Sunday, 31 December 2017

Renovation Project - It’s all over

Renovation Project - It’s all over
This has been such a hectic week; we have so much to do and so little time to do it in. Have you ever noticed that when you know what needs doing there seems to be so much time but actually trying to get it done is a totally different matter.
Cleaning the house is no problem, but then you don’t want to use the room you cleaned, but have to, so it needs cleaning again so it becomes a never ending cycle.
The last tip run is completed and we say our goodbyes, this was far more emotional than should be expected, what had my life become? But seriously we had actually got to know the guy there quite well, it was like my second home for quite some time, again, seriously, what had my life become?
Then we need to get everything booked for our trip to Portugal, this may be the last time that we make this drive, simply because flights are so inexpensive. So trying to ensure that we visit the right places on the way down are important.
We complete the final signing of our sale at 11 am tomorrow morning (the blog is a little bit behind as you may have guessed, we are not signing on New Year’s Day) and will be driving to Portugal as soon as we leave the notaires office. So we can’t go as far as Bordeaux which is normally our first stop, so we are going to stay in La Rochelle. I have wanted to visit this town so much and somehow we have never managed it. But the trip is planned with 4 stops; we really are going to enjoy this trip with time for lunch in Bordeaux one day and San Sebastian the next.
The car is taken to the garage to have its wheels balanced as John noticed a slight wobble, this takes almost a full day as we go in the morning to be told to come back at 2, then at 2 we are told to come back at 3, then at 3 we are told to come back at 4. This is not a problem as they are the main garage in this area for recovery of cars, so we know they can be very busy and called out on emergencies. But they are good and trustworthy so the payoff is worth it, plus now we just give a Gaelic shrug and say, oh well its France (I think I may miss this attitude to life the most when we leave).
But now all our goodbyes are said, our house is empty of us, all the furniture is being left and once again we pack the new trusty Volvo with all our worldly belongings, and we must be getting better as we do not even have a roof box for this journey.
It’s a final night at Le Crepuscule, actually this restaurant maybe what I will miss the most and then the night is spent at our friends house, no its definitely my friends I will miss the most and then it really is goodbye Huelgoat in the morning.
Oh God what are we doing I love this place; I am going to miss it all so much

But tomorrow is a new day
TO BE CONTINUED.................................
picture courtesy of

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

I know its a little late but we were without internet. 

So apologies but from both of us we wish you a very Merry Christmas

Enjoy and have fun

picture courtesy of

Monday, 18 December 2017

Renovation project - Goodbye Rex

Renovation project - Goodbye Rex
We have had such a hectic time trying to say all of our goodbyes, but there is one that has a special place. Before we moved to France we had a large old dog called Rex, he was supposed to retire to France with us, but unfortunately he didn’t make it, he was too old and life couldn’t keep up. It was only a short time before we left for France that he died,
But it was too short an amount of time for me to be ready to say good bye in the UK and leave him in a strange place alone (yes I now he was a dog, but he had been my loyal companion for over 12 years) so we made the decision to take his ashes to France and bury him there, this never happened on our first time in France, certainly couldn’t leave him in Spain and our new French house has no garden, this is where my wonderful friend stepped in.
We met when she was first moving to France, when I was an estate agent and became firm friends, well this person is a dog lover and has rescued many dogs since coming to France, many of whom were very old or inform and there is a small section of her garden, under the shade of a tree where her dogs ashes are sprinkled and she kindly offered to let Rex rest there.
Although we will not be coming back to this bit of France anytime soon, it will always hold a piece of my heart, with so many happy memories and so many good friends and I know he will be kept company by the new dogs that arrive.

We lay his ashes and sit in the garden enjoying our last glass of wine.

Goodbye Rex, the first and hardest of our goodbyes and thank you Suzy

Friday, 8 December 2017

Renovation project - The end is near

Renovation project - The end is near
picture courtesy of
Apologies for the delay but we have just been so busy and to be honest we really needed a bit of a break, but the final installments of our life in France are coming.
Ok the French sale is now going ahead at full steam. We will be exchanging next week.
I am on face book and having a chat with one of my very good friends and as I am about to say I’ll pop round next week, it suddenly hits me like a steam roller, and I am floored.
I look at John and say do you mind if I pop up to Suzy’s and he says no problem is everything OK and at this moment I explain there will be no next week to pop up, this is it we are actually leaving next week.
So I call up and sit on the terrace thinking this is probably the last afternoon we will be doing this.
When I return home it is time to try to arrange all of our goodbyes, we should probably have done this earlier, but you can’t guarantee anything until the paperwork is signed, but now it is.
We have such a bitter sweet week, eating out and visiting people saying our final goodbyes. There is so much I am going to miss about this little village, we have made such good friends and have so many happy memories. But it is time to plan the next stage and hopefully that will be just as good, at least the sun will shine on the next stage.
So for now it’s cleaning and clearing and getting up to date on the blog.

And luckily getting Johns teeth fixed, we finally managed to get an appointment at the dentist (after all it is September now) we have a last lot of anti biotics and hopefully John will finally be back to his normal self.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Renovation project - Selling a house in France

Renovation project - Selling a house in France

picture courtesy of
As you are aware we have been selling the French house at the same time as the UK house, the only difference is the estate agent. Unlike the UK you can have as many estate agents as you like, but quantity does not necessarily mean quality.
We are also selling the house privately and if you have ever considered doing this, I will do a post explaining how, but for now here is a brief idea of the sorts of enquiries you will get as the enquiries have been coming think and fast, my French is getting back to where it was when I used to be an immobillier (estate agent) and my brain is remembering why I said I would never do it again!
1.      I had a lovely e-mail from a Parisian, I responded with an e-mail that took me an evening to write, I received a thank you and I’ll be in touch (no they weren’t!)
2.      A quick e-mail wanting to know how much the taxes were, we think good value, they obviously didn’t as not heard from them again.
3.      An email asking how close the shops were to the property and public transport, big reply sent stating all approx 200 metres but heard nothing back I have no idea how close they wanted the shops to be
4.      The icing on the cake e-mail, would we be willing to let them stay in the property for 3 weeks so that they could decide if they want to buy it! Err that will be a no, pay for your own holiday!
5.      Our first enquiry wanting to view, date booked, went very well and 20 minutes after they left came back and said they loved it, please don’t sell it before they come back with their son next week (eek have we just sold?)
6.      Can we view at the same time as our returning viewers (no and I give a number of alternative times and dates) never too be heard from again
7.      The local agent has got a couple that want to view (woo hoo, I won’t have to do anything with this one)
8.      Our first viewers come back, but it is not the right property for the son, who is actually buying, the couple look like they are about to cry
9.      An enquiry from one of the other sites, can they have more details (now I know this is a standard option on the site to click a button, but come on, what details?) I reply asking what details would they like and the day after get an offer of the asking price! Something smells fishy, I telephone the number I have and speak to a man, hello, how are you? Good to speak to you, are you in a position to buy our house? Actually no, I haven’t arranged a trip yet, ahh ok no problem; let me know when you have!!!!!!!!!
10.  Another enquiry asking for more details about the location, so again my French brain is exhausted after replying. They want to visit, another viewing, then I get another e-mail, a bit I do not understand so use Google translate, which tells me they are very annoyed that we do not have a downstairs bathroom, so will not be visiting. I am assuming that Google got it a little bit wrong and they weren’t actually annoyed with us.
11.  Then we have an enquiry from an English couple who want to view, she loves it, but he’s not sure, they will let us know. I don’t want to be a fly on the wall in that house tonight.
12.  Another English couple, again they really like it but again, one more than the other.
13.  Lots of e-mails from an English person, who eventually decides they want a big garden. It states so clearly there is only a patio garden.
14.  Another English family who want to visit, it is the opposite of what they originally wanted, but the lure of being able to walk to the shops and restaurants and lake and forest has changed their mind. They view and love it. We are waiting for them to arrange a second viewing as they need to speak to the Mairie. Now this sounds very promising.

This is the downside to selling yourself you have to do all the work and answer all of the e-mails, swapping between French and English. But it does make for fun reading when you put them all together.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Renovation project - 21st century fax

Renovation project - 21st century fax
picture courtesy of
We have a date set for the completion and that date is now here, the completion and transfer will be completed at about 12 noon. I have spoken to the transfer company and they have said to contact the solicitor to arrange to have the money paid directly to them. I e-mail the UK solicitor and surprisingly get no reply. On the morning of the completion I telephone them and I think we are both surprised to actually speak to each other.
He asks his manager if the money can be split with the transfer company and the answer is no. This would’ve been better yesterday as today is Friday and the exchange rate is dropping daily.
I contact the bank in the UK and ask if the money can be transferred to the exchange company, As this is not a transaction I have done before I will need to pop into the bank, it is at this point I explain that I am in France. Why did I not think of this when I was actually in the UK?
The bank is very helpful and says as long as I can fax a letter to them with my signature they will accept it. OK, where do you find a fax machine in the 21st century? Why can I not just scan it, surely that is the same thing, but no a fax is required.
It is funny we had always thought that France was so behind with technology and bureaucracy, but after selling a house in the UK and here in France, the UK seems very antiquated now.
I first go to my French bank; after all it is a bank transaction. They try to help and I think something got a little lost in translation as whether the fax machine was on holiday or the person that uses it? The teller then goes to a manager’s office to se if there is any other way to help, there isn’t so we stand and discuss where else he thinks we can go, we have the Mairie (town hall) or the Notiares office.
The Notaire is closest so we try that one, and luckily they do still have a fax machine, there are no questions asked as to why we want the document faxing, no questions as to what this has to do with their office just a smile and a reply of no problem.
The letter is faxed, it will now need  at least 2 hours to reach the correct department the exchange rate is booked at today’s rate, now we just need it all to go from solicitor, to bank to exchange company. What could possibly go wrong with such high level technology as a fax machine!
This is the bit I am going to miss most about France, how helpful and friendly everybody is, our fax had nothing to do with our French bank, the Notaire of the Mairie, but each was willing to help and when they couldn’t to take the time to think of somebody who could.
Are we doing the right thing leaving Huelgoat, can Portugal ever live up to our experience here?
But back to the wait for the money confirmations.
At almost 5 pm the bank confirm the money is with the exchange company. I could almost cry with relief and then a different emotion hits, it has gone, the UK house that we had always planned to be our pension is gone, we have to make Portugal work as there really is no back up now whatsoever, but the sad bit is my last family home is no longer mine, but there is a wonderful family moving into it with children. It will be a family home again.

Tonight it is a celebration, and that can only mean one thing, a night at Le Crepuscule (OMG how we are going to miss that place!!!!!)

Monday, 25 September 2017

Renovation project - Brest university hospital

Renovation project - Brest university hospital

photo courtesy of
We had telephoned yesterday to try too book an appointment but had been told to just come and go to batiment 5 (building 5)
We arrive in Brest and our new sat nav takes us straight to the hospital, we find a parking space. The main road outside the hospital has parking spaces all along with no charge. We love Brittany so much!
So we head over to where I think it is with john convinced we should go in the opposite direction, there are so many entrances. We see somebody and ask for directions to the dentist and he replies in English, I think at some point I will stop sounding like a sat nav, even with all my words correct people know immediately I am not French. But hey he was helpful.
We find the dentist building and try to check in, the receptionist explains that we need to go to building 5, OK no problem, we head out and the building numbers are enormous so there is no missing number 5, the only problem is that number 5 is paediatrics and gyneacology, so we assume there must be another section  number 5, we walk around and no we cannot find it, we head back to the dentist section and see a member of staff leaving the building, we stop her and show her the piece of paper the receptionist gave us and she says, “ah yes, batiment 5 you need to register”
We head back over to building 5 and enter there is a great big sign stating what is in there and there is nothing to do with teeth!
But then we see the accueil sign and a number of desks, we go over to one to ask what we need to do and this is it, this is where we book in, this is where everybody books in for which ever department or building you require.
Why they don’t have this info on the front door, we have no idea, but at least we got to visit most of the hospital.
We have our documents and ID checked and are given some papers and told to go back to building 6 (the dentist).
The emergency dentist in Brest is open from 9, 30 to 11.30 and 1pm to 4.30 so we are now definitely not the first in the queue.
But it does not take long to be seen, the staff were excellent, and the male dentist could speak English, though unfortunately he wanted me to stay in case of any problems. I don’t think I gave John much comfort as I sat there shaking and feeling ill. I am not good with the dentist!
But he was x-rayed and there was a large infection, the dentist drained and cleaned it and then prescribed some even stronger anti biotics and a mouth wash and told us to make an appointment to see a dentist, at this point we all laughed a little bit, he said if there were any problems to come straight back until the dentists returned from their summer holidays.
We leave and once again think how fantastic the health care is in France and how lucky we are to live here.
Top tips
  • If visiting Brest university hospital without an appointment, go to building 5 to register
  • Ignore the big signs for paediatrics and gynaecology
  • Ensure you have full ID with you.
  • Take your passport or ID card as well as your health card
  • If you are going to an open appointment (1.30 – 4) go a little earlier to register so you are not too far down the queue.
  • I am not sure what you need to do if you have an actual appointment so good luck from us

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Renovation project - It's august, France is closed for the holidays

Renovation project - It's august, France is closed for the holidays
Photo - Sylvain Naudin
John is still no better, his abscess is getting more uncomfortable and the anti biotics he had have made no difference. We need to see a dentist. I telephone to make an appointment but the dentist is closed for summer holidays, no problem there is a new dentist in our village, I pop down to find that closed also. We ring a friend and ask if they can give us the number to their dentist, we ring and they are closed until September.
We sit there and wonder what to do, he really needs to see somebody we consider going to the doctor but the last time they gave anti biotics that did not work, we are left with no choice but to visit the urgencies in Morlaix (this is the emergency department)
We arrive and book in and I spend ages trying to describe the word bridge in French I had forgotten to Google this before we left, eventually I just say bridge and I receive the reply  “ah bridge” they knew exactly what I meant.
We go through to the doctor and explain again, he looks at John’s mouth and agrees he needs to see the dentist but unfortunately the emergency dentist at Morlaix hospital is also on holiday for august, so he gives us the details for Brest hospital.
Brest is our local big city. The hospital there is a university hospital so we know there will be a dentist available.
But we cannot go until tomorrow, so we leave with another prescription for stronger antibiotics and pain killers.
Our biggest top tip on this is do not get a tooth ache in France in August!
This is actually one of the things we love about rural France, people work to live not live to work,
It is August; we are going to go on holiday!

But it is not just the dentist that is on holiday in August it is virtually everything, if you come to live here do not expect much of anything during August other than to enjoy your life, the sun is shining and it is almost impossible to get any work done or complete anything but hey, there is wine and sun shine and the living is easy, after all that is why most of us are here and it really isn’t a problem normally, just when you happen to get a surprise toothache

Friday, 22 September 2017

Renovation project - Exchange date in the UK

Renovation project - Exchange date in the UK
photo courtesy of
The exchange is now due for Wednesday, but once we were assured that the solicitors had everything they needed and nothing more was sent to the UK house, we arranged to go home, we will be leaving on Wednesday, but before we go we stop off at the house with a nice bottle of champagne for the new owners and a list of everything they will need to know.
We also drop of some cider and rose wine for the neighbours so they could try the Breton version.
On the Wednesday we drive home and stop at a service station every so often to see if the e-mail has come through saying the exchange has taken place, the day gets more and more stressful as we start to believe that it will not happen again and tomorrow we will not be able to e-mail our consent as we will not have any internet.
We decided to travel home via the Dover – Calais route as the Plymouth – Roscoff was just so expensive. So it is 2 days of driving but we do get to spend the evening in Boulogne sur Mer, we have stayed here before and the restaurants are really lovely (we didn’t really sight see this time but if you want to have a look around here is the link to our last visit).
As we are sat at Dover port the phone rings, it is the estate agent, they are ringing to let us know that the exchange has finally gone through. The feeling of relief is enormous.
This is it.
The house is really being sold.
Johns birthday uncommon goods

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Renovation project - Stress, stress, stress

Renovation project -  Stress, stress, stress
pictiure courtesy of
The surveys are completed and there are no problems, I speak to the UK agent who says that there was a little thing but nothing to worry about, the buyers will get the survey in the next couple of days, the French ones show a couple of anomalies but nothing bad and the water survey is perfect.
OK its hopefully full steam ahead.
I contact the UK solicitor and don’t get a reply, that seems normal practice for the UK, I then get an e-mail saying it has been passed to contracts; yippee it’s on the final stage.
We make arrangements to go back to the UK for the final signing and also because we have just had a new baby grandson. This is such a happy trip.
I am still waiting to hear if we can still exchange on Friday? (It is now Wednesday and we leave tomorrow early morning)
We don’t have much response from the solicitor. We contact the estate agent to see what the holdup is, they contact the solicitor and we are told we are just waiting for some replies to the enquiries.
Then I get an e-mail, with a list of questions! These are the questions we are waiting for answers for, we had never even been asked the questions. We also find out that the final contract had been sent to the UK for signing and they are waiting for that.
Wow the stress levels are now through the roof. I manage to get everything sent back to them before we leave with an e-mail that leaves the solicitor in no doubt of how I am feeling; this is much easier to do in English!
Apparently the exchange is still planned for Friday and yes you guessed it as much as me, it didn’t happen, we are now aiming for Monday, oops that didn’t happen either, now its Wednesday so fingers crossed.
We have also been informed that we must contact the solicitor every day to confirm that we want to sell; it is very difficult to do this without a great deal of sarcasm. If only everything was a simple as a French sale with no English solicitors to mess it up.
The one thing we can say is that the estate agents have been great, they have answered every phone call, chased up everything we have asked them to and been pro active chasing up the solicitor (who still hasn’t returned my call)
But on a positive note we have had a great time with the family and visiting the new baby on a slightly more negative note; John has got an abscess and infection in his mouth again, so we have a trip to the doctors for some anti biotics

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Planete Chocolat

Planete Chocolat
The stress has not really reduced until today, today is a fantastic day, I treated myself to a box of chocolates, not just any chocolates but luxury Belgian chocolates that will be delivered to my door!
I am a big chocolate lover and at times the only thing to reduce the stress I am feeling is chocolate, but it is not something I eat a lot of here in France though as it is both very expensive or not that readily available in our little village.
But there is a site that has amazing Belgian chocolate that can be delivered to your door here in France, called Planete Chocolat and if you click the link you will see that at the moment you can get free delivery within 24 hours
The delivery is tracked with emails arriving to let you know that they are being delivered and at what time to expect them, unfortunately ours was one of the last deliveries so I had to wait all day, but believe me the wait was worth it and the packaging that it came in made sure that there was no damage to the box.
The presentation was so nice. The box was something that you would want to use again after the chocolates are finished (which didn’t actually take many days) but the box was not the only part of the presentation, the box came in a great bag with a greeting card, my chocolates actually greeted me!

But the presentation aside, the chocolates were pure luxury, I had the pralines selection and my only difficulty was choosing a favourite, which I never managed, maybe after my next box.
But don’t worry if you don’t live in France, Planete Chocolat also deliver worldwide, so you won’t miss out.

Thank you Planete Chocolat for helping to reduce my stress levels
Disclaimer this is a featured post

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Renovation project - Surveys, Surveys and more Surveys

Renovation project - Surveys, Surveys and more Surveys
I have realised that it has been sometime since I blogged and I apologise, but I really had no idea just how stressful selling 2 houses in 2 countries would actually be, so I feel a little more human and can now get back to the blog. I will pick up where I left off and surprisingly this one ends with me saying how stressful it is starting to get!
We arrive back in France and for the first time neither of us have been ill on a visit back to the UK, that really has to be a first.
We get to the house and have a look round and think that we need to get everything in place and ready. The diagnostiques will be checking all over the house, and the guy will be here in the morning.
Then I check my e-mails, the diagnostique company has e-mailed to change the date, it is over a week away, this is not good at all. I ring the company and there is nothing they can do, I realise how difficult it is to argue in a different language. I don’t want to be too awful but I can’t find the right words, (however my tone is definitely coming through) i have no choice, it is still difficult to speak on the phone, so trying to argue when nobody can see my expression means I accept the next appointment, only John can see me hopping about waving my arms.
I am not happy, but there is nothing to be done.
Later that day we also receive a telephone call from the estate agent in the UK, the survey has been arranged for the UK house on the same day as our diagnostiques are being completed, later still I have an email from the Notaire, he has arranged for Veolia (the water company) to come out and survey our drains, again on the same day.
OK maybe this is all going to be a little bit stressful. But after next Thursday, things can only get better, assuming everything passes and the UK survey values the house at the amount the buyers have offered.
I had no idea that the UK surveyors could value it for less and that would put a spanner in the works.
But today we are going out for dinner, my head is banging, my stress levels are through the roof and I am not cooking, I want a steak burger with a bottle of wine and I want somebody to bring it to my table with a smile.

Crepuscule here we come.
I am so glad we came here as seeing the special board really cheered me up, souris d’agneau, which I could only translate as mouse of lamb! It was lamb shank, but somehow, mouse of lamb sounded so much better 
Jenny and john in France, renovation project. Le Crepuscule, Huelgoat

Jenny and john in France, renovation project. Le Crepuscule, Huelgoat

Jenny and john in France, renovation project. Le Crepuscule, Huelgoat

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Renovation project - We have accepted an offer

Renovation project - We have accepted an offer
We have another week in the UK as we need to get the solicitor sorted and everything in place for the sale, as hopefully it should be very straightforward, the buyers have already sold and need to move quickly, this could not be better for us as we can move as quickly as they like.
But now we have a dilemma with the French house, we are still having interest but we have not had that offer yet. We discuss this and decide to drop the price, hopefully then when we get back too France we may have more luck in selling it.
I give all interested parties a days notice then put the advert on the blog and face book, within a few hours I have received an e-mail. We chat for a while and then the offer comes,
We cannot believe we have sold two houses in two countries within a week, but now we are in a real quandary as which country do we stay in?
The UK house is ready to go, the buyers are happy to have the furniture left, which is a bonus for us as we would not want to try to sell everything even thought the washing machine is only 3 weeks old (I have discovered I have another priority in life, toilet, shower ad now washing machine, I think I am the most easily pleased person in the world!)
We decide we need to be in France sooner rather than later and book our ferry back, I had really not expected to be in this situation and probably should’ve waited until we were in France before reducing the price.
But hey that is life and I’m not complaining.
Luckily as I used to work as an estate agent in France I am aware of all that is required, we book our diagnostiques on line and these will be completed on Tuesday morning so we need to be back at the weekend.
It’s a quick round of goodbyes to all the family, but it is not so bad this time as we know we will be back again in a few weeks to sign the final contract

It is a strange journey home as we are both still in a state of shock at the sales, but hopefully all will be well with no problems after all, what could possibly go wrong? 
 I am sure it will not be stressful at all

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Renovation project - We have sold the UK house

Renovation project - We have sold the UK house
The house is ready to go on the market and the appointment has been booked for the photographs.
Before this is completed we actually have a couple of viewings, these were people on the estate agent books, looking for this type of property, this is why it is essential to have a good agent that knows the area as they may have somebody waiting to buy your house before the advert is printed.
But booth viewings just did not sit right, they were developers who both wanted to turn my lovely family home into bedsits, they both said they would be high quality, high level bedsits but it would still mean that yet another family home disappears and the neighbours would have a night mare with parking.
But we cannot turn down a house buyer, we just hope that somebody else will come along; after all it is not even on the market yet!
The day comes when all the photos have been edited and the advert goes live, we have a call immediately from the estate agent with a viewing. So its fingers crossed, we have 3 days to wait.
Those days are spent having an amazing time with the kids we even have 2 of them stay together for a sleepover. The time we get to spend here is fantastic and my heart starts to pull a bit knowing that we will be leaving again soon, but our next stage in life is waiting and all the kids and grandkids cannot wait for our new place in Portugal with the sunshine and the pool.
I get to see my granddaughters first sports day so even with living out of the country for 5 years I have never missed a first with her yet.
Tuesday arrives, the house is cleaned to within an inch of its life and the viewers turn up. They are a young family, exactly what the house needs and apparently exactly what they need, as within half an hour of them leaving they put an offer on and we accept.

We have sold
Woo hoo and to the nicest young family possible, there will be no developers, no problems with parking just nice people to mix in with our nice neighbours I don’t think I could be any happier. 
Well I would be if we sold the French house as well

Sunday, 20 August 2017

How to sell a house in the UK

How to sell a house in the UK

The time has gone so quickly, I can’t believe how much we have done and how knackered we are.
We invited the estate agent around to give advice on the house as we were planning on a new bathroom and possibly a new kitchen.
But after having a big discussion and a look around the house, the agent recommended that we did very little other than clean and decorate. This left us in a bit of a quandary as we had planned to remove the carpets to expose the original wooden floorboards. Again the agent said that these were not really necessary for a sale as there was a ceiling limit on the price of houses in this area.
As the agent left we sat and discussed his advice. We are so glad we asked him to call around, this is the biggest piece of advice we can give if you are selling in the UK, get a reliable estate agent to come and appraise your property, ours lived in the area, knew the area and sold plenty of houses in the area.
His advice was invaluable, but we did not go along with leave the carpets as he was not aware of Johns abilities or our dedication to getting a job completed, the agent thought it would take far too long and cost too much, it was neither.

But as long as your agent knows your area he will be able to  advice you what is necessary and as such may save you a lot of time and money.
The whole house was cleaned and decorated; we used a magnolia colour that is neutral, warm and clean. We left feature walls in the living room and the dining room which were just a slightly darker colour, these walls had been decorated and were much darker or patterned, this was to much.
dining room before

dining room after

dining room different angle

living room that had been used as a dining room

living room, redecorated and new fire surround installed

living room from different angle
The bedrooms we left as the wallpaper was still in good condition and it would have taken far longer to strip and redecorate. 
bedroom before

bedroom after, cleared and decorated

small bedroom 
The biggest changes were in the bathroom and the kitchen, again these rooms were just cleaned and decorated. John did some extra boxing in to cover pipes etc. But after just a couple of weeks the house looks so different.
bathroom before, with a personal choice colour

bathroom neutralised with a clean colour

kitchen before, 

kitchen after with neutral colour and some simple boxing in covering the boiler
It is amazing how much difference a good clean and redecoration can make, you really do not need to spend a fortune getting a house ready for the market. ensuring that the property is neutral and inviting is far more important. Remember that just because you like a particular colour (I love lime green!) not everybody else will and some people can not see past the furniture and decor.

Top tips
  • Always get an agent to appraise your house that knows your area.
  • Follow most of the advice that your agent gives you, they know how much your house will sell for, but you will know how much work you can complete
  • Do not spend too much on the house; you may not get it back.
  • Putting a new kitchen in, may not be the best use of your money, as the new owners may not necessarily like your choice.
  • Try to keep every as neutral as possible, you are selling a house for somebody else to live in, you are not selling your personality