October has been an amazing month, not just because we moved into our new home (!) but also for the weather.  Day after day, we have woken up to foggy mornings which have then be burnt off by the autumn sunshine, culminating in beautiful warm sunny days we’d have been glad to have in summer back in Yorkshire.

We are constantly delighted by our surroundings and find ourselves taking numerous photos of the same things, just because they are so picturesque, especially in the sunshine!

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If we turn right up the cart track at the end of our lane, it takes us up the incline to neighbouring fields and views across the countryside.  This photo is looking back to the small barn and end of the house.

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The lime tree has been an absolute picture throughout the weeks of autumn – even its shadow is enchanting…

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Seeing the cows in the morning in the mists feels quite ethereal…

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And there is something surreal about being watched from above…

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 On several mornings now we have walked around the cow field picking mushrooms.  Ed only has to whistle and No. Two Triple Five comes to see him…

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The views all around this field are stunning and well worth the walk..

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The cats all seem happy

So far, we’ve managed to keep all three from going missing.  Well, I suppose it was a safe bet that Jim wouldn’t go far but Mouse and Colin are far more active.  However, they all seem really relaxed and are settling in well.  Colin has had a couple of nights out but has always been waiting to come in first thing the next morning and it just feels different now we are here and less of a worry.  It’s funny to think of them as ‘farm cats’ but I guess that’s what they have become!

Jim has definitely been out more than he would have been in the past – he’s found himself a couple of nice warm sunny spots in the yard…

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Colin is un-phased by the cows, but keeps his distance all the same!

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And Mouse enjoys exploring the barns or waiting for mice to come out to play…

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A new kitchen

Last week we had a message from M and Mme Tétedoux that the rest of the kitchen was ready to be collected, so on Friday we went over with the trailer.  It took two trips but we have it all now and it’s exciting to think we may not be too far away from having a proper kitchen.

It’s difficult cooking at the moment – it’s all very make-shift and we’re constantly moving things out of the way to operate one thing or another.  We were concentrating on the laundry room, which Edward is panelling with tongue and groove but we’ve changed tack to prioritise getting the kitchen up and running.  To make things easier for working, we’ve dismantled the make-shift set-up in the main kitchen and moved it all into the back kitchen – it’s still make-shift but works!

The next step was to re-plan the kitchen lay-out, now we are not buying a new one from Leroy Merlin.  Having done the calculations, we decided all the wall units were ‘spare’ and wouldn’t be needed in the main kitchen, so Edward spent an afternoon installing them in the back kitchen….

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What a difference a few cupboards have made!  We were both buoyed up by the event and felt that we were finally making some progress.  Of course, we are constantly moving forward with the improvements to the house but sometimes it’s hard to see what we have achieved for the hours and days we have spent working so hard…  Cupboards make a big impact!

All the same, it seems that we take one step forward and two back as there is much unseen ‘ground work’ before the ‘positive’ work can be done.  For instance, for the last couple of days I’ve been saying I’m going to get the walls painted in the dining room, but other ‘little’ jobs seem to keep getting in the way, such as removing the kitchen tiles so that Edward can get on with work in this room….

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He has been hoping to start installing the kitchen units in the main kitchen this week but has mounted the large pine unit we bought in England, just before leaving, first which led to him having to sort out the electrics for the microwave oven (and coffee maker when it’s out), which then led to him chiselling out plaster work for the cable and installing some spot lights in the canopy, oh and not to mention taking out the old sink and base unit…..

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It all takes time and we’re neither of us very good at estimating how long a job is going to take us!

Slow progress but satisfying results

So, it’s taking us a while and we’re already into November….

The weather changed suddenly from warm and sunny to overcast and cool.  Today we had rain showers.

Despite the weather I am still able to get on with painting the doors and windows.  I’d planned to do them later but as the living room was taking shape, it made sense to paint them as I worked through the room.  It was clear that they were going to take some covering…

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The good thing is that both the doors and the windows are easily lifted off their hinges, which makes painting so much easier.

Today, I thought I’d get them cleaned up (after the paint has cured a couple of days) and mastic the beading around the door windows before getting on with painting those walls…. Five O’clock came and went and I was still sorting them out….

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But we’re really pleased with the results – the white paint really lifts the look of the place….  Plenty still to go!!

 

 A New Post Box

In spite of all the DIYing, Edward has found time to make us a new post box – there wasn’t one at the property and they cost around 30 Euros to buy new.

We had a surprise delivery from our postie, who said she’d been the day before but we were out and there was nowhere to leave the post.  So we asked her if the box Edward had made would be suitable – ‘Parfait!’ she replied…

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We are gathering a lovely selection of ‘New Home’ greetings cards – thank you so much to everyone who has sent us cards, messages, emails, etc. – we really appreciate that you are thinking about us – when we’re finally connected to the world again, we’ll be in touch….

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Bl*#dy Orange!

Thanks to the incompetence of Orange Mobile, who, incidentally, has the monopoly out here for telecommunications, we are still waiting to be connected to the phone line and internet.  It’s really frustrating and quite restricting as to what we can do.  We’ve been into the Orange shop in Mayenne three times now.  At first they said we could get internet with a good coverage and arranged to have a technician visit to set it up.  They never turned up.  Instead we received a text message to say our order had been cancelled…. Back at the Orange shop, the girl behind the counter couldn’t explain why it had been cancelled and as it was late in the day, there was no-one available to call to explain either.   She arranged for someone to give us a call the next day.  No-one called.  Edward made another trip to Mayenne the next day, only to be told that they couldn’t provide us with internet and that we were to return the ‘Live Box’…..

This was quite a set-back and had several implications, not least the ability for me to work from home.  So we called on our neighbour, M Oré, to see if other people had internet in the area.  He’s such a lovely man and took Edward to meet another of our neighbours to see if they were connected – he said it took his son ten visits to Orange to sort out his connection.  Unfortunately they weren’t in but we were sure that internet connection was possible.  Especially when we contacted Lauren, the estate agent, who said that internet connection was possible anywhere in France, it just depends on whether we need a line or a satellite.  In the meantime, she gave us contact details for a person who offers to fix administrative issues for expatriates living in France, Valerie Rogers.  She is French but speaks perfect English and has contacts in many areas that are useful to the uninitiated, not least a contact in Orange.  She’s on the case and with luck, we shall be connected in the next few days – we live in hope.  In the meantime, it’s back to McDonald’s to post this blog….

New finds in the bricolage department

On Monday, our ‘day off’, we decided to drive into Le Mans and see if we could find other bricolage outlets.  We knew there was a Leroy Merlin but wanted to check out other shops too.  We were out of the house by around 9am and thought we’d be done by around mid-afternoon….

Le Mans is about 45 mins to an hour away and it’s a lovely drive until you reach the suburbs.  We’re going to save exploring the town of Le Mans for another day and may even take the train in from Sillé le Guillaume.  We checked out Leroy Merlin first and managed to pick up some items we needed – must have spent a couple of hours browsing and it was 2.30 pm before we knew it!   Lunch in McDonald’s, then, to check up on emails before heading towards home, keeping an eye out for other bricolage shops.

We followed signs for ‘Brico Depot’…… what a find this turned out to be.  It had just about everything you could possibly want, no frills, just a huge warehouse full of DIY stuff and so much cheaper than anywhere else we have found so far.  We’ll definitely be going back, probably this week, so we’ll post about our purchases in the next blog! 🙂

Still happy to be here

So, the place is a mess.  Our plans for a structured approach to the DIY-ing has fallen by the wayside as we have re-prioritised the work and we are disconnected from the rest of the world.  Still, we are happy and relaxed, even though we fall into bed exhausted most nights!  We have made Mondays our day off (unless we change our minds!) and each day we feel more settled and contented.

The mushrooms from the field have been a great source of free food – I made gallons of soup on Monday, so plenty for the freezer, while fresh mushrooms on toast for tea was a real treat for me…

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We have a lovely neighbour in M Oré, who seems to know everyone in the neighbourhood.  He lives in the old school.  When we went to meet him on Wednesday for a drink, we were surprised to find him waiting outside for us.  Instead of inviting us into the house, we were taken on a lovely walk – a short stretch along the country lane, then off up a dirt track, which took us around the perimeter of the field opposite our house – we see it from the kitchen.  The walk was over hung by chestnut trees and it was difficult not to keep stopping to pick them up!  M Oré told us that a wild boar had been here recently (sanglier) – how exciting to think they would be so close.  At the start of the walk, there was an old building and some ground that might once have been cultivated for vegetables.  On one side there was a walnut tree and we all hunted for some nuts – M Oré found three and gave them to us!  After a while the walk dropped down again and ran alongside a stream.  M Ore said he used to walk this way to the school when he was a young boy.  Annoyingly, I didn’t have my camera with me, but I shall be doing that walk again soon…

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Back at his house, he showed us around his garden and then asked if we’d like a game of boule?  We couldn’t say no, could we?!  What fun – we shall be going to play again some day.

We were then invited in for a cup of coffee and to meet his wife.  She was very sweet and it was lovely to sit and pass time with them.

On leaving, M Oré made us wait while he went into his garage – he came out with a shoe box, which he gave to me – treasure!!  It was full to the brim of huge chestnuts!  He then gave us a bag of walnuts and said that later in the season, we can take one of the saplings under the walnut tree where we hunted for nuts, to plant in our own garden… how very kind of him 🙂

Chestnuts on the fire at the end of the day have been delicious…♥

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