Saturday, December 29, 2012

the end of another year

Another catch up posting after having been in the UK for a while.  I am back at Chalet Lou Rider for the winter again, my fourth season here and the place that I have spent the most time during my last four years on the road.

Christmas flew by in a blur of meal preparations, serving drinks, washing up and helping the new team get acclimatised to their new environment.  We are now in a slight lull before the excitement of New Year celebrations kick off, I have time and I am in the mood to write.

Where had I got to?

Matty and I returned to the Dordogne, to Matt and Wendy’s for a couple of weeks for a promised introduction into willow weaving as a thank you for the efforts we put in back during the summer.  Ben, one of the summer team joined us too, it all felt very easy and a bit like coming home.  We laughed, ate and drank as well as we had in the summer, enjoyed gite accommodation (indoors), got to see our roundhouse creation again which looked more amazing than before, and became part of the family for a second time. 

Hurdle making in progress

The finished article

We coppiced various varieties of willow, learned the basics of hurdle making and started a long curving in situ fence for one of their future projects.  Due to a prebooked flight I left before it was finished, but have seen the finished result, it looks amazing,  missed to salmon trap and fan lessons, but with a decent book, can’t imagine that it is hugely difficult to master in the future.

freshly cut willow varieties, with in started situ fence behind

progress with the curved in situ fence

I flew back to the UK at the end of November, in time to celebrate Mum’s birthday, make flying visits to some of my favourite friends and catch up with news and goings on.  It is always great to spend a decent amount of time with folk and share some love where I can.  Work on allotments, choosing Christmas Trees, reading books and playing with children, cooking meals and turning compost, walking dogs and shopping.  It’s all good fun and contributes to making life run smoothly.

My brother was home for a week too, so we got to spend a day together and almost has a whole family Christmas meal, unfortunately not everyone was able to make it.  He, however is much happier than when I visited him in Portugal and his house project is coming on leaps and bounds.  The track is finished, the house reroofed, has a new floor inside and a temporary wood-burning stove, he and his partner moved in on Christmas eve after several months in a caravan. I am so glad that they have somewhere warm and cosy to spend the rest of the winter. 

Windy's new roof

The land that I am looking for has been somewhat elusive this last year so I decided that another winter season at the chalet would allow me to pass the worst of the winter somewhere enjoyable, warm and in a location that might allow me to visit land possibilities should they arise, continue to improve my french and learn further kitchen skills from our great chef Mark.  I arrived by Eurostar again, by far the most comfortable way to travel with extra luggage, complete with hundreds of tea bags and other english supplies, straight into a busy chalet.  

Chalet Lou Rider
My quiet morning is disappearing fast, with reservations coming in for lunchtime, new guests arriving and an extra ten eating tonight.  I’ll be needed in the kitchen soon to lend a hand and keep things running smoothly so I’d better upload this whilst I have time.  Wish you all a Very Happy New Year and hope that the coming year is a good one for you all.