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December 2006

Watching Casino Royale in Castillones

Castillones Yesterday evening we had a family treat and went with friends to watch the latest James Bond film starring Daniel Craig.

Henners is a James Bond nut and also an Aston Martin (who isn't?) fan so he was bubbling with excitement all day.

It was a touch violent for Fleur but as the film was shown as -12 + Guardian we assumed it was OK.

While the ladies swooned over (and the men envied) Bond's upper torso us guys revelled in the Aston Martin, fast action and the sexy Vesper Lynd, played by French born  Eva Green.

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The origin of the Pigeonnaire

Pigeons_001 I have been trying to add a video to Perigord Vacance since last night using Video Egg. Not a quick process as the video it 67 megs. I even tried to cut the size down thinking the up loader was groaning about the size.

I give up! For some reason the Olympus saves it as a Quicktime Movie file and maybe it doesn't like it?

I even tried to post it to U Tube but to no avail.

Anyway the Video - you will have to take my word for it - was a Pigeon cull yesterday afternoon in the valley next to our land.

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Jan Harbon

Lion I meant to report this at the time but somehow it slipped through my net.

Jan Harbon, our friend from Hampshire who somehow produces these amazing paintings has won an award for her depiction of Leo the lion. Such amazing use of colours.

This is Jan's entry in her diary:-

"Well good old "Leo" has come up trumps for me. I've not long had him back from Marwell where he has been on display for the last year, and I put him into Bramshott & Liphook Art Society Exhibition and the painting won the Public's Choice. Alton voted the "Head of Hare" Public Choice during their exhibition the same weekend. Added to Petersfield Art Society's Public Choice Award for "Tawny Owl", it seems that the animals have worked very well as a subject for me the last few weeks. I'm pretty amazed too, and feel very lucky.

So what am I going to paint for the next few months?
Flowers of course! Such is life!"

For more info on Jan Harbon and her work visit her website

The barn update

Bedroom_023 As promised, here is a pictorial update of the barn conversion.

It has been an excellent week and I am pleased as punch. It is a bit of a trial having to get up and down every time I want a block cut to size. It is the kind of thing Mat would have done when he was around and it really saves some time.

Never mind, I came here to experience this so if it takes me a little longer then so be it.

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The Puddleducks settle in

Frost_013 I am really pleased with progress in the barn but I found this morning a bit of a shock!

Jack Frost decided that he was going to set up camp in the Lot et Garonne last night and temperatures plummeted.

Once the sun rose the surroundings were quite seasonal but picking up my shovel which was outside all night was painful and those romantic feelings of Christmas soon dissipated.

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Are the days numbered for the traditional Christmas Tree ?

Driving into Villereal to buy some Maize for our new ducks I noticed a display of straggly Christmas Trees outside the Bricomarche.

From what I could see they were all root balled or pot grown although none seemed in great condition. Maybe the best had been bought.

The sight of these trees re-kindled my thoughts on how tradition in the UK is under political and global pressures as the PC brigade seek to abolish the traditional tree.

Kew Gardens recently opted to garnish a mature Cedar tree in an attempt to highlight sustainablility in a dig at the 'throw away' world of thre cut tree and Bob Flowerdew, the BBC gardener has condemned the use of real trees and publicly advocated the use of artificial trees.

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What about this balmy weather?

Winter_sun_002 This is ludicrous! It is just two weeks away from Christmas Day now and yet someone has forgot to inform the seasons where their boundaries are.

Once again we have risen to a clear Springlike morning and although Mr Meteo says maximum 5 degrees today it feels positively warm in the sun although it is just 9 am.

The weekend just passed was colder with a hanging mist that seemed to chill every bone and just when you are thinking that 'this is it' and the winter is about to set in it changes again.

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Jemima Puddleduck

Ducks_arrival_001 Since we have been at Jean Blanc it has been our intention to be as self sufficient as possible.

Having 20 acres means we can have a few Chickens and Ducks to provide eggs and meat without them being close to the house. We also have a small naturally fed pond which never dries up in the summer and this is an ideal place for the birds to roam.

I want naturally fed birds to produce really strong flavoured eggs and here they have the freedom to roam with the safety net of being able to jump into the pond if a fox or a Chasse dog came by.

Ducks_arrival_002_1 Our good friends Colin and Jackie, who live close to Roger and Judi Meadows House Le Mas, have been keeping and showing ducks for some years.

This year he had quite a few Barbary Ducks so some had to go.

Normally, with the help of their French neighbour they would slaughter them for the table. We decided to save six, one Drake and five hens from this fate to grace our naked pond.

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Revealing the new window

Bedroom_walls_025_1 Because I built the internal skin of the barn with 20cm concrete blocks with 20cm square wall plate on the top in advance it gives me great peace of mind that the whole structure is supported before I dismantle any of the stonework on the outside.

There was one 2.5 metre section of the wall that was unstable so this afternoon I knocked it down  and cleaned up the area separating the stone from the mud mortar ready for the re-build.

The operation went like clockwork and I am happy to report that the very substantial poplar beam has not moved a millimetre.

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Solving your computer problems

If you are pretty handy around a computer and maybe able to understand a bit of HTML code then you need not worry.

One of the biggest topics of conversation I come across here in France is computers. 99% of ex pats rely on their PC to communicate, advertise or shop by but when their machine goes wrong they are often stuck.

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