What happened to June?!

I can’t believe that I have not written since May! It only seems like 5 minutes ago!

June passed by in a haze of numerous, lovely guests and busy times with the animals and hens…..some of whom are clearly planning a takeover!

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I am so pleased with the way the Chambre d’Hôtes is going and it seems the guests like what I’ve done here, as I have a score from booking.com of 9.6/10 calculated from the 9 reviews I have received so far! Woohoo! I have also had people come back to stay a second time so, whilst they didn’t review me online, they must have been happy 😀.

Lessons learned from the short time the Chambre d’Hôtes has been open? NEVER be lulled into a false sense of security in thinking that you have no guests for a particular room for that night! The feeling of intense panic that you get when your phone goes ‘Ping!’ indicating a new email, which says ‘You have a last minute booking from booking.com’ is one of the worst feelings in the world! This is only surpassed when you discover that said ‘last minute booking’ plans to arrive in half an hour and the bed is still unmade and the towels are in the drier! To say it ages you would be an understatement!

Another lesson? Take the guests’ expected time of arrival with a pinch of salt and always expect the unexpected! I was ironing some bedlinen one afternoon wearing pyjamas, as I have discovered that this really is the coolest way to do it. To those of you who know me well, the fact that I was wearing pyjamas at a random time of day will not come as a huge surprise! However, when it’s nearly 30 degrees outside, it really is the only way. It was during this ironing process that my guests arrived….2.5 hours early! I’m not sure who was more alarmed….them for the sight of said pyjamas or me for the sight of them! After explanation, they seemed to think it was a good idea and they gave me a 10/10 score online after their departure, although I’m not sure if that was for the accommodation or entertainment!

So all is well and I am getting ready for a very busy couple of months and, in fact, an impending week of sleep deprivation this week, as one lot of guests wants to leave at 04.45hours after coffee and retrieving their lorry from my barn and the following morning my guests want breakfast at 06.30!! Ho hum!

As for the critters outside……their characters and attitudes seem to be getting stronger each day! Little Chap – the pony – continues to think that he can graze wherever he wishes but is much better since being in a field with his mate Sage – the ram or wether, as he now is 😱😪! However, as the song says, ‘there may be trouble ahead’ as, despite a small portion of the field being fenced off for the ponies, they are going to have to go back to their original field, as the grass where they are is far too rich for ponies prone to laminitis. I’m taking bets as to how long it will be before Little Chap breaks through the electric fencing after the move!

Sage continue to be a character but does seem a little more subdued since he was sheared. It’s like the character in the Bible who lost his strength after his hair was cut! Somehow he is not quite Sage without his fleece.

Before…..

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And half an hour later……

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I think the face says it all! Bev and Graham Osment be afraid! Be very afraid as revenge will be his one day!! 😂

We’ve also been making plans for the future here at La Petite Ferme and the decision  has been made to become self-sufficient! It seems a ridiculous thing to have 8 hectares of land and still go Le Clerc to buy fruit, veg and – dare I say it? – meat. So now that the Chambre d’Hôtes is up and running, there will be time in the future to concentrate on this aspect of life here. For some vegetables, I am too late for sowing seeds this year, so I will have to start in earnest with a schedule of sowing next year. However I did plant some butternut squash seeds….20 of them to be exact, as I wasn’t sure on the germination rate of such seeds. Seems it’s quite good and I now have 20 butternut squash plants, of which each will produce about 5 – 6 squash!! That’s a hell of a lot of butternut squashes! Good job I like them….at the moment!

We’ve also been planning some themed weekends, which will take place here at the Chambre d’Hôtes in the autumn. At the moment, the confirmed weekends are:

16th and 17th September….’De pierre, de bois et d’ors…..discovering the hidden treasures of Brittany’, to be lead by Lucette Grall.

30th September and 1st October….. ‘An introduction to spinning’, to be lead by Sara Snell and ‘A workshop on Felting’, to be lead by Kate Smith, although this session is to be confirmed. Details of Kate’s work can be found on her website katesmithfeltmaker.yolasite.com

14th and 15th October …..’A Watercolour Weekend’ to be lead by Elizabeth Tomkins. Details of Elizabeth’s work, gallery exhibitions etc can be found on her website artinbrittany.com

Another weekend of ‘Working with Nature’ is yet to be finalised but this will include a day of learning about hedgerow foraging and plants safe for use in cooking or medicinally. The second day will be held in conjunction with ‘Lisa’s Workshop’ and will be a day of bramble and willow weaving.

Accommodation will be available at the Chambre d’Hôtes for those who wish to treat themselves to a weekend away or, for those living more locally, you are more than welcome to join us for a day. However, the ‘Watercolour Weekend’ is very much a progression over the 2 days and attendance is advised on both days.

Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment!!

Well, I think that’s all our news. I am aware that I need to do something about preparing food for myself and, judging by the way the hounds are glaring at me, for the dogs!

Have a great summer and chat again when things have quietened down a little here!

Bonne soirée!

 

Delinquent teenagers!

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There is an obvious problem with this photo (apart from the quality of the all action shot!) …….Little Chap is on one side of the fence whilst Mimi is on the other! Unbelievable! Seemingly he felt ‘the grass was greener on the other side’, so that was it….he was off! I love the way that the angelic Mimi is looking on in a ‘oh, you are going to be in such trouble for mowing the fence down’ kind of way! At least this time he did have the decency to stay within the outer field boundaries, as opposed to heading off to the Le Ster l’Aer nightclub as he did before, taking Mimi and the sheep with him! So yesterday afternoon was spent repairing fences, although seemingly Little Chap’s Saturday night entertainment was to break through the fence that I had repaired and I was greeted this morning by a smug looking Little Chap, whose face clearly said, ‘You’ll have to do better than that! No trouble!’ So the ponies are now in the other field and tomorrow’s task is moving and repairing fences…..again!!

As for the other delinquent teenager, I am, of course, referring to Sage the ram. Sadly I had to ask the vet to call yesterday, as his eye (Sage’s not the vet’s!) was closed and weeping again. He thinks that either Sage has been sticking his head into places it shouldn’t be and something has got into his eye, causing an ulcer, or he has an infection for whatever reason. So an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory injection later and hopefully things should start to improve for the poor boy. It does mean though that the arrival of Laurel and Hardy (the kids) has had to be delayed, as it would be irresponsible to bring baby animals into a field where there is a potentially contagious infection. The vet agreed as he went sniffling off to his van with the announcement that he thought he had ‘influenza’. By the time the vet had finished, I don’t know who I felt more sorry for….Sage or the vet!! Bless them!

Gandalf and his wives have settled in very well and are doing a great job as lawnmowers! Since their arrival, they have lost the down on their heads and have begun to honk, in true geese style! A friend who visited during the week said that they had grown during the couple of days of her visit! As have the chicks, who are now free ranging nicely and are having a whale of a time. Seems I have a nice distribution of 6 hens and 5 cockerels, although that might change as my broody hen as still broody, despite the eggs she was sitting on not hatching…..poor girl. So one of my jobs this week is to go to Guidel to fetch a couple of day old chicks to pop under her after dark. Hopefully she will think that the artificial eggs that she is sitting on have miraculously hatched and all will be well! If not, under the heat lamp they go and I will have to put some more hatching eggs under her as a last resort. This is not a girl to give up her mission! Not bad for a breed that is never supposed to go broody!

So, a busy  week on the outside creature front and a house full for most of the week too……fantastic! More lovely guests this week – this time from Marseille – and a really good friend of mine also visited.

The week culminated on Friday afternoon with a very successful Book Fair at the library in Guiscriff. Corinne, the lovely librarian, had organised an ‘English Week’ at the library, on the understanding that I went along on Friday afternoon with the Usborne Children’s books. This I did – armed with scones made in the morning, as instructed! – and it was a lovely event. Both Corinne and I were so pleased that we are planning something similar for the time leading up to Christmas.

Also taking shape in my mind is the idea of a craft/outdoor activity break in the autumn, when the Chambre d’Hôtes is a little quieter. This would be a 2 or 3 day event with people staying at the Chambre d’Hôtes, whilst also being open to people in this area for the daytime activities. If anybody has any thoughts on this, please feel free to let me know what you think.

Well, I think that’s all news from here. Best I go and sort out the outside critters and then, as is my wont these days, do some ironing of bed sheets!!

Bonne soirée!

 

 

 

 

New arrivals!

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Gandalf and his wives have arrived…… who is who is unclear at the moment!

I say ‘they have arrived’ in a very blasé manner but the trip to get them was not without event! Thank you to Ed and Ann Thurstan, who came to rescue me from the side of the road this morning when I was completely lost…..I really wish my sense of direction was better! Actually, I say better….what I mean is that I wish it existed at all. How I used to drive from the UK to Albania and Italy is a mystery to me!

Anyway, having been rescued and having loaded the goslings into the car, we set off to go home on one of the more aromatic journeys that I’ve had recently. This type of journey should not be undertaken if you have a weak stomach or are particularly sensitive to odours! Suffice it to say that all the car doors and windows are currently open…..poor Bertie Berlingo! Goats for him next week too!

Anyway we made it home without taking major detours around Finistère or Morbihan and the goslings are now enjoying dandelion heaven, much to the absolute fascination of the ponies and sheep.

Well, I really don’t think I can drag this cup of tea out any more……time to face the electric fence tape! I need to move the ponies back to their former field where there is less grass. Mimi has gained a few extra pounds in weight, so needs to go on a diet….bless her. I know how she feels!

Bonne journée.

Liz.

 

We’re open!!

Well…..where has the time gone?!!

La Petite Ferme Chambre d’Hôtes opened its doors to receive guests at Easter as planned!!

Since then, the bookings have been coming in a steady stream and we have had some lovely guests come to stay. We’ve also been getting some great reviews with 10/10 given on all aspects of the Chambre d’Hôtes by one group of guests! Our average review score is 9.8/10 on one booking website…..so far so good!

Life outside with the animals has been a little busy too! We had huge success with the chicks hatching in the incubator just before the Chambre d’Hôtes opened…..17 out of 18 eggs hatched! Sadly a couple of the chicks didn’t make it and some were sold when they were a day old, leaving 11 chicks, who are now absolute bruisers and are going to move in to the big hens’ accommodation at the weekend. They will be joined by 5 Cream Legbar chicks – I love this breed! The demand for eggs is high so extra reinforcements were required!

Also joining us tomorrow are 3 goslings….Gandalf and his 2 wives – and, next week, Laurel and Hardy – 2 kids (of the goat variety!) – are coming to live with us. I think Laurel and Hardy will be great playmates for Sage, my ram, who continues to be very naughty! I hope he doesn’t lead them into bad ways!

So lots of babies around, who, I’m sure, will all contribute something special to life at La Petite Ferme. So all is well…..if not a tad busy!

Laurel and Hardy with their mum, who is also coming to spend her holidays with us for a couple of weeks.

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Partnerships!

As you can see from the menu for the website, there is now a tab for ‘Partners’. This is because since last writing, La Petite Ferme Chambre d’Hotes has become the proud partner of Currencies Direct. Please click on the link on the side bar of the website to find contact details of how to access great currency and mortgage advice. By visiting the ‘Partners’ tab, you will find a link to the Currencies Direct conversion calculator to keep up to date with currency trends.

More good news today is that we are also now a partner of the Tourist Board for the Département of Morbihan! So you will soon be able to find us at http://www.tourismepaysroimorvan.com!

It’s all good! 😄👌

Incroyable!

Someone has just told me that it is a requirement in France that the pressure of car tyres be checked once a month! Seemingly you will be fined if the Gendarmes find your tyres underflated. Can this be true?! Best get myself to the garage after lunch!

Feeling perplexed….😱🤔😳

Spring!

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I can’t believe that it was 2 weeks ago since last I posted! Time flies and I apologise for my absence. So what have been doing to keep me away? Too many things!!

It started off with a trip to the UK for various things. I have mixed thoughts about going back to the UK. First, it is always nice to catch up with people and see friends and relatives but then, why is everyone always in such a rush? My visit this time was based in London – a city that I lived and worked in for many years and where good friends still live. I can well understand that people are working and they may be late for an appointment or some such thing, but surely an entire city can’t be late for something?! Perhaps, like me, the people who aren’t in a rush are afraid of being mown down by those who are and, therefore, they increase their pace. I always start off in ‘laid back’ mode but after a day or two, I am as frantic as the next person! I guess it’s a matter of survival!

I am a big fan of the books by James Herriot – the vet who worked in the Yorkshire Dales. In one of his books, he was called up for military service during the Second World War. He was telling a farmer that he had to go to one of the big towns for his training, to which the farmer replied that he didn’t like going to towns. The reason for this dislike being that you ‘can’t walk anywhere’ due to the number of people who are trying to walk in the same direction as you, meaning, as he put it, that ‘you have to take big steps and little ‘uns the whole time’! I think I know what that farmer meant!

So having done what was needed in London, including a trip to Marks and Spencer and Sainsburys, and having picked up my pace a few levels for reasons of survival, I returned to beautiful Brittany, where one is able to walk unimpeded ……generally!

However since my return, I have had to pick up my pace a few notches, not when walking you understand, but generally. I am suddenly very aware that Easter is only just around the corner and, whilst there is manageable  amount of decorating/work to complete on the house, it will not seem 5 minutes until my first guests are knocking on the door on Good Friday…not that such a thing exists in France. I am very lucky in that the bookings for La Petite Ferme Chambre d’Hôtes seem to be coming in very regularly and we are booked out on a few occasions – the whole of  Easter being the first of those. So the paintbrushes and rollers have been used and abused since my return and now the light is definitely on at the end of the tunnel. The entire house, apart from the downstairs bathroom and toilet (obviously the one I use!) has been decorated; a completely new upstairs bathroom fitted and new flooring throughout upstairs laid and all done since the end of January! All the dark tongue and groove wood used for the ceilings has been repainted magnolia and the light, that has been created in the house by doing so, is incredible. Watch this space for the announcement and pictures when all the work is finally complete and the rooms have been created to look their best.

As for outside, well the picture above says it all…..spring is definitely upon us! There are great swathes of primroses, violets and celandines, all of which have become naturalised under trees and down the side of the little lane that leads to my barns. Absolutely beautiful!

Spring is, of course, a time for baby animals and birds and La Petite Ferme is no exception. At the beginning of May we are to be joined by 2 kids – of the baby goat variety! – who are called Laurel and Hardy and these little sweeties joined us this weekend……

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How sweet are they and totally home produced from my cockerel, Cyril, and his wives!

Well it’s lovely to chat but I can feel jobs outside coming upon me. I have the lovely task of cleaning out the house of theMummy and Daddy chooks and the ponies to brush and lotion and potion, as they are prone to sweet itch.

I hope to post photos during the next couple of days of the completed rooms upstairs….so watch this space!

Bonne soirée!

Exciting developments!

Well, what a week! I am suddenly aware that I haven’t written for a few days….very remiss of me. However, this evening the ponies have been fed and attended to; the sheep have had their hay topped up and I won Sage the ram’s game!; the chickens have been fed and put to bed; the dogs and cats have been fed; my dinner is in the oven and I have ironing to do, so it seemed the perfect time to rattle out some news!

Thankfully my only bit of storm damage….the demise of my willow tree….was sorted out earlier in the week. It is now about 1 metre tall and looking very sorrow for itself, after the magnificent being it was previously. However, I have been reliably informed that it will send up shoots and eventually get back to its former glory…..although I may be needing a Zimmer frame to go and see it by then! The only good news about its demise is that I now have a plentiful supply of wood for the wood burner for winter 2018. So all is not lost!

Whilst the front garden may not have the willow anymore, the camellia has certainly enjoyed the warm, sunny weather this week and is looking stunning!

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Absolutely beautiful…although in for a shock when it’s finished flowering as, being about 6 metres tall, it’s due for a haircut!

Other good news……I am now registered to attend the AIKB Easter Fair in Gouarec and the Breizh British Weekend in Josselin in June. I shall be going with one of my other ‘hats’ on, in my role as Independent Organiser for Usborne Books and I’m really excited about both events. The organisation for both events is very thorough but I marginally think that the organisers for the Josselin event win it! It is safe to say that, with the exception of my closest friends, the organisers of the Breizh British Weekend now know more about me than anyone else! Having found and photocopied documents pertaining to my business registration that I didn’t even know I had and having completed several forms, it is a morning of my life that I will never get back but it does mean that I will be able to attend a great weekend event, in a town that I really like so it was worth the effort. Must remember to take out public liability insurance nearer the time….note to self! Please come by and say hello if you’re at either or both events.

As for the preparation work for the Chambre d’Hôtes, it is moving ahead apace. Work on the 2 bedrooms is complete apart from titivating and the rooms are looking great! Watch this space for photos once titivating is finished!

Some good friends of mine, who have a holiday cottage here in Guiscriff, very kindly said that they would bring anything that I needed from the UK when they come over at the beginning of April. I think they may now be regretting that! 20 litres of paint, a litre of PVA, a stair guard and 2 single mattresses later, I think that enough is enough!! Bless them! You will be pleased to hear that the mattresses come vacuum packed and hence are the size of small duvets! I must remember to stand back when that vacuum is broken and the mattresses spring into a life of their own, once freedom is discovered, smacking you around the face if you happen to be standing too close! That aside, it is incredibly kind of my friends to do this for me and I think I owe them dinner when they are over.

So with the work upstairs so tantalisingly close to coming to an end, it is time to start thinking about the overhaul for downstairs. The royal blue, high sheen wall paint in the new double bedroom upstairs took 5 coats of emulsion to cover it! I have learned from this nightmare and the general consensus, as to the best way to cover the mustard and terracotta wall paint downstairs, is lining paper! I really think it’s the best way as the area here is much bigger and would take forever to just paint; I would lose the will to go on and an emergency SOS for more paint would have to be sent out! In retrospect, this would have been the way forward for the royal blue but hindsight is a great thing and you live and learn!

I have to nip to the UK for a couple of days at the beginning of next week and the lady who is house and pet sitting for me has said that she will hang the lining paper whilst I’m gone. So I will get home and not recognise the place! I am so lucky to have such amazing friends. Definitely party time when everything is finished and to say thank you to everyone involved in this joint venture, as it has become.

Well the hour is marching on and I think it is time to call it a day for today…..I ate dinner somewhere between Josselin and the royal blue paint!

Have a lovely weekend and chat soon!

 

It must be love!

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If only all people took care of each other like Alice and Felix do. Although Alice finds that Felix’s long fur can be a challenge! Just to reassure….that’s my bed and not one of the Chambre d’Hôtes beds!

Day 2 of the new eggs in the incubator and all is well. 21 days can seem such a long time!