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Our Grand Design in Montemboeuf, Charente, France


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Splish Splash – Flic Floc

The fished facade with shutters

The finished facade with shutters

At the end of July, Tom, his dad and his brother drove down to Montemboeuf for a week. Luckily they were not too delayed with the ongoing problems in Calais and made it in time for a lovely meal at the Lavender House. Over the next week they had a very busy time of it including a mammoth trip to IKEA, putting together flat pack furniture and getting the house cleaned up.  They were also able to get a good look at what had been happening in the house in the month since we had last visited the house. One of the most exciting developments was the installation of the bathrooms. It was so great to finally see something installed that we chose just after Christmas.  I am just pleased that we still like our choices!

The other big development was the fixing of the shutters. The ‘envelope’  of the wooden cladding can really be seen now. Not only that but it made it much cooler for the builders that were working inside the house.  July was a very hot month in Montemboeuf, so I think they were relieved for anything that would cool the house down.

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The first job for the boy was cleaning the house as much as possible.  The builder had done his best, but with all the furniture that would be arriving over the next couple of days they needed the place, not quite gleaming, but as dust free as possible. The boys had a tough time of it, but I think it was probably worth it in the end!

The next day they travelled to IKEA to do quite a large shop.  Fortunately, IKEA Bordeaux do a click and collect service, so we were able to pre-order and pay for a few items.  It may have just been a few, but every little helps when it comes to IKEA.  Tom was very lucky that he had the help because they had 3 trolleys worth of goods. I don’t think much can be said about an IKEA shop, other than the fact it took them a long time and they deserved their pineau once they got back!

The next day more furniture was delivered including a bed and sofa.  Tom assures me that this is still covered in its protective plastic covering.  Nether of us are particularly keen for it to get covered in builder’s dust or paint.

In the month between Tom’s visits our kitchen also arrived, so Tom and his family made a start putting this together.  There were quite a few cupboards to assemble and shelves to go in, but they managed to get all this done.  All that needs to happen now is for our builder to attach all of this to the wall and install all the electrical goods.  We really hope that this can be done by 11th August because this is when my sister and her family will be staying in the house!

Work on the kitchen begins

Work on the kitchen begins

The Kyle men worked really hard over their week in France and managed to get a huge amount done.  Part of me wishes I had been there to see how much progress had been made, but I think Molly and I would have been in the way.  Until we get her using a screwdriver it is best that she stays having fun at home!

There’s a party going on Bobby

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These wires are out of control – Ces fils sont hors de contrôle

Kitchen wires

Kitchen wires

Apologies for the lack of posting recently, but life sort of took over.  Molly started nursery, but was then sick and I was due to go back to work, but then also became ill.  I have just about recovered now and I am recuperating in France! Sadly not in Cannes where most people seem to go for that sort of thing, but La Rochefoucauld is very lovely!

We are also a little behind schedule, but inevitably these things happen.  Unfortunately, not having been on site for six weeks has meant that things have moved more slowly than expected.  Even though we are behind on the program that the builders had given us, the site had changed considerably in 6 weeks.  Externally, the site is looking a lot tidier for a start which makes the approach to the house a lot more welcoming.  This is further helped with the very beginnings of the landscaping. We’d contracted ‘An English Nursery in France’ to plant a hedge for us and to do some tree pruning and the work they did has made a big difference to the front of the house. Hedging plants seem to be very expensive in France.  We were very keen to use our local pépinière, but it would have been cheaper to buy the plants in the UK and drive them over.  This of course, would have not been very good for the plants! 

The pergola had also been finished and we were now able to see Tom’s design of a seamless continuation of cladding of the house and pergola in action.  I can’t wait to be sitting there with a glass of pineau watching the sun go down.  I am sure some of you would like to join me!?

However, it is on the inside of the house that the biggest changes have happened.  We now have some walls, ceilings, the beginnings of a staircase and lots and lots of wires, pipes and ducts everywhere.  As I have mentioned before, it is difficult to imagine how the layout of the house will look or gauge the sizes of the rooms from the architect’s drawings. When we were last in the house, before the partitions went up, I could not visualise the space and wondered how we would fit two en-suite bedrooms downstairs.  Visiting the site again, with the partitions up, I can’t believe how large the areas are.  It just goes to show that you really need to see a house with internal walls before you worry about the space!

The walls that have been put up enabled us to see that all important framed view that I had wanted Tom to design right from the beginning of the project.  It was very exciting to finally see it. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks all the walls will be up!

We now have a bit of careful time and project management to work on.  It is also vital that the interaction between our mason, plumber, electrician and main builder works as smoothly as possible. We have to time the delivery of our kitchen correctly because there was no way our mason, who is doing the tiling can do a good job on the tiling with big kitchen boxes in the way!  It is therefore important therefore that the tiling is finished before we take delivery of the kitchen, but this meant that first fix plumbing and electrics had to be finished before the tiling can start.  This organisation of the trades was going to be difficult once back in the UK, so we will have to keep our fingers crossed that until Tom can get back to site things run smoothly with all the trades!

 

Over to you Franz Ferdinand


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Look through any window, yeah What do you see? – Regardez dans n’importe quelle fenêtre, qu’est-ce que tu voir?

View from the master bedroom

View from the master bedroom, before the windows went in

A lovely view hopefully!  It was a big week this week on site with a lot happening.  Our 3 Velux windows were installed, the ‘crinkly tin’ finally started going up, flooring went down upstairs and the big sliding doors in the living room also went in.  With flooring down upstairs I was finally able to go up and have a look myself.  I am not a lover of heights and ladders at the best of times so the thought of wandering around up there, balancing on timber beams was not my idea of fun!

View from master bathroom

View from master bathroom, before the windows went in!

Anyway, now I have been up there, I was really able to appreciate the views across to the other side of the plot.  It wasn’t the best of days to see it from, but I can just imagine lying in bed with the sunshine streaming in – bliss!

The living room windows

The living room windows

As I mentioned in our last post, we thought we should celebrate the closing of the roof.  So on, Thursday, we took some champagne along with us to site and raised a glass to all our builders. Drinking champagne on a building site, in the cold on a Thursday afternoon is not something I ever thought I’d do.  I think the builders appreciated it anyway and even complimented us on our choice of champagne! Now if a Frenchman compliments you on your champagne choice, then you must be doing something right.

There are still a couple of windows to fit upstairs, but even with the downstairs windows fitted the difference in the temperature in the house is very noticeable.  We also no longer have the wind howling through which makes being on site a lot more pleasant.    Hopefully, the windows will be complete on Monday and then work can continue on the roof.  Unfortunately, a lot of rain is forecast for next week and rather unsurprisingly the builders can’t work on fitting a metal roof when it is wet!

Windows in

Windows in

Another important stage was that we were connected to mains drainage! The Mairie has been promising this for a while, and in the end they came a day earlier than we were expecting! We now have water, drainage and electricity – we could almost move in.

Over to The Hollies….


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You will always find us in the kitchen at parties – Vous nous trouvez toujours dans la cuisine aux soirée

Kitchen hunting

Kitchen hunting

We’ve been kitchen hunting in France and for some people (as you can tell from the photo above) it was more exciting than others.  Wandering around kitchen showrooms, it is very hard to keep in mind that we will not necessarily be living in this house and it is very easy to get swayed by the shiny taps (again) and gloss white cupboards with the soft-close hinges. I have to remind myself that we can’t go for a very high end kitchen (but soft close hinges would be nice).  It seems, however, we have been looking at kitchens at the right time of year because there are a lot of bargains to be had.  So much so, that we actually bought one…..yes reader, we bought one- and it had soft close hinges.  It will be delivered in April 2015, I just hope there is a house built to put it in. I think we will be putting the kitchen together ourselves, so if anyone fancies a holiday in France putting together flat pack furniture, just let me know.  Hopefully, the kitchen will be so nice that people will want to spend time in it, at parties or otherwise.

 


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Come on Molly light my fire – Allez Molly allumer mon feu

It's hard choosing the right poêle!

It’s hard choosing the right poêle!

Tom, Molly and I have spent a happy couple of days looking at interiors for the house.  This has included a trip to Leroy Merlin, Godin to look at poêles, Cedeo for bathrooms and Cuisinella to look at kitchens. These were the jobs that I had been looking forward to and it was great fun.  As I have mentioned before, it was very hard not to get carried away when looking at shiny tiles and sparkly taps. It was very a useful exercise to get a better idea of how what we would like fits in with out budget and where we can save money to get the items that are more important to us.  As Tom has designed the house, my responsibility lies with running and checking the budget (remember excel is you friend).

I have asked a few people about what they would expect to see in a luxury bathroom and double sinks seemed to come up every time.  Fortunately, Tom has designed the master bathroom large enough to fit one in, so those of you that suggested may be in luck!  We also looked at baths a showers that squirt jets of water at you, something I think is quite fun, but sadly I don’t think I can persuade Tom of their benefits!

We then went to Marandat to see our house being built.  It was very exciting to see the guys working on our walls and windows.  They still hope to start on site next week which is when  Tom will be back in the UK, so I really am going to have to gen up on my French building terms. At least I know the words for build, timber, wood and stop!

Tom has also been contacting plumbers, electricians, tree surgeons and we have arranged for our mains drainage to be connected!  It is about to start to get very busy on site…..