Thursday, February 26, 2009

The weather has turned balmy! 17 degrees today, almost too warm now to render! Thank fully with 3 pairs of hands good progress was made.

Our gardeners are hard at work!! at 12 noon it is down tools and lunch takes over. But bringing their own sausages to bbq! how cool is that! Dominique is thorough, but speed is not his strong point!

Meanwhile the team of tilers complete the tiling of the terraces at Le Chene.

A good French name??

The garden in front of the gites has been levelled, the watering system is in and the soil is ready to be planted.

Moles? No holes ready for 12 fruit trees to be planted.

The driveway has been cleared ready for a new hedge and Olive trees to be planted.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In between all the fun Geoff & Wendy paid a visit this week giving us an excellent opportunity for two days off, we headed into Avignon.. They very kindly bought us, well Ginger a house warming present!!

At last we are beginning to see some further progress on our own house with the arrival of the land scape gardeners.They have started by removing all the debris and stones from our terraces, sifting the soil and bringing in new top soil.After comes installing the integrated watering system,marking out which plants go where and laying Compost over the area to be planted. There is a large area to the side of our entrance drive which has been cleared ready for planting Olive trees and a new hedge. We will then be adding 12 Fruit Trees and a screen of Bamboo to conceal the parking area. After this is a screen of trees to conceal Le Chene, a new hedge in front of Le Chene, moving and replanting the Olive trees that we have 'in store' and then laying pebbles onto the terraces. Finally grass in front of the pool and laying the road in and out and we are done!! All in the next 10 weeks - no wonder we sleep well at night! Bon nuit!

Last week we had a pow wow (urgent meeting!) with Thijs our builder. We have analysed the amount of work still to do and with a deadline of the end of April we are getting scared, worried, stressed to name but a few that everything can/will be done. He has come back and assured us that it will no matter how many men it takes. Since this time there has been better organisation and more activity. Le Chene is now rendered, we have painted all the shutters, the kitchen has been fitted, the terraces are being tiled this week and Karen and I have started the entire interior decoration. (After I have to put all the lights up inside and out, curtain rails, pictures & fixtures). Out side has to be landscaped with leveling of the ground around the pool, hedges and trees planted so there is still lots to do.

We had one of those great French shopping experiences this week!
We have really struggled to buy bedroom furniture here. Don't get me wrong there is Ikea and Alinea which is similar,and plenty of up market furniture and many antiques but little in between. We do not have the M&S or John Lewis stores. Nothing beats British shops! So we bought some pine drawers and bedside cabinets, assembled and then painted them. We have the process down to a fine art - Karen checks the contents, lays everything out, gives me instructions and I glue and screw it!
However on opening this,one of the wheels on the runners was broken. But it was Sunday, the shop was closed and we wanted to get on with it.So we ploughed on with the assembly and first coat of paint. A few days later we were in the store where we bought it and remembered the broken wheel. We explained the problem and were reassured when told just bring the runner back and it can be changed. And so later in the day we returned. Of course the member of staff had dissapeared so we had to explain to a slightly unhelpful girl our problem. Eventually they took a runner off the display model and sent us on our way.
When we got home we found the wheel, such an integral part to this high tech unit (3 drawer pine chest)was smaller than the one on the other drawers! oh joy! So,yes, back we go again clutching our now painted chest. The staff member (there were now 4 gathering around) eventually agreed to change the runners for all the drawers! So we finally left - another shop where we have left our mark - lets hope the drawers stay together!

Over the last 10 days there has been a lot going on. Never have we been so pleased to see the Mistral (wind)which has dried out our soggy land. It also brings clear skies and dry cold air although of late temperatures are getting up to a Spring like 16 degrees.
Like the shops here when you can only buy things where they are in season you can only have a bonfire within certain dates, again largely due to historic wind patterns and dry periods. This weekend sees the end of the winter period and fires are embargoed until April 15th. So we decided to burn a lot of the debris that our dear builders have left, palates, tile cartons and the wooden crate that housed our pool cover measuring 6 metres by 1 which everyone on site had been using as there rubbish bin. When we lit the fire there was no wind and with in half an hour the wind whipped up and in a matter of minutes there was little left.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Decided to give our selves the day off yesterday, as it was Valentines, so took the Mazda for a blast up Mont Ventoux, fabulous blue sky contrasting with a bitter frreeezing Mistral wind. Saw about 5 cars in 30 kms , fabulous drive! The roads were interesting!

Mont Ventoux is the last ski resort in the French Alps before the coast which you can actually see from the summit. It is also the penultimate post for this years Tour de France cylcle race, all on our door step!

Karen up to her eyes in snow!

Fabulous views and crisp clear air.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I did not blog last week, whilst the UK enjoyed snow it fell here as rain which was not conjusive to progess!
Thank fully this week is better , this together with my threatening/motivational e mails to our builder on a Sunday seem to be working. At last we are able to get the final coat of render on to Le Chene.

And Karen and I are able to start the process of decorating the entire house, top to bottom - all three floors!

By the end of this week the rendering will be finished, there are 5 guys on the job. Hopefully we will complete the shutter painting, the kitchen has been delivered so its all sytems go!!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Thank fully we took advantage of last weeks sunshine completing the first two undercoats and applying the first colour coat to the shutters at Le Chene.There are I thought 19, until I discovered a pair I had left on the kitchen window and sods law the scaffolding is stopping me removing the final shutter. So, 21 shutters, 2 sides thats 168 times I have to paint them! Sadly rain is once again looming so the final coat might have to wait a week or two!
The pool progresses thank goodness.