Our new home in France

While looking for a house to rent, somewhere to base ourselves while we hunt for the right property, we found the perfect house in the perfect spot -and with the help of the lovely people at Cle Rouge Immobilier in Duras it is ours! This blog is primarily for our friends and family to follow the ups and downs of the adventures. However if we don't know you, I hope you'll enjoy the story too, and that one day you may consider booking into our lovely home as a paying guest - you'll be made very welcome!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Lots more building work with little to show....

The builders have been very busy this week - with mostly just holes with wires and howling gales coming out of them! The bath/shower rooms are almost tiled now - they WILL look lovely when they're finished and there are lights in them.
The Jack and Jill shower room, half grouted.
Almost there!
Just the walls to be tiled here. Russ assures me he'll be finished in a couple of days.

The next photo is of our unexpected visitor a few evenings ago. Nicole and I were watching a DVD (still no TV!) when this little chap appeared from nowhere. He had to be caught in a bucket and returned outside. Still, he was a lot easier to deal with than the mice that appear from time to time!
We have been shopping at the local market, this lovely basket is one of our purchases. We have another similar, full of drying walnuts, hanging in the kitchen.
We bought lots of onions, from which we bottled a batch of onion marmalade,
 and we have been drying orange and lemon slices to make mulling spices.
Today we managed to change the headlights on the car to French ones - not without bloodshed and swearing! 
 Now I just need to get it to a garage for the 'controle technique' test and we'll be closer to getting our French plates.
I'd like you to know that I took my turn lying on the floor under the car too! But I may not have looked as elegant as Nicole does!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Living on a building site.....

Work has continued in the house this week, and while it is coming together, the house is definitely beginning to look like a building site!
The woodchip wallpaper had to be steamed off ready for the tiles.
  A door has been cut into the wall.....
 and a new door made and fitted.......just waiting for the handles.
 The bath has been boxed in.
 The old door into the corridor has been removed and the space closed up.
A new door fitted to the balcony - one that doesn't let in the rain!
 My new cooker has been connected and is working beautifully.
The old gas water heater has been removed....
 and a new electric water heater and tank has been installed.
That's the plumber finished for now......
and the electrician is in full swing. Everywhere has wires hanging out of the walls and ceilings and is covered in dust!
We were glad to have Mike here for the week. He and Nicole finished planting the trees - we now have a neat grid of 5 X 4 fruit trees, apples, pears, cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines and almonds. They also did the horrible job of getting rid of the woodchip in the bathroom. He has now returned to his day job. Thank you Mike!
 So lots done, a very successful week but still a lot to do!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

A lovely long weekend

On Thursday it was yet another holiday in France (second in two weeks). There was a fair and vide grenier (literally empty attic - equivalent to car boot/flea market) in Duras. Nicole and I had a little wander around in the morning and come home with a bell for the front door.
In situ, courtesy of Russ.
At lunchtime, Hugh arrived at Bergerac on the lunchtime flight from Southampton. He inspected the work completed so far by the builders (and Nicole and I), mostly to his satisfaction! In the afternoon we had another look at the vide grenier, and after Hugh's shameless haggling (in the rain) we came away with a pile of French dvd's to watch - in an effort to improve our French.
All sorts of interesting 'junk'....

..........and the band played on!
On Friday, Nicole and I finally got on with the planting of the orchard. In the rain. The holes I had dug so long ago were full of water! Please don't tell me I shouldn't plant trees in this way - it's too late, and like every other plant I have ever tried to grow, they have two chances- live or die! (Fingers crossed though - it will be an expensive failure if they don't grow.)
The ground was wet and sticky - it was hard work.
So....the rain more or less stopped and allowed us to plant ten trees. All the holes are filled and ten more trees are ready to plant.

Saturday was a beautiful, warm day, so we all took the morning off and went to the market at Bergerac. It was a very bright and lively affair. We sat in a square to have coffee and pastries in the sunshine, and once fortified, enjoyed a wander. 
Nicole contemplating the bread and pastries.
Hugh and Nicole by the Dordogne river.

Hugh and I, with the obligatory market basket!
The afternoon stayed fine, so we managed to dig and plant another four holes. Much easier when you don't have to bail out the water first! So fourteen trees planted, six more to go.
Yes, she is wearing a pinny to dig a hole!
In need of a rest apparently - or just enjoying the sunshine!
We're not sure what Hugh was doing! Something to do with rescuing a robin which had flown into the kitchen! (He had also been doing his bit as the 'pool man'!)
Today is all change again! The flight taking Hugh back to England and work for another two weeks, also brings Mike, Nicole's boyfriend out to stay for a week.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


The builders have made holes everywhere today!

Holes for water pipes for the en-suite upstairs.
Hole for the doorway into the bedroom.
Hole for the doorway into the en-suite bathroom.
The holes in the garden remain unfilled! The final trees have been bought.....
The trees shoehorned into the back of the car!
The bare-rooted trees are now sitting in a pot of soil, having promised we would plant them tonight! We also bought the stakes, so tomorrow.......

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Change in the weather

After a lovely autumnal Saturday, which stayed dry for a bonfire party, the weather has changed! But the bonfire first..... bonfire, fireworks and lovely home grown pork sausages and wine at Lesley and Jonathon's Domaine Gourdon in Esclottes. Thank you Lesley for the invitation, and a lovely evening meeting lots of new people. I enjoyed it very much.
A very poor picture....sorry!
Since Sunday morning it has been raining almost constantly - my planting holes for the trees will be filled with water - not that I've ventured down there to look! I still have to get some stakes and compost before I can plant them. It is my intention to get them today when I pick Nicole up from Bergerac airport at lunch time.
A moment on Monday morning between rain showers.
This morning, raining but still beautiful.

The work on the house has moved on apace. The plumber, Wayne has arrived now, along with the new sanitary ware, and Russ and Alex have moved inside out of the rain to put up the walls for the new en-suite. Much banging and French swearing - unfortunately to quick for me to pick up but I'm working on it. It seems that the most difficult thing so far (today) is pulling up the carpet! 

 A new addition to the lounge - the downpipe from toilet above - hopefully to be boxed in!
The en-suite 'above' with the wastepipe showing through.

The new bathroom during discussions as to where the bath - and door should go.
A gradually appearing room as boxes unpacked. Can't do much more until new garage/shed is built for the last boxes.
It's taking shape, much more quickly than I could ever have hoped for!


Friday, 5 November 2010

A day for digging

Today I started digging holes to plant the fruit trees for the orchard.
The first hole dug

I can't actually put the trees in the ground yet because I don't have any compost or stakes - a job for tomorrow?
While I was digging holes for trees, Russ and Alec were digging a hole for waste pipes - through concrete!
Russ - excavating stone, soil, old foundations, horse shoe nails and an old spoon
Alec, clearing up after him - and doing a fantastic job!
All cleared up and waiting for the plumber!
A couple of photos from yesterday - a beautiful Autumnal day
I stopped while driving close to Savignac de Duras to try and capture this lovely scene

And finally.....walking up from the post office in Duras.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


I never thought I would miss the internet so much! So much information at your fingertips, nothing else works with that sort of speed. Anyway, the wonderful Virginia at (English speaking) French Orange was able to connect me this morning, I've caught up with my emails and now I'm ready to update the blog - only where to start?  I'll stick mostly to photos so as not to bore you too much.

A tenant has taken up residence in the pool toilet!
Flowers arrived from Gill, what a lovely surprise - I even managed to give the florist directions of how to find our house- in French- on the phone!

This is the beginning of my new orchard - brought home this evening, lots of digging to do in the next few days!
How the removal men left us at 11.30pm on Thursday evening, the space is clearing, slowly.

Most of the boxes are at least in the right room now. We have already made numerous trips to the dechetterie - the recycling centre.
So.... a quick list of the things achieved so far, in the three weeks we have been here....
  • Removed all mouse droppings, and caught three mice-no sign of them since!
  • Unpacked most boxes - or at least looked in them and decided not to unpack them!
  • Had phone line connected
  • Met the Maire of our commune
  • Met some of the neighbours
  • Covered the pool for winter - oh well, something to look forward to in the Spring...
  • Had a large delivery of logs for the wood burners...and stacked them all neatly
  • Waved goodbye to husband and daughter (back next week)
  • Had some old friends and new ones around for lunch
  • Bought eight fruit trees (and been given one - thank you Pat and Richard!)
  • Cleared a couple of small patches of garden for planting (flowers next to the house)...this job might be a bit harder than I anticipated!
  • Pruned (hacked) the fig tree back so that we can open the shutters!
  • Gently (by my standards!) pruned the wisteria
  • Got builders to start work already on alterations in the house - a wall down here, an extra door there
  • Discovered that a total rewire is necessary (not really a surprise!)
  • Insured the car to drive in France
  • Got hooked up to the internet
  • Say a thank you to whoever is looking out for us every morning when I open the shutters on to an ever changing view - so far, mist, rain, sunrise, and the changing colours of Autumn