La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France. We chose it while on the road, moving home, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, that is back in Ireland.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Intermittent Fasting - 5:2 - Part 4

Been having a few hectic days lately and it was not so convenient  for us to start our fourth fast yesterday (Monday) so we postponed  with one day.
Bert is having it difficult as we ( I ) decided we were going to fast the whole day and eat our calories at dinner time. Hu ho !  He has been fighting the hunger pangs with cups of stock made from half a cube, each.

Last week Wednesday we had a meeting with our estate agent who is trying to sell our house. Unfortunately we had few viewings over the last month and a half.  Summer holidays and bad weather, people booking last minute planes to the sun didn't help.  It has been quiet in general in the property sector.
Now most of the house viewers we welcomed thought the garden is not to their taste, too wild, too much work, too large, etc etc. 
We are now focussing ourselves on our garden which in all honesty has been left a little unkempt. With this lovely summer weather (ahum) every bit of weed has firmly rooted itself in our garden, even if we have weeded somewhat in between showers and mown the lawn fairly regularly.
Our hedges (the beech hedges we inherited when we moved here and of which some we have cut back drastically over the past three years) look untidy. We had also created some arches which were not yet looking at their best.  You get the picture, not conducive to a house sale.
Our estate agent recommended that we took down the ivy from the front gable of the house !  My heart jumped up into my throat. It's what made me fall in love withe the house in the first place.
They assured me however that 80% of potential buyers hate it.
With a heavy heart we removed the ivy from the house (only the front, mind) on Saturday and it went from this
to this

in a matter of hours.
I came across 8 birds' nests, old ones granted, but that means from now on the birds won't be nesting against the gable anymore. More heart break.
At least we know now that the ivy hasn't caused any damage to the bricks or pointing. It can only mean that the materials used for this house were decent.
Dilemma. How to get those sucker roots off.  A few google searches later we opted for the pressure washer, even if we read horror stories about damaging the bricks and/or pointing.  Worth a try at least on a small patch.
We don't own a pressure washer, so we needed to wait till Monday to hire one. 
Sunday we tried to made good use to tidy around the driveway and near the front of the house.  At around 4.30 pm all hell broke loose.  A text came in from the estate agent that they would come Monday morning, 10 am with potential buyers. 
Oh blimey ! Very, very short notice.  Took the vacuum cleaner aaaalll the way upstairs and started a cleaning frenzy ending when reaching the depths of the basement utility room. That was 10 pm. There are nicer things I can think of to keep me occupied on a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon. Bert started the lawn mower around the same time as I started up the hoover.  He was ready before me, but the grass was long and he had to work till darkness fell. Ach, it is our own fault, we should keep on top of things, but time managment isn't one of our strongest points. Obviously.
We didn't even have time to have dinner before then, so we were very naughty and got chippie chips ! A small one, and it didn't satisfy me at all to be honest.
Monday, before 10 am, the house viewers and EA came.  They did the tour in less than 15 blummin' minutes and they had the cheek to not want to look at the garden !
It was obvious to me (judging a book by it's cover) that they were the type of people who want a trendy and very modern house with a very straight lined garden. Seeing the flashy car they arrived in  yes, flashy and pimped) Bert and I just knew. That's a no.

Having this clean house again and not being in time to go to the hire shop for a pressure cleaner, Bert dissappeared to his study and I went into my 'studio/craft room'.
Soon, my little niece, Sarah will get baptized and my nephew, Mathias will celebrate his 4rd birthday.

I bought them a puppet theatre in the second hand shop, which I will give a face lift and I also bought second hand puppets.

They all need a new wardrobe and I made a start yesterday.
I have four Little Red Riding Hoods, and this one will no longer be one. She will be cast in a different role altogether with a lovely flower print frock.

Grandma will no longer be ill in her bed, but will be in the kitchen baking pies and cookies, wearing a flower print dress and an apron with lacey frills.

The king will make an appearance in this story. But he's still at the taylor's as he still needs a Royal collar on his coat.
He'll probably be presenting his princess daughter at the debutante ball.
What a lovely day it turned out to be. Just relaxing and doing something creative with not much else on my mind.
This morning when I woke up, Bert had already dissappeared to the hire shop.  Once home he got started with the power washer, worked a treat ! Bricks and pointing (and the paint even) still intact and all the rough roots gone.
Now we hope that the painter will come on Saturday, as promised, to give us a quote for painting the front gable, all the windows and the roof overhang. I really dislike the dark brown windows. Luckily indoors they have been painted white-ish.
Whilst Bert was power washering a woman stopped and asked if she could go in the woodland next to and behind our house to have a look. Sure.
She phoned the EA there and then, made an appointment to view the house an hour later.  Well, she didn't seem to be scared off by the garden. That was a good sign. The house was still decent from the last viewing so all was good.
She loved the house and would contact us again after talking with her husband.  Wether that is just talk or not, we don't know, but viewings seem to be picking up again and we have another potential buyer lined up for Friday too.
Wish us luck !

Recipes from last week's fasting you can find here and here
We've had a tasty fasting meal tonight. The recipe will be posted soon.
Thanks for visiting
Patricia xxx...x


  1. Well what ever the agent said about the ivy, the removal of it has spoilt the look of the front aspect of the house We are with you in that it was a feature that we would enjoyed when seeing the house for the first time anyway your selling so it doesn`t matter now, funny folk buyers, in Eastbourne the folk being all garden mad would buy a house because it had ivy providing the surveyor gave a good report.

    1. I knew I wasn't alone in loving an ivy clad house.
      We haven't killed it (whisper) the roots and main trunk are still alive and well.
      I've been thinking, if the house doesn't sell before winter, I'll be trailing another climber along the gable. Don't know what yet as it is north east facing. Any suggestions ?

  2. Selling a property is seldom easy - everyone like something different. For me there would be loads of appeal in a large unkempt garden that needed taming! How you get a sale soon.

    1. Thanks Mark.
      I know from experience that Flemish people in particular (generalising here)love a clean cut, straight lined, regimented garden without fuss. Very contemporary looking and preferably low maintenance gardens are all the rage here. Colourful flowers and herbacious borders seem to be dirty words these days.
      Anyway, we'll tame it a little bit for the sake of a sale.

  3. We have ivy, too. On a side wall, but it would hurt my heart if we were to remove it.
    Good luck in selling the house!


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