Sunday, 3 July 2016

Week 3/4 Work is completed.

3rd July

So here we have our after shots...

The Children's bedroom 

Before we had a double bed with wooden fixed headboard and also a couple of wooden fixed tables - you'll need to see previous blog photos as Carol hasn't got them on her ipad. And a few strange wiring cover up jobs needed as reported in previous blog updates. 

Now a nautical theme

The landing is similarly themed - to be used as a play area ( see previous blogs for it's deep red glory!)

The main feature the transformed kitchen diner

And the completed corner cupboard project - what a good job! - well worth the time and effort - thanks to Roger for frame construction and consultancy advice, well... the whole job really.


Thanks also need to go to John who disassembled the old kitchen left in the garage into manageable bits to enable to get it to the  tip in several car trips! And Patti who helped with painting duties ( all visiting friends have been given "jobs" before being allowed any sight seeing pleasure!)

We also have assembled a gazebo structure for added shade on the terrace ( we had several days of scorchio weather with hot sun)
Unfortunately also some rain which collected in pockets on the canvas roof - so a job in progress.
We guess that in heavy rain it will need to be removed and reassembled... Not ideal but took 8 mins to reassemble during the time trial! - not too bad.

July 5th ( Happy Birthday Ben!)

Another month has flown by - we leave with a sense of achievement in a good kitchen job done (mostly - still a few snags to fix).
Disappointed we couldn't have room to bring all the finishing touches - books, games, pictures etc - they will arrive next time - end Aug/beg Sept. When the next project begins - the swimming pool digging!

Yes we have decided to construct a small pool - bought from a company that provides a kit - you arrange the hole digging,construct a linked frame and they line it once constructed. Rob the kitchen fitter is to help Graham put the frame together ( he's done a similar job before) early Sept. A local digger owner is to dig the hole and take away the excess soil etc. Then plan is for Aaron to do some terracing/decking around it in March/April ,the finishing liner and edging stones to be done May/June ready for next summer. 

A la prochaine!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Renovation and Repair week 2

June 13th

Ian and Aaron reported at their usual time for their next week of thrills and spills chez nous.
With the kitchen fitting being seriously delayed due to the unexpected building demolition problems - another worker has been allocated the job of fitting the new windows in the kitchen and the ensuite bathroom.
However waiting for said window fitting has impact on the order of progress in the kitchen fitting - at least there is plenty of other stuff to be done! 
Plaster boards have been applied to the rails and the electric sockets and feeds to the appliances are done.

June 14th

We are ordered to go out for the day as Ian is to fit the new electric circuit board and there will be no electric all day.
We headed off to Puilboreau on the outskirts of La Rochelle - a large out of town shopping complex.
We have to purchase a fridge freezer and return with kitchen tiles. A nice light fitting for the kitchen is also in mind. We trawled around the various superstores in search of our treasures.
Carol was disappointed on visiting her favourite shop - Maison du Monde - there was nothing in the store to contribute to the kitchen purchases in mind.
After an exhausting morning we lunched at .......... McDonalds! Oh yes it was well worth Carol taking the effort to wear a skirt and apply make up - what a treat!? We gobbled our "tasty Mcdo sandwiches" whilst surfing the web on our ipads comparing prices of electrical goods and catching up with emails.  
   We returned to Castorama the chosen place for the fridge freezer and were disappointed we could not fit it into the car - delivery will be Mon 20th - 27€ extra ( How much ! - G )
    Then on to Leroy Merlin a diy superstore to choose the kitchen tiles. After much debate we went to inform the salesperson - 10 days delivery - what!! Back to the displays and an alternative was agreed on and purchased - however they are more expensive than we anticipated - ( would be - G )
    However to cheer Graham up we found a light fitting for 6€ ! -( plus an extra 13€ for the large bulb)

         We returned to the beginnings of a carcase of a kitchen 

  June 15th

Work continues - most of the electrics done .
The window fitter arrived - at last.
But the day ended in a bit of a drama when the double sink  is too large for the space - we dashed to  Niort 40 minutes away to a large diy store and bought a single one - not our favourite but the choice was limited and it will do the job.
Work finished at 8.15pm for Ian and Aaron - a long stressful day - duly rewarded with a couple of beers ,Rob the extra labouring help arrived just as the beer was opened - perfect timing as he was politely greated by the boys.

June 16th

The boys arrived this morning with tales of a good evening last night spent watching the Euros French game at Le Grand Cafe - the atmosphere was reported to have been great amongst the partisan crowd. However Aaron looked rather green around the gills - apparently the mix of beer and cocktails didn't agree with him?
It looked touch and go whether work would be done this am, but after rehydration with tea, toast and paracetamol he rose to the challenge and soon the heavenly sound of heavy drilling filled the air.

 By 9am we had 3 people working on the kitchen and 3 people fitting a woodburning stove in the dining end ( that's a lot of tea making! - C)

The woodburning stove was fitted with no problem - amazing.

Good progress was made with the kitchen and hopefully it will be completed tomorrow.
The boys have sacrificed their anticipated afternoon visit to a local bar to watch the England game - what professionals! Having monitored the score regularly on their phones it appeared to have been the usual nerve wracking England game, so it was probably better for their health that they had remained chez nous. 

June 17th

Today is the final push as the plastering, jointing and tiling are completed. However because of the unexpected extra building work needed  there remains quite a lot of finishing off for us to do.
Friends are arriving tomorrow so apart from some rubbing down and serious cleaning we have suspended decorative duties for a few days.

Just the painting and decoration to go.......!

Monday, 13 June 2016

La Maison Pierre - June 2016 - major repair/renovation month!

June 7th
After expecting a delayed start to the arrival of the kitchen fitting/building team - we received news that they could start the work a few days earlier than we thought. We managed to telephone our french neighbours and arrange for a key to be left - they arrived the morning we arrived in St Malo.
When we got to the house 4 hours later- remnants of kitchen furniture and appliances were already decorating the patio.

Ian the electrician and his stepson Aaron kitchen fitter are a powerhouse team of 2!
Unfortunately the stud wall that Scott the kitchen fitting boss ( from his previous assessment visit) had promised us would fall down when the gentlest of pressure was applied, turned out to be concrete!! Cue detailed investigation. Why was it concrete? Was it holding anything (ie upstairs) up? After a few spy holes it was decided thankfully No, this was not a load bearing wall.

Aaron the building allrounder had not been anticipating this and had not brought any heavy equipment.
However after much cursing before and after, a mammoth effort of brute strength and determination hammer wielding Aaron demolished the ******d wall in a day - all by himself - we observed in awe. 

Aaron the champion wall destroyer heads off for his beer reward.

However that was not all .... Preparing to remove the window in readiness for the new one Aaron discovered that the wall was not supporting the lintel - the window was the support - so fearing the possibility of wall collapse when the window was removed - concrete supports were created either side of the window - creative but time delaying - adding another 2 days to the job.

Bizarrely the door frame was held up by a steel lintel seen above right - this was removed a day later when Rob the labouring reinforcement arrived with suitable heavy cutting equipment. This was proving to be not the simple small kitchen fitting job they/we  anticipated.
Well truthfully what else could we have expected!

June 10th
Things are beginning to take shape. Rails have been constructed ready for plasterboarding after the weekend. A ceiling has been made and electrics in place.

Graham has many projects to complete - building a cupboard to hide pipes, meters etc in the dining room. Also a cupboard in the "children's bedroom" - which can be locked to store any personal belongings if we do rent to holidaymakers. 

Graham at work. OK, so not quite as demanding as a concrete wall, but important all the same.

Carol has been controlling the garden - which was overcome with many weeds. And usual catering and cleaning duties!
A bed post weeding.

Amazingly the pond and fish have thrived - the pond pump had failed as we left for home last time and we anticipated to see dead fish. Thankfully all fish alive and counted for, and after a clean and dry out the pump now works ... for now!

We have had wonderful weather this week - in the 30's C some days however next week is forecast to be rainy - just as we have bought a BBQ - we're getting sick of salads!

Saturday,Jacques an elderly deaf neighbour living in the house opposite, who we spoke to once in March when his car wouldn't start,sent his carer round with a bottle of bubbly. How kind. It looks not shop bought. Hmm. Was he, or is his son a viticulteur? We need a evening to find out....

June 12th
Sunday - a rainy day makes a day painting and more diy not so bad.
Graham wallpapered a wall , replaced various electrical sockets and continued his quest to sound proof the down pipe from the upstairs bathroom - the macerator toilet sounds like a jet fighter flying by as the waste goes down the pipe situated in the dining area cupboard!

Carol applied paint layer one over the destroyer grey paintwork.

We hope to achieve a light grey, white, with a touch of zingy yellow colour scheme in the kitchen diner.

Tomorrow Ian and Aaron return to begin the kitchen transformation!

Tonight we had barbequed sausages for dinner - we bought a cheap discounted bbq  - however still only with salad to accompany them ( oh how we dream of roasted vegetables). The sausages were delicious!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Week 4 - first week of April

Had a full on weekend courtesy of the Beverley/Nogent sur Oise twinning society and our hosts Annie and Adrian Petit. We were treated royally by the food-and-wine-loving Petit family!

Back to work Tues 5th April. 
A return to painting the front twin bedroom. Unfortunately we have exhausted our Dulux home bought paint so are now using french paint bought from the french B and Q. We hope the bedroom will have a seaside feel - white beams, blue ceiling and sandy coloured walls. We think this will be the most transformed room if the scheme works. Graham has spent ages hiding various wires, sockets and bodged bits of wall - he hopes to create a platform to house a bookcase to hide the worse.

It is nice to have a tea break in sunshine in the garden - today it has been in the early 20 degrees C - very pleasant!
A view of the ? Almond tree - in the sunniest part of the garden late afternoon. The thermometer says it is 22 degrees C at 6pm.

Graham has also demolished a cupboard in the dining room - unfortunately revealing a rather damp wall. More work!

Another before - the landing -

And after -

Tomorrow a trip to Nantes - to Ikea - Graham can't wait!

 Graham then spent a few days assemblying the purchased Ikea products - 2 beds, a bedside cabinet, a chest of drawers and a tall bookcase - all for the "kids" front bedroom which is now finished - again difficult to get a good photo on the ipad.

The panelling which is to hide the wire which is being re-routed.

The new colour scheme

And the beds - we think it will be a lovely bedroom - especially once dressed with curtains, bedlinen,headboards and a few seasidey/nautical decorations. We will get these in England as we think they're cheaper there.

We are almost on first name terms with the workers at the dichetterie (tip) having made frequent visits!
Here we are preparing for another trip. As you can see we are not content just to attack the inside of the house - we have attacked the garden just as enthusiastically!

We will leave the dining room and kitchen until our return in May/June. A new kitchen is planned to be fitted then as well as a wood burning stove.
Further exploration of the damp has now left a stone wall needing drying out 

The wall between the kitchen and dining area is to be demolished

So we have come to the end of our first trip of redecoration and some renovation - we have booked a ferry to return 12th April. Just a few more decorative jobs over the last few days and a clearing out of the kitchen ready for it's demolishment. 
Back to Angleterre for a rest!

On the positive we feel that the house is beginning to feel more of a home.
We have also had time to have a soiree with our french neighbours who have kindly offered to help feed the  fish, water the  plants AND mow the lawn whilst we're away. We even have a lovely lady Christelle lined up to do changeovers once we have paying guests in the summer - result!!

Just a few photos of the many little decorative gifts left by our french vendors.
A pirate ship with firefighter and pirate - in the garden BBQ shelter - along with

A plaque dated 1922 for a prize for a dog show ( we hope!)

A budding duck collection in the downstairs loo

And in the hallway a few objects d'art

One person's tat is another's treasure - It certainly adds character!

A la prochaine!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

March - April 2016. Fettling La Maison Pierre.

Weds 9th March
We set off this morning for Portsmouth via London ( lunch with the kids)
At driver change over - (Carol's shift ) Graham checked his phone - the ferry had been cancelled due to bad weather! We have to be in Surgeres for Fri as furniture is being delivered and a kitchen designer is visiting to measure up. Catastrophe! After a call to Brittany ferries we managed to get on a ferry leaving much later at 11.15 pm to Le Havre - but no cabins left just recliner chairs! At least we will get there!
So had a few hours in the toilet that is London (in Graham's opinion) - lunch with Ben and Fay and an early dinner with Philippa - ( which was lovely -C)
Spent a restless, sleep deprived overnight journey courtesy of the economie ferry. To be fair if we had had a cabin it would have been very acceptable however it is definitely the dark budget option of the Brittany Ferries fleet, ugh! France awaits. 

Thurs 10th March
Arrived 8.30 am. A much longer drive to undertake -  Le Havre is a further 2 hours away. 4.5 hours to Nantes for  the delight of an Ikea stopover lunch and purchase of a bed and mattress. Oh dear the soul destroying experience of the Ikea shop. Queued for lunch, queued to pay for our furniture, queued at the customer service desk for our discount, drove to the warehouse which was miles away to pick up the bed and mattress, loaded up the roof rack with said purchases and continued our journey a couple of hours later! Another 2.5 hours (driving even slower than normal due to the ballon shaped cargo on the roof), we arrived chez nous at just after 6pm. Emptied the car of contents and set off for a supermarket shop . Arrived 7.15pm the shop was shutting at 7.30! Undertook a supermarket sweep search for food necescities, beer and wine!  Back home for hastily prepared meal and an early night. Phew, what a day!
A reminder of the rear of the house - taken last September.
Unfortunately due to lack of wifi and other equipment - we're relying on ipad photos so apologies for the poor quality of future photos ( Graham's ipad is rather old)

Fri 11th March.
The kitchen designer arrived on time - he is English and has a team of expats who fit the kitchens (the easy option for the english home purchaser!. The  quote appears very reasonable - we will see how it compares to the local man but it will be much easier for us to be able to communicate fully with the fitters etc.

Then on to the bed assembly - oh dear - several hours of screwing and unscrewing  - much sighing and cursing at those Ikea clear to the swedish but not so anyone else illustrated instructions. It will be worth it once finished but that will not be today!

The delivery of the furniture from Maisons du Monde arrived as planned - both delivery men came in, shook our hands and exchanged pleasanteries, and then on departure shhok hands again  wishing us a good weekend, something we have never witnessed before on delivery of flat packed furniture boxes! How civilised. We're still left with more furniture assembly though....
Lounge now looking a more lighter white/ yellow after 3 coats of paint over the blue walls and door!

Another early night after a pasta supper and too much wine- what else is there to do with no télé and only french radio to listen to! We forgot the ipod. At least we remembered our kindles.

Sat 12th March

Our lovely neighbour Annick called by - she and another neighbour Christine had put a notice up asking any deliveries to be sent to their homes - we had sent postcards to them stating we were expecting some furniture deliveries and just in case we were not able to be there could they oblige?
How neighbourly! They had  also put a sticker saying "Pas de publicité" on our letterbox so we didn't get any junk mail. Annick has also been feeding our "poisson rouge" (carp and goldfish) in the pond for us.

We managed to set off for the market at 11.40 am - just enough time to buy salmon for dinner.

After lunch chez nous we spent time painting and wall paper border stripping - it has to be done!

A dinner chez nous and another early night- in the newly contructed Ikea bed - we are now in the master bedroom - progress indeed!

Sun 13th March

A nothing day in terms of excitement - just a supermarket shop and further fettling to report

Mon 14th March

       - the woodburning stove man arrived this am - on time. He informed us that it is possible to fit a woodburner in to the existing fireplace in the dining room. Thank you Lord! The house is freezing in the evening at the moment and the electric heaters appear not up to the job. Unfortunately there is not the capacity to fit a gas fire - graham's preferred option. However we are assured that the woodburner will heat up the place well and we can look forward to feeling toasty in a couple of months. ( by that time we wont need it hopefully!) 

Another day of painting and fettling - another early night to avoid the cold.
We did manage lunch al fresco today in warm sunshine on the patio so not all bad for early March. 

Tues 15th March

Ventured to Niort today for a shop at Castorama,the french B&Q. Bought a large step ladder to enable us to paint higher up, a curtain rail, lagging for some pipes and a lawn mower - such excitement.
Did go to Conforama also to purchase a matching toaster for our kettle. At the checkout we give our surname and postcode, Est-ce que Graham? Oui, the computer remembered us from last time and for the guarantee. 

Another sunny afternoon spent in the garden with Graham mowing the lawn and Carol supervising.
Otherwise nothing to report.

Weds 16th March

Another day of painting and decorating - we are trying to lighten the place up - it is proving rather tedious as it is taking 3 coats of paint on everything - the previous owner having favoured battleship grey, bright pink, purple and red - paintwork as well as walls! 

Examples of the rich colour scheme - the photos make it less lurid than it actually is!

Nevermind tomorrow we have an invite for a drink in the evening with a couple Sarah and Duane who have lived here for about 8 yrs. should get some useful advice and information re all things Surgeres.

Thurs 17th March

More painting and fettling.
We had a lovely evening chez Sarah and Duanne - our first " Apero" - drinks and nibbles.
They gave us lots of local information and advice. We hope to the return the hospitality when we have something to sit people on - our sofas do not arrive until 30th March - we continue to huddle in the dining room on our 2 armchairs. We do have a dining table now - and 4 dining chairs. Whoo!

Week 2 and 3

The days are all now much of the same - so will now just post before and after photos as we progress.

The first completed room is the front double bedroom.
So here's a before as it was when viewed last Sept 

And as we have decorated it ( apologies this is an ipad photo so not too clear)

Unfortunately we have not brought our gadget to transfer our camera pictures on to the ipad so will have to make do with ipad photos for now. 

The other room now decorated is the lounge.
Again here it is as viewed

And as newly decorated

Unfortunately the ipad doesn't appear to be able to capture the whole room at once - so hope this gives you a feel for the room. We look forward to showing you the real photos on our return .
 We have decorated the walls light yellow and white - there is a light grey 3 seater sofa, a dark grey 2 seater, a couple of grey armchairs and a small yellow chair. Carol has bought lots of cushion covers in yellow and grey from her favourite store - Maison du Monde. Lamps in white and one in acid yellow add extra colour - are we selling it?!
We're just awaiting delivery of a small bookcase to compliment the tv cabinet and sideboard - from - yes you've guessed - Maison du Monde!

We continue work on the most challenging bedroom. The bedroom is to be a twin to appeal to children - unfortunately there are many Drapeau( previous owner ) bodge jobs to remedy - a headache for Graham having to recall his minimal carpentry skills. So we continue our painting and bodge repairing.
Fortunately we are having a weekend in Nogent sur  Oise - our twinning society town - north of Paris where a lovely activity packed weekend awaits 1st - 4th April.

A la prochaine!
Carol and Graham xx