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Our new home

18 Nov

We have been in our new home three weeks now. It seems we have been here for ever! We live in a small village called Leuc (pronounced lurk).

Our new house

The house is a bungalow with three bedrooms, kitchen, lounge diner, bathroom and separate WC. We share a boundary with one neighbour but on the other three sides it is clear. We are located on a small estate of similar but not identical houses.

It’s very quiet and the neighbours are friendly. We have introduced ourselves to most of the near neighbours, by offering them a small box of eggs. They had no idea that we had three hens living down the side of our garage. Shows how quiet they are!

Armistice day

Last Thursday 11 November we attended the ceremony at the war memorial to celebrate the end of World War 1.

After the ceremony at the War Memorial, we all gathered in a large room in the Town Hall for drinks and nibbles. We introduced ourselves to the mayor and one of the deputy mayors, and we chatted to a soldier in uniform who is one our neighbours.

After talking about an Old Age Pensioners club which we belonged to in Montolieu, we were asked if we’d like to set one up here in Leuc as the last one disintegrated after the president of it died. However there aren’t as many pensioners in Leuc as in Montolieu!

Neighbourhood

All our close neighbours are very nice and have welcomed us.

Public transport

There is public transport to and from our village. A single carriage rail service runs from Carcassonne (below the Black Mountain) to Limoux (below the Pyrenees) six days a week. The line passes just the other side of the road. There is an unmanned railway crossing so the train drivers give a little hoot on the train horn as they approach. There are 13 train journeys a day, all of which stop at the halt in the next village (Couffoulens).

There is also a bus service that turns into Carcassonne but we have not explored that yet. It’s a bit difficult to know when to catch it, as there are roadworks in the centre of Leuc and the bus seems to terminate at the end of our road.

Our village

We have a small shop which is also a wine merchant and has regular wine tastings. Our boulangerie has lovely cakes as well as a choice of breads. The health centre covers quite a large number of villages and therefore we have 4 doctors, a nurse, 2 midwives, a physio, an osteopath and a chiropodist. The pharmacy next door is quite large and stocks more medications than our previous one in Montolieu. They also do the flu and Covid immunisations without appointments during the week. In front of the health centre is a large recreation are with outdoor exercise machines as well as a football pitch and a disused pétanque boulodrome. There is also a primary school here, not that we’re really interested in this facility but it is noticeable that many of the small villages of France have managed so far to maintain their local primary schools. Like the post offices which are slowly being closed down in the villages but some are being retained and serviced by the Town hall in order to keep the facility open.

Richard has already tested the osteopath and the barber and I’ll be checking out the chiropodist soon. I’m still looking for the hairdresser and beautician though.

Floods

Like a lot of villages close to water in the Aude, Leuc was badly affected by the floods of October 2018. The photographs below show the heights of the various floods over the years.

Walks

There are plenty of places to walk around us. Along the railway line, alongside the river, in fields and vineyards. The dogs can be let off their leads and often we do not meet another soul.

Posh Hotel

Just 5 kms from our house is a locally famous hotel and restaurant – the Chateau de Cavanac. Those of you that have eaten at Les Anges au Plafond in Montolieu, will know Bernard, the chef/owner, who now works at the Chateau de Cavanac following the closure of his restaurant.

Chateau de Cavanac

We have yet to eat there! Just waiting for a big celebration!

Coming to the village

The usual route to our village is from Carcassonne on the road to Saint-Hilaire. This is the view coming down past the village of Couffoulens.

You can see the Pyrenees from here

There is much, much more for us to explore. We do hope you will come and visit us next year.

The Garden Office rises once again

14 Mar

After languishing, in pieces, in one of the garages, the Henley Garden Office that was so much loved by us, and lovingly taken down by all our friends, has finally seen the light of day.

After collecting dust, and neglected, for the last 15 months, we finally had sufficient hands here to put it up again. It’s taken three days and we’ve got to get the roof on, but it’s great to see it again. We can’t wait to occupy it!!

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Oven problems in France

3 Mar

When we planned our move to the Peace Factory, we had anticipated that the gas we would be using would be butane. So we had our new gas cooker converted before we left. Our UK gas man (Colin) tested it, using a bottle of butane from his motorboat.

When we connected the cooker to a gas bottle in Montolieu, all worked well, apart from the igniter on the main oven. It would light the gas and the oven would get hot, but the igniter would not stop clicking. As you might imagine, after thirty minutes of non-stop clicking, one was very nearly ready to junk the joint and eat out! Fortunately there are two ones on this cooker so we used the top one instead.

We looked up the problem on the supplier’s website and the problem appeared to be the flame failure device. If this didn’t correctly detect the flame, it assumed the flame had gone out and kept the igniter going. I would have preferred a device that actually cut off the gas, but there you go! So I purchased a new flame failure device which cost £55, delivered to my VA in Kent. She packed it up and it cost us a further £20 in labour and postage to get it to us.

I fitted it yesterday. Turned on the oven and blow me down, it didn’t cure the fault! So I get back on the Internet and I discovered a posting from someone in France with the same problem. They said the solution was to reverse the polarity on the plug. I had our electrician working in the house at the same time, so he checked out the polarity on the socket. It was correct but we had used a French to UK plug converter and this had swapped the polarity. Polarity is where the red wire on the French system (which is on the right pin when looking at the socket) has to be connected to the live side.

He cut off our UK plug and fitted a French plug. We hooked it up and all worked perfectly. Thanks Graham (the electrician).

I just wished I had found the advice before I spent £75! Anybody want a spare flame failure device for a Cannon cooker?!!

We made it!

25 Jan

We made it to Montolieu. It took 20 hours but we did it. Two cars and a trailer, all fully loaded. 650 miles in one go.

We spent today unloading. We are quite tired so more of this blog later!

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Last day

23 Jan

It’s the last day in our old house in Kent. Tonight, all being well, we will take the ferry from Dover. We will travel in two cars and drive overnight to Montolieu, thus avoiding the need to stop in a hotel and risk losing our possessions!

We will be sad to leave as we’ve had many happy times here. But we are excited by the prospect of new adventures and in living in a foreign country. New challenges like, what is the French for “please trim my beard but leave my hair alone”?!! And other useful phrases!

I’m not sure whether all the boxes we have to transport will fit into two cars and a trailer, but we will found out that later today!

We have let out our house to some nice people and they will move in on Saturday. So far, it has all worked out well!

Nick of time

17 Jan

Looks like we will get back to Kent just before the snow storm hits us. We are now on a ferry from Calais to Dover, having driven 650 miles from Carcassonne today in 12 hours.

My co-driver, once again is inspecting his eyelids. Note the (second) empty pint of Stella!

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Made it

15 Jan

Well we made it. Despite the snow in Kent. We woke at 2:30am to about 2″ of snow. Undeterred we climbed into our van and drive to Dover without little trouble. We crossed in style aboard the newest ferry, eating bacon sarnies in the cafeteria.

We then drove south at a steady 70mph. Apart from a delay around the Paris area, the journey was as smooth as silk. We did 650 miles in 12 hours which is not bad for a fully loaded 3.5 tonne van!

We arrived at The Peace Factory just in time for supper.

My co-driver, alert as ever!

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Weather watching

14 Jan

We are catching the 0420 ferry from Dover tomorrow. We will be in a long wheelbase, high top 3.4 tonne white Iveco Daily van with 2.9 litre diesel engine and six speed gearbox! (Trying to be precise here!)

I’ve been watching the weather with more than my normal interest as Kent Weather (@KentWeather) is predicting snow tomorrow and specifically between 3am and 6am. Would you believe it! But he responded to my question on Twitter and reckons that the snow will extend into Nord-Pas de Calais but will be more along the coastal areas. So assuming we can get to Dover to catch our ferry, we will head straight for Lille and then down the A1 to Paris.

I’ll let you know what happened!

White Van Man (again)

11 Jan

We drove down to Dorset today in the Fiat Tempra Estate car and retuned in a white Fiat Daily van! Bit of a difference!

We will load the office into the van tomorrow, piece by piece as we dismantle it!

New wheels

4 Jan

Yesterday we drove down to Dorset to take delivery of our new car and trailer. Well, new to us as the car is a 20 years old Fiat Tempra Estate with a 1.9 litre Diesel engine. The trailer is in good condition with a loading ramp and four wheels on two axles.

I drove it back in dry but overcast conditions with Trish and Nettles following in the Citroen. It seems to be doing about 50 mpg; not bad for a car that has done nearly a quarter of a million miles! To be honest, we paid £100 oir it, which means the trailer behind it cost six times the price of the car! But now we have the means to transport all manner of stuff when we are in France. We reckon we have more than enough scrap metal at the Peace Factory which we can sell and show a brilliant return on our investment.

I’ll post a photo of the new wheels when I can find enough light for a good shot.