Monday, 25 February 2013

A quick catch up

Sorry I've been away for a few days, time has just shot by. 

We have finally got the van back, Dave had to take time off work to get it, as the garage shuts at 5pm and didn't open weekends- how bizarre, how do they expect working people to cope?

Well we paid our money and started to drive the 1.5hrs drive home and Dave says to me "this steering feels weird I wonder what they have done with it" Silly devils only went and put the steering wheel on the wrong way! A transit steering wheel isn't perfectly round but has a more oval shape and they put it on facing the wrong way- basic schoolboy error - idiots. So the next day Dave had to sort it out so we could drive properly.

For the last week we have been trying to get the bathroom walls all finished and hit a stumbling block as when we didn't have the van we ran out of timber and couldn't go and get some more, so Saturday (after the van was back and Dave sorted out the wheel) we had to spend the day running around and getting materials so we could continue with the work.

We have the kitchen here now so will get on with installing that soon as well. Busy busy busy .

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Tuesday 19th Feb

Over the weekend we were hoping to be able to go and get the van but unfortunately we had more bad news. A part at the back of the key assembly behind the barrel has broken and the garage need to order a new part. We did look at getting a second hand part but as we knew the garage weren't keen to fit a second hand part as it would mess up their guarantee we really had no choice but to go for a new part this is unfortunately going to cost us 330 Euro's plus the cost of going back over to get the vehicle, and will take another week. So we are about to embark on week two without transport, so we are a bit fed up at the mo. 

But on a brighter note we have been able to crack on with the bathroom and most of the wood is up, however  we can't get the last 6 pieces of lambris (tongue and grove) that we need as we need transport to go and get it.  But we are getting there, hopefully by the beginning of next week we will get it finished. Also Frederick assures me he will actually turn up this week, so hopefully we will get more wiring in. 

But to make things feel better we have had a brilliant weekend of beautiful sunshine and according to Meteo we will be having lovely sunshine for at least the next week, result :) Hopefully we can get the garden and field dry enough for it's first cut of the season. When you have sunshine about it's hard to fell fed up for long.

Also this week I have restarted my French lessons and hopefully will soon be able to start actually understanding the verbs and tenses - wish me luck. I really enjoy the lessons and can't wait until I can talk well enough to get everything understood and understand the person I am talking to. Mind you I have only been here a year and languages take time. In hoping in a year or two to have improved loads.

Anyhoo I'm meant to be nailing in boards of lambris so I'd better go and get something done instead on yacking away on here.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Strange but true

I was thinking about giving blood and signing the organ donor register here as it has always been something that I believe in.  So I tried to find more info about it, I had been told that British can't give blood but I wasn't sure of the reasons behind it. So here's the information that we found out. They think that we all could be carrying CJD or the human version mad cow disease, I've been veggie for 23 years so no chance of that for me. But the British can't give blood over here. Here's some info to back it up. Notice the line about people living in Britain (Grande Bretagne) between 1980 to 1996 - third line from the bottom of this clip, we are listed along with drug takers as a risk to the health of others.

What do you think?  Also it was brought to my attention that if anything happened to us would anyone know who our next of kin and contact details where. Makes you think doesn't it. I think we'd be ok as our mayor knows our friends and some of our family so he'd find the info out, but it makes you think you should carry the details somewhere. Here's some info that could help - a website that list some details that you need to carry and a recognised format of card to carry.

In case of Emergency card 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Wednesday 13th Feb.

Today was nice, Dave had a impromptu Day off as the machine that he needed to use was broken. So we laid in till 10 AM - pure luxury on a weekday, after that we got on with the job in hand of making the new bathroom ready for the electrician to come in. We were also spoilt by the fact that it was a beautiful sunny day - a rarity for a day off.

Looking from the hall into the new bathroom. - excuse the junk stored there.

We have to build onto the beam and this will also add strength.

Fitting everything in around the beams and weird angles in this attic room is always fun.

The door is going in, it was a real bargain 20euros in a sale, fully locking and ash effect.

After this stage we need to put the new wood on the walls then wait for Frederick to do the electrics before closing in the outside. Unfortunately we can't get to finish the wood facing for the walls as our hammer, nails and tools are currently in the van at Les Sables d'Olonne!! Wish me luck I'm going to call the garage tomorrow, hopefully the van will be ok, and hopefully the garage owner can understand my French - roll on the continuation of our French lessons on Friday.
As it was so sunny today we put our lemon out to get a bit of sun and hopefully ripen up the lemons.


Monday, 11 February 2013

Monday 11th Feb 2012

After yesterdays madness Dave's back to work today and I am catching up with household chores, washing and so forth. But I thought that I'd share our daft animals with you as they always make me smile.

I think they may be asking for dinner, or to come in the house.

More Kitchen news :) A long day out .

Well the day started off ok, we got off nice and early to go to Les Sables d'Olonne and collect the kitchen from Thierry's house there, us driving our 13 year old transit and Thierry and family in a brand new Renault Traffic. As we didn't know where we were going we were following the other van. Sounds simple doesn't it? But as we got onto the larger roads Thierry was going faster and faster averaging about 120 km/h and up to 130-40 km/h at one point or about 75-90 mp/h. Doesn't sound too fast but our old van didn't like it. Suddenly as we where motoring along at speed we lost power. So we pulled over to the side of the motorway and Dave popped his head under the bonnet to see what was up. I haven't said yet that it was raining so hard that it was literally sheets of rain, not nice. 

So as Dave had a impromptu shower outside, what did he find under the bonnet? what was wrong? We had blown the top of the fuel filter clean off with the pressure of keeping up with Thierry. No sniggering please, it really didn't feel funny, as Thierry came back to check up on us Dave managed to clean the filter out so we could get back on our way. Phew that was close if it had fallen through the engine and onto the motorway we would of been stuffed.

So the day continued and after we got to Thierry's we made good progress in dismantling the kitchen, all was going well it seemed. The house was nice and in a nice area and we managed to converse well enough so we were quite happy. We did indeed go out to lunch but to a cafe in E'Leclerc's not the posh diner we had worried about, this was literally a self service place. Luckily for me they had a veggie main (mixed cheesy veg) even if it was quite cold. So after feeling fuller and contented we continued our double van journey back to the house for more work on the kitchen. 

Then DISASTER struck, the key for the van snapped in two in the lock, hold on I hear you say hasn't this happened before? and yes you would be right, last time it didn't snap in two just came away from the key body and Dave mended it. After the last incident I ordered a new set of keys and barrel for the ignition and they have now been here for 2 weeks. I have nagged and nagged Dave to fit them and even said i'd take it to a garage to sort it out and he said no to that, but as he has been working late and has been tired he hadn't got around to doing the job.  Even worse i said to him before we left today we better pick up the new barrel and keys in case of problem and he said yes he would get them, and no he forgot. 

So after much fiddling about in the steering column Dave had to finally give in and admit we needed breakdown and we weren't going anywhere. We decided to go in and finish dismantling the kitchen and get it stacked in the van before calling breakdown as we didn't want to leave Thierry's place in a mess so we got on with that first, then called for help. The breakdown man came and got the van going (much messing about with wires) but then said he wouldn't let us drive home in-case the steering lock came on :( So we had to be towed to his garage and as it was Sunday that's all that would be done today. Luckily our insurance comes with obligatory breakdown cover as part of the insurance so they covered that, but now how do we get home? We are a hour and a half from home there's no room in Thierry's 3 seater van> Thierry called our insurance again for us and managed to argue or cajole his way into getting us a paid for taxi back home. Luckily Theirry is really good and didn't get upset with us for messing up the day.So we came home by taxi and the fare was 285 Euro's (ouch) luckily we didn't have to pay and strangely enough we actually beat Thierry home. The taxi driver was a friend of the breakdown garage owner so we gave him the spare part to take back as they won't let us leave with the van the way it is so it needs working on. But by the time we got back which was about 6.30pm we where knackered. Then Thierry arrived with the bits in his van that he was bringing for us and Ivan and Thelma arrived as they were kindly dog sitting for us and we all stopped for a quick drink- which by then was very necessary.

So the moral of the story could be - if he won't let you go to a garage for a quick job on the vehicle keep nagging the husband to do the job, if I did we would of been ok. But  I'm a soft touch so didn't shout at Dave, I understand he's under a bit of stress at work at the mo so there's no point in nagging. 

Ok you can all laugh now.

p.s apparently the insurance will pay for us to get a taxi back to get the van when it's done but we could be stuck here with no vehicle till Thursday :(

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Kitchen news!

We have been offered a kitchen that a friend is taking out of his house.  So tomorrow we will be going to the seaside to Les Sables d'Olonne to collect the kitchen. This is where the boats from the Vendée globe come in (as they still are at the moment) so it will probably be posh, which will be nice to see as we've never been there before. The friend that we are going with is Dave's boss/ our neighbour/our mayor Thierry. We will need to be thinking in French all day which is great practice but very tiring. Also as it's 1.30 hours away from the house we may end up stopping for lunch there as a French man won't miss his lunch. The only problem is that we really can't afford to go somewhere posh to eat at the mo  but we don't want to offend Thierry and Mireille so wish us luck!  Hopefully the kitchen is suitable as we need a temporary kitchen for the hall till we can get the barn developed into our proper kitchen.  I will update this tomorrow and let you know how we got on

Friday, 8 February 2013

Want to see what the house was like before we started work on it?

When we bought the house it had not been lived in for 30 years so understandably needed loads of work to be done. But if you haven't seen it before you may think we are mad for the project that we took on. So here's some pictures to give you a idea.

The front of the house and the garden :)

Dave at the house, there are 2 windows hidden in there

The lounge


I didn't mean to sound rude to Dave at the beginning of this video, but I was filming (as he wanted me to do) for our house history and he wouldn't stop yacking on


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

And now for Electric

Séolis came yesterday and cut our electric off. Bah. I'm not impressed but we knew it was coming, there's nothing we can do but make the best if it. So I went round lighting all the oil lamps. it actually looked quite nice but god it was really quiet, I now understand the term - the deafening sound of silence. It's amazing how loud silence can be.

So I went through the day, got the shopping as needed, visited some friends who very kindly have put their spare freezer on for us so we don't loose a lot of food.

When I got back there was a knock at the door and our neighbour  Christian was there, he saw the electric company coming round and wondered if we would like to run a extension lead from his barn until Frederick finally turns up to do the job properly. This was really sweet of him so when Dave got home from work we did the job and now have basic electric. We are running the tv, computer and wireless and a couple of electric lamps. I don't want to plug in the freezer or twin tub as it may blow Christians electric. After we set this up we stopped at Chris and Chantals for apero's (drinks)which was lovely.

After i finally managed to get through to Frederick I found out that he had a perfectly good (but very sad) reason for not coming round, his dad had died. So I understand his reasons for not being here and I told him I understood and get back to me whenever he can


Today is a important day in the history of this house, the water board came to connect us to the mains water for the first time. The House has never had running water before. It costs a fortune to connect over here, about 80 euros per foot from the mains connection. So it's a lot of expense, we have been running off of our well since we have been here and it's not suitable for drinking so we have had to bring that in. The water board (Veoila) will only connect from the main to the house and put in a water meter (outside the house) and then we will need to pay the plumber to get it into the house. We will probably have a standpipe for a while with a house attached until we have renovated the barn, but at least it's clean water :) 

Digging the trench for the pipe

I did ask before I photographed them

Blimy this cost us 1400 Euro's and they have finished already. They started at about 10.20 AM and finished at 11.25 AM now that's a huge hourly rate.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The weekend is finally here! Relax relax relax??

Wow the weekend is finally here and i have the hubby home for 2 days, brilliant. We have lots of work to do but neither of us in the mood for it, we both feel the need for a bit of time off, we seem to off spent every waking moment building and ordering and sorting at the mo. Unfortunately we cant just take time off or we would never move forward. A lot of the weekend is spent on sorting out materials for the new bathroom we are building indoors, and attempting to catch up with the field and garden after the awful weather that we have had. Its rather soggy here due to all the rain and the lay of our land. Luckily the rain holds off long enough for a bonfire we have so much stuff to get rid off after ripping down the hallway ceiling and old wooden walls.
 So the weekend  zooms by and before we know it Sunday afternoon is here and we are looking forward to another week again. Some things that have made us laugh this weekend are the pets.

Fidget and Tink relaxing

The chickens are waiting for me to come out with their spaghetti.

Bye the way the missing chicken turned up, it was too busy hunting for worms in the field.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Morning! Feb 1st

Frederick where are you?? 

We still have electric as I write this no thanks to the invisible electrician, we haven't seen him in a week and
this is starting to get a bit stressful. They kept saying that we would be cut off yesterday  at the end of Jan and while I am thankful that I currently have electric it's a pain in the arse and actually more of a pain in the head not knowing what's going on. Should i be more mean? scream and shout a bit? Keep calling him until he turns up? It's not really in my nature and I'm not sure if he is taking the piss because we are English but if the little beggar just let me know what was going on I would be grateful. I really don't want to piss him off as we need him on our side for the hoped for connection to our neighbours barn. But If this doesn't get sorted soon I am going to go prematurely grey.

Also I have found this info which gives you an idea what to do in case of a emergency in France, it gives questions that may be asked by the operator as well as contact numbers and answers that could be given. it can be downloaded as a PDF file.

Hope it helps someone.