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.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Back To The Start


I suppose I should tell the story of how we got to buying a house in France.

Me (Clicky Needles) and my hubby (Sarge) have been friends with B (The Boss) and S (Smiley) for over ten years now.  Sarge, The Boss and Smiley all worked for the same company.  One day Sarge came home and told me we were going camping in Dorset with them and some other people he worked with.  I didn't know any of these people and he wanted me to spend a weekend with them.  What if I hated them all?  Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.  The other families had children roughly the age of our two so maybe we'd be alright.  As it turned out the weekend was a hoot, we played cricket and rounders (how competitive do those dads get?) walked along the cliffs and played silly word games around the barbeques into the night.  It was fun.
The camps turned into an annual event.  Not always the same campsite but always in Dorset.  A few more work colleagues joined us.  It wasn't all fun and games though.  We had terrible storms one year and our fairly new tent was ruined.  The Clicky Needles clan and The Boss, Smiley and their daughter spent the night in cars.  The camps continued on through the years.  One year Me and Sarge and The Boss and Smiley got talking, why not go farther afield?  We all got on well, why not have a 'proper' holiday together.  Someone suggested France, we could get a big gite.  When it got down to the nitty gritty, however, only me, Sarge and The Boss and Smiley were willing.  No probs we'd find somewhere.  Our daughters were good friends by now and DS was happy doing most things.

We found a Coach house near Le Mans in the grounds of a Chateau.  
The coach house was lovely but to be honest we all hankered after the chateau.  It was owned by and English lady who lived in London. 
It had grounds with a small river running through.  Our boys disappeared mid morning with a bottle of 'fishing wine' to 'have a fish'.  The wine had a rule attached ~ never more than €2.  Unsurprisingly they came back with no fish, but very giggly.  The girls lounged around the pool.  We played loud music and danced around to embarrass the kids in the evening (I do have photos but they are just too embarrassing for everyone.)  After a few days talk got around to "I like this, but if we had a house we'd...."  It carried on through the week and by the end it became "In our house we'll have a bigger freezer."  The seed was sewn.

A few years later we had a February half term holiday at The Boss' friend's gite Les Cerisiers near Montmelard.  It is nested in a little valley but in the hills, all over 1000 feet above sea level, so February could only mean one thing.  Snow.  It was beautiful.  We were unable to drive to the house, we had to park in the village and The Boss' friend J and her partner M had to ferry us down to the house in their very beefy four wheel drive.
We stayed up late, played games, had a glass or two of wine and relaxed.  The first person up in the morning lit the fire and made the tea.  Lovely.
By the end of the week the snow had melted so we walked up Mount Cyr and surveyed the area.  
Behind us the next mountain is Mont Blanc.

On the way back to J's we passed a little house.  "That's for sale," someone shouted.
The Sarge and me thought it looked a bit small.  We didn't think much more of it. 

A few months later we got a breathless phone call from The Boss.  She and Smiley had been to stay with J and guess what? they had looked at the little house.  It was perfect for us.  They took lots of photos and we planned a camping weekend to talk about it. After some deliberation and possibly some wine we decided to go for it.  Sarge and me had not seen inside but we were confident in The Boss' and Smiley's judgement.

The next problem was getting all four of us in France at the same time to sign the papers.    It was decided that just The Boss and me would be the signatories to make things easier so we travelled down in August 2010 to start the purchase.  I got to see inside for the first time.  I had hoped I would fall in love it, but I definitely didn't, as I looked around I could see potential but lots and lots of work.  The view from the front bedroom however was fabulous and I loved the shutters and wrought iron juliet balconies.

The purchase process had begun.  We started to get excited.  The Boss and me had fantasy shopping trips to Ikea.  Time dragged on.  And on.  And on.  Excitement had evaporated.  Life carried on as normal and we all found it best not to think about it.  In June 2012 The Boss received an e-mail, asking us to go over and complete the purchase.  At last, 2 years after the process had started we were to be the owners.