La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France at the time. We chose it while on the road, moving house the first time round, 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 we did and 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, after yet another stint in Ireland, we're back in France @ Le Mas d'Ayen

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Storm after Storm after Storm.

Let us not be fooled by the lull in the weather.  Enjoy this peaceful day.  As of tomorrow afternoon we'll be facing yet another storm front. Unplug everything and everything, that's my motto for this winter.

Patricia xxx...x

Friday, January 03, 2014

A Year of Excitement and Turbulence. 2013.

First and foremost. A Happy New Year to all of my handful of readers.  You are extremely appreciated.

What was I thinking ? Had I forgotten the Irish winter storms ?  How could I forget the times when fallen trees damaged our beloved stone outbuilding and a caravan that was occupied by a Slovakian lodger ?  How could I forget the time when our conservatory roof took off, swiftly followed by the slates from the main roof ?  How could I forget the many times we were without power and telephone ?
The fact is, I never forgot, only, the anxieties and pains fade away over time.   That was during our first stint in Ireland from 1996 till the end of 2003.
Now, here we are, all these years later, facing the Irish winter storms again.  Lightning, thunder, high winds, horizontal rain, hail and whatever else it throws at us.
This time we didn't have any life changing disasters though.  Before, during and after christmas the power has been off several times, the modem has burnt out twice now in just as many weeks, and we're still waiting for the 3rd one to arrive by snail mail. In the meantime I'm writing this blogpost on New Year's day in Word to be copied and pasted on the internet when it is in working order again.  Bert's dingy (that's his  little boat, yeah) went off on its own one evening when it was blustery.  One minute I saw it and  the next it was gone ! A few days later a neighbour from accross the water visited us to tell us he might have found it at his place.  This man was so wonderful that he even rowed it back to us during the next couple of days and tied it up well and proper.  In the meantime Bert has learned his lesson and brought his dingy to the safety of our shed.
With a lull in the weather, christmas day turned out to be beautiful indeed. Good enough to take a stroll along the beach at Derrynane with the dogs and my mother who stayed with us over the christmas period.

This past year, known as 2013,  has challenged  our mental and physical strength.  Selling and buying a house, moving house is stressful at the best of times. Moving abroad is a whole other ball game.  But we're seasoned pros and we take it in our stride, exhausted as we feel at this moment in time, we know it will only be temporarily.

We  have many, many boxes still unpacked that will stay unpacked till we have build our extension.  I dare not ask Bert about the expected start or finish of this build, but most of all I dare not ask if it fits into our budget.  Probably the budget doesn't stretch that far, so we'll have to do it as and when money comes in.  We'll be able to have it wind and water tight, but  the interior finishing will have to wait. 
Our beloved greyhound Sam passed away early July after a long illness.  We gave him a lovely spot on our land to rest in peace.
There were way more positive than negative happenings in 2013.
We gained another family member in October or November (I can't even remember exactly). Blackie, our adopted lurcher.  Another lovely boy from the greyhound clans. He loves it here and we love him. Millie has a lively playmate  whom she can race around the garden with.

All the pets have settled in their new surroundings once more. Bar Fergus who had to disappear on us for a whole 10 days after we'd just been here for  little over a week. He came back of his own accord, starving and frightened.  Not that he remembers any of it right now.
The most lovely spring and summer we've had since our arrival mid April.  The weather was beautiful.  My mother and 6 y/o nephew, Mathias came to stay for a whole month. My brother and the rest of his family arrived 2 weeks after my mum did. It certainly was a month made of memories.  Mathias, in his later life, will think back fondly of his fantastic time he spent with auntie Patty and uncle Bert. Let's hope he can add to this in many years to come, together with his little sis Sarah.
We've started and 'almost' finished quite a few projects in and around the house and 'the other project' that I promised to write about so long ago and never did.  It still isn't finished either and that is what's stopping me from showing it to you all. I can give you a little taster though with a couple of photos. This is the other house we bought on one of the village greens. 
sitting room. before
sitting room after
Bathroom before
 and after
With the help of 2 Spanish HelpX volunteers we have now drained a little piece of land. A chicken house, a bird feeder has been build by Fran, who also moved a lot of earth to provide us with a planting area for the cottage garden. He also cleared much of the little stream on our land, so the road doesn't flood anymore with heavy rainfall.
We've had a shed build.  We were in desperate need for storage that we couldn't find anywhere near the village, so the best solution was to have one on the property. Trying to set up a business is hard in these times, but we'll put our backs into it and hopefully something half succesfull will come out of it.
The time for planting trees is here and it is also on my mind, as well as the goal of starting at least a small patch for vegetables.
We have it all mapped out in our heads and some of it even  on paper, all the things we would like to achieve in 2014.  Will we achieve everything ? Possibly not, but planning is half the pleasure. And the plans may  change along the way. It doesn't matter. We'll take it all in our stride.
We are happy to be back in Sneem amongst most of our old and also new friends.  We are grateful for being able to live in such an unspoiled area. The sea, the mountains, the rain, the wind, lightning and thunder, the sunshine.  The rainbows.
We'll take it all in our stride.
Thank you for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x

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