Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The latest trip to France - a long weekend


Some good news first thing - the huge IKEA order that has been much delayed did actually arrive at the house in France yesterday.  Last week it was stopped by snow in Nantes - not a common excuse in France.

Jerome arrived mid morning and we went off to Oxford to get our rental van - a brand new and rather snazzy Mercedes sprinter, with only 98 miles on the clock.  It does have a £900 insurance excess so we had better be careful with it.

Back home and it takes about an hour to pack it fully.  We don't manage to get everything in it from the garage and the plan I had to go and buy some more stuff from a local secondhand hand yard was impossible.  I may have to do another van trip before Easter - or try and buy something suitable when I'm in France to finish the rooms.

Armed with a pile of CDs to last us the whole time we are away, we set off early evening.  An uneventful journey except for Jerome putting us into the queue for the Bilboa ferry at one point.  It turned out our van was bigger than I had paid for and an extra £48 is needed to cover this.

While having a couple of drinks in the bar, we watched a short video about Brittany which featured girls in traditional costume.  I should email Ellie and suggest she gets such an outfit to welcome her guests when she is running her gites.  She would look great.


After a big breakfast, Jerome takes the first half of the journey and I do the second.  The van is no slower than my usual landrover and we make St Jean by 12:30 or so.  A brief shop and then down to the house.  Jerome is suitably impressed.

At 2:30, we meet Dave, our estate agent from last year, and we go and see a derelict barn in a village about 25 kms from our house.  It is perfect for what Jerome has in mind - three big fields for yurts, a small pigeonier for them to convert first and the huge barn to work on for years.  A snip at £32k.

The rather stunning two floors

Some of the land attached

From the bottom of the attached field

Back at the house around 5:30 and time to unpack about half the van.  Then off to St Jean for dinner at Le Cabanon - one of my favourites


Grant is round at 8:30 to meet the builders who are going to be working on the roof today.  While I discuss the current state of the project, Jerome is able to put together the first two sofas on his own.  Grant helps us to move in the wardrobes and the place is already looking better.

Then Jerome and I have a trip to Emmaeus where I find another chest of drawers and a cot, plus the usual box of bits and pieces costing no more than E3 each.  During the afternoon, we are able to set up the lounge much more how it will be.  I am very happy with this.

Laer on we visit the brocante in St Jean, where I buy some linen sheets to protect the new furniture and Jerome tries to interest his mum in helping him buy the barn.  Next door to the brocante, we buy 3 litres of red wine for E4 from the local cave.  Dinner is at Le Scorlion, where the dessert is exceptional.


Its rains all day today without respite so we stay in and work on the house.  I have set up a couple of the rooms ready for Wife's visit in two weeks time, and have conducted more paint tests which have allowed me to finally make my choice for the treatment of the doors.  Meanwhile Jerome started on the final bedroom and we were able to remove all the wallpaper and fill all the holes ready for painting in March.

Dinner tonight was a Jerome special - a mixed fruit de mer with rice and a salad.  We also drank about 2 litres of wine and watched two episodes of The Wire from a few years ago.


Grant is round again this morning to try and work out the problem we have had with the new shower.  This turns out to be a trapped pipe and is soon sorted out. 

Jerome and I visited Saintes and bought some very cheap sun loungers from Mr Bricolage, plus some bits and bobs from a brocante.  Then it is back to the house for a last tidy up and sort out. 

On the way back to Caen, we call in the Ikea at Tour, the first time I have ever shopped in an Ikea.  I buy lots of cheap coat hangers, a couple of cushions and see a great sink unit that would be perfect for the kitchen in Les Petits Chats.  Dinner is at McDonalds in Caen.

Overall, a really excellent few days - so much done, so much to do

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