Dogless in France

I love France. I love dogs. I was brought up with dogs.

Our sons were brought up with dogs.

These are last two family dogs: Cassie, our beautiful Flatcoat Retriever and Brillo, our rescue lurcher.

However, we are currently dogless. This is for lots of reasons; we are virtually empty nesters, we spend a lot of time travelling between SW France and SE England and we are only too aware of the responsibility in taking on another dog…or two!

To fill the gap we decided to become #Trusted Housesitters. This is an organisation which ‘connects home and pet owners with trustworthy animal lovers who sit for free.’ I quote! I can thoroughly recommend Trusted Housesitters should you want to travel and look after animals. Equally, if you have pets and don’t want to put them in kennels, this could be ideal. Here’s the link to their website:

https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/how-it-works/

Our first sit was for two beautiful young Border Collies and our second! In fact we’ve stayed friends with the owners of the collies and we still meet up for walks and meals.

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Next, we looked after a gorgeous labradoodle, two budgies and a geriatric rabbit!

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We’ve also looked after my sister’s Blue Heeler puppy, a friend’s long haired, white, German Shepherd and the young cats which belong to my son and his girlfriend.

This has helped to fill the dog shaped hole in our lives…to some extent…!

However, I have discovered that there is a dog rescue centre, in Carcassone,  where I can volunteer:

http://dogrescuecarcassonne.co.uk/

I have volunteered at a rescue centre, previously.  And, yes, we did end up with a rescue dog! He lived with us until he was sixteen.

This post was originally intended to be about breeds of dogs originating from France but I appear to have sidetracked myself!

Here are two other dog related posts I wrote  earlier:

This one is about dog poo! Yes, really! Or rather the lack of picking up that is generally done in France:

https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/i-need-to-talk-about-dog-poo/

And this one is about the naming of dogs in France:

https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/naming-dogs-french-style/

I still like to think a dog(s) is out there for us somewhere!

Are you a dog lover? Do you travel with your dog?

 

 

 

 

 

Tiles, the tip and trailers

…and probably too much alliteration!

Back in the UK and feeling sad about all the hideous events that have taken place here recently. I take comfort in family, friends and the mundane…

…Such as the repairs to the roof on our house in Castelnaudary. The work  began a couple of weeks ago; just in time for the heatwave.

Our roofers began work before seven each morning, in an attempt to avoid the main heat of the day, and we made sure there were plenty of cold drinks available.  One of their main tasks was to replace all the broken and cracked tiles, then clean the whole roof and secure all the tiles properly.

Here’s a finished section:

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It looks so light and clean!

We also seem to be visiting the local tip on a fairly regular basis – we know how to have fun! My husband more than me. When I do go, it’s always interesting to observe the comings and goings. Our tip is run by a very petite and highly efficient woman. This is vital to avoid trailer rage!

Apologies for the rather ‘less than exciting’ photos which were taken from the car, on my phone. At least the sky is a beautiful blue!

Trailers…I have never seen as many trailers as I have in our local area. Is it because we are relatively rural? Or is it related to the French love of camping? Perhaps someone can enlighten me?!

 

 

Jean Dujardin … late to the party?,

Me, that is, not him, obviously.

At this point, I must ‘fess up that I have never seen ‘The Artist’ (for which he won an Oscar) nor ‘The Monuments Men’.

 

 

But I have seen ‘Un homme à la hauteur’

homme a l'hauteur

Or ‘Up for Love’ as it is called in English. Some of the English reviews of this film were less than enthusiastic, especially about the special effects used to ‘shorten’ Jean Dujardin. The implication being that it would have been better to cast an actor who is genuinely small. Nevertheless , I thought it was a really charming film. Perhaps I’m just a real romantic at heart or easily pleased! But Jean’s smile… well, what can I say? And those eyes… I think you get the idea!

I really enjoyed the soundtrack, too. It introduced me to the music of Emilie Gassin which I didn’t know before.

Have you seen this film and are you a Jean Dujardin fan? It would be really interesting to know!

I am linking this post to #All About France. A great place to discover lots of interesting blogs with a focus on France.

An Indian … in Toulouse!

I do love Indian food, either as a take-away or in a restaurant. In the UK , I think it’s fair to say that we do love our Indian grub! However, I can’t remember ever having eaten in an Indian restaurant, in France. To be honest, it would never occur to me! On the other hand, I love North African food and when I was living in France, I used to eat it regularly.

Vegetarian food is another love of mine but I have yet to discover a vegetarian restaurant in Castelnaudary! So, when my husband met me at Toulouse airport last week and told me were going to eat at an Indian Vegetarian restaurant, in the city, I was very surprised.

The restaurant in question is called ‘Manger autrement’ and here’s the link to their website:  http://www.manger-autrement.com/  just in case you ever happen to find yourself in Toulouse and longing to have an Indian vegetarian meal!

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This is the meal I had; a thali. This is made up of a selection of dishes and is served on a round metal or steel platter. Each dish was served in a small bowl called a katori. They included rice, dahl (a lentil based dish) mushrooms and mixed vegetables. This was accompanied by a chapati ( a type of flatbread) . I have to say this was probably the best chapati I have ever eaten!

Overall, I enjoyed our meal. It certainly was a different experience! My only – slight – criticism would be that I found a couple of the dishes to be slightly bland for my taste buds. This could be because I usually go for the more spicy curries. Controversially, dare I suggest that the spicing may have been adapted for a French palate…?

Have you ever been to an Indian restaurant in France? I’d love to know!

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The Merry month of May…

Especially if you’re in France!  May starts with a Bank Holiday and there are several more to follow. On May 1st  there is the celebration of  not only Labour Day (La Fête du Travail) but also La Fête du Muguet. This translates as Lily of the Valley Day.

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I have written about these celebrations before!

https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/1st-may-la-fete-du-travail-and-la-fete-du-muguet/

The next Bank Holiday takes place on the 8th May and is to commemorate the end of World War II in France. It is known as ‘La Fête de la Victoire’  and is celebrated with parades and religious ceremonies.  Traditionally, the French president lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lights the flame at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I was quite surprised that our local supermarket had a ‘special’ opening on that day. 

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The final Bank Holiday  is on the 25th May; Ascension Day which falls on a Thursday. As a result, many people take a day of their annual leave on the Friday to be able to take a four-day weekend. This is known as a ‘pont’ or a bridge. It is quite usual to hear the phrase ‘faire le pont’.

And, then there’s Eurovision! No Bank Holiday for this, of course, but all part of the May madness. I did watch it when we were here last year as I wanted to see what it would be like without Graham Norton. This year I managed to avoid miss the contest somehow.  I must admit that I do like the French entry which came twelfth. It’s by a singer called Alma and the title is ‘Requiem’ . This video of the song is worth watching for the background shots of Paris:

Are you a Eurovision fan?  I’d love to know…

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!

I’m in a SPIN…

Well, not me personally! Although some of my family and friends have commented on my current to-ing and fro-ing between the UK and France and some of them are surprised that I’m not in more of a spin.

I’m actually talking about the series ‘Spin’ or ‘Les Hommes de l’Ombre’.

Here, in the UK, the third series is currently been shown on More4. I love this programme! We don’t tend to watch much television, when we’re in France. If we do, we tend to watch more films.

Generally, I watch a lot of thrillers: Line of Duty, Broadchurch, Unforgotten, the Killing, the Bridge. I’m sure you get the idea!

However, Spin is something different; a political drama – very topical, as it turns out.

The cast has been brilliant. The first series included Nathalie Baye, one of my favourite French actors. The second and third series has Carole Bouquet but two of the main characters are the Spin doctors themselves, who have appeared in all three series.

They are played by Bruno Wolkowitch and

52nd Monte Carlo TV Festival Closing Ceremony - Golden Nymph Award

Grégory Fitoussigf spin

You may recognise him from the series ‘Mr Selfridge’, a programme I have never seen.

Unfortunately, the current series is the final one. Perhaps someone can recommend another French series I could enjoy? Have any of my readers also watched ‘Spin’ ? I’d love to know!

#AllAboutFrance