A rather refined gentleman...

Today starts with an early morning Iggy walk. It’s already getting hot at 7.30am. I take them for a long one. Biba’s nose scavenges the earth sniffing around bits after taking herself off alongside someone’s row of vines in a field. Probably eating rabbit poo. She’s so bad at re-call, to me anyway - she’s Roddy’s girl. Mr Hux on the other hand is my baby and is promptly back at my side on a call and promise of half a Smacko.

I finally receive 4G on my mobile so update a post on social media. We still don’t have WiFi in the house, it’s a weird set up here in france. We had it years ago and I remember us having to drive to Angouleme to get the rooter (which is rented) we had it for a year but at 70€ per month it seemed pointless when not living here so I stopped it and sent the rooter back to Orange. When desperate, we’ve used the café connected to Le Clerc with chocolat chaud on the table resting by an oversized croissant for company, an excuse to pinch their 'WeeFee' connection.

WiFi is most definitely needed now getting ready for next year’s cycle holidays. I secretly think it’s quite refreshing not to have access and be glued to smart phones, computers or TV. However, that’s generally the first priority on people’s holiday rental check list’s. We will also be able to receive Sky and ‘catch up’ for those desperate enough to watch the last week’s episode of Coronation Street.

Now remember girl as I enter the shower room, break tasks dow, one small step at a time. I stare at the shower room walls again. I’ll start with the ceiling today, just the ceiling.

The paint's going on like a dream - no drips at all. I mentally kiss the tub of plaster of paris numerous times. My squinting blood red eye is carefully over-looking the task of the paint being applied to the wall, whilst my other scrutinizies the over sized paint brush daring one fine solitary bristle hair to escape like they did on Monday, my breakdown day.

I can see it now, the Trip Advisor review for La Chanson du ciel. “Fantastic cycling, long quiet roads, nice peaceful rural setting, homely and friendly, great to have yoga thrown in too but that bloody hair from a thistle paint brush painted into the wall just really bugged me, such sloppy decorating…”

Maybe I’ll just leave one there on purpose – a painting souvenir from Monday. Yeah, I mean what does one do when one has rented a holiday house when it’s peeing down with rain outside? Bridge or Canasta? Trivial Pursuit’s? or Charades? No, here in the beautiful sunny region of the rare rainy day in the Charente, you can play ‘Search the extremely fine solitary bristle hair painted into the white wall in the shower room of the gîte.’

That’ll get them going… I mean it’s far more exciting than a jigsaw puzzle depicting a snow scene at Christmas time, the prime focal point being a Victorian steam train, isn’t it?

There’s one now, the thinnest hair ready to 'Lay down its flag' from its family gang. See it? I’m going to do it. Whoever stays here is going to have it really hard trying to find this 3 inch escapee sorry little sucker painted into the wall.

Wait! I could even provide a treasure hunt for that rare rainy day with along with a selection of clues…

“As you slowly scan the walls whilst vacating the loo,

Look around carefully, it might be right behind you.

And when you come to spot my long thin painted hair,

Just remember all the trauma I had in planting it there.”

The Plaster of Paris is causing lumpy craters in my paint now, where clearly, I haven’t stirred it enough. Must needs. Tea break.

So rest of the morning’s disappearing hours somehow went like this:

  • Roddy: took an hour prepping the room to be sprayed.

  • Me: started painting the ceiling in the shower room AGAIN.

  • Roddy: trying to work out why he couldn’t get the spray machine to work.

  • Me: Got bored, stopped. Painted a couple of hairs in the walls for the rainy day treasure hunt.

  • Roddy: came downstairs covered in paint - still no joy. Decided to make a new kitchen unit out of an old kitchen island unit. Went off to the garage, muffled grunts under his breath.

  • Me: Takes husband out a thirst quenching cocktail of San Pelagrino + blood red orange juice.

  • Roddy: Sawing in the garage… coffee break.

  • Huxley: relieves himself a small solid poo on the tiled floor in the living room.

  • Me: cleans it up. Disinfects the tiles.

With my luke warm tea downed in one, I start on my other chores… filling more dents, cracks and holes in the old walls of the gîte filtering on through to the main house walls whenever I spot a small crack that needs my nice smooth plaster. I’m enjoying the plastering this time, now I’m using easy-mix plaster specifically designed for a slow novice like me. It’s also far better therapy than painting a ceiling. If I can just get the gîte finished this trip I will be so much happier.

I catch a glimpse of le ‘posty’ and thinking the SIM card may have just have been delivered I rush out to our post box by the front gates. Inside is a damp partly mouse chewed letter and a new fresh clean one! On opening it the new shiny SIM card lays ready to be popped from its perforated prison. I offer it to Roddy to sort and deal with this techy bit to do with the WiFi while I carry on preparing walls.

In fact I work on till late afternoon with messy hair frizzed and scraped up on top of my head I continue filling, sanding, hoovering, plastering, hoovering, painting, painting, and painting.

Then Roddy surprised me with his carpentry skills. I knew he could do it!! After hearing the colourful language going on in the garage, he finally emerges with his proudly produced kitchen unit ‘built with his own bare hands’ an on going joke we have, to sit alongside the oven, made out of an old kitchen island unit - which there is no room for in the gîte. It’s square! It fits! Clever husband.

Relieving ourselves from our chores, we head off to Ruffec for some small purchases, like lots of beer. We need to escape the house for a change of scene. I’m getting quietly excited about ‘playing house’ in the gîte now most of the boring work is done (apart from painting the staircase, painting the bedrooms and tiling the kitchen area wall, oh and tiling and grouting the rest of the kitchen floor.)

Wandering around the garden centre in the hope of finding a nice geranium to hang on the terrace wall, I stumble across a stand stacked with prints. I flick through but nothing interesting catches my eye, they’re all a bit boring then wait, there, that one! I see this strange print and quite like it in a weird sort of way. It’s the sort of print I imagine other women playing house with their gîte would dismiss choosing the collection of pretty butterflies instead. Being borderline eccentric I think Roddy will like it too. My ‘Mr & Mrs’ audition qualifies right. He does like it.

While he takes himself off to Bricolage to get some new bbq utensils, I venture into ‘Elephant’ my favourite shop. It sells absolute crap - generally cheap crap - but over the years it’s grown to become more of an up-market store. You can’t find china breast mug’s with flamingo pink nipple-drinking spouts anymore and gone are the days of purchasing gentleman’s penis wine bottle stoppers.

However if you slowly scan the confectionery shelf exploding with nasty ‘E’ ingredients and disgusting dextrose, along the aisle between the stainless steel saucepans and papier-mâché ready-to-paint tissue boxes, closer scrutiny may provide you with the temptation to purchase a bag of lime filled bleeding gumball eyes… Did you know that sweetie ingredients such as lac-resin can be found from lac bugs which are bright red insects indigenous of Asia? – think I’m going to be sick.

Occasionally, you can stumble across reasonably worthy finds at bargain prices in Elephant such as citronella candles for keeping evening mozi’s at bay for instance, or today’s purchase, a 40 x 50cm size simple white frame for that weird print I’ve just bought…

Think I’ll position it under the single light in the gîte shower room. Hopefully cyclists, particularly guys will appreciate the humor of it. I must balance the gîte décor out, resisting making it on the girly side. Not that I am girly at all or buy girly bits really, like make-up and dresses - apart from my unusual and rare purchase of the two I liked on Sunday. I am waffling on now, I said they’d be a danger of that when I’m back in france. There’s so much to tell you though!

Back at La Chanson du Ciel I stare at the print I’m holding up to the wall. Twenty faces stare back of the same wealthy looking, well groomed Monsieur wearing small oval shaped armless spectacles and with twenty different facial expressions slowly mouthing the words: JE-V-OUS-AI-ME. A handlebar moustache frames his top lip. As he prepares to mouth the first word (top, middle, should you ever come and stay) it reminds me of the same facial expression Roddy wears when deeply lost, listening to his world of jazz. Actually he looks a little like Roddy if you wrap your index finger around the hair at distance and squint. Roddy also fashioned a handlebar moustache not so very long ago.

Second row up from bottom, again middle facial expression looks like Monsieur is preparing to pout ready to plant a kiss on a slightly tiddly lady he’s this second met at a cocktail party confessing his love for her...

In fact the many faces of monsieur all imply different things not just the phrase ‘Je vous aime.’ I think they range from listening to jazz, mid chew of a humbug mint, brewing up a burp, sharp intake of breath and trapped wind.

The lady unimpressed, has turned on her heal and stomped off to speak to the good looking chap propped up at the bar.

Time to take that smug look off your face Monsieur.

I wonder what our guest’s will make of him.

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