Rainy winter and unexpected surprises!

We recently returned to our French farmhouse after a nice long stay in Louisville celebrating the holidays with friends and family. We discovered while in Kentucky how deep our friendships go with so many people. And it was particularly good to have all our children in one place for Christmas Eve and Tanja’s birthday. After three weeks, our little place in the Aquitaine beckoned. We flew back to a very rainy, wet countryside, for it had rained almost constantly while we were gone. Very unusual according to the locals!

We arrived and immediately lighted the woodburner to take the chill out of the air, opened all the shutters, and set about getting used to our home all over again.

While we were gone, the lads had done major work, including re-plastering our bedroom This meant we would be displaced to one of our gîte bedrooms until we could finish painting. We decided this would be a good idea. Always good to experience what the guests will.  Well, as nice as it is in the summer, this room was freezing! It took us all night to get warm!!!

Shivering under the covers.
Brr! First night back in our house that had been empty and unheated for a month!

I must also say that even in the cold and wet, the French countryside has a charm all its own.

A wiff of smoke from the chimney shows we are home, in the middle of the wet winter countryside.

There is green winter wheat growing in the field where sunflowers shone just a few months ago. Water trickles in the drainage ditches, keeping our indoors dry. The trees without their leaves have a certain majesty as they preside over the bleak midwinter. It looks as though there will be no snow this year…..

Of course this is France, and nothing stays bucolic forever! After two days of warming our house, I noticed one of the plasterboard walls in our brand new kitchen, the one with the electric radiator attached, starting to show air between it and the old wall beneath. Apparently this was an active process!

The buckling of the kitchen wall.

When it started to crack and buckle, I called for Tanja to help keep it from falling completely. We were able to remove the radiator and the movement stopped, leaving a gaping hole where there should have been wall. If we thought we were finished with the lads, we were wrong! Fortunately they were able to come at a moment’s notice, drape all the countertops and furniture in our precious new kitchen, and start the demolition of the plaster rendering down to the stone wall underneath.

After removal of wallboard.


We have moved out of this kitchen into the gîte kitchen for the foreseeable future until this wall has been repaired and repointed. It is a bit like camping out, but we are used to that by now. We have guests coming in February, so as long as it is finished by then, all will be well. We have decided to leave the wall as exposed stone so it will breathe better. It will be a great look for the kitchen as well.

The kitchen wall, partially exposed.


Meanwhile, on a most beautiful New Year’s Eve, with lots of sunshine, a grand south wind and temperatures in the 60s Fahrenheit, I found myself outside variously splitting logs, raking leaves and cleaning up outdoor debris. I had the time of my life! By evening the rain had returned in time for us to brave the horizontal rain going to friends’ New Years Eve Party. We partied and danced until the wee hours, returning to a well earned night’s sleep of recuperation. Well. I awoke the next morning to an angry back crying out its displeasure at having been so abused the previous day.

Tanja the washerwoman on her hands and knees.

This put me to bed for a few days as Tanja, bless her huge heart, completed the painting and cleaning of our bedroom apartment.

Needless to say, I have learned my lesson – again- my own winter’s tale. The good news is we move back into our own bedroom with our own bed tonight and I am almost back to normal. Tanja of course has been her usual loving self, withholding judgment at my antics and staying the course for us.

Happy New Year to all from your loving friends in the Aquitaine. We hope to see you soon!

9 Replies to “Rainy winter and unexpected surprises!”

  1. It was so great to see you over Christmas and share thoughts and cultures! I am so glad to hear that you and Tanja are back safe and sound. I love the stone wall in the kitchen, adds a nice authentic touch! Hope you both are doing well. We miss you!!

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