French leave

The roof is off and we’ve decided to run away! Well, escape to France for a few days anyway, and leave our trusty builders Jesús and Felix to it. It was quite a moment on Tuesday when the house went totally ‘topless’.

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. . . and there it was gone. Adios, old roof.

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On Wednesday, the serious business of reconstruction began with the two massive main beams being lifted onto the house by a crane on the back of a lorry. It’s very exciting: now at last we are starting to see how the new roof will look.

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Once the work is finished, ours will start in earnest. We’ve spent a couple of days replacing the ceiling in one bay – me painting the wooden panels, Roger putting them up and sorting the cabling – so now at least we have two lights back in the kitchen.

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My painting workshop in the shade of the kiwi: 70 panels down, 150 to go!

With the old roof timbers stacked in several piles ready to chop for the stove (we certainly won’t be cold this winter) there’s not a lot else we can do for the time being, so a few days’ holiday seems like a good idea and Jesús and Felix can crack on without us getting under feet.

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The vegetable garden is at that stage where it’s just doing its own thing i.e. it’s slightly out of control, but we will pick a pile of veg to take with us and hopefully everything will be fine left to its own devices for a few days.

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The builders have had to lower the phone line temporarily:  the cucumbers (foreground) and climbing beans (background) are planning to make good use of a new aerial support . . .

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The courgettes have completely filled their patch.

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Beautiful borlotti beans: I just love those colours!

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Of course, the squash were never going to stay tidily on their terrace.

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Sunny faces.

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A trug full of gorgeousness for dinner.

We have been enjoying fresh figs for our breakfast lately – the ones the jays and blackbirds didn’t eat – and I suspect we will be coming back to the peach harvest. That’s no problem.

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One of the things I’m planning to do in France is go for my longest run yet. There is a great track along the course of the old Mayenne railway, lightly gravelled and specially designed for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders. It’s relatively flat, pretty shady and there are kilometre marker stones all along it so it’s easy to measure distance. My coach suggests I have a crack at 16k (10 miles): it’s a bit ahead of my training programme, but he’s right that the psychological boost would be fantastic. We’ll see how that one goes! I’ve found my post-race runs hard work this week and some stiffness in my hamstrings reminded me how much I’m missing my yoga practice. It’s impossible to do any at the moment – just take a look at my usual yoga spaces . . .

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Kitchen yoga studio

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Barn yoga studio

. . . not very conducive to rolling out my mat (not to mention the noise)! Still, I plan to get back to it in August and to try some pilates, too; it’s not something I’ve ever really done but Adrienne has loaned me some beginners’ dvds and I’ll give it a whizz to work on building core strength.

I did have a really special moment on my run yesterday. I had reached the bottom of what I always think of as ‘Christa’s Hill’ (see below) and was deliberating whether to run up it or turn down the track to return home (it’s the same distance, just different running conditions) when the decision was made for me. There, bumbling along the track towards me in broad daylight and without a care in the world, was a young badger! I have to confess to pausing for a few moments to watch its antics, it was completely oblivious and so close at one point that I could have touched it. What a truly lovely moment . . . and I had my new Spanish word of the day, too:  el tejón.

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Bumble bee in the agapanthus: not quite as exciting as a baby badger, but every bit as lovely to watch.

So, Christa’s Hill it was. Oh good. 😦 Christa is our lovely neighbour who lives 1.4.k from us and I love running past her house for two reasons. First, it is the prettiest cottage, painted a gorgeous shade of blue with a terracotta roof. Second, she has recently acquired some new overspill accommodation for her B & B guests, the coolest tent I have ever seen in the shape of a blue VW camper van. It never fails to make me smile when I see it! 🙂 Christa’s B & B However, the run home from there involves a kilometre of continuous climb that makes the Hill From Hell look like child’s play.

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The bottom of Christa’s Hill: the only way is up . . . and up . . . and up!

It’s steep  – especially at the start – and winds round several hairpins as it goes. Last year, I had to walk the whole way every time; since then I’ve worked on a walk -run strategy, just running in bursts where I can. Now I can run most of it on a good day but I still have to take a couple of recovery walks; the problem is that because of the lie of the land, it always comes at the end of a run when I’m feeling tired. However, to run all the way up without stopping is the new challenge I’ve set myself . . . and if I manage that, I really will believe in miracles!

In the meantime, it’s hasta luego to the house, garden and meadows and time for a little R & R elsewhere. A bientôt, Asturias! 🙂

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