Monday, March 23, 2009

the pressure is mounting, it is just 8 weeks until our first paying guest arrive in the gites and 9 weeks until they come to Le Chene.One of our builders has been off ill for 3 weeks so Thijs has bought in an extra pair of hands and his dog! The cats were at first hoffified but seem to be coping with the 4 legged helper.

We still have no render on the North side of our house and the swimming pool is still lots of concrte blocks held together with copious amounts of steel!

We took a well needed break from the painting to collect Joan, Karens Mum last wednesday and treated her to lunch in Ikea (I know how to look after the mother in law!!)

On Thursday Ian & Kath, and their daughter Yasmin, friends from Weybridge who now live near Brisbane in Australia came to visit on route to their skiing holiday. We went to Avignon and lunched at L'Opera , fast becoming our favourite restaurant for lunch.It has been two years since we last saw them , but seemed like yesterday - great to catch up and put the world to rights!

When we returned our gardener had been busy planting the garden outside the gites.

In between watching the Rugby over the weekend we were working on the house. I also have a Home Hunts client to take out viewing houses today and in between this we are preparing Les Cypres for its first guest so I am opening up and cleaning the pool. Enquiries for the gites and houses are steady, interestingly we have a lot of French coming this year.So life is pretty busy, satisfying, just trying to keep all the balls up in the air!!or all the plates spinning - just like old times!

A little tale of life in France - Karen bought some hair shampoo last week, but it turned out to be conditioner which she did not need.So I took it back to the super market. I had already thrown the receipt - big mistake. I approach the counter in Le Clerc explaining my wifes error and requesting a change - NO! I am told , it is not possible! remember in France - the customer is never right!!I am then directed to 'the office' to discuss my dilema! As I have a store card they have all my purchasing history and after about 10 minutes find the item listed. I suggest they just credit the store card but no -they print two copies of the receipt, each 3 pages, and send me back to the first counter where a different lady looks at me suspiciously! I explain again the need to change the conditioner - receipt - Yes! I get my 5 Euros! Was it worth it - of course!
Next challange - the tax office want to charge our gites as separate properties to our house - so we are off to Avignon on Wednesday - if there are no more blogs for a while you will know what happened!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Our gardener Dominique is back, today he lifted out the Olive trees that we had re planted 2 years ago. These were previously where our house now stands and are over 50years old. They are the branches of trees that them selves were planted around 1900.
A severe frost in 1956, when the temperature fell to minus 20, killed the original branches, the shoots produced these branches, now our new trees - Olive trees are very hardy!

Our garden was once an Olive grove on one side and a fruit Orchard on the other.Hence the name of our house - Le Verger - the Orchard.

These trees are awaiting to be planted. We have just put a new hedge in between us and our neighbour.

These trees will line our entrance driveway. It has cost a lot to have them lifted and replanted but Olive trees are very expensive to buy and we will have a fantastic Olive harvest in the future, sufficient to produce our own pressing.

We have just planted 12 new fruit trees including Cherry, Apple, Plum, quince& Fig.

We also have a well in our garden with a stone borrie above. We are having it restored, here the feroniere fits the new gate.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

We have had a pretty good week on reflection although after a shakey start! Last weekend Karen and I carried the 21 shutters down to Le Chene so that we could hang them after our careful and attentive painting. To our horror they no longer fitted! Those for the French doors were too large caused by the tiled terraces and those for the windows did not fit as the tableaux around the windows were too large.

When Thijs arrived Monday morning, we expressed our displeasure, and his response was simple - I can cut them down - no problem! but of course by the time he would do this they were going to need touching up and some repainting - later that day whilst doing his alterations one of the shutters fell through the brand new oven door - our displeasure deepened!

But onwards and upwards - we move on and overall there has been good progress with Dominique the gardener making good preparations for the planting which takes place next week.

Meanwhile we have been getting some pictures of the gites - well I was trying to! but Ginger had other ideas!

Karen and I have spent the week decorating Le Chene, and we are advancing well with just 1 bedroom the stairs and hallway plus the basement to go.

At our house the rendering is almost finished! and our terrace is tiled, this opens from our Dining room creating one large expanse divided by the glass bay. We toyed with leaving it as a beach effect!

And to crown the week the gardener brought his bill, no, I mean our first two trees, this one with Karen as the marker a traditional Platane. And me with our first Cypress tree.