Thursday, 28 January 2016

Renovation project - We are back in Brittany, France

Renovation project - We are back in Brittany, France

We get the Portsmouth to Caen ferry and decide to push the boat out and have one of the luxury cabins, they are expensive, but when you add up all the extras that come with the cabin, it really isn't that bad, plus it means we can sit and watch TV instead of watching the sea rise and fall, and rise and fall and rise and fall (even writing this I can feel my sea sickness coming on)

We get to Caen at approx 4pm and we have a four hour drive to our new house.

The new Volvo has no problems and we arrive, I am not sure how many times I have explained that shops etc shut in rural France, but we forgot and we arrive to find not only the shops shut but also the restaurants, it is late and we are hungry.

Our friends come to the rescue and cook some dinner for us when we collect our keys, we sit and spend the evening catching up, but we can't be late as Veolia (the water company) are arriving in the morning to connect our water.

In the morning we get to the house in plenty of time for the water company to arrive.

We wander around and think of the plans we have made. We will be turning the main house into a two bed one bath house and the little house into a holiday gite.

But as we are talking and looking we start to wonder if it would make more sense to live in the little house and have the main house as a rental, there is a lot less work to do on the main house.

It is almost midday and veolia have still not arrived, I go back to the house we are staying in and check my e-mails, it is at this point that I notice the notaire asked me to confirm the 7th was OK, I had missed this bit. I didn't even think about it as we had said over and over again we would be back on the 7th. I have no phone so call into the notaires and they will contact Veolia and arrange another date. Luckily it is tomorrow.

John makes a list of all that he needs for the plumbing and electrics ready to start

Here is are some photo's of the outside of the house, the inside will be coming soon

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Renovation Project - The trusty Volvo's final trip

Renovation Project - The trusty Volvo's final trip

The ferry crossing to the UK was non eventful (which is the best thing that you can ever say about a ferry crossing) we arrive in Plymouth that evening and book into a hotel. The next morning we are heading to our family, I know I was only there a couple of weeks ago but I miss them so much, it has been over 3 years now and I don't think this feeling will ever go.

We spend 2 of the most glorious weeks in the UK we see so much of the family and now every time we go to my daughters I can hear my little grandaughter shout excitedly that it is meme and granddad John at the door (I still freak she will forgot me when we leave, but it is getting less and less likely)

We buy lots of bedding and kitchen bits in the sales, I do not normally do this as I would prefer too buy from France, but sometimes you just cannot ignore the bargains.

We also have a Juicer, blender and slow cooker ready for all my home made meals when we return, we are going to be the king and queen of homemade organic healthy foods.

Whilst we are there John works more on the car, there is a loud knocking sound when ever we go over a bump John assumes this is the wishbone as it has virtually perished, so he gets the parts and spends an afternoon changing one, unfortunately instead of fixing the problem it has become even more noticeable, He can only assume now it is the shock absorbers or the suspension and we have to have a serious think about where to draw the line, the car has been amazing and we have traveled many miles in it, but we now seem to be constantly fixing it and spending money on it, we had really hoped it would live to finish our next project but this is not the case.

We search the internet (this is the royal we as I really do not care what we have as long as it works) and find the same car in a different colour.

We had to have the discussion about whether or not it would be more cost effective buying a second hand car in France due to the cost of re registering but the price difference of a second hand car meant it was cheaper to buy in the UK and register in France.

We go to collect the new one and realise just how badly our trusty Volvo had been running.

The day before we leave is the day to say goodbye, we take it to a scrap yard and John removes our new battery and drives it to the machine that will crush it, it is really quite emotional. But we take a final photo with our new car and say our goodbyes.

The trusty Volvo has finally died, with over 200,000 miles on the clock and very little work required before the last few months it really was the best car.

RIP trusty Volvo and hello new trusty Volvo!

The time has arrived to say our good byes and set off on our new adventure. Our last night is spent with my daughter for her birthday, we have a wonderful evening with nice food, once we finally find an open restaurant that does take away food. It seems it is not only rural France that closes on a Monday in winter but parts of Cheshire do as well!

It is so hard to say good bye, this feeling never gets any easier and it is hard to describe the total heart wrench of leaving kids and babies behind, even though we are not really that far and to make it more difficult we are even leaving the trusty volvo.

This is like a whole new start, but on the bright side this is like a whole new start, good bye everyone see you back in France

Monday, 25 January 2016

Renovation project - The French house is ours

Renovation project - The French house is ours
Photo courtesy of
We had emptied the car yesterday and didn't really have time to get too excited with everything we had to do, but today is different. We are signing this morning.

Everything is in place the money can be seen at the notaires office but has not made it in to the correct account yet, this is not a problem.

The signing is done electronically, the contract is on the screen and the notaire goes through each page, the 'en tontine' has been added (can you imagine asking a UK solicitor to change a contract on the day without being charged extortionate amounts of money!).

Everything is signed and we are ready to go.

Now the excitement kicks in, we have another house in Huelgoat. As we are leaving the notaires office our Friends Sheila and Brian drive past, they stop and say hello. It is the perfect moment, Sheila has somehow been there at every important moment in our French lives so to see her at this time just makes everything right.

We go and spend the morning there and discuss what we are going to do when we return from our Christmas trip to the UK.

The notaire will arrange for the water to be connected to the mains on the 7th January 2016. and then we can return reconnect the water pipes and change the electrics and hopefully move in shortly after.

This project is no where near as big as the last one, until we start to make a note of the jobs, new water, new electrics, new plumbing, new windows, new bathrooms, new kitchen and start from scratch on the little house!

But I can't wait, I'm so looking forward to getting started and also doing something again, 6 months relaxing in Spain was fantastic but with no exercise and too much food my wonderful slim line figure is not so slim line and John, well, he wasn't a little bloke before but now........

Our ferry to the UK leaves at 3 pm today and we make sure everywhere is fully locked up, leave our keys with friends and head off.

Yes the blog is behind, but we will be catching up soon now that we have interent

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Renovation Project - Will the payment for the house go through on time.......

Renovation Project - Will the payment for the house go through on time.......
Picture courtesy of
We arrive in Huelgoat mid afternoon as we did not bother to sight see on the way, we just needed to get to the bank to make sure that the payment had gone through.

First stop was the notaires, where we were given the keys to the property so that we could unload the car.

Next stop was the bank and unfortunately the person we normally deal with was still not available, but I was able to speak to the person on the counter who issued us with a receipt to prove we had made the transfer, we also had to arrange insurance for the property from the day we had the keys (so today!) this was putting my french to the test as the person we were dealing with spoke no English.

This really was a case of being thrown in at the deep end, our plans for a simple step by step move to get accustomed to being in France again are out of the window.

This is where using an estate agent makes life easy, as all of this would have been arranged for us but not to worry, I need to practice my redundant language skills.

We make it through the forms and we only used google twice, once was for the word excess, this was because the bank person did not understand what I was asking

Insurance and receipt in place we head back to the notaire.

Now we realise there is a problem with our pink slip, when the contract was delivered to us in Spain the postman was supposed to ask us to sign the pink slip and return it.

The pink slip is to prove you have had your 10 day cooling off period, so we worked out the date of when we received it in Spain and signed them at the office.

Everything is in place and tomorrow morning we should be able to sign for the property.

Next problem, there is a chance that the transfer may not be in the notaires account in time (we have a morning signing).

But as always the problems are not insurmountable, we can still sign (the seller will not be present and the clerk will sign on his behalf) the notaire explains that if the funds are not in place they can sign on our behalf as well!

We all hear about the masses of red tape in France, but we have found that often things are so much easier as there is always a way around a problem.

We ask for the 'en tontine' to be added to the contract, this is the clause that states if either of us die the property will go to the remaining spouse and not the children. If you are buying property in France look into the inheritance laws, especially if you are buying with children from previous marriages.

There is so much info on this on the internet but it may be worth speaking to a professional to find out what suits you best.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Renovation project - Oh No, we have forgotten to pay for the house!

Renovation project - Oh No, we have forgotten to pay for the house!

Photo courtesy of
We are tootling along quite happily, we sign for the house on Monday and can collect the keys on Saturday the weather is still good and everything is going smoothly.

I have no idea why the next thought suddenly pops in my head, but I am so glad it did.

We haven't yet paid for the property or arranged a transfer of the funds, I can't believe it, we completely forgot to pay for the house!!!!

What are we going to do, normally we would've paid the deposit so the full payment would be organised, but because the final contract came when it did and the 10 day cooling off period finsihes on our signing date, nothing is in place.

We have no internet and we are on a motorway near Bordeaux.

The first step is to telephone our contact at the bank, she is not available and has no appointments free tomorrow.

I explain to the person on the phone what we need to do and she kindly says she will contact the notiare to get the details and the bank will arrange the transfer, and they will call back tomorrow.

Normally we would stay in Bordeaux as this is the perfect stopping place. We stop at a Macdonalds so that we can use the free internet and I see that we have an e-mail from the notaire checking that we have everything in place to pay (this came 15 minutes after my phone call to the bank, a coincidence maybe?)

Well hopefully everything is in place, but we decide to drive a lot further than we had planned so that we can be in Huelgoat early afternoon so that we can call into the bank and the notiares.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Renovation project - Driving to France

Renovation project - Driving to France

We have a 2 night journey to France and normally we stop at the cheap formula 1 hotels, but as we are driving towards Barcelona we remember the luxury hotel we stayed in there a couple of years ago.

We decide to push the boat out and book in again, we look on line for any deals and find a price but it is in British pounds and my phone will not let me change it to euros too pay on line, we decide to just call on the off chance and the price is not that different paying direct, we also ask about dinner and there is an option for a 3 course dinner with water and a glass of wine for 16 euros.

We relax in our wonderful room and I even get to luxuriate in the bath, it has been so long since I lay and relaxed in bubbles, I really think I have died and gone to heaven (we are definitely putting a bath in the new house!)

We then go for dinner and watch the sunset over montserrat, the meal is fantastic, the view is fantastic but it does mean we have been to Barcelona yet again without visiting the city, but we don't mind, we realise how lucky we are that we don't have to try to cram everything in to each trip as we can come as often as we want to, and feel it would be better to fly into barcelona and spend a weekend there sometime soon rather than try to drive and park in the city.

The next night we stay in a budget formula 1 hotel and order the breakfast, we go out to a Court Paille for a burger dinner, nice but nothing spectacular.

We do however laugh at the salad starter, which consists of a bowl of lettuce leaves!

When we tot up the prices, it turns out that the night of luxury was only 30 euors more expensive than a budget night with a shared toilet and a burger.

Sometimes cheap isn't necessarily cost effective it is just cheap!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Renovation project - Leaving Spain

Renovation project - Leaving Spain

My flight is not to bad, very early, but not too bad. I see John and I am so relieved to see him again, we chat about what happened and he says he feels much better, still not 100%, but much better/

He has not fully packed for me, but I can hardly complain. We now have two days to pack and clean the villa.

We also only have two days left to visit all of our favourite restaurants we don't manage the restaurants but we do get everything in the car.

When we are packed we look at the car and once again realise that all our worldly possessions are in there and once again realise that the majority of our possessions are either Johns tools, clothes or memories from our children growing up.

It is a strange feeling knowing that all you own can fit in a car, it is a million miles away from our old life in the UK where you own far more than you could ever need. We sit and look around before we leave and think about the wonderful time we have had, all the family that have visited and how we will have to explain to my baby grandaughter that we don't have the pool any more and there will be no more rocket boat to sail in.

But it is time to go, we are both sad to eave but excited about the beginning of our next new adventure in France.

See you all in France

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Renovation Project - John is rushed to hospital

Renovation Project - John is rushed to hospital

This is the first time I have had to fly from Spain to the UK, I am a little bit nervous and we end up getting there very early,, but the airport at Alicante is great, not too big but so many shops and cafes, the time flies by and it is time to board.

I am so excited I am going to spend a full week with my baby grandaughter.

I have the most amazing week with my granddaughter in the UK, we get to see father Christmas, I get to watch her at the ballet class. We had arranged to see the other grandchildren as well but they all were poorly so we will have to wait till we get back for Christmas.

The week goes so quickly and already it is the night before my flight, I have been trying to message John all day and have not had a reply from him so I telephone (I am a scrooge and did not want to use the mobile in the UK) he sounds very strange on the phone and starts with “don't panic, I'm OK” why do people not realise this is the one sentence guaranteed to send you into a blind panic?

He had been taken into hospital this afternoon by ambulance, he is on his own in a country where he can't speak the language, I feel so bad for him.

But he explains that Andy (our friend from Monster Moovers) had called the ambulance for him and the emergency services had called John and spoke to him in English until the paramedics arrived.

With in minutes he had been hooked up to all sorts of machines, but had to ensure that he could provide his E111, thank goodness he knew where it was and it had arrived in France before we left for Spain.

I am on edge all night worrying about him as I believe he has had a heart attack, luckily he lets me know he has been released,

Apparently he was fully checked for bites and stings, heart problems and a stroke, but all came back clear.

We do not know what was wrong and it is put down to a virus, he was discharged once all his tests came back clear.

I leave at 4 in the morning for my flight, being really nice not to wake anybody, later I get the upset text asking why I hadn't said goodbye, sometimes you just can't win.

But we will be back soon for Christmas

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Renovation project - Back in Spain

Renovation project - Back in Spain

It is so nice too be home, it was a long journey as we did it with just one stop, we stayed in Toulouse (France) but have not seen anything of the city. We arrived in the dark, struggled to find a hotel and then left early morning in thick fog, that did not lift until we were out of the city, so we can officially say we visited Toulouse and never actually saw it.

We now have a couple of weeks to enjoy the Spanish lifestyle before I head over to the UK for a week, I am going to baby sit for my little granddaughter and cannot wait. The timing may not be the best as we leave Spain 48 hours after I arrive back, but hopefully John will have packed for me before I get back.

The weather in November is beautiful, it is quite chilly in the evening and cold at night (it maybe feels colder as the villa is not insulated and there is no fire) we have a heater and can use the air con on reverse, but this is not working properly again, we have reported it but do not hold out a lot of hope, but we will be leaving soon so we are not too bothered.

During the day the temperature is still around 20 degrees with almost constant sunshine, we can still easily sit out to eat at restaurants and enjoy the sunsets from our terrace

I realise I am going to miss Spain so much, we have loved living here, even if our waistlines have expanded with the lifestyle, but we are looking forward to starting work on our our new project.

It is a shame we never found what we were looking for, but are so grateful at having had the opportunity to live in Spain, who knows what the future may hold, but for now it is enjoying our last bit of sunshine and tapas before embarking on a great new adventure

Friday, 8 January 2016

Renovation project - Time to leave our new house

Renovation project - Time to leave our new house

The water contractor cannot come out again for over a week, we really do not need to be here for the visit so we arrange to head back too Spain.

I try to pay the deposit before we leave but this has to be completed once the compromise has been signed, there is nothing we can do. The compromise will be sent to our property in Spain and we can sign there.

We call into the bank and arrange to make sure we can do larger value transfers than normally, everything is in place and we can head back to Spain.

This week is very exciting we have everything in place for our new property, in case you are interested this is what we are buying:

A 2 bed house with a one bed cottage and a garage and patio garden.

In the main house the water will not be connected, there is no heating, the electrics do not conform and require immediate work, there is woodworm and rot in the wood.

The little house is one room downstairs and one room upstairs (with no real stair case) it also will not have water, stairs or conforming electric etc!

But this property is not as a big a job as the last one and hopefully the little cottage will be rented out as a gite ready for this summer (2016)

So if you are thinking of holidaying in the area get in touch we would love to meet you

Renovation project - Decision time

Renovation project - Decision time

We have spent the night talking about the pros and cons of both houses and have still not made a decision. We have arranged to have the keys to both again and go for a 2nd viewing today.

We spend hours in both properties and still struggle to make a decision. Both have so many positives and negatives.

However we have decided if we can get the property with the spare little house to include the garage we can convert it into a gite and have an income. But only if the price is right.

Decision made we contact the notaire and make an offer, this is not as nerve racking as it may have been, as we will just go for the other one if our offer is refused.

We now have to wait for the answer, which luckily does not take long, it has been accepted.

WOW we are buying another project.

We know what to expect this time which makes life easier but we will be returning to Spain in a few days so really want to get everything finalised before we leave, we are not using an estate agent, we are buying through the notaire.

We go to visit the notaire and confirm our offer, it is at this point that we find out that the notaire also charges quite an amount for their estate agency services in addition to the normal notaire fees, but these are not as much as many of the actual estate agencies charge.

The owner has arranged for the surveys to be completed. He has also arranged for Veolia (the water company) to complete the checks on the pipes.

We are at the property when the surveys are completed and they are not as simple as you would expect.

Currently the water is connected via the owners main house as is the heating system, both of these will require disconnecting and a new mains connecting to the property we are buying.

The water contractor arrives and says that he thinks there is a mains already connected, the grid lid should be just in front of the property, we can not see it. He gets out a metal detector and this detects the grid in the road, unfortunately the local council have tarmacked over it. So out comes a lump hammer as he tries to break through the tarmac to get to it.

We end up with John and the guy hammering the road, and then once uncovered they use a selection of tools to try to open it, this is not happening, he will have to come back with more tools to get into it, but he is 99% sure that there will be no problem.

He also has to check that all the waste pipes drain in to the correct drains, this needs water, which we don't have as the owner has turned his water off.

I find a bucket and call at one of the neighbours, good time to introduce ourselves, she does not look impressed but gets a full bucket for us. All of the waste water pipes are tested and these work. It is just a case of waiting to see if the mains pipe is in order and can be connected.