Leaking shower

So as you may have already picked up from earlier posts, we have had a disappointing relationship with the builder of our extension in France. The contract for the work was signed in August 2014 and the work is yet to be completed. Our relationship with him has now completely broken down. Anyway I digress as this post is really about yet another issue that he has left us with. In this case a leaking shower and a shower that only supplies hot water. We highlighted this problem to him last year and several times since but nothing has ever been done about it. So this time when we turned on the water we awoke the next morning to a puddle. It’s not easy to get an emergency plumber in France. So we decided to having a go at solving the problem ourselves. 

First we sadly needed to saw through the perfect plasterboard on our landing. This then revealed the pipework for the newly fitted shower. The hot water feed turned out to be the offending pipe. So we turned off the water, armed ourselves with some cups and then unscrewed it. The cardboard washer   had all but disintergrated. Problem solved, or so we thought. We can hot foot it to the local Tridome and get a new one. Meanwhile, there was an almighty gush of water. Screams all round and buckets grabbed from downstairs. Towels thrown down. What the hell was that. It stopped but made another watery mess. New washers purchased from Tridome and fitted and we thought we’d solved the problem completely. Sadly not, so we’ve had to turn the water off. So annoying. We probably do need a plumber after all, unless anyone has any suggestions?

The other problem we’ve encounter associated with the thermostatic shower that we’ve purchased, is that the thermostat appears not to be working as it only emits bowling hot water. So no showers anyway. Any thoughts on what might be going on here?

Summer 2016 phlog part 1

Beautiful, but sad sunflower☹️image

OK, a phlog’s a bit of a cop out. More pictures, less words.

Visit to Taillecavat vide grenier this morning and then a walk through the grape vines with Bella and grandma.

Gorgeous vintage wicker bag, a necklace and some gentleman’s cuff links were my finds at today’s vide. Was looking for some wooden dining chairs but these were trop cher, at soixante euros😳

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Eclectic stand at vide today, followed by antique French confit pots, a Western horse saddle and a little black vintage car.  And our lovely village moulin à vent from our walk today.

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Aaaarrrrgghhh, blasted wifi down AGAIN😡😡😡

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OK, so I’m starting with grapes. Not sure why, just had a lot of time to take snap shots of the garden as we just couldn’t get a decent WiFi signal at the beginning of this week. Whaaaaaats up!  So now we’re back in Blighty I’m updating my blog.  This was the picture on our return to LBA early on Thursday morning.  What no sun!  We’d got so used to 30 degrees that 12 just didn’t cut it.

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Anyway back to the building work.

You need the right tools!  This magnificent red contraption (a dry wall lifter) is a must when you are fixing plasterboard to the ceiling.  Hubby and I were chuckling, just imagining ourselves doing this job without the correct tools.  I know there would be lots of cursing and blaming each other!!!  Just as well our builder is putting the ceilings up.

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This would have been hubby and me with the 4 x 4 propping up the board and one of us having a very achy arm/shoulder the next day.

imageUpstairs we now have a toilet and the shower tray has been installed.  We’ve also  purchased the shower, awaiting installation, and the sink/unit which has been installed temporarily, this we bought from IKEA last year.

We’ve now chosen the tiles for the en-suite, together with the wooden floor for the bedroom but because of the French holidays, we won’t be able to order these until September, so who knows when they’ll be fitted😦

Downstairs we’re going for a traditional French style tile and not sure of the pattern yet. Again this won’t be available until September. It would seem sensible then, to wait and decide on the covered area and patio tiles when these have been laid.

Watch this space👀

Nothing will happen for 2 years!

The decision not to enact Article 50 means that the UK’s Brexit could take up to two years.
But who knows???
The only short answer is, we don’t know.  Now that Britain has voted to leave the EU, we will just have to wait and see what the future negotiations bring.  The worst thing will undoubtedly be the uncertainty.  There will probably be a fall in house prices and therefore the value of our French home.  So what, as we do not intend to sell it any time soon and were always in it for the long hall.
 Triggering Article 50, formally notifying the intension to withdraw, starts a two-year clock running. After that, the Treaties that govern membership no longer apply to Britain.  The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions.
According to http://www.thelocal; “Tony Emery, who sells French homes, said if the exchange rate drops further then it could mean real problems for home buyers”
At the moment it’s £1 = 1.23 Euros.  This is better than when we bought our house in 2012.
The crucial thing is will this be sustainable in the longer term.  The concern will be if the rate moves closer to parity.
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But there will be many people who had plans to move to France and realise their dreams. They may want to speed these plans along within the 2 year time frame and this could have a positive affect on property prices in the short term.  I would imagine that people who are hoping to move to France will be in shock this weekend.  They, like me, probably thought that we would pull back from the brink of a Brexit vote at the last moment and vote to remain.
The more far reaching concern is when Britain finally unpicks itself from the EU then the right to live, work and own property in any EU country will no longer be there.  What will the arrangements be then?  Will it be harder to make the move to France?  Perhaps not, in view of the number of French people who live in Britain and the number of British people who live in France, an agreement between the two countries is likely to be reached. However, according to http://www.completefrance.com it is possible that British expats will have to apply for visas or the carte de séjour, in order to live and work in France.  They also go on to say that Britain’s decision to leave the EU should have little effect on the tax a British expat in France has to pay. The double tax treaty agreed between Britain and France will be unaffected by Brexit and if Britain decides to remain part of the (European Economic Area) EEA then tax treatment wouldn’t change because the same rules apply to EEA residents as EU residents.  The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU’s single market.

Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market – this means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

One of the major areas of concern according to www.completefrance.com is for retired British expats in France is whether the NHS will continue to pay for their healthcare via the S1 form. Expats who work in France and pay social charges are entitled to the same state healthcare as French residents however, retired British expats have their healthcare paid for by the NHS. It is uncertain whether this will change if Britain leaves the EU.

Those who visit France but are not resident are currently entitled to access the French healthcare system for free using the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and there are some concerns this would no longer be the case in the event of a Brexit.  However Britain as an EEA member Britain would be likely to remain part of the EHIC scheme.  There is a precedent for this – Iceland, Lichenstein and Norway all have the option of belonging to the EHIC scheme, even though they aren’t part of the EU.

If you have lived in France for five years then you can apply for French residency and this would give you access to all the same rights and benefits as French citizens.

Find out how to become a French citizen

On March 25, 2017, European leaders will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the EU’s founding document.  I do hope that we don’t live to regret not joining in the celebrations.

In the meantime keep calm and try not to panic.

Thanks to http://www.completefrance.com for the links.

Quatre différentes formes de maisons dans Le Lot et Garonne

Back in the UK and it’s not long before my thoughts return to France, and of course our little house. Last week I came across a new Chanel 4 program called “Escape to the Château”. In the program a couple are seen purchasing a chateau for €250,000 and attempting to restore it for £30,000. What a joke😫, in my experience, any type of building work in France is really expensive. My nephew is in the process updating his pool and tells me he wont get much change out of that amount.  From what I know of our extension costs, I’m confident that you can purchase a property much cheaper than you could have it newly built.  However, having said that once you have chosen and purchased your French home it becomes, somewhat of a baby that you want to nurture and develop.  Or, maybe that’s just me!!!!!!!!!!

So I’m going to share with you, four different types of properties you can purchase in our department of the Lot et Garonne, from newly built bungalows to grand châteaux.

Our house is a very small modern bungalow, plain and simple. But as my readers know it is in the process of getting a make-over through the addition of a new pigeonnier.

For many young working French families in our area the modern bungalow is the property of choice if they decide to branch out away from the rural family home. They are relatively cheap to build, well insulated and therefore cheap to run. Some are built as part of a small group of similar properties called a lotissement. On their own, like ours is, they can sometimes be referred to as a villa d’architecte.  Much more exotic title than bungalow.  However, any contemporary villa built in the last 50 years often has this title.  They can look like a box or take on a weird angular appearance.   Now if you’d asked me before we began our search for a French property, what my ideal would be, it certainly wouldn’t have been a modern one. But we fell for this one which was built as a gite in the grounds of a larger newly built home. It has a wonderful view over grape vines and prune trees beyond.

And it’s on mains drainage and not the dreaded fosse septique with all of its rules and regulations.  I know most of France cope perfectly well with these poo removers but I’m afraid from our experience of looking at some of the older properties quite frankly they send shivers down my spine. ~Anyway, we chose modern……. but what else is on offer?

Villereal farmhouse

What’s not to love about an old French farmhouse (Fermette/Ferm)? Yes, I swoon too. Crepis free pierre stone and the ubiquitous Wisteria gently caressing the shutters and front door.

And, I doff my hat to anyone who can (has the balls to) turn this …..

needs renovation

into this……..

renovated farmhouse

I adore the genoise roof line, the huge fire places and, of course, the old well in the garden. But what about being lady or gentleman of the manor. The maison de maître…

classicmaisondemaitre

The master’s house or maison de maître has a symmetrical façade with a central front door.  Many built in the 18th or 19th century were the home of the squire or minor landowner of the area.  They are not unique to the Lot et Garonne or Aquitaine region of France and they can be found all over France.  They are known for their formal and practical layout. They have high ceilings and each floor will often have four main rooms with the ground-floor reception rooms opening off a central entrance hall.

These houses were a status symbol and today, the larger ones are often incorrectly referred to as châteaux.  The owners, who will have had land, will have made their living from agricultural rent.  Following the French Revolution the maison de maître became the home for gentlemen farmers and vintners.

And of course, we can all imagine ourselves owners of a French château.  Can’t we?

For example this one is only 395,000 Euros.

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This one is 595,000 Euros.

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And none of these are more than a 1,000,000 Euros

The grandeur, the elegance, the splendour.  A château is impressive, in appearance and style.  It can be a country residence surrounded by an estate or a moated, turreted seat with royal connections.  The word chateau or “chastel” dates to the 18th-century, therefore a chateau is not strictly speaking a ‘castle’. A castle would be a château fort. Castles were built in order to defend those contained within their walls and date back to much earlier times, as far back as the 10th century or earlier.  A castle would have battlements, fortified walls and arrow slits, being built to withstand a siege.

After the Revolution, the term came to describe any spectacular country house with towers set in its own landscaped grounds. They can often look like the maison de maître,  elegant with symmetrical facades, but with greater dimensions, land, elaborate stonework and cornicing. A château may also be a winemaking property, of which there are many close to us around Bordeaux.

In the meantime I’ll make do with my own little tower!

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Nous revenons

I always struggle to find something to blog about when we’re not in France and to be honest I don’t usually have the time to think about my blog when I’m back in Blighty.  Work and mum stuff take over.  But, I’m all excited as we are heading back to ourlittlehouseinfrance for the half term hols next week,  so as usual I have a stash of things in the spare bedroom that I intend to bring over to France with us.  I always have things I want to bring with us but the pile has got considerably smaller over the years.  Four years ago, it consisted of beds, mattresses, bikes, trampoline et al, now it is usually much smaller things, for example next week I will be taking these things with us.

So let’s go through them. There’s a cute bird box that I found in Morrisons.  I did purchase two but one is for our English garden.  On the list of jobs to do at home is to put this up in the garden.  The one I take to France will end up on a tree quicker than the one at home.

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 I’m also taking this garden implement.  It’s called a Fishtail Weeder and it’s used to get rid of dandelions, I got it from TK Max.

OK, OK , so I’ve been searching French style home on Pinterest!!!!!  Anyway I don’t want to spend a lot of money so when en Blighty, I pick up bits from local charity shops and here are two recent finds that I think will go down a treat in the French house.  And, if they don’t they can come home and go back to the charity shop.

OK, so clothes.  We now have lots of clothes in France but I thought this beach top and the stripy Parker would make suitable additions.

We do have a washing machine but I quite often do a spot of hand washing, as things dry so quickly on the line, so a bottle of hand wash is needed.  Then, our garden, so important that the plants get a good feed and water while we are in France.  I do try and get horse manure and have a contact who is happy for me to collect horse poo when I need it.  But in case I don’t get time to collect any this holiday I’m bringing 4 bags of plant food to sprinkle around the garden to give the plants a help in hand.

We like to make a chilli occasionally and always struggle to get hold of jalapeños.  So this time I’m bringing 2 jars with us.

There’s always time for a good read, so this time it’s the following books coming with us.

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We’re doing the drive all in one again so that’s 18 hours in the car.  So sugar free snacks are important.  These are new so will try them out.

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And finally, I have a poorly shoulder, so I’m bring some Ibuprofen cream (£1 at Pound Shop).  Can’t afford not to be able to garden.

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