Thursday, 18 October 2012

Something Fishy

One of the big surprises about my time in France is my growing appreciation for the hobby of fishing!. It started when I begrudgingly went along and dropped my first “ledger” line into the Charante a few years ago, merely humouring my husband who was a keen sea fisherman and who thought he’d try his hand at river fishing in France. On that occasion, I had taken a good book, food, drink , binoculars ,camera, and mobile phone to while away the inevitable hours of boredom as the maggots drowned un-nibbled and the clock ticked silently away…..I mean it’s not AGILITY is it !  But this all changed upon the arrival of my very first catch….slowly, as the subsequent visits and fishing trips came and went, the book got left behind, then the binoculars, and before you knew it the riverbank became a “zone” for one thing, and one thing only, - catching “poissons”

Now in complete contrast, I am champing at the bit to get out on the bank for a bit of rod-action. My tally to date has an acceptable range of sizes and species, all returned to the water I hasten to add, once their (and my) photo opportunities have been fulfilled.

Unlike England fishing is very inexpensive and easily approached, an annual licence (70 euros) and an opportunity to fish anywhere at all providing there are no Private signposts up. In other words the same country code applies to fishing as rambling in France, no trespass laws, just the insistence that common sense, courtesy and respect to the countryside is adhered to. We keep rods in the car and if we pass a likely spot we are ”good to go” but within 2 miles of the cottage there are 3 or 4 magnificent spots where you can fish in complete solitude in stunning surroundings so we tend to stick to those for now. I don’t think I have yet had a fishing trip that hasn’t come without the appearance of one or more kingfishers although I can’t say quite as much about the FISH I had one run of six trips without a single bite whilst my husband pulled them out left right and centre.!! Not that I’m keeping count (as it might infer I am competitive……who me ?? Laugh out loud) but at the moment I am having a bit of a “run” myself and there’s nothing like a few good barbel (good fighters) to well and truly get you “hooked” (pun intended). The dogs can come along too on cooler days although Phee has a habit of sneaking groundbait and Stitch thinks casting should be accompanied with a bloody good barking frenzy….nothing like the sound of a maniacal terrier to get those fishies flocking- not.

I shall close with a couple of shots of the lovely river Charante. Can’t wait til next time although I AM going to have to introduce my other half to the wonders of less than fair weather fishing…he tends to go off the idea as the clouds loom but I have a jumbo brollie and Regattas left over from a hobby that, as we all know tends to reserve itself for mud larks.

Tight lines everyone.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

There's no smoke without fire

Well that 2 months flew by…..I am now writing the blogs that I promised myself that I would write at the time, but time itself got away from me!!!

So here I am back in England (for the time being) and recounting my escapades so that 1) I don’t forget them myself and 2) so those of you that know me,can get to enjoy my “big adventure” too.

Now, where was I ?

Fitting the Woodburner was a job and a half. As our bottom floor is below ground,the flue had to come through at head height in the lounge,and drop down to the fire itself via a system of flue adapters,corners,brackets and straight lengths.

Buying the flue system proved to be an absolute nightmare, as in France flues are made in many many sizes, and each piece has a male or female end,splayed or pinched in.  It just basically involved all three of us(Brother in law Ken, Richard and myself) on the floor of the local Ironmongers with a shed load of parts,trying to accomplish the correct linkage and doing our impression of the Krypton Factor or Crystal Maze. Our 1st effort not only failed miserably,but also cost us more in the sum total of parts than the ruddy fire itself !!!

After returning to the shop with the rejects and a feasible plan B we finally managed to get a suitable flue system to vent the fire.

Our very nice French builder Mr Germain had by then built the foundations and had erected a chimney (complete with a traditional “table top”) adjacent to our car parking area. Our cottage now had two rising stairways on the same floor AND two chimneys (the original is bricked up in our toilet).

Richard and I then had the unenviable but surprisingly enjoyable job of building a “faux” chimney breast behind the fire, to protect the walls from the heat and staining and to make the whole thing look authentic. To my surprise you really can buy glue that can hold a pound and a half ROCK to the wall without slippage or, as my other half puts it “sticks it like shit to a blanket”….thanks for that one hun. Anyway, job done, you can see the fruits of our respective labours below. 

WE will be back to France in the Winter..."let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" We will be toasty !