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Our Grand Design in Montemboeuf, Charente, France


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Whispering grass – Pelouse chuchotement

la maison bois, charente, timber, eco, holiday home, gite

The house is finished and ready to rent!  We already have 6 weeks worth of bookings so far, which is very exciting for our first year. Tom has been back to the house a few times to meet with Sawdays and Gite de France to discuss our ratings and advertising.

We have also added a balustrade to the terrace.  We felt that the drop was just a little too high.  Tom designed it to match the house and we found a great local guy called Chris to build it for us.  Despite this not being something we wanted but realised that we needed, we feel that it has turned out really well and Chris did a great job.

la maison bois, charente, montembouef, architect designed, timber

The new balustrade

As you can see from the image above the grass is doing nicely.  It still has a little bit of growing to do and we need to tidy up the posts that can be seen, but there will definitely be a useable garden space in time for our first guests. There is also still some planting to do and I think at the front of the house we will go with lavender.  The purple of the lavender and the cream of the stone will always be a winning combination!  We had the trees at the front of the house pollarded.  Whenn they grow back they will have a much thicker look and give the house some more privacy from the road.

La maison bois, charente, montemboeuf, timber, eco, architect

The front of the house

Chris also did a lot of the snagging works inside the house.  We know have wardrobes in all the rooms and the architraves and skirting have been finished.  It is amazing what a difference these little touches make to the house.

We will be back in the Summer and I for one can’t wait.  It will be almost a year since I was last there and so much has changed.  If you are interested in renting the house, please visit our website where there are a lot more photos and information about the house.

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Almost there – Presque là

Oh Andy


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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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The Chosen Plot

After much deliberation and discussion we decided on the plot in Montemboeuf.  For ages we thought we would go with Tournon, it was an amazing plot with incredible views and from the neigbours we met, a very nice community. It was a tough choice, but the proximity to ‘beer and baguette’ and good transport links finally won through.

Our Plot!

Our Plot!

The site was also very big, 7000 sqm, so there was a lot of scope for doing something really special, while still allowing room to create our own jardin potager!  Our plot was in fact two plots facing each other, one with a north facing slope and one with a south.  We decided that by buying both, we would have control over what was on the opposite side.  Since both plots came with certificat d’urbanisme there was also a chance that we could build something there in the future.

We also liked the feel of Montemboeuf. There are plenty of facilities in the village – the ones you find in most French villages!  A couple of boulangeries, tabac, Spar, post office, Crédit Agricole and a primary school.  The plot itself is only a 3 minute walk from the village, but is still very quiet.

Montemboeuf is very well located to some fantastic outdoor recreation facilities, great for people who like the idea of cycling for 30 miles or so through beautiful countryside, only to come back to a glass of wine, fresh bread, cheese and olives on the terrace watching the sun go down…..

The Charente is the second sunniest part of France and gets 2000 hours of sunshine compared to 1200 in London!  Their winters are short and not too cold and it is often t-shirt weather in February. This along with 35 degrees plus in the Summer, you can see why we would want to have a home there!