It’s been an odd few weeks, sort of in limbo. I had a week back in UK catching up with family, which was lovely, aiming to come back in time for completion. Rod had a week alone looking after the dogs, with more weeding and starting his wood store. He has now cleared the “helipad”, taken the wiring off the lower part of the grain store and been scavenging for wood to put in it. Given that we only have a handsaw at the moment, his wood pile is looking quite impressive, and will certainly get us through the first couple of weeks – assuming we get the woodburners installed in time!
We were supposed to complete and get possession of the house on the 12th November. Frustratingly, due to a lack of relevant paperwork (French!) coming through, it didn’t happen. As MD was then away on business for 2 weeks, the earliest now is around 25th November, which still seems a little vague. Especially since our stuff is now confirmed for delivery on 25th. So, the 12th was a bit of a down day, compounded by being cold and foggy and having a standoff with a stroppy French manager over tile delivery. Not only did she charge us E60 for delivery – contrary to what we’d been told on ordering – she decided that the load was so heavy we’d have to have 2 deliveries – E120. Pay up or don’t get the tiles! Or, she did suggest, we could hire a lorry ourselves for DIY delivery! I was upset more with frustration at not being articulate than with her attitude, but she was an obdurate piece of work! Being had over a barrel is always an unpleasant feeling! The day also finished the way it had progressed. I had a 4.30 appointment to have my hair trimmed and some shape put back into it. I took photos with me, described very clearly “PAS COURT” and thought I had done quite well – until the first cut. And by then it was already too late.
Wobbly bottom lip time that evening!
Once again we have been caught out by the almost universal lunchtime closing. (Between 1200 and 1430 everything shuts down). Or by how long everything takes to do and sort out. One day last week we had 2 jobs for the morning – go to Agen and pick up the wrought iron gates for the drive, then call in at a tile place in Fumel on the way back, and home for lunch. However, by the time we had waited (and waited), collected and then loaded the gates, we were running too late to get to Fumel before they closed. We decided to have lunch en route and walk the dogs to kill time until they reopened. We found a little brasserie, had the plat de jour (which was very good and only E7) and a drink. Hence the title comment – much to Rods annoyance as he had cola! What’s more, my wine was even drinkable!
My first choice for floor tiles for the house was terracotta, but they are outrageously expensive in France, and so we had settled for a ceramic compromise. However, a couple of people had mentioned a small place in Fumel, which I had eventually tracked down, and it was there that we went after Agen on a recce. It is a small family business, making the tiles on site from local clay, and they are much cheaper direct from them. They are still about 3 times more expensive that the ones we had opted for, but we have decided to put the ceramic ones in the barn and go for the authentic local ones in the house and economise and compromise somewhere else. (That’s a lot of wine drinking to save money!!!!) They really are lovely and are what we suspect were originally in the house as we have found them laid under the concrete in the small barn. The original ones may well still be in the house under the concrete floors under the 70’s tiles!
When we came over in July in the caravan, Monty and Dippy came with us, but it was impossible to bring our cat Pixie until we had a house. A friend very kindly offered to look after her until we were settled. However, about 2 months ago, Pixie went walkabout and disappeared. In spite of extensive enquiries she could not be found and so we had to assume the worst. Our intention, once settled was to go to a cat rescue centre and take on 2 cats – biological pest control on the smallholding! However, our builder, who has been feeding a stray, found that she had had a litter of 3 kittens in his workshop. As he has already rescued 3 cats himself, he is desperately trying to find homes for the kittens, so he sent some photos – talk about emotional blackmail! So the question is – 2 or all 3?
But then, bizarrely the same night as the photos arrived, I had an email to say that Pixie had just turned up. Hungry, a bit thinner, but otherwise none the worse for her 2 month absence. So, what to do about the kittens? Tigre 2 is an obvious choice, but I do love the attitude of the little black one – looks full of mischief and character! But then, what sort of fate does that leave for kitten 3?Rod is taking the “we are not turning into an animal charity” stance, along with the “I’m allergic to cats” card, but…………. (he did get used to Pixie). Maybe the rich Ozzie boys could sponsor a kitten????
Our carpentry skills are coming on. We have now made doors for the dairy to secure another storage area – what’s more they even open and close! Actually, we are really quite pleased with our progress as DYI dyslexics.
We also had the veg patch dug over by the little digger.
Even so, it was still very hard work – the digger had turned the earth over, but the clods were still the size and consistency of brieze block and have to be chopped down individually. Slow work!
Even though completion didn’t happen, we have decided to take the risk of starting work inside the house to try to get some basics done before all our furniture arrives. We are aiming to get some basic electrics sorted so that we can use the cooker and have tv, and get the kitchen floor re-tiled. As it is, 2 rooms just have concrete floors, and, where there are tiles, they are going to be replaced. What can be done before furniture sits on them will be so much easier. We are also trying to get the woodburners in and functioning. But all of this requires destruction before making good, and that is the scary bit. Up until now, everything has been improving the property. Even if, in worst case scenario, something catastrophic should prevent the sale, we have added value. Now, if it all goes to rats, we have a lot of making good to do!
Builder – “are you planning on keeping the kitchen wall tiles?”
Me – “No, they’re not really my style!”
Builder – “then you might want to get them off before the new tiling goes down”
flooring down in bedroom 2 – Dave and Jess won’t be sleeping on concrete over Christmas!
Now our change of address looks imminent, and mail may start to arrive for us, we bought a post box. Hammering the stand into rock solid ground, with nothing more than a lump of concrete as sledge hammer (ours is in storage) was interesting. It is still a bit wobbly, and at an angle, but I think that just makes it look very French!
We have also had some more deliveries – including our range, which was very exciting. It matches the colour of the woodburner, so I am really pleased with it. It is a Falcon, which is made by Aga, so it is the closest thing to my beloved aga that I could get. From a practical point of view, given the temperatures here from spring until November, an aga would spend most of it’s time switched off! I really can’t wait to start pulling the kitchen together.
As we have been driving to and from various DIY stores, I have been awed by the colours of autumn. It had never occurred to me that the vines would show such a change, but the summer green has been replaced by fields of yellow and red. Splendid as it is from the ground, it must look stunning as you fly in to Bergerac or Bordeaux.
And finally, last Sunday evening, instead of stressing about Monday morning and marking or planning, we sat out on the terrace overlooking the lake and watched the sun go down. This is part of what we hope the new life is going to be.