In the “Veranda”


After a few weeks of glorious spring weather, the skies closed in this week and we found ourselves once again in the drizzly normandy climate. For a few short minutes I wondered what to do with myself before being drawn to start clearing out the conservatory or “veranda” as they are known as in France. Since I was very young I always had a fascination for the word “veranda”, being, along with Panda, the only two words that could rhyme with my name to create a lymerick, something we did suprisingly often in school. As you can imagine, when I discovered that I was the proud owner of one, it rather highlighted the pleasure of being able to sit in it while trying to compile lines three and four which would take me neatly on to our furry four-legged companion. Planting some bamboo at the end of the garden seems to have become, suddenly much more of a necessity!

But I digress. The veranda is in a fairly dismal state, and at some point extensive renovation is required. Several pieces of glass are broken. But for this year I intend just to relish its presence. To remind you of the “before”, I’ll slip in the photos with the previous owner’s belongings. I don’t believe that he been in here much over the past few years, the flower beds were bone dry and weedridden, and a general sense of decay hung in the air.

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After a few days clearing of spider’s webs, the weed-mass in the flower beds and the first attempts to clean the windows it has become a tranquil space that is a pleasure to work or rest in.

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WP_20150330_007I’m having a “Green Card” moment, remembering the stunning conservatory that forced Andie MacDowell to “marry” Gérard Depardieu  to fool the board of governers into believing she fulfilled their criteria as a “married couple” to rent the appartment that went along with it.

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I’ve brought the old urns inside to clean up. I’m not quite sure whether to leave them in their distressed state or to repaint them, 
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WP_20150330_006Seedlings are just pushing up their heads from the Geranium seeds I planted a week or so back,
WP_20150330_011and I have Allium, Climbing Roses, Peonies  and Lupins waiting in the wings for warmer weather when they can be planted into the bed outside.

But for now, I’m just revelling in the pleasure of gardening in comfort.

“Miranda is in her Veranda”

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What Have I Done!


The first night in the new house I lay awake until the early hours. “Husband à l’etranger” was still held up in Canada and the house was frankly just a little bit scarey. While furnished the house had had a certain charm, but once the furniture had been removed it was altogether a different story. I lay in bed oscillating between extreme guilt for having asked the kids to sleep in this “god-forsaken” place, and the horror of touching anything. At the same time I was actually just a little bit worried about what “husband à l’etranger” would say when he finally arrived to see it for himself. I rehearsed ‘ad infinitum’, “shall we put it back on the market” before succumbing to a comatosed sleep.

Thankfully our friend and electrician arrived early the next morning and set to work checking the power supply. Over the day he increased the number of sockets by 1000% since we had arrived to find only 1 safe and operational. By the end of the day we had 10 sockets at our disposal, five in the kitchen, one each for the children and one for the sitting-room, which, since there was no pendant light-fitting meant that at least we could plug in a lamp. The rest of the sockets in existance were hastily covered in black tape to prevent us using them, and by consequence, risking burning our house down!

The afternoon saw me buying a new freestanding cooker and freezer, and when I arrived back at the house I discovered that Gerald had gone beyond the call of duty, smashing out the build-in and lethally dangerous oven and  hob and the decrepid units that they were built into. Since the cooker wasn’t to be delivered for a further three days, and France is not a country known for pre-packaged ready meals, cooking dinner was a test of creativity and determination.

The kids were appeased by the fact that the internet was up and running from day one. This, a remarkable feat since the ADSL line into the house dated to at least a half century and had been bizarrely wired through the swinging part of the external door, meaning that on his arrival, “Husband à l’etranger” opened the door with rather too much force  and ripped the cables out of their connection and to the horror of the kids killed the internet stone dead.

Contrary to my expectations, “Husband à l’etranger” wandered around the house exclaiming every few moments how much he loved it, then rooted around for a mop-bucket, scourers and magic cleaning solution and got stuck in.

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If you think I was exagerating about the dirt, you may want a closer look!

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Not convinced?WP_20141231_002So there you have it – dirt at its grimiest!

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And me with the ‘wonder-fluid’. If you look very closely you can see the ‘before’ to the right- hand- side of the window, and the ‘after’ on the left.

So if you ever have a bad day, and feel that you are not keeping up with the housework, take another good look at these photos, and I can assure you that you will quickly feel a whole lot better!20150106_154912