I would celebrate my 100th post, but me and Clare have been a bit unwell.

After a sustained period of feeling strong and invincible, I’ve come over all weak and feeble. (And now, I can’t even blame commuter trains or air-conditioning.)

Needful to say, weakness and feebleness don’t really go with the peasant lifestyle. Animals still need to be fed, water (or hoses) carried. Hay sourced. Electric fencing checked. Et cetera. Then there are all the usual domestic chores that go with Two Small Children.

Thank [insert deity] for Clare, with whom these things are normally shared fifty-fifty. (Yeah, right.)

However, after a spectacularly feel-good Friday, Clare ended up on the floor of the bathroom with a violent gastric something that’s been doing the rounds. Having blacked out just before she got into the bathroom, she also fell over and badly bruised (or possibly broke) a finger.

Which is not something that goes with all the above and making yurt covers (which I can’t help with at all).

So please excuse the lack of posts.

I could write one about the wildlife we see all the time now: huge birds of prey, woodpeckers, deer, mice. Or about our trip to Ikea in Bordeaux on Monday, where I saw more people in one place than I have for over six months. I just haven’t got the energy.

I’ll just sit here until the end of this sentence, then go upstairs and put the Daughter’s new bed together.

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Yesterday, one of our pigs was off his food. Being the bigger of the two (and the one I would definitely call a greedy pig, who wolfs [?] down everything you put in front of him – except spinach), this was a bit of a worry.

On close inspection, Clare discovered quite a serious lice infestation. Which explained some discomfort, but not the shaking. Not to worry too much. He drank some water. He pooed. We left him to sleep it off.

This morning, Clare took some warm milk and bread to cheer him up and the pig was dead. We knew we were going to have to face this kind of thing sooner or later. Turned out to be very soon.

I phoned the people we bought him from to see if there was an infection of some kind and Marlene said all their pigs were OK. On what to do next, her advice tallied with the vet’s: We should dig a deep hole and bury him. (If you’re from the UK, you’ll know that one dead animal can mean half the country being quarantined or a generation of animals being needlessly culled, but as I must have said elsewhere things are different over here.)

Now, I don’t know if the mafia have ever made you dig your own grave and then let you off with a warning, but digging a deep hole is bloody hard work. Even when you’ve got a pretty big hole to start with. It’s only just less hard to fill it in again.

But what could have been a very dark day was lightened by Marlene and Gary’s kind offer to replace the pig. They didn’t need to do this. Chances are, the pig had some kind of congenital heart or lung problem and it was just one of those things. They’ve only lost two pigs in two and a half years and never quite like this. For some reason the pig decided to go to the great sty in the sky.

However, because taking one pig (a brother to the pig/s we have/had) would have left their sister all alone, I went to Campagne this afternoon and picked up two little pigs.

The little family has been reunited to squeals of happiness all round and the two new (to us) pigs are rooting around in probably the first grass they’ve seen on the inside of an electric fence.

Here’s a picture of the pig in happier days:


I’ll leave you with a business idea I had a few years ago that I never developed. It was to be a company offering an alternative burial service for people who thought black was a bit too 20th Century. I can’t remember the name, but the strapline was: “We put the fun back into funerals.”

If you want to do something with it, it’s yours.

INT. HOME – DAY

FRONT DOOR OPENS AND CLARE ENTERS.

SHE: Do you want the good news or the bad news?

ME: The bad news.

SHE: I’ve stabbed myself with a screwdriver and I’ll probably be out of action for a couple of weeks.

ME: And the good news?

SHE: We need to move Pepito immediately. The lower half of his field is flooded. Actually, it’s more like a river.

ME: (GLAD I DIDN’T ASK FOR THE GOOD NEWS FIRST) Lunch is ready in ten minutes.

After looking up some new vocab (thumb muscle, screwdriver, stab, tetanus), and a relatively quick trip to “Urgences” in Bergerac, the river in Pepito’s field has subsided and slowed and we are both looking forward to different types of single-handed work over the next couple of weeks.

Starting with… more fencing.

Bong. The daughter went to a school this week where all the lessons were French. Bong. Boy had a taste of his own medicine. Bong. And we have a new phone number – but no new phone.

One of the reasons for moving here in August was so the daughter could start school at the beginning of term. Which, following days of excitement, happened on Tuesday. It’s a little school in what will be our local village, with ‘loads’ of kids in classes of mixed age-groups, and a big mural on the playground wall. The days are long (9.00 to 4.30), with ‘loads’ of playtimes, and the canteen serves three-course lunches that would make Jamie Oliver weep into his fresh tagliatelle. There are ‘loads and loads’ of other English kids in the school and a day off every Wednesday.

Very civilised. No one should have to work three days in a row.

If you know her, you won’t be surprised that she’s already found a new best friend and she’s already been back to her place on a play date.

Meanwhile, boy got an ear infection. That’s the opinion of a very serious docteur (doctor) we found through the Pages Jaunes (Yellow Pages). After making the pedestrian 50-metre journey for a 27-euro consultation (same-day service – only had to wait an hour), we came away with a prescription for his first every course of antibiotics. Which must taste nice, because he loves it.

Phones, over the last few weeks, have been a bit of a talking point. Before we left Brighton, I switched my contract to a Pay as you Go with 02. After spending an obscene amount of money in a very few days, I phoned up to find I’d been paying 99p a minute to make and receive calls, with equally high costs for texts. And I wasn’t even entered into a Prize Draw! Although the charges have now been reduced, I remain an unhappy customer.

We’ve been in to see France Telecom (who’ve been bought by Orange – and it doesn’t seem long ago since the company was even born), and have seen various deals for phone, Interweb (up to 8Mb!), TV and all that. But in our local Orpi, Sonia came to the rescue and secured a pretty good deal. In the next couple of weeks we’ll be getting phone and Interweb for 30 euros a month, plus unlimited UK calls for an extra seven euros. And no connection fees. Not bad.

And now the weather: We’ve seen highs of 39 degrees (which is pretty bloody high, I can tell you), but mostly it’s been English – cloudy, with some drizzle, or morning mist clearing to give blue skies with temperatures in the low 20s. I said to the guy in the Interweb shop the other day: “It’s not normal for August, is it?” And he said: “What is normal nowadays?”

Tune in later to see how we get on in the search for beautiful furniture for inside and outside the guest yurts, in tomorrow’s markets in Lalinde and Issigeac.