Une belle aventure

Our new life in 'Les Vosges'


We built a home for our ducks

Our 4 new friends grew to their full adult size within 6 weeks, which meant that they outgrew their little enclosure very quickly. We needed to build them a new home. With the help of the ‘Bros’ (Jessy and Guillaume), we put together a little cabin and a nice pad!

Happy ducks!

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As Jessy had the manitou and was in the mood for some digging, he helped us move the stone and gave the kids a few turns in it. They loved it. Who needs fun fairs when there are Manitou around!


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We worked on a couple of things (whilst these two, well…slept)

Spring does feel like a long time ago, especially as it is now Autumn. Looking back at the photographs I can see that in between trips to the Forest, we managed to do a few DIY jobs and we were still clearing the grounds from the storm of sep 2015. (We still have some more clearing to do…)
Most of the work in the bathroom is done (we just need to build some cupboards). As with everything, well problems appeared. Because it is not insulated, the condensation is terrible, which made the paint flakes! Arrgg. So more work…more tiling but it is not sorted.
I restored the old pharmacy cupboard and painted it yellow!

We finally started tiling the floor (18 month after purchasing the tiles, which everyone thought they were pizza boxes) – So no more pizza boxes in the corner Yay!
First of all we had to removed the linoleum, which had been glued on. This took a few days of scrapping and destroyed our fingers. (Cooper and Rhys helped)
Then Matt did the whole tiling and cutting and fitting and then we spent 4 days grouting. Such a tedious job. But it is done now!

Matt finished the wood panelling around the room.

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We crossed the whole of France to go to the Vendee.

We went to the Vendee to my Auntie and Uncle’s 40th Wedding Anniversary. It was a 3-days celebration. We were a group of 25 adults and 10 kids. What a laugh! An absolute blast and what a pleasure to see people I hadn’t seen for….well over 30 years.
The theme was kind of 70s as they got married in 1975 so we all decided to found an object from that era.
We found an old phone and Matt customised it to become some speakers for phone. (We were really pleased with it and are planning to make one for us now!).

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Our tent. It was awesomely quick to put up. Loads of room inside. Happy with it.

The brilliant beaches of Vendee.
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The swimming pool at my auntie and uncle.
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My brilliant cousin built this for the kids! That guy can make absolutely anything. Respect!!
They loved it.
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Lovely time with family.
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Digging holes, building walls and black board paint

We had purposely left a corner of the wall untouched as we planned to affix a black board to it.
However as it turned out, we liked the black board and thought that it would be a shame to hide it in a corner.
So off Matt went digging and clearing the hole and rebuilding the wall. Nice old nest fell out of it! 😉
It’s pretty lucky we have so many stones everywhere. Never a problem to build a stone wall!

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We now need to back fill it from Saffron’s room upstairs and finish the render with ‘chaux’.

We used an old cabinet door, sanded it down and painted it with black board paint.

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Vogelzang or the New Wood Burner

Once we had the ‘tubage’ fitted, we were able to try the chimney out.
So we brought our patio heater inside! As you do.


It just got pretty hot quickly.

We needed something else.
Matt had ordered a Barrel Stove Kit from the US but we needed to find an empty oil barrel. Benjamin came to our aid and donated two barrels.
Pre-work prep.
Actually I keep finding little bottles of beer absolutely everywhere. Empty of course. It supposedly has something to do with sizing things up?!?
We tested it outside and also burnt the paint off.

We then tested it inside and it got warm pretty quickly. In fact it started to glow as well. It’s actually a pretty good thing that it has a damper control on the flue. It makes the wood last longer too. Win-win situation.

Then this turned up afterwards.


Now all it needed was a little polish and a lick of paint.

Et voila our heating system for this winter….and hopefully beyond.

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What is it like living in Mont-les-Lamarche

Some things don’t change and baking is still a weekly activity!

yum yum!
We’re having a go at growing whatever we can. So at the moment, we’re trying some avocado plants.
We’ve done the second stage of our ‘Ratafia’ which involved putting the sugar in and shaking it every day for a week.
Matt shaking his stuff/booty.

Bottled and ready to be drunk in a couple of months. Upcycling some grenadine sirop bottles at the same time. Some people might argue that it’s recycling but I’d like to think that it ‘s definitely UPcycling! lol
By the way, if any of my awesomely talented designer friends want to be internationally recognised. Ratafia is spelt R A T A F I A. Cutter guide on request. 😉

We picked our pears. They should be ripe in a few months.
 Saf and I finally made our Pomme-Coing jam. She absolutely loves it. I’ll have to hide a couple of pots for next year before she eats it all!
Agreed this is just REcycling. 😉 jam jars into jam jars!
The kids brought back dozens of walnuts every day on their walk back from the bus stop. We love them. We have a walnut tree but it’s pretty young and we’ll have to wait a good few years before we get this many.
Walnut cracking casualty.
We received some food gifts.
Cuissot de chevreuil. (vegetarian friends please look away). We live in a hunting area.
Huge but still delicious cauliflower. (vegetarian friends: enjoy)
This photo is dedicated to my lovely sister who absolutely hates cauliflower. I just couldn’t help thinking what could have been her reaction when she opened the door to be greeted with this! lol

An average kid’s dinner. (vegetarian’s friends: look away again…apology but we are in France)
They had snails. We had something else! They just love them…

Every saturday we take Rhys to the county football’s tournament and actually enjoyed it! It starts again this saturday, however I am not sure if I am going to be as keen to go and stand in the rain… He, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about the weather and just loves football.



Took the kids to an activity afternoon. They are free and organised by the county. The theme was Apples and we had to ….bake a cake for the ‘gouter’. lol
I forgot to take a picture after taking it out of the oven…too eager to eat it. Anyhow it was lovely.



 One of the activities was Baking. hahaha. It’s just part of being French I guess.

We went to encourage Saf as she ran her ‘cross’. The CM1 had to run 1400m. Pretty tough for some of them. Sport is very competitive here, which me and Matt really like as we both used to do competitive sports. I do think that it’s the beauty of sports to always try to better yourself.
She only went and WON her race! Overtook all the boys. lol. Proud parents.

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Rhys’ Magnificent Cabin – upcycling old planks of wood

At times this summer, Rhys needed something to do so we decided to help him build his own pad in the garden.
He named it himself. He wanted a tree house. However our trees are pretty old and falling (as you can see). So it became a climbing area and a cabin.
No doubt that this area will evolve.

We picked that spot and started clearing the area.

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The climbing area is done.

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Making the prospectors cabin.

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Transporting the wood to the cabin ‘in style’.

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We also made a swing from an old bed.


Sign to go up near the cabin: (part of an old bed as well).