of day’s snow which unfortunately didn’t last until Christmas Day but it helped set the scene nonetheless.

Winter Wonderland

 

We even tracked down a Father Christmas for Baby Piglet to give her Christmas list to (and for Mummy to take pictures of her with him) but unfortunately it was all a bit of a let down and we weren’t allowed to take pictures. Father Christmas wouldn’t even put down his umbrella (how will we explain that one?) and kept trying to run away. There was no set up or grotto and he was just perched on a bench in the village.

 

Father Christmas lost his grotto & wouldn't let go of his brolly

The village drunk had decided to hang out with Father Christmas too and poor Mr Piglet got accosted. Grandma and Grandpa Piglet had a hard time keeping straight faces.

Next year I have made a mental note to go and check out Father Christmas BEFORE taking the whole family to see him.

Christmas Day was a marathon, I’m still not used to how long Christmas dinners go on for inFrancealthough I am more used to it than my poor parents. 10 hours at the dinner table finished them off and they headed off to bed exhausted.

 

Artistic Looking Dinner Table!

Thankfully it wasn’t too tiring for me as I had asked each couple to look after a course so I only had the main course to deal with and even then Mr Piglet very helpfully took over as he could see the stress building up.

Baby Piglet had a fantastic day, she started opening her Christmas presents at 8am and didn’t finish until she went to bed at 7pm! She played all day and was her usual smiley self but with lots of posing for the camera. She loved the outfit that her English cousin had sent her and was very proud to be wearing it as you can see from this pic:

All in all a good Christmas, different from what we’ve been used to in the past but good nonetheless.

 

How was your Christmas this year?

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All house hunting has been pretty much on standby this week as Lyon and most of Europe got a major dumping of snow and roads and motorways became best avoided if possible.

So I’ve been able to enjoy a nice relaxing week of home and work and what better way to start the month of December than with a blanket of snow? Even my blog has snow on it although I’m not quite sure how that happened but I’m not complaining!

Major snow dump in my back garden

I’d been feeling pretty down in the dumps because we’ve decided to have a stay at home for Christmas this year and I hadn’t been feeling at all Christmassy. But snow in December is not something I can remember ever having seen before and it has really got me in the mood for Christmas. Poor Mr Piglet however is getting rather fed up of me constantly singing out of tune Christmas tunes and I’m sure he’ll soon be ready to pay me to stop.

Prize from Littlewoods Europe

We’re off to get our Christmas tree today, but in the meantime I’ve been enjoying setting up an advent calendar. I was lucky enough to win this hand crafted, wooden advent calendar on the Littlewoods Europe Wordless Wednesday competition. I’m really glad I did, so a big THANK YOU the LW team! There’s nothing more magical for me than the opening of an advent calendar each day and I’m sure little Piglet will enjoy it for years to come also when she arrives!

Better not eat too many of these... Delish!

I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t been having a moan about something though. This time it was the lack of British Christmas products in France that set me off as I had yet another craving for a Mince Pie. In the good old days when M&S were still here, I needn’t go without anything, however, not many expats live around here and there aren’t any Brit food stores (the closest one I know of is Jim’s near Geneva). So imagine my surprise when I was in Monoprix yesterday and came across Mince Pies?! I yelped with excitement causing a stir amongst fellow shoppers who all turned round to investigate what was causing my excitement. I stuffed four boxes of them into my trolley, vowing to go back and get more if they were nice. At 3.50 Euros for 4 they weren’t cheap but they made my day and sometimes happiness doesn’t have a price.

Whilst I was out and about in the city, I was full of admiration for how beautiful Lyon looked under the snow and managed to brave the ice like temperatures outside of my car to take some pictures:

Have you had snow this week and has it made you feel festive?

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Friday saw Mr Piglet and I embark on yet another day of house hunting. We still have the farmhouse in mind as a practical choice, but we are keen to find a property that sweeps our heart away.

So we set off in the cold on the motorway from Lyon towards Grenoble and quickly encountered huge snowflakes and fields of the white fluffy stuff. If you’ve ever tried taking photographs whilst traveling on the motorway you will know it’s near impossible so I didn’t get to take any souvenir photos of the journey there unfortunately.

I have always found snow rather magical, and whilst Mr Piglet wasn’t very impressed that we were house hunting in the snow without snow tyres (irresponsible), I was enchanted, very excitable and was looking at everything through fairy tale glasses.

The first house we visited was set in a small valley amongst the hills and consisted of a farmhouse (we have a thing for 200 year old farmhouses) and stone cottage with a cute garden, flanked by Christmas tree covered hills.

If you’re a sucker for fairy book settings then you could not fail but to be charmed by the location of this house, especially on a snowy day, just one month before Christmas.

A Fairy Tale Location

The house was livable and offered plenty of space, even though the decoration was a mish mash of partition walls, old fireplaces and orange wall paper. We could easily have converted two of the upstairs rooms into a master bedroom with ensuite and dressing room, had an office and a lovely nursery with room to spare.

To continue with the fairytale theme, one of the views from the house was looking out towards a Chateau. I had to zoom to take this photo, but not all that much, you could easily see it with the bare eye.

View of the castle

The stone house just opposite the property needed finishing and drainage as well, as it was a bit damp and with a bit more imagination it could make a beautiful, cosy guesthouse and office. It was spacious and homely at the same time.

The downside of visiting property in the snow is you can’t tell where the sun is and the fact that the property was surrounded by hills (or mountains as I kept calling them) probably meant that it didn’t get much sun which was a huge negative for us. This property definitely needs a second viewing to work out the suns logistics.

We soon had to leave as we had to make our way to a second property and had a battle with a snow storm on our hands.

Picture postcard driving conditions... NOT!

On leaving the little village we came across a goat that took a liking to me. Every time I cooed at it would turn its head towards me and look at me. If I stopped cooing then it would stop looking at me! It either liked me or thought I was a strange English nutter!

My first new friend in the country

We then went on to view another house which was also fantastic but is another story (think more skeletons in the chimney!). Part two to follow soon.

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Well, contrary to last week when I started Jardinage Jeudi, temperatures have dramatically declined and it has been tipping it down, so I’ve not been in the mood for gardening. I did mention in my last post that my lack of talent in the gardening department is probably due to the fact that I am a fair-weather gardener.

My Belle-Mere told me last weekend that its normal for cold spells to arrive in May, and that until the Saints de Glace (11th, 12th and 13th May) are finished we are still at risk of frost and traditionally you’re supposed to avoid planting anything sensitive until afterwards. Ah well, if I’d known that before…

Looking at Pissou’s blog, we’re getting off lightly in Lyon compared to other places. Check out the photos of the snow that she had on May 4th – unbelievable, somebody tell the weather we’re in May for goodness sakes!

So, not being very keen on the gardening this week I have turned my attention to improving my comfort in the garden and stuff that can be grown indoors.

On a previous visit to the Beaux-Parents (BP), Hubby and I spotted a lovely outdoor sofa suite, complete with cushions and all. The price was right (and so much cheaper than anything I had seen over the past two years) but the location was not. Not too worried about how we would get it from Provence to Lyon, we bought it and had it delivered to the BP’s house. We weren’t feeling quite so smart this weekend when we were confronted with an absolute mammoth box! How we were going to get that back to Lyon was another question entirely.

Hubby as always, was full of bright ideas and eventually we set off, in gale force winds, with a sofa and a table on the roof and the rest of the chairs in the car. Fearful of being stopped by the police on the motorway (and also for ours and other drivers’ safety) we set off on a long drive home, Nationale 7 all the way. Despite the bad weather, it made for a nice change and the scenery was lovely (I of course was not driving so could fully take in my surroundings). If it wasn’t for having a sofa on the roof and for fear of having it nicked if we stopped (yep, I am too used to living in a city now) I would have loved to have stopped at some of the vineyards and quaint little villages we crossed along our way.

The whole experience reminded me somewhat of the Maghrebin families that return to their home countries with plenty of goods for their families in the summer. You often see them on the motorways with loads as big as their cars tied to their roofs and I’ve often wondered how long it would take them to arrive at destination. They are certainly determined people and it must take a lot of courage and patience to go all that way with that much stuff on the roof.

Photo Credit: Code Clic.com

Anyway, the outdoor suite is now back safely and installed in our garden. Unfortunately it hasn’t stopped raining for long enough for us to sit on and enjoy it, but it looks like it may stop in time for the weekend, so fingers crossed…

A big thank you to Gillpj and Rosabell who helped me in identifying my flowers last week. They are looking a bit worse for wear after all the bad weather but I am confident that now I know what they are I should be able to grow them successfully. I guess only time and TLC will tell! On Rosabell’s recommendation I have even purchased a new hanging basked (PIC) for my ‘special geraniums’ officially called Tirol Geranium. I will be waiting until the weather improves though before re-planting!

So, onto what’s been growing inside. A few weeks ago I planted some Basil seeds in yoghurt pots, in the hope that they would grow big enough for me to be able to plant them outside with the tomato plants. I did this last year and had three lovely Basil plants. This year is not proving to be as successful though, unfortunately my cats got at the seedlings last weekend and I only have two little spurts of a plant left! They obviously preferred the taste of Basil plants to their cat biscuits! I guess I’ll be planting some more soon.

Poor Basil Seedlings

Possible Culprit 1


Possible Culprit 2

Here’s hoping the sun comes back out in time for the weekend so I can get back in the garden.

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Not only did it rain, it poured! My streak of bad luck continued last Friday as we left Lyon with bright blue skies to arrive in Lisbon in absolute pouring rain. It was absolutely tipping it down and anything remotely tourist related was impossible without getting drenched.

We found a small café on the promenade at Estoril and stayed there for ages, taking our time to eat and drink in the hope that the rain would go away. What a fantastic view we had!

View from our café in Estoril

View from our café in Estoril

Thankfully it brightened up on Saturday and we were able to visit Lisbon properly although we had just one day. I was able to take lots of photos although not with my own camera as my battery was dead! Arggh!

The weather is really strange at the moment as when we arrived back in Lyon on Sunday it was snowing! Again! We are in March! It never snows in Lyon, not normally anyway. It also snowed in the South of France and there were horrendous queues on the motorway. My cousin in law took 11 hours to drive from Lyon to Montpellier… so I was lucky to be in Lisbon in the rain after all!

If you read French just take a look at this article . I just love the photo of the snowy road!

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