Thursday, 22 January 2015

Renovation Project - B&B for sale in France - We're selling up!

Renovation Project - B&B for sale in France - We're selling up!

I am sorry but I have to interrupt the normal blog for our big announcement, normal delivery will continue tomorrow.

Are you sitting comfortably?

You may remember some time ago I said that we had made a big decision, I had hoped to get the blog completely up to date before I told everybody what that decision was, but alas it is not to be, time has gotten away from me and we now need to let the cat out of the bag (mainly because so many people know already!)


Here it is, big drum roll please........

We are selling up!

Yes that is right, we are selling up

Nothing to do with the monster owls, or any of our worst parents/grandparents awards but simply because we have done everything we had set out to do.

In 2012 we moved to Brittany, we bought the derelict house, we renovated it, we opened our B&B, we made a success.

We have now got to that stage of having achieved all of our goals, so as I sit here and type I think of what I have already done this morning.

I have just had a meeting with a diagnostic company for a house sale (95% spoken in French) this is something I thought I would never be able to do, I have just called into the little shop and bought something and the owner then asked in English if I understood and we both laughed as I handed him the exact amount of money, I strolled back past the patisserie and looked at my favourite croissants (didn't buy one as I a still on this stupid diet) and suddenly the pangs of what are we doing hit me, we love it here!

But age is creeping up on us (that is the royal us, I’m as young as a spring chicken, it's John that is getting older)

I laugh when we tell friends that we only have another 9 good building years left in John, but it's true, I don't want him working hard after a certain age, and we still have so much to do.

As much as we love our life we need to move on to our next project, we need to get John building again, and we have already seen a house that we would like, it is a little one in the same village, so we are not moving far, for the time being any way, at some point we still want to try Spain and Portugal, but that is in the future, for now we need to concentrate on selling and getting our next one here.

It has been such an amazing experience, we love running the B&B and meeting fantastic people from all around the world. But nothing lasts for ever and our feet have gotten itchy, its time to move on and try something new. I need to know that we can do it again, I miss the excitement of watching something grow (though I don't miss the cold or scrubbing old wooden floors).

I sometimes wonder if I will ever settle down in just one place or with just one career, but that is not really me, there are so many exciting things to do and places to visit in the world, I am just so thankful that I get the opportunity to try them.

After all a few years ago I worked for a national charity, then became free lance, then a builders labourer, then a B&B owner and now an estate agent, as I said there are so many things to try in your life

So you have all followed the blog, you have seen the house grow and blossom, now is your opportunity to be a part of that story.

Would you like to run your own little B&B in one of the most beautiful parts of Finistere?

We are advertising through Leggetts immmobilier, our local notaire and via this site
if you are interested or know anybody who might be, then send us an e-mail.

Start your own life adventure, how many times have you read one of the posts and thought I can do that, how many times have you sat in a traffic jam and thought there has to be more to life?

Now is YOUR chance!

At 125,000 Euros (£96,000 as at 22.01.15) scroll down to see the photographs and plese contact us directly if you have any questions or leave a comment and I will get back to you

 or leave a comment and I will get back to you

Monday, 19 January 2015

Renovation project - Alone in France

Renovation project - Alone in France

Image source: 
This is a strange blog, I am going to be on my own, John has been invited to visit some friends and will be gone for 3 days and 2 nights. How can I say no, when I have left him behind to visit family so many times, but how can I say yes when I am still so scared of the dark (and believe me when it is dark here, it really is dark!)

I have no option I have to be the nice person, of course you can go dear, don't worry about me, I will be fine (stifled sobs and mounting fear) what is there to worry about, it is our home.

The strange creaking noises and such like that I can ignore whilst you are here will not bother me, I have my magic blanket once in bed, I will not go up to the top floor on my own, I will ignore the shadows that I see outside and the all the wonderful animal noises that you can hear, once it is dark will not change from owls and such like into terrifying and mysterious creatures of the night, I will not think of vampires or ghosts or ghouls, but continue to love the peace and quiet and tranquil area

(there are no ghosts, there are no ghosts,, there are no ghosts!!!!!!)

Our big dilemma is do I remain open as the B&B or do I close? Hhhmmmm big decision, do I stay alone with the non existent ghosts and monster owls? or as my friend put it, do I invite complete strangers off the street to stay with me to keep me safe?????

I decide to stay open, the guests so far have been lovely, why should they turn into axe wielding mad men just because I am alone????

I take a booking and luckily they are a lovely couple who are also viewing properties with me, so all is well,

John returns and I am still alive, why on earth was I worried, I had a great time, you can go again whenever you want to,

What's that!

You want to go again in a few weeks, are you mad, do you not realise there are axe wielding maniacs out there that want to stay in my house and the ghosts, yes I am now sure that they do exist again, will all suddenly move in with me along with that strange animal that sounds like an owl when you are here, but turns into a terrifying monster when you are gone!

Do I say any of this? Well actually yes I do, and a lot more, but I am a strong person so I laugh it of, ha ha ha.............. cue the silent tears again!

The next time he goes away for a couple of days, I have no guests, I am home alone and yes the monsters return (but only during the dark night) I have still yet to work out how that owl turns from a gorgeous creature into such a terrifying monster just while John is away, is it watching us? preying on us? Waiting for the moment to strike?

Or am I just a great big wuss who is afraid of the dark?

I think I know the answer and if John goes away again you will probably know the answer as well.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Renovation project - Pointing garden walls

Renovation project - Pointing garden walls

The summer has been a great one this year and the sun is till shining in October, this is so much better than 2012, when we first moved here and thought the rain would never stop, now it's a case of how much longer can this go on, it is fantastic.

It also means we can do so much more on the garden and work that was needed outside.
Edith and Amelie (our 2 resident sheep) have now left us, not permanently. They will be back in the new year but there are many large gardens in this area, so they are going to work their magic on another place, so that our garden can grow enough to see them over winter and the next summer.

It feels strange not having them greet us as we go into the garden, We really had got quite used to them being there, but as II said it's not for long.

First job that needs doing is the pointing, we had kept the old barn as a workshop, but when the roof fell in, we also kept the gable ends, these now need to be pointed to ensure that they survive, they also give a fantastic windbreak for the patio.

This takes a few days to complete but they look so much better.

I do have a problem with the stone wall by the back door though, this had been painted white at some point and this will not come off. The pointing had also been painted on!

John tries all sorts and it is not moving, we then think that if it is all painted white it will make it much brighter.

But here is one of the many dilemma's, we love old stone walls and to paint it all would be a crime, but to leave it looks bad.

John says he can paint the worst bits and leave the rest exposed, I am a little unsure but hey, that's how we are about so many things, the paint goes on and some extra stones are left uncovered, I really don't like this (and neither does John!) but it is far easier to cover stones than it is to uncover them, so the odd exposed stones are covered.

It really does brighten the passageway up, so we have the best of both worlds, we have also used whitewash (lime) to paint the wall not normal paint, you must always ensure that you use the correct materials on a job like this or you could end up doing it more than once!

Monday, 12 January 2015

6 Tips For Winter Gardening

6 Tips For Winter Gardening

Maintaining our gardens in the winter months can be a treacherous task.
We may wish to hibernate away from the dark nights, but now is when the true work of a gardener begins. Preparing our outdoor oasis now will mean you reap the benefits come spring.

Image source >
1)      Get Wrapped Up

Your first consideration before you step outside should be your own safety.
Dressing appropriately with thermals and gloves, will protect you from the rigorous winter weather.
The garden can be a magical and mysterious place in winter, and you should be able to enjoy your time outside comfortably.

2)      Spruce Up Your Paths

Treading on the frosty lawns can cause damage to the grass.
And we don’t like to ruin the hard work we’ve put in already.
Grab a good old fashioned stiff brush, and sweep any debris to clear the paths.
Add a sprinkling of rock salt to ensure icy paths don’t cause any unnecessary accidents, and if you’re concerned about how it will affect your garden or any pets, this article gives you some clear guides about any hazards.

3)      Food For Wildlife

Give nature a place to retreat in your own backyard.
Attracting birds and other fauna, will deter bugs and slugs from munching away through plants while your snuggled up inside.
Bushes with berries or bird feeders, are the best way to invite feathered guests to enjoy the garden.
Don’t forget to report any sightings of weasels to the Mammal Society as they’re natural habitats are becoming increasingly endangered.

4)      Prepare

Winter is the perfect time to prepare your soil.
Loosen it, remove any weeds, and add a good dose of compost or manure to give it some nutrients throughout the cold winter months.
Your efforts will be rewarded come Summer with delicious vegetables and vibrant flowers.

5)      Safe & Secure

As the winds of winter can become a danger to us all, ensure to check that fences and sheds are stable.
Large trees will also need to be checked by a tree surgeon a few months before winter, to ensure no branches are dying or at risk of falling.
If you’re lucky enough to have a playground or tennis court on your premise ensure to hire professional maintenance contractors such as these. This will ensure that the condition and safety is kept in order.  

6)      Sit Back And Enjoy

With a nice hot cup of tea in one hand and a gentle bonfire crackling away, don’t forget to enjoy some peaceful moments in the garden.The buzz of Christmas can often be overwhelming so use your garden as your own quiet sanctuary.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post
Author Mary Saunders

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Renovation project - Is the French lifestyle better than the UK?

Renovation project - Is the French lifestyle better than the UK?

Well I now have my office and a new wardrobe. Now all I have to do is sort out my clothes, I seem too have so many and such a large size range, I had mentioned that I had lost quite a lot of weight, it is only as I sort through my clothes that I realise just how much weight. I also now don't need a big walk in wardrobe to myself as I have just given away over half of my clothes.

Maybe it's time to go for a big shop, oh wait I can't do that as we are now keeping a tight reign on our expenses to make sure we have enough to see us over winter, especially if we are not going to open full time. We can't have everything and the holiday was far more enjoyable than some new clothes any way (plus my daughter gave me some really nice new stuff the last time I visited, I feel a bit odd that my daughter gives me clothes rather than the other way around, but I now have some designer clothes that fit me and don't just sit in my wardrobe looking pretty!)

In case anybody was wondering I have not followed any magic diet plan, life in France is just so much healthier, in the UK we worked long hours and often ended up buying a takeaway (try and get one of those in Brittany if you can!) but here no matter what time you finish work unless you go to a restaurant you are going to have to cook something and going to have to use fresh ingredients, you have to look really hard to find processed food and it costs a fortune.

So we eat lots of fresh fruit, fresh veg, good quality meat (you should try the sausages, nothing like the ones in the UK as they are made of meat!) and we cook from scratch, so many of my old friends will be fainting now, yes Jenny Lovett cooks meals from scratch with fresh ingredients!

I also go for a walk every evening with my friend and her dog, so as I said no magic diet just a really healthy lifestyle. I feel so much better in myself and I am almost back too the size I was before I had my accident years ago.

And as these are the regular views on my walk you can understand how easy it is to make the effort to go daily
Huelgoat forest

Huelgoat forest

Huelgoat forest

Huelgoat lake

Huelgoat lake

Huelgoat lake

I think this has to be one of my favourite bits of living in France, the food is just amazing as is the lifestyle, it is so much more relaxed and laid back, yes even when you think everything is going to go wrong the stress does not seem to hit you as much as it does in the UK, because you are surrounded by people who are relaxed and laid back and have the time too talk and visit.

If you are considering this move and still having dilemma's then maybe this could be the tipping point, even at the roughest moments, life is better here, obviously I am talking about life in a picturesque village not a main city but here are a few comparisons:

Finistere, Brittany
3 bed. 2 bath house with garage and gardens approx £74,500
click above to see what I mean
3 bed. 2 bath house with garage and gardens
I dread to think
Nice bottle of wine approx 2 - 3 Euro’s (£1 - 2)
Far more!
Fresh baked croissants 90 cents
You can't buy comparable in the UK (not even n the finest ranges!)
Fresh king prawns between 7 and 11 Euros (£5 - £8) a kilo
Are you sick with jealousy yet?

This is a very small comparison table, but you get the picture

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Renovation project - John does it again!

Renovation project - John does it again!

We have not decided whether or not to remain open during winter, we think we may just concentrate on house viewers and nt push the B&B through the sites we have been using, we have some finishing touches we want to do to the house that we couldn't do during the time we had guests and one of them is to finish off our bedroom.

I need an office area to work in and really want some more wardrobe space, I know we have a large walk-in wardrobe but for some reason this does not seem to be quite big enough for us.

So John sets to work on improving the bedroom. He is going to build an office space and a wardrobe similar to that inn the big first floor bedroom.

We buy the wood and I leave John to it, I had always said that I would like one of the eaves to be completely built in but John thinks this would ruin the shape of the bedroom and he wants to see the eaves and suggests that we build the wardrobe insert a desk and have shelves over it, I really cannot see how this will look good, but I do trust him (which is a good thing really or we would never have got to this point!)

I keep looking at what he is doing and all I can think is nooooooooo........

But I keep sort of quiet and leave him to it, I really am glad he continued as when it is finished it looks fab, I have a desk to work from and shelves for all my office stuff, a cupboard to hide all my files in and a wardrobe for John, this also means that the walk in wardrobe is all mine.

I love my new bedroom furniture and the fact that I have everything I need without having to go furniture shopping is great, I am so glad I left him to it, as my idea would not have been practical or looked as good!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Renovation project - New year new start

Renovation project - New year new start

Well yesterday was news year eve and like everybody I have my list of news resolutions one is to become a lot more organised.

This has been such an amazing year and there are so many more things planned for 2015.

Normally I do a round up of my favourite blog posts over the year but as I have not been as committed to writing over the last few months, I think I will just do a monthly round up of what has happened until I get back to date.

We had a fantastic season with the B&B but one of the biggest learning curves was that if you are making your living from running a B&B you can't have family to visit. This meant that my daughter and baby granddaughter could not come to visit us or us go to visit them.

We also realised that you have to remember to book a couple of nights off or before you realise it you are fully booked and not once do you get to have a lie in or just slob in your home. You have to be on your best behaviour at all times.

So we decide that we are going to close after the season, we have declared that we will be a year round B&B on our tax returns and our registration, but I want a break. I also want a holiday, this is our first year without a holiday and it is killing me.

We close at the end of September and I book a week in Menorca with my daughter and the baby. I am so excited I fly out of the UK for the first week of October.

This was just what the doctor ordered, we fly from Manchester and the baby is the perfect traveller.

We have a week in the sun, I make the most of my time with them and let my daughter have a lie in whilst Poppy and I walk to the beach in the morning, play on the park and grab some breakfast. I am having the time of my life.

I have missed having this time with them and I also realise my love of Spain has been reignited, we had always planned on moving to Spain but somehow plans change and we chose Brittany instead, but walking along the Spanish island coastline and eating tapas, the love of Spain that had lain dormant is bursting out of me.

We have the best week ever, this is an essential part of moving too another country, having quality time with those that matter to you, so far I have not missed any of my baby granddaughters firsts and maybe have been there for more than I would've been had I still lived in the UK and been working my old job.

The week comes to an end far too quickly and we fly back too the UK (it was actually cheaper for me to fly to the UK and book a holiday from there than it was to book a holiday in France!)

I start to look for flights back to the UK and find a Ryannair flight, this means flying from East Midlands.

My good friend drives me to the airport, there have already been so many tears saying goodbyes, this has been the hardest time for me to leave, but maybe I will feel better at the airport?
I don't and I'm not the best traveller (I know I travel all over Europe but still freak when I get to an airport!!!)

we say goodbye and I can feel the emotion well up. I go to check in and the passport guy asks for my ticket and passport and asks if I'm going on holiday, it's at this point that I say no, I’m going home, but not that eloquently, as I have now welled up, I feel a fool but I can't help it, the poor old guy is great and he tells me to take a minute, oh hell, that was the last thing I needed somebody being nice to me, I'm now a quivering wreck.

I finally make it through and am sitting waiting for the plane, when I get a text saying my daughter will be coming to France next month for the baby's birthday. I feel great again, I'm going back to
John and our good life in Brittany, I have just had a fantastic week, it's time to get a grip.

I'm all positive until the next text, the flights have stopped in November, this happened last year and seems to be a regular thing, there are ferries but she won't sail.

I well up again, what are we going to do????

But then the intercom cuts in and the flight is ready to board, I'm going home, I will see the family soon, get a grip its been over 2 years now!!!!

I'm so happy to see John when I land and we have a great journey home, a couple of days later I talk to one of my friends, and say how I felt and she makes me feel so much better because she understands and feels the same at times when she leaves her family and she has been here for years.

Top tips

  • No matter how long you live somewhere else you may still feel upset/guilty when you leave your family (it's natural and doesn't mean you have made the wrong decision)
  • Passport control are used to seeing weeping wrecks at the airport so don't worry about it
  • You don't have to miss the important bits of your family's life just because you are not there all the time
  • Don't beat yourself up if you feel sad at times
  • If you open a B&B remember to book yourself a night off
  • Spain is still hot and sunny in October!