The best laid plans of mice and men (often go awry)…………

I used to work in project management in the aerospace industry and we always said that the first 90% of the work is done in 10% of the time and the last 10% of the work takes 90% of the time.  Well the proportions aren’t exactly correct but they are not far off.

Christmas came and went, along with our builders who all decamped to their various home towns.  There were discussions, quite a few of them, and finally at the end of January we were within shouting distance of the end.  Just the final fixings and finishings and my goodness, it was like pushing water uphill.

And then, just when most of the windows were clean, the floors polished and the bathrooms tested and there were only a few odds and ends to do, Covid-19 came to town.

Lock down !!

So here we are at the end of April 2020.  It is nearly two years since we started the renovation and the house is looking beautiful.  There were some hiccups.  The boiler died in January but by the end of February we had had a brand, spanking new one installed, eco friendly, good quality and guaranteed for 10 years.  Boy was I glad that I had had a heated floor put into the kitchen because that was a godsend.  But strangely, with the log fires burning and all the exterior doors and windows closed it is surprising how quickly the house warms up even without the radiators working.

The kitchen is fully installed and working perfectly.  The oven has cooked its first family meals, we found room for a freezer in the laundry room, and we have drunk lots of wine at the kitchen islands whilst looking out at the frost forming on the grass in the evenings.  Shut the gates, fill up the cave with good wine and provisions, get the logs in and you can ignore the rest of the world.

Now Spring is here, Summer following close behind and thoughts are turning to moving house and finding your dream home.

Well the house is ready for you, you just need to bring your suitcase and you can move right in.



when things start arriving.  Today all the light fittings arrived.  Hand made in antiqued brass they will bring a warmth and cosiness to the house.

The kitchen space is amost ready and the kitchen arrives on Saturday morning for installation on Monday.  I can’t wait.


Quick update ……

If you have been following our progress you will realise by now that the finishing date has been something of a moveable feast.

First it was June, then it was September, then the end of October – Halloween – it seemed appropriate.

Now, the end of November is the finishing date or there will be trouble!  The kitchen will have been installed and the lights put up, the bathrooms fully functional and all the plasterwork and floors completed.

We will be there for Christmas and I will be going all out to make sure that is Christmas 2019 ………………………

I’ll keep you updated 😉


I can see light at the end of the tunnel…..

And I am pretty sure it isn’t a train coming in the other direction.  Many people have told me that when the final fixes and finishes go in it all starts to come together quite fast and so it would seem to be.

In the last week, I have seen the bones of both bathrooms go up, all the sanitary ware has arrived and it is looking fine.  It was all sourced in the UK because I wanted good quality but with a certain old-world charm that goes with the house.  This style is difficult to find in France and overall was nearly 50% more expensive when I did find it, so even with overseas delivery it was a cost-effective solution.  Crisp clean porcelain and chrome Victoriana style taps and fittings, I hope it will all look clean, fresh but in keeping with the classic vibes of the house.

The top floor is finished except for a couple of light fittings.  All the floors and doors have been stained and varnished and look magnificent against the white walls.  The windows are in and are very thermally efficient.  It was hammering down with rain outside and the temperature has plummeted but I still had to open a few windows a crack because it was a little too warm and toasty for me.

The middle floor has had its final plaster, which has been finely sanded to get out every single blemish and then it got its first undercoat.  All the walls are soft white, nice and neutral, and a good backdrop for whoever lives here next to put their imprint on the house.

There was a time when I thought I might not see these walls finished.  I arrived in Mid June to find most of one wall in the Master Bedroom taken back to the original stone, which was a surprise to say the least.  I asked Michel why he had done that, because I had thought everything was fine in that room.  It was a little damp apparently.  Couldn’t he have left it to dry out naturally?  “Oh but Madame, it would take too long, much better to do it properly and let the warm air get to it.  Then we will plaster !” In French you would call Michel “minutieux”, which means thorough, and he is.  If he is putting his name to this it is going to be perfect even if he has to go more than just one extra mile.

The downstairs WC is finally receiving some attention.  Not a room I venture into often as it is for the exclusive use of the workmen so I was slightly surprised to find them working on it already, but the metal frames for the plasterboard are in against the new back wall, and the shape of the Bulls Eye window is being faithfully reconstructed so that you will be able to access it when finished.  I have a little cottage corner table which is going to be used as a vanity unit and that has been prepared ready for fitting, with a sweet little china bowl on top.  For the smallest room in the house, it will still be a thing of beauty.

This week, it will be all hands on deck to get the kitchen walls plaster boarded and plastered.  The ceilings and fixings for the lights are already there.   The tiling and placement of many of the bathroom fittings should be happening at the same time so there should be a houseful of people busy plastering, hammering, sanding and shouting at each other in a mix of French and Romanian and a smattering of English.

So things are really gathering pace and I hope the work will advance really quickly now.  I have been able to move in to the top floor and sleep quite comfortably even though it is still a building site below.  Dust does get everywhere it is true, and there are the usual site hazards that I have to make sure I don’t trip over in the dark, but these are things that are easily dealt with.  The worst thing of all though, the very worst thing, by far more difficult to live with than the continual dust, plaster, shouting and hammering is the extremely dodgy European Pop music that blasts around the house from 8 till 6.  Dinky dinky dinky dink, Hey!  They are earworms that infest your brain at 3 a.m. Still, just a few more weeks now, so I am sure I will survive it  🙂

September Kitchen Plans: Let me tell you a story ……….