Saturday, 22 December 2018

Sad News

If you are looking at this BLOG you will also have read the message on the home page of our website. 

We have reached a point where the operation of the cottage as holiday accommodation is no longer viable. The past two years, with the very weak pound and ever rising costs has reduced the small surplus we could generate pre BREXIT referendum to virtually zero in 2017/18 and that takes no account whatsoever of the time we spend over the year. In mid December we also received details of yet another French Tax, the 'tax de sejour' , although small it was the straw that broke the camels back. 

We have enjoyed welcoming our many guests over the past 8 years to our beautiful cottage. In 2018 we won 2nd prize once again for the best gite flower garden in the Indre region. However awards do not pay the bills and with so many fixed costs its less expensive to let the cottage stand empty than to run a holiday cottage business. We know of others who are in a similar situation. 

However all is not lost, friends and past guests are most welcome to stay and we ask you to contact Maureen. 

Hopefully this could be a suspension of activity but unfortunately we cannot see the French government removing the many taxes imposed and of course we now await the impact of Brexit which has also affected advance reservations. We are not building up our hopes.

Can we send you all our very best wishes and in this troubled world lets hope 2019 brings you all good health and happiness.

Very best wishes of the festive season

Maureen & John Hindhaugh 

Sunday, 30 September 2018

At the Paddock

Chatillon, a short drive from the cottage is a sleepy little town with a long history of leather manufacturing that is now long past other than grand the buildings once owned by the tannery barons and tannery owners. France, just like the UK also suffers from high street trading difficulties and Chatillon is no different. Fortunately we have a great supermarket and Brico/hardware store so unlike many small towns everything is still available close at hand along with the remaining shops on the small high street (Rue Grand). 

New businesses on the high street are very welcome indeed and everyone was very pleased when a couple from Paris took over one of the small bars and developed a bar/café/brasserie in the centre of town. The couple have a history connected with the Yamaha GP team and Nichole comes from Chatillon so the place is appropriately named 'The Paddock'. In addition to a range of simple food, beers and wine they organise a monthly concert with folk singers etc. 

They are very friendly and welcoming so if you are in town relax and enjoy a coffee or a drink at the Paddock.

Holiday cottage and camping - great for bikers @

Maureen and me with our 1980 Gold Wing Motorcycle and sidecar at the Paddock

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Retail Therapy

Its a strange old world. Here in central France we have a small chain of what I will describe as 'clearance' warehouses, named NOZ. They receive all manner of products from all over Europe and a good amount from the UK. It appears that all items are 'surplus' stock or promotional items that have not sold. Last spring they had a great stock of ASDA Cava, previously on sale in the UK over the Christmas /New Year period and for sale here for 3 euro , just over £2 at the time. They have great shoes, work ware, toys, tools and household goods, wine and beer, bottled and tinned food etc in fact you name it and its been in stock at some time.

Todays bargain was a 'Dickies' waxed cotton jacket RRP £225 currently on a UK website for £175 special offer and in NOZ for 25 euro. 

So you have all the French history and an opportunity for a brief session of retail therapy when on your holiday. You never know what you may discover!


Sunday, 12 August 2018

Indians then deux chevaux

What will it be next I ask myself! There I was watering the vegetable garden and I glanced over the fields only to spot a rare green 4 wheeled Deux Cheveux scampering along a track. 

The sneaky animal thought its green colour would evade detection

then there were more!!!!

And more were heading that way

All shapes and sizes
over 80 were meeting up for a weekend here in Chatillon
Its a 2CV Paris - Dakar rally route
taking the rough with the smooth - these tough vehicles do rough tracks with ease!

Eventually I tracked them down to a rest place in Clion only a few kilometres along the main road

The local mayor had provided all manner of refreshments, including wine of course.
It was all part of a 2CV meet weekend, over 80 vehicles attending and all having a wonderful 'French' time.

A beautiful Gold Wing with sidecar was parked at the edge of the 2CV field

Monday, 6 August 2018

Life in the French hamlet

Weather news first: It is worth mentioning the weather as temperatures have been a regular 35c for the past week and its having a terrible impact on our beautiful flowers. Even with my deep well providing free water its impossible to keep the soil moist 24/7 but we try our best. The next two days are forecast to be around 37c and we know from past experience that this equates to 40c or more in sheltered spots. The cottage however remains cool thanks to traditional thick walls etc. 

Life in the French hamlet - Mechoui - August 2018

As we have discovered its virtually impossible to fully participate in what I can only describe as the 'real' rural France unless you fully embrace the French and the French lifestyle. After 40 plus years of visiting this area and more than 15 years having a house here we are now part and parcel of the community. We always participate and work to support events, we very much enjoy assisting with all the events that bring our local community together and we consider ourselves very lucky indeed to be part of and be accepted in our small hamlet of 34 houses and farms. The annual 'mechoui' is one event that brings everyone together, normally 80/90 attend the afternoon meal. Held in our next door neighbours farm barn it is basically a meal of barbecued sheep commencing at around midday followed by what we call a boules competition that lasts about 3 hours followed by an evening meal that finishes at about 02.00 am. In reality with preparation and clearing away it takes up the best part of three days for the core of helpers that run the event.
Breakfast for the workers on Saturday morning, that's me in the blue tea shirt with arms crossed

A pause during the setting up
The preparations begin on Wednesday when the two sheep are sent to the happy hunting grounds by the farmer. On the Friday at 07.00am I travel with a neighbour Claude to collect the tables from a store many miles away with my big trailer. Friday afternoon is spent clearing the barn of all the equipment, piles of wood and general farming rubbish that has built up over the year since the last mechoui. Saturday starts very early as the sheep need preparing for the barbecue, however a great core of hard workers appears and we soon have tables, benches, bunting and signs up and organised. The ladies and some men are also working at home preparing all manner of food for the afternoon and evening feasts.
The two sheep turning on the spit
12.00 noon Saturday: People arrive and drinks are available in quantity with gallons of special aperitif prepared and served to everyone.
Maureen on serving duty
Copious quantities of a specially prepared aperitif were served
Young and old arrive, home made games are set up to keep everyone occupied although talking is the main past time and boy the French can talk about anything and everything.
The early arrivals find a place at the table, over 80 people attend and its free if you live in the hamlet

Other residents made games

I invented a 'steady hand' tractor game for the event. My ex work colleague Tim will smile at this one! Only one player was successful.
Babies and children arrive, some only a few weeks old but bread and butter to these country girls.

Young and old attend
Leon, in flat cap is 94 and going strong.

The sheep is removed from the heat and prepared for serving
Preparing the sheep for serving takes some skill

After 4 hours of food and wine its time for the competition…...a serious game here in central France.

The semi finals of the boules competition, its 35c so they play in the shade of a big barn.
Last years champion, our next door neighbour was in fine form
Last years champion in full boules flight
If you are not a boules person, well other card games can fill the afternoon
A quiet game of cards

The three magnificent horses in the field observe the games from a distance, Maureen having a word of explanation?
Around 8pm the games are finished and its time to start and think about the evening meal!!!!

Maureen helps to prepare the tables for around 60 remaining people staying in the evening
The barbecue works hard to cook dozens of merguez and chipolata sausages plus of course a range of starters, main course accompaniments, cheese and desert. We left at 01.00hrs knowing that the core helpers would need to return on the Sunday to dismantle, tidy up and pack everything away.  

So that's it for 2018, another great mechoui and another great community event.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Red Indians in town last weekend

Well some of the Indians were red, some black and some blue but all were at least 50 years old and beautiful examples of motorcycle engineering,
The local chateau (Il Savary) in Clion was the location for the international gathering of classic Indian motorcycles and as you can see they came complete with tepee.
Some were very old
Beautiful restorations made some bikes better than new

In addition to the Indians the club had a great line up of entertainment and catering
A great (French) American blues / rock band provided entertainment in the evening
We could not resist a picture outside the Tepee
Over 300 Indians from all over the world came for the gathering
Our friend Nicole of the 'Paddock' Café and Maureen enjoyed the event

Sunday, 8 July 2018

World cup weather and flowers

We (including our current guests) are all excited and hoping to see England do well in the football world cup.  Maureen's home town is Ashington in Northumberland and she lived only a few streets away from Bobby and Jackie Charlton when she was still a little girl. As you may recall Bob and Jackie both played in the 1966 World Cup winning England team. 

All the photo's below were taken today when our guests were out and I was watering the flowers: Sunday 8th July 2018.

The hanging baskets and flowers are magnificent this time of year, photo's fail to capture the colour.
Another corner of the cottage garden and at the end of the cottage we now have vines and grapes growing.
The well has a new handle!!!! Bought for only 15 euro at a local brocante.
The cottage has a second terrace at the bottom of the garden, this catches the sun in the evening. It has a light and mains socket plus a hot plate if you would like to cook something 'al fresco'.
The cottage garden is full of interesting corners, this was new in 2018
At the side of the narrow road passing the cottage, near the entrance, the wall flowers are beautiful 
Ah Love at first sight!
As you may know we were awarded 2nd prize for the best flower garden in the Indre region in 2016 and 2017. The secret garden inspectors will be around this year so we hope they are impressed with the show, lets hope we do well in the 2018 competition.

We look forward to seeing all our future guests, if you have any further questions simply contact Maureen.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Jolly Musical June

As the weeks pass the flowers get better by the day, our latest guests are all very impressed with the garden and relaxing in the shade of the big trees with a nice glass of chilled wine could not be better on these warn evenings. 

The wall outside the cottage has the best showing of flowers for years!

The annual concert took place in the farmers barn last week, sandwiched between two combine vintage harvesters the local band from Clion gave everyone from the hamlet a magnificent performance.

Hopefully the video will let you listen to the band.