Friday, 28 February 2014

Renovation Project - Menopause versus toothache equals no winners!!!!!

Renovation Project - Menopause versus toothache equals no winners!!!!!

I have had the night from hell and many women reading this will understand and those that don’t you have no idea what is in store for you!

At 4 am I woke with a feeling that somebody had tried to set fire to my skin from the inside and my body was trying to put it out with a bucket of sweat (gross I know but that is the only way to describe it)

I have had a night sweat or a hot sweat, yes I am approaching that dreadful female age. It takes a while to go down and a while longer before I can get back to sleep, my first thought was why didn’t this happen last year when we were freezing and had no heating, my second thought was, it was obviously named by a man, as a hot sweat does not describe what happened last night.

I get up and feel like crap, I’m not a good sleeper at the best of times, but this was dreadful.

But hey ho life goes on, and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of sympathy, did I? No I didn’t!!!!!  John has his toothache back and tells me how bad it is and is in a mood all day with his toothache!!!!

I’m normally a sympathetic person but for goodness sake, it‘s a toothache, someone has just tried to set me on fire from the inside!!!!!

So as you can imagine today is not a good day, but the work stops for nothing and we soldier on with some bickering throughout the day (well actually I think I could quite easily have murdered him every time he spoke to me today)

We spend the day working in different rooms, john is plastering the wall in the back bedroom, he has always been unhappy with this wall and at least now something good will come from today.

 By the end of the day the wall is finished as are the bits of plastering in the bathroom and on the stairs, we only have one more wall to plaster before we move on to the decorating and finishing.

That sounds so good to say, we are going to be finished soon!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Recovering From a Flood

Recovering From a Flood

Life imitates art often enough, with civilization’s homebuilding efforts mirroring tales like the Three Little Pigs. Only instead of a big, bad wolf, it’s mother nature blowing our homes down whether they’re built out of straw, wood or brick. Mother nature is undefeated, and a flood can quickly cripple any home.

When levees burst, when waterways rise, or when the rains fall relentlessly, the average home is at risk of flooding. This is especially true if you live in a high-risk area or have a basement. If your home does flood, it’s up to you to spring into action before the water can do irreversible damage.

Important Steps to Take in Flood Recovery

1: Kill the Power Immediately

The only thing more dangerous than a flooded home is a flooded home with live electricity. Though you may think that the power is out or that the local utility has shut it off, you simply never know if that is the case. Make sure the first thing you do is eliminate all power to the home and check to see if every source of power is off before entering the home or the home’s flooded zone(s).

2: Quickly Assess All Damages

The second thing you need to do is to quickly check out all areas that have been affected by the flood. Now, you’re not looking to do a professional assessment here; that comes in a later step. For right now, you need to see what has been affected and get a sense of what you’re in store for. You can’t start the cleanup process unless you know the actual scope of the event. So check out which areas are flooded, if there’s still any standing water, if there’s a way you can get rid of the water, etc.

3: Save What Needs Saving

Now that you have shut off the electricity and have assessed the immediate surroundings, it should be safe to go through your home on a saving mission. Any trapped pets, those old photo albums, your financial information, other important keepsakes – you need to get these things out of harm’s way. The damage is done at this point, but quick action might save those important items from destruction.

4: Inspect the Structure

This is where you need to take a full scope of the damage that was caused. Start with your main doors and inspect them for serious structural damage. Move on to any windows that may have been covered, the home’s foundation, the walls of your basement, your floors, and every area that was affected. The goal is to have professionals come in to handle the water damage restoration, but finding out the areas of focus allows you to stay safe by avoiding compromised structures until repairs can be made.

5: Start the Repairs

When handling repairs on your home, it’s important that you don’t simply call in the first company you can locate. Although you may be in a hurry to have these repairs take place, you should never sacrifice quality for convenience. Take your time to find a company with years of experience, a great track record, and one that specialises in repairing water damage. After you locate the right company, make sure that you prep for the repairs to the best of your ability. Vacate the home if it’s not safe. Gather up your important items. And speak with the professionals about the repairs.

Floods displace millions of people around the globe every year, and no one can ever stay completely out of mother nature’s way. If you’re dealing with water damage from a flood, make sure you follow the tips listed above for your safety and for timely, effective repairs.

This is a guest post submitted by Sarah Brinkley a Freelance writer for UK property market and investing.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Renovation project - The snagging list starts

Renovation project - The snagging list starts

The floors are finished as is most of the woodwork, so it’s time to start on some of the snagging jobs. You would think that rebuilding the house is what would take the longest but you would be mistaken. The longest and hardest aspect of doing a job like this is the snagging list once you have almost finished. This is where you go around and list every little job that has been missed and will include adding silicone to the tops of skirting boards (because of course every wall is so wonky that there will always be gaps and sorting out the little jobs that have to wait till the end.

So our back bedroom and hallway and bathroom look almost finished, but there is still so much to do!
We have some pipes in this room, which are covered temporarily, this now needs to be put in place so that it does not look like there is a piece of wood covering the pipes!

The window also is not finished, John had plastered boarded this wall as it had been tiled previously, we now need to make sure that it all works together (there is a gap between the wall and the window frame) John is going to add just normal architrave to this (the sort that you find around your doors) I still can’t imagine how this will look, but I trust John.

So whilst I am sanding down walls and filling all of the marks, this is actually a job worse than scrubbing the floors and at this moment I could happily go back to the floors that I have complained about for the last 18 months, I now fully understand that old saying that the grass isn’t always greener! It’s not; it’s dustier and dirtier than ever before!

When I come to look at the window, I am shocked, it looks like it should always have been this way, it looks so much tidier and neater and has some extra insulation in it.

John also sorts out the new plug sockets and again there is some choice language coming from him as he tries to drill into the granite, don’t worry John it will all be worth it when it is finished and for some reason these little words of wisdom do not appease him, he really can be a grumpy sod at times! But at least he continues to work whilst he is grumpy so it’s not all bad.

John you have just redeemed yourself from yesterdays heater issue! Now all that is left is for me to paint it, but luckily that will be tomorrow, right now I need a large glass of wine and a comfy settee where I can put my feet up and relax, and guess what? We now have that, I can sit and relax, we really are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are going to be finished, which is lucky as we plan on opening for Easter!

Aarrgghhhhhh where is that wine!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Renovation project - French plug sockets!

Renovation project - French plug sockets!

The rooms are starting to come together and it’s now time to get the floor and wood work completed on the back bedroom, I have finally finished scrubbing and sanding floors, I hope this is something I never have to do again!

The same colour stain is being used to make sure that all the rooms are in keeping, the difference is tremendous.  This is where you know the horrible dirty jobs have been worthwhile. The wood takes 3 coats of stain and time has to be given for each coat to dry, if you do not the stain seems to drag and go patchy, so no matter how quickly you want to do it, you must allow the correct drying time.

John has been changing the plug sockets, we had bought cheap surface mounted sockets that fit on the outside of the wall but these are all being changed for recessed plug sockets, this is not an easy job as he has to core through the stone with a specialist core drill, (this is a bit like coring an apple) but when finished the plug sockets look much more pleasing to the eye. This is not an easy job, coring an apple is easy, try to imagine doing the same to a lump of granite!

But he gets them done and the sockets are in place, John also wires in the heaters (all of the electrics had been put in place professionally, john is just tidying everything up) You must ensure that all electrics are up to French standards as if you want to sell they will be checked and signed off by a French electrician.

John moves on to the landing and asks where I want the plug socket, we look at it for a while and something is not right, we know where we want the plug socket but where is the heater going? There is only space for one socket, yet we know we had decided to have a socket and a heater on the landing.

You are only allowed so many sockets off each fuse, and we have the correct amount of sockets, this is when we realise that John has finished the wall and forgotten to leave the wire for the heater exposed, we have to turn each fuse off in turn to find out which one should have the heater connected to it.
It is so simple, the fuse for the heater in the kitchen and back of the house has only one heater on it, this is directly below where the heater is required on the landing, he really had just forgotten to add the landing heater.

Our problem now is that everywhere is plastered and finished! Bugger, bugger, bugger!!!!! We can’t leave it as we need the heater, we have no choice John has to knock a hole in the kitchen ceiling to find the lead, luckily he knows exactly where it is, we then have to remove a chunk of skirting board from the landing, connecting the lead is no problem, but refitting the skirting boards and plastering the ceiling is going to be a real pain.

John is now not speaking to me as I have told the world he made a mistake, but after 18 months of rebuilding a house to make one mistake is pretty good going, it is also a warning that even professionals can make mistakes, if you are doing this with little or no experience, mistakes will happen, so don’t worry about it (unless you forget to put your roof on, then panic!)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Renovation project - B&B permission comes through!

Renovation project - B&B permission comes through!

It’s raining again and we have now got to do something about the back door, the rain is sneaking in underneath it and this is going to ruin our new tiled floor as the tiles are laminate flooring, if they get too wet they will lift and start to move.

John sets too building a drip bar, this is a bevelled piece of wood screwed to the bottom of the door and will stop the rain coming in, once this is added he adds a weather bar to the entrance. The floor is so uneven and wobbly he has to reform the step with concrete; luckily he now has his rapid hardener and adds this to the mix. (This is a chemical cement additive from Wickes if you are wondering; John just fell into fits of giggles when I talked about his rapid hardener!!!!!!)  The rain holds off just long enough to fit everything and for the concrete to set.

John also brushed a cement and SBR slurry coat over the bottom of the walls around the back door as a damp proofer. We still have a slight damp problem around the back door, John climbed in to next doors garden and we have found out why, the gutter was leaking badly and broken and there were holes in the wall with trees growing in them! John fixes the gutter temporarily (our next door neighbour is an elderly lady who has now sealed her back door and does not go out) at some point we will have to do some work on this part of her garden, we could not possible expect her to do it.

This is something to be aware of if buying a property like this, if you have very elderly neighbours who require maintenance work that affects your house, what will you do? We love our neighbour and she has made us so welcome, it is easier for us to just do any work rather than go to the Mairie, which is your other option, ask the Mairie to contact your neighbours to complete the work.

I have set too with the stain and varnish on all of the skirting boards in the living room and hall way, this means that all of the visible wood will be the same colour, the colour we have chosen is in keeping with the house style as dark red wood seems to be in all of the houses in this area.

The next few weeks are going to be spent on decorating and getting all of the little jobs completed as we have received our stamped and signed request for opening as a B&B, we have until Easter to get finished, not that we want to put too much pressure on ourselves!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Renovation project - Moving to France - Helpful tips and advice

Renovation project - Moving to France - Helpful tips and advice

This post is going to be slightly different from my others, we were recently asked to get involved with a campaign ran by HiFX aimed at providing tips for people who are considering moving to another country.

We gave a quote to HiFX Expat Tip page and after reading all of the other helpful tips it got us thinking about what we would’ve liked to have known before we made the move to France (Click on the link to read what advice others are offering).

Therefore we are going to do a post giving what we feel are some useful tips to help make the move easier, these are the things we wished we had known before moving to France and hopefully expelling some of the myths you have heard and smoothing the concerns you may have.

So you are thinking of moving to France?

You will already have been given lots of advice if you have told people and most of this will be conflicting, spend a long time planning it versus just go for it, spend a year living there or just choose somewhere off the internet......

Only you will know what is right for you, we had never even visited Brittany before we decided to move there, some may say this is crazy but it worked for us.

Brittany is easily accessible for visitors and for going back to visit family or so we thought, what we didn’t plan on was the fact that the flight routes stop without notice and the ferry crossings are not as regular in the winter.  But this can happen any where

The other big factor to consider is your family and friends, you have a wide social network where you are now and all of your friends say they will come and visit you (this is good intentions, and you’ll probably find that they don’t) are you happy to lose face to face contact?

Skype is the best invention this century (or was it last century?) you can keep in touch, but are you willing to have your baby grandchildren growing up believing you live in the computer screen?

If you accept all of these before you move, life will be a lot easier (not easy but easier) I left my only daughter pregnant with my only grandchild, I have spent a year battling with the thought that I am the world’s worst mother, but I have not missed any of my granddaughters firsts, our time together now is quality not quantity and my family have their own holiday home in France.

Your next big question is which part of France are you going to move too? 

France is such a large and diverse country do you know what area you want? As I said we choose Brittany for the accessibility and the house prices, John, my partner is a builder so we always knew we would buy a derelict property and there are still plenty to be had at very cheap prices. So our plan was to buy a derelict house, renovate it, sell it and move on to the next, SIMPLES.......

Maybe we should’ve done a little bit more homework as you cannot just do this, you need to be registered in France for a certain amount of time before you can sell and not have to pay capital gains tax. So another big tip is to make sure you are flexible with your plans, we need to wait till we can sell so what can we do? 

Lets’ turn the house into a B&B, we live in a touristy area and I have always wanted a tea shop, so what could be better.

So our first set of advice is about buying a house. 

The house buying process is a lot easier in France than it is in the UK, you find a house, put in an offer, have it accepted, pay a 10% deposit and within approx8 weeks it is yours – Simple.

Yes it really could be that simple, BUT here are the bits to bear in mind!

  • You are buying a house in a different country; do you know where you want to live or what sort of house you want? We had always wanted to buy a barn or old farmhouse to convert with a couple of acres of land. This is the idyllic dream many people have of France but in reality are you ready for the isolation and darkness, in Brittany the street lights are turned off every night and there are frequent power cuts when the weather is bad.
  • When you have holidayed in a secluded farm it was lovely cycling to the local village to collect your fresh bread, would you really want to do this every day (even when it is raining?).
  • Most farms and many hamlets are not connected to the main drains, this will mean that you have to have a septic tank (the legislation regarding septic tanks changed quite recently) is your tank up to standard? If not you will have to replace it, make sure you factor in this cost which can run into the thousands
  • Buying a house near that beautiful church would make the most fantastic photographs, but churches have bells and these ring from 7 am (they don’t care that you want a lie in)

Estate agents
  • The French laws are very strict regarding estate agents which is good, but what we didn’t realise is that the purchaser pays the estate agent (and this can vary, up to 10% of the asking price) many houses are advertised directly with the Notaire, though the Notaires do not tend to have easy to find websites.
  • The French estate agent has not really heard of the concept of house staging (I have written a humorous take on this, click here to read it) this can be both negative and positive, if the house looks untidy and scruffy it may put other viewers off, look past the clutter and mess.
  • Many estate agents appear to have poetic license when it comes to describing houses, requires a little updating does not mean what you may think it does, updating could mean there is no bathroom or kitchen! (And no plumbing for either to go in!)
  • Check that your garden or land is attached to the property you are buying, many properties in Brittany have been divided and split between families, this could mean you are buying a farm with 2 acres but the 2 acres are not necessarily near to your potential property. Make sure you check this carefully before coming to view, had we known this, or more importantly known to ask this we would have saved so much time by being able to narrow down our search.
  • Every buyer and seller has to use a Notaire, this is the equivalent of a solicitor and it is essential that you use one (if you can find one that speaks the same language as you this is even better). The Notaire will ensure that all of the searches have taken place. These are the responsibility of the seller and will include the energy report, asbestos report, lead report and woodworm and termite reports. The Notaire will also ensure that all the sellers’ family have agreed to the sale. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!
  • The Notaire will also be responsible for all of the clauses and legalities in the sale contract.
  • If you are buying the property from a person’s estate the whole family have to agree to the sale and the terms of the sale, if they do not somebody could come forward a few years later and make a claim on your house!!!!!!!
  • NEVER cut corners when buying a house.
  • Make sure you check that nobody has any rights to your house or to use any aspect of your house or garden

The buying process

So you have found your dream home, you have viewed it and are going to buy it. Fairly straight forward and quick (provided everybody has agreed on the price)
  • Put in your offer and when it is accepted you have entered a contract (even if it was verbal!) you do however get a 7 day cooling off period. Once the 7 days are over you will sign the comprimis de vente this is your contract to buy, in France there is no sale subject to contract. You have agreed to buy the house; you will also have to pay a 10% deposit when you sign the contract. You really are buying a house! (You will also not be gazumped)
  • When we bought our house, it was dependent on the sale of our property in the UK, so we were able to have a clause written into the contract that if anything went wrong with our sale we could back out by a certain date. You can speak to the estate agent or Notaire about clauses and check that the seller has not added any clauses that you are unsure about.
  • If you do not buy, you will lose your deposit!
  • You can also add in a clause that if the seller changes their mind you can enforce the sale.
  • Some estate agents are able and qualified to complete the sale contract and this may seem beneficial as you have got to know them and like them BUT they are working for the seller and the Notaire is independent, if a seller refuses to use a Notaire and will only use the estate agent I would question why (always listen to alarm bells!)

Once everything is in place and all of the searches are completed you will buy the property, make sure your funds are sent and cleared within the appropriate timeframe, things can go wrong, we had our meeting planned and booked and the funds hadn’t arrived, we were living in a tent in the rain, the tent had also started leaking, the money had not arrived on the Thursday and calling the banks and transfer people from 
France on a mobile was expensive, the money still had not arrived on the Friday another meeting was cancelled, we finally found out that the money had been transferred to the wrong Notaire! Things can go wrong even with big reputable companies.

You have now signed, you own your house in France, you have left the UK, and all is good???? 

Our biggest tip now is to have a mail redirection added to your old property for at least 6 months. Maybe even 12 months, this is how long it took for the French officials to stop sending mail, including the deeds to our new house to our old address in the UK.

You’re now in France 

Opening a bank account

This is so simple, all you need is some money and some ID, our bank manager even spoke English, we couldn’t get a bank account this easy in our home country! Your bank can even sort out your house insurance (you will need this in place when you buy your house).

A tip about house insurance, you cannot change it once you have it, you have to give 2 months notice, 2 months before it runs out.

Setting up your utilities

If you have used an estate agent they will help to set up your utilities, make sure that they use both names (if you are buying together) this is essential as if you ever need to provide ID in France (and believe me you will at some point) having the utilities in both of your names gives you the ID and proof of address you will need.

Health care

The health service in France is one of the best in the world, but it isn’t free! If you move from the UK and your tax and national insurance contributions are up to date you can get an S1 form and this will take your NHS entitlement over to France, giving you your carte vitale. This will last up to 2 years. You will then need to get into the French system, this can be easy if you are retired or are working in France, but if like us you will not have an income it can be tricky, we are going to be in the system when the B&B opens as we will be registered in the French tax system.

Even if you are in the system you will only be able to claim back 70% of your costs, if you want to have 100% entitlement you will need to take a health top up insurance.

Language barriers

If you are moving to France and you speak English, you will need to learn some French, this can be done in many ways one of the easiest is to buy a language CD course, this can be listened too at any time. You can just immerse yourself in the local community (if you are very brave!) you can join a local group or you can have lessons. Whichever way you choose, try to ensure that you learn something; people are much more accepting of someone who makes an effort.


Good luck, enjoy yourself and try to integrate in your local community, it is nice to make friends with other expats but you choose to move to that country, so integrate into it and beware the expats who complain about everything and tell you how much better everything is in their home country, if it was that good why aren’t they living there?

One final tip and this is worth remembering

If you don't like it you can always go back 
If you don't try you'll never know

Disclaimer: This post is based on personal experience and does not substitute for legal or financial advice. If you are going to enter any form of contract ensure you seek the appropriate legal advice from a qualified professional

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Renovation project - It's time to start work in earnest!

Renovation project - It's time to start work in earnest!

We’re back, we have all the supplies we need (we think!) and it is time to start work in earnest now, obviously because we have been playing for the past eighteen months with working nonstop, but now we need to work even harder, we want to open the B&B by Easter!

But first we spend the day in bed after the long journey, so maybe the work will start in earnest tomorrow!
There are so many bits of things that need to be done that it is difficult to know where to start, this is difficult for us as I need to know exactly what needs doing and in what order and John has his list in his head and assumes I am a mind reader and should know this list, I don’t and we bicker regularly as I feel like I’m floundering and John feels like I don’t listen. It is difficult when you come from very different backgrounds, I am used to 'to do' lists and John says that he is used to doing things rather than talking about them (yes this comment really peeves me as well!!!!)

So after our rest we set too, John is going to finish tiling the kitchen floor, the main floor is complete but he did not do the edges or the up stands, we have the tiles and borrow a tile cutter for cuts that are required, unfortunately the tile cutter needs a new blade, luckily John bought one when we were in the UK for just in case.

The tiles are cut and added to the appropriate places, this is another of those little jobs that make a big difference. We had saved enough grout to finish the job, but when John goes to get it, he cannot find it anywhere; we know that we had some, but we start to wonder whether we have somehow thrown it out with the rubbish. We cannot grout the tiles for a couple of days so we still have time to find it.

Whilst John has been busy with the kitchen floor, I have made a start on the door into the living room, this had been painted a wood colour, but it is not in good condition, we decide to paint it white to try and keep the room as bright as possible, so I spend quite some time sanding the door, we also spend quite some time arguing about it, as I don’t think that I have done a door like this before and again, John thinks I should know exactly what I am doing, John starts it off and expects me to finish, I am still not 100% sure what I am doing or how to do it, but each time I ask it raises the stress levels, we need to come to a working compromise on how John explains things.

The door is all sanded and the small pieces of glass have some more putty added to them, where the wooden frame is cracked and split, it is then undercoated, once it is finished the decision to paint it white was definitely the right decision.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Renovation project - Don't visit Portsmouth, UK in the dark!!!!!!

Renovation project - Don't visit Portsmouth, UK in the dark!!!!!!

We have the long drive to Portsmouth today, we have said our goodbyes and there are storms forecast everywhere!

We leave a lot earlier than we had planned; we still remember the traffic jams from the other day! But for once in the UK we have a good journey, no bad traffic (I would like to say no road works and slow speed limits, but this is the UK, we’re just so pleased that we kept moving!)

So now we are in Portsmouth 4 hours early, we pull in at the ferry port but we know that Portsmouth has a lot of fantastic places to visit, and I really fancy a Chinese buffet, I still remember the one in Poole, we ask the guy working at the port if he can recommend one, and he tells us about a fantastic place, that does a carvery! (We’re not sure whether he was part owner as he really seemed keen on us going for a carvery!) 

We explain that we really want a Chinese, so he directs us to a place but then says he’s not sure if it is Indian or Chinese, he was so friendly and nice, we didn’t mind his bad directions, we follow them and do not find either, so we Google Chinese buffets in Portsmouth and stick it in the Sat Nav, we drive along to a take away shop, thanks Google! I think we’ll wait a bit longer before going to eat.

So we decide to do a spot of sightseeing (it’s really dark but that shouldn’t be a problem) what is a problem is the sign posts, does this town not want you to find where you are going! We have a sat nav and still struggle, we finally end up at the historic dockyard to find the car parks are closed and the roads have to be paid for, it’s Sunday night and everything is shut, surely we don’t have to pay for the privilege of parking here. We spend a few minutes trying to look at the historic dock yard in the dark; we don’t recommend this as you really can’t see anything! We do see some lit up buildings over the harbour and assume they are closed shops.

Next we try to find Charles Dicken’s house, we again have the sat nav, which is a lot better than the road signs, but we do get confused as we drive in to a council estate with flats, surely he wasn’t born on an estate, no, there is one road that looks so pretty, but a big housing estate has been built around it, I really would not want to drive here during the tourist season!

We decide to find something to eat again and Google other Chinese buffets, there is one but the reviews are not the best, at this point we don’t care, we just want to eat. It turns out there is a massive shopping arcade with loads of restaurants overlooking the harbour (remember the lights we saw before, yes that is how close we were and there were no signs!) we find the Chinese buffet and order a table the waitress explains that the heating has just broken so it is not very warm, no problem, but what she means is the serving tables have broken and the food may not be hot! The idea of eating warm prawns before a potentially bumpy crossing does not appeal (she wouldn’t even give a discount on the food, yes we did ask).

We end up eating Spanish Tapas overlooking the harbour, which would be quite romantic until I point out that the we couldn’t see anything and it was raining, but the food was fantastic.

We get on the ferry and luckily miss the storms, we have a calm crossing and then a long drive home, but it’s a drive to enjoy, there are no traffic jams, it’s not raining and we both just relax back in to France, we love 

The UK but we have found that stress levels raise, even when it is a visit to family that we want to do, we are really getting in to the French way of life and do not miss the fast paced (unless you are in a car) way of life in the UK

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Renovation Project - Didsbury, Manchester - The place to be

Renovation Project - Didsbury, Manchester - The place to be

We finally arrive in Stockport, which is a town near to Manchester and start to do some shopping, we get the towels and curtains that we need and some other bit and pieces, but by this time we are knackered, we are glad that we have managed to get a lot of the shopping out of the way.

This is such a flying visit and every day is set out with military precision.

We are staying at Johns parents tonight and visiting John’s daughter, tomorrow will be more shopping and Leigh and Lilly, then on to my parents and spending tomorrow with my daughter before setting off on Sunday back to France, what could possibly go wrong!

Well it starts to go wrong tonight, Johns daughter has had to work late so cannot see us until tomorrow night, this means that I will go to my parents and John will stay in Manchester for an extra night, which in the end isn’t that bad as we don’t manage to get all of the shopping done on the Friday.

We have a late dinner at Chicken Cottage (one of John’s favourite places) which was also made famous by appearing in the TV series Shameless.

My daughter picks me up from Johns parents on the Friday night and we stop off for a cake and milkshake at Cake Away , this is just up the road from Johns parents and the cakes can easily rival any patisserie in France. 
cake away, fog lane Didsbury, Manchester

cake away, fog lane Didsbury, Manchester

cake away, fog lane Didsbury, Manchester
cake away, fog lane Didsbury, Manchester

The shop is set out with comfy leather sofas and they even do delivery! Yes, seriously a cake shop that delivers, could you ever ask for more.

If you ever go to Manchester, I would seriously recommend a quick detour to Fog Lane in Didsbury to visit this shop!

And for those who have an interest in music, there is a little record shop across the road that was made famous by an Oasis song, MrSifters, it is still there and it is the archetypal record shop, I didn’t realise that they still existed.

The Manchester area always amazes me, as being more of a country girl, it takes some time to get used to walking down a road and finding yourself in a different area, for example, Fog Lane is in Didsbury, but if you cross the big main road you will be in Burnage, the birthplace of the Gallagher brothers from Oasis, walk further up the road and you are in Longsight, then on to Rusholme's famous curry mile.

Manchester is a famous city but if you go out a little further you will find some areas that have so many famous links that almost every shop or road has been featured on the TV, in a film or on a record!
But I digress (which is really easy to do when you are in such a big city with so little time)

John spends Saturday morning buying the paint and varnish and I have spent the night with my baby granddaughter, she is just the cutest little thing ever.

I am really excited at getting to my parents, not only do I get to see all of my family but I also get to collect all of my hotel delivery, I had ordered on line from Out Of Eden, before we left France and the goods have arrived, the delivery was fantastic and the goods are even better, I am so excited, we really are getting there. 

We have ordered the little toiletry welcome packs and lots of little teeny tiny jars of jams, they are so cute, we really are going to be having a B&B soon!

We spend Saturday night in Macclesfield and visit Mash Guru again, this really is going to be our local when we visit my daughter (unless she decides to move again, which I’m rather hoping she doesn’t for a little while).

Sunday arrives far too quickly and it’s time to head back to Portsmouth for the ferry, we’re knackered, the car is so heavily loaded we wonder if everything will actually fit in, but it does, goodbye everybody see you in a few months time.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Renovation project - Evolution Fury 3, not what it said on the box!

Renovation project - Evolution Fury 3, not what it said on the box!

Today is a disaster, Johns new super duper chop saw has broken, we bought an Evolution Fury 3 last Christmas when we were in the UK, this was being sold as one of the next generation of saw’s with an indestructible blade and it was on special offer at half price, the saw cuts through anything, the blade is so good, or at least it did when it worked! One would presume the saw behind it would be as good as the blade.

I e-mail Evolution to see if there is anything they can do as we have not kept the receipt, we receive an e-mail back saying that because it is just over a year old and do not have the receipt, there is nothing they can do, but they do offer to fix it for a set amount and pick it up and deliver to any UK address (not very helpful as I said we took it to France!) the amount it would cost to fix it, was only £20 less than we paid for it. We certainly do not recommend that you buy one of these unless you keep the receipt, as the company obviously do not expect it to last more than a year! We have to let you know the blade is still good, it’s just not much use without the saw, maybe we will frame it?

So it is a trip to the builder’s merchant to buy a new one as we cannot finish the job without a good saw! We are so peeved off.

When we are at the builders merchant we look at paint and varnish as we are starting to run short, the paint is not good in France, we have made a point of buying all of our supplies in France, but paint is not one of them.

As we tot up the price of what we need to buy, we start to think that it may be worth going over to the UK for a shopping trip as John can buy what we need at trade price, we also need curtains and bits and pieces for the B&B when it is open, I have found a fantastic hotel supplier online, but again it is free delivery to the UK.

The amount it will cost us to buy what we need in France would be the same with the ferry fare to the UK, the decision is made and we book a ticket to the UK, we are going to be there for 3 nights, so I will be able to see the baby. I message my daughter and she is so excited but points out that she is going away for the weekend, I say this is really bad planning until her partner points out that actually it was me that booked the weekend away for them, it was the Christmas present, I had forgotten!

It is not a major problem as we will be leaving the morning they go away.

The ferry from Roscoff to Plymouth does not run during January, so we try the Caen to Portsmouth route, luckily it was a calm journey, we have somehow missed the storms, thank goodness.

We drive up to Manchester, this should be a 4 hour journey but due to the traffic, the journey takes over 7 hours, we do not miss the traffic in the UK, we are not even out of Portsmouth before we hit the first traffic jam, the traffic goes for as far as the eye can see! In our part of France if you see 2 cars on the road you wonder why it is so busy!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Renovation project - Scrapyard challenge

Renovation project - Scrapyard challenge

Today is a day spent on bits and pieces in the house, we had managed to find some steel tubes when we went to the scrap yard and John is going to fit them. We had taken the wall down in the kitchen but we cannot leave the room open as there is a big step down from where the hall was into the kitchen, we cannot remove this step and level it as the drains run along here.

John uses a piece of 3x2 or scant and attaches this to the wall and the old oak beam, he then uses a hole cutter to make sure the holes are the exact size, once done this is connected and the bars are in place. This is one of the easiest jobs he has done so far but it really does make a big difference.

When you have a problem area look at all possible solutions, I would never have dreamed of having these bars but they do look good as the wood and steel match the kitchen, we had thought of having a readymade handrail, but these were so expensive and not quite long enough. We have been looking for something suitable for a couple of months and it was only the trip to the scrap yard that we found these steel bars, they were also sold by weight, so cost approx 30 euro’s, Bargain!!!!

We would recommend having a look around scrap yards as they appear to sell many items, we also bought what we think may be a silver teapot and sugar bowl, we will be asking a friend to check the hall mark. I even managed to buy my friend on the farm in the UK a present, a beautiful copper kettle, I do hope I manage to clean it up before I give it to her, but somehow I don’t think I will!

John also adds the metal shelves to the kitchen,  we had bought these about a year ago and had planned to use them elsewhere in the kitchen but didn’t, and as we do not waste anything we kept them knowing that they would come in useful.
As the day has been spent on bits and pieces we do finish early and so decide to visit some friends, they had called the other day but we were so busy and as we really don’t see much of anybody we thought we would call up, they were having a problem with the new computer that they bought (mainly because everything was in French).

We call up and spend so long trying to sort it out, but she cannot remember the password to her Google account, this is the one that she uses for her e-mails, we try to log on and fill in all the security details but they are wrong, I am starting to get so stressed and feel so bad as she had been able to get her e-mails on her tablet, but there are none on there either now, Oh My God! I tried to help and have lost everything, there is nothing I can do, after some time trying everything, I can only apologise and set up another account in his name, this time the passwords are written down and kept some where safe (the old ones were written down also but the safe place was very safe!).

After quite some time, she actually explains that the reason there are no e-mails on the tablet are because she deletes them!!!!!!!! Which is followed by sorry, I should have said that!!!!!! Should have said that!!!!, yes you should, I have been frantic thinking that I had lost all of her e-mails, later that night she also calls me to say that she found the passwords! Aarrrgggghhhhhh, it’s a good job I love these people, and they throw some of the best parties in Huelgoat.