Saturday, July 26, 2008

Well as ever there is never a dull moment in Provence!
We had this week nicely planned out, particularly Tuesday when we were helping Simon fit the kitchen in the second gite. Mid morning I received a call from a lady seeking a house to buy,her requirements like so many, good condition, a view and light, surprisingly rare to find especially the good condition bit. So despite the banging and drilling Karen set to work e mailing the agents and I got on the phone!not easy as our computer as beside the kitchen being fitted! Within an hour or two we had set up viewings for Wednesday & Thursday.

Wednesday morning I was on pool cleaning and gardening duty at Les Cypres from 8 till 11. Meanwhile Karen was ensuring all ran well at our house where the final layer of the concrete floors were being poured.

After a quick shower and change I took off to Gordes to meet my client, well in fact 6 of them although just 3 buying, quite an entourage to take round the house and a lively bunch too from South Africa. Thank fully they loved it - a dream and after an hour and a half they left for lunch and to review there thoughts - fingers crossed!

We had booked our car for a service in Apt so headed there for 2.30 ( when every where re opens after lunch). The garage, a small independent lent us a rather nice 1981 Nissan Micra with about 215000 miles on the clock and of course no air con, power steering or fuel! So we tootled around including visiting our favourite store France telecom - I think we might get invited to their Christmas party we spend so long in there. I am convinced relationships have been formed whilst you wait and sadly people have probally passed away too!
During the afternoon I was summoned to the agents offices in Gordes as my clients wanted to offer on the house but Gordes is a perched village, high up and I don't think the Micra would have made it! Thank fully our car was soon ready so we headed off arriving at 6.30 ( co incidentally apperro time)and after brief meeting with the agent headed with the 6 South Africans to the nearest bar! Its not easy you know!

On Thursday we had a rendevous with a lady we met during the Vide Grenier in our village who has a house to sell nearby, a rather enchanting stone house worth about 800000€. From there we headed to Avignon to buy a Sofa for the new house, thank fully did the deal and it will arrive in October - perfect - arriving home just before 7 we suddenly remembered we were due out at half past so it was off down the village with friends for dinner.

There has been a lot of activity on site, with the porch and adjoining wall finished which we lead through to a private courtyard.

And finally on Friday evening I got news that my buyers have agreed to buy the house so a great way to end the week!

Work also began on filling in our terraces, wow was it dusty!

Its quite a skill handling the Manitou

And now we even have a garden!

Of course Matisse kept an eye to makes sure it was done properly!

Today , Saturday is changeover day at Les Cypres, so it was down to the market in Apt to buy fresh flowers for our guests first thing, then pool clean and gardening duty before we attack the inside once our guests had left just finishing in the nick of time to meet and greet our next clients, a French family living in Switzerland.

This is our lounge and dining area in the new house - with floors and Ginger!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

And so up to date! Saturday night saw a party in our village to celebrate the out door pool ( Lido to you and I) being 50 years old. We drank alcohol free beer and peach juice ( not for very long) before absconding to the nearest bar with a group of like minded alcoholics - I mean friends! Great fireworks at the end though.
Sunday we took a well earned day off to Ilse sur Le sorgue for lunch and meandered around various antique shops questioning the value of such over priced itemsAnd Monday back to work on site, 5.50am the builders arrive as its too hot in the day so we normally get up at 7 ish!!

Here are a few snaps, this is what we call the front of the house, the grey bit will house our hot water tank, Washing machine for gite guests etc the next bit is our ' chambre d'hote room or 3rd bedroom and then the main part of our house.

The porch and study roof are nearly finished!

And these are the underfloor heating and cooling pipes which will be covered in 7 centimeters of concrete tomorrow! Then we can get into the house next week and start the mammoth decorating task.
The last weekend saw the passing of the tour de France through Apt, cycling is the biggest sport in France so its a huge event which comes through every 4 to 6 years.
We were lucky not to have clients changing Saturday so took our place in Apt ,firstly the sponsors parade comes thru......

Throwing lots of freebies to get the crowds excited!!

from hats to water, pretzels to washing powder it all hit the streets!

And most importantly for the French, food and a Citroen 2CV!

And at last what we had been waiting for, the race, with a 3 minute lead the first 4 cyclist come through at 44 KPH!

And sure enough coming up the hill are the rest!, its 33 degrees and their stamina is incredible!

A great site to see.

And after all the waiting encouragement from Karen and friend Siobhan as they pass through almost effortlessly

That was the Tour de France for another year! Wow!
We finally get tiles on our roof! so pleased! Note the strict health and safety rules!

Meanwhile yet more blocks arrive for the walls on the second house.The weight restriction and limited access to our plot means Thijs collects the blocks from a larger lorry 'up the road' and brings them on site.

Work also begins on our 'porch'.This will lead to the study roof finally getting tiled.

The first guests to rent our former home, the Villa Les Cypres had there first week and seemed to like it so much so they booked for a fortnight next year! We had our first ' change over' with 3 ladies arriving from Nova Scotia.
The walls now completed this is now our home! we will put 3 metres of grass in front of the wall , space for sun beds, then a deck then the pool.

The week between 7th July and the 14th saw another change in clients at Les Cypres, this time a Belgium family staying for a fortnight,a visit to Avignon buying sinks, tiles and beds!shear luxury!pool cleaning and tourist guide!and of course some socialising in the village!the culmination of which was Bastille day on July 14th when our village holds a huge Vide (empty)Grenier(loft/roof space). Like UK car boots it starts at some unearthly hour and is attended by hundreds if not thousands of people selling there toot!
Here is Karen thinking she has spotted a bargain!

Our purchase of the day was a ladder used for Cherry tree picking! very old but lovely and just 15€! And the lady has a house to sell nearby so we are going to see her!

The narrow village streets are buzzing with stall holders selling there xxxx!

But its good for the village, all the locals are out and the shops and bars do great business! The event ends in the evening with fireworks.

Well here we are 22 July, finally after several hours, spread over several visits (seemed like days)in France Telecom we are reconnected to the world!
It has been a while since I updated so here is what we have been doing! This is the kitchen in the gite we will be living in, just need to remove the blue protective cover and fit the fridge in the right hand corner!

These are our roof tiles, about 100 years old (could not afford new - joke!), from Nimes.

The top
course of the terrace walls are poured, part of which will be rendered and some stone clad.

The idea being that the terraces will be a mixture of hard surfaces and planted,leading down to the garden.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Well since my last blog then a lot has been going on!
After our trip to Turkey my sister Gillian & her husband Neil came out to help prepare Les Cypres for our first guests and also help prepare us for our move to the Gite.

They worked like Trojans and we are enormously grateful for everything they did!!

With their consent we slipped back to England for a weekend to attend the wedding of my old business partner John to Gladys and a very nice weekend it was to at the Master builders Hotel in Beaulieu. We finally got to grips with our move and on the 26th June spent our first night with the 3 cats in Les Cerisier.

So this is us on moving in day! Of course it was not all with out a hitch! the solar panels that will heat our hot water were up until the day before we moved stuck on a ship off the coast of Spain! thank fully our plumber managed to install them the day we moved in and boy do they work well! Free hot water! And of course good old France Telecom! having assured us it will only take 10 days to connect us they now say up to 2 months - unbelievable!

Well we have now been living in our gite for about 10 days and it really feels like home! only last night we sat out on the terrace over looking the construction site with a bottle of Bollinger - vintage at that too!! We know how to live!!

We were celebrating the departure of our first guests in Les Cypres who have re booked for two weeks next summer, which is quite an endorsement!

Meanwhile there is much activity on site! Since June 17th the weather has been very hot, 30 degrees and above most days so the builders now start at 6am working until 2pm. There is no better incentive in getting out of bed than a bunch of guys banging plus various machines going past your bedroom window!

The major work over the last 10 days is the building of the terrace walls which once done will be filled and compacted. These will then lead to the gardens and swimming pool.

And as for the other house! its coming along! has windows, no tiles on the roof yet and no internal walls but its coming along!

And finally the cats are loving it, curious yes, very but so far they all seem ok!.