Viella Vacances Bed and Breakfast, Viella, Gers

Chambres d'hôtes & Holidays in the Gers close to Madiran, St Mont and Jazz in Marciac, SW France

Everyday Ramblings !

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The Great Escape

Posted by holidaysinthegers on December 15, 2008 at 5:03 PM Comments comments (0)

This weekend we had the pleasure of Guy and Veronique staying with us. They used to run the bar in the village, but sold up and moved to Spain in October.  It was pouring with rain when they arrived. It was also pouring with rain when they moved and I think we've had about 4 days of sunshine since. So much for moving to the south of France for the sun !!

I had just dyed my hair when they arrived and  I hadn't seen the result myself so didn't want to take the towel off in case it had gone horribly wrong, so I tried to look as if it was completely normal for me to be wandering around the house with a huge towel on my head at 4:00pm in the afternoon. Finally, after catching up for an hour, using my very best french, they decided to do some visiting. Phew, several rinses later & the hair didn't look too bad. Memo to self - don't dye hair on the day you're expecting guests!!  

Later we met up in the bar. A very strange atmosphere. I guess it is always difficult for both old and new. The old quick to spot the changes and the new feeling a little awkward. So it was soon off to Tarbes for dinner. One of Michels' favourite restaurants, an italian run by 4 gay guys. brilliant fun and excellent food.  I was absolutely convinced that two of the guys also worked in a restuarant in Pau. After an arguement with Michel, we asked and, claire, yes I was right!! It's a small world.    At 2:00 the place "closed" and everyone lit up. Smoking might be banned in bars and restaurants in France, but this is the SW, not France, as I keep being reminded. I think Sarkozy must shake his head in despair when he has to deal with us.

The following morning, not feeling my best, I opened the back door to be met by two loose pigs.  Zizzie had obviously decided that the grass was greener on the other side.  Actually, it's the only place that is green now. Their pen is a complete mud bath.  Bucket of food at the ready and, as good as gold, they followed me back in the pen. 2 minutes later they were back out again.  Ok, with two corn cobs to keep them amused, I rebuilt the fence and put in new posts. Zizzie spotted me and ran as fast as his little legs would carry him over to try and break the fence again. Ah ha, no chance ! I wonder how long it will be until he finds somewhere else to get out and next time no doubt he will be closely followed by 7 piglets !  


The Auction

Posted by holidaysinthegers on December 12, 2008 at 6:23 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, I finished the translation of the article. It took longer than I thought, but I'm quite pleased with the result.   Now, I just have the rest of the website to do!  If you have a few minutes and fancy a laugh, the website is

Today was the annual trip to the vets. It is a milary operation if you have to leave the house with one or two rather than the three. I managed to distract Poppy just long enough to get the boys in the car. I left her looking forlong. no doubt planning how she would get me back, would it be to wreck the bedroom or put muddy paw prints all over the sofa in the lounge ? She has learnt how to open doors, so unless I find someway to bar them she's in in seconds.     In the past, Prince has eaten dogs while waiting for the vet. Today, the two of them were as happy as larry. Prince went to investigate a cat in a box and got swipped by a huge black paw.  Injections passed off without incident and 99Euros lighter, it was off to view a house auction with Sarah, from the Camel farm, and Catherine. 

The house was in the next village down, it was like walking back in time. It was obviously and old person who had either died or gone into a home. In a way, I felt like I was intruding on someone's life. Everything was forsale, including the kitchen sink.  Out in the garage there was a 1984 Renault 4. If you ever wondered where all the renault 4's had gone, I can tell you - here. I have never seen so many. There are at least 15 in Viella, ( we have a total population of 500 people) and literally 100's in the area.  Michel has a Renault 4 Van. It might be 24 years old and run on an elastic band, but it's done less miles than my car and it starts first time every morning, even in the frost.  So renault must have got something right once upon a time!  

After viewing, we left for the obigatory 1H30 lunch and returned for the start of the auction at 1:30.  2:00 we finally started. Nothing ever starts on time here.  We were all crowded into the tiny lounge. Everything had been cleared away, so if you hadn't made a note of the lot numbers you were interested in and what they were, you were stuck! There were about 200lots to be sold this afternoon. In the UK, you normally go on about 100 -120 an hour. Here, we made 35!!!  It was complete chaos. Catherine caught auction fever and bought most of the kitchen stuff for 5E a box. I think she could equip the whole house with the stuff she bought not just the gite ! Sarah picked up a bargain or too.  I was after some old picture albums, but got into a bidding war with a dealer, so pushed him as far as I dared. He wasn't going to let them go, even at 100E. I had the same problem with a bronze Hare. Only about 10cm tall, but it finally went for 260E. All I can say is I must have good taste ! As for the Renault 4 ? Well, at 500E, someone got a bargain !


The first hint of Snow

Posted by holidaysinthegers on December 10, 2008 at 3:38 PM Comments comments (0)

It was really cold this morning

I got to the pig house to find that Clara had pulled vitually a whole bale of hay down from the shelf. Goodness knows how she had done it, she's only knee high!!  Zizzie was standing around looking as confused as ever. He still can't work out what these 7 little things running around and tormenting him are. The piglets themselves seemed quite content though.    I am trying to get them used to being handled, but they are really difficult to catch and when you do manage to get one, chances are it will scream the house down! Never mind, Clara will start weaning soon so that will give me more opportunity to get them used to being touched and being hand fed.

The piglets have gone down a storm here. No one has seen black piglets or piglets as small as these before. They even have pictures of them up in the bar!  Several people have been down to see them, but the pen is so muddy at the moment, you stand around more than a few seconds and it is like superglue, you're stuck.     I have managed to sell three of them so far and one of the local farmers might be interested in another - for a pet, which is unheard of here ! Michel wants to keep two for eating in a couple of months.  I'm not so sure, so am trying to sell them and fast !

Lunch was down at the Camel farm in Castelnau Rivi�re-basse. Sarah has closed up for the year as there are no tourists around at the moment, but work goes on.  I love it down there; it's complete chaos. Animals everywhere.   It was trying to snow as I arrived and the Camels were looking decidedly fed up. You could almost read their minds. "Why are we here in this cold field in the rain?  You promised us sunshine and heat".  I often ask myself the same question on days like today !!     Carla, the housetrained piglet, was nowhere to be seen today. Normally, she spends most of lunchtime trying to raid the kitchen cupboards!  Still, warm vegetable soup for lunch - lovely !

The reason for going down for lunch was to pick up my order of english style bacon and sausages. Believe or not, but you can't get back bacon or anything like it here. French cuts of meat are very different from the english and their sauasages are pure meat and so can be a bit tasteless.  They do also make merguez, a type of spicy sausage made from beef and lamb, great for BBQs, not so great for sausage sarnies.  It's amazing what you miss. It's bacon butties for me !  Anyway, we have found this new butcher. He had started the business about six months ago, Bulldog bangers and bacon. Great name !!  He uses locally reared meat and makes his own sausages. They are yummy and about the same price as the french equivalent - for a change ! By all accounts, business has really taken off, even the french are buying from him so that can't be bad !!

After lunch it's back to work. I am translating some articles for our local village website. A group of volunteers have set up a website for Viella and have tried to translate much of it into english , but it doesn't always make sense, so I have offered to help out.  This afternoon I am taking an article about one of our local wines, Pacherenc. Apparently, the wine is "wine of vine out of prop" and the savours are delivered "without turning like the virgins Bearnaise sauces". So wish me luck !!


A new beginning

Posted by holidaysinthegers on December 10, 2008 at 10:48 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, the website is done and published. All I have to do now is site back and wait for clients to come rushing by. Perhaps not. 

What do I need to do to make the site more interesting and more importantly encourage people to come and visit us ? I know, a blog. There is plenty going on here, much of which people wouldn't believe unless they were here to see it for themselves!

So here it is, the start, the story of Viella and Viella Vacances. Welcome to everyone reading this. I hope over the coming months to give you an insight into life here in deepest SW France. Comments and feedback are more than welcome.

I look forward to hearing from you and perhaps welcoming you to our home in the near future!!