Saturday, 21 May 2016

A New Room for Visiting Family

One of the main things we miss - is family, and one of the main things we look forward to - visits from family !

The day I returned to France again, was the same day we were expecting Becky and the children to arrive. I was due in the morning, and they were due to arrive late the same evening ! Not great planning, but just the way things panned out. The main difference this time with their visit, is that they were driving, and that they were all coming, all four of them. They were travelling from Euro Disney to stay with us for a few days, and both Craig and I were very excited.

It was all very hectic, as I am always quite tired after several weeks away, and the journey home, but we had to get on the case as soon as I landed so to speak ! Shopping, unpacking and general catching up. As we were unsure how long it would take the Sumner crew to drive and what time they would be leaving Paris, I had decided that I would have an early night, and catch a few hours before they arrived, but we had a message during the early evening to say they were an hour away, and that the children had slept in the car, and were awake again ! No early night for me tonight then !!!

Craig had been on a tight schedule while I was away. His plan was to convert the attic space into a bedroom for the family to sleep in. After such a hard time knocking through the wall downstairs, he was tired to start with, which didn't help. Also, he had to carry many sheets of plaster board up two flights of stairs ON HIS OWN ! I had helped on the day I left for the UK, by helping him carry 20+ sheets inside, and left them on the kitchen floor. That was the sole input that I had with the work !

It went from this....
was very
which was quite a while ago (so despite our promises to ourselves, was full of boxes and all sorts that we had just moved 'out of the way' upstairs) this..............

I was thrilled to see the room with furniture in - bed, two chests of drawers etc etc. It looked great. Craig was disappointed that he hadn't managed to get it painted and completely finished, but I was, and am, very proud of his achievements.

One very big problem, as a result of this, was that Craig hurt his back. After all the physical work involved, all the carrying of plaster board up the stairs, and the furniture too, his back went while carrying a mattress up the final flight. I think it was the last straw, and it put him out of action for several weeks, and put us out of schedule for the finishing push on the house.

There was a bonus, as it made Craig slow down, and gave the rest of his body a chance to recover from the strain put on it. He even managed a daytime nap with his little grandson....

Of course, we had a lovely few days with the family, and it wasn't all play time of course.........

There are always chores to do !

But you can always make time for little people eh ?

The weather was kind to us, and we even managed the obligatory trip to the beach, and discovered that Henry still hasn't mastered eating an ice cream without making a meal of it !

All too soon, their visit was at an end, and we were left to clear up, and store those happy memories. They are hoping to visit again in the Summer - unless of course, we have sold up by then !! That is wishful thinking though !

The remainder of my time at home this month was spent at a quieter pace. Craig's back was playing him up, so he pottered as far as the pain would allow him. Some days were better than others, but then he paid the price if he did too much. A bit of a vicious circle really - if he sat down for too long he was in trouble, but if he did too much, he couldn't move later either.

This incident has made us all the more determined to finish and get the house marketed. When I am away, Craig is so vulnerable if he is sick. He cannot go far from the hamlet, but still has to complete the day to day chores, however he is feeling. Time to be nearer to family. I would love to be able to take the house back to the UK with us - all the time and effort that Craig has put into it. It is lovely, homely, and ours !!!

Maybe you know someone who is interested in a new life in France - a new adventure maybe ? Someone who wants some land to become self sufficient ? Someone who wants a tranquil time, with space for the children to roam around, or plenty of room for grandchildren to visit ? Maybe you want to set up a Glamping Site ? Have a think, and let us know !

Monday, 9 May 2016

A Break Through, or a Break Out Maybe ?

Well, I can't quite believe how long it is since I wrote the last blog update - several months in fact, and where has that time gone ? We have had Christmas, Easter and are now into Spring - the leaves are green, the long days of darkness and gloom are hopefully fading, and things are looking up.

We had a quiet Christmas, and an even quieter New Year - we didn't even stay up to see the New Year in !! Mind you, would we toast the English time, or French time ? What will 2016 bring us ? What adventures, what problems, what moments of fun and laughter - it's a clean sheet for us all.

Early on in January, I took my first trip back to the UK for work. It is a horrible time of the year to travel - very unpredictable, and a horrible time of the year for Craig to be on his own. The days are short, the evenings are long, and of course it is cold ! I always keep an eye on the ferry crossings as my travel dates loom, and invariably there are strong winds forecast, and the crossings are disrupted in some form or other. This first one of the year fell into this category - I cannot travel my usual route home from Plymouth to Roscoff, as they do not run that route in January/February, so I had to go Portsmouth to St Malo. This one was diverted into Cherbourg due to the weather, but I chose to change to another route - Portsmouth to Caen. There isn't a huge difference, but Caen is SLIGHTLY nearer home, and when you are driving on your own, even that small difference is important.

As usual, it is exciting to see what Craig has managed to do while I have been away. He had painted the downstairs toilet - walls and ceiling, the walls in the Utility Room and made a window cill for it. He had painted the kitchen and the snug, and there was furniture in there that I hadn't seen for nearly five years !!

Our next big project was to knock through from the snug into the sitting room. I say 'our' in the loosest sense of the word. My job is to help clean up, and keep Craig supplied with coffee, and food. He couldn't contemplate starting this on his own, as the last time he did a similar job, it took 9 days, and that was without the added issues of dog walking, chicken feeding, and fending for, it was definitely a job for when I was home.

As there are no windows in this room, we had to open the windows on the landing to allow the dust out - and boy oh boy, was there some dust - from old plaster and granite blocks. Horrendous ! However much I cleaned, however much Craig tried, the dust permeated everywhere.

It was awkward too, as we couldn't relax during the evenings. Our 'snug' had all but disappeared under a mountain of dust sheets, rubble and tools. This meant that we watched TV in the bedroom, which made us feel as though we were living in a hotel, and poor Arthur followed us upstairs each evening thinking it was bedtime. He couldn't understand why he had to go for a walk, when he'd settled in his bed !

Progress was made daily. Craig managed to make a lintel shaped hole, and after three days the first lintel was in situ. This was definitely ahead of schedule.

Disaster struck though, as a large granite boulder fell, and landed on Craig's hand. I'm sure he broke his hand at this point, but he battled on, and wore two gloves on that hand to try to keep it stable, and secure. He had a huge bruise that went all the way round to the back of his hand.

Nine days later, as expected, the hole was complete - not the tidying up, or plaster boarding, but we were through. What a huge relief. It was a job that had been put off so many times, but now it was done. We covered it at first with plastic sheeting, but soon realised that the wind will find any space to come through, so Craig actually plaster boarded over the hole, until the other side is ready and wind/weather tight, and the plaster board can come down again.

Who would thought this much rubble could come out of such a small area ? And this wasn't even half of it !

We spent a great afternoon cleaning the snug, and moving the furniture round, and the room looks ...well...snug again !

It was a huge disappointment that same evening, that the TV broke down !! So, we were back to the bedroom once again ! This TV was JUST over a  year old, and JUST out of guarantee - blooming typical !

Two steps forward, and one step back eh ?