Water water everywhere! And after the water (or during)…MUD! It has rained and rained here for weeks. Thirteen departments of France have been on flood alert, once again, the Louvre in Paris has emptied a few rooms of precious paintings, the Seine has flooded it’s banks into the road of Paris and here in Normandy, the roads have turned to rivers, the grassy areas to lakes.
The chateau kitchen has flooded five times, the water in the cellars swirled around the calvados barrels (8000 liters worth) half way up their rotund little bodies and the grand steps leading to the formal gardens turned into the most beautiful waterfalls which puddled onto the formal lawn and sent the Beloved into a crazy worry about his much tended lawn. What made it all worse, was the Roofer, who has slowly been replacing the roofs on all the buildings, needed to get a front end loader to help him place the slate onto the roof peaks. Well! A heavy machine with giant tires moving around? Yup – it just churned up everything in it’s path turning everything to a soggy, sloshy boot-sucking quagmire. And then two dogs what to go out for a run….. I try not to think about it….
As far as we know, the hops rhizomes have survived. We’re waiting for two more varieties to try to see what their oil yield will be before we chat to the owner of the chateau in a hope that we will plant six thousand plants in one of the unused fields. That will be another adventure all together!
As I mentioned in my last blog, we have a new member of the family. Now to give you a bit of background, I have long been obsessed by these for no other reason than they make me smile. I can be having the worst day or be feeling really low or homesick and if one of these little cars drives past on it’s biscuit-thin tires with it’s funny little body, it ALWAYS brings a smile to my face. I just love them. Their simplicity, the expression on their faces (and yes, they do have one), their tortoise like shape with their flat boot, their rolling suspension designed to carry eggs over a ploughed field..you know what or rather who I’m talking about…the Beloved French Deux Chevaux! My obsession has been going on for nearly five years now and the Dear One has been vacillating between wanting to make me happy and hating the little cars with a passion. Why? He used to have one (how bizarre is that) in fact it was his first car. It leaked, was freezing cold and draughty in winter, refused to start on many occasions and, in general, drove him crazy to such an extent that his relationship with it only lasted a year before he moved on to ‘something more modern and reliable’. But after hearing me bleat on for so long, I think the poor man was either worn down or just resigned but after a while, he told me to ‘just buy one for goodness sake!’
All very well but boy are they expensive! I’ve seen a wreck with more holes and rust than actual car sell for around €3000! Can you believe I came across a restored one for €99 000! I do realise that it all depended on the year etc but I wasn’t too fazed about that – I didn’t really care what year it was except I would have prefered a ‘slightly newer’ model….but being the crazy artist I am, I was more concerned about it’s colour – it had to have round headlights and not square and that it had to be French Blue. The Not-So-Beloved just rolled his eyes and asked me if I had ever heard of car paint shops that sold paint specifically for cars and for changing their colour.
I trawled the Net whenever the urge became overpowering for a ‘bargain’ and discovered there are many people out there who are quite happy to pull the wool over your eyes and try and take you for a ride. It put me off a bit and the trawling became less frequent. And then I discovered that Ebay sold cars and they had a buyer’s protection thing attached to any car a person bought…. I trawled there…and then a friend trawled there too looking for motorbike parts…and then……he sent me a link…..and then I looked……and then…..
It was an auction in the UK and this little car started at 0.99p. It was a left hand drive so wasn’t doing very well as far as Uk people wanting to buy it. I watched the price rise for a bit and then, without telling the Beloved, I put my bid in. I waited for two weeks. No one else bid. I was beginning to wonder what was wrong with it but from the picture – it looked pretty good…not much rust, a good year (1986), it still went so the engine must be good….I eventually broke it to the Dear One and showed him the photo -after all, I couldn’t drive it, I couldn’t look underneath it or look at the engine (not that I’d know what I was looking at)… it was one of those things you just held your breath and bought unseen. The auction closed early one morning and I awoke to my phone beeping. A text to tell me I was the proud owner of a 2CV! My nerves! I got onto Ebay to put an advert for people to bid to deliver it to Normandy france and got a really reasonable price because a flatbed trailer was already coming to the area with two other cars on it and there was room for one more.
Cool beans! The driver got lost and eventually the truck appeared down the chateau driveway at dusk. The first car closest to the cab was a huge plush BMW, the second, a grand sleek Mercedes….and attached to the end of the trailer like a little pimple was Charlie the 2CV…. forlornly balancing there with one flat tire and a spider’s web stretching from one of her mirrors to her bonnet. Her battery was flat, her little face was grubby but she still made me smile. After charging her battery overnight, the Beloved started her up and we drove down the half a kilometer driveway to the chateau gates. She backfired with great gusto and in the most unladylike manner all the way there and all the way back.
I also mentioned last time that Thumps has developed an addiction. it took us ages to find him some sort of dry food that he would eat and I was beginning to worry that he would go a bit hungry over winter when there are no dandelions and the grass is slow growing. The Dear One came home one day with some Dwarf Rabbit food and at last, here was something he could tuck into….still fussy, picking out bits and pieces to his liking. He loved dried corn, whole sunflower seeds, a few of the alfalfa or grass pellets but not too many but two things he just loved. One was a variety of square biscuits that were green, beige and pink and tasted of maize (yes I tasted them) and the other was some sort of bark. It was this stuff that became an obsession. He would dig through his bowl until he had found every bit. If he got hold of the main tub of food if I wasn’t looking, he would dive in, pick out the biscuits and rummage for ages crunching his way through until there wasn’t a piece of bark in sight.
We sat together one evening while I tried to figure out what it was. He was very protective over them, taking out another one while he was still chewing on the first and tucking it safely between his front paws, hiding it with his chest until he could grab it and repeat the process. I managed to find one and together we chewed thoughtfully.
Hard, crunchy, sweet and…slightly chocolaty?…..yup…..definitely a combination of rock hard dates and chocolate. I trawled the internet once again. It took a while but finally I discovered that they were Carob pods, the leftover husk after the caffeine-free chocolate substitute bean had been removed; they’re also called Locust Pods. Ebay here we come – a gentleman was selling half a kilogram at a very reasonable price (after all, they are usually just thrown away. I never realised that they were part of so many rabbit, mouse, gerbil etc feeds as well!) it wasn’t long before they arrived in the post and I put them in an old ice-cream tub. They smelt a bit weird – a combination of old socks and chocolate but Thumps thought they were the best things out. I decided they would have to be a treat – something to tame him a bit more, a reward after he had literally ‘eaten his greens’. He learnt very quickly. The other day I was kneeling in front of a chest of drawers putting away the laundry when I felt two gentle paws land on my back. I turned round and there he was, having crawled out from under his daytime spot under the bed…ears up….big round brown eyes staring at me with a question mark above his head..
‘What you want my boy? Do you want some sunflower seeds?’
‘Do you want some more apple?’
‘Have you run out of food? Grass? Corn?’
I accompanied each question by an offering of food…each was met with an actual shake of his head! Eventually he climbed onto my lap to nuzzle his nose into my hand.
‘Do you want one of these?’ I offered him a piece of carob pod.
‘Oh Yes! Yes! That’s what I want!!!!!’
It’s got to the stage when in the middle of the night, he reaches up and tugs on the sheet near my head until I wake up. All I can make out in the dark are his long ears and the gleam of his eyes staring at me as he sits on his back legs, his front paws held to his chest. I fumble around for the dish I have learned to leave full on the bedside table. He munches three, then moves away to sit in his own bed and crunches through the fourth one before he rolls over, kicks his legs in the air a few times and blissfully doses off.
I’m so well trained.
I’d love to hear from you…
A la prochaine