Tuesday, January 29, 2008

At last our gites have the start of their roof! , these are the insulation panels, 5 inches thick, over which are laid 'corregated' plates on top of which are the roof tiles. We have a new team member so now as well as Thijs there are four 'artisans'.'trades'.

This is the inside of one of the gites. Windows will be next, then the under floor heating/cooling system and then the plastering.All ready for us to move into in June!

And the second house is now coming on at a race of knots

Sunday, January 27, 2008

We took delivery of 23 windows for our house on Friday, they come with a primer coat so we how have to get them undercoated before they are fitted.

As we are hoping to go skiing this week we thought a walk up the chateau would help get us into shape! its been a beautiful weekend so we spent today burning some of the trees that have been cut on the plot.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Great news today - we walked down to to house to find the guy who is building the wall outside Madam Morgans house had, at the request of our other neighbour cleared the way through to his house and also arranged for another wall to be built creating a clear access for both him and us to bring a car in.I cannot wait to see Mrs Morgans face when she next visits!

We had 10 pallets of old Provencal roof tiles delivered - these are about 100 years old.

This is me doing my French home work with the aid of our French cat ginger, who helps with the Grammer!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Contrary to popular belief sometimes we do get up early! The end of last week saw a complete change in the weather to sun and blue skies so we have been working hard in the garden especially as Eric has been pruning our Olive trees.

On Saturday we had a rendezvous to have yet another tow bar fitted, this time to our replacement of the RAV 4. It is a necessary evil with the trailer being very useful for collecting items for the house and garden.

We arrived at the unearthly hour of 9am, certainly the earliest we have been to the market. It was a beautiful morning, about 5 degrees and the clearest blue sky you can imagine. Our car was not going to be ready until at least lunch time if not after, so we took a relaxing walk around the market. Apt is one of the largest in Provence. It is so busy in the summer they run a park and ride! actually we tend to avoid it preferring one on Sunday in nearby Coustellet. Unlike in the UK, although people use supermarkets, the markets thrive providing fresh local and seasonal produce, endless cheese and wine stalls as well as the obligatory tourist products!

We called into our regular bar for a coffee and read 'La Provence' the newspaper. As we strolled through the market it was noticeable that there were few tourists, instead all the locals were out on mass enjoying the winter sunshine. Even for us, the 'stroll' took time as we met many friends and acquaintances. We even met and chatted to the Mayor of Apt. And so time past, by 11.30 we met up with friends at the 'sunny bar' where you can sit and people watch. And how the French like to talk! It is such a different culture, the market was, well not heaving but just busy with people stopping and chatting, eating and drinking.

This Gentlemen was selling flowers - I took the picture about 9.30 - of course before setting to work he had made scrambled egg to be washed down with red wine!

Our car was not to be ready by lunchtime and like the shops,the garage and work shop closes between 12 and 2pm so what were we to do but go to 'Le Platane', one of our favourite restaurants for lunch. Forty Euros still buys 3 courses, wine and coffee for two thankfully! The local boule club was busy with what still seems to be a male dominated pastime!

We finally arrived home about 4pm. Before setting the fire I cleared some more of Erics debris in the garden and took a walk around the building site where I took this picture from the second bedroom of our new house - not a bad view eh?

Today, Sunday has again been a stunning day, almost 20 degrees (in the sun!), we have been to Isle sur L'Sorgue,known as the Antiques Capital of Provence which was really busy. We were being photographed again which was fun. The best part was Karen and I pretending to examine a 14th Century chest of drawers at just 1230000€ ( about 90000 pounds!)thank fully not to our taste! Once again it was lunch in the sunshine - I think I better sign off there before I upset too many people!I took this on route, 9.30am Sunday morning.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Last Friday we spent 2 hours being photographed for a website that some friends are creating!!! I assure you it is all above board! They export Provencal building materials to the USA. This involved some 600 pictures of Karen and I studying doors and windows - we await the results! Next weekend we have another 'shoot' this time in a stone Masons, then some antique shops and finally where we are much more at home, in a restaurant!. We have to resort to all sorts of things to make a living now!

In France a shop can only have a sale between certain dates, they have to apply to the 'prefecture' for a licence. Rather confusingly a 'sale' is called a 'Soldes'. The sales this year in all shops and stores started Wednesday January 9th and run for a month, then that is it until July. Old habits die hard, and as we need to buy some items of furniture we went to Avignon on Friday. Of course the best time is between 12 and 2pm as the shops which are open are largely deserted as most sensible people are taking lunch!
I discovered to my (and her) embarrassment that ladies changing rooms are unmonitored unlike the UK, and just how important it is to remember which one your wife is in!!!

Meanwhile..... Our dear neighbour is now building a wall in a final attempt to stop us driving on to the plot (not that we use this access).

Our staircase is in to both the cellar and the first floor.

This is the cellar at its very raw stage!

And the gites are taking shape

This is the dining room ceiling, the wood is to have a white colour wash.

The second house is currently at a stand still!!

This picture shows the position of our new house, to the bottom right in red brick. The Chateau at the top left is at the top of the village.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Our Christmas and New year festivities are finally drawing to a close. Karen's Mum, Joan has been with us for 10 days and leaves tomorrow after her birthday today, so we have a final meal out tonight before the diet kicks in tomorrow!

Between Christmas and new year we were blessed with some glorious weather so managed some long walks and even a day on the plot cutting trees down and clearing out some of the 'over growth!'Whilst it inspired us to go back for more it also emphasized how much work we have a head of us - any one want a holiday in Provence?

On New Years eve we celebrated with friends from Finland and tucked into a splendid seafood selection!

On New Years day we took a walk around the village followed by lunch in the garden, our third successive New Years day here where we have eaten outside.

Over the last week we have had some considerable rain fall ( Yes it does occasionally!)however our team are working hard putting steps into our cellar, preparing the roof structure for the gites and assuring us there will be somewhere for us to live at the end of June! Which is essential as we have let our villa from the first week in July until the end of August.

And finally, Joan is 77 today - looking pretty good and enjoying a glass of Rose with lunch - sorry outside again!