That was the week that was…

img_0092We returned to Castelnaudary, last week.

We’d gone back to the U.K. to welcome home our youngest son. He has just completed three months, as a volunteer, on a shark conservation project, in Fiji. Communication had been very limited, so it was wonderful to have him back, safe and sound.

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The roses were blooming in our French garden, the Canal du Midi was still flowing serenely, my students of English, at the AVF, were just as enthusiastic, the sun was shining most of the time and I continued to feel how lucky and privileged we were to have a home here.

We knew that our roof needed to be cleaned and that we had one or two broken tiles that needed to be fixed. Manu, our local, friendly and helpful ‘artisan’ who had already done some work for us, came with his special roof ladder and off he went.

This was the moment when we learnt a new French phrase: vice caché.  This is a hidden defect. This means that a serious fault has been hidden (allegedly!) which might have led to a reduction in the price or even negated the sale. It turns out that the roof, on top of the tower, is virtually useless.  The tiles are broken and have been covered by strips of bitumen; like putting a plaster over a wound. To replace the roof may cost thousands. For me, it’s not even about the money; I feel sad, disappointed…

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It is impossible to see from the ground. It can only been seen when you are actually on the roof. I’m really angry but I remind myself that it is only a roof; no one has died or fallen gravely ill or been injured. However, I am not used to being ‘mugged off’, as son number one, put it. I am naïve enough, to expect other people to have the same moral values as us.

We are now in touch with a lawyer and will have to decide whether it is worth the hassle and expense of going to court. I suspect  not…

On a happier note, for me anyway, I woke up this morning to realise that I was not in a country that had voted for a National Front President. I’m aware that Macron will have a lot of work to do but after Brexit and Trump, I’m relieved that, in my opinion, there is still some sanity in France!

Thank you for reading to the end. Rant over!

Une question de langue

One of the things I have always loved the most about France is the language. I feel as if I morph into a different person when I’m speaking French. I wonder if everybody feels like this… I wonder if it’s the same for other languages…I’m guessing: yes!

Anyhow, we’re now back in Castelnaudary and on this occasion decided to drive down. We caught the ferry from Newhaven and broke our long journey south by staying in a hotel outside of Tours. It was an unremarkable hotel, one of a chain, but ideal if you just want somewhere to lay your head that is clean and comfortable. However, the staff were exceptionally accommodating and friendly.

At breakfast this caught my eye:

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It wasn’t the coffee machine that intrigued me, although it did produce surprisingly decent coffee. It was the expression ‘nuage de lait’ which I’ve never noticed before, perhaps because I always drink my coffee black!

I’ve known about a ‘larme de lait’ – a tear 💧 drop of milk but this is the my first experience of a ‘cloud of milk’. What a charming expression!

All kinds of images came into my head:

I’m afraid I can’t credit for the two photos above. They are from freeimages.com  The cloud was taken by Kimberley V and the coffee by se hui (Shirley) Kim.

Do you come across phrases that really catch your attention and charm you?

Please share if you do!

I am linking this post with #AllAboutFrance

Why Castelnaudary ?

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France, over the years, and in lots of different places. My first ever trip was to Paris and I’ve returned countless times since. I spent a year in Tours, as a student and a year in Metz as a teacher. I’ve spent months in Grenoble and Angers, on courses. As a family, we’ve visited Brittany, Limousin. les Landes, Charentes and that’s just for starters!

So, why Castelnaudary to buy our home? Even my husband has asked me this question! It’s quite difficult to put a feeling into words … the Canal du Midi, the location – between Toulouse and Carcassone – a sense of the ‘real’ France and much, much more…

Why did you chose your home in France? Or anywhere else? Was it heart or head that influenced your decision? I’d love to know.

A flying visit…

We returned to the UK in November and hadn’t really intended to visit our house, in France, until March. However, the pull was too strong! We wanted to see how our second home had survived the winter and we’d also  received a message from Manu, who was looking after our house, about a mysterious crack that had appeared in an external wall.

We arrived in Toulouse to beautiful blue skies.

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And, once we’d reassured ourselves that the house was still standing, we hot footed it along the canal towpath, into Castelnaudary.

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The ‘Grand Bassin’ of the Canal du Midi looked particularly striking, on a cold, crisp, January day.

When we’re in France, food is never far from our minds, and having had a 5.00 a.m. start, we were feeling father peckish, to say the least. Our timing wasn’t great, as we arrived at our favourite café, at one minute to two; with the  lunchtime service usually  finishing at two. However, Madame took pity on us and sent one one of the waiters to the nearest boulangerie for a fresh baguette.

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Never had a freshly made cheese and ham sandwich tasted so good! Especially when washed down by two beers.

I have enjoyed watching the Canal du Midi change according to the season. In January it was fascinating to see all the boats that have come into the port at Castelnaudary and moor for the winter.

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Including those that are rented out in the summer for holidays on the Canal du Midi.

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No trip would be complete without dinner at our local and favourite restaurant: Le Clos Fleurie. It was good to be back! Every course was delicious but I particularly enjoyed the café gourmand… Are you a fan?

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The final highlight of our visit was lighting the open fire for the first time. Manu had organised a chimney sweep for us during our absence and it was wonderful to relax in our lounge in front of this:

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Although our visit was only brief, it was brilliant to experience another aspect of our home in Castelnaudary. Above all, it was fantastic to bump into people we knew, as we walked around the town. Having a sense of community is so important and we’re already looking forward to a longer stay in March.

Missing France and A Rant

It’s been a little while since I lasted posted; partly because we’ve been back in the UK for Christmas, New Year, and various family birthdays – and dog sitting!

Also, I’ve been totally poleaxed by what has been happening in the world.  First Brexit and now Trump ! I voted to stay in the E.U. which now, apparently, makes me a Remoaner. Fine, I don’t see why should I keep quiet, surely that’s the point of freedom of speech? And don’t get me started on Trump – no, seriously don’t get me started. There are not enough words to say how much I deplore everything he stands for. Rant over…

I’ve been reflecting over the many aspects of France I have been missing and I have decided to share these in photos.

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What would you miss the most? I’d love to know.

Bonne Année!

This quote turned up on my Facebook page. I rather like it, although I am a couple of days late in posting. Apparently, it is from Molière. I had to study Molière at school and for my degree. I’m afraid I’m not a fan…and I haven’t been able to verify the source, despite much searching. Perhaps one of my lovely readers might know?!

The second photo is of: The Moulin de Cugarel. This is in the old town in Castelnaudary where we have our house. I haven’t seen Castelnaudary in the snow…yet!

Happy New Year!

Blogging: Next Steps

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We are back in the UK for Christmas and, therefore,  I thought I would take advantage of a course about blogging, taking place relatively locally. Unfortunately, it was cancelled! The course was aimed at those who have been running their own blog for a while and were looking to improve!

I have now been blogging for about two years and I thought it would be interesting to see what my next steps could/would/should be. I love blogging. I like to think it’s an outlet for my creative side. I have always enjoyed writing and, for a long time, kept a diary. I even used to write poetry …

Through blogging, I have discovered so many other fantastic blogs and it’s always brilliant and encouraging when I receive comments from fellow bloggers, as well as other readers, of course.

This blog has also led me to Pinterest and I enjoy uploading images to my many boards and discovering lots of fabulous content from other Pinners!

And, most recently, I have linked up with #AllAboutFrance, a monthly Blog Link Up, that takes place on the first Thursday of each month. The idea is to link up posts about France or with a French theme. This has introduced me to so many new and interesting blogs. To sum up in one word – brilliant! If you want to find out more, have a look at: loumessugo.com

You might be wondering what the photo has to do with the post. Well, nothing directly but it is the Mairie, in Castelnaudary, decorated for Christmas.

Thank you for reading and if you have any suggestions for my ‘next steps’, I would love to hear them!

Joyeux Noël…