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Barn Living Update and Summer Steals The Show With Her Damson Jam!!!

Well, it has been a while, so I thought it time to bring you up to date on things!

As you will know from my last post, we have decided to stick it out in the barn and brave the winter! the main reason for this is money, which is much needed right now - especially with it being end of year bill time in France - tax fonciére and tax d'habitation being the two biggest critters, but being amongst many others, we need to do what we can to earn and keep our heads above the water, which is a little choppy right now! :o/

We will be fine - we have ideas up our sleeves and have been here before. Where there is a will, there is a way and I am learning not to panic, although still have my moments!! ;o)

The other reason for wanting to stay in the barn is not wanting to have to move ALL our belongings once again! It is a big task that we have done twice a year since moving here and could do without. We still have unpacked boxes here, really through lack of time available to unpack them all, but we tend to find things when we need them and have all the bits out which we use on a regular basis, so it is working well. It is much easier to keep our belongings separate to that of the gite. We could do with some more storage, but again it is time and money to be able to buy it and it is not really priority right now.

We have been living rather comfortably here, but the temperature is now starting to drop, so we need to get the place ready to deal with the colder weather to come ASAP.

With funds running low, I have had to run through our accounts thoroughly and have hopefully managed to allocate just enough funds to deal with the bills, leaving a little money aside to gamble on snapping some furniture up over here to sell on and hopefully make a profit in UK. We are needing to make 2 visits to UK before the end of the year - once at the end of October to have both of our car MOTs done (our cars are still registered in UK), which is another expense to think about, and again in December to spend Christmas with the family (we alternate Christmas between England and France each year and it is England's turn to have us this year!).

So, I have been here, there and everywhere this week picking up furniture which I hope will raise enough money to fund the journey to UK and the MOT costs. I hope to do the same again to fund the Christmas UK trip.

Another thing we have had to put money aside for was wood burners for the barn. We allowed €650 for 2x 10kw burners, which is what we will need to heat the huge space which is the barn. We managed to source 2s beautiful second hand burners, one with pipes provided, but we did not allow for the costs of the extra piping needed, or the cost to make the chimney on the roof and make the hole fire retardant so the roof doesn't catch on fire!! Another second hand mission for me to try and pick up a bargain on!

Scott has been busy finishing some designs for a client, so the wood burners have just been sitting there looking pretty for now! We are hoping to have at least one up and running by the end of next week.

We have had some interest for long term lets since advertising, so fingers crossed something will happen there soon!

We are going to have to be very careful with our spending on shopping etc, so we are trying to eat cleverly - using anything we can from my very poorly managed potager, which I have to say with not much maintenance has produced quite well this year with tomatoes still coming and I am looking forward to those parsnip soups!! mmmmm!! :o)

It is a good thing to hold back from going shopping from time to time and actually use the cupboard food which gets bought with good intentions, only to be left on the shelf unhappily waiting whilst whilst watching the new foods coming straight in, being pulled out of the shopping bags and consumed within a week, every week! So, time to re-discover those foods and get more creative! It actually really makes you think about what you eat and helps to balance the diet a little more, as you will probably find it is the healthy things like beans and pulses which are getting left!

We have created a family 5 a day chart which we complete every day, which is great for getting kids more interested in what they are eating and more switched on to certain fruit and veg they might not have been into before - is all about the competition for Summer!

We are very lucky to have many fruit trees in the garden, which have been very cleverly planted, meaning we have fruit in the garden at most points during the year. We have delicious pears which we have been picking since the end of July and are just finishing their fruiting. We have picked the last batch and have ideas for making certain things with them, which we will reveal at a later date, but they have proved to be great in a crumble along with some rhubarb and blackberries from the garden in a crumble!!! Yum yum!! :op I discovered a mirabelle tree on the driveway which I did not even know was there until I cut the very overgrown hedges back, so we will be making some jam with those. Although extremely yummy when picked, they do not keep very long and we have quite a few that we do not wish to waste!

And, as you know from watching the video above, our celebrity cook daughter has helped me to pick some damsons and has demonstrated how to make delicious damson jam! Well done Summer - very impressive! :o)

And another thing I forgot to show you in the rush towards the summer was the new look barn, so here it is!

We think Tiny Tim is smiling now! :o)

Hope you like it too!

Until next time! (hopefully with lovely photos of a crackling fire in a cozy warm barn!!!)


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