Monday, 11 January 2010

Returning Home from Freezing Conditions to Frozen Pipes

We're back from our first ever attempt at house and dog sitting and we have to our surprise thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
With regard to the dogs we had been rather naive and had not enquired of their breed and so were exceptionally lucky they were gentle, fun -loving, well-behaved, after-walkies sleepy dogs and were of the variety that did not slobber nor jump up excessively. All 4 were rescued creatures. The two English red setters and the two Greek strays had interesting personalities. Tasha looked like a seal with expressive eyes. She was particularly shy of men but evidently was the leader of the pack! One day whilst Captain S was talking to a male neighbour, she slipped her collar but I managed to grab hold of her and tie her to the lead of another dog. Captain S won her over with loads of affection and biscuits! Becky Boo was reluctant to go out in the cold but when we went a walking she was first to need her lead and when ready to be put on the lead used to lie down submissively and tremble. She had "love me" sparkly eyes and would sit and thump her tail to show us she was beautiful and desired our attention. Mr Hermes, the dog amongst the three bitches, was very affectionate but a hobo at heart. He would return obediently but if we did not put him on the lead, because we were softies and thought he could experience more freedom, he would then absent himself for the return journey and would turn up back at home once he had exhausted his scent trails! Kikidee was the only dog that did not pull on the leash as we proceeded for our twice daily walks. She vied for supremacy. She was quiet and submissive one moment and would roll over and show her tummy as if she were a Greek Tart !! but when released from the lead she would leap, run, jump and bark, especially at and against Tasha as all the dogs rollicked and rolled gleefully in the snow-laden ravines and paths along the mountain valley. They had such fun and enjoyed the freedom of snuffling in the snow, running and chasing each other. I did feel for them when ice in their paws caused them to stop and nibble the cushions of their feet. I prefer cats, but this experience was good because I have so many memories of dogs, my mother having been and still is a doggy judge and a Crufts judge too.
We did this to have an opportunity to travel and to see places that we have never been to. We went to the Alps. I had no idea that mountains could be so enjoyable and that snow could be so pleasurable. Last year we had snow at home and it is so different from UK snow. This was the same ---- dry snow... difficult to form into snowballs. I have loved the freezing conditions and to walk dogs in the open air has been good for the morale.
We laughed so much... at the dogs and we enjoyed each other's company as we expressed wonder almost every minute at the changing views and climate. We met several neighbours who were all very interesting with their stories about how they came to live by the side of the valley and mountain and were even interested in us. We walked and would have walked further without the dogs if it had not been that we needed to return to the house to walk the dogs again. We also had our first experience of climbing mountains, riding in a ski-cabin and walking on a plateau. We took a flask of hot chocolate with a beetroot and goats cheese sandwich for our lunchtime picnic-in-the-snow. What fun to watch the cross country ski-ers passing by! I would love to try that whilst Captain S wishes to travel on a snowmobile.

We bought a plastic sledge, practised toboganning near the house and then publicly on the
man-made snow hill at the ski resort. It was the first time in my life and oh what fun especially when we both sat on the sled and sped downhill.

We were very fit by the end of 10 days!!!!

Food. Oh joy ... to discover a cheese called Reblochon because a friend had warned us of the perils of Tartiflette. I made my own. I later discovered that the cheese I had bought had a red label and that really I should have sought one with a green label as that would have been made by "le fermier." The history of how this cheese came to be made is fascinating. In order to avoid paying too much rent, the cows were not milked fully so that the milk production appeared to be not very good. When the landowner had left, the cows were milked again and this milk was "hidden" and used to make the cheese. We discovered a white wine called Chignan. Delicious!

To get to the point of this post heading.... we have been away for almost two weeks in icily cold Alpine conditions inclusive of two solid days of rain. We have returned home one day later than expected as we waited for the climate in central France to improve. So home again to a freezing cold stone house... even though a neighbour had activated our electric radiators. Now warm as toast with the woodburner on full strength the water pipes are still frozen 24 hours later BUT ... tomorrow is another day and the big thaw will surely arrive.
Each day brings something different and each day brings some joy somewhere.

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