Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Monday, 30 March 2009
Friday, 27 March 2009
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Things were beginning to shape up now that it was time to lay the floor tiles. We decided to do this before putting the walls up, as we would use the same tiles throughout to make things more uniform and clean looking. Then came the gruelling task of laying roughly 1200 tiles on the floor, and I can safely say that the men had very sore knees when that was over. It looked very smart after, all new & shiny, and it got more of a gleam later when the kids got home from school, took off their shoes and slid all across them in their socks as if they were ice skating.
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
After we got back from our lovely holiday, the work progressed at a steady pace. We put a wall up around the front end of the property, the only part which wasn't enclosed, and had a new front gate for the driveway. Winter was fast approaching and the days were getting shorter. One of the first important things to do in the gite was to get the windows installed, this was particularly difficult as the walls were 50cm thick. Then we could install the windows. The double doors leading to the garden and the front door were easier as there were already openings. We don't often get snow here, but this year we did and managed to get the doors and window in before it turned too cold.
I was still working at the Hotel, and despite asking my boss for less evening work, which was feasible as me and the other guys had worked it out, it became more and more frequent. I hardly saw the children, and when I did I was too tired to do anything with them. The men were very tired too working all hours, but we had a deadline to meet if we wanted to get any summer bookings for the next year, and there was still so much more to do. We had decided that the works needed to be finished for the beginning of June at the very latest so that we could begin advertising as soon as the furniture went in. But that also meant the swimming pool had to be built too, and we were building it ourselves. Once the windows and doors were in and the ceiling insulated and boarded, and the exposed beams pressure washed, it didn't look like a barn any more. Our cowshed was beginning to look like a holiday home....
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Monday, 23 March 2009
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Happy Mother's Day, at least for some. I interrupt my story today to spare a thought for the family, and especially the two young boys, of Jade Goody. Not only tragic that she died so young, but awful for her boys that it is Mother's Day. They can only be thankful that she went in a peaceful, painless and quick way. Be thankful for what you have and enjoy each day to the fullest, keep smiling no matter what life throws at you. Our hearts go out to them and all who are suffering, on this special day.
Saturday, 21 March 2009
Friday, 20 March 2009
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Monday, 16 March 2009
August passed very quickly and it was soon time for the children to start their new school. They were very excited and nervous at the same time, but were pleased that they already had friends they knew in the school. They were up bright & breezy that morning, in fact it was quite a rare thing to see them get up and dressed so easily, it normally takes alot of shaking and bell ringing before they finally fall out of bed 5 minutes before it's time to go. Unless there's a school trip or it's not a school day, or even better they're always up at the crack of dawn on a day when we don't have to get up! They said their goodbyes to nanny & grandad, who were popping back to the UK for a few weeks before the big works started on the gite. The doorbell went and it was a young lad the same age as our eldest who had heard that they were starting school, and wondered if they could come up with him on their bikes. We agreed to let the eldest go as he was almost 11 by then, but not the twins being only nearly 7, and we arranged to meet them up there.
When we got to the school, we were greeted by the head teacher/teacher of 4 classes/secretary/playground monitor, who showed us in. "Where's your eldest son?", he asked. We thought he was already there as he had left before us on his bike, but he was nowhere to be seen. I explained and apologised, said I would be back and ran back down the road to the house to see if he was there. He wasn't. By this time I was frantic like a woman possessed. My husband tried to calm me down, that he would turn up soon and be alright. "But what on earth are they going to think of us, letting our son disappear on his first day at a new school, how embarrassing!!", was all I could think of. I ran back to the school to ask if the teacher knew where this other boy lived, by which time they had turned up. They had apparently decided to take a little ride round the village sightseeing before school. I think I growled at that point, or bore my teeth or something of that nature. I quickly said goodbye to the kids, all 3, and left...red faced! I would deal with him when he got home......
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Saturday, 14 March 2009
The un-loading didn't take that long really, probably quicker than the packing up, and we all worked as a team to get the job done. Even the kids helped, in between running round the huge garden in sheer delight. It was a beautiful day, and when we'd finished we cracked open a bottle of win and some beers and sat outside with a picnic we had prepared. We all had great fun discussing the house and the project, particularly my brother-in-law who is a quantity surveyor.
There were 3 most important things to get set up or unpacked that day; 1. Beds and making them, 2. the hob & oven for dinner and 3. the TV & satellite dish, all of which the men were instructed to do first, if, of course, they wanted their dinner! I remember it was a very simple and quick dinner, we didn't have much food as we couldn't fir it in the car, and of course then came the problem of finding the utensils and Knives & forks in amongst what seemed like a hundred boxes!!
My parents-in-law went to bed early that night, it had been a busy day, so they bid good night and retired to their motor home. We then put the children to bed who were equally as shattered, must have been all that country air. We then lay in bed, contented, listening to owls in the night sky and wondering what the next day would bring.....................
Friday, 13 March 2009
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
The picture on the right is the village,and the one on the left is the field opposite the house, sunflowers are not few and far between here.
Whilst the agent went to get the key, we decided to explore the village. There were only 3 houses in our road, but as they also had large gardens the property was not overlooked in any direction. We noticed that the road at the top of ours was called "rue des écoles", (schools road), so we had a wander down that way, hoping it would lead to the local school, and sure enough it did. I guess the name of the road was a bit of a giveaway! This was great, the school at the end of the road how perfect is that.
A bit further up the road was "rue mairie", (Mayors road), and yep, you've guessed it, this was where the Mayors office was. There appeared to be a bit of a theme going on here. We soon found the most important part of the village, the bar which, thankfully, was not in "rue du bar", but in "rue de st etienne" on account of the fact that the road led to a village called st etienne! Alot of thought must have gone into road naming in France! Anyway, we had a quick slurp in good old french fashion, and went back to the house to meet the agent, who was already waiting for us, (we only had one drink, honestly).
The inside was old, old fashioned and dirty. The kids all said "yuk, it's horrible, there's spiders everywhere!", but us grownups knew it was perfect. OK, so it was old fashioned, but it could be up-dated. The downstairs, after a good clean up, was habitable, of a fashion. There was nothing upstairs though, it used to be a hay loft, and there weren't any windows, just holes. But it was large, large enough to put in 4 bedrooms, an office and 2 bathrooms. Yes, we could picture it all........
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Here we were again. Living at mums again. looking for a home again. Looking for schools again. Although we had a little time for the school thingy because it was coming up for the summer holidays, so the pressure wasn't on.
My husbands parents joined us at my mums in their motor home, and we soon set to looking for that perfect property. We knew what we wanted, it was just a case of finding the right place at the right price. As usual with estate agents, we told them the criteria and they showed us places that didn't meet it at all. We wanted a house big enough, or potentially, for 5 people - us. We want some land, enough for us and holiday home guests. We want out buildings to renovate into holiday lets. And it was to be no more than the specified price. Simple....NOT. One estate agent took us to view 3 properties. The first was what used to be an old bar in the centre of town, with no garden let alone any land, and therefore no out buildings. The second was a little wooden 2 very small bed house, with a nice but small garden, and a shed! The third was a huge house with a very large garden and an out building, but it was just 300, 000 euros over budget! A total waste of time.
I think we must have visited just about every house up for sale in the Vendee, but they were either too small, no scope to improve, no potential, wrong location or too expensive. After 3 weeks we were fed up and wondering whether this was the right area after all, maybe things would be cheaper further north, although the weather wouldn't be so good. Just the my mobile rang. It was an agent with whom we were supposed to be visiting a property in a couple of days. She had just had a cancellation for that same property, and would we like to view it now? Yes please!
As soon as we pulled up to the drive I knew it was the one instantly. The keys were at another office an hour away, and she had already explained that to us, but who needed keys, this was the one. The property was huge, with four very large out buildings perfect for gites, and a main house big enough for us and the kids. It was quite run down and hadn't been lived in for 3 years, but that didn't matter. The garden appeared to be large enough for what we needed, but it was hard to tell as the grass was taller than my kids, in fact we lost them in it one or two times whilst we were there! We were curious to see inside so the agent said she would go get the keys, if we didn't mind waiting for an hour or so. You kidding! It'll give us a chance to explore what looked like a lovely little village. We were all very excited, and all very much in agreement, kids included. If the outside is this good, what will the inside hold?....
Monday, 9 March 2009
Sunday, 8 March 2009
It was a long journey and as it was the beginning of the afternoon we decided to stop over night in a hotel, but we wanted to get past the half way mark first. We hoped the removal guys wouldn't get there before us as they would need our help to unload, but doubted they would considering the route they took.
About an hour into the trip we stopped at a service station for a "loo stop", again. "Make sure you all go because we don't want to have to stop again!", I warned them. They all went in but I'm still not sure is they actually did the business. We set off again. "Are we there yet?", our daughter said, "not even a quarter of the way, read a book or something." I said. I had forgotten that we had Elephant the hamster in the car with us, and about a half an hour after that I kept hearing strange noises. "There's something wrong with the car.", I said to my husband in a panic. He agreed he'd heard the same noises, so we pulled over yet again. We left the engine running and checked under the bonnet, under the car, at the front, at the back but could not find anything wrong. It wasn't until we checked inside that we found Elephant doing somersaults off the top of her cage and running round in circles chasing a tail that didn't exist! "Had you asked me I would have told you it was just the hamster!", our eldest said.
Each time we stopped at a toll gate somebody asked, "are we there yet?", and each time I replied the same, "I'll let you know when we're nearly there, now go to sleep or something!", but they kept on asking. What a relief when we finally arrived at the hotel, at about 7pm. All tired with sore bottoms, and hot, it was very hot. We called mum to let her know where we were, and then went to the bar for a well deserved glass of, well, anything alcoholic, really, and then a good meal. I'm sure we'd all feel better after a good nights sleep.....