Sunday, 1 November 2015

Another message from the Dordogne for now…

A late change of plan from our last blog entry and we're still here in Belves in the Dordogne area of southern France, despite planning to leave for Zaragoza in Aragon, Spain on Thursday last.
Chateau de Castlenaud-la-Chapelle
Why are we still here? The weather is summer like by UK standards, 22°C, clear blue skies, little wind, but that’s not the reason. Beautiful rolling hills, fabulous autumn colours, steeped in the history of medieval villages dotted about and endless country and village walks, but that’s not the reason. Very good cheap French wine, tasty French cheeses, pates and olives, that’s not the reason either. Spacious, well-furnished house with plenty of outdoor seating areas, courtesy of our friends Judith and Richard whose house, cats and dogs we looked after in Redmarley D’Abitot in Gloucestershire UK recently, no not that reason.

Stuck - as far as the handle would go!
We’re still here because we managed to break the lock on an external door leading from the lounge into the garden and couldn’t secure the house – and on the evening before we were due to leave! How did we do it? We don’t know, it just decided to stick closed, but with the outside shutters open (and they can only be locked from the inside, but we couldn’t do that as the door was stuck!) Judith, in a phone call to her, told us their insurance company will only honour their policy if all shutters are properly secured! The panic that followed involved a car journey to the local handyman they use and an email to ‘’ to ask if we can delay the booking on our hotel in Zaragoza. ‘The handyman won’t be in at this time of night’ Judith told us and, when we got there he wasn’t. 
Lock in bits!
The old lady in the house next door said (in French) he comes and goes and she has no idea when he’ll be there (amazing how you can make yourself understood and understand the reply with very little French!) and then, just as we were leaving, he arrived! More school French and he was back in his van following us back to the house! Here Google Translate comes in very handy, but he won’t be able to fix it until Saturday maybe, more like Tuesday (he’s in Bordeaux on Monday he told us). ‘We’ll wait’ we told him, but the next day, applying much more downward pressure to the handle, it gave and the door opened! Tools from Richards shed and the thing was in bits, cleaned, reassembled and back in working correctly by mid-afternoon on Friday! An email to Jean-Christophe, the handyman, saying ‘thank you’ but we don’t now need him hopefully got through!

Oven door in bits!
Meanwhile, the roast Jackie was cooking in the oven dripped fat down the door and between the 4 panes of glass, leaving a huge smear! Problem number 2 – will there be any more? Anyway, on Friday we had the oven door apart, cleaned the glass, reassembled then went out for a walk through the woods, hoping nothing else will go wrong while we’re here.

Autumn is a wonderful time and, in amongst the fallen leaves we came upon huge quantities of chestnuts and walnuts. Roasting chestnuts over an open fire at this time of year is such a traditional thing to do and we really like walnuts, so we collected more than we really need, came back and baked a coffee and walnut cake (delicious!) and intend taking the chestnuts to Spain with us to share with Jackie’s dad and Elizabeth.

A busy street in Sarlat-la-Caneda
Stained glass sun reflection in the Cathederale Saint-Sacerdos de Sarlat
The extra days have been well spent with country walks and walks through the medieval villages of Belves and Sarlat, both really interesting, plus some relaxing on the patio by the pool in the garden (now covered for winter) with tea and cake enjoying the quite hot sun. changed our booking in Zaragoza to Wednesday and Thursday (4th and 5th November) as we had asked and then again to Monday and Tuesday (2nd and 3rd November) after we decided we didn’t need to stay that long. Top marks to, great company and well done with putting up with people like us who can’t make up their minds!

Walnut harvest!
So we’re off in the morning for the 8 hour drive over the Pyrenees to Spain, leaving all our ski gear here ready to return in December for a few more days before heading off to the Alps for the winter. 2 nights in Zaragoza to give us one full day looking round the city, that is unless we break something else and have to stay longer again!!!!

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