A Cartastrophic month

I`m sad to say, that February has been just as problematic as January was. We have had a very boring & worrying month yet again with a couple of bright spots though just to keep us both sane. The main worries have (as you may have guessed from the title) been with our cars & we have suffered a few sleepless nights wondering how to fix them. We have two cars, an old Peugeot 206 which Geoff uses as his runaround & for work & an equally old Ford Fusion which has mainly been our trusty workhorse car. Both have been good cars & have not given us much trouble really, but they are getting on now & so I suppose it was always on the cards that one of them would pack up soon. What we hadn`t expected was for the two of them to go at the same time! Completely out of the blue Geoff`s car started to make nasty noises which he knew meant that the clutch was going. The garage confirmed this & estimated a repair job which would cost more than the car is really worth given the age & the fact that several other things will need replacing soon too. So with a very heavy heart (he loves that car!) he decided that we would have to bite the bullet & dip into our ever decreasing savings & get a replacement for it. This we have done, having found a suitable car in Issoire...but we have to wait for a couple of weeks for it to be serviced & have a Control Technique done, before we can collect it. Now, living here is wonderful so long as you can escape from time to time...& to do that you need a car. So being one car down was always going to be a bit of a nuisance, especially when Geoff needs the car for work. So imagine our horror when the trusty Ford started playing up again – the engine warning light keeps coming on. Yet another visit to the garage has revealed a problem with the catalyser – not mortal but it will need fixing before the next CT. And its very expensive... Aggghh! Anyway the result of all this has been not only costly but very boring as I have spent most of the month confined to barracks, & Geoff has spent an awful lot of time in & around garages! We are hoping that the end of the car woes is in sight though (at least temporarily) as we are now only a few days away from collecting the “new” car, someone might be interested in having the old Peugeot (probably for spares), & we are waiting for an estimate for fixing the Ford, to at least get another year or so out of it. Fingers firmly crossed!

The weather hasn`t exactly helped to lift the spirits either. I don`t really mind being here on my own all day so long as I can get out into the garden or have something to do to keep me occupied. But then, February is not renowned for being splendid weather wise here & this year has been pretty dire with quite a bit of snow, very low temperatures & when it wasn`t snowing, it was raining! Not exactly the sort of conditions for starting any cleaning, decorating or gardening! I have even resorted to doing jigsaws again to relieve the boredom! Just to add to all this misery, we both have had really stonkingly awful colds which took several days to get rid of. So we have not really been our usual sunny little selves this month!

We (or rather, he) did do a bit of decorating last week. As regular readers will know, we have been wanting the hall floor done for ages. We have some lovely tiles sitting in the outhouse, but the job is really a nightmare, as it requires the floor to be dug out so that the tiles will allow the lovely old front door to open...its a long story! We have had some quotes for doing the work & they are very high! Also because its a “little” job in most macons eyes, no-one is exactly rushing to do it. Now with all the car woes & expenses we have realised we can`t afford to have it done anyway at the moment...but I am not prepared to live with the nasty grey stick on tiles any longer. So eventually I have persuaded Geoff to take them off & to just paint the floor...& it looks so much better. It is still only going to be a temporary fix (I still dream of getting the nice tiles down one day) but it has really brightened the hall up a lot & we are pleased with it.

There have been some good days though this month I`m pleased to say. We celebrated Valentines Day with a visit to a new local restaurant in Chameane for lunch which was very nice. It has just re-opened & although it wasn`t very busy that Saturday lunchtime, we have heard that on weekday lunchtimes they are doing well & all the tables were reserved for the evening of Valentine`s Day. The food was very good & the prices not too bad either, so we will be very happy to send our guests there in the summer. It is only 5 minutes drive from here. Geoff also celebrated his birthday this month. He was a lucky boy & got lots of nice cards & gifts & I cooked him a special birthday dinner in the evening.

We have also started to get a few more B&B bookings at last...although March is still looking a too empty for my liking. I am hoping that if the weather picks up a bit then so will the bookings. It is a shame when we have no-one here in Spring as it is such a beautiful season here with flowers & birds everywhere. We are however almost full now for the Trail d`Amethyste weekend (May 1st-3rd) with two sets of returning guests both of whom are actually doing the course. That will be a good (& busy) weekend. We have also managed to get some house sitters sorted out for our trip to the UK for our daughter`s wedding at the end of May. We now need to get our travel arranged, which we can do now that it is just 3 months away. We are still not sure whether to fly, take the train or (if the car situation is still OK by then!) drive. Fare comparisons have not been possible up until now, so I have some work to do over the next few days to sort all that out.

Geoff`s teaching work has also started to pick up again as we had thought. The firms & their training organisations have at last got their heads around the new systems & paperwork & he is hoping to get a few new groups going in the next week or so. He has also started to get some enquires from panicking adolescents (or more accurately, their parents) as the Bac approaches! Always good for business, this pre Bac period!

I`m going to end this post on an optimistic note. By the time I write the next installment we should have a “new” car, the spring flowers will be in full bloom in the garden, I will have some more bookings & the sun will have returned! Here`s hoping!

Thanks Jane. Our hall has been a problem from the word go..its such a small space but of course is the first thing our B&B guests see when they arrive. It does look so much better with the painted floor & now Geoff has to redecorate so I am pleased!!

Hi Christine, I understand totally about the hall. Jim is in the process of finishing off ours and it has taken him nearly all winter, we too have had a strange virus before Christmas and then a sort of running cold.

We now have the terracotta tiles down and a tongued and grooved ceiling and the lanterns I bought years ago in place. The skirting is being cut and then it only needs varnishing and then the paper putting up and all will be finished.

It did not feel like our home when you opened the door as it was in the original state as when we bought it many moons ago.

There are still one or two major jobs to do, but the garden is now beckoning, so I suppose I will have to wait for them to be finished.

Good luck on the car front.