Thursday, January 25, 2007

Feeling like a stalker I once again laid in wait for the post lady at Rue Pasteur hoping she would deliver our long awaited planning permission (it was being delivered there as that was our address when we submitted the planning) but as yesterday, nothing arrived. So after lunch (the Maire's office only opens in the afternoon),I turn up asking to speak with Pascal the planning officer. I am shown thru (walking past the great man, the Maire, at his desk!) to Pascal who assures me he posted the approved planning consent on Monday. So where is it I ask? He directs me to the Post Office to see if they have it. On entering (I was hoping it would be empty) I wish everyone 'bonjour', which is normal here and when I get my turn ask if they have a letter for me from the Maire. I am not sure whether I should be pleased or not but they already now who I am and my name - thats another story!
Anyway the answer is no but the very helpful lady offers to call Pascal at the Maire's office. It goes with out saying that two of her colleagues also became involved leaving other customers queueing curiously! Despite Pascal's assurance of posting it, it gradually became apparent that it had not been posted and then to his surprise he found it under his desk - there it was - no wonder the post woman never brought it!! So we have it, planning to build a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom & 3 reception room house where we will live with 2 attached 1 bedroom ' gites', which will share our pool.

This house will be on the land pictured and slightly lower down we will build a second 3 bedroom detached house with it's own pool - reservations for 2008 now being taken!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Last week we continued to enjoy the tropical winter, so got out in the garden and did some much needed work. It is a bit like the Forth Bridge!I am sure the bit we did had been done before!As the weather changed mid week we moved inside to re-acquaint ourselves with decorating, I even managed to do some wall papering something I have not done for almost 20 years!
Our House hunting work continues with us stumbling across a gem of a house for one of our clients, half built and over 270m² it is a great project, we hope they will visit next week. Our translations have come up with some more great descriptions:

'its ceilings with the Frenchwoman, her old doors used by time.'
'No harmful effect of neighbors, road, etc.'
'Do not seek any more.! Its scarcity makes an exception of it'
'The inn receives 25 forks and spoons - Why on sale?? So that the current Master of this magic place, can during his retirement, enjoy happy and peaceful days.!!!

On Friday, Ian & Kath came to stay for the weekend.

They like us used to live in Weybridge and left the UK in August 2004 for Australia ( it was their first visit). Although they have 3 children we have a huge amount in common and miss their frienship a great deal. The weekend flew by and we enjoyed flowing conversation, food & wine. As they left us Monday we knew it will be a few years before we see each other again. After they had gone we had one of those rare moments where you realise how much you miss good friends. We have met lots of people here and made many friends & acquaintences but it takes time to get to know people really well and there is nothing better than being with people who you feel really comfortable with, to have a good debate and put the world to right!

Like the UK it has turned bitterly cold here. Only Saturday we sat outside having lunch.Today we had light snow and the high was minus 1 wth minus 10 forecast tonight.Still the fire is alight and we are warm.
We are still awaiting our planning for the main house. I went to the Maire today but the planning guy was not in so I will return Thursday. It is so frustrating as we cannot move forward and there is so much to do.Still thats life in Provence.Enjoy!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Well the postman finally called! and the man from Delmonte - he say Yes! After 14 months we have our planning permission - well actually half - to build one house but we can't build that with out the second ( our main house with gites) so we await the second planning application which we are told is on its way this week! It was all too much for me! I just had to chill !

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A number of people have asked of our new family member Ginger the cat! So I thought I would introduce you to our family!

'My name is Matisse. I was named after a famous French artist so its only right I live in France.I am 8 years old. I am the eldest of my litter and am the boss of the house. When not sleeping with my Mum (Karen), I spend my time checking that every thing in the house is done properly, especially with any workman that are here.I also enjoy walking around our garden and keeping an eye on my brother Splodge and the new member Ginger who is a bit of a french tart!'

'I am Splodge. When I was a kitten I was dropped on my head.I often forget things for example I walk across the garden and when I get there wonder why I came! I love climbing trees but most of all I love chasing the new cat that has arrived called Ginger. She thinks she is smart but I catch her all the time. She speaks a funny language too.'

'Bonjour, Mon nom est Ginger. Je suis Française et mes parents maintenant habiter en Australie. Je habite à St Saturnin Les Apt maintenant avec le grand chat noir et blanc,il est anglais, il est un despote!. J'adore Matisse'

We have managed to get back into routine this week with our French class Tuesday morning and one to one lessons also resuming.After 3 weeks with English people French suddenly seems so hard again!
Yesterday we walked 9 Kilometres to Villars a neighbouring village, the walk takes in great views, vineyards and Cherry Orchards.Lovely!

We are also on the Home Hunts trail, viewing houses and meeting with agents plus of course translating and correcting some of the agents details before they appear on line. Here are one or two examples : 'OBSERVATIONS: A house, where one smells well. Ideal second home.'
To 2 km of the village, not insulated
'raised swimming pool 10 X 5 and cook of summer' ?
OBSERVATIONS: A sympathetic, ideal house - great family.

Today was the day we were supposed to get our planning consent by, the 11th Jan, We almost frightened the postman to death in our enthusisam to get our post but sadly nothing came, we are told tomorrow! guess we should have known better - watch this space.

Took this picture at sun rise this morning, the mist, caused by the heat, engulfed us until about 10am when it cleared to give yet another Sunny day. 20 degress is forecast for the weekend, its crazy! Strawberries are out as are Poppies!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A perfect Sunday! We walked today with friends for 10 Kilometres taking in stunning views after which we returned to theirs for soup, cheese, bread and of course wine! what more could one ask?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The 'holiday' season is over, it's back to work, well routine Monday.Our visitors have left, the Christmas tree is down and the tourists have departed. We went to the market in Apt today which was much quieter than last week when it was packed.

The weather continues to be outstanding with warm sunshine and clear skies. We await the sound of the postman each day, usually around 12 to see if our planning letter has arrived but so far he only brings more bills! Well you just have to keep laughing!

We met with the Dutch builder yesterday who is a hot contender for the job up against LCI, a local french company.Further negotiations are to follow after Karen and I visit the various local builders merchants where we need to source and negotiate on such items as Windows, doors and no less than 7000 re claimed provencal roof tiles.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Our final lunch 'outside' for 2006 on New Year's Eve. With Karen's Mum, Sister Janet and her husband Bob. It has been quite a year, our first full one in Provence.

2007 promises to be even more exciting with the long awaited planning permissions due in the first 10 days of the Year. Then we need to select a builder, complete the specification and agree a price in between which our work as House Hunters will step up a gear and so will our efforts to improve the French - the trouble is it will be in that order!!

Bonne Année