Friday, 19 February 2016

Measure, measure and measure again.

So as winter has crept up and we are moving toward spring, instead of having icicles hanging from the beams we have been basking in a warm glow.

No we haven't got central heating but we do have a nice shiny new double glazed window. However we nearly didn't.
It took 3 attempts at getting the right size, as the bricks around the window point inwards and there isn't a straight line on the wall atall. However 3rd time lucky and we made it.
The old window is finally out!! we will keep it and reuse it for something, maybe a giant photo wall.

Someone looks happy.

It's meant to be in the hole!

It's in :)

Looking better, just the upstairs windows to go now.

What's been going on here then?

Hi all, it's been ages since I have written a post - why? because I have been really busy. Last year I was asked to apply for a CDI job by my current boss who I was working as and when needed for.

The job was working in a local school everyday during the lunch break and supervising the children there, and then a educational club with the school after lunch. In the evenings I would be cleaning the school and also 3 afternoons a week helping in other schools.  I umm'd and ahh'd about whether I should apply for the job as I hadn't really got any proper experience working with kids but thought I'd give it a go anyway.

After a nerve wracking interview in which I had to give a presentation about myself and then answer questions etc - I got the job!!

So since September I have been working in the schools. It has been scary and I have learnt loads and I mean loads of new words and also lots of interesting things about French culture that I didn't know.  So all in all I find that when I'm not working I'm trying to catch up on housework, garden work and working with Dave on the house.  Writing this seems to have been snowed under the other mountains of work that always need doing.

Anyway enough of this - what's going on in the house??

We have been trying to get the house warmer and safer as well. So we have put in a  new door and window and a new fire. We have also been working on the barn, In the future the barn will be our kitchen and utility room with the master bedroom above it. This was always going to be the hardest part of the house as the roof came down on the barn more than 40 years ago and the rain and weather have been making their way in since then. In reality we are surprised that it has managed to stay up.

That wood does look rotten doesn't it.

This Ivy has been a pain in the bum to get rid of.

So all in all this year is about sorting the roof of the barn out, re-roofing and getting new wood on the front of it. We have started this job last year but time, money and weather were against us. So this year we will be continuing. So lets see how it goes.

This is the first half of the roof we did last year.

Monday, 31 August 2015

A lovely day in Santa Teresa

"1 santa teresa panorama 2014" by Chensiyuan - Own work.
Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons -

This view is from Santa Teresa towards Rio central with a favela in between.

One day when Ruth had to work a bit we went to a town called Santa Teresa which is a district of Rio. Ruth had to go here anyway as she had a meeting there with her work team.  It is a very traditional area of Rio that used to be a very affluent part of Rio. There are still remains of some very grand houses that sadly are now rather run down.   But this upper class usage of the area stopped a long time ago and now it is mostly bars restaurants and artists studios. The roads are very narrow,twisted and sometimes cobbled and exceptionally beautiful. Santa Teresa sits atop of a long hill called by the same name, and unless you are fit it's best to get a taxi up to the town at the top.

Old grand house sadly now in a run down condition.

After arriving we had a quick look around then stopped at a lovely local restaurant for a beer and a bit of lunch. We went to a cafe called Cafe Alto click here for more info - The restaurant was very traditional and used the colours of Brasil to make it's decorations.  There were some strange hanging dolls around which made up the curtains which were apparently a local tradition and the cafe was bright clean and very friendly with a lovely ambiance.  Ruth introduced us to Aipim (probably spelt wrong) fries which is also called yuca or cassava. It is usually fried and can be coated in lots of different coatings. It is really delicious and we got quite addicted to it while we where there.

The Cafe in Santa Teresa

While Ruth went to her meeting Dave and I wondered around looking at the town and at one point nearly wondered into a favela. We drew some confused looks from the locals but all was ok. The town is peppered here and there by small shops and artists studios and many different local goods can be purchased, but although it is no doubt a bit touristy it also has the feel of a authentic local town rather than a built up area for tourists to peruse.

We found a really interesting artists shop where the artist was disabled and painted miniature pictures on shells and made them into necklaces. These pieces were  really amazing quality so I had to buy one.

This is some info on the artist from a local tour guide

photo credit

This doesn't do it justice. There are clouds, mountains in the background and colourful houses.
Santa Teresa is famous for a yellow tram that runs through the village and transports people up the steep hill. Sadly for us it was out of action when we visited, but apparently they will have it up and running by the time the Olympics occur.

Dave and I were hoping to go to Parque das ruinas (park of ruins) but sadly they were closed while we were there, for more information click here

After all that walking in 34 oc heat Dave and I were in need of a drink and took a while to find the cafe we were meeting Ruth at but finally we made it, and got to meet some of her colleagues as well.

Dave managed to find a art, souvenir and instrument shop - as only he can, and found a odd instrument which of course he had to buy. This was the shop he bought it in, I forgot to take a picture and luckily enough I found one on another website This is a photo from their website.

Photo credit:

The instrument is called a Berimbau and is played by resonating a string through a gourd and the sound changed by manipulating a stone behind the string to adjust the resonance. Either way, Dave loved it. But I think it may take a lot of learning to play, but he is tenacious enough to do so.

After a day of midgemodging about and going to one cafe for lunch and a bar for drinks, we felt the need for yet more drinks and food. So in the evening after Zam had finished work we went to a restaurant that is meant to be one of the best in the area, and weren't disappointed. It is called Espirito Santa and it was a very fun. It is a restaurant specialising in Brazilian food and especially Amazonian food. all of the food was served beautifully and the whole evening was really relaxed.

The best thing was the gourd cocktails that Ruth and I had, they were very strong Caipirinha's and enough to make one go squiffy.

Ruth drinking from cocktails from a gourd 

Dave's not asleep, just caught as he blinked :)

After a lovely day we caught a taxi back to the apartment, and chilled for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Rio part 2 Ipanema Hippie Feira and other stuff


On our second day after a darn good sleep Ruth took us to a Hippie Market. This local market is a permanent market where locals can sell their goods. From what I understand they have to be licensed by the council and make the goods themselves to sell in this market. These are all the stalls:

This photo is from the markets website 

This photo is from the markets website

It was huge and there are loads of colourful vibrant stalls where you can buy so many quality items. Dave obviously got drawn in by the music stall and managed to come away with a bamboo saxophone and flute. This takes you straight to the stall holders info and more photos Some of the artists there did some amazing paintings and there were a few we fell in love with, but we had neither the money or room in cases to bring them back.

After the market we did the only polite thing possible to do and went to the beach and watched the world go by whilst having a few beers. We went to Botofogo beach which whilst looking lovely is not on that is good to swim in. So we just enjoyed te atmosphere.

After sinking a few obligatory beers we walked back to the kids house stopping for shopping  on route and saw a huge religious procession with people carrying a giant statue of Mary, was different.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Rio July 2015 Part 1

Walking by the lagoa.

After arriving and greeting the kids - whom we hadn't seen for 9 months!! we went back back to their apartment for a bit to relax before going back out later for a walk.

We walked all around the lagoa that is near Ruth and Zam's - literally 2 streets away. It is a long walk and it took us about a couple of hours and we stopped off on the way for Ruth's new favourite thing -  coconut water fresh from iced coconuts cut in front of you by the seller and a straw put in. These sellers were everywhere, and coconut water seem to be a staple food and drink in Brasil.

View from the lagoa.
From this view you can see the 2 brothers -  Dois lmaos mountain in the background

Impromptu picnic with fresh coconut water - very healthy

As we were walking around the lagoa the terrain changed many times and at one point the side of the lagoa had a small wooded area next to it. In here we saw a herd (is that the right term?) of Capybara. I have only seen these in zoos before so it was a real treat to actually see them living wild. These animals seem very used to people and didn't mind us taking pictures.

There are lots of bars around the lagoa and we stopped off for some obligatory beers and snacks as we took a gentle stroll around. The bars were lively and great fun.

Ruth introduced us to a drink called Caipirinhas which is made from hard liqour and comes in many different flavours, and we had a couple in the bar. I must admit this became a bit of a favourite for me on our trip, they are quite strong as measuring seems to be a bit of a guess work game, but it makes it interesting. For more info look here

We also encountered some interesting birds and trees on the walk, the fruit in the trees were huge and there were also coconut palms everywhere.

More coconut sellers.

More views from the lagoon.

This ones a bit fuzzy but it gives you a idea of the night view.

By the end of this night we were rather tired, not bad considering we only arrived in the country that morning!. After we got back to the kids house, Zam made the most awesome curry, was really yummy. Good end to day 1.

Rio hols 2015, On our way!

Rio!! we finally made it.

View from Sugar Loaf mountain to Botofogo and Copacobana

So we went on a big adventure this month. A visit to our daughter and son in law to be in Rio de Janeiro! Where they are living for 2 years in the run up to and during the Olympics.  This was a nerve racking thing for us as the flights are very long and we had to take one flight to from Paris to New York then another to Rio soon afterwards. As anyone who knows us knows Dave and I are country folk by nature and international jet setters we are not. This was the first long haul flights for both of us and we were kind of nervous.

So after a kind lift from friends to Poitiers (1.30hrs away) then a train journey to Paris we finally made it to Orly Airport.

The flight to America was actually quite good, it was hosted by British Airways and we were lucky enough to have a tablet each to use with preloaded films and tv series to watch - which meant I finally got to watch Second Best ever Marigold Hotel without annoying Dave who opted for Terminator type films. So 9 hours later we touched down in New York to get ready for the next flight which was in 2 hours.

So after going through security to get into the country and waiting for 2 hours for the flight they announced that the flight was going to be cancelled (at the time we were due to leave!) due to problems with getting a pilot for the plane. Not a good start :( so after another hour or so of queueing  to see customer services to be told we weren't being given a hotel and then the airline changing their minds we finally managed to get a bit of shut eye and be ready to start the whole process again the next day.

Luckily day 2 went a fair bit better than day one and we finally managed to make it to Rio. Strangely enough the security at Rio was the tightest out of all the airports and we even had to have our hold baggage x rayed after we had collected it to leave the airport. But after 2 days travelling we had got there.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A working bathroom!! A first for this old house.

This old house has never had a indoor working bathroom, I have no idea what they used to do here before we moved here, I am guessing it was a bucket and chuck it system.

We for the last three years have been bathing in a makeshift room in the barn heating our water with a large tea urn and then adding cold to try and get it to temperature. It worked but it was blooming cold in the winter and not the most glamorous way of bathing. It  is amazing how much you miss simple things such as running hot water

But now we have a nice shiny new bathroom. We have been trying to get it all set up for a while now but we are both plumbing novices and needed to get a lot of information first so we could put it all together. It also costs a bomb to do, not just the big things but all the niggly joints, waste piping and knees. Yes I now know lots about grey piping, bends (knees) and how to make good joints (in the plumbing sense only!!) Plumbing is a bit like doing and an giant jigsaw puzzle with lots of piping and making up the puzzle design as you go along. I think we must have laid down miles of piping and used loads of ruban. After putting it all together and filling the sparkly new hot water tank for the first time we held our breath and......

There were a few leaks :(

Luckily not raging torrents but annoying drip drip drips.

Dave had spent ages tightening all the joints to a point that we couldn't tighten them any more. But it appears that the new joints expand under pressure / the hot water and pressure of the water had loosened them a teeny tiny bit.

So after going round every joint again and putting on yet more ruban and tightening them all back up. Then making one joint change (we think it was faulty) we crossed our fingers and toes and anything remotely crossable and tried again...

It worked, no drips, phew.

That cupboard at the back right of the photo is where the electrics come into the upstairs, we still need to cover this up and paint it.

This sink is made from a copper bowl we bought at Emmaus charity shop in Mauleon

I must say we are really pleased with it and now can get back to the never ever ending job of re-roofing the old collapsed barn, and no you can't hear joyous anticipation in my voice here.

So until next time....