Yet another season over…

Blimey,it’s November….  no idea how we got here so fast. The whole year seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye and now there are only 51 sleeps until Christmas. Scary stuff. Even more so as this year’s Winter To Do list is already sagging under the weight of Amar’s ambitious projects. So for all those people who think that as soon as the last guests leave we down tools and head for the cheese , wine & comfy armchairs this post will show you what really happens…..! First of all though we must say a huge belated thank you to all of this year’s guests, to all the familiar faces and all the new families visiting for the first time and a special thank you to all of you (new & old) who have already booked for next year …we are looking forward to it immensely and at this rate that old adage is so true, it will definitely be here before you know it ! On that note, August 2016 is now just about fully booked in all of the cottages and July is following close behind, so if you were thinking of paying a visit….. ;) ! La Tour de Genebre was fully booked this year which was fantastic for the very first season – it too is now almost fully booked for next Summer which is great and definitely gives us both the much needed motivation for the gruelling Winter work!

French holiday villa with salt water heated pool

The pool at La Tour de Genèbre is now heated!

Luckily we found a spare couple of days back in September where we were able  to install the pool heater at La Genèbre so that’s one job already crossed off the list! Air conditioning is also going to be installed for next season but that’s for a bit later on.

Meanwhile back at the ranch we have been catapulted straight into the work…..well, actually no, that’s not quite true. Amar just walked calmly into it, a man with a plan; I was the one who was thrown straight in with no time for my usual and much needed procrastination. Yep,wherever there’s a devil with some detail I’m right in there, what-iffing and oh butting, leaving nothing to chance. If it were down to me I’d still be there measuring and calculating to the last 6 decimal points.

As it is I have been overruled and so far ….

  • The whole pitch & putt course has been scarified & resown
  • The grass outside La Grange and Le Logis has been dug up and resown
  • 4 floors have been retiled
  • La Grange’s kitchen has been demolished
  • Le Cerisier’s shower room is now out
  • The new plumbing is just about finished

I’m still deciding on which curtain material to buy! I’m not all bad news though as I have actually helped with some of the above as well as having been half buried in the annual administration and of course also being the chief photographer (actually the only photographer as Amar is too busy “doing proper jobs” to be concerned with such frivolities).

Holiday cottages with pitch & putt course

The new grass on the greens is just sprouting through but Amar reckons it’s not good enough so he’s out there as I write, adding some more seed – weather conditions this week are perfect, apparently!  There are too many photos to add here but you can see all the other work on record on our Facebook Winter Work album.

There are a whole host of other less radical things planned for this Winter too but I’ll leave that for another time – you know what they say about the road to Hell…

Now just for someting completely different here’s a photo of this year’s vintage moped rally in La Cassagne. To be honest it’s not meant to be on here but it won’t let me delete it and I can’t spend any more time trying to work out why not – I have a kitchen to measure which could take some time!

A bientôt!

Fun at the fair! The annual old moped rally at La Cassagne!

Balmy days!

Oh dear! I have been thinking for a while now that I’ve fallen a little bit behind here but I genuinely had no idea that it’s 6 months to the day since I last wrote…shame on me. How we got from February to halfway through August in the blink of an eye is beyond my comprehension but here we are with just two weeks left of the peak season and luckily my head is still above the water, if only just! Yes, it’s been a balmy 6 months , in all senses of the word.

dordogne holiday villa with private pool

February to May was one wild whirlwind of finishing touches to La Tour de Genèbre  – it was a bit manic but we got there in the end and have been fully booked since we opened (next availability is 27th September) so it was worth the blood, sweat & tears. We’ve had a fantastic response from our first year’s guests and a few lovely 5 star reviews too which adds to the warm glow …thanks everyone, much appreciated!!

The burning topic of conversation this season though has undoubtedly been the weather. Hot, hot, hot !!! Which was great … after all that’s what you want on holiday,n’est-ce pas?? But our usual quota of flash thunderstorms to clear & freshen the air just didn’t happen this year.

heatwave in the dordogne

Daily temperatures exceeding 40°C were not unusual and often the nights were still hovering around 30°C. I spent many of those balmy late nights/early mornings ferrying our two very sociable teenagers around, as you do when you choose to live out in the French sticks. I quite liked those little jaunts, meandering along the dark country lanes at 2am with the windows down, driving just fast enough to whip up the tiniest of breezes, but trying to sleep indoors was quite another kettle of fish. I was actually beginning to daydream about spreading lots of mattresses around the football pitch  straw field and giving people the choice to sleep al fresco.

The pitch & putt course took a huge hit. We couldn’t water the greens as all the rain water ran out in June. Amar was heartbroken, unable to do anything except stand by and watch his pride & joy wither before his eyes.

Each new set of guests who arrived was treated to a spectacular show as he frantically rain danced his way up and down the course. They all sympathised of course – seeing the parched and arid straw coloured field (no greens to be seen) how could they not? They all wished him well in his quest for rain ….but not until their two weeks were up. In the end they all got their wish – it didn’t rain until mid August. In the meantime all he could do was mow down the weeds which seemingly can still flourish with no water at all – the only flashes of green in our now yellow & brown landscape – covering everything in huge clouds of dust.

It didn’t stop the diehard golfers though who embraced the new challenge, adapting their game to stop the golf balls ricocheting off the rock hard earth!

On a positive note the washing was hung out & brought back in within 20 mins, all the usual chores were put on the back burner (no mad dogs or Englishmen in this household ;) ) and we had a bit more time to get out & about this year.

We discovered the delights of the White picnic at Les Jardins d’Eyrignac. Every Monday night in July & August the entry fee also includes an invite to the White gardens for a picnic, music & fireworks. Everyone is asked to dress in white (as best you can) and either bring your own picnic or buy one from them. It’s a wonderful atmosphere with all ages from babies to grandparents.

Les Jardins d'Eyrignac

Most people pack a modest sandwich, crisps and drinks….not Amar. He brought along half the kitchen and had people staring in awe as he served up melon wedges with parma ham; a delicious prawn concoction in pretty glass jars followed by a salad of magret de canard and potato & courgette gratin still warm from the oven all on proper plates, no less! We also had some delicious cocktails which you can buy there. All so very civilised!! (Just a little parenthesis here – note the blue shorts at a white picnic…not like Amar not to cow tow ;) !! )

Les Jardins d'Eyriganc picnic blanc

We have had more than our fair share of music festivals and street shows this Summer. Terrasson has been the venue for some interesting events. The 3 day street theatre in July was an excellent extravaganza of music and light…following the scary masked entertainers around the back streets of the town as they threw fire and drove the crowds into a frenzy was great fun if all a bit surreal!

terrasson art festival

The Bastille Day celebrations were fantastic as usual with the best fireworks in the area in our opinion. This firework waterfall never ceases to draw gasps of delight from the audience and this year it was set to Ave Maria….all very emotional!! Those people on the river had the best seats ever! I decided to film it this year but somehow managed to press the stop button before the end….you really had to be there to soak up the atmosphere  but still, here are 39 seconds of a delightful show!!

bastille day celebrations at Terrasson

We have also had a few (less exotic!!) soirées ourselves at Les Crouquets . It’s always great to get everyone together (including the guests at La Tour de Genèbre) for some food & lively conversation…and of course some live music provided by our own two musical prodigies , Emma & Alistair! Emma has been singing for a few years now and has appeared locally at quite a few events & shows this year. Alistair fancies himself as the next big thing in rock and has his own band Black Strawberries, who have yet to grace us with their presence (I fear they would be a tad too loud for the locals ;) ! )

soirée musicale at our family friendly dordogne gites

I didn’t have much time to film last time so here’s Emma singing at someone else’s gites a couple of weeks ago.

BIG BLACK HORSE AND A CHERRY TREE

Add in several other musical outings, a few restaurants as well as some local events ( I will write about these later when time permits) and it”s probably not hard to see how the time has just flown by … as it does when you’re enjoying yourself!

I’ll be back ( hopefully before the year is up ;) ) to tell the rest of the story….. Bonne continuation à tous!!