From France to London and back this summer.

It doesn’t feel much like summer with constant rain in London. What better to fill the time with a little DIWhy?

Stepladder and tools, old wiring and wallpaper and rocking the wife beater.

My life is all glamour!

A little light pruning

Sunday afternoon and what’s nicer than a swim and a lounge in the shade under a large umbrella?

Well, apparently it’s being encouraged to climb up inside a very large hedge to prune the top.

The hedge is a behemoth which we’ve been trying to tame for the last two years. We’ve cut it back considerably but with renewed vigour it comes back with a vengeance.

So with secateurs in hand, I spent a couple of less relaxing hours climbing like a monkey before finally emerging hot, scratched and bloody.

Not sure there was much of a before and after moment…

Lavender scented dog

The lavender is in bloom and the energetic buzzing of honey bees fills the air.

The flowers are at their brightest as they will gradually fade through the summer but for now they’re full of bees and for Agnes the temptation is too great as she loves to chase flying insects not even deterred by a few stings on the nose!

Back to France

After a weekend of wall shaving and a week of work it was an early start with a taxi at 5am to get back to France for the weekend.

It was a false economy booking a cheaper ticket from Gatwick as a super early departure meant the tubes weren’t running and I had to get a taxi and then the normal trains hadn’t started so it was the Gatwick Express which is a massive rip off BUT after a week of rain, I’m hoping it was money well spent to be able to swim in the (hopefully clean) pool and sit in the garden and relax!

I’ve moved things along a bit this week by getting the plasterer round for a look as well as two builders to look at the bathroom. It’s all a bit unknown as we don’t know what’s lurking behind the tiles or under the floor, who’s going to accept the challenge?!

On a positive note, the Managing Agent has said our kitchen plans appear to be in order and we now await a decision from the Board of Directors. Hopefully I haven’t pissed too many of them off that we get approval but it might be touch and go!

And with Michael Bay Tree now repotted into a larger pot with bags of new compost carried home on my handlebars from Morrison’s (twice) it’s all up to him to see if he pulls through.

The same could be said for me!

Shaving the walls

I have an exciting weekend ahead as I’m in London and it’s a chance to inch things along in the slowest refurbishment in the world.

I’ve been chipping away at the hallway every evening removing every last scrap of wallpaper so Dan the Skim can come round to look at the hall for plastering.

The walls are in very bad condition so I’m pretty sure it’s been a wasted effort as he’s going to knock all the old plaster off anyway but I’m doing my bit and we’ll see what he says.

So this weekend the plan is to remove the remaining wallpaper in the entry hall, an exciting day ahead!

Chipping away.

Taking the plunge

The water was twenty two degrees. I had cleaned the pool, sweeping and skimming alternately until the water sparkled alluringly.

It was a little chilly at first but I was soon happily back in the water after my winter hiatus.

It’s a shame I can’t find a nice pool in London but indoor public baths with plasters and pubic hairs are not the same as a pool in the garden surrounded by olive trees with the scents of lavender, rosemary and bay filling the air and the sounds of doves overhead. No, not even close!

I’ll just have to make the most of it while I can (four swims later!)

The perfect Hollandaise

Today I made a hollandaise sauce for the first time and I’m delighted to say it was absolutely delicious! It does have a huge amount of butter in it but as an occasional treat, it was worth it!

A Sunday lunch of delicately poached salmon, baby new potatoes and juicy steamed asparagus wrapped in a velvety smooth Hollandaise. A lovely summery meal accompanied with a buttery rich Pouilly Fumé, followed by cheese and finally fresh strawberries and a strawberry tart and coffee. Very civilised!

We sat under an olive tree with tiny olive flowers spiralling down on us as the sky darkened ominously and fat raindrops started plopping into the pool. We gathered up plates and dashed under the large umbrella over the outdoor lounge whilst the summer thunder rolled through and Agnes delighted in her rain dance, growling and pirouetting whilst snapping her teeth to catch the drops.

France is all about local food, excellent wine and good cooking. The flavours are amazing and people really take the time to enjoy their food, so different to M&S ready meals!

It made me contemplate learning classic French cookery… when in France

Remember when strawberries tasted like strawberries?

Well, they still do if you buy them from our local greengrocer, Clifton Greens in Little Venice.

I don’t eat much fruit, in fact I never eat fruit, mainly because it either tastes of nothing or the texture is woody but today I cycled over in glorious sunshine and came back laden with summer delights.

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries all leapt off the shelves into my basket. My biggest indulgence was a mango, a fruit which reminds me of Mexico and with a squeeze of fresh lime or made into a mango salsa, what a pleasure.

£5 for a mango seemed like an exorbitant price but it was massive and perfectly ripe so off I went, back on my bike carefully clutching the golden prize.

And it was so worth it. The best mango I’ve eaten in years, soft, juicy, a hint of aniseed.

Every single berry was perfectly ripe and not a hint of dry, woody, blandness.

If it was always berry season, I would become a fruitarian!

Summer in the garden

Finally, after months of stress and scaffolding, there’s a reason to live here.

It’s summer and the garden is in bloom, it’s an idyllic place to sit, listen to the birds and have breakfast. I’ve finally uncovered the sofas but the main garden is certainly the better place to sit.

The back scaffolding is down which means it’s probably time to tackle our next room but today, I think I might paint the window frame in the third room.

Enjoying a sunny Sunday!