Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Acacia Finally Goes


We've received an exciting email this week from J and M with some photos attached.
M has been at it with his chainsaw again and the acacia tree has gone.
It is probable however, that it will shoot from the stump so we're not celebrating fully yet but doesn't it look great?
The observant amongst you will notice a post box as well.  This is a housewarming gift from J and M ~ thanks so much to them.  All houses have to have a regulation post box in France and now La Petite Maison has one too.  It's looking more and more loved.
Do you remember? This was July 2012!
 You can see the neighbouring house has been painted white.  La Petite Maison has dull render on it with a really yellow stone around the windows and some patches of grey cement where holes have been filled over the years.  Initially we thought we'd paint white as well, but on subsequent visits the slightly shabby look has grown on us and we'll probably leave it as it is, showing it's one hundred year old heritage.

Hopefully by the end of November we'll have water to the front gate as it's not attached to the mains at the moment.  

When will the excitement end?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Work, work, work.

This last week has seen our final trip of the year to La Petite Maison. 
Luckily we were able to stay in J and M's wonderful gite Les Cerisiers.  
It was an especially good trip as it was the first time that all four of us had been to La Petite Maison together and the very first time that Sarge would be able to see inside.
He had a quiet wander around and then proclaimed it 'had a good feel about it.'

It sits just below the village of Montmelard, the house with the brighter roof.
The first job for The Boss and me was to visit the mayor's office to check which forms we needed to fill in for the planning permission.  We're only planning a few external changes, adding some velux windows in the attic and making the kitchen window bigger. 

As we took the 5 minute walk back down to the house from the village I stopped to take in the view.  It's a lovely little green valley.
 By the time we were back M had already got going with his chainsaw on the acacia tree.
Me and The Boss made the first of four runs to the tip, with the plasterboard that we had removed from the 'bathroom' back in August.
 We also needed to take that little bed frame from the attic.  Above the stairs, in the attic is a hatch.
I don't like the hatch being open, it really is quite a drop but the boys told me not to be a wuss
and they dangled the frame down through.  I suppose it is better than trying to carry heavy things up and down steep stairs.
Another trip to the tip.
Whilst we were away M really got to grips with the acacia 
and pretty soon it was looking like this, the sunlight flooded into the front garden.
Then he had a bit of a go by the back door.
We called it a day and went back to Les Cerisiers for a shower, a glass of red wine and Kir Royale or two.
The following day Sarge and Smiley removed the stud work in the kitchen, got out the sink, took down the hot water boiler and removed all the old tiles.
We were all curious to find out what was under the 'modern' ceiling in the living room.  The beam had been boxed in so we made a hole to see what was underneath.  
The whole of the ceiling and beam was covered in lathe and plaster.
Next job.  
Sarge pulling the ceiling down. 
 This was a really nasty, dusty dirty job.  Not helped by more old mouse nests.
What happened to the old ceiling?  Yes, you've guessed it, The Boss and me took it all to the tip.
We had two runs with the accumulated dirt of decades.  Emptying the bags of rubble produced so much dust that, by the second trip, the sign showing where rubble went was unreadable!

It was looking much better by the time Smiley and Sarge had finished.

We took a moment to admire the view
 and the fruits of our hard labours.  This brash will get burnt in the spring.
We decided to give ourselves the afternoon off and visit Brico Marche in Macon, the nearest town.
The stairs produced some discussion....
 as did baths... 
 and woodburning stoves.
 Then back to the gite to enjoy a glass of wine or two watching the sunset across the valley.
The vines on the journey home, the leaves are changing colour and dropping.

 We brought back some boxes of wine, well it would have been rude not to.

So that's about it for now, I must say a big thanks to J and M for feeding us and being great hosts.
So now we wait to find out if our plans will be accepted.
A bientôt !

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Trips to the Decheterie

As planned Me, The Boss and her mum and mum-in-law had the bank holiday weekend in Le Buisson.  The first job we needed to tackle was in the attic.  Don't be fooled by the brightness of this picture, it really is quite dingy and extremely dusty up there.  You can really see the height of the roof in this picture we think it's about 18 feet.  We're hoping this might make two bedrooms and a bathroom. We needed to remove everything on that bed.  

We made sure we had masks on for the job ~ apparently The Boss is smiling underneath hers.
On the bed there were several layers of old carpets, mattresses and an old pillow and between the layers an unoccupied mouse nest.  Girly squeals could be heard throughout La Petite Maison as we put it all into a tarpaulin bag.  We tucked another tarp over the top, made it into a big package and threw it down the stairs.
We also found a tied hessian sack with round things inside.  We decided it better not to look, we weren't sure what they were ~ maybe even body parts.  The sack and various bags of rubble were loaded into the Boss' truck and another mattress and the tarpaulin bag strapped to the top.  This was the first of two trips to the decheterie (tip).  
We were greeted at the decheterie by two very jolly men, one wearing hi-viz shorts (!) who proceeded to unload everything for us.
Whilst we were there the Mummies stripped the wallpaper off in the front bedroom...... 
........and carried on tidying the front garden after Chopper's work three weeks ago.
The acacia saplings have already started to shoot after he cut them off.
The next job was to remove the plaster board off the 'bathroom' ~ which is downstairs where our kitchen will be.  The Boss and I had bought our hammers with us and spent the next hour or so bashing away.

When we had finished the light was flooding in through the little window.  We didn't have saws with us, so the framework will be a job for Smiley and Sarge.
We're hoping to make this window bigger and put the kitchen sink underneath it.  Washing up with this view will be much better.
The Boss got up the step ladders ~ she's taller than me ~ and pulled the hardboard down off the kitchen ceiling with more squeals from both of us as dirt, grime and other nasty things came down too.
There was another unoccupied mouse nest on the beam under the hardboard.  All the beams are now exposed.
We made another trip to the tip, although no sign of help this time as it was pelting down with rain.

Some kind farmer has left this hay rake over our front wall, it's going to be a bit harder to get rid of.  It's been there a few years judging by the way the brambles have grown over it, there are old pallets under here as well.
After we had finished the truck needed a sweep out as it was full of dirt and yes, that's my bum.
We packed up our bargain £80.00 tent in which we were staying at a local campsite and made our way home, arriving back at Hertfordshire in the small hours.

We're hoping to make one more trip over before the winter, I'll let you know.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Purchase Day

So, The Boss, me and DS (whom we will call Chopper) travelled down through France to see the Notaire (solicitor) and finalise everything.  We had previously carried out an international money transfer whilst Skypeing between our homes in Hertfordshire and Stroud.  It caused some squeals when our money disappeared through the ether, but luckily it arrived where it should.

We drove past La Petite Maison before we took possession.  It seemed to have disappeared behind the vegetation.  That would soon change however, when Chopper was let loose.

The Notaire read all the many sheets of the paperwork out to us in very speedy French.  I nodded when it seemed necessary and tried to make it look like I had understood.  The Boss understood even if I didn't.   We had to initial every sheet and after half an hour or so it was complete.  La Petite Maison was ours!

We were itching to get back and Chopper was set free in the front garden which he attacked with gusto.
By the time he had finished there was daylight and the front was visible.
The back garden will take a lot more work.

Inside is looking grotty as would expect from a house which has been empty for the past 15 years, me and The Boss swept and de-cobwebbed.

The Juliet Balconies still look lovely.
With all the activity our neighbour, Gerard popped in to say hello.  Gerard was an archetypal Frenchman and spoke French with a local accent.  He told us a bit of the history, a family with their eight children had lived there but the children had left over the years and their parents were now dead.   

It's looking sad and neglected, now it's up to us to breathe new life into it.  The Boss and me are back over this Bank Holiday weekend and we propose to make several trips to the local tip, I'll let you know how we get on.