Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Boulogne Sur Mer - Nothern France

Boulogne Sur Mer - Nothern France

It's time to head back to France and we have booked in to a hotel in Bologne Sur Mer again. We only get the evening here but it really is a beautiful town.

Bologne Sur Mer is a city on the northern coast of France and an ideal stop off for those travelling further into France fro Calais Ferry Port.

As we do not have much time here we find the best bits to explore on foot, we found no problem with parking, which is also free

We wandered in to the walled old town, to find a wonderful pedestrianised area, with cobbled streets, bars and restaurants.

The choice of food is really good, the hardest decision is choosing a restaurant, we picked one with a view over a small square where we sat and watched the sun set.

After dinner we enjoyed a stroll through the old town and stood on the ramparts looking out. There are walls all around with towers and old stone steps, it really is a place to visit (preferably with good walking shoes as some of the stones are quite slippery)

We passed the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne, this was built between 1827 and 1875 on the site of the medieval cathedral of Boulogne: the basilica is still known locally as the "cathedral", although the present church has never had that status (obviously we found out this info thanks to wiki, as we only had time to admire not to research) wikipedia Boulogne-sur-Mer

Another notable attraction is the 12th century Belfry, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

My writing does not do this city justice as we only stayed for an evening, but hopefully the photographs will show you how nice it is and if you do decide to visit please leave any updates or travellers tips below.

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne

Basilica of Notre-Dame de BoulogneBasilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne

Bolougne Sur Mer, France

Bolougne Sur Mer, France

Bolougne Sur Mer, France

Bolougne Sur Mer, France

restaurants in Bolougne Sur Mer, France

restaurants in Bolougne Sur Mer, France

Bolougne Sur Mer, France

La Scala restaurant in Bolougne Sur Mer, France

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Renovation project - visit to the UK

Renovation project -  visit to the UK

The house sales that I have going through are going smoothly so we decide it is time to go back too the UK to visit the family. John has still not seen the newest baby yet in the flesh, we speak to them all on Skype but it is not the same, and I need a good dose of my baby granddaughter.

We decide to drive back and take the Calais to Dover route this gives us an opportunity to have a bit of a holiday and we book a night at Bologne sur Mer we have never been here before but have seen it on the map.

We book in to the hotel and go to do a bit of exploring, this is a beautiful town and we do not get to see all of it, so decide to book in on our way home as well.

We have an amazing week back in the UK and get too see all of the kids and grand kids.

My favourite bit is picking my baby granddaughter up from nursery school, she sees me through the window and starts too shout excitedly through the window 'mine meme' 'mine meme' she is never going to forget me and when I give her her new yellow T shirt the love is sealed!

We have an amazing week, absolutely knackering but amazing, we also realise this is the last time we will be driving from France to the UK as we will be moving to Spain very soon.

As always the week goes far too quickly and it is time to leave, I am in floods of tears again, it never gets any easier leaving them behind, but at least we will get to see them more often in Spain as there are flights directly from Manchester to Alicante, where we will be living.

This is hard to imagine, we will be moving much further away but it will be easier for family to visit!

A big tip when you are looking at moving is too make sure that it is easy to get back, we had thought that it would be easy for family to visit us in Brittany, but with changing flights and family that wont sail, it wasn't an easy journey at all.

You must do plenty of research when looking at moving too another country if you have family you will miss!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Renovation Project - Budget kitchen in France

Renovation Project - Budget kitchen in France

The kitchen is in place and it is time to make the new doors, these are made from a pack of floorboards, Unfortunately they are new floor boards, but if they are only oiled they will age quite quickly.

This is one of those kitchens that will improve with age rather than having to be kept pristine constantly.

John measures the cupboards again so that the doors will be an exact fit.

The floor boards are laid on the floor and cross bars are screwed into place, these are now heavy doors so heavy duty hinges must be used to prevent them from dropping.

Once they are all in place we realise that they don't open and shut well, this is because they are so thick.

John adjusts them sightly so that there is an even gap around each door, this prevents the doors from grinding on each other.

All the doors and the work tops are given 3 coats of Dutch oil (this can be bought from IKEA and gives a great colour and wood protection) a kitchen like this does not need varnish as it would look too new and shiny.

John then cuts the old dresser top down a little and fits this above the sink unit, it looks perfect, we had intended to throw this out as it was so old but we could not have bought or made anything that goes as well with this kitchen.

A big tip is to never throw anything away until you are completely finished, it is amazing what can be recycled (though we are not sure what can be done with the unit from beneath the dresser).

We had also got some bits and pieces from IKEA to add above the sink as the kitchen was too small for a draining board. These modern pieces go really well with the old style kitchen.

Never be afraid to mix old and new.

Most things in this kitchen are new but you would never guess it from looking at the finished piece, the sink unit is also from IKEA, but fits in perfectly.

If you take your time to look around you can usually find everything you need to give the perfect look at a fraction of the cost you would pay for a kitchen to be installed.

At this point we are considering hiring ourselves out, give us a house to live in for a period of time and we will throw a kitchen in for you, I have always fancied living in America for a while so we are open to offers..............

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Renovation project - Bespoke kitchen on a budget in France

Renovation project - Bespoke kitchen on a budget in France

Today we will get a usable kitchen again, everything is ready to be installed, the walls have dried out and that wonderful smell of damp has all but disappeared.

The room is like a new box which makes it very easy to install a kitchen, this is a big tip if you plan to do something like this, if you can live without the room for a few days it makes life very easy, luckily the sun is still shining so our outdoor kitchen is going well. (next big tip is to always do this in the summer, unlike our last house where we froze for a year!)

We still have the old sink unit in place, but this takes only a matter of minutes to remove.

First thing is to place the appliances in the correct positions.

John then can make sure that all the measurements are correct, and they are perfect!

There is exactly enough room for a cupboard, the sink unit, another cupboard, the cooker, one more unit and the fridge.

The wooden worktop is exactly the right size to be cut up to into 3 pieces with no waste, and because it is solid wood, little finishing is required, we had hoped to buy 2 metal end pieces to go either side of the cooker, but we were unable to find these in the shops we used.

John builds the cupboards from 18 millimetre thick melamine wood, this means that every cupboard fits exactly and because he is building the doors again from floor boards, there is no problem with sizes.

As I said before, if you have the skills to do this, it is easier and far less expensive than buying what are considered to be cheap off the shelf units and look a hundred times better.

It also means I don't have to listen to John curse because things don't fit or they don't go together well.

The kitchen appears in no time, and it is hard to imagine it is the same kitchen!

French bespoke kitchens

French bespoke kitchens

French bespoke kitchens

French bespoke kitchens

French bespoke kitchens

French bespoke kitchens

French bespoke kitchens

French bespoke kitchens

Monday, 13 July 2015

Renovation project - French kitchen renovation

Renovation project - French kitchen renovation

The house is still smiling as we get up this morning and we are going to make it even happier. John is going to point the wall with the smile, so this can be seen for ever!

As the room is almost empty, we have only left the sink unit in place, pointing the wall is an easy job,

John has already cut his teeth (so to speak) on our old house and the living room wall so he knows exactly what products to use.

He has to remove the plug sockets and light fittings as currently these are on the wall covered in plastic trunking.

It is easier to have them moved to the side of the door way, so that they cannot be seen, again this is a job that was easier to do, than what had been done and will look so much better.

Once pointed it is hard to imagine it was the same wall.

If you are considering a renovation, even a little one like this look beyond what is there and imagine how it can be, it does not take long to remove old plaster and often the stones are amazing, but beware sometimes you are not lucky, we found this with our old house on a couple of walls, where we expected beautiful stone walls and found none, this will mean you will have to re plaster a wall but a couple of days of work is worth it if you can end up with the above result (and if you don't, you still get a nice new plastered wall)

We had no choice but to remove the wall (I say wall in the loosest terms) behind where the run of units will go, but this could not be left uncovered as it would be far too much stone in a small room.

But the damp had to be allowed to breathe.

John puts a stud wall up and uses jointing plaster to cover the joints, once painted this will look like new and will make the wall secure (previously if you touched it the whole thing wobbled!)

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Renovation project - Buying a range cooker in France

Renovation project - Buying a range cooker in France

The kitchen has been emptied and it looks so much bigger, John has spent time looking at how to put it back together for as low cost as possible. The house does not warrant a big posh kitchen plus it wouldn't suit this little house, it has to have something that is in keeping.

The owners have asked for a new cooker, as the one currently there is one step up from a calor camping stove and it blows up every time I try to light it (and this time the bad food is not down to my poor cooking skills it really is because of the tools available!)

Once measured there is enough room to put a traditional sink, a cooker and a fridge with 4 cupboards. It will run from one end of the kitchen to the other and show off the new (old) stone wall.

Now that the old hardboard wall has been removed the smell of damp is getting less, the house is breathing again, and still smiling.

John is going to build the cupboards and make doors and put on a work top. This may sound like a very expensive kitchen, but if you have the skills and expertise, it is actually less expensive than buying a cheap shop bought one, and much sturdier, plus you can tell all of your friends you have a hand built bespoke kitchen.

It will be easier to hire a van and collect everything in one go.

We collect the van and go to pick up the supplies, at the shops though we see a small range cooker, very similar to the one we used to have and I talk John in to getting this rather than a small free standing cooker, I cannot understand why John is not keen.

We have everything on the list and head home, we realise that we are rapidly running short of time and it is at this point I understand why John was not keen on getting the bigger cooker,, how are we going to get it out of the van? I am reasonably strong but there is no chance I can lift this.

We have just enough time to get back and unload, but how???

I have no option but to phone a friend, but we are driving through the forest and the signal keeps disappearing, 4 phone calls later we have managed to get across we need you to meet us at the house in about 10 minutes.

Simon is great, he turns up with no complaints and helps unload the van, I say nothing as I watch them try to get the big cooker out, they manage with much sweating, heaving and a little swearing and I watch the time tick by (but have the sense not to mention this)

Everything is unloaded and we now have 10 minutes to fill it with diesel and return it, the shop is not happy and say we are too late but we point out that they are not shut and we have returned it in time.

This was not taken well and I am glad that my French is now of a standard to have this discussion, they agree to take it back with much banging and clattering of emptying of tills and pointing out that one of the staff members should now be on their way home, at this point I can play ignorant and pretend that my French is not of the required standard!

Tomorrow will be a busy day for John, he has to finish it quickly as we are now eating out most nights, which is very nicce for us but not for our waistlines.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Renovation Project - Installing a saniflo in France

Renovation Project - Installing a saniflo in France

photo courtesy of
I have to spend the day doing viewings today and one is quite far away, as I am driving I notice the car in front swerve, the road seems clear but as I approach I see a group (or is that herd?) of wild boar on the road, this is an amazing sight, I really did not believe that you could still see wild boar in this area, but there they are as clear as day, small and large running across the road, I am gutted that I am driving and could not take a photograph.

My viewings complete I return home to find the saniflo has arrived, YAY this is a truly amazing day, we will have an indoor toilet and I got to see a group f wild boar, could life get any better!

Yes it can, John is back on his feet again!

John had already stripped the bathroom, in preparation for the new saniflo, and to make sure we had a shower that worked,

The saniflo goes in easily, and the toilet and sink unit are connected, we have an indoor toilet, today is a day of great celebration, there is no way to describe the joy of an indoor toilet, so just imagine the happiest day of your life, can you see it? Now multiply that feeling by 10 and you will have an idea of how I feel right now!

John doesn't do any more with the bathroom at the moment as he has started on the kitchen so we are living in a house that is far worse than when we moved in! (maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration as now we are no longer drinking water from lead pipes and we have our magical indoor toilet!)

Tomorrow he can get back too normal and I can work in peace, I do seem to have been born without that nursing gene, I don't think I was Florence nightingale in any previous life, possibly Attila the Hun, but definitely not Florence!

Friday, 10 July 2015

Renovation Project - Johns not well

Renovation Project - Johns not well

John has not been feeling well for a couple of days and he seems to have another abscess in his mouth, his teeth don’t hurt but his face does.

We visit the doctor who thinks it is his teeth, but after checking them and finding there is no pain, thinks it maybe his sinus's.

She gives him a prescription for painkillers and antibiotics and to go for a scan (can you believe it?????) in the UK we would've had to wait months for a scan, but we get one because “just to be sure!”

The antibiotics don’t work, the scan is booked

We also make an appointment at the dentist.

At the dentist it is not good news, John had some bridge work after an accident years ago, and apparently it was not done correctly, it will all need replacing, this is not covered on our health care in France as it considered cosmetic, and the bill will be approx 3000 Euros!

But he is given stronger antibiotics.

Not good news, and we start to look at treatment in other countries, you can buy dental holidays to Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria, but by the time you have added it all together you are not saving that much.

We go for the scan and he is diagnosed with polyps, one sinus is full of them, we had no idea about this and book an appointment with the consultant

(This has all taken approximately one week!!!!!)

The stronger antibiotics have started too work and he is almost back to being human again, he has been like a bear with a sore head for the past couple of weeks and spent most of the time in bed.

But it does give us some breathing space to decide what to do about the treatment and we have an appointment to see the specialist about his polyps in a couple of weeks