And so I go on……

Where was I? Oh yes, I got distracted and wrote about something else! Back on track now, I have a piece of chocolate and a mug of peppermint tea and I am ready to write. Did you know it is very difficult, for that read impossible, to buy good peppermint tea here in France? I don’t know why that should be, one would expect British tea to be difficult to find, and it is but the French do drink infusions and they do have thé menthe but it has little or no taste. So, if anyone asks if we want anything brought over from the UK we usually ask for peppermint tea, oh, and jelly babies……John is rather partial to a jelly baby and it is surprising how much you can miss something when it is no longer easily obtainable!

Anyway, back to La Grenouille Verte and a description of our house here in the Haute Vienne region of France. I have written about the kitchen and lounge and also on the ground floor is the bathroom and separate wc. This was down a corridor from the front door when we bought the house but we knocked the wall down to make the kitchen bigger, that was fun but very messy! The first picture here shows how we tried to cover everything to limit the amount of dust and the second shows the amount of space we gained in the kitchen.

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You can also see the ancient beam emerging from under it’s layers of lathes and plaster and 2000 nails!!

Then the bathroom, a large room off the kitchen which is an extension built in the mid seventies but again stuck in a bit of a time warp. It had blue floor tiles, blue wall tiles and evidence that at some point it also had blue paint on the walls and ceiling, oh, and yellow glass in the window…….lovely! I forgot, the bathroom suite was blue too! The window had to go because the frame was rotten so that dealt with the yellow glass and allowed us to fit a double glazed unit.  The only shower was a hand held one over the bath, we didn’t think our future guests would approve so, cue more demolition! There was a cupboard next to the bathroom, so we blocked up the doorway and knocked down the wall between the cupboard and bathroom which gave us a lovely big space for a shower cubicle.

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Voila, one large hole and then one large shower cubicle. I make it sound easy but there was a point when I thought John was never going to emerge from there, if I didn’t know where he was and called out to him the answer I got was usually a plaintive “I’m still in the bathroom!”

As with most of our projects here, it has been something that has evolved and is still evolving. We would love to change the wall tiles, but the bathroom is built from thin brick and we are sure that removing the tiles would probably result in catastrophic damage to the walls, so for the moment they stay, until we come up with an idea of how to remove them carefully or an innovative way of covering them up. Any ideas will be seriously considered, as long as we can do it ourselves and it does not cost lots of money!

That, I think is enough for now, the chocolate is gone and my tissane has been drunk!

a biéntot


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As an aside, a few personal thoughts and observations.

Now, there is no doubt that I am new to this idea of publishing my words for anyone else to read, so in an attempt to familiarise myself with how it is done I have been reading a few “recommended” posts. Well…………… would seem to me that there are some very strange people out there! Of course, I already knew that but it seems very bizarre to me that people are willing to let the world know how strange they are and what is even more bizarre is that other people are apparently “liking” what they have published!

Now, in my innocence I thought people would be writing about the places they have been and the experiences they’ve had, and while that may be true, I don’t seem to have found any of those posts yet, where do I  find those sort of blogs so I can follow the adventure for myself? I am not sure I want to read about someone’s depression in poem form or learn how to make strange looking garments from everyday scraps. I am all for inventiveness and making the most of what you have but there is a limit!

I have written a diary for years, so I am used to writing down my own thoughts on a daily basis but obviously that is not normally read by anyone else. I like to think I am quite observant, I love to people watch! People (well some people) are fascinating and interesting, I want to read that sort of post and I hope to write posts that others will find interesting too. If you (dear reader) can tell me where to look for these blogs I will be eternally grateful?!

Yesterday I sat and typed a bit more information about our house here in the Haute Vienne in France. It was frustrating because all the pictures I wanted to use to illustrate my words would not go where I wanted them to go, I persevered(that word really does not look right!) and eventually got something out that was almost ok, my neck was aching and I’d really had enough. It was then that I heard the delightful sound of cat throwing up! It was Sid, it’s usually him, he eats something disgusting like a small rodent, just leaving the gall bladder behind, then has to eat some cat food to rid himself of the taste and after a while he brings it back up again……delightful!! During warm weather this is generally not a problem but because it was cold yesterday he was indoors so, of course, it was all over the rug, in several places! A lovely end to the afternoon and I am afraid wine o’clock occurred soon after the clearing up process…..I know, I am weak!


This is Sid on a different occasion, curled up in the barrel where the maple tree is planted.

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The Story Continues……..

On my last post, I introduced La Grenouille Verte. Today I thought I would write about the house and what it offers to people wishing to spend a holiday here. It is very easy to list the amenities and describe the area but the point of this blog is to show you what is happening here throughout the year, so that you get a broader picture and should be able to tell if it is the right place for you.

When we bought the house in 2010 it had been empty for three years and had been neutralised by the previous owners, we realised that we had to put back some character so that people looking at the photographs online would want to come and stay, after all, our very survival depends upon it!

The first picture here shows the kitchen as it was when we moved in and the second as it is now. The corner cupboard is gone and the wall between the kitchen and the corridor leading to the bathroom, making the room much bigger. The corridor led from the front door to the bathroom and was a real waste of space. We knocked the wall down and replaced the door with a window, we also took the plaster and black paint off the beam, removing at least 2000 nails in the process! The beam is now as it would have been when the house was built over two hundred years ago.


The kitchen when we arrived.

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The kitchen all ready for our guests.

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Certainly a blank canvas!

Then the lounge, it had been two rooms when Raoul and Odile lived here, a small salon which was hardly used, their life happened in the kitchen, and their bedroom. It had been knocked into one room before our arrival but again it was lacking in character.

Removing the plaster to reveal the stone.

Removing the plaster to reveal the stone.

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The sunny lounge as it is now.

The first task was to remove the plaster from one wall to show the stone underneath, what is known here as “pierre apparente.” This then had to be cleaned and pointed, after this came the building of a false chimney to add some shape and to house the rather ugly logburner that been left here which I named the “squat toad”!  I hasten to add that this has now been replaced with a more sympathetic model! Then paint on walls and ceiling and furnishing. As the house holds our furniture until the barn is finished, most of the furniture and pictures are our own.

After fighting with the layout of this post and inserting the pictures, I will leave the description of the rest of the house until tomorrow. It is after all……… o’clock!!


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A Little Story About La Grenouille Verte.

Welcome to our holiday house in the Haute Vienne, France. This was the front of the oldest part of the house in summer 2014.

The house has a history stretching back more than 200 years when Vimpère (pronounced vam-pair) was part of the estate of the Chateau de Brie. It was probably home to folk who worked on the estate and who would have farmed on a small scale to feed themselves, paying a tythe to the Chateau.

At that time the building would have been mainly for the animals and with just a small living space for the family, who could have been quite numerous. Over the years the families who have lived here have made various changes in order to adapt to the needs of modern life. Perhaps none more so than the last French owners, Raoul and Odile, who bought the house in 1972 when it did just consist of two rooms. Over the years their family grew to five children and the house grew with them, first they added a bathroom, until this point the toilet was housed in a small shed attached to the barn, not a pleasant experience, I imagine, in the depths of winter!

Next they changed a small barn attached to the house into a garage, or what is known here as a sous-sol and built three bedrooms above it. Odile has told me that after the bedrooms were completed, Raoul declared that he would not be climbing the stairs to go to bed, preferring to keep their bedroom on the ground floor, so the bedrooms were used by the children until, one by one, they left home. After all the children had grown up and left, Raoul and Odile decided that the house and land were too big for them and they had a small bungalow built on a piece of land just around the corner. They continue to keep an eye on their former home, luckily for us, whole heartedly approving of the changes we have made and continue to make!

We bought the house in the summer of 2010. At that point it had been owned by another English couple for three years but they had never lived in it. They had done a lot of work to neutralise the place, removing the wall that had divided the lounge, where the fourth bedroom used to be to make one large and bright room. They removed all the old wallpaper, which tends to be favoured in French homes, and painted everything white. It provided us with a blank canvas but it was rather soulless.

This was how the house looked when we first moved in.

In the above photograph, you can see that the barn next door is just that……….a barn, and in no way habitable, so for the first eighteen months or so we lived in the house, making improvements during this time. Then, in the spring of 2012 we welcomed our first guests!

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