Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Few Days At La Petite Maison

Des Bons Amis have made another trip over to La Petite Maison to carry out a bit of work on the house and see what the builder has been up to.

We had our usual 2.30am arising time and caught the 5.50am train.
Half an hour later we arrived in France.
As we arrived the sun came up....
...and we saw a cloud that looked like a tap.
The French countryside whizzed by and we saw familiar landmarks.
A few hours in we stopped for a coffee......
....and a driver change.  We operate a boys in the front, girls in the back, girls in the front, boys in the back rule.  This works really well, mainly as the girls have a jolly good natter where as the boys, not so much.

This time we took a set of ladders strapped to the top of the Boss and Smiley's truck.
They were well fastened and didn't move once!
Suddenly the sunshine disappeared into fog,
and things looked a bit gloomier.
As always, we had Peppermint Cremes and Wine Gums to keep us going.  (And if I'm honest, lots of other food too.)
We paid the tolls.
Kept right to Lyon.
And before too long we were seeing the Cremants (champagne) de Bourgogne wineries.  

Nearly there!
When we arrived there was great excitement at La Petite Maison.  
More on that tomorrow.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Beaucoup Du Travail

This Easter has seen me, Sarge, The Boss and Smiley travel to La Petite Maison to work on the house to prepare it for the builders.

Our train was an hour earlier than the last trip due to the busy Easter weekend, so we arose at 2.00am to allow us enough time to catch the 4.50am train. The journey through France was uneventful and, for me anyway, filled with lots of dozing.

This trip we stayed in a mobile home on a campsite in Dompierre Les Ormes, a village about three miles away from the house.  The site was quiet, only us and two families with caravans .
We had several heavy jobs to get on with.  Firstly, the tomettes ~ terracotta tiles ~ needed lifting from the downstairs so the builder can dig a trench through for the water.  He will then go on to excavate the whole of the floor and lay insulation and concrete.
I started to remove the tiles, I'm so pleased I bought the kneelers!
As I removed the tiles, les garçons transported the unbroken ones to the bedroom above.
We will reuse the good tiles somewhere else.
I had a rest and les garçons took over.  Underneath was very hard, compacted earth.
We found one tile with dog paw prints.  This seems to be a normal thing.  J has one in her gite.   It'll probably go back in around the fireplace in the living room.
Sarge and Smiley took the shutters off their hinges and The Boss scrubbed them over with a wire brush. 
Les filles then undercoated them and started with the blue topcoat.  This is slightly brighter than we had thought it would be.
First touch.
The painting job was never ending. 
 The big shutters are 7 foot.  
The Boss persevered and I lost the will to live and went to Hammerite the juliete balconies instead. 
Three days later and after a coat of Hammerite on the hinges they were ready to be re-hung.
The Boss gave the front door a quick once over with the blue paint too.
The balconies were looking much better as well.  
and after.
Whilst the girls were painting the boys got down to some hard graft.  As well as lifting the floor tiles downstairs they got all of these old roof tiles down from the attic which had just been left there.  They rigged up a bucket with a rope and used a beam to lower it down as they didn't fancy carrying them down two flights of fairly steep stairs.
Luckily in the attic there is a removable hatch, you can see it in the bottom left hand corner of this picture.  We've decided this is going to stay to give easier access to the attic.

Thankfully after each day's hard work we had a scorching hot shower back at the campsite and Ibuleve Gel to help with the aches.
Breakfast was croissants and cherry jam followed by bread and cheese.
In between our work we asked the artisans we have decided to use to come and visit, so they could all get together and plan the order of their work. 

The boys went to the supermarket on Easter Sunday (to get wine) and came back with bunnies for The Boss and me.
The church in Montmelard taken from the soon-to-be bathroom.  The clock is rather strange, it chimes the hour and then a few minutes later chimes again.  We're not sure why, our English neighbour thinks it might from times gone by to make sure all the workers in the fields could hear it properly.
When the attic was clear the boys marked out where the new bathroom will be.  The chair is the toilet, as it is fairly near to a beam we all tried it out to ensure we didn't bang our heads.
We also had a roofer visit as we thought that the roof needed stripping off and the cross members replacing as it dips quite a lot at the front.  He told us it wasn't necessary, he came on a very rainy day and there were no leaks and it dips because of the shape of the oak beam.  This is good news indeed.  A big Velux window is going under this beam at the front of the house to take full advantage of the view.  You can see in this picture how high and steep the roof is.  There are three large oak beams about six foot apart making it roughly eighteen feet the the top.

The weather was like the rest of Northern Europe, very cold with an icy wind.  I was very glad of my Long Johns and long sleeved vest, The Boss improvised with pyjamas.  We awoke one morning to a hard frost and frozen water in the mobile home, the campsite owner told us it had been -6 degrees in the night.
We found a dog print roofing tile as well.  There must be an awful lot of dogs in France with mucky paws.
Five days after we arrived we tidied our tools away, popped into the supermarket for wine (well, it would have been rude not to) and hit the road, to arrive six hours later in Calais Eurotunnel Terminal in the chilly sun.  

We resumed the discussion of how the train, and the cars travelling inside always face the right way ~ turns out both ends run on a loop but you don't notice inside the train ~ and 35 minutes later we were back in England.

So, the house is ready for the artisans.  A visit to the Mayor's office has confirmed that our mains sewage runs in front of the house, more good news; no digging up the back garden.  We now await EDF to connect electricity. 

 I wonder when that will be?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Il a Neigé!


February Half Term has seen me and The Boss travel over to La Petite Maison.
We arose at 3.00am in order to leave Hertfordshire at 4.00am to catch the 5.50am train.  Fuelled by Peppermint Cremes and Wine Gums, we managed to board by the skin of our teeth, the last car on the train. 

An uneventful journey was suddenly interrupted by snow.  Snow!  We hadn't come for that!
We arrived in Montmelard mid-afternoon and the valley was  looking beautiful.
We were staying with our lovely friend J at Les Cerisiers across the valley.

We had no time to reflect however, as we were meeting with the first of a tranche of builders, plumbers, electricians and roofers.

Exciting things have happened at La Petite Maison.
We have been connected to the water mains and the hamlet now has it's very own water hydrant. 
Our supply is under the concrete slab, it has yet to be carried on to the house.
The other piece of exciting news being that our planning permission has been granted for Velux windows in the attic and increasing the size of the small kitchen window.  We had to sign the granted permission forms at the Mayor's office.

The house was looking snug under the snow.
The orchard at Les Cerisiers was looking lovely too.
We had a super 5 days there and now we await the tradesmen's quotes.