Saturday, 26 April 2014

Renovation project - How to build a sliding door

Renovation project - How to build a sliding door

There’s lots to do today (I know I put on yesterday about the new baby, but the rest of the blog is a little behind) John changes the living room windows, we had been planning to leave the underneath of the windows as stone, but the stone had been covered in cement, once we had removed this we found that the stones were not the same quality as the rest of the wall (which explains why they had been covered in cement!)

John fixes a small window sill and plaster board underneath, we also add some more insulation. It’s a shame that we cannot have the stone but the new walls look good and once painted white will make a striking contrast with the stone walls.

 Next it is on to building a door for the back bedroom area, we currently have a large open landing which would be lovely if the house was staying as a house, but because we are going to be a B&B we need to make sure that the back bedroom and separate bathroom are private. To do this, we, this is the royal we again, are going to build a sliding door.

By having a sliding door the entire area can be split off, but when empty can remain open plan.

The door is made from floorboards which John connects together and then secures with cross braces. We had already bought the running kit; this is attached to the wall inside the small landing area connecting the bathroom to the bedroom.
Renovation project - how to build a sliding doorRenovation project - how to build a sliding door

Once in place and fully working we hit a small problem, how do we lock this door? We cannot use a normal door lock as the door slides, so I head off to the builders merchants to find a suitable lock, we have decided on the sort of catch that you use on a gate. At the builders merchants I cannot find anything suitable and even with my new found French language skills I cannot find a suitable word. I end up with 4 shop staff trying to help me before one is found that can speak English, at this point he tells me that they don’t sell anything like that.

I have no idea what we are going to do, if the door cannot be locked it will not be secure (each bedroom door has a lock, but I want people to be able to secure the entire area.

Wandering around I spot a door security chain, this is ideal, with this, people in this room can use the chain to secure the area. I must admit that I was starting to panic a bit at this point.

I take it back and it is attached, I’m still not 100% sure, but we invite friends around, who say that they would be perfectly happy with this arrangement.

This means that the house is almost finished; we are getting there, which is good as the photos are getting taken in 3 days!!!!!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Renovation Project - We have another grandchild

Renovation Project - We have another grandchild

Sorry the blog has been a bit hit and miss over the last few weeks, but say hello to the reason

Laila Grace was born on the 23rd April 2014 and is the latest edition to our family

We'll be back again with the blog as from tomorrow

Monday, 21 April 2014

Renovation Project - Where to find cheap antiques in France

Renovation Project - Where to find cheap antiques in France

We have booked a friend to come and take the photographs of the house for next Saturday that means we have one week to finish everything, nothing like giving yourself a time limit!

We still don’t have the chairs that we want yet; I have tried everywhere including websites and private ads. I know exactly what I want, but at some point I may have to admit defeat and give up on the picture in my mind!

But today we are going to check out some of the antique and second hand shops, I have my fingers crossed.
We arrive at our friends house, we are all going to go as they have a people carrier that will fit more furniture in (this is called positive thinking, I am not even going to contemplate not finding what we want!)

First stop is Le Chiffoniers, we arrive and the place is enormous, it is a like a great big warehouse and full of all sorts of antiques and a good selection of junk. John is very taken with a bicycle plough, but he can’t have it, we need to find furniture, now put it back and let’s get on with it.

The next shop is Emmaus, we find a number of wooden cabinets that may be suitable for the landing, but we’re not sure, is it time to start panicking? We do end up buying a bureau, we both like it, but it’s not exactly what we wanted, but we think it would be good for the B&B reception stuff.

There is so much furniture in this place and the price is unbelievable, you can pick up an antique, ornate carved dresser for under a hundred euro’s (and yes they look just like the ones you see in the antique shops in the UK for much more money!)

The next and final stop is the TROC, this used to be similar price wise to EMMAUS, but has recently been taken over by a new company and the prices have all increased, still some fantastic bargains to be had, but not the same as they used to be.

We don’t hold out much hope as we had been here only 2 weeks earlier, but I have my fingers crossed, and I really do believe today is the day (that may have something to do with the fact that we want to open in 2 weeks so need to have the chairs!)

We wander around and we see the chairs that we had seen last time, I love these chairs but the seats are knackered and we have no idea how much it would cost to renovate them and even John cannot do anything with these.

We continue looking and I see the chairs, they are exactly what we wanted, they cost more than I wanted, but I don’t care and then we see 2 more in a different colour! I don’t believe it, I really don’t bloody believe it, what do we do now, I have a choice I never expected. I now have to choose whether we want green which look better quality or the Pink ones which feel much better, we all take turns on sitting on them and there is a unanimous decision on the pink chairs.

We also find 2 chairs for the other bedroom, which just happen to match the furniture in the back bedroom perfectly. I am so happy we have the perfect furniture for the house; can the day get any better?

Actually yes it can, we spot a heavily carved wooden cabinet and it is only 30 euro’s (this has to be the wrong price!) but we check and it isn’t.

We make all of our purchases and leave John and Dave to attempt to fit it all into the people carrier, it takes some manoeuvring but they manage and we set off for home, 2 very happy bunnies, we have everything we need, I always knew we would get what we wanted, I never wavered (well maybe a little bit, but not for long).

The furniture looks amazing in the house, now we just have to get it finished!

A great big thank you to Jane and Dave for all their help today

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Renovation project - Bippity Boppity Boo - Wave the magic wand!

Renovation project - Bippity Boppity Boo - Wave the magic wand

The walls on the kitchen terrace are covered and John is still unhappy with them but we have decided to live with them for a short while and see how they go, this is always a good idea, especially if you have made a big change as it may take some time to get used to it, so it’s not good to change back rapidly.

When you look at the before and after, you realise just how much it has changed
 John bought more wood than he needed for the garden fence as we needed to do something with the top of the old wall of the barn (or what is now the edge of our patio). We had considered building a wall for additional seating but it would take some time to get the right stones, next was to finish it off with a cover of cement, but this might not have been in keeping, then the final idea, which is just an all round winner was to build a herb garden.

John made wooden boxes and attached them to the top of the wall with cement, these were then filled with soil and fertiliser and the plants added.

BIPPITY, BOPPITY, BOO!!!!!! Wave the Magic Wand!

We have a herb garden, I can’t wait till I can just come outside and grab whatever I need for dinner rather than cursing at the shop because they do not have what I want. We have found it very surprising that fresh herbs and spices are often difficult to find in our part of France, we had expected to be able to buy any sort of food with France being so renowned for its culinary expertise, but herbs and spices are not that easy, until now that is!

We have also made a start on the new workshop, this was the old barn, and we had been making do with just a piece of tarpaulin hanging over the side. John measured up and we bought some scant (3x2 batons), we already had some spare sterling board, and bought a packet of roofing shingles.

John fixed the batons in place and then secured the sterling board; we had an old window which we saved to for this exact moment which was also secured into place.

The end result was like something that you would expect to see on ‘The Clampets’ or any ‘Neighbours from Hell’ type TV program.

Luckily it didn’t look like this for long, the roofing shingle comes in strips and these are nailed to the sterling board, the transformation is instant, you really would not believe it is the same shed and the cost for this transformation was minimal, the scant cost approx 20 euro’s, the sterling board and window were recovered from the house and the roofing shingle was 30 Euro’s a pack (we needed just over one pack, which was a bit of a bugger, but at least now we will have enough left to make a wood store, everything can be used at some point!)
So the cost of the side of this shed was approx 80 Euro’s and was really not difficult to construct. (this is not finished yet)

It’s back into the house tomorrow to hopefully finish off (well almost)

Monday, 14 April 2014

Renovation project - Can we fix it? yes we can!

Renovation project - Can we fix it? yes we can!

John has managed to get away from the garden and has started on the back of the house, but he hasn’t escaped the cleaning, this area is to be our kitchen terrace (I love using these words, garden terrace, patio rather than the rubbish area and the dumping ground!)

Once the area is cleared I clean the walls (this is on a par with scrubbing the floors) I use a wire brush and scrape all of the moss and green from the wall and the drain pipes. John has been told about some lime finish and is going to use it (I think we had actually used this before as plaster finish, when John was trying out every version of plaster he could find).

And joy of joys we have a friend who has just bought a mixer and we can borrow it, this means that John can mix his own mixes and I can keep going on the garden.
Our joy is short-lived as when he sets it up, it doesn’t work, bugger, but not to worry he is a man of many skills, and as BOB the builder always says, can we fix it? Yes we can!

But no we can’t, as he opens up the little engine bit (can you tell John isn’t sat next to me as I write this? I am using my own technical terms e.g. the little engine bit!)

John has hold of the bits and thinks he can fix it but as it isn’t ours we have to call our friends and check that they are happy with John fixing it or whether they want to take it back as it has not been used yet. They come round and think that carrying it in the trailer may have bumped it too much. John sets too and he is better than BOB! It works, but he has spent the best part of the day on this and who knows how long the good weather will last.

He sets too and mixes all that he needs, the cement cover goes on first followed by the lime cover (this is another Blue Peter moment, as in here’s one I made earlier as this takes a couple of days in total)

John is happy with the way that it covers but really not happy with the end result, John wanted to have a lovely flat finish and we again get into the discussion about not having it look perfect, the house is too old to look perfect and I love the fact that the finish undulates (if I say bumpy he gets really upset, men do take the strangest things personally!).
But WOW what a difference our kitchen patio is on its way, we just need some more decking and a picket fence to finish it off!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Renovation Project - Gardening in rural France

Renovation Project - Gardening in rural France

I have been working on the garden now for a few days and to be honest it is killing me, I have managed to remove all of the bramble and the wood and the slate! You would not believe how much slate there actually is from one small roof!

 We had already used some of this slate on the footpath down to the back door but now I am also going to make some small footpaths around the new patio and from the footpath to the patio (it’s at this point that I realise that I have no idea just how big 4 inches actually is!) John said to dig a trench, 4 inches deep, which I did, it was only when he came out and shouted what the ****** have you been doing that I realised the trench was actually 12 inches deep and not 4, no wonder I was so knackered!


But surprisingly I do find the original drain pipe, not sure if this will work again but the new slate will be going over this so that there will be somewhere for the rain to drain too.

I fill it back in a bit and then have the joy of sitting with one of the large buckets and a hammer and breaking slates into little bits to get enough to cover the footpaths. You can buy broken slate to do this and have it delivered to the house, but as we have so much here and have managed to recycle so many other bits of the house it makes sense to recycle the slate (it really makes sense to John as he is not the one doing this job!). I would advise anybody doing this to be very careful though, the slate is unforgiving, as is the hammer, especially if you hit your finger with it!!!!!!!

I also have all of my new plants to put in the garden but I do not really know where to put the them, it’s at times like this that I really miss my mum, she is great in the garden and would know exactly what to do with everything and just what we would need, I somehow missed the green finger gene. I call and ask Sheila if she could help and she comes around and sets everything out all I have to do now is dig the holes and plant them.

I lose count of how many times I have raked the soil over to try to get the ground even, but on a positive note all of this work is doing my new slim line figure the world of good, I think I am also getting some muscle tone (and the muscle tone is no longer hiding under the fat!!!!!) 

Top tips:
  • Do not hit your finger with the hammer, it hurts!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Renovation project - The trusty Volvo does have limitations!

Renovation project - The trusty Volvo does have limitations!

We have looked around at different types of decking and decided which one we want to buy, it is square decking measuring 800 by 800 and we have realised that the trusty Volvo does have its limitations, they do not fit in and as we need to buy 20 of them there is no way they will fit on the roof rack either! though we cannot get upset as we have managed to travel around Europe, move country with all our possessions and rebuild a house with no van, so one little set back will not stop us loving our car.

There is only one pallet left in the builder’s merchants so I ask Sheila if she would be willing to help me get them with her trailer, she is thank goodness and we set off after some very careful instructions on how to secure them!

We get the right amount and strap them in, please, please stay strapped in all the way home, I have this terrible vision of losing them one by one along the motorway and panic slightly all the way home but we get there with no mishaps.

As the sun is still shining and everywhere is dry, John decides to get on the roof and fix some slipped tiles while he still has the big ladders, this is a job that he has wanted to do for some time, but we could not risk him going up there in the wet.

It’s a quick job, but one that is really necessary. I still hate the idea of him up there (and being especially caring I hate the idea of him up there before we have finished, if he falls we are totally screwed, but I keep this bit to myself and just act the caring wife and say I’m more bothered about his safety!)

The roof is sorted and it’s time to lay the decking, we just have to decide which way we want the pattern to lie.That patio I was talking about is starting to take shape!

We do have one more momentous occasion; the BBQ has made it out into the garden (not anywhere in particular but out into the garden) This is one of the biggest moments of this project, for those that have followed from the beginning, the BBQ was one of our first purchases and was the only means of cooking we had in the house, once we filled all of the holes in the walls and floors it was no longer safe to use in the house and it moved outside the kitchen, but now it is finally moving towards its final resting place, it will take pride of place on the patio.

Today the BBQ is on its final step towards it’s forever home, I could cry with joy, it is almost as exciting as getting our first toilet, I have just realised how much my life has changed, a BBQ can bring me to tears, it used to be swanky hotels and job promotions, and although I do sometimes miss the swanky hotels I wouldn’t swap what we have now for my old life for anything!