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The house
House cartoon Address Telephone cartoon Telephone
Caze d'en Roque Jalaire
66300 Caixas From France 0468 38 81 28
France From elsewhere 0033 468 38 81 28

The house can be considered as split into two halves, each with its own staircase leading to two bedrooms and a shower room with toilet. Guests usually stay in the end of the house nearest the swimming pool, where one bedroom has a double bed and the second bedroom has two single beds. These rooms are approached up a fairly tight spiral staircase, probably unsuitable for very small children and the very infirm. Very large suitcases have also proved tricky to get upstairs!

This guest part of the house has its own entrance and a kitchen with a cooker, fridge, etc. Penny's study lies between the guest kitchen and the "summer room", which opens onto the swimming pool. Off the summer room is a shower room complete with toilet and wash basin.

The summer room has a television (French channels only) and a DVD/VHS player (so you can bring your favourites) and a record/cassette/CD player.

We have plenty of French-English electric plug converters , so you do not need to bring any of these.

The guest half of the house is available for friends and relations, though we have to ration availability because of the number of people who visit. We look forward to spending time with guests, but we want you to enjoy your visit and have a proper holiday in this beautiful area, as we have a life of our own in France. We expect visitors to clean up after themselves and use the washing machine in the house for bed linen, towels, etc, all of which, except beach towels, we will supply together with the usual cleaning equipment.

The main part of the house has two double bedrooms, a salon, dining room, two bathrooms, office, kitchen and a "garden room" which is actually more of a "dog room" nowadays.

Tulips Outside, on the south side, there are several terraces with chairs and tables and a gas (as well as a real, charcoal) barbecue.

The grounds consist of 2 hectares of mainly wooded "garrigue". There are quite steep climbs down from the house to the land on the north and south - the southern part has several wells which could be dangerous for very small children! - but the terraces are generally flat with only a few steps.

For those not content with just swimming or walking, we have a few diversions for visitors, including table tennis, air rifle shooting and an electric clay pigeon trap. The dwarf goats, who have a full-time and very important job - keeping the undergrowth down to reduce the ever-present risk of forest fire - also provide entertainment.

Drainage

We do not have mains drainage and use a bacteria friendly septic tank. Toilet This does mean that nothing except toilet paper can be flushed down the loo (you won't appreciate the smell when we get a blockage!) We also need to be told if you are taking anti-biotics. The latter kill the bacteria in the tank and we have to add extra "food" for them to counteract this.


Specially for House Sitters

We feel it is only fair to give you as much information as possible about our dogs, our house and the area in which we live to enable you to decide whether a house sit for us would also work for you.

Beau, a tricolour, aged 6 and Dizzy, a lemon aged 4, are both rescue dogs. Having been abandoned and taken on by the same private rescue association, they were both adopted and then rejected by their new owners because of their "difficult" behaviour. We successfully adopted Beau in January 2012 and then took Dizzy in January 2013.

The major problem with both dogs is their need to run. We have two hectares of land which is available to them (this is secured by an "invisible fence" and they do not leave except in the car), but they love to be taken out for walks. They are not lead trained and we take them to the interlinking fire roads which criss cross the area. They both have GPS collars which enable us to locate them when we are out. Once out of the car, their desire to run means that they will not be walking with you, although they will usually come back from time to time. Today, we returned after an hour and a half walk to the car to find that both dogs were waiting for us. Yesterday, we picked them up after they had had a 4 hour ramble! They have on rare occasions stayed out all night.

We take the view that this unfortunate character trait is what makes them the lovable but challenging dogs that they are. We do not want to confine them and have learned to accept this. In fact, on a short house sit, say up to days, the dogs would be OK staying at home as long as you walked around our land many times a day. Otherwise they become frustrated and hyper active.

The goats need very little care. Their water needs checking daily, but they mainly stay within their enclosure which is bordered by a moveable electric fence. They are moved around our land to take advantage of the undergrowth and they like to climb the trees. Unless the weather is stormy (they don't like heavy rain) it is unlikely that they will need to be moved into their permanent shelter. They love showing off and will leap on and off rocks to entertain you.

Our house is an old Mas, a farmhouse, which has some exposed stone walls. We are fortunately NOT houseproud! We have a constant layer of dust which is made worse by the comings and goings of the dogs and the tramontane wind which can blow for days at a time.

Caixas is a commune covering a very large area, but without a village - the "centre" consists of the mayor's office (open one and a half days per week) a church and a chambre d'hôte; most of the original houses were farms dotted around with the odd hamlet grouping some houses together. We do socialise with our neighbours and there are events during the summer months, however, you are unlikely to bump into many people as you drive to and from our house.

There are no local shops and the nearest village with a baker, butcher, post office, doctor and chemist is Fourques which is a 15 minute drive. Our nearest town is Thuir (under 30 mins) which has a variety of supermarkets, a Saturday street market, restaurants, banks etc.

Strangely, living in the wilds as we do, we benefit from high-speed (well, up to 12 mbps) internet, though we do have (rare) electricity cuts and more regular internet speed and connection problems.

If you are happiest in a clean and tidy environment with well behaved dogs and neighbours to talk to, then we are probably not for you. On the other hand, if you love peace and quiet, love the fun that can be had with two active dogs and don't mind a spot of dust, we could be a perfect match!

Here is a YouTube clip which shows us walking with Beau and Dizzy in 2013 on a fire road not far from our house. This gives an idea of where we live. You will find other clips on YouTube if you put in "4360Frank", the third dog, Pongo, was another rescue that we took at the age of 14. He died in November after a super 19 months with us.

You will have use of our 4x4 vehicle (manual transmission) which we use to take the dogs to the areas in which we walk with them, and also to take the goats to the vet when necessary.

Not far away we have very good neighbours, several of whom speak English and French - they know the house and the animals in case you need assistance.

In the house there is a manual explaining the quirks (as far as we know them) of the house - electricity, drainage, water, etc.

The "invisible" dog fence allows the dogs to have the run of our land - which is not fenced in in the conventional sense. 800 metres of a thin cable runs around a large part of the land, most of the cable is in the bed of the streams which provide a most of our boundary. The cable emits a radio signal, and if the dogs are wearing the special collars,when they approach the cable they hear a buzz from their collars. If they ignore the noise and carry on to the cable they receive a mild electrostatic shock from the collar - similar to the shock you often get when getting out of your car.

Of course, the system only works that way when the cable is carrying the radio signal and when the dogs are wearing their special collars. Happily (because the cable is sometimes broken by the streams in spate or by wild boar) the dogs were trained to recognise the boundaries and go months at a time without their collars. We put them on occasionally if we see them getting too close to the cable.

The GPS dog collars in contrast, are only used when we take the dogs out into the hills for a long walk, something that we do three or four times a week, if we can. This is of course as much for our pleasure and health as it is for the dogs.

Each collar has a GPS location unit and a radio transmitter. We have a hand-held device with a screen, a GPS location unit and a radio receiver. The screen shows us the position of the dogs, as well as their distance and speed - all of which are radioed from the collars to the unit every few seconds. The screen also allows us to set and show geographical "waypoints" so that we know where the dogs are in relation to features in the countryside that we know. With this system we can know where the dogs are for up to 14 kilometres from the handset - depending on hills and other obstacles that interfere with radio signals.

The rechargeable batteries run for more than 24hours, so if the dogs do stay out overnight e can still find them.