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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Lovely warmth.

We have a fire! And not a moment too soon. It is pretty chilly at the moment, unusually so we are told. October is supposed to be mild, around the high teens, low twenties. Instead we had a proper frost last night! There is already snow in the more mountainous regions, and autumn can be very unpredictable but hopefully we are prepared.

The fire in the bed/craft room, which will keep upstairs aired and frost free was in on the first day the fitters arrived (Tuesday, we only contacted them for the first time six days before!) and after a cool day sitting in our bed room (me and the dogs) on the Wednesday we lit the fire for the first time. It has to be said that the arrangement is not too pretty. Unless you build one, there are no ‘fireplaces’ as such, but all our rooms have chimneys. You can have an inset fire of course, fine if you have the space, but we decided on free standing. The chimneys are in the corners of the rooms and you site your fire wherever you want it and have a long black tube taking your smoke away. Although it looks a bit odd to our eyes, it has a use. It gets very hot and if it was going straight up the chimney it would be heating the chimney instead of the room getting all the heat available. With temperatures getting so very low in winter it would be daft to not use every bit of warmth.

The dogs were very wary at first. Although they recognised that it was a fire before it was lit and waited expectantly for the warmth to happen.

 When we actually lit the fire they disappeared with the crackling and proper flames. It took a little while but they are totally happy now, and just move away a little when new logs crackle.

Bella was first to take advantage while Bonnie looked on.

The stove in the kitchen is going in today. It was a much bigger job and this was a bit lost on us due to language difficulties. On that first day we came down to a kitchen under an inch of sooty dust and no chimney. We knew the chimney needed raising but didn’t realise that the hole was far too small and it needed a whole new chimney! Dust was everywhere, in every drawer and cupboard, a nightmare! We had said we would move things out of the way but were assured they would do that. Even so we had moved everything to the other side of the room.
 Anyway, new chimney is in and fire should be in this evening and we can move back downstairs and start clearing up. We are nearly out of bread in the freezer so need to get cracking this weekend! Interestingly the covers for the holes in the chimney and hatch below are made from old tin cans. Not super strong but presumably they do the job.

There is a horrible pong again around the place. Something has died somewhere but we can’t figure out where. It might even be two. The landing upstairs reeks and also by the wall outside. There is nothing we can do but wait it out. All spaces we (Dave) can get into have been inspected and there is no body anywhere and he doesn’t even get any nearer the smell.

We’ve had problems getting the pump out of the well. Dave has been doing all the pre-winter jobs about the place while I sit and read by the fire (well, I have to keep an eye on it!) and when he tried to lift the pump the hose got snagged on the neighbour’s pump which was already in there when we arrived. Their’s is not submersible where our’s is. In the end he got the pump up but the electric cable detached itself. Lucky I had insisted on a polypropylene string as extra security back in June! There is a chance the neighbours will take their pump out now that we have settled in. It has been in there years as it was her mother’s house previous to the last owners buying it for holidays.

As mentioned previously, the first frost well and truly arrived in the night. It was definitely proper chilly last night and Dave tried to get Bonnie to cuddle up with us but she will stay for a while then gets down. Bella is always trying to get on the bed, so she was happy. I was not! We are neither of us small people and as Bella was in the middle we both had cool bits as there was not enough duvet for all. Once the pong has gone we can leave the doors open so we can get heat from the fire in the other room. Poor Bonnie had very cold ears this morning, but if she can sleep on the dog bed so can Bella, they can snuggle up together to keep warm. I don’t like dogs on beds.

Went out shopping while we had no fitters in. We have a store similar to a poor B&Q, a German company called Praktiker. Had a whale of a time and managed a good trolley full of goodies. This put Dave into a sweat, but actually it was pretty amazing what you can get for so little. We got four boxes of wall tiles, 30 in a box, for less than a fiver a box. So will be getting a tiled splash back in the kitchen which should lighten it up and be easier to clean. It looks as if we can put the extractor back, though we can only use it for the light, really needed as the kitchen is dark due to the low ceiling.

We also went food shopping while we were out. Went to Lidl as they have an offer on artists canvasses and bought a dozen to keep Dave busy in bad weather. But better than that, they had fresh salmon fillets on special offer! Fish is not big here and usually when I get the urge its Pollock fish fingers. They have fresh water fish as most European countries do, mainly live carp in the market, but they do import river cobbler from Vietnam, which is awful. Other sea fish in the freezers looks frost burnt and icy, not very appealing. So we had salmon, mash and carrots with kale from the garden. What a treat. Rarely eat fish and I don’t eat meat, and it’s been over four months since eating salmon.

The drive to VT is very pretty at the moment. There are high cliffs on the approach to the city, planted with a variety of trees, and they have their autumn colors. They range the whole pallet from yellow through all shades to bright red. Lovely. But no chance of a photo though, it’s not a good road to stop on. Elsewhere the colours a quite muted, still fairly green, but we do have some lovely little crocus or something coming up in swathes. They look almost like daff bulbs till they come out properly.

The evenings have gone quiet now. You get so used to loud insect noise at night that you don’t really notice it, so when it stops it takes a while to realise. When the sun comes out the chickens and Bella go on the hunt, but not sure there’s much to catch. There aren’t many birds in the garden, though we have seen huge gatherings of starlings in the fields and geese flying over in formation.
The starlings following the shepherd out with sheep, goats and cattle.

 Our noisy woodpeckers are enjoying ‘their’ trees, especially the walnut, and a jay visits occasionally. We did see a huge eagle fly over us yesterday though. You think buzzards are big till you see an eagle at close quarters. Now that the leaves are falling you can see more. We’re looking forward to going out looking for winter residents and hope to get some pictures so Dave can get painting. There are still the occasional butterflies about.

The pool is being emptied today, though only because of the frost. Dave was still using it two days ago! He also called in at the river on his way back from VT last week for a dip...and was tempted to bring home a flea-ridden thin little dog sitting by the road. Common sense prevailed. If for any reason we needed to return to the UK it would cause real problems if we had a yard/house full of waifs and strays. But is very hard to resist.........

The chicks are all doing well. Three of the big ones are now roosting, so have been given a branch (after the pic) Poor Solo can't quite manage it yet, but we are hopeful her toes won't be a handicap to her once she gets her confidence.
Two girls looking adoringly at Dave..

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