Thanks for Our (Almost) Daily Bread

We live in a village without a shop or proper post office but we do rejoice in the Greyhound Inn (whose carveries are famed well beyond the confines of the village) a mobile library, a mobile PO and a weekly bus into Dorchester.  We also have something rather special for this side of the Channel – a village bakery.

And so it was that I could pick my way up the snowy lane on Saturday morning to buy a Blue Vinny loaf and place our Christmas order.  The shop opens for 3 hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and for an extra hour on Saturday.  There’s a small wooden ‘hutch’ outside, with an honesty box therein,  from which you can buy the farm’s eggs, honey, chutneys.  Not that there are many eggs to be had at this time of year.

Indoors preparations for Christmas are typically (for me) multi-stranded.  I find it difficult to complete one job before I start another so it’s all a bit muddly.  I think as far as dressing the monster tree is concerned I just have to hang a batch of decorations then move to something else for variety.   Where Christmas trees are concerned, for Nick, size has always mattered! We went to a supplier at Toller Porcorum – what a name 🙂 – which Maddy and Andrew have used for many years.  They are connoisseurs of the larger tree.

And I am still unpacking boxes of books and shelving in batches where I can but it is another task which needs tea breaks.  I have rethought my strategy and will now get all the books out then start shuffling and regrouping.  What I really would like is a library!

The snow continues to fall and sends we Brits into a spin.  It is the severest winter since records began in 1910 I read somewhere.  I don’t have to venture far afield fortunately, and more fortunately Nick is able to make the drive, overnight, to Caen to pick up the Ferry for Poole early on Sunday.

Whilst he was away I had to troubleshoot a major plumbing episode when one of the taps to the bath sprang a leak and I didn’t notice until a puddle welled in the carpet between the bedroom and bathroom, and water was running along under the bathroom floor to cause a large damp area on the plaster of the bedroom walls downstairs.

None of the plumbers I phoned answered, or if I got an answer they had no-one available until the next week!  Thank goodness for practical, capable friends like Stuart who came over from Cerne with various wrenches and a smile.  He fixes it.  It then takes a good while and many kilowatt hours with the fan heater to dry the bedroom out ready for use over Christmas.

At Winterborne K we get our heaviest fall on Monday, when Claire and the children were due to come from Bournemouth to have lunch with us.  She wisely decides to head back to Oxfordshire, but this is not without its challenges because driving conditions are still treacherous, we hear on Radio 4, and it is with great relief that we receive her text at the end of the afternoon to say that she and all her treasures are safely reinstalled at home.

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Upper Hands for No-one

The miserable man has failed to turn up, without notice, there is no reply from the office and doubtless the weather has had its wicked way.  Nevertheless we have a telephone……….

So, tant pis, let’s enjoy some nice views from our property with the promise of a thaw tomorrow and rain on Saturday and Sunday which means with a good tail wind, and not from the northeast, we will get home.

And now for some delvings from the freezer for lunch, and a walk this afternoon to La Hougue.

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A Close Run Thing

We’ve tipped up in St Vaast with a bag of fireworks for our builder.  Work to counteract dry rot problems on our house is long, long overdue and we have a ‘rendez-vous’ with him, in the frozen wastes of our barren salon-sejour, at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning.  ‘Rendez-vous’ is an altogether too agreeable word for a meeting which we will need to conduct with aplomb and a bit of cool, since in building matters the customer seldom has the upper hand.

Our builder has made it clear that, rather like many of his compatriots of the masculine gender, business of this kind is best left to the men to sort out.  At least I won’t be required to be the tea lady.  And the coffee I served last time, when 6 of them were seated around the table on September 1st to agree works and responsibilities, didn’t appear to cut the mustard either so I think I’ll don a pinafore and hug the stove instead.

We are lucky to be here, having made a run for it yesterday evening when a lull in snowfall allowed us to drive to Portsmouth for the overnight crossing.  Today the news from England is all about the weather.  It’s a fine line between a Winter Wonderland and gross inconvenience and discomfort.

So we left Winterborne K yesterday morning and arrived in Surrey without too much hassle.  We’ve had cold weather in Dorset, yes, but the day was bright, sunny.  Since my return from Cornwall we have caught up with the sailing Derricks who came for lunch, and the following day Celia and Rollo, friends my business course days, came for a kitchen lunch and a catch-up.  Celia has had a varied working life and currently resides in Tunisia.  But periodically she comes back to work in the UK and seeks out house-keeping jobs for a couple of years.  She likes this work and especially if she has a large establishment to rattle around.  She’d interviewed for a job in a neighbouring village but failed to secure it.  But she may yet end up in Dorset.  Already 3 of our group of 8 (7 of us are still linked up) now live in the county, although Rollo never moved away.

Last weekend our good friends the Hunters came to stay.  We ate in on Saturday evening then on Sunday morning we sallied forth taking in a Table Top Sale at a local Middle School, and a short stroll down to view Lulworth Cove.  There is a small shack near the shore where you can buy fresh fish.  And bliss, it is open Saturdays and Sunday all year round.  We couldn’t resist a minor spree so bought a nice cooked Brown Crab to share and 2 glistening plaice.  Dick and Eileen bought crab claws and 2 whole sole.  Thence to The European Inn at Piddletrenthide which styles itself as offering ‘a taste of country life near the sea.’  Which is perfectly right.  We had a great lunch.

I’ve come over to St V with a list of jobs.  Christmas provisioning for a start.  Cupboards and wardrobes in the front bedrooms need to be emptied.  I need to dig out all the Christmas decorations we have here, take them back to WK and rationalise my total assemblage.  I want to round up all my potted plants and decide what to leave here and what to take to Dorset.  A number of grasses, reeds, sedges and succulents are going to be better off, and sit more stylishly, on the shingle area of our evolving garden in the UK.

I’m rather excited about the new garden, although to some it might be not much more than a postage stamp.  But I’ve some ideas, and am trying very hard not to wish the months away so that I can get stuck in.