Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
Okay, not actually scrubbing, I’m powerwashing. Starting with the steps and then moving on to the walls. In case you’re ever tempted to try the same thing, be advised that wearing light blue and white while doing it is not a good idea.
We’ve found a contractor who’s just amazing. He’s Irish and stereotypically charming, and he did outstanding work at La Villa de Mazamet, so the owners very kindly gave us his number. He’s very quickly become part of the household. He’s nearly done preparing the kitchen for the cabinets and appliances that are to arrive on the 18th. The dogs love him which is a plus. And he and his wife (also lovely) invited us to drinks on Sunday up in the mountains where they own a big property which is a gites business called Montagne Noir Holidays.
The fig trees are loaded. Every time I walk by them I get anxious. What in the world does one do with 500 billion figs? I’ll just have to start distributing them to random people on the street- like some crazy person. There are also two loquat trees, but less daunting in fruit numbers.
One of the first things I noticed when we got here was that the people who were more smartly dressed had some variation of this basket. Men, women, young, old. You can take it into any of the shops, put the food you’re going to buy in it, and then present it at the checkout. No need for using a plastic basket from the shop or bagging anything on the way out. Terribly convenient and even a bit stylish. They’re strong and have leather handles, and cost €15 at the Saturday market.
Another piece of furniture arrived for the grey salon. A very fine Empire table with gilt bronze mounts. I love it. Little by little, we’re starting to get a nice lived-in atmosphere as we had in Spain. I think the grey salon, which is where we put the English sofas, is shaping up to be particularly elegant. Can’t wait to see the curtains in place.
The garden continues to burst into bloom. Everyday something new pops up. The walls around the house have climbing roses in various colours. I’m working very hard to get used to the concept of an English style garden. For someone who’s psychopathically controlling, it’s not an easy task. Anyway, here’s more of the garden.
And you were worried about the possibility of not fitting in when you moved… sounds like you are becoming part of the furniture. 😀
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Perhaps a topiary corner to satisfy that orderly itch? -grin-
I have to bite the bullet and train myself out it. Just like dance classes, “embrace the pain.” 🙂
-giggles- embrace away! There is something so wildly perfect about English gardens. You’ll love it, in time. 🙂
I know!!! If anything, people are actually more open and more receptive in the ‘outside world’. I never want to live in a gated community again.
Touché mon ami!
See, roses AND spiders- it’s like we’re related!
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So unenvironmentally sound. You should really have got down on your hands and knees, tsk tsk. Ivy on walls? Groan. Do you know anything about building preservation from a practical POV? Top tip. Ivy doesn’t help. It eats into the mortar. Appearances aren’t always everything.
Not ‘English’ garden style, I think you mean cottage garden. I rather like it, butbI fight with Mr Orderly, equally controlling who insists on trimming my bushes …
I know quite a lot about building preservation… try this.
The same is true f the wisteria that was growing here; it didn’t cause the most minute damage.
Although the cottage garden is the epitome of the English garden, what I’m referring to is the 18th century term: Jardin à l’anglaise which was an entirely new form of landscaping at the time that went against the strict French traditions of formal landscaping 😉
Absolutely darling. I always go to the Daily Mail as my first recourse 🙂
Maybe you just got lucky with the mortar?
But English lanscape gardening is very controlled and organised and …p
I think I’m missing rhe odd nuance
You do realize the DM may be rubbish, but Oxford is still Oxford…
The style (and age) of building is hugely important. An Elizabethan building, for example, could be more vulnerable than something made entirely out of stone. Our house hasn’t had the slightest damage from the ivy or wisteria, probably due to the construction advances of the first half of the 20th century. The only risk is damage to the roof tiles, so we have to keep it under control.
As for gardens, until the 18th century the French method was very Versailles. Cut beds, statuary, fountains- everything was very ‘orderly’. The English went against that formal structure. There was suddenly layering, asymmetry, a colour on one side and a different colour on the other. Different height plants- and most importantly: seasonal planting. The formal French garden never changed, the English garden was a process.
Figs! Auugh! My dear father-in-law spoke of “each under his own vine and fig-tree” as a kind of Utopia. And I’d say, “Could I have a pear instead?” I don’t like figs – not even Fig Newtons. If you can’t find a market, perhaps a local farmer will take them. Do pigs like figs? And, are bits of broken figs called “figments”? 😉
Apparently birds and monkeys love figs, not sure about pigs, though 🙂