So! Is there a problem I wonder??

Its all very difficult… you know what i mean! Marriage I am talking about marriage! My wife is lovely….. really fantastic but there are a couple of issues. For those of you who have been reading my offerings over the last few years i am sure you are aware of my predicament.. I mean the pen issue alone is a difficult one to handle (if you check out my blog from…… it will explain it all) but unfortunately there is more and as I am writing predominantly for myself I feel I can express myself in this column.

Let me explain the issues, she does trend to hide things from me, like the fact that she recently took my ride on lawn mower for a spin and returned it with go faster dents in it, it does go faster now though… few weeks ago she went away and as she wasn’t close at hand to ask, when I was looking for the broom to sweep away something on the ground I had to find it myself! I MEAN how dare she go away!!

Then there’s the things she makes me do that I don’t want to do. Like going to the dentist and making sure I go to my check ups with the doctors . You may say this is all good and for my health but I am not so sure. Maybe she is trying to work out how long I am going to survive?? But that’s not the worst. What’s worse is what she has stared doing recently. She has started cooking for me……….

She made a favourite of mine with a twist.. Rabbit with cumin who knew!

Let me paint a picture for you. For the majority of my adult life I have been in food you know, professionally. We have been together for nearly 11 blissful years and in that time I would cook. And if I may say so myself really really well. After all we do offer cooking classes here in France. In fact the last clients we had, partook in the lessons and well, loved it. So like I say I am the cook of the household.

Then my partner in crime suggested that I had been working very hard one week and she should make dinner instead of me. How lovely I thought a night off! Want any help?? I asked. The answer was a swift no don’t worry you relax in front of the fire. Fated words I can tell you. I did as suggested I relaxed and soon dozed a little. I awoke to a faint call from the kitchen dinner was ready. Off I go not expecting to much. But what I was treated with was… you see I can only describe it as… amazing!!! That’s right, it was for all intents and purpose nearly the best meal I well in ever!! Each bite was a triumph. How bloody dare she!!

I modestly complimented her on the meal but didn’t go to far. Best not to fuel the fire I thought. But after the dishes were done, by me I hasten to add, She suggested a menu for the following evening. How long had she been planning this I thought as the ingredients, I noticed, were all in the fridge. What could I do I reluctantly agreed. For those readers of a jumpy disposition look away as it gets worse.

This is what she grew this year from the Veg patch…. They were delicious…..unfortunately!

In the following weeks as her confidence has grown dinner has become more elaborate, cakes and desserts have been added a black bean brownie even turned up one afternoon. All beautifully cooked and scrumptious. Our next door neighbours have been round and the compliments came thick and fast. I was…no I am! despondent. I mean what do I do. Her cooking is …well how can I say this, dare I say this,… better than mine!!

Was dinner good?? Ye……… Err it was ok🥺🤔🤫

You see dear reader. It’s not that she has taken away my “thing”. The bit of my talent that gives me reason for being. But if she can cook better than I can what is there left for me?? I mean will she need me anymore? Am I now becoming surplus to requirements. I mean anyone can do the washing up!! Can’t they??

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Time for a break?

Are we there yet??

Christmas comes but once a year and it really is the only time we get to have off. Spending our days lazing around the house….But NO! This year it has been decreed that we go for a quick jaunt into Spain! Leaving home for Christmas does present some challenges one of which is George.

George, our long suffering cat, although I am not sure who suffers more him or us, spends his days lazing around the house, either on the sofa, in Bum’s basket, in the sink( yup I know) or quite a lot of the time, in amongst the dirty clothes basket. (I’ve smelt it and I wouldn’t!!) His nights are supposed to be filled with running, playing, catching mince and generally protecting the house. None of which he does. We live in a house around 250 years old. The walls are stone, but typically of a house built of this age the stone sandwiches earth. Yup that’s it, just earth. Strange you may think but surprisingly we are very warm in the winter and exceptionally cool in the summer with very little help from the heating and we don’t have air conditioning. Due to this tasty stone, earth sandwich, occasionally we may find a hole in the wall where mice can get in. George is supposed to deal with these pests. I have to say I do also put traps down, George doesn’t like to catch mice, he just likes to tell me when the traps need to be changed.

He is, so to speak, his own man err… pet err…..Cat! So when it came time to go for our Christmas Holidays we decided to take George to the lovely Trish who takes care of him whilst we are away. George doesn’t like to travel and if he doesn’t like travelling he absolutely despises the cat cage he has to travel in.

“when I took him to the vet last time with Bum I just let him roam around the car” Iwona said “Just don’t open the windows he will settle after a bit and he will be fine”. I was told words of wisdom? I think you are sensing my impending doom!!

How is it that bloody dog gets top billing?

I picked up George in his favourite blanket, he purred and looked at me. An angel In making. Placing him gently into the car I closed his door. I got in the car, George got out! And so our adventures began. He slunk back to the house an hour later, Iwona let him in, I carried on looking for him as because it was my fault he wondered off I was to be taught a lesson! A recaptured George was placed in the car by Iwona all the time reiterating not to open the windows. I set off, George meowed, scratched at the leather seats and generally caused a nuisance. Then a delightful odour came from the back seats. He had been sick. But it was ok, as he wandered over the door looking out of the window he opened it. George spent the rest of the trip incarcerated in his box meowing to high heaven.

On our travels we visited many beautiful towns of note. Córdoba and Seville were very pretty. I found a lovely barbers for a shave but when I suggested that Iwona went to buy a Flamenco dress whilst I was otherwise occupied, well suffice to say the unspeakable fuzz at the back of my head remained for another days attention. Shame I would have looked great…doing the flamenco!! Holey !

The very Beautiful Ronda!

We had some interesting days driving around, visiting one more wonderful village after another. It took a while though as Iwona doesn’t like to use the in-built Sat Nav in the car preferring her method of looking at her phone map and licking her finger pointing it in the air and then telling me which way to go. An ingenious method! Perhaps?  although I am now an expert at doing a 64 point turn on a road just big enough for a cart whilst looking out on a beautiful vista and 200 foot drop!

Our New Years Eve was spent in Salamanca, a very pretty town with what can only be described as a truly wonderful Cathedral. Unfortunately we were attacked here. Now I consider myself to be a very manly man. 100 kilos of sinew and muscle err and some padding. In my youth and recently I have climbed mountains, sheer rock faces, practised in the martial arts, been in my fair share for scraps and fights. So when I say we were attacked I mean me. Let me describe the scene taking Bum for her evening constitutional, Iwona made the decision that we should skip along a darkened section on a dark path in a dark park. You get it right, it was DARK! Oh, and I was skipping. A sight to behold if I do say so myself. On rounding a corner following my beloved an assailant lay in wait. 100 kilos and err a bit of me collided with a most dangerous and dastardly park bench. The bastard! The damage was a bruised and blooded shin suffice to say it did get the better of me. I got my own back the following day though…….Bum peed on it!

My Nemesis pre Bum!…if you look closely you can see where i managed to dent it?

Off we went to Burgos to pay our respects to El CID. Amazing old town again very beautiful. But El CID’s conversation is a little limited…I suppose that’s what it’s like when you have been dead for over a thousand years! Then onto San Sebastián for tapas on New Year’s Day.

As Pilgrims in years past we wandered these streets of Burgos….Visiting the resting place of El CID again made me feel well Lordish!

And here I am sitting at home. Fire crackling in front of me, a glass of red in my hand, warmth and cheer all that Christmas is about. I dream of our trip. Lazy happy days past and the following year comes to mind …;…2019. I wonder what it will bring. I have made only one New Year’s resolution. To get Iwona to call me Lord Daniel. I think it fitting and appropriate to my standing in our household. I turned to her and asked:

“How do you feel about calling me Lord Daniel??”
All is quiet except for the gentle crackling from the fire.

“ what do you call someone who is married to a lord?” She says finally

“A lady” I reply.

“Mmmmmm what’s the name of someone above that??”

“ a princess?” I reply. “ do you want me to call you Princess??”

She considers this for a time. Looking at the fire, enjoying its warmth and I hope me next to her.

The following day is the 3rd of January, time to get things done. Off I go to pick up George from the cattery. On the way back he meows and complains and I think to myself not much has changed since last year. The Sun is still shinning; it’s still Winter; George still creates strange smells in the back on my car and I am still not called Lord Daniel. My New Year resolution much like  last years has fallen by the wayside

Upon returning home I am greeted by a smiling wife.

“Hello Princess!” She says……

Its been far to long….

Sunday morning coffee shop delight!

Well, I am back and I have to apologise to all of my readers far and wide living in all of the counties of the world. To the three of you I say I am sorry that I haven’t written a blog in the recent months but well, life has just taken over.

Sitting here in what is fast becoming our favourite Sunday morning coffee place, In front of a freshly stoked fire and just after purchasing chicken stuffed with Frois Gras I am enjoying reflecting over the summer months.

The past few months have been quick, exciting, and well lots and lots of fun. I do feel as if my feet haven’t touched the floor. We have welcomed guests from March reacquainted ourselves with some lovely old clients of Amato in May been full over the Summer months, friends have come for a week in September and we still have guests staying with us now, who in fact are not sure when they want to leave! Even my brother, his wife and my sister have joined us for a few days. Thankfully all have given us rave reviews and our average booking review is still 5 out of 5. Thank you all for that! The Summer was hot very hot, I spent a lot of time on a roof replacing tiles and generally being a good handyman, maintaining property of this size can be a daunting prospect, more so if you have to invite workmen’s on to the premises, thankfully under the keen eye of the ever present and king of all things building Dave.

                            Do you like the kitchen table I made, i wonder???

I have become quite proficient in matters of stone, brick, electric, water, and wood. Although he does still finds plenty of reasons to call me a dickhead, and when I tell him that its Mr Dickhead if he doesn’t mind, a scowl and mumbles under his breath ensue.

Wood has started to become more of a feature in our lives. I have developed quiet an attraction to it. I am sure Freud would have something to say about it! However I am enjoying working with it, so much so that after making our kitchen table and shelves from scratch, I have now produced a side board, TV stands and more shelves in the living room. In fact I have already purchased the oak which will become the vanity unit for our bathroom which we will start working on next week, or this week depending on when you read this! I say produced which infers that I have finished them, I have but I haven’t at the same time. Yes, they do exist yes, they are in full use, but when I look at them I kind of feel they could be improved, as my skill set grows I want them to take on more elaborate forms, be that little bit better.

 

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Bob and Bum sharing a moment or are they waiting for food….mmmmm

 

As there has been little mention of the rest of the brood here, I must tell about them…Bum is as happy as ever racing after their deer when they dare to cross the property boundaries. When I told my brother on his visit, he eyed me with suspicion but believed me when on a walk around the property two deers shot across his path closely followed but a panting wiggling Bum! Bob unfortunately passed this year in March but George the cat has taken to eating copious amounts of food which I think deposits itself in his hollow legs. For he isn’t getting fatter just a lot heavier! Now who else in there……Ah yes my lovely wife! Iwona has immersed herself in all things garden, plantings trees, growing plants and our veg patch or potage, we are in France after all, has grown out of all proportions. In fact this coming year we anticipate that our guests will be able to share in its bounty!. Now Iwona being Iwona a means that anything she takes on she excels at.. In the gardening terms this means that what was 5 and a bit acres of scrub, dog kennels and oh my so much concrete! But now it is now an oasis. New beds spring up daily, the local garden centre is so happy with our purchases that I think they are going to offer us (Iwona) seasonal tickets or perhaps even a place on their board! Upon complaining as to the expenditure, although I can’t do this directly as I do like living, it was promised that as its now November it is too late to plant anything. However like the true covert operative she is, her mum I am convinced is a trained Ninja! so it runs in the family, she has her ways of sneaking flowers in. For example one morning this week I woke to find her fully dressed outside with a batch of new plants and a spade. It was so early the Garden centre hadn’t even opened!!

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Gardening she says, she still hasn’t moved those leaves yet!!

 

On occasion I am asked about the strength of my French and how I cope with living here having to speak French on a daily basis. Fine, is generally my reply. My French is of course fantastic!! This of course is true well to some extent…I shall give you an example. We frequent a lovely little Pizzeria in a very pretty town close by to us. In fact we go there so often that we we’re invited to their end of season drinks!! How lovely I thought very kind of them. As it was just drinks of course jeans trainers and a fluffy jumper over a T-shirt would suffice for my attire. I even convinced Iwona that she didn’t need to dress up and she changed accordingly. Upon arriving at the event. I noticed that there were many people hovering around in very smart suits, unusual in the countryside, I thought. The lights inside the Restaurant were dimmed and the disco light beams were quite pronounced, the lady who invited us was wearing a beautiful white dress which complimented her well made up face and freshly styled hair, her partner was equally well dressed. Both accepted our gift, thankfully my parents installed in us a desire to never go to an event without a gift, though a bottle of whisky I suppose is a strange gift when one gets Married, yes it turned out we had been invited to a drinks reception for their wedding!!!!!! Walking inside with our jeans we were welcomed with open arms and joy that didn’t miss a beat, and fun was had by all. Though Iwona treated me to evil stares throughout the evening, that was resolved when I agreed that a little more planting this weekend wouldn’t hurt! I am now no longer allowed to insist that my French is good…

A Christmas Message…….post script!

So Christmas has come and gone. A delightful time of year when we all get time to take stock, think about our lives. Where are we going, what are we doing. It’s also a time of presents, laughter and time for family.

My wife brought me a present, nothing unusual about that I am sure you are thinking. Well it isn’t and it is, you see her gift was ingenious! Let me set the scene for you…. I being male, have a tendency to lose things. Car keys, iPad, phone and on one glorious occasion my trousers but that’s a completely different story. My beloved being female has tendency to move my things (although I have now banned her from my workshop, the stress is too much for any Man), as such I do call out to her, on occasion, in distress when I cannot find something vitality important to my sanity. This occurs seldom only about three or four times a day, a little more if she is in a clearing up mood. She is not a fan of me calling out (gently and with love), I never swear or raise my voice, we are a partnership , she cleans the mess I make, like I said a perfect partnership! However, you see the stress does come out when you are looking for something, especially when the person who relocated this prized item tells you that you should have put it somewhere memorable. This, to be honest has become a small, slight problem within our relationship. To cure me of asking for where things are my sweet, sweet wife before Christmas took it upon herself to punish such insurrection by condemning me to a torture best reserved to fiends in the Middle Ages, taken to the tower never to be seen again, or somehow convincing me that I am a small naughty girl named Daisy. She does this with such panache that I must admit she is a true expert, sometime I dont even know its happening. So you see my present, and this is the genius of her, was a tracker, a personal tracker for those things that are lost (moved/tidied up)

Over the holidays we took an extended trip to visit my wife’s parents and sister who were all pleased to see us and happy to meet Bum. Cooking up just over 4000 miles in the Landy can be strenuous, it’s a challenge to get it to 65MPH and even more of challenge to sit in it over not so smooth roads as we bounce around inside. A wonderful trip and worthy of the Christmas spirit, a small Church was visited at the top of a large arse firming hill, whilst several castles were inspected close up, after an hour or so of walking vertically. Some of you who know my wife understand her fascination with partaking of the occasional jaunt.

Before we left we changed up some sterling into Euro to keep us going, and when we got back Iwona told me she had left it in a basket at home should I need some cash. A day or so later she promptly departed our home to go to London and the New Year’s work that lay waiting for her. This morning I was able to find my keys and phone and a couple of other misplaced items, she had moved before she went, easily and quickly using my new gift. I decided that some post-Christmas shopping was required to replenish our stocks of food; red wine and the like. Damn I didn’t have any cash so I looked for the basket containing the required sums to complete my mission.

Baskets it seems are my wife’s equivalent of pillows for other women, as such we have a number of baskets in the house. I didn’t realise how many really till this morning, 42…. It took me nearly half an hour to search all of them, then again just in case I had missed something. If you ask me if I know what is contained in said baskets I have no idea just a jumble of stuff I am sure brought for the purpose of having more baskets! At an hour’s mark I admitted defeat and texted my love for directions. The answer was helpful and came swiftly. I didn’t say in the basket I said in the draw. Fantastic I thought in the, draw why didn’t I think of that, hang on, would she now say that I wasn’t listening to her??? And which bloody draw!!! I am not counting them but I do assure you there are quite a few in the house. a quick text and after admitting I had been looking for the Euro now for some time, she asked why I hadn’t texted before looking and in any case she had moved the Euro to her handbag for safer keeping, the handbag which was now by her side where she sat in her office in London !!!!!! My response was blunt, she countered this though I can’t quite remember what she said it must have been with something loving and wonderful an apology of biblical proportions, bless her…… So it just leaves me to say a very Happy New Year to all of my readers and please say all the best from Daisy to your families……

A Courgette Eutopia! 


I have come to a time in my life where I am enjoying the simpler things in life. If you remember last year my blog about Stuff, well that’s where I am, and if you don’t remember it please have a look and a read. Trust me you should…. hopefully it might make you stop and think and if it doesn’t well I must be as useless a writer as I sometimes think I am, In any case getting back to the simpler things, Vegetables! That’s what I am thinking about, oh and fruit! Well anything that can be grown in my garden !

This year has been most eventful and the garden has been one of the joysand back breaking work. Not my back breaking work I hasten to add. You may remember from previous blogs Iwona has been busy beavering away, she shifted 40 tons of stones to lay the driveways and pathways whilst I was sick. She dug up god knows how many tons of large, small and medium sized stones to surround new beds that magically appeared when she was “just popping outside to clear a few weeds.” So as you can imagine it came as no surprise when I walked -outside for a sniff of fresh air and noticed that a large part of the back garden near our client entrance had been cleared ready for our Potage (veg patch )! As I looked closer I realised all sorts of things had been planted; Melon; strawberries; Tomatoes; Peppers; herbs and courgettes. All of which I like every much! There was a problem though. You see everything here, either grows, and when I say grows I really mean it! or it doesn’t.

Now if you are old enough and an avid Sci Fi watcher in the 80’s you may well remember a show called the “The day of the Triffids.” Basically its about the world being over taken by Man eating (or women eating) plants, I know, I know! But truly it’s not as farfetched as you may think, just read on and all will be explained. This show had a profound effect on me and I am not sure if I have every told anyone this but after watching this show I didn’t go into the garden for a month for fear of a Triffid getting me. My nemesis has returned in my 40’s and that nemesis has a name! Courgettes; that’s it, Courgettes are my very own version on Triffids. They took over everything, I mean everything the only other veg that’s survived was the tomatoes and that was only because they were way over on the other side of the potage. So they took over and outgrew everything, with leaves coming up to my waist and leaves so wide and big that I am sure they created their own eco-system underneath them! The fruits of this plant came in all shapes and sizes, some hid from view and grew to enormous sizes! One when stood on its end was half of my size!! Now this presented us with a small problem. What the hell do you do with them all! Now I am not too bad in the kitchen, well I hope so anyway after more than 20 years working in them! But I have to admit after; deep fried zucchini; curries; pasta sauces; pies; pizza toppings and yes even cakes, the list could go on! We were a little courgetted out!

It’s now nearly October but they are still coming. During the day it’s still getting up in the 30’s here right now and as it has been raining for a couple of days, so like the Triffids in the show they seem pretty unbeatable. There is something strange though to come out of this. We went away this last weekend for a quick break after a very busy summer of guests. The topic of conversation rested firmly with what we were going to plant in the veg patch for next year. During these heated exchanges I became aware of my wife’s intention to plant more courgettes, I mean she has even cultivated the seeds from our current plants ready for planting. It does occur to me that she has been assimilated into the courgette collective, should I be worried? I am not sure……

But to all those people who are looking at our web site thinking that’s nice; let’s stay there. The courgettes are out to get us, it’s too late for me Run! Save Yourselves !!!!

Did you say you wanted to stay one week Tom Cruise?

There are some, only a few who consider me to be delusional. Yes, that’s it, delusional, that’s the word. Why do people think I am like that, well I shall tell you! Firstly I gave up a promising career in the UK to follow a dream, for over a year I haven’t had much coming in and lots upon lots going out, all to pay for said dream. Has it been worrying? No…..it’s been bloody terrifying!! Has it been satisfying to watch something grow, to see changes around the place daily for the past year?…. Absolutely

Then there is the other unknown, the bit that worried us both the most, will our clients like what we have created, will they be nice people, will they???how can I put this, well, will they get it?. Get what I hear you ask?? The answer is “IT!” Why they should spend good money to come here! ” IT”; The reason we are here; the reason we did all of this; to lead a different life, meet interesting people, engage, if only for a short time in their lives as they engage with ours. And if possible provide a glimpse or a slice of freedom. Time to relax, time to recharge, time to prepare to go forth and do battle again. But also so much more than that……………hat’s what “IT” is, well to me anyway.

But I digress, let me get back to my imaginings. I imagined our first clients to be rather nice and friendly, but I was terribly wrong………..they are lovely! And not the slightest bit put out by my madness which is a bonus! Bob and George have been adopted, Bum goes and visits every morning for what I am sure is a little snack or two…. Whenever I look over to check all is ok, I am treated with smiles and kind words and they get “IT!”…… What more could I ask for!

So why am I” soft in the head”, as Dave has told me on more than one occasion? You see I imagined this, back way then, all that time ago, I dreamed that this is what it would be like. Sitting here writing this, sun high in the sky, the sound of happy clients feeding Bum far too much sweet stuff. I dreamed a bit bigger too. Yes, my imagination did run a bit wild. Don’t judge me because in my mind we had a booking from Tom Cruise; I became world famous, over 6 feet tall dashing good looks with a head of tough jet black hair and a bank account large enough to be able to afford a small island.

As mad as a Hatter or delusional well I suppose I shall have to let you decide, as for my opinion I think I am a little of both, as for my wife? I shall ask you this! who is the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows them! But then again did she follow me or did I follow her? This could go on for a bit! So I have just one last thing to say; just before I went to sleep last night I am convinced Keanu Reeves rang me to book a week, the problem is I can’t remember his number……..!

Lets say it together Whoof Whoof!

 

 

There is something which has been bothering me recently…. And that something is Bum. Bum is our black Lab Boxer cross and truth be told, she is utterly gorgeous and playful and cuddly and well, just wonderful! So much so that I wonder what life would have been like without her.But you see Bum, as lovely as she is gets much, much more attention than I do. Gone are the days when my wife would give me belly rubs, call me a good boy and generally make a fuss of me..now its all about Bum! … I don’t won’t to incriminate myself by saying too much but I she sings to Bum, has long conversations with her, shares even last bit of her food, give her cuddles and endless kisses, asks her if she slept well, wakes her up from bad dream and hikes with her (just up and down the garden but hey) Even when Bum snores she doesn’t get kicked or pushed around the bed. I must say some times when I wake in the morning I feel as though I had been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson and have the bruises to prove it!

The process of beautifying our home continues; the Veg garden is coming along a treat and we will have plenty of veg, there is even melon planted and of course strawberries!! There should all be ready and grown large enough for our first clients who are due on the 1st of July. Yes, that right we have clients coming in just few short weeks and very excited we are too!! Hopefully there will be some strawberries left by the time they arrive!! Planting new flowers and general landscaping is of chief concern to my wife and with that in mind I arranged for 80 tons of gravel delivered for the drive and pathways. The ever knowledgeable Dave, told me that we could shift it and get it in place over a weekend provided we got hold of a small machine to help. Iwona has had other plans, refusing even to use the small trailer that attaches to our lawn mower, she has laid three pathways and moved nearly 14 tons with just a small wheel barrow and rake. But truly, other than everything building, what does Guru Dave know!!

I of course have been helping with lots and lots of strong encouragement!! Before you ask I can help alongside her, we only have one wheel barrow and spade. She keeps on telling me to not waste money buying unnecessary stuff.. so you can see my predicament, best to let her get one with it I say!! After all she likes the Dog more than me anyway…