Life in a barn

In the previous post I did a show and tell on our Loire home from which it was time a couple of years ago to move on and exchange the Loire valley for the Dordogne valley.

All those who have done some restoration on a house will know the toll it can take on mind and body. Repainting a wall is easy, restoring a whole house by lifting beams, removing floors, adding windows and doors…not easy. But the satisfaction on completing a difficult task  is enoug inspiration to continue. In the meantime, while knackering away at the restoration of the old stone farmhouse, we needed to sleep, eat and bathe, probably in that order. We are lucky in that we have several barns on the farm and so one of them became our home for the next 7 years. At first it was only during summer holidays and 2years later it became permanent home.

Living in the barn 2016-024

In between working on the house, we equipped the barn for easier living. A stove, a kitchen sink, cooking tools,  table…we are a family who love our food.. what is a space without some bling? A chandelier or two were hung from the make-do insulated “ceiling”. A wood burning stove provided heat in winters. We had an elegant shower made from an old tin tub we found in the barn and we used an old wagon wheel rim for the shower curtain. From an old wooden ladder we constructed a frame for a bathroom sink , also found in the old house.And yes, running hot water! We even had a bit of privacy by constructing a screen from two wooden doors from the old house., hiding a little dressing room behind it. Madame Pompadour in stylish attire,  kept guard by the bathroom/shower/dressing room.

Living in the barn 2016

Below is a view on the dressing room behind the two doors, forming the screen for privacy..Living in the barn 2016-004

Unfortunately  la toilette stayed outside, a good 200 meters away, which is fine on good days, but got a little complicated on cold and wet wintry days. Today, 7 years later, we can recall some funny stories around our outside toilette which by the way, was brought up to modern standards without the wasps and stacks of newspaper.

Our very first night in the barn in 2008…just a sweep with a broom, a bed for us and our girls and a dinner by candlelight.

However many little luxuries we had in the barn, life was  basic and challenging and we lived with the minimum to which we adapted fairly easily. Today I am convinced more than ever that the human race is spoiled and we live in luxury far beyond necessity. I can honestly say we didn’t miss television for those first years, we ate great food on only a wood burning stove/coal stove. We bought fresh produce every day in small quantities for years until we got a fridge a few years later. We washed dishes by hand in a tin bowl for many of those 7 years.  I soaked our washing every night, rinsed the next day and hung out on the clothes line…I honestly admit though; that was a backbreaking task and far from  adventurous! .

The first few years were bare and adventurous. The barn with its high roof was open and windy with the normal inhabitants you find in old stone walls and we shared the barn with an owl family, who lived there long before us and they weren’t eager to give up their loft for a few humans.

Our barn home in its early years: Drapes of old linens found at brocantes to hide the back part of the barn. A couch or two, cooking corner and always wild flowers. I loved those first years!

The beginning of barn life.. view on the shower corner-20

Of course, at some point,true to human nature, we, or shall I admit…I  longed for more comfort.. So the barn started filling up up with cabinets and armoires and commodes and all my art stuff, brought over from the Loire home. I got tired of living out of a suitcase so the dressing room was invented. We started inviting some friends over, so we needed more than 4 cups and plates.

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My art corner took up almost half of the barn, which I enjoyed..living and sleeping and working all in one spot. This concept is carried over into our house we are restoring.

 

Windows and doors got dressed up a little…our souls do need to see some beauty around us..?

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Living in the barn 2016-013

Living in the barn 2016-010

These 7 years  we had a barn for a home is one of the most precious periods of my life and an experience that I will never forget. It is a book full of stories, one that I might write someday, even if only for my family who can relate and will remember all these tales.Living in the barn 2016-007Living in the barn 2016-005

To be continued….

Until next time

Ronelle

Noël at Coin Perdu.

This December was busy. It was filled with sadness of saying goodbye to loved ones. But happiness made its appearance too, as life always tosses a coin with two sides.

As always, I love Christmas. This was out first year alone without the children, but it was just as much fun. I love Christmas and this year was no different, in spite of us being without out children. We prepared as if we were about to receive the whole world at out house. Of course our door stayed open to whomever wanted to enter.We made it warm and welcoming with our yearly Christmas tree, many candles to light for those we love and those we  share the world with. And we gave special attention to our Christmas meals, preparing what we love and sat at our candle lit tables with so much gratitude in our hearts for all we receive in such abundance, especially the love.

33 years-002

We drove around to all the marchés de Noël and the fêtes de chataigne, the apple festival, the  brocantes de Noël. We had coffee and croissants at our special places, we had a fantastic meal for our 33rd anniversary. We went for an apéro on horseback and stayed so late that we rode back in the dark, trusting the horses to find the road. We started a new tradition: handing a little cadeau de noël to our neighbours down the road. We cried crocodile tears listening to sad music while we remember, just because that’s what we do on Noël…in short, we had so much fun and laughter..I felt like a  teenage girl with jumping emotions! Life was good to us this December.

Noël at coin Perdu

Noel 2015

December 2015

Christmas eve in white.

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Scallops with parsnips and parsley sauce.

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Lobster with beurre blanc and black truffle risotto.

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Pavlova with mint cream and caramelized clementines.

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Christmas evening was our winter forest.

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My faves at the borcante de Noël.

Gramat et brocante (1)Gramat et brocante (2)

GramatChristmas lights in the alleys of Gramat.

Gramat et brocante (3)

Marché de Noël at Meyssac

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Leftover dessert is always a good thing.

pavlova aux clementines-003

Enjoy the arrival of 2016.

à bientôt

Ronell

coq.NEF

June/July at Coin Perdu.

June and July went by so quickly, I am still wondering where I was..I fell and broke my leg 2 weeks ago, so my moving about is somewhat restricted, especially here in the barn and on the rugged terrain of Coin Perdu. The crutches drive me nuts, but they are my best friends at the moment. At least my biceps are now something to look at. I’m not doing a lot of cooking, if any and it is only the most easiest of cooking – a handful of tomatoes from the potager on the plate with the salt and pepper pots beside it. A bowl of peaches. Half a chicken done by mon chéri on the barbecue. A tub of ice cream. A slab of Lindt fleur de sel chocolate.Lots of water to prevent the leg from swelling. More chocolate and ice cream. Macarons. Don’t you think I am a good girl for eating so healthy?

broken leg

WARNING: This is a fairly long post! I am also adding my Facebook page if you would like to follow and my instagram account as well as Lindiwe, our german shepherddog’s account.

In the meantime, the garden is running out from under my hands. Our summer has been very hot up to now and very dry and the garden is showing signs of fatigue without water and my loving care. It is big holiday time and France has come to its summer standstill. No one is available for helping in the garden. But it was nonetheless so beautiful before the drought took over and I thought I’d share it with you, since I can’t really show you my plate of tomatoes with salt and pepper or half a chicken on my plate…even though it was as goo..ood!

June/July 2015 it started off lush and green in May, everything was flowering beautifully, newly planted lavenders santolinas…

Garden in May-001

..even when the pool was being built, it looked…OK

building pool

summer 2015 new pool

iceberg roses, feverfew,, salvia nemerosas to name but a few

Garden JUNE 2015-003 Iceberg roses lavandes grosso rosier suneva Salvia nemorosa

On the terrace with Partia, purple oxalys, herbs..

Pratia angulata(blue star creeper) purple oxalis sage

..My beloved olde world flower, the hollyhocks, a lost sunflower that sprouted from the birds’ winterseeds and even dried roses..

hollyhocks

dried white rose one sunflower

 

..new additions to the family are the two babygees, who mon chéri calls Hansie & Grietjie, some cute chicks and Lindiwe, our german sheperd dog, who has her own instagram account, should you be interested in following!

hansie & grietjie

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Lindiwe in pool

And of course hours spent around the table..our favorite pastime, you could say.

summer 2015-003 summer 2015-004 summer 2015-006 Summer July weekend Summer July weekend-001 Summer July weekend-002 Summer July weekend-008 summer lunch

à bientôt

Ronelle

 

“Un oeuf cocotte” for Easter.

Easter is coming up pretty fast and everybody is munching on Easter chocolate. So are we. But one can’t live on chocolate alone. An egg every now and then will help. An “oeuf cocotte”. It is easy to make with many variations to suit each taste an ddesire.

Pacques Avril 2015-004 La recette:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. (39°F, gas 6)
  2. Butter 4 ramekins(with volume of 125 ml or 1/2 cup) liberally with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place some shredded spinach on the bottom.
  3. Spoon 1 heaped TBS of créme fraîche onto the spinach and spread it evenly over the spinach.
  4. Break open 1 egg into a little bowl and and slide onto the créme fraîche in each ramekin without breaking the egg yolk.
  5. Drizzle a little cream over the egg yolk to protect it during cooking.
  6. Place in a deep ovenproof dish, fill with boiling water up to half the height of the ramekins and bake at 200°C for 9 minutes for a runny yolk. The egg white should just be coagulated and don’t worry if there is still a little transparent egg white left…while standing the eggs will still continue cooking a bit.
  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper, some  fried bacon pieces and chopped chives. Serve immediately with toasted  bread fingers to dip into the eggs.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use any nice containers for the eggs as long as they are ovenproof. Glass looks especially nice with the layers of egg and cream showing through the sides.
  • Place bacon pieces or asparagus tips, frozen creamed spinach, mushrooms, strips of ham… and place at the bottom before filled with créme fraîche. the list is endless.
  • Use small brioche buns instead of ramekins and steady them in muffin pans, fill with eggs and bake…especially popular with children.
  • Infuse cream with saffron, or other spices/herbs of your choice, bring cream to a boil and simmer a few minutes to reduce and use instead of créme fraîche.

Pacques 2015

Pacques Avril 2015-003

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I am not one for a lot of  Easter decoration. But I love having spring flowers in my house and the chickns provide me with a moutain of eggs, which I use simply in bowls to add an Easter flavor.

..Eggs from the poulaillier, rosemary and terracotta in which the eggs end up when stolen from the poullaillier…a winning combination for me..

Pacques Avril 2015

..For a little playfulness – an empty egg carton filled with shredded wooden strips colour green, the egg shells used for the recipe filled with water and holding spring flowers and herbs, some eggs and tiny quail eggs..

Pacques Avril 2015-001

..tulips in hotelsilver, my ink drawing book, a feather pen, feathers from the poullaillier and …some eggs!..

Pacques Avril 2015-002   ..last, but not least..Lindt Easter chocolates, Raffaello and Ferrerro Rocher..Pacques Avril 2015-005