A Third Country

After posting a new blog entry last week about my November trip, I am now back in the UK and posting about my latest visit.

Driving down after over nighting in Calais and sampling probably the best chips I have ever tasted, from ‘Friterie Claudia’ in the town square, I realised that this may be my last visit to Riberac as a citizen of the European Union. A situation that puts our Easter holiday here and long term future in the balance.

Still we continue on with the renovation. This time the piggery bathroom floor, garden tidy and movement of plants not my designer’s eye and resowing of the bare patches on the lawn, amongst other tasks!


After much deliberating about style and harmony with a rural French cottage and having ruled out encaustic and porcelain pattern tiles, I have decided upon good old ‘Terre Cuite’. But as is normal, I am not laying in a straight forward way but in a 45 degree bond with a framework in larger tiles. This is not for masochistic tendencies but because none of the walls in this small room are square or parallel and this bond will detract from this. To further complicate I am also laying an insulation board and electric under floor heating.


The weather for this week was in the high teens and sunny everyday, in contrast to this visit last year when it snowed and settled, so working inside and not being tempted by the gardening is difficult.

Laying the insulation and heating mat was straight forward , as was the frame of larger tiles, but then came the 45 degree infill. This was Ok to start with but the cuts, oh the cuts! These took the best part of a day.


From experience of the downstairs room we have realised that to point/grout up without staining these soft absorbent tiles it is best to seal and impregnate the tiles beforehand. As this takes an hour to dry and needs three coats, it gave ample time for garden work in the sunshine.


Next day, like a mad Patissier armed with a large piping bag of jasmine grout (this colour as research has shown that traditionally this would have been lime and the dust from cutting the tiles giving a pinky white colour) I set about this monumental task! One whole day on hands and knees the floor was complete and ready for more sealing tomorrow…..but wait, I leave tomorrow at 14.00!


New window will be fitted by the next time we visit

Up at 06.00 to seal the floor, sow the grass seed, tidy and clean the house, I still managed to leave on time and trundle back up to Calais. Arriving at 21.30, too tired to sample the delights of Friterie Claudia, I retire straight to bed happy in the knowledge I have achieved all that I set to complete this week.


Rising early again for breakfast next morning and on the 08.06 Eurotunnel train back to the UK, I planned to be home by 10.00.

I may have been dozing but as the train pulled into Folkstone, did the announcer on the train tannoy really say “We will shortly be arriving………don’t forget to put your watches back forty years…..”?


It has been a year since I last posted; I guess that makes me not a prolific blogger! *

The reason being, is not a lot has happened at Frelon Cottage save for relaxing in the sun, cheese eating and wine drinking.

The summer just gone was the hottest and sunniest since we bought the cottage. All great for holidays, we managed two summer visits here this year, but not great for my newly established lawn. Hence the main project for this autumn’s visit, to install pop up irrigation.

The garden area, over 600sqm was surveyed on a balmy evening on our last holiday using my laser and then drawn up on the CAD system in the office and an irrigation system planned to cover all areas in two separate circuits.

All parts purchased including one hundred metres of 19mm pipe, I headed down to the cottage. I must be getting older as I now often choose to overnight in Calais to break up the journey, as I did on this occasion.

The weather for my visit was set fair and due to be above average temperatures. All good, except the main job on this project is to hand dig 100m of small trenches to take the irrigation pipe. This job was made all the more tiring by the barrow loads of limestone rocks and roofing tiles just below the surface. As it was around 24 degrees by lunch time each day, I trenched from 8.00am until 1.00pm, stopping of course for tea at 10.00 and to admire the early morning deer that wandered into the lane.


This left the afternoons to continue to work on the piggery bathroom, which last Autumn had a new floor and ceiling and this visit is being prepared for decorating with a view to completion for Easter.


After three mornings all trenches were dug and pipes installed. Job done……well no! The trenches need filling and the voids left by the rocks meant that more topsoil from a pile at one end of the plot was needed to fill the excavations level.

By my last day the garden area was all level again and ready to be scarified and reseeded. By 18.30 this was all done and now, once again we wait for nature to it’s work, this time aided slightly by nine pop up sprinklers!



* although written at the time 28/10/2018, I lost my password and the recovery email was obsolete. I had given up on posting further but today I found the password stored on my phone! So we are back on! Just in time as I am heading down this Saturday!