Saturday, 30 March 2013

Renovation project - chasing the rainbow


Renovation project - chasing the rainbow

We have to drive to Quimper to buy the door for the new wardrobe, we keep our fingers crossed all the way there that they still have some left, we would be gutted if they have sold out as we need to make sure the wardrobe will match the rest of the room.

We get there and there are 3 doors left in a pile, 2 are knackered and the one at the bottom is OK, we can’t believe our luck, we grab the last one and put it in the car. We now have to buy some more plaster board and studding, there is a Brico depot in Quimper but we decide to drive back to Morlaix to buy this as we also need to do some food shopping.

Just as we are getting on the motorway I suggest we go back and buy the bits we need whilst we are here, just in case the weather changes but John says it would take too long to find a turning to go back.

This turns our journey into a 100 km drive (we are becoming French, we are now in kilometres and not miles!!!!) the journey back is quite eventful as the sat nav takes us a different way. We pass a man taking a toilet break at the side of the motorway, this is not a rare sight in France and we laugh as we remember how surprised we were when we first arrived and the amount of people you saw just stopping the car and peeing, he didn’t even bother to stand behind his car, toilet habits are quite different in France to the UK and even in nice restaurants you will often find communal toilets, so peeing on the side of the road is quite common place.

As we drive the sky changes colour, we are driving over the very tops and we can see for miles, we pass the most amazing lake and try to photograph it with the black sky, the views are just amazing. Then the skies open, are we glad we didn’t buy the plaster board as this was to be on the roof rack. 



Whilst driving we see the end of a rainbow, we are almost chasing it along the road, my videoing is worse than my photography, but I do manage to catch a bit of it.

video

We arrive at Brico depot and the heavens are still emptying on the roads, so we decide not to risk buying the plaster board, we are so glad we took the 100 km detour to buy to plastic elbows and other bits that we could’ve bought in Quimper.

For some reason john isn’t too impressed when I remind him, that I did suggest we bought what we needed in Quimper and that we could’ve saved 60 km’s off this journey, there is just no pleasing some people!

Please don't forget to have a look at my writing competition entry and click share as the closing date is today at 9pm, thank you for your support http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/269/the-top-5-cakes-from-brittany

Friday, 29 March 2013

Renovation Project - we have reason to celebrate!


Renovation Project - we have reason to celebrate!

The plastering is finished and it’s time to do a bit of touching up, john has bought trim for around the ceiling, once this is added it makes the room look so different, it is amazing how such a little bit can make the most difference.




I also have some fantastic news; a French property magazine has e-mailed me asking if we would be interested in doing an article on our project, WOULD WE BE INTERESTED!!!!!!! What an understatement, I nearly wet myself with the excitement; I am going to be in print.

We celebrate tonight with cakes and wine, blow the diet I have the biggest, creamiest cake I can find and John says he wants a pink cake with orange spots, so at the patisserie I manage to find one that almost fits this description, to be honest it looks disgusting, but it will teach him for being awkward!


We stop work early to night to celebrate and have a lovely relaxing evening.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Renovation project - John is better and its back to work!


Renovation project - John is better and its back to work!

John wakes today feeling a lot better, so is able to start work again, he sets too with finishing off the walls and the bathroom, everywhere has insulation, all the plaster board is up (well almost!), the waste is connected to the shower.






We cannot connect the toilet yet as we need to have a longer straight pan connector for the waste pipe.
We also have a discussion about the bedroom furniture, now that we are going to have the lovely big wooden bed, what are we going to put in there, I say nothing as I want the rooms to be coordinated and we would not be able to find matching furniture, this is when we come up with the master mind idea of building a wardrobe, the heating pipes in the bedroom need to be boxed in, so we may as well build a wardrobe at the same time.

This means that the wardrobe will be a part of the wall so will tie the bedroom together perfectly, as long as we can find a door to match. This is a bit of a worry as the doors came from a shop in Quimper and there weren’t very many left the last time we went as they were on special offer, keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Renovation Project - Today is not a good day


Renovation Project - Today is not a good day

Today is not a good day, I am having another wobble, I speak to my parents on Skype, (after an hour’s phone call talking them through setting it up).  I miss my family, they tell me about my granddaughter and how wonderful she is, and all I can think is I’m missing it all, we also have a chat with Leigh and Lily and Lily is so cute on the screen. I have another sad morning which is not helped by John not feeling right. I want the house to be finished so much now so that they can come to stay.

I also start to feel a bit overwhelmed by how much we still have to do, the work seems to be never ending and we really need a break, but if we take time out for a break we are not going to be finished. Today is just a bad day.

The day disappears with little progress, Johns back was not good and he spent the afternoon in bed. We do get some good news though, we are getting the King-size bed, we have come to an agreement on the price, because as my daughter put it, I’m pimping out John!!!! John will be doing a day’s work for our friend in return for a discount on the bed, I am so much happier and I begin to wonder whether the bed we have is not helping us, I cannot remember the last time I had a full night’s sleep, we are currently still using the settee bed we bought when we first came over. We do have one bed but that is in the room with all the paint supplies so we cannot use that, so agreeing to buy the king-size bed with a proper mattress really has made my day.

I also have a clear out of the middle floor bedroom whilst John is in bed; this means the room is partially cleared and starts to look a bit like a room. It’s amazing how much rubbish was in there as I manage to fill the car for another tip run!

By the evening the day dips again, as my excitement of entering my first writing competition is dampened by the fact that I have just found out that I am competing against professional writers and authors, so please if you have time have a look at the link MY WRITING COMPETITION ENTRY and share, share, share........ go on, you know you want too.......

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Renovation project - I need your help


Renovation project - I need your help

John wakes up and still doesn’t feel right, but he makes a start with some work and he keeps going at the plaster boarding for a little while.

As John is not to good he goes for a lie down on the afternoon, this is the most sensible thing he can do, he’s still not sure if he has pulled something or whether he doesn’t feel well, so resting is the best thing for him.
I have a good tidy round, well as much as I can (it is still a building site) and decide as I am sitting here I will enter my first writing contest, it is a contest of the top things about where you live, this is quite difficult as there are so many things I love about Huelgoat and Brittany and as the competition is open to so many people I have to find something original, I consider doing one on the top five dechetteries (Tips) in Brittany as I am now quite an expert or the top 5 building suppliers, but think these will not of much interest to anyone other than me!

Then I have the brain wave of the top 5 cakes! Easy, apart from the fact that it is impossible to choose the top 5! It may have to be the top 25.

I start the writing and I am soon drooling and realise I have to add some photographs, which means having to go to the shop and buy some more cakes, it’s such a hard life and I am sure the woman behind the counter think I have gone a little mad ordering cakes and photographing the display. But the entry is written and sent off. Please wish me luck and if you have time please visit the link http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/269/the-top-5-cakes-from-brittany and vote for my entry, you need to read to the bottom of the entry and then click the share on face book or twitter.


I am so excited, the prize isn’t major but this may be the first step on the writing ladder and mean that we can earn a little income so that we can stay here while the B&B idea takes off.

Thanks for your support  

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Renovation Project - Who's garden is it anyway?


Renovation Project - Who's garden is it anyway?

Well its back to the bathroom today which means more insulation and plaster board, but for some reason we keep getting distracted at the moment, first is an e-mail from a friend who is selling a bed, this is new, beautiful and is a king-size, I’m gutted that it is out of our price range. We have to keep a tight rein on our budget, we only have a limited amount of money, but it’s a king-size and I want it so much.

We give our friend a call and say no but ask if she can call the wood delivery and arrange for a delivery as soon as possible.  She calls back and says they will be here in the next half an hour (or so, this is France and time frames are very different here) the wood turns up about an hour later.

We go out to look for the log delivery every so often and find a trailer full of garden rubbish, we have no idea who this belongs to or where it has come from, we also look at the sheds at the bottom of the garden and wonder who these belong too, we notice one has a door number and we are not sure if this was actually a house at some point. One thing to bear in mind with French properties is that the gardens do not always belong to the house next to them, so anybody could own this shed and some of the garden!


We have markers for our garden, and we own half of the land behind the house, next door owns the other half (or so we believe) the gardens span 3 houses, but the third house has no garden. This was something we came across when looking for a house, we always stated that we wanted a good size garden and all of the houses had good sized gardens, but sometimes the gardens were down the road and around the corner! If you are buying a house here always make sure the garden is attached to the house, and if you see a garden attached to the house make sure that it is yours and not a neighbours!

At some point we will find out who owns them so that we can either buy them and knock them down or at least paint them

It is a massive trailer load again and john has the fun of wheel barrowing it across the garden and I have the fun of carrying a tonne of logs down a flight of stone steps and then piling it up again in the barn, we have about 8 barrow loads left as the sky changes colour, the heat is on, will we do it before the heavens open? We do, the last few bits are brought in as the deluge comes down.

I am dying now, my arms feel like lead, but we do have some fantastic logs for the fire!

We continue with a bit of work on the middle floor, I am clearing all of the spare wood from the room and john continues with some more plaster board but at one point he feels a twinge, the twinge begins to hurt, we do not need this, John with a bad back is not good, with this much work to do.

He tries a bath to see if it eases, but he is not sure if it is a back ache or whether he is just unwell. Keep your fingers crossed that he is just poorly (I am sympathetic really!)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Renovation Project - I am not felicity Kendal!!!!!!!!


Renovation Project - I am not felicity Kendal!!!!!!!!

I wake up and realise I am not Felicity Kendal, I have been worrying about the sheep all night, the weather was dreadful and I wonder if we should bring them into the barn. We’ve only had them one night and I already want to bring them into the house! But as John points out they are a breed from a small Island just off Brittany and are used to the weather and actually prefer the cold.


Today was to be spent continuing with the bathroom, but after a while John decided he needed to install the new heating system. 


If it is completed now it will all be able to be hidden away with in the new wall in the bathroom. It really is much easier to be able to install systems in a house which is not finished, if we had found this system any later it would’ve meant taking down walls or putting up additional boxing in, this way is quicker and less messy (though to be honest mess is the least of our worries as each day I am sweeping up a couple of dust pan’s full of dust and debris from the living room floor!)

We have fun (this is said very ironically!) putting the system in place. John is of the mindset that you don’t need to read instructions and I am so anal that instructions are to be followed to the last letter, this causes some friction as I am typing the instructions into Google translate and John is just getting on with it. This leads to some rather harsh words from both sides.

As I point out what is the point in having instructions if you are not going to read them and John points out that he can see all the measurements and understands the diagrams, plus it is common sense, what he doesn’t point out till we are almost finished is that he has done something very similar before!!!!!!!!

By adding this aspect to the hot air heating system it will compliment what we have already put in place and means that we do not have to buy an insert fire and build a whole new fire place, We get to keep the wood burner that we love and the open fire place, only a small part will need to be closed in when we replaster the wall, so once we have finished with all the shouting, we have the new system installed, we can’t wait to try it out later.



I have to admit that at times I do wish we had just installed central heating or economy 7 storage heaters, as in France you can get cheap rate night time electric, but we have yet to find storage heaters here, they are much easier to find in the UK from places such as About Heating The central heating is much more costly in France as the price of oil has gone up so much and the cost of installing a full central heating system was not in our budget, but now I am just moaning, we don’t live in the UK, we live here and once it is all in place and we have more insulation the house will be toasty throughout.

After dinner I have a lovely relaxing bath in the warm bathroom, so yes what we have chosen works well in the rooms that are almost finished, it is only in the morning when I am catching up on my writing that I realise I seem to be having baths on Friday nights, I feel like a small child with the Sunday night bath for school ritual. I think back to what used to be the highlight of a Friday night and it was quite different to a bath, a book and a glass of wine, but to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t swap it, ever!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Renovation Project - we have an eco lawnmower called Edith!


Renovation Project - we have an eco lawnmower called Edith!

What a wonderful day today is, I have been into the garden and was welcomed by the sheep, they have finally appeared, I feel so excited I am becoming Felicity Kendal,’ from the good life’. Luckily we don’t have to do anything with them as Sue and Peter will be coming each day to feed them. But hopefully they will make their way through all the overgrown bits; this is what you call an eco lawn mower!




The rest of the day is spent connecting the remaining pipes in the bathroom with the new isolation valves, so each bit can be tested individually. We do really well and there is only one tiny leak which is sorted very quickly.



When trying to find the isolation valves I had put the question to a couple of the expat forums, which did not provide much help other than one person asking why we were using 12mm pipe and not 14 mm pipes which would be better! I have yet to explain that trying to change all the pipes in a 3 storey house would be extremely expensive and unnecessary. The water pressure in the house is strong enough for 12mm pipes, and we have more than adequate pressure in the showers and baths. I would advise anybody doing a project like this to be wary of asking the expat sites for advice as many still appear to use English guidelines and not work within the limits of France, however I would like to give a big thank you to David, who regularly comments on the blog, for his advice on connectors, as this was to be our last resort.

The shower is connected, other than the waste; this is because it will have to be moved to build the wall and if we had connected the waste pipe there was a chance that it may have split when moving the shower.
The studding for the wall goes up and some plaster board is added, it is starting to look like a room again.






We work till late again today (but to be honest we didn’t start till almost noon) we discuss this over dinner and wonder whether we should be getting up earlier and finishing earlier, but as we are both night owls, we decide why bother as long as we don’t do any noisy work after 6pm we aren’t disturbing anybody, and I really enjoy lounging around in a morning, we did come over for a different way of life and not dragging yourself out of bed at silly o’ clock is great, we still do more than a full day every day and this is our choice of working hours and we like it!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Guest post from British Corner shop


Guest post from British Corner shop

British Corner Shop® is the online supermarket for British Expats. Shop for all your British groceries from our range of 8,000 products. We deliver your order to your home anywhere in the world

Have you ever had one of those moments where you really fancy something to eat, so much so that you can almost taste it, you’re mouth is salivating when you think about it, Yes? Well so did I the other day, I really wanted a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, don’t ask me why, because back in England we only really had this at Christmas or on rare occasions, (mainly due to the amount of washing up it involves) but today I wanted it, no today I craved it.

So much so that I left my new found French food pride (or is that snobbery) behind and went to the Brit aisle in the local supermarket to buy some Paxo stuffing, I have never bought from this aisle before, and scorned those that did.

But if I didn’t get that Paxo stuffing, I don’t think John would’ve survived the night. To my horror they only sold the ‘Happy Shopper’ version and this cost seven the times the amount it should have cost, but I need John to live, so the house can be finished.

The dinner was lovely, not Paxo lovely but lovely (all those in the UK will know exactly what I mean when I talk about Paxo).

Any way this got me thinking, it is rare that I ever miss UK food but on the times that I do, what am I going to do? So I hit Google and found that there are delivery companies for just this occasion, the one I liked was British Corner Shop (so much so that they now advertise on the blog!)

I am not saying that I will now start to buy UK food all the time but on those occasions where I do not want to look like the dreaded expat Brit I know I can order anything without the locals knowing (this helps to keep my French food snobbery alive)

The site is easy to order from as it is all done on line and the standard delivery is efficient, it took 9 days from order to arrival.

And for those like me who are not the best on the computer there is even a telephone helpline.

British Corner Shop delivers worldwide, so if you have that sudden urge for something from home, click on the British Corner Sop link on the blog http://jennyandjohninbrittany.blogspot.com and as a thank you by quoting JENNYBLOGBCS13 in the voucher code on the site British Corner Shop will also give you 10% of your order (excludes shipping).

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Renovation Project - I hate plaster


Renovation Project - I hate plaster

Yet another day spent shopping, I was never a big shopper when we lived in the UK and now I hate this task, yet it is never ending, as we do not have a van, we cannot get everything we need in one trip, so today we buy the rest of the plaster board and the scant (this may be an English term, but it is the 3 x 2 wood that is used to build the frame of the wall).

We have gone to Quimper today as we also want to go to a particular shop to buy a door, we had bought all of doors from this shop and somehow managed to buy one door short, luckily they still have a few left.

We also hit the jackpot in the builder’s merchant and find the isolation valves that we need, John suggests we buy two and at this point I could quite happily kill him, not only am I stressed at 4 hours of shopping and untold hours on the internet trying to find the valves, he only wants to buy 2!!!!!! And suggests we keep looking for cheaper ones (they are approximately 7 times more expensive than in the UK), we decide to buy the 8 that we need and John lives another day.

As we are leaving we see something in the wood burner department it is a ‘collecteur de chaleur sur poele a bois’ this gets us very excited (I did say my life was quite different now) this piece of equipment attaches to the flue of  the wood burner and the air heat distribution system goes into it.

This may mean nothing to you but what it will do is mean that we do not have to brick in the chimney, we will be able to keep the lovely wood burner and the air distribution system will work correctly, this is the best find we have made since coming here.

We had seen these on line but the ones on line cost approx Euro’s 800, this one was only 200! BARGAIN!
All we need to buy now is some finish, this is the plaster you use to finish walls, John also wanted to use this for the joints in the plaster boards. In France it seems that they don’t skim boards, they mainly dry line and tape and fill the joints.

John has tried every type of plaster available that he can find and is still not fully happy with it, so we spend another 20 minutes looking at bags of plaster with me trying to translate what each one says, a number of them state ‘fin’ which is what we assume we are looking for. But the setting times seem too short, we know we can get a 2000 version which means 2 hours setting time but can we find it? NO, I hate plaster now!!!!! Just pick one!!!!!!

We have everything else we need and drive home, all we need to do now is add a rocking chair to the roof and we would win any fancy dress competition as the Clampet Family!

We are going to visit Craig and Theresa on the way home and ask where they got the 2000 plaster version from.

Talking to Craig, john finds out that he will never find the finish he wants in Brico depot, which is the main builder’s shop we use, so at least now we can stop looking. We have to go to a specialist builders merchant, unfortunately John didn’t ask where this was and instead started talking about jointing plaster.

The problem is that the plaster in France is Lime based so that the old granite can breathe, in the UL the plaster is gypsum based.  The gypsum finish is a lot finer and gives a smooth finish which is what John wants. The Lime based finish is very grainy and harder to work. But this is what is here, so John will have to make do.

We have also done some food shopping today and treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner, Fresh Scallops and the most enormous, fresh king prawns, half a kilo of each has only cost 15 euro’s this equates to approx £12. This has made up for the bad shopping day and is one of the reasons I love France so much.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Renovation Project - I don't like original floors any more!


Renovation Project - I don't like original floors any more!

The snow has almost gone and it is sunny, the weather is crazy here, I am hanging out washing and can still see the last bits of snow???????

We have the new pipes and John spends the day connecting them, this is much easier now that he does not have to have connections near to the electrics.

The copper pipes now go along the length of the room and connect at the far end of the kitchen.


The shower is now connected to the water pipes and next to go in is the waste for the shower, there is a bit of a problem with this (I think I have lost count of how many times I use that sentence, it may just be easier to assume there is a problem with every aspect of the renovation, as this is how it sometimes feels, but it does give John the opportunity to test his brain power in order to overcome them) anyway I digress, the problem this time is that there is not enough fall on the waste pipe from the shower.

This is resolved by making the hole through the kitchen wall even bigger, you do not need a big a fall all that is required is approx one inch for every metre (yes we are not fully metric yet, but we are getting there)
Once everything is in place we will not connect the shower waste as there is a lot more work to do first.

I have spent the day, when not helping John, on the kitchen floor, this is one of those jobs that needs completing but does not have a time frame. This is really useful as it means if John does not need me I can just do a section of floor. There are a number of these jobs in a project like this, although they all seem to have me on my hands and knees with a scraper and wire wool scrubbing floors, I start to wonder whether we should bother trying to keep the original floors or just order some new coverings from Best 4 Flooring but no that is lazy, I have loads of time to do this job, we don’t have loads of money, I just don’t like doing it anymore!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Renovation project - it snowed and we stayed warm!!!!!!!!


Renovation project - it snowed and we stayed warm!!!!!!!!

We know now what the Amber warning meant, we wake up to a white world, which looks really pretty, cold again but this time it’s cold outside not inside. WE STAYED WARM!!!!!!!!!!!!




We are supposed to be getting the sheep today, so we feel really sorry for Sue and Peter who have the lovely job of erecting the pen for the sheep. I’m just glad it’s not us working outside.

We hit a bit of a dilemma with the water pipes as there is a joist in the way and most of the pipes will have to meet over the consumer unit and have connectors soldered to them, this is not the best place to have joints in pipes for obvious reasons, any future leaks would cause untold misery i.e. leak all over the electrics, not good!




So john decides to re route the pipes, this means having to go shopping again to buy full lengths of copper pipe, we decide to go to Carhaix as this is closer, and find that the building merchant has closed down, we did not expect this.

As we are already in the town we head off to buy some food shopping and find the building supply shop has just moved into lovely new premises, we get the pipes we need but still have no luck on finding any isolation valves.

The isolation valves are essential for new plumbing, by adding these to each pipe run; it means you can isolate each tap or appliance if there is ever a problem, without ever having to turn off the entire water supply.

We spend hours (well I do) trying to find them on line and find loads, but all the wrong size, I even put the question of where to find them out to Face book and get one helpful reply, but unfortunately the cost of delivery is extortionate. The problem is due to the size, we have 12 millimetre pipes in the house, and this seems to be the problem, the valves can be found in any size but this one.

I also have a fantastic night as my first invoice has been sent and paid for an advertising square on the blog, I want to frame this moment for ever.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Renovation Project - What you don't know can't hurt you


Renovation Project - What you don't know can't hurt you

Today is spent working on the bathroom, john finishes making the boxing in for the heating system, this has the added benefit of muffling the noise that it makes.

We then decide to build the shower, this is even easier than last time, we are really getting the hang of these.
It is almost like a Lego pack, here are all of the pieces and they literally just screw together, we would recommend also adding a line of silicone along all of the joints for added water proofing to prevent any leaks, and as we found out last time it helps if you have a selection of screw drivers because every screw head is a different size.


As you can see from the picture the plumbing is quite simple, or it would be if you had water pipes in place and didn’t have to get them through walls that were 2 foot think and made of stone and granite.


A big tip for putting together a shower is to leave the plastic cover on the base, this prevents any scratches when installing the shower and means you can stand on it in boots without any worries, this can be removed once the shower has been fully installed, (but do make sure that you lift it off the bit that is going to have other parts connected to it) 


Another big tip when installing basins and showers is to cover plug holes , there really is nothing more frustrating than watching a screw you need role down the plug hole and disappear forever!


The shower is all completed and the layout of the bathroom finally agreed.

We have an easy evening and I go for a big long soak in the bath, this is bliss, the bathroom is warm, the water is hot and the days of 2 inches of luke warm water in a room that feels like an ice bucket seems a million years ago, it is surprising how quickly you forget the bad bits when doing a project like this.

We also receive a message stating there is an amber weather warning about the snow that is due, we don’t really panic as we don’t know what it means, and I am a great believer in what you don’t know can’t hurt you. 

Top tips

  1. Have a selection of screwdrivers
  2. Ensure your cordless is fully charged
  3. Leave the plastic cover on the base of the shower (but do make sure that you lift it off the bit that is going to have other parts connected to it)
  4. Always cover plug holes


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Renovation project - Happy Mothers day


Renovation project - Happy Mothers day 

Happy Mother’s day everybody, I am so sad, I am spending my first mother’s day away from Kayleigh, and to make it more difficult this is her first mother’s day and I will not be there.

We chat on Skype which is really nice, but today is not the same, I want to be there and go for lunch, but I’m not and she is going for lunch with her partners mum, this makes it even more difficult, not that I mind her visiting her partners mum as she is just so lovely, but the not being there at all is so difficult. No matter how many times I say I am getting used to being away, every time you miss something important it hurts, and it makes you feel like you are the worst mum in the world.

We also speak to my mum and Johns mum, and now we feel like bad children as well!!!!!!!

I continue to text to Kayleigh all day, which does make it seem a bit better and I will be seeing her again in a few weeks, and now I have even more of a push to get the house finished because as soon as it is safe for children she and John’s daughters will be able to come over with the grandchildren.

We start on the new bathroom and decide where to put everything, John is going to have to box in the hot air heating system, and all of the pipes and we wonder if the room would be too small if we just add a false wall. This decision is made by the fact that if we need to access anything it would mean having to break into the wall, so John decides to put a door on the access to the heating system and add a false wall just to cover the waste pipes, this will mean the room is bigger and give easy access to the heating system.

The wash basin unit will go against the wall as will the shower which means there is less wall to plaster and the wall between the bathroom and the stairs will be filled with insulation and be thicker giving more privacy to the bathroom from the stairs.


John starts to build the frame  (technical term is studding, John tells me to call this a stud wall not a false wall but when I use that term all i can think of is horses and it just doesn’t fit well with me, but hey, he’s the expert!!!) for the false wall or stud wall neigh!!!!!.




Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Renovation Project - Sorry seafood risotto all is forgiven


Renovation Project - Sorry seafood risotto all is forgiven

John wakes up much better, and we have a ponder on his bout of ‘food poisoning’ which we now think is more likely to have been caused by insulation and crawling about in a loft space with over a hundred years worth of mice droppings! Just wish we had realised this before he let everyone think I had poisoned him again!

This is also a warning for anybody else doing this type of project ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS wear a face mask when in the loft or using rock wool insulation, no matter how uncomfortable it is or how quick the job is! And always wash your hands and clothes thoroughly.

Even though John wore the mask and all clothes were dumped outside straight after and he used lots of anti bacterial hand wash he still felt bad (we are also still arguing over whether I poisoned him or whether it was the loft)

We go to the building supplies to buy the wood and plaster board for the new wall for the new bathroom, we pile as much as we can on to the roof rack, this will take 2 journeys as we need so much.
Back at the house John begins to build the wall, he puts up a simple frame made of 3 x 2 timber and puts the door in place.



This makes the landing space seem very small, yet before the walls came down this was one of the best areas, because it was so big, it is amazing how perceptions change when you have got used to having no walls, it’s not until somebody else comes and visits and sees it with new eyes that you really realise just what it is like.

It is also exciting as this is one of the jobs where you get to see quick results, we have been working really hard and yet there is not a big difference as the work has been all hidden, I like it when you see bathrooms appear or walls appear from nothing.

We also spend some time testing out the plumbing, to make sure that 3 showers will work at the same time, but as I point out this will never happen, one shower is ours and we can make sure that we only shower when the house is empty, we also decide that the immersion tank will go outside in the utility as this will mean less distance for the hot water to travel (and will also give me more wardrobe space, result!!!!!)

We find that 2 showers can be used at the same time and a toilet can be flushed with no problems but you can’t turn on the taps, but as I point out how many people are going to be in the bathroom using all 3 together at exactly the same time, I know I would not be impressed in any house if someone uses the toilet 
whilst I am in the shower! So our fears are not really founded.

We also discuss whether to have 2 separate water heating systems and decide that we will have both systems, so that the water heating can be switched from the electric water heater to the gas heater as required. This means that we can heat the tank over night (there is a cheaper rate of electricity over night in France) and if we are ever to run out of hot water we can easily switch the system over to have instant hot water from the gas system whilst we wait for the electric system to heat up.

At some point we will assess which is the most cost effective form of water heating and let you know.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Renovation Project - The seafood risotto strikes again


Renovation Project - The seafood risotto strikes again

John wakes up feeling very poorly and is convinced that I have poisoned him with my seafood risotto, but even though I try to explain I am fine and we had the same food, he will not be convinced. So he spends the day in bed, (not so ill that he can’t manage a sausage sandwich for lunch!!!!)

So I have a day to myself, this is quite nice as I catch up on the blog and call and speak to Kayleigh and friends.

I have one of my most successful days on the blog, I have now sold all of the advertising spaces, I am so happy, I still can’t believe how well the blog has been received, so thank you for reading and making me one of the happiest people in France.

It is quite strange as we don’t often have days off like this, I think we should have more of them, no I don’t think John should be ill more often but it is nice to just catch up with yourself and have days that resemble a normal life, I have pottered about and actually relaxed.

I have also been to visit Sue and Peter at the Tregont restaurant and bought lots of crockery and some real wine glasses, the Tregont is closing down, they have sold up, which is a shame as I have got quite used to Sue and Peter as neighbours. 

But it’s not all bad as we are going to adopt the 2 sheep for a short while, they will come and eat all of our garden, this will save so much time in summer as apparently sheep are better garden clearers than goats, maybe the Good Life is closer than we think (though we definitely won’t be eating the sheep!)

Sue comes to have a look at where the sheep will be going and arrange to put some fencing up, she informs us that one of the trees we thought was dead is actually a beautiful tree that is just starting to bud, I am so glad she came in as this was going to be fire wood, I am not the best gardener, luckily Sue has said she will come and have a look on a regular basis and give us lots of cuttings.

Maybe I’m not quite Felicity Kendal yet......

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Renovation project - I hate flies!!!!!!!

Renovation project - I hate flies!!!!!!!

It’s still all go with the ceiling, but it is almost finished, today should be the last day, this is made tricky because we have to fit the boards around the heating system and the waste pipes for the next bathroom.
The room is finished and now it’s time to sort out one of the little lofts, we are going to insulate this and John has to put the heating vent for the back bedroom through this loft. This involves taking the boxing out of the top bathroom and trying to break through the stone wall into the loft, then from the loft into the ceiling in the bedroom, are you confused? It’s OK because I am too.

The hot air heating system goes through the entire house, the box is in the bathroom on the middle floor and the vent then snakes up to the top bathroom through the loft space and ends up in the back bedroom, hopefully the photo’s make this a bit clearer.

how to install a hot air distribution heating system

how to install a hot air distribution heating system

how to install a hot air distribution heating system


how to install a hot air distribution heating system

how to install a hot air distribution heating system

You can't tell John's been here when he has finished, everything is back in place (I can't add a photo until I have moved all the laundry though)

but here is the end result in the back bedroom, it is not intrusive at all and will add a lot of heat to the bedroom.
how to install a hot air distribution heating system

We empty a lot of rubbish from the loft including a big pile of readers digest books, which the mice have been enjoying as a long term food and bedding source. We also find a lot of receipts from the 1960’s and 1950’s which was when the last work was completed on the house.

I cut enough insulation and leave John to it.

how to install a hot air distribution heating system

I have decided that I need to do another tip run, this is not going to be a good one as some of the rubbish bags have got mixed up, I am dreading the tip guy checking my rubbish bags and telling  me I have to separate it all. I am a big advocate of recycling but it is very difficult when you are sweeping rubbish from the floor, especially outside, to separate the rubble dust from the dirt dust from the saw dust. It didn’t help that we also ran out of rubble sacks and I had to use the mini black bin bags (yes I bought the wrong size, but they are quite cute, useless but cute).

I fill the car with all the rubbish and because it is getting warmer, there are a couple of flies, one gets into the car with me, for those that know me well, you will know I have a big phobia about flies, so I have the journey from hell to the tip as I keep seeing it buzzing around, I am sure it is flying at my head on purpose, I have one of those rare moments where I miss the UK, for reasons other than family, had we been in the UK we could’ve just rang for a skip, this would’ve been ordered, delivered and put outside the house and somebody else would’ve had the fun of separating all the rubbish and our car would not be a mobile tip, there are lots of skips available in the UK for example Nixon Skip Hire and other countries but for some reason France does not seem to have skips available, we have never seen one or an advert for one.

I spend a little moment pining for the ease or at least the van we used to have, but console myself with the fact that I am doing my bit for the environment.

And the tip man is happy with my sorting, WOO HOO!!!!!!