Bye Bye 2017

December has been …different! Lots of stress, quite a few changes, very odd weather, a lovely but hectic trip to the UK as usual & some other odd happenings here in France too. So here goes…

We have had no guests this month…apart from our house sitters but more about them later. So, you would think that we would have had a nice calm lead up to Christmas & our trip to the UK. But things never go smoothly do they? Firstly, the month started off with a lot of snow. This made driving around difficult & prevented us getting to the carol service in Clermont Ferrand as we had planned. We were a bit disappointed, as it’s the second year running that we have missed it (last year we were in Strasbourg) & also it meant that I had 60 mince pies which Id made specially for it, going begging! The snow was a bit of a nuisance really but it did eventually go & we did start getting out & about soon again. Our biggest worry at the start of the month was the car. The insurance insisted we get the damage inflicted by the sanglier (see last months post) assessed & of course they then decided it was fixable…so no automatic pay off to scrap it. Cant say I was surprised…insurance companies never pay out in my humble opinion. However, in the mean-time, we had taken the decision to get a “new” car…the accident had pushed us to finally decide to get rid of the Ford one way or another at last “sobs as I love that car”. We had a quick look around some of the local second-hand car lots, as we had to get on with it if we were to have the car ready for the UK trip & found a Nissan Qashqai which we liked very much. It was of course more than we wanted to pay but as the guy was willing to pull out all the stops to get the car MOTed & fully documented in time for us to depart, we went ahead. So now we are the proud owners of 3 cars…we can`t get the Ford sorted until January & then we will sell it for whatever we can get for it.
We are very pleased with the Nissan…& it was perfect for our UK trip as it turned out, so apart from all the extra stress surrounding the purchase & getting everything sorted before we left for the UK, everything turned out well in the end.

Geoff has still been quite busy trying to finish off outstanding teaching hours & complete all of the end of the course paperwork. He also had to go to Brioude one day to complete his cardiac function tests- he has family history of early death due to heart problems, remember. His final tests were exertion ones…& apart from finding them very hard going, he seems to have passed with flying colours thank goodness. He was a bit miffed though, to be told that he was a bit overweight & needed to take more exercise! In my opinion he is not overweight at all & as he walks at least 1 hour+ every day with Xena , as well as doing Pilates 3x a week, we both feel he does enough for a guy of 65 years old! These doctors have always to find something from their hymn sheet to say haven`t they? Anyway…his mind is now at rest re his heart function :blush:

I did manage to fit in the Marche de Noel at Chameane again this year. I took my paintings & cards as usual, but although I had a nice day, I didnt really sell much. 1 painting & 1 card…Im never going to make a fortune out of this am I? It was nice to have a relaxing day though, chatting to friends & drinking coffee! We were also invited to a birthday party in the next village just before we left. We had a good time catching up with friends from the commune…& one of us was happy to be quaffing some rather strange looking cocktails! I was less thrilled with the Fanta which was obviously meant for the children!

Because we always leave here at least a week before Christmas I need to be super organised & get all the shopping & preparations done quite early. We combined a shopping trip to Ikea at Clermont with a visit to the city centre to see the lights (which were beautiful as usual) but that apart, I have done a lot of shopping on line this year. That still left all the wrapping etc to do though. We got our Christmas tree & I made all the usual decorations for the house…although this year there was absolutely no holly with berries anywhere which was a shame.

Our house sitters, Bill & Milton, arrived on the 18th & having got them settled in, we set off for the UK early on the 20th. We did the Zeebrugge- Hull crossing again this year which suits us fine. After doing a bit of shopping in Halifax (its years since I was there & I wanted to see the Piece Hall again) we spent our first night of the trip with my cousin Ken & his wife Joy. We were very well looked after…fish & chips followed by a pub quiz…real treats for us :blush: Then on to Manchester where we stayed for 2 nights in a hotel close to our sons house. We spent some great Grandma & Papi time with our grandchildren & loved every minute 😊 We even babysat for Matthew & Susie to allow them a rare visit to a local pub one evening. Then it was off to Carlisle to stay with our daughter where we had more fun times. We all went to a carol service on Christmas Eve which was lovely & another treat for me. Christmas Day was great too, …church in the morning, a fabulous meal cooked by Hazel & Phil, games in the afternoon & then everyone (my brother was there too) watched a Star Wars DVD whilst I went off to bed as I was very tired by then. Boxing Day was very relaxed…Geoff had a bit of a stomach upset (!) but we did fit in a walk around Talkin Tarn (an old stamping ground of mine near Brampton) & a bit of a tour of possible house buying areas for our retirement. It was a very useful exercise & we now have a bit more idea where to look for suitable properties. The next day we spent a relaxed morning with Hazel, Phil & Geoff going for a walk whilst I did some ironing for them. I have to say that they need to upgrade their iron by the next time I come though…dont like working with inferior equipment! After lunch we drove off into the lakes & met up with our friends Mike & Linda in Keswick where we had a cup of tea/coffee & of course inevitable cake! This is Linda we are talking about here! After a quick tour of the shops for last minute supplies, Hazel & Phil left us to drive back home (they had work the next day so needed to get themselves ready for that) & Geoff & I went back to Mike & Lindas cottage to meet all the rest of the family. We spent a great evening together eating & playing games, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Mike & Lindas cottage is lovely & I can see why they chose it…but it is a bit out in the wilds. They seem very happy there though, which is the main thing. The next morning, we set off to drive across to Hull where we did a big shop in Sainsburys to stock up with English treats to take home. The ferry crossing went well & after a longish but uneventful drive we got back home about 6.30 – to find Bill cooking a lovely meal for us. We were a little perturbed to find both he & Milton in shorts & T shirts -thoughts of our electricity bill & woodpile went through our heads immediately – but they assured us that it had been very mild & this is how they normally dressed when at home! They seemed to have had a good time here & had been out & about a lot visiting places. The animals were well & happy & so were we. The boys left the next morning leaving so much food behind that I don`t need to shop anytime soon! I also have spent the last couple of days trying to find things in my kitchen! Why is it that house sitters feel the need to re-arrange stuff??

Now we are getting back into the swing of things. I spent yesterday & today doing normal things – cleaning the guest rooms, washing bed linen & towels, ironing & tidying up before our last guests of the year arrive this afternoon. They are the parents of our holiday house neighbours who are here to see the New Year in with the family & who stay with us every year, as there is not enough room for everyone in the house.

And so, its good bye to 2017…a year not without traumas & changes (broken wrist, car accidents, new stove & new look for the living room & the gite) …& after tonight it will be hello to 2018. I wonder what that will bring??

All of us here at Les Hirondelles wish you all a Very Happy New Year & I hope 2018 is a good year for you all. Please continue to read my ramblings & as always feel free to comment whenever you feel like it. I do so enjoy the feedback :blush:

A bientot mes amis…


Christine, I am surprised that you are considering going back to UK to retire, even though it is back to the North West.
I come from the Carnforth area and even though it is beautiful, I wouldn’t want to go back.
We have been made so welcome here in Trivy, just as friendly as Lancashire, but better health care, so we are thinking of taking dual nationality.
We are having to keep working the Gite because of Brexit and the drop in the exchange rate.
I hope we all have a better year than 2017 what ch was a bit of a disaster for us.

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Unless I’m mistaken, Christine is saying goodbye to the old year, ringing in the new; no indication of moving.

I do enjoy her posts, looking forward to more, when she has time, about life in Les Hirondelles…

Happy New Year!

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Christine says a bit of a tour of possible house areas for our retirement, so both.
Happy New Year to you too.

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Just to clear things up…we are THINKING about our retirement …but have not actually got there yet! Our thoughts for the moment are MAYBE to buy a flat near our daughter in or near Carlisle & pending the sale of our house here in France ( ie the price we get for it, if it sells etc) MAYBE buying a flat somewhere in France too. I hasten to add it is not likely to go on the market this year. I can`t really see myself living full time in the UK as yet but we do have to start thinking sometime :slight_smile:

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We are from near Carnforth (we now live near Lockerbie but will move to France (west Jura or eastern Burgundy), when things fall into place and my sister lives at Yealand Conyers!

It was lovely to hear your story (sorry but don’t think I have seen your previous posts), we live not far from Carlisle, just outside Ecclefechan (but originally from near Lancaster) and we are putting our house for sale soon and are looking at eastern France. The healthcare over the border might be a thought. We have a great doctors in the village with no wait for appointments, a new hospital in Dumfries (been open almost a month now). Good luck with your plans.

Are you following us?
We live in the beautiful Clunysois. When you say eastern burgundy do you mean in the Bresseor the Maconnais?

I’m not following you (on what?) but I know you are in the Clunysois from your posts on sfn.
We don’t know where we will end up in France as we don’t yet have a property there but it’s more likely to be the Bresse rather than Maconnais area but we have seen houses near Saulieu and just sw of Beaune so who knows! We ideally are looking near Bletterans/lons Le Saunier/ Dole.
Where are you from near Carnforth?
Catherine x

I used to live in Warton Hall, opposite The Shovel.
My family farmed in Borwick at Borwick Lodge Farm.

Hello Jane,

Do you know Harry and Noeline Clarke? Noeline is my husbands aunt! I’m sure they farmed at Borwick Lodge until retirement too. What a small world.
My sister is at Dykes lane, Yealand Conyers, she teaches swimming at Capenwray Hall.
I don’t know Warton Hall but I’ll look on google maps. I was brought up at Wennington and went to school in Lancaster.
Do you have a blog? (You asked if I followed you).
How long have you been in France? We are not retiring age and are looking to work in tourism, which I know a lot of Brits do. I know you have a Gite and I suppose we do too but here in Scotland, we have a 1 bed cottage that we rent by the night, we are less than a mile from the motorway so get a lot of single night bookings.

Harry is my cousin. I thought that there would probably be some relations in common with the name Robinson coming from the Carnforth area…
I was a Millner before I married and it was our grandfather who started farming at Borwick Lodge.
We have been in France since August 2009 and are going to take French citizenship as our new year’s resolution.
There are a lot of rules and regulations when you work in tourism and there are plenty of posts here to help you.
We have a website . We get a lot of guests from Holland, Belgium, and Germany. Last year we had UK guests as well, but who knows how much longer that it I going to go on for.
Small world.

Well fancy that! Lovely to hear from you we are sort of related (by marriage!) I’m just on my 10 minute break at work but will be in touch when Home.
Cath x

Curious as to why that area appeals? We’re much higher up, but pop down to Lons & Dole from time to time and it always strikes us as very flat!

Horses for courses! We are actually looking in a wide area but although I like mountains, I don’t want to live up in the mountains. Being on the flat with views of mountains is ideal. I also want to be close to the motorway.

Absolutely, otherwise everyone would be living on top of each other in the same square mile…

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Where do you live? We often visit Orgelet.

Hi Jane… I recall when we moved from Devon to Suffolk… us kids were horrified at how flat it all was. :upside_down_face: or seemed to be…

Of course, as time went on, we discovered the particular beauty of that region of the UK… :relaxed:

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We’re in Coulouvre, about 20km from Orgelet the other side of the lake. But Orgelet is the town we use most, as Pilates class, doctor, main supermarket etc etc are all there. A nice place.

We stayed for 10 days in October (in Orgelet). Tried to go to saint Claude but just couldn’t manage the hills so had to turn back! Are you working there or retired? Orgelet could do with a decent cafe but I suppose French cafe culture isn’t like the uk’s so might not work.