The beach is back!


So, following the “canicule”, the beach is back in it’s full sand and pebble glory.

To be frank, although one hears comments about the heat of the last few weeks here, it’s not at all unusual to have these temperatures in August anyway.

Bronte throws herself into the river at least once a day; though she really should check how deep it is when she hops in at a new spot…..

Our house is set on Rue de la Plage.

For many years as second home owners still stuck in the UK, we had no idea how or why the name came about . We couldn’t see any beach on our riverbank walks. Then the Mairie’s guys cleared it, and, voila! it all makes sense.

There are a few other mini-beaches along this particular stretch of the Aude. “Ours” is the largest.

Much appreciated by the many fishermen who enjoy the beautiful scenery and the trout. (There is a no kill policy in place here). My son was right down in the water fishing almost every day of their July visit. Trev says he’s a natural at casting; with the overhanging trees and the rocks it’s not that easy.


I have no idea what Bronte is excavating here.

Anyway, oh well informed and erudite blog followers, what’s this weird bright red stuff that is growing down by the river ? below

I’d say maybe the Martians are colonising. Actually, I think they are already here. My daily life is a litany of surreal and alien experiences.

Par example, yesterday. After a series of delays, I make it to a certain “Trésor Public” office (local tax/admin etc) at 11:50. A young lady was (wom)manning the reception desk and trying patiently to help a very old lady understand an apparently shocking tax bill.

Enter, stage left, a very grumpy and officious man swinging a bunch of door keys and waving these pointedly at the receptionist who, to her great credit, ignored him.

He returned to his office picked up the phone and hissed, sotto voce, down it to an unknown caller. The gist of it being that HE was ready to meet for lunch but there were still annoying members of the public hanging around outside. I was not prepared to come back again for the second time in a week, so I advanced on him brandishing my Trésor letter and my RIB (bank ID number) which the letter had requested.

Monsieur whipped the letter from my hand, perched his spectacles on his nose and perused it at arm’s length ( toxic?) this was the ensuing dialogue

French, translated, in bold

Him“This letter states that we need your RIB”

Me “Yes I know, that is why I am here” I pass him my French cheque book, in the back of which are tear out slips with the RIB details on.

Him “This is a cheque book. Does Madame not understand that a chequebook is not a RIB?” snatches cheque book from my hand and waves it about emphatically.

Me ” Yes, I understand that very well, but if you will permit me I will show you the slips at the back with my RIB number”

Him ” It is lunchtime, and you do not have the right information”

Me ” It wasn’t lunchtime five minutes ago and I do have the information” I try to retrieve my cheque book, which he is now waving angrily in the air over my head!

I become aware that Trev has entered the building. He silently takes the cheque book, points out the RIB slip to Monsieur and silently walks away. Monsieur rips the RIB slip out dramatically, and snatches that and the letter, waving me away with a “C‘est ça, fini!!!”

I’ll let you translate. I fully expect a duplicate letter requesting my RIB in a week or two.


Posted in Renovation and restoration diary- France | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

It’s too hot to cook

IMG_20180804_175633Tapas  on the terrace.

Photo-bombed by Bronte. 21:00 and still 32°.

How are you coping with the canicule?

Posted in Food and wine, Renovation and restoration diary- France | 10 Comments

Restoration rescue dog update- Bronte’s surgery

My poor dog. Stumbling about with the equivalent of a satellite dish on her head!

We have had to completely reorganise the house and the terrace to accommodate this blunderbuss, until our marvelous vet gives her the ten day inspection.

Marie- Christine assures us that, although the surgery required around her eye (two vets two hours) was both more delicate  and more extensive than expected, she will not end up looking like a canine version of a certain American President’s  ex-wife.

Naturally we cannot do any work on the house as we have to watch her all the time.

I think this may be the longest ten days of our lives….


Posted in Bronte, Renovation and restoration diary- France | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Campagne en fête

The village had a rather good night market featuring local producers of food and wine, sheep’s milk ice cream and olive oil, a chanteuse and “restauration sur place” of course.

Trev had a plate of meat, lots of meat, with rosemary potatoes.

I had what the stallholders assured me was a burger, but was in fact two potato waffles wrapped around local goat cheese, honey and tomatoes. Yum.

We bought our wine and Blanquette from a stall stocked by a winery in nearby Montazels who provided us with shot size glasses to drink it!

Fabulous evening. “Our” table featured folk from five different countries. I raised enough energy to dance with a charming Italian man.

Our friends wanted us to go back to our place and fetch the crystal, but I was just too tired; I literally haven’t stopped since the end of March, apart from four days on nearly holiday in Argeles.

Posted in Renovation and restoration diary- France | 7 Comments

slub silk – dupion v shantung


OK, this post is a bit “niche”, but I had to share the thrill of unpacking more bargain buys from French ebay.

These vintage curtains are made from silk dupion (dupioni) in a typically subtle ivory cream with cream and pale gold passementerie down leading (opening) edge, turning through 90 degrees in a line above the hem. They are damaged, but as both length and width need reducing to suit the terrace bedroom French doors, the portion I need is pretty sound.

Some links if you are curious about dupioni and it’s sister fabric shantung


silk dupioni definition

dupioni v shantung eidelweiss blog

Headed with one of the best, but also the most fiddly, precise and time consuming headings in the soft furnishings trade (triple pleat stiffened buckram) these are in one of my favourite fabrics and will look perfect in this room.

Silk dupion is great for lampshades too; it manages to balance matte with lustrous and a slightly rustic weave from the slubs in the weft.

Lovely stuff, out of fashion of course. Like me. Like my house. Like I care….

Posted in Antique and Vintage finds, Art, design and inspiration blog, Renovation and restoration diary- France | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Tuck stop

On the way to Argeles and we won’t make any of the P.O eateries for lunch before two o’clock, so we have stopped at the excellent and underrated Auberge du Chalet on the D117 out of Quillan toward Lapradelle-Puilarens.

Cool interior, newly refurbished exterior, glazed conservatory for showery weather.

And dog friendly

We highly recommend if you are on this route.

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Thank you B&L

Now and then I am reminded of why I do what I do for the day job.

Some of my Clients know that I have this whole other life too.

These two do. So thank you.



Posted in Renovation and restoration diary- France | 11 Comments