A la fermette
For the third day in a row we awoke to birdsong – this time a nightingale! Truly wonderful. We had heard it late at night for the first time when we brought the car over in April. June is a bit late for them to be singing though and it stopped after a day or two. They sing during the day as well in case you were wondering.
This time we awoke in a bed in a room. The fermette is a 200 year old farm worker’s cottage built from stone with amazing wooden beams. Maybe it was a small holder’s cottage as it has a barn and a stable attached. The top of the house used to be a hayloft meaning the living accommodation was just the two long narrow rooms below. These are now one big room and the former hayloft is a landing and bedroom. Knocking through to the adjacent stable there is a toilet and bathroom and, now, we have a second en suite bedroom on that side as well. It is a small house which nonetheless has two staircases – a complicated arrangement due to improvements made at different stages by the former owners and then us over the past thirty or so years. I am sure you can discern all this from the photo!
Old farm houses tend to be a bit musty when left unoccupied for weeks on end. The 55cm thick walls keep it cool in the summer, when the temperature can climb up to 40 degrees, but also mean that letting in a bit of heat and damp air causes quite a lot of condensation. Apparently when it has been wet this is especially so! It felt a bit dampish and the tiled floors became slick with condensation. Being upstairs and with wooden floors, the bedrooms are OK though. We need a fire to dry the room out and keep us warm in the evenings. In the following few days the sun comes scorching out and the daytime temperature soars airing the rooms nicely- but the temperature plummets again in the evening.
The main room and the spare bedroom above it – now in use as an office!
So we enjoy the next few hot days gardening, riding our bikes a tentative bit on the lanes, and getting sorted out before the weather changes for cold and wet again. Then we just sit it out – no hurry to get anywhere, plenty to do on the fermette. We see from the weather forecasts (yes, we have a satellite dish that gives us the BBC and most other british TV and radio) that the UK is having even worse weather than we are. No real consolation in that though.
My cycling improves in short outings in the late afternoons. I used to be fearless but now all I see is grit and stones whizzing by at five miles an hour (!) waiting to scrape the skin off my arms and legs. My legs are truly feeble when it comes to the slightest slope – they strengthen noticeably over just a few days though! Maybe my technique improves too.
I take the plunge and get the really short haircut I have been contemplating since planning the travels. This is not for noble reasons, like Ju, (nor as short) but to make life easier on the road. I don’t like it. The photo is small and strangely angled for disguise purposes!
The weather is not so bad that we cannot go out at all. We are British so have flasks and rainwear about our persons at all times. Our first outing to is do another part of the canal path walk along the side of the Canal du Nivernais. Over the past few trips we have done several miles by parking the car at a canal bridge and walking up a couple of miles and then back. Next time out, we park by a bridge further along and walk down to where we stopped before. Now we plan to do something similar but on the bikes and in the van. We have nearly exhausted the parts of the canal nearby so need to do at least overnight trips to make it worthwhile. We continue on foot for the time being though.
By Thursday 16th the weather is warm again if a bit changeable so we drive to the start of the last section we need to cover to join up the other pieces we have done. This is in Chatillon-en-Bazois a twenty minute drive away where the canal joins the streams meandering through the water gardens below the chateau and widens into a canal port.
We see some small fauna enjoying the water
and lovely canalside flora.
Well worth a few minutes contemplation
That’s it before this post gets too long. We did not leave for another couple of days but I will make another post. In fact I will still try to do a day-by-day blog when we are on the road but not when we are staying put on the fermette – it would be too boring!