Aaaarrrrgghhh, blasted wifi down AGAIN😡😡😡

image

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.

image

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.

image

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👀

Advertisements

Woo hoo, C’est l’été and it’s vide time again

 

So there was another storm the night before last!

vlcsnap-2016-07-31-20h52m10s391 (2)

Then yesterday morning it was not as hot as it had been but we have our friends, Karen and Keith staying and there are vide greniers to go to and a possible wine tasting at St Émilion so it was up early and out for the morning croissants and then into the car, leaving my teenage son in bed.

First stop was Saint Avit Saint Nazaire and just as Karen said “I wonder if we’ll see any demijohns”, we did, and it was only 3€.  What a bargain.  I’ve never seen any that cheap before.  No way she’ll get it back on the plane so it will have to stay in France until we can get it back in the car.  Karen has a spot in her Gloucester cottage for this one.  Looking forward to seeing it in situ.

Then it was onto Pujols.  A gorgeous little French town, that is not far from us, although we’ve never been before.

 

I found all this lovely Bakelite.

BakeliteFinds

We’ll definitely go back to Pujols, it was a lovely French town.  Had a quick rendezvous with Barbara, a friend of ours and then it was on to St Emilion to have lunch and check out the wine tasting venues.

And finally this evening there was just time for a game of Pétanque.  The guests won.

 

IMG_2217

 

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.

chateau1395

This one is 595,000 Euros.

chateaupau530,00euros

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!

image

 

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.

IMG_4946

 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.

photo (2)

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.

IMG_4954

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.

ibuprofen

image

From veg to velos and beyond!

It’s cold, damp and dreary here at home in the UK and with all sorts of horror taking place around the world, I felt like cheering myself up today with a blog.  We’ve just had Blue Monday (18th Jan) and I just about came away unscathed because I’ve been off work all week with a flu bug.  Do I need the jab? Anyway that’s another question!

So, having seriously neglected the blogging scene, something of which I still don’t really understand, and being still on my poorly sick bed, I began looking through some of the photos from our past 4 summers in France.  We have certainly done many things, been here and there, met with friends and family and had some fabulous times.  However, there is something, that although not dominant, has taken up a good deal of my time and that is the good old vide grenier. The title says it all “From veg to velos and beyond”, it’s all there.

I’ve always been into old “TUT” and so a trip anywhere can quite often involve a trip to a charity shop, junk shop, car boot sale, fleamarket, you get the gist.  For example, many moons ago (back in the 20th Century) when we passed through Paris briefly on the way home from our holiday in Bonnieux, South of France, I dragged hubby, not quite kicking and screaming, to have a look around it’s famous flea-market.  Clignancourt (“Clee-nyahn-cour”), also known as Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, is just outside the 18th arrondissement.  I do recall how amazed I was at all the different stalls and range of different things for sale.  At the time we had no money to spend having just had our holiday in the South, so we were just window shopping.

Faire du lèche-vitrines

ce-renard-nous-tire-la-langue_37166_w300

I love this French phrase, “licking the windows”.  And what a great passtime, it’s free!!!!!

 As we now have our little house in France, I decided, at the beginning of this year to try and be more focused with my visits to vide greniers and I decided to make a list of the things that I would be looking for.  Items for the house and garden.  Vintage decorative items that can be purchased from the likes of Maison du Monde but at a very inflated prices but that you can find local vides.

On my list is the vintage armoir and large mirror, together with a large sideboard.  I’m up for doing some painting and have already had a go with some Annie Sloan chalk paint.  Very easy to use and a little goes a long way if you’re looking for that distressed finish.  The bamboo mirror and demijohns were purchased last summer.

I also want a bottle dryer.  Don’t ask why?  I’ve seen one in a magazine covered head to toe in vintage glass bottles and it looked gorgeous, so I’m out to recreate something along those lines.  Loved the 1930’s head but didn’t much like the €250 price tag.

The enamel water/milk pitcher I purchased a couple of years ago for €8 and the three wooden coat peg rack was €2 (Deux Euro) this is my favourite price.

This was a lovely friendly shop that I visited in Castlejaloux last summer.

IMG_4382

 imageI only came across this little yellow book last year towards the end of the summer but I could have done with it at Easter.  I spent several wasted journeys looking for vide greniers that had obviously been cancelled.  I wasn’t the only one either.  I met others, who like me,  were wandering around small French villages/towns looking for the vide that never was!

VOCAB

Brocante – junk/antique shop/fair – Marché aux Puces – flea market.
Vide Grenier – Sale of all sorts that take place in a village or town.  Meaning “to empty the attic”.  You can buy anything and everything, from veg to velos and beyond.   Foire à tout – This is another term for a Vide Grenier.

 

 

 

MANGO

image

OK so I don’t usually blog about fashion, well rarely anyway.  However, I have something on my mind at the moment.  You could say I’m like a dog with a bone, ever since we were in Bordeaux at the beginning of half term.  We were there for a mooch and although I don’t make a beeline for clothes shops, we happened to be passing Mango.  OK so I could go into Mango at home.  There is one  in the Trinity shopping center in Leeds.  Anyway I decided to have a look in the Bordeaux Mango.  Not much caught my eye……….. but then I saw it, the perfect style leather jacket.  Black, red, maroon, etc, etc, you get the picture.  I tried on the medium, well I assumed that’s the size I would be.  Silly me, too tight.  So tried on the large.  Perfect.  How much? 119Eruos.  Not cheap but well when that is converted to £s, not that bad! £85.  And it looked like there was a promotion, 20% off.  Even better.  But they didn’t have the colour that I wanted.  Drat!!! Never mind, maybe it was not meant to be.

On returning home, to our house in France, I popped into to see our lovely neighbour Michele, for a chat.  The chat got around to our day in Bordeaux and then to the leather jacket that I had seen in Mango.  Shame, she said but there is a store in Bergerac.  Great, we were headed to Bergerac the next day.  I’ll have a look in Bergerac.  With any luck they will have one in my size and I can then do my usual thing of thinking long and hard about whether I really need another leather biker jacket and then put it back on the rack having satisfied my desire of having been given the opportunity to purchase what I wanted… but ultimately talk my self out of buying it quite easily.  Yes I know, how sad!

So in Bergerac the next day we made a detour to Mango which was situated down one of the lovely old side streets.  Anyway no luck, they didn’t have any of the jackets that I had seen in the Bordeaux shop.  Sad face.  So the hunt was still on.  But this would have to now be transferred to the UK as we were heading back to Blightly very early the next morning.

No worries, I thought to myself, I’ll check online when I get home and if it is indeed what I really, really, want I can zig a zig arrh and purchase one via the net.

But wait a blooming moment!!!  When I checked the UK website, to my dismay, nay! horror! it was now 119 Great British pounds and not 119 Euros.  So I checked for the price of other items on both the UK and French Mango websites.  The same thing.  Prices quoted in Euros on the French website were exactly the same figures but quoted in  pounds on the UK website.  Quele dommage!!!  So I text my lovely French neighbour, who must think I am bonkers by now, and she gives me her French Mango online account details, so I can order via the French website and pay in Euros.  But would you Adam and Eve it, when I put in my UK address, lo and behold the 119 Euros turns immediately to £119.

So I say, hey Mango! what’s going on?  Why I am I being charged 28% more for items just because I live in the UK?

Anyone know the answer?