Just what is it about January…?

As I was printing out a copy of last years blog posts for my MIL to read – she has not yet joined the computer set & so doesn’t read it monthly – I realised that the month of January always seems to be disastrous for us in one way or the other. The cars always seem to have problems, or something goes wrong in the house or we seem to make regular visits to the dentist etc..always in January. Of course all these things cost an arm & a leg too which is very unwelcome after the expense of Christmas & trips back to the UK. And, of course this January, the curse has struck once again. This year it all began on New Years Day, when our B&B guests told us the heater wasn’t working in their bedroom. When we went to investigate, there was an ominous smell of burning which turned out to be a burnt out plug socket. Our hearts sank as we realised that the old wiring in the large part of the room had at last given up the ghost. When we had all the renovations done in the B&B rooms, our plumber/electrician told us that the wiring would need replacing “sometime”, but was OK for now. He put new wiring in the bathroom area, but left the old stuff alone in the main bedroom. Now, it looks like “sometime” has arrived! When the guests had gone we gritted our teeth & rang an electrician…..well actually we rang three electricians as the first two were all very busy or did not seem interested in the job. Eventually, one did come out & then told us he couldn’t do the job for 2+ weeks as he was very busy. We obviously chose the wrong professions…it would seem that being a plumber or electrician is the way to make your millions these days! This put us in a bit of a pickle as we had B&B guests booked in for every weekend in January &, of course, they all wanted the double bedded room. So we decided the only solution was to change the downstairs guest room into a double bedded room & use that instead. So there then followed a “fun” afternoon, taking the 2 single beds out of the window of the downstairs room & putting them into the gite for storage, dismantling & moving the double bed downstairs (& it weighs a ton too!) & then, putting it back together again. Although the room didn’t look as nice as normal, like that, we were at least able to fulfil our commitments, the guests all got what they’d requested & never even noticed the switch! The electricity work has all been done now & although we are a lot poorer (it was eye wateringly expensive) the room now conforms totally to the “norms” so beloved by French administration. Having got the room empty, we are redecorating it so it will be all very spic & span by the time the next guests arrive. Just all the furniture removals to do in reverse now...”sighs”

The other problems, as with all the previous Januarys have involved the cars & dentists! Geoff managed to reverse into a ditch the other day but fortunately didn’t do much damage to the car. His pride took a bigger battering when he had to be pushed out of his predicament! He has also been on the receiving end of the dental visits. Having almost come to the end of having a crown replaced (expensive) he then broke another tooth biting into a piece of bread of all things! Crown number 2 is a work in progress (very expensive). All in all then a pretty dire start to 2012 for us, but as our daughter keeps telling us, it can only get better!

As if all this expense was not enough, I had to make another trip back to the UK this month as it was my mother’s 90th birthday & we had a family gathering to make sure it was marked in style. Thanks to some lovely friends, one who gave me some air miles she didn’t want, & our Parisian friends who put me up for a night on the way back, I was able to travel in style with BA for a change & keep the cost to a minimum. I actually had a very good weekend, staying with the kids, meeting up with my nursing friends (a rare treat these days) & seeing all the family gathered in one place to celebrate Mam`s birthday was great too. She had a very good day, taking afternoon tea with most of her family in the wonderful setting of Lumley Castle near Durham. We all enjoyed it too J

Back at the ranch as it were, we have had the busiest January ever with clients all using up their Dakota box vouchers before they expired at the end of the month! We are not complaining mind you, as it has seen our B&B rooms in use all through the month which is not normal for January. We have had some lovely guests too…lots of sporty couples who have really enjoyed walking, skiing & in the case of the last visitors snowshoe walking in the mountains & countryside here.

Talking of snow, I have to say that winter has arrived here now with a vengeance. After some very strange weather, which has been often much more like spring than winter, we now have about a foot of snow here today! The Auvergne continues to change its climate completely in the space of a few days. Earlier this week I was picking primroses in the garden to put on the guests breakfast table & now I can hardly make out the contours of the garden under the heavy mantle of snow. Geoff has had to cancel his lessons for today as he couldn’t dig the car out in time this morning. The snow plough has just been but has left its usual mound of snow at the end of our drive so he has yet more digging to do now. He enjoys it really...honest! It is very cold too & the forecast is for it to get colder as the week goes on. Whoopee!

Because we have been so busy this month with one thing & another, we haven’t been out & about much locally. We even missed the Croix Rouge’s Gallette de Rois do, as I was not well due to a nasty little throat bug donated by my daughter during my UK visit. At least it meant that they were saved from my singing this year! We did go to the annual Foire de St Paule in Issoire though on Saturday & as usual really enjoyed mooching round the market & having lunch in one of the vey crowded restaurants. It was a lovely day too for most of the day, not like other years when we have frozen half to death there! I got my usual huge bunch of mimosa which is now making the whole house smell gorgeous. As a native plant of the Mediterranean regions though, I don’t think it is appreciating all this snow & cold so I suspect it won’t last much longer! I shall enjoy it whilst I can!