Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Rural France. You know you're a local when.......

Rural France. You know you're a local when.......

We have now lived in Rural France for over four years and this morning as I went to the town square to buy some bread and was given the fresh bread rather than the bread on the shelf (admittedly the bread on the shelf was only a couple of hours old!)  The realisation hit me,

I am now a local!

I thought about this on the way back to the house and all the other things that make you realise you are a local and no longer a visitor and decided to come up with a check list.

You know you're a local when

1.   At the boulangerie you are given the fresh baguette before they are put on the shelf.

2.   The sun is shining in spring you will still be wearing a sweater and scarf as the tourists         wander around in shorts and t shirts.

3.   At a restaurant you think what a cute dog rather than why is there a dog in the restaurant.

4.   At the market you will think what a big dog rather than why is there a big dog tied up next to the butchers van.

5.   You stop noticing the dog poo on the street.

6.   You no longer practice what you are going to say before you go into the shop.

7.   You know the difference between a boulangerie and a patisserie.

8.   You stop noticing that the street lights get turned off and walking home in the pitch black becomes normal.

9.   You never make the mistake of going to the post office/shop/bank at lunch time.

10.  Everywhere being shut on a Monday becomes normal.

11.  You make sure you know when all the bank holidays are and never run out of milk on those days.

12.  Strangers talking to you and being polite becomes normal and expected and you get upset if a stranger does not say hello as they walk past and think there is something wrong.

13.  In a supermarket, you join the rush to the front of the queue when a new till opens instead of letting the person in front go first.

14.  You know never to shop in a hurry, as the cashier may just get up and go and chat to another person or start a completely different job before returning to you some time later.

15.  You can walk around without photographing everything.

16.  You learn how to drink in a bar. A tiny glass of wine is normal as is almost filling your glass with a spirit then adding a splash of mixer.

17.  You stop marvelling at the price of wine in a supermarket.

18.  You stop marvelling at the variety of cheese in a supermarket.

19. You stop laughing at Easter eggs, advent calendars and any other holiday confectionery still being sold at full price the month after the holiday.

20.  You no longer get angry when driving through a village and the car in front stops to talk to a person walking past.

21.  You are no longer surprised when driving through a village and the car in front stops to talk to a person walking past.

22.  You think nothing of stopping when driving through a village and talking to a person walking past.

23.  When you are driving in the middle of nowhere and can see for miles around, you still stop the car for 3 full seconds at a stop sign.

This is by no means an extensive list, but just a guide, what would you add to this list?

If you would like to find out what life is like in France we are selling our current house, click on the link for more info House for sale Huelgoat


Monday, 10 April 2017

Renovation Project - Fun in the sun

Renovation Project - Fun in the sun
We have just had our first perfect weather weekend, the sun was bright, the sky was blue and the air was warm. It really was just perfect.
I spent Saturday with different friends sat in the garden, and I have now realised I really want my friends garden. I don’t actually want to do the work that is required, (well I would happily do the work I would just need someone telling me what to do and what to plant and when to plant it, in fact help every step of the way)  But to be able to sit here and relax is just perfect.
Renovation project - Huelgoat garden

Saturday evening we are going out for dinner at our local favourite restaurant, Le Crepuscule, if you ever visit Huelgoat, this place is a must, it is so easy going and the chef and owners are so friendly and multi lingual. But it is a great place to practise and improve our spoken French. If you ask them to correct you when you get it wrong, you can quickly learn restaurant French, essential for any holiday or the beginning of your language skills.
The food was fantastic and the wine flowed, unfortunately it flowed so well I forgot to take a photo of the main course!
Renovation project - Le Crepuscule Huelgoat, Brittany, France
But the night drew to an end and we all weaved our way home.

The Sunday I woke with such a bad head, I actually missed the sunniest day of our perfect weekend, but a day in bed never does you any harm and now we are not working in the same way, I am hoping to enjoy many more perfect weekends in our little bit of heaven.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Renovation project - Gardening on a budget

Renovation project - Gardening on a budget
The sun is shining and Huelgoat is looking at its best and we are enjoying time with friends. This actually feels quite unusual as normally we never go out, we are usually working on the house but that is not the case at the moment I am actually sitting at friends houses and enjoying the opportunity to socialise.
But today I am going to make my garden look lovely. I am not a gardener in any sense so the fact that we have the terraces and the stone patio is ideal, but we do need some colour in it and I also have my window boxes.
We have bought a selection of plants from Lidl of all places, we have realised that plants tend to be quite expensive here in Brittany, but Lidl had one of their offers on and we bought three trays for only five Euros.
Renovation project - Gardening on a budget
It’s at this point I realise just how many plants you actually get in a try. The 5 boxes are filled with a variety.
The camellia has a ring of daisies and every other pot I can find gets a selection of bedding plants.
Renovation project - Gardening on a budget

Renovation project - Gardening on a budget
It’s just a case now of waiting for my wisteria to grow, it has already started to bud, so I am not in the same panic as last year when I bought it and had been convinced someone had sold me a dead twig!

Let’s just hope the sun stays 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Big Price Reduction - House in Huelgoat, Brittany, France

Big Price Reduction - House in Huelgoat, Brittany, France
The house has been on the market for a couple of months now and we have had a number of viewings but not yet sold. this was not a problem as we were going to just enjoy our time here.

But, now we have found another house so its time to sell, our sitting back enjoying ourselves is over, to be honest John has been raring to get started on another project.
So now is your opportunity to buy at a massively reduced price of offers around 102,000 euros for a house with so many options available,
1.      The chance to live in a large family home in the centre of Huelgoat.
2.       A great holiday home with small manageable garden so no worries about spending your holidays taming wild overgrowth
3.      The opportunity to move to France and start a business straight away, a 2 bed house and a 1 bed house either of which can be let out, in a year round tourist location.
Only 102,000 euros with option to include all the furniture.

AT todays rate (05.04.17) the current exchange rate makes that only 

$108,931 USD


£87,168 GBP

Has there ever been a better time to start your new life?
The property in detail:
Habitable Area: 123m2
Land Surface Area: 161m2
Energy Efficiency: D - 227
Co2 Emissions: A - 5 
Living room with new wood burner set in a large granite fireplace.
Fully fitted kitchen with dining area.
Stairs to:
Main bedroom with door to large private terrace
2nd double bedroom
Family bathroom
All upstairs windows have views over the forest.
From the kitchen:
Enter the dining room with external door to patio garden and full utility room.
Doorway that can be locked to a separate cottage with:
Large living room with small fitted kitchen and large granite fireplace, separate external door to outside
Stairs to large bedroom with vaulted ceiling and exposed beams and wooden floors, door to private terrace with views over the forest.
Fully fitted shower room off the bedroom.
Large garage/workshop. 
Renovation project house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
House and drive

Renovation project house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
the terraces and rear of the property

Renovation project house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
main kitchen

Renovation project house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
kitchen dining area

Renovation project house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
living room in main house

Renovation project house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
living room in main house

Renovation project house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
dining room and door to little house

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
bedroom in little house and door to terrace

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
bedroom in little house with door to ensuite bathroom

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
kitchen area in little house

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
living area in little house and external door

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
bedroom 2 in main house

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
family bathroom

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
stairs in main house

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
patio garden

Renovation project - house for sale Huelgoat Brittany, France
garage and little house terrace
indoor garden
the front of the little house inside the garage
The house has been completely renovated with new double glazing, new electrics, new plumbing, new fitted kitchen, new bathrooms, new wood burner and flue. 

The property is located approx 200 metres from the town square with a selection of restaurants, cafes, and shops. There is also a doctor and dentist in the town and a supermarket with 24 hour petrol. There are creperies and ice cream shops along the lake and within the forest you will find an internet cafe selling vegan food and organic beers.
There is public transport available with a bus service to Carhaix and Morlaix (Morlaix has a TGV train direct to Paris and further into Europe)
There is a mechanic/vehicle service garage and a taxi service in the town.
Huelgoat has a large leisure lake with cafes and an enchanted forest with many tourist attractions (again only approx 200 metres from the property). 
Although a popular tourist destination the area is never crowded. 
Here are some photos of Huelgoat (approx 200 metres from the house)
Renovation project -  Huelgoat, Brittany, France

Renovation project -  Huelgoat, Brittany, France

Renovation project -  Huelgoat, Brittany, France

Renovation project -  Huelgoat, Brittany, France

Renovation project -  Huelgoat, Brittany, France

Renovation project -  Huelgoat, Brittany, France

Renovation project -  Huelgoat, Brittany, France
Huelgoat is located approx 45 mins from Roscoff ferry port, 30 mins from Morlaix (with a TGV train to Paris) and approx 35 mins to the nearest beach 
International airport at Brest approx 50 mins away.
If you have any questions or would like further information please contact us either on here or via e-mail on the contact page.

Please share with your friends and family, thank you

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Renovation project - Holiday season

Renovation project - Holiday season
The Easter holidays are approaching and with this comes the return of friends and neighbours who have holiday homes in the area.
It is always great to see people who have holiday homes as they bring the holiday feeling with them.
Huelgoat is so beautiful, but you begin to take things for granted, it is only when people come for a short period of time that we really appreciate how lucky we are.
And obviously there are the really big pluses such as having meals out and visiting friends again. 
Such as our Sunday, we spent a sunny afternoon, well actually a sunny 6 hours, eating and drinking wine. This is how a Sunday should be spent.
We head off for home with John agreeing to go back in the morning to give a hand with a DIY job. It is great to be able to help people, especially when they happily cook you a roast pork dinner!

I head out for my evening walk and take time to look at the amazing sunset and some of the sights that I pass everyday and never really think of anymore, but today I am thinking how nice, today I am thinking how lucky I am, today I am counting my blessings as I look around and realise this is my home. 
I am truly one of the luckiest people in the world. Huelgoat Brittany France

Huelgoat Brittany France

Huelgoat Brittany France

Huelgoat Brittany France

Huelgoat Brittany France

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Renovation project - Indoor gardening in Brittany

Renovation project - Indoor gardening in Brittany
I have just realised I have never shown anyone what the inside of our garage looks like.
If you remember we had initially planned on taking the garage down but decided against this. This then left us with the dilemma of what to do with the steps that were in there, removal was the best option but they were so solid and John decided that actually to build them up and fill them in would give him a great work bench.
Which it did, but now it is not required and we want to make it look good.

Here is a link to the garage in case you have forgotten or have only just joined us GARAGE
We start to research indoor gardens but unless you are veer rich and have multiple degrees in architecture and horticulture the websites were not very helpful.
So we put our heads together and remember how much we liked the fake grass in Spain.
We find some cut it to size, ass a few plants and we now have a fabulous little indoor garden for the little house, whilst still keeping the garage.
I still think a deckchair would look good while John is more inclined to putting a small golf course on it.
indoor garden, Brittany France

indoor garden, Brittany France

indoor garden, Brittany France

indoor garden, Brittany France

indoor garden, Brittany France

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Renovation Project - English informer in France

Renovation project - English informer in France
Recently I have started to write a weekly article for the English Informer in France. I do not know if you have ever heard of this on line publication, but for anybody with an interest in France it is an absolute must read, here is the description
The English Informer in France provides an interesting and entertaining mix of clear, relevant and engaging content. This includes an online business directory, news, features, advice, life in France, property, culture, finance, blogs and entertainment. Our online magazine offers regional media coverage, through easy to navigate, effective, user friendly pages.

We love to hear other people's stories, hobbies and events. We are passionate about creating a platform for them.

The English Informer in France will keep our pages stocked with great content, but your contributions are invaluable.  "Be part of the story." 
I know it was so lazy of me to cut and paste, but there is no point re writing something that is so clear.
So you can either take a look and enjoy the magazine or if you have a great story get in touch with them to see about being in print.

Here is a link to my latest article, and the magazine. I hope you enjoy

Monday, 27 March 2017

Renovation project - Top 100 Renovation blogs on the web

Renovation project - Top 100 Renovation blogs on the web
Jenny and John in France
This week I received an amazing e-mail. The blog has been selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Renovation Blogs on the web.
Yes that is right, one of the top 100 on the entire web!
I am still in a bit of a state of shock as even though I know the blog is popular and we have e-mails from around the world, we even have visitors from around the world. The furthest so far was a couple from Canada, that had actually come to view houses here in Huelgoat after following the blog!
But after the excitement, I started to wonder if it was legitimate, after all we had not entered any competitions, I have not even been blogging as much as I used too.
I decided to e-mail Feedspot and ask how and why, the response was fantastic, it wasn’t a case of applying, they found us.
Here is the reply:
We have considered following factors to rank the blog.
·         Search Engine ranking
·         Social media influence
·         Social media buzz
·         Alexa Ranking
·         Post frequency
·         Quality score by our editorial team
It really is a case of the blog has become award winning and one of the most widely read renovation blogs on the web.
We may not be number one but at 63 worldwide, I am happy.

click on the link to see all the other blogs Feedspot Top 100 Renovation Blogs
I still marvel at how my blogging career has come about, I think back to when I first set it up, it really was just a way to let family and friends know what we were up to. I had no blogging experience, though I had written a lot in previous jobs. But now here I am, an award winning blogger with a book under my belt and a weekly article in an online magazine.
I think I can safely say I am a very happy bunny
So there is nothing left to say other than thank you to everybody that has found us, followed us and read us.
Thank you we could not have done it without you.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Renovation project - Storm damage

Renovation project - Storm damage
A few day ago we had a horrendous storm, normally we are fully protected here in the town but as I woke I saw there was no internet on my  iPad, not a big problem as this happens often, I just need to move it around to find the signal again (actually I think I just need to get a new iPad, but that’s a whole other story) any way, I moved it around and nothing, so I do the next  best thing and go to make a coffee, but the cooker ring won’t light, it’s at this point I try the light switch and nothing. I check the consumer unit and nothing has blown.
We have no electric, this is the first time for us in the town. I give a friend a call to see if they are in the same boat and no, theirs had come back on at 9.30 am. So hopefully it won’t be much longer.
I suggest a lazy day watching TV (yes Johns reaction was the same!) so no TV, no problem we can read on the internet, yep same reaction. I can’t even read on the kindle as the battery is not full and my laptop lasts 5 minutes without being plugged in.
It’s at this point you begin to wonder what did people do before electricity. We actually went back to bed for a couple of hours, so much for my new resolution of getting up and doing stuff!
We are still without electric in the afternoon, but at least the wind has died down now, we actually go and check a few houses that we know where the owners don’t live here, luckily all are OK with no visible damage.
At this point we decide we may as well go shopping and as we are driving the we see the damage, there are trees down all over and in this part of France a lot of the electric cables are over ground, at the moment the cables seem to be a resting place for the trees there are so many of them. But there are also as many workers out and about getting it sorted.
As we are driving back we see a pile of rubbish in a field, this is odd as the area is so clean and assume it was the storm, that is when we realise we have just passed where a mobile home used to be situated. we turn round and go back for another look and yes the mobile home is the two piles of rubbish, the rest of the caravan is scattered across the field and in the hedge!
Storm damage in Huelgoat, Brittany
As we get home the electric has been sorted and we are fully back up and running, this was our first and hopefully last day of no electric.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Renovation project - Spring is in the air

Renovation project - Spring is in the air
renovation project - Huelgoat, France
this mornings view from the bedroom window
It seems to have been an age since I wrote anything, I’m not sure why but somehow life has got in the way. We are constantly making the house look good for viewings and to be honest we are actually sleeping an awful lot. Now for anybody who knows me this will be quite a shock as I do not sleep. If I manage more than 4 hours without waking I consider myself to have had a great night.
But it seems since I was ill I am able to sleep, and sleep a lot, I can happily stay in bed and lounge until mid day.
But it is time to stop, I must get a grip, I am drinking a few glasses of wine each evening, lounging in bed till mid day and not doing an awful lot during the day (when I read it out loud, it sounds like the perfect life!) but it’s not and I’ve been doing it for a few weeks. The party is over and it’s time to pull myself together.
I think maybe we have just taken a long break after finishing the house but this doing nothing is not good for either of us, John is raring to go and does not benefit from doing nothing, so it’s time to look for things to do to the house and I am going to get back to writing.
As I woke this morning I lay there and thought, if it is after 7.30 I will get up, I looked at the clock and it was 7.32, if only I had looked as soon as I woke up!

But I didn’t and here I am and to be honest I feel a lot better than I would’ve done had I lain in bed for another four hours. So hello everybody, it’s good to be back, I think, but I can hear my bed calling me...........

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Renovation project - Selling or buying a house in France

Renovation project - Selling or buying a house in France

photo courtesy of
Selling a house can be quite simple in France. There are 3 main ways to sell a property:
1.      Use an estate agent
2.      Use the Notaire
3.      Sell it privately
There is no additional cost for the seller to use all methods and a lot of different agents. We have chosen an international agent and the local agent to ensure that we get full coverage, we have also used another agent that appears to be mainly social media and internet based.
There are large differences between each of the options, the biggest being the amount of fees that are paid.
In France the buyer pays the fees, though personally I think this is ridiculous and just a good selling ploy. Yes the fees are on the buyers paperwork showing clearly how much was paid, but ultimately it is the seller who takes less as you do not want to advertise without the fees as any potential buyer would be shocked at the total fees due. But this is just my big bug bear and nothing is going to change it.
So the fees range from approx 6% to 10 % of the property value.
We were able to negotiate the fees with the two main agents; the other agent came in at 3% fees (even I would not want to negotiate that down!)
1.      So what do you get for your money with an agent?
First you get a very enthusiastic person come to visit you and write-up your property and take photos, though we took our own as we wanted to make sure they were just right.
Then you generally don’t hear from them again, unless there is a viewing booked.
The agents will advertise on the internet and the big portals such as Greenacres, zoopla, right move etc (many of which you can do yourself for a fraction of the cost)
The biggest benefit of an agent is that if you have a non French speaking buyer they may feel a lot more comfortable with an agent ad some people will only buy using an agent.
BIG TIP if you are looking to buy. Look at private ads as well, you are just as protected!
So depending on who your agent is, you may get a lot of contact or you may have to chase them up on a regular basis, but you can change them with no problems.
2.      So what do you get with a Notaire?
Basically very little in the sales department, they advertise your property without fees (yes you still pay immobilier fees) and tend to put it in a file in the office for anybody to come and look at, we saw our last house in there when we were looking to buy this one. They are not always kept up to date. Other Notaires may be a little more proactive.
However the Notaires really come into their own once you have a sale and ours are excellent, friendly, professional and able to speak French and English so a massive bonus.
3.      So what happens if you advertise privately?
Basically quite a headache, but it is a headache that can save the buyer up to 8,000 Euros in our case and let you put your house on the market at a much lower price.
So far we are advertised on Greenacres, Zoopla, place in the sun, le Bon-coin and a number of social media sites and the cost for 3 months has been 48 Euros. (Quite different to 8000).
I have made it sound very simple and really it is, as long as you can take good quality photographs and are able to complete a write up and often you will need to do that write up in French.
You will also need to be able to receive e-mails in French and answer them quickly; I opted for no telephone calls as I still struggle with some french accents.

But if you are confident enough you really can save a fortune.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Renovations wanted for TV show

Renovations wanted for TV show
Are you lucky enough to be renovating a chateau or a large property here in France? Have you been watching the TV series escape to the Chateau and thought that is what am I doing or I could do that?
If so now is your chance
Spark Media is looking for anyone who has been inspired by the Channel 4 series 'Escape to the Chateau' and is heading to France to buy a chateau, or is already renovating a chateau. We’d also like to hear from those renovating a larger property with history and character. We’re making a new TV series so if you’re interested to find out more about the programme, please get in touch with Nicola –

Good luck to anybody that goes forward and please let us know how you get on.
And if you would like to move to France with out renovating and move into a completely finished house with the option to have a ready to go gite business take a look at the following link.