Thursday, 31 July 2014

Renovation Project - Hair gate!

Renovation Project - Hair gate!

Well it's all change today, and we have now realised there maybe a problem with our collecton service. The new guest arrives at Roscoff at 9am and our old guests have a check out at 11 am, with the room to be ready by 4pm. It is now that we realise what the heck do we do with our new guest until the room is ready, will she be un impressed with having to sit and wait??????
Our worries are short-lived, she arrives with John during breakfast, so we sit her on the garden terrace with a fresh croissant and a cup of coffee, she is more than happy!

We have a great week and the guest quickly becomes more of a friend than a guest, we enjoy meals out and meals in and more than the odd glass of wine.
We go to view the property that she is interested in and all seems good, but we are back to the dog problem, I have managed to find somebody to come to the Mairie with us as a translator and this meeting goes well, but there is a pile of documents that need to be collected next week.
All is good, and the sun is shining, so its fingers crossed that the house and the news from the Mairie gives all that is required.
We do have a very upsetting moment this week, we have new guests in, who arrive early and the room is not quite ready, all the bedding is freshly laundered, but we are still waiting for the last bit to dry on the washing line, I explain that the room will ready in a few moments, this is not a problem as they are going to explore the area.
The room is sorted when they get back and they are really happy with it.
But a few moments late one of them come down and ask if the sheet is clean!!!!! I am horrified, I go to check it and there is a hair on the sheet, I look at it and it is one of mine, I want to curl up and die at this moment, I apologise profusely, as there are also a few bits on it as well, it is from the grass where the sheets have been hung out to dry.

The guest is fine and says she is happy for me to shake it, but I strip the bed again and use the rest of the fresh linen and then re wash everything to be sure.

This is the first time that anything has gone wrong,, it may not seem like a lot but I am so gutted, we have prided ourselves on the standard that we offer, so this one stray hair may well have been a big dirty stain (you may remember that I am prone to over reacting).
It takes a long time to get over this incident that has since been referred to as 'Hair-gate' actually I'm still not over it and could cry every time I remember it.

But life is about learning, and I have now learnt that the grass must be cut if we are using the washing line and I must wear my hair tied up!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Renovation project - Vielles Charrues (Carhaix festival)

Renovation project - Vielles Charrues (Carhaix festival)

We have our first group booking today, the Carhaix festival, Vielles Charrues is on and 4 girls have booked in for the 4 days. These are an important booking as these were the ones who were fist to ring and book over the phone on the day we opened.

When they arrive we realise it is not 4 girls but a mum, her friend, a daughter and her friend.

They are all happy with the rooms which is a relief and the girls are very happy with the sheep, they go to feed them every day, which is nice to watch.

The fist night goes well and the 2 women get up for breakfast, we do not see the girls, we say it's no problem, by half past ten the mums are a bit embarrassed as the girls will still not wake up, again we say no problem and they can eat whenever they get up.

The girls get up later and seem very happy that they have the dining room to themselves.

The four days go very well, and the festival sounds amazing, we are so jealous, this is the first year since we have met that we have not been to any festivals, and festival season is well and truly upon us. But we need to make the B&B a success, next year we can do or normal tour (maybe!).

I'm not sure that this is how a B&B should be run, breakfast available until 1pm, bathrooms cleaned at any time during the afternoon, but this is the beauty of having a B&B so small that one family can have the entire house, there are no set rules and the B&B is run too suit the needs of the guests rather than the needs of the owners.

On the last morning I feel really guilty saying that they will all have to get up and check out by 11 am, but we have more guests arriving.

They are more than happy and say that it was great that we accommodated them so well without asking them to get up and vacate the rooms during the day.

They ask to have their photo taken with the sheep and we have one for our face book page as well. Goodbye and have a safe journey home.

John has had to go out early as he is picking one of our next guests up from Roscoff ferry port. This is a new service that we have started to offer, a collection and drop off service, today’s guest is our first to use it!

There is so much to do and learn once you have opened your B&B, it's up to you how you want to run it and I want to make sure that it is based on the needs of our guests and give the best service possible. So far it seems to be working.

Top tips

  • make sure you run your B&B to suit you and your guests
  • adapt and look at new ways to provide additional services
  • remember you maybe competing against established B&B's, so you need to make sure you offer something extra

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Renovation project - Sun deck at the B&B

Renovation project - Sun deck at the B&B

Today we are doing what we do best, this is the royal we, as I will be busy else where! But John can get back to building something new, I hope he hasn't forgotten what to do as it now seems to have been ages since we did any work on the house (it's actually still only a matter of weeks since we actually finished but it now seems like a lifetime ago)

John is going to build the new decking area, he has wanted this since we first moved in to the property, there is a spot at the top of the garden where you can see over the roof tops to the forest and the church spire, it looks amazing as night draws in and the church is lit up.

He sets it out and we decide where its going to go, but what we didn't plan on, was how un level the garden was, to have it where we first wanted, would mean that one end is over 2 foot off the ground!!!!!!

This in itself wasn't a major problem as he could easily build up the sides with steps, but it would cost a lot more, and this isn't cost we can cover at the moment.

John moves the base slightly and the difference isn't as great and we still have the view that we want.
So he now spends the day building, the sun is shining all day, it is so nice to work inn the heat (well it is for me, as I'm not working today, I think John maybe struggling a bit!)

By the end of the day we have our decking platform and we spend the evening sat on it with our glass of wine, this is why we are here, the view is amazing and we watch the sunset.

Could we really ask for anymore from life?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Renovation project - How many dogs can you take to France?

Renovation project - How many dogs can you take to France?

My melancholy has passed and it's time to get on with things, we are full again and it's busy with trying to sort out the estate agency paperwork.

I had always wanted to be an estate agent, just think of it, spending your day chatting with people, looking around houses, helping someone to buy their dream, so simple, so easy......

No it's not! Enjoyable yes, but just spending your day wandering around houses no!

An example is today I have somebody that has asked about bringing dogs from the UK, simple question. But then you have to remember we are in France, and the French do love their bureaucracy, we are just finding out how many rules there are about bringing pets in to the country, especially if you have a large number.

My French is improving but still not at full conversations with the Mairie over the phone level, so my colleague does a quick call to get some basic information, then I find out that I didn't have all the info to get the full answer, no problem, I will arrange to see the Mairie with my French teacher helping out with the translation, the Mairie only meets people in the morning and she is not available, no problem again, we have a French friend who is animal mad, she will be happy to help, I'm sure. She is but, she works in the mornings, right where next?

My friend that helped with our registration, but she goes on holiday on Monday, but she does give me someone else to contact, I call this person and she is working as well, but another name is thrown into the hat, I have now got used to ringing complete strangers to ask for favours so one more won't hurt.

Another worker, so that's another no go! My final chance is a new neighbour, so I call down and she is unable but her daughter who is at university is free!! YAY!!!!!! we have someone, she is happy to help.

This has been amazing, I have spoken to so many people I have never met and all are happy to help, this is really one of the friendliest places on earth!

Still not sure whether this is within the remit of being an estate agent, but if we were looking, we would hope our agent would pull out all the stops for us as well.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Renovation of a derelict house - The reality of having a B&B in France

Renovation of a derelict house - The reality of having a B&B in France

I seem to be neglecting the blog but we have been so busy, the B&B is taking off and we are getting really busy. Using has really helped.

This is a decision that was hard to make as they do charge high commission, 15% on every booking and because we have chosen to register under the Auto Entrepreneur tax system we are not able to claim any expenses.

We are taxed and pay social charges on our turnover, not our profit.

This is why it was a difficult decision we will not earn as much and the summer season is short but then on the other hand, it is a case of earn 85% of the nightly price or 100% of nothing (a no brainer really).

If you are considering doing what we have done, these are the decisions you may come up against.

The biggest learning curve and tip that I can share is that you are very unlikely to make a living from having a small B&B. It is perfect if you are topping up a pension or have taken early retirement, but unless you have enough rooms/live in an area with a long holiday season or in a very exclusive area where you can charge silly amounts for the night a small B&B will not give you a comfortable lifestyle.

You need to have a back up plan, offer something that nobody else does, this is why we joined Leggetts estate agency so that we can offer house buying breaks. We are also in the process of organising language breaks, where you can stay with us and have intensive French lessons, or photography breaks, but we are now in a catch 22 scenario, I need to spend time working on these, but I am so busy with the B&B and the estate agency I don't have time.

This does lead to stress again, but now it's stress in the old way from working not just from trying to get the house finished.

This blog post is not really specific to any thing but just to get how I am feeling on to paper and give you an idea of what it is really like when you have decided to open a B&B in France.

I would always say go for it, follow your dreams and enjoy it, but be prepared, there will be curve balls, we are busier than we could ever have dreamt possible, but unless that continues past the summer season, we may not make enough to live comfortably (but as a friend pointed out on face book, it is better to be broke living in an enchanted forest than in a city in the UK!)

I still miss my family and though I get to see the babies on Skype they are growing up and I'm not there to be a big part of it, they know me and are always excited to talk and we do go over often, though not in the summer season now they also cannot visit during this time!

I have just re read what I have written and it all sounds a bit negative, it's not, I wouldn't change anything but I do need to point out that not everything is a bed of roses, even when you are doing well.

Maybe I am just getting itchy feet again, after all we have been here for 2 years, or maybe I just woke on the melancholy side of the bed this morning, maybe I just need to get a bit of a grip of myself, but I thought it was good to let you know that life isn't always as easy as it seems but as I said I wouldn't change a thing, I just wanted to let you now if you are doing this, expect the good, the bad and the slightly melancholy, after all this isn't the TV program this is real life!

The biggest tips I can give you, and remember these are based on our real life experiences are:

  • Be prepared to spend money on your advertising, no matter how beautiful your property is, if people don't know they won't come
  • Be prepared that even if you are full for the holiday season it is unlikely to be enough to see you through the year
  • It will be stressful!!!!
  • You will still miss your family
  • You will need to get up before anybody else in the house and get a breakfast ready
  • Some days will not be as good as others
  • But above all if you don't try it you will never know!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Renovaton project - French tax myths!

Renovaton project - French tax myths!

We now have so many tax bills to pay we are beginning to regret what we have done, it really is the most awful thing, how can we be expected to pay this much money when we haven't earnt anything, we keep hearing all of the horror stories about the French tax system, and how it is set up not to help, many of the ex pat sites talk about this, now we know what they are talking about, do we give up?

We go to the chambre of commerce and ask her about the bills, we take copies of them all in with us and the one that came by e-mail, I have taken screen shots of.

This is the best tax meeting we have ever had, she looks at each in turn and says 'poubelle' this is such a pretty word for bin, yes that’s right bin!!!!!!!

Our tax bills have just been slashed, apparently once you are registered your name and address are in the public domain, and you will gets lots of official looking letters asking for money!!!!!!
the tax return needs to be completed with '0's. This is just my tax return for the estate agency, and I haven't yet earnt anything.

She explains that all of the RAM (health letters) need to go to another office, and tells us where this is.
However she didn't know about the e-mail one, she explained that because she wasn't involved in my registration, maybe I had ticked a wrong box, I needed to speak to somebody else, and obviously today is my lucky day, because the guy we need to speak to is holding his monthly open office afternoon, upstairs!

We go up and wait, when its our turn to go in, I show him my tax return and explain that I haven't yet earnt anything so he puts all the '0's in the right place and says to post it to the address on the letter. I show him the e-mail and he shrugs, in that famous French way and explains that I have the correct forms, so to ignore it.

That's it, all over, so simple, we don't have massive tax bills after all. I am so glad that I am starting to speak French because had we been at the this stage last year, before we knew who to speak to, or could not speak any French, we may have believed the bills and either struggled to pay them or given up.

My biggest tip is to learn the language (not necessarily fluently, but enough) and to find out where to go for the correct advice, don't believe the horror stories until you have the facts!

We now head over to the office that deals with RAM (there are 2 separate health systems in France, CPAM who deal with workers and RAM that deals with the self employed)

We had just got to the stage with CPAM, where all we were waiting for was our actual card vitale, we now have to start again, registering with RAM!!!!

The girl at the office is so helpful, she goes through everything and takes copies of all our health bills, we are now fully registered! Still have no card yet but this will come, until we receive it we have to pay for our healthcare and take our receipts to this office for reimbursements.

We now do a bit of shopping and see a beautiful little bright yellow flower house plant we grab one and drive back to the chambre of commerce. I don’t know the etiquette for giving gifts to tax officials but this woman has made our lives so much easier, it is the least we can do and by the reaction it is not something that happens often!

I am now going to put my poor aching head to bed, at the moment it feels like it is about to explode, this much work and talking in a foreign language is really difficult, but the sense of achievement is out of this world!

We still have our social charges to come, but we will let you now about that when we know more!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Renovation project - House for sale in Brittany

Renovation project - House for sale in Brittany

We have a property that is available for sale. based in Berrien, which is only approx 4km form where we live.

Berrien is a pretty little French village with a picturesque church, boulangerie for your fresh croissants, a bar and a restaurant all within walking distance. Drive (or cycle) approx 4km and you are in the thriving market town of Huelgoat, with its lake and enchanted forest and a large selection of creperies and pavement caf├ęs and an English speaking doctor!

This house gives you everything, close to shops and tourist attractions yet just far enough along a pretty lane to feel that there is nothing around you other than the beautiful countryside and woodlands.

The house itself is deceptively spacious, park your car on the gravelled double drive or use the large garage under the house.

Once parked enter the beautiful, but easily maintained south facing garden through the wonderful scent of the honeysuckle and climbing roses, up a small set of steps to the large patio area overlooking the garden and woodlands, but not neighbours, there is even a canopy for those hot days when you sit there with your breakfast or that evening soiree with friends.

Enter the hallway to find doors to:
  • A fully fitted modern kitchen with integral hob, oven and dishwasher. Space for table and chairs allowing the dining room to be a 4th bedroom if required
  • A good sized lounge with window overlooking the garden and feature fireplace that can accommodate a log burner
  • A separate dining room
  • A large modern shower room (with the option of extending into the utility area to make room for a bath)
  • Open utility area with plumbing for washing machine
  • Turned wooden staircase
At the top of the stairs you will find:
  • A double bedroom with walk in storage area
  • A T shaped bedroom suitable for 2 single beds with plenty of space for furniture
  • The master bedroom with en-suite wash room, with wash basin and toilet
The property has a basement that has been adapted into a large utility room, a study, a workshop area and the garage.

In addition the property benefits from having full double glazing, all electric heating, a new roof and a certified fosse septique This really is a property that you can move straight into.

A selection of beaches ~ 40 km
Roscoff ferry port ~ 48 k
Brest airport ~ 69 km

House for sale Berrien, Brittany, FranceHouse for sale Berrien, Brittany, France

House for sale Berrien, Brittany, France
House for sale Berrien, Brittany, France

House for sale Berrien, Brittany, FranceHouse for sale Berrien, Brittany, France
House for sale Berrien, Brittany, FranceHouse for sale Berrien, Brittany, France

 If you are interested in this property or are looking for a house in Brittany please contact us and we may be able too help you

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Renovation project - French Tax Returns

Renovation project - French Tax Returns

We have been getting plenty of guests, but we have realised we have not been getting any of the walk by guests, I have said this is because people cannot see our sign as they drive past, we have also realised that the sign we have does not have our telephone number on it.

Time to order a new sign, I want one that dangles over the door so that people can see it.

We order a new sign and some more cards, as these rapidly disappeared, I knew we should've ordered lots more. These are all expenses that we will not be able to claim back. But you have to expect that there will be set up costs if you want to be successful, and we do seem to be very successful!

The sign arrives and John has the fun of trying to work out how to hang it outside. We have a piece of metal bar in the barn and the chain that we had bought.

John drills a hole in the wall and attaches the sign with the chain and bolts it to make sure it is secure.
Now we really look like a B&B!
B&B's in Huelgoat, franceB&B's in Huelgoat, france

B&B's in Huelgoat, franceB&B's in Huelgoat, france

B&B's in Huelgoat, france

We have also received a lot of post, very official looking post, with a 200 Euro bill each, that’s not good!

We also had an e-mail that looks like we have a 4 thousand Euro bill each, bugger this was not something we had been expecting. This also looks very official and appears to have come from the tax!!!!!!

John takes a phone call, and the guy speaks really good English, but unfortunately John doesn't know what he is talking about, and asks him to ring back when I am in. he calls back and even though his English is very good, I still have no idea what he is talking about, but it is definitely something to do with this e-mail and the 4000 Euro bill.

I think tomorrow we will have a trip to our friend at the chambre of commerce and ask if she knows about it.

Now it's a case of sit back and wait for more bookings, and try not to think of this big bill, because that could mean the end of our dreams and the B&B will be on the market much sooner than we had ever planned. Please wish us luck!!!

but on a positive note, the sun is still shining!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Renovation Project - Baptism by fire

Renovation Project - Baptism by fire

Today is an exciting day, I have had an e-mail about doing a property viewing, no problem, the time is arranged, I have checked the time is OK with the vendors, and all is good. The viewer is a French guy, so the main office has made the arrangement.

I have checked that he speaks some English and he does, I'm really looking forward to it.

But then the telephone rings, it is the viewer, he would like to change the time, and his ability to speak English consists of the word OK!!!! I rearrange the viewing, with a new time and date, but then ring the office and ask them to check that I have done this correctly, I have, the conversation was correct, I managed it!!!!!!

I meet the guy the following day and we go to the property, all goes well and there is only one word that I cannot say, no matter how I try to pronounce it, it does not sound right, I eventually have to show him the word in writing, it is environment (in French it has far too many letters and is environnement, but certain letters are not pronounced!!!!!) why didn't I use the word area??? much easier!

But we are chatting and I am able to describe the house.

I am a little taken aback when he grabs his bag and starts to use his divining rods to look for water sources and a metal ball to test for the emotional situation, but it takes all sorts and he appears to like it. So we will have to wait and see.

My head aches by the end of the day, it really is so much more tiring having to speak in a different language, as I am having to translate the conversation in my head from English into French and then from French into English and keep it going as a flowing conversation.

This is actually much more draining than working on the house and that night I am so knackered.

A few tips about moving to a country with a different language.

  • Try very hard to speak the language of your chosen country
  • It is difficult but take your time
  • It's OK to make mistakes!!!!!!!!!
  • The most helpful phrase I learnt was:
           My spoken French is not very good but if you speak slowly I will understand.
           Mon parlez francais ce n'est pas tres bien, mais si vous parlez lentiment, je comprendre

I have written this with no help, so please do not assume the grammar or spelling is correct.

Final tip, keep trying, you do get there

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Swingers B&B in Brittany

Swingers B&B in Brittany

The B&B is becoming more and more successful, we are having regular guests and since going on to we have many more booked in.

All is going well, my French is improving by the day and I am chatting with my guests, we seemed to have fallen into a routine, I will get up in the morning and walk to the boulangerie to buy the fresh croissants, John will brew the coffee, guests have a great breakfast and then leave very happy, John sorts out the rooms and does the laundry and we're ready for the next guest as I concentrate on the estate agency and my French, sounds idyllic doesn't it? And it is in the most part, but sometimes we do make little mistakes such as the one the other night, where I think we may have gained the wrong reputation for the B&B.

We had 2 French workers staying and as one was getting ready I was sorting the other out with the wifi password, John and I are in the kitchen so I make some small talk and ask if he has had a good night, he looks very surprised by this comment, so I ask again and again the surprised look at both me and John, I try one final time and then give up, we both laugh as obviously something was lost in translation, it is later that night that I realise what was lost in translation!

I had asked him if he wanted a good night!!!!!! and not once, but 3 times whilst looking at John!!!!!!!
Oh My God, no wonder he looked so surprised!!!!! He must think we're swingers!!!!!!

I dread to think what he was going to tell his colleagues or anybody else for that matter.

I now have 2 french lessons a week and not just one! We want a reputation, but one based on quality not 'extras'

PS we do not provide extra's this is the definition of lost in translation

Chaos at Huelgoat, France Huelgoat B&BHuelgoat Lake, Huelgoat B&BB&B's in Huelgoat France

Friday, 4 July 2014

Renovation project - Removing an asbestos roof in France

Renovation project - Removing an asbestos roof in France

We seem to have settled into a new way of living, when we have guests I get up and go to the boulangerie for the fresh croissants and bread, I get the tables ready and John makes the drinks and then strips the rooms and clears up whilst I work on the estate agency business.

I seems to work well lets hope it continues, however as we only have 2 rooms and not both have been let at the same time yet, none of this takes very long. So John is looking for other things to do.

The weather has been stunning it has actually been hot and sunny for quite some time!!!!! so today John decides to make the most of it and replace the utility room roof.

This is the last of the asbestos. Now many people will freak when they hear we have an asbestos roof, but this is a common material in our part of France and as long as it is in good condition, it is not a problem.

This roof is in good condition, it just looks horrible and we still have a pile of slate left over.

So John removes the asbestos (carefully) and attaches new spars (these are pieces of 3x2 wood (this is the minimum size required) the spars go up and down and are attached to the existing wall plate and the pearlings, (the pearlings are the wooden beams that go from wall to wall), luckily these were in good condition).

Next the lats are added (lats are 2x1 wood, that the slates attach to). This is not the french way, the french way is to cover the whole roof in boards and then use crochet hooks to hold the slates in place.

You must make sure that you have enough lats, other wise you cannot finish the roof, John does not want me to say that we didn't have enough, but as he had decided to build the roof on a whim today with materials found in the shed, we're not doing badly, lets hope it doesn't rain!

It doesn't rain overnight and John gets what he needs, the roof is finished when the flashing is added (flashing is the bit that seals the roof to the wall, John uses flash band that s torched on, this is using a heat gun to melt it in to place)

Wooden fascia boards are added to the side to finish it off, the new roof looks so much better.
But now you may be asking what happened to the old asbestos, well here in our part of France ((it is different across France) I took it to the tip!

Our local dechetterie has a skip for asbestos, and you are allowed to take so much and just throw it in there, be very careful doing this, make sure you don't breathe in the dust and wear a pair of gloves.

If you are viewing a house in France, you will find asbestos some where, don't let this put you off buying.

How to replace an asbestos roof, FranceHow to replace an asbestos roof, France

How to replace an asbestos roof, FranceHow to replace an asbestos roof, France

How to replace an asbestos roof, FranceHow to replace an asbestos roof, France

How to replace an asbestos roof, FranceHow to replace an asbestos roof, France

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Renovation project - House for sale in Brittany

Renovation project - House for sale in Brittany

Many of you have been reading our story for a long time and be honest, you have imagined yourself doing it haven't you? when you are stuck o the motorway in yet another traffic jam, or you have just answered your last work e-mail at 10 o'clock at night?????

You have read the ups and downs and seen us make it, yes it is possible and there are still bargains to be had in this beautiful part of Brittany.

If you really do fancy giving it a go, I know of a beautiful cottage that is for sale, it's amazing value and you get another house to renovate, so you don't have to put up with our bad bits of no kitchen or toilet!! 

The cottage is in a peaceful location but only 2km from the picturesque village of Collorec in the centre of Brittany.

The main house sits high on its own giving views over the surrounding countryside, the perfect size for a holiday retreat or as a get away from it all permanent home. There is space for extending the main home, subject to planning permission.

There is a drive way to the front of the property. Where you will find gardens surrounding the house, currently there are apple and plum trees and even chickens!

The house itself is entered through the main front door and there is a kitchen to one side big enough to fit a table and chairs and to the other side of the hall is the small lounge and good sized bathroom.

The turned wooden staircase at the end of the hall has a storage cupboard underneath and leads to 2 good sized double bedrooms.

Outside of the property there are garden areas and a stone barn that is currently used as a storage shed.

Walk to the side of this building and you will see a grassy passage with an old stone house which has water and electric connected and a new roof with velux windows, this property is just waiting to be renovated.

Walk through the passage and you will come to the back of the main house where there is another stone ruin, this then leads you into the rear garden.

A fantastic collection of buildings and a home to live in. This is your opportunity to have a slice of French life for only 71,500 Euro's at todays exchange rate (02.07.14) that's less than £58,000 GBP or $98,000 US dollars!!!!!!!!!!

and though it is in a small hamlet it is close to everything

Collorec approx 2km
Huelgoat approx 10km

Brest airport and Roscoff ferry port approx 1 hour away

If you are interested n this property or want more details, e-mail us

House for sale in Collorec, Brittany, france.

House for sale in Collorec, Brittany, france.

House for sale in Collorec, Brittany, france.

House for sale in Collorec, Brittany, france.

House for sale in Collorec, Brittany, france.

House for sale in Collorec, Brittany, france.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Renovation project - Scary dolls

Renovation project - Scary dolls

We have one of the nicest neighbours imaginable living here, a little old French lady, who is ever so elegant and always very stylish, she has had an amazing life from the conversations we have had, but we don't think she has any family.

Her house is a treasure chest of antiques and also clutter, we often see her coming back from a walk and carrying flowers and leaves from the forest that are then displayed in her window. Well today I saw a man trying to get into her window, I stopped and asked if everything was OK, but his accent was very strong and I didn’t understand all of it, but he seemed legit so I wasn't too worried.

When we came back from the shops there were a number of people going in to the house and carrying out bags, it appears that she is a far worse hoarder than we had thought and she had had a bit of an accident and people couldn't get in or out of the house as the clutter had piled up by the door.

We helped to clear some away and took it to the tip, but the little old lady was not her usual self, her hair was not brushed and she was not happy.

Over the next few days she she was the same, I chatted to her but it was not right seeing this most elegant of women looking dishevelled, and I wonder if the helpful neighbours (and us!) may have done more harm than good.

The window display slowly started to reappear, but this time with a doll, obviously a very old doll that had an open mouth, tonight I saw this doll in the window, I can't say anything other than it scares the life out of me!

We have to go shopping again and I see some flowers, so I buy her a bunch. It's late when we get back and horror of horrors, when I call round the doll has moved up the window and now looks like it is screaming at me!!!!!!

The following morning when I give the flowers to her she is so touched, but I now think it may have been a mistake as these are in the window with all her new fauna, is she going to be back to normal in no time and have I helped it along? But she is back to her old cheerful, stylish self.

It makes you wonder whether our idea of helping is actually helping or just interfering, living in clutter may not be a good way to live, but it obviously makes her happy.