Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Eating like a king

It amused me the way that this tin of mushy peas left the can for my tea tonight.

Oh how exciting my meal is!

Mind you, there could be red wine involved later on...


Monday, January 07, 2019

Roller blind fun

Last time I was over at the Gite I replaced the pull cord mechanism on the roller blind for the French windows that lead to the patio.

We have roller blinds on all the windows of our Gite and they're not little lightweight blinds, they're almost more of a security shutter, they're heavy plastic with lead weights in the bottom so if you let them drop quickly they come down with a bang.

Since the pull cord was fraying I replaced the whole mechanism with a new one which is easier said than done, not least because getting the cover off the blind mechanism at the top is really difficult as it all clips solidly together, and then you have to deal with the considerable weight of the entire roller blind as you thread the new pull cord into position.

Anyway that one was done last time and I bought a couple of spare new mechanisms (good old eBay) and brought them over with me this time.

Good job I did because the roller blind pull part of the blind next to the toy box had also failed and needed to be replaced as well. And so the fun began, took me perhaps an hour to prise the box containing the roller mechanism apart with several screwdrivers, flat bladed knives and a considerable amount of banging with a hammer.

Finally got the box opened so I could wedge the roller blind into position, unwind the old pull cord and replace it with a new one.

Here's a photo of it work in progress, the new mechanism in place and the old frayed pull cord shown in the bottom right. Wouldn't have wanted that to snap.

All finished now, box clipped back together and new pull cord works fine. Until the next one wears out of course...


Friday, January 04, 2019

First sight of the newly decorated Gite

Back in May I wrote about the green flocked wallpaper in our Gite being removed and the lounge, stairs and upstairs hallways all being redecorated. 
The work was all finished that month, but despite having had perhaps 10 sets of guests staying since then, we hadn't seen the results ourselves. 
So when I arrived at the Gite I was excited to see the results of the decorators labours, and not disappointed, it all look really great and a big improvement.  Very clean and fresh. 

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Lots to pack in the car can only mean one thing

There's a large pile of things next to the car, so yes, I'm off to our Gite again for a mixture of break and renovations. 

Since I last went I've been busy buying :
  • New pillows for all beds
  • Pillow protectors and bed protectors for all beds
  • New toilet seat to replace the cheap one supplied with the toilet 
  • Lampshade 
  • Pull cords for the window blinds
  • Repaired velex blind 
  • Repaired ladder and swing for the climbing frame 
  • Chlorine and flocculant for the pool
  • New pool pipework 
  • Fire blankets
  • Cushion covers 
  • Tea towels 
  • More glasses for the kitchen 
  • New bath mat
Plus a spare mattress, wardrobe, some light fittings and plumbing bits for the other house, and the list goes on. 


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Goodbye green flocked wallpaper

Time to say goodbye to the green flocked wallpaper in our Gite.

Decorating tastes of course vary around the world (witness the enthusiasm for Scandinavian minimalistic for example), but to my knowledge there hasn't ever been a fashion craze for French decorating. 

When we were house hunting to buy our Gite in September 2003 we saw a number of "interesting" wallpaper styles in the properties we viewed, and fortunately the Gite we eventually did buy was relatively "normal".
Except for the little girl's bedroom in pink and purple that is, but several costs of paint and it's all neutral cream now. 

The lounge, stairway and upstairs hallway were all wallpapered in what I can only describe as a flocked like material.  The paper must have been expensive at the time and in a green colour was liveable with. 

Over the 14 years we've had the Gite there have of course been minor accidents, a few places where a drink has been spilled, and being a fabric you can't easily wash it off the wall.  Also I think the flock is slowly starting to come off, it's not visible, but we do get dust in the lounge quite a lot and we think its from the wallpaper.  

And so now it's time to say goodbye to the green flocked wallpaper.  Tomorrow Simon the decorator starts and all the wallpaper will be stripped off and the walls painted a neutral colour.  

So for old times sake, here's a couple of photos of the lounge as it currently looks before the green all goes. 

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Stepping up without sliding down

I had to look it up, but it was back in August 2010 that we had a new set of railway sleeper steps built from the pool up to the garden and climbing frame.

For some reason I never took any photos of the construction of the steps, so at the bottom of this posting I’ll correct that and share what I do have.

But the topic in hand was improving those steps.  The steps were made of used railway sleepers so they were as tough as anything and certainly not going to rot anytime soon.

However what I had noticed was that they could collect grease, wet leaves and moss and become slippery, particularly in the winter or autumn times.

To fix the problem I bought a load of non-slip treads that could be simply screwed down onto the oak steps, and job done.

Unfortunately not quite job done as I didn’t buy enough of the non-slip treads for two on each of the steps,  so had to buy some more from the UK and fit them next time I went to the Gite. So here’s the final non-slip treads being screwed down.  

And here are some photos from August 2010 of the steps being built. Originally there were wooden steps set into the slope but they were badly decomposing and were sliding down the hill so we decided to have them rebuilt properly from scratch.

Alan proved to be better than Geoffrey and Liz at using the digger, and it was a good job we had a digger as all of the stones that now line the up the side steps were dug out of the small area of ground when the steps were built !

Photo taken in August 2009 from the roof with the old steps in the background behind Alan's van:

And from April 2010, a few of the completed steps (the bushes at the side are a lot smaller):


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tiling the downstairs bathroom (part two)

Following on from fitting the new shower cubicle, the next job in the downstairs bathroom was to tile the other walls to match those of the shower cubicle. Here’s how it looked at the start, on the opposite wall is the toilet, vanity unit and washing machine, with tiling part way up the wall beside the toilet and behind the basin.
First job was to cut the silicon sealant off from around the sink, disconnect the taps, and carefully remove the sink.  If I had of dropped it then I’d be in the do-do for sure:

In France, unlike in the UK, they don’t fit isolating valves underneath the sink.  So when I’d removed the vanity unit and wanted to turn the water back on, I had to then re-connect the tap to the pipework, tie the tap handle down to stop the water coming on, and work around it as I continued work in the bathroom.  What a pain.

Stripped all the old tiles off the wall using my SDS hammer drill, great fun and quite quick and easy to do:
And then on with tiling the wall, using the bottom of the existing mirror as the reference point and ensuring that the tiles line up horizontally with the others in the shower cubicle.

Its a bit fiddly but basically you count the number of whole tiles required down the wall, and allowing for the tile gaps and grouting, cut a part-tile to go in as the bottom row.   Lots of use of the spirit level and repeated measuring to make sure everything is square and true so that as you tile up the wall it all lines up with the required height.

Grouting, lots of grouting, and then I could put everything back into the bathroom.

Putting the sink vanity unit back in place proved to be troublesome because I moved the vanity unit a few cm to the left as I’d originally installed it too close to the washing machine which meant that it was really difficult to jiggle the washing machine out from the gap if you ever needed to get to the back of the machine.

Moving the vanity unit slightly to the side meant I had a bigger gap for the washing machine,  but then when I had fitted and silicone’d the sink in I found that the flexi tails on the taps weren’t long enough to reach the pipework.   Grr, another trip to Mr Bricolage to buy some longer tails for the taps ...
Although I’ve written this as one continual sequence of activities, it actually took me about 4 days of solid work over a week to do all this.  It does look a lot better though.


Thursday, April 05, 2018

Off to the Gite for late Easter

10pm Thursday night and I'm sitting on the fairly deserted DFDS Delft Seaways ferry, just about to leave Dover for Dunkirk. 

I'm off for a week's holiday at the Gite, bringing more things over,and doubtless my week will include repairing the broken fence that someone drove through.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Hole in the fence

The garden of our Gite is (or rather, was) fully fenced in. Here's a photo taken from the country lane that passes by the Gite in 2016 after Toby and I had spent a week cutting down the pine trees at the end of the garden:

Unfortunately that's what things used to look like. This morning I received a text and series of photos of the garden today.

Looks like someone has come down the hill, lost it on the bend, perhaps due to ice, then straight through the fence, across the lawn, and finishing up with taking out one of the apple trees.

All very upsetting, and more repair work for me next time I go to the Gite. Grr.

Rather than wooden posts which are liable to rot I intend to replace the fence with green metal posts and fencing which will match the new fencing along the front of the Gite: