Monday, 25 September 2017

Renovation project - Brest university hospital

Renovation project - Brest university hospital

photo courtesy of
We had telephoned yesterday to try too book an appointment but had been told to just come and go to batiment 5 (building 5)
We arrive in Brest and our new sat nav takes us straight to the hospital, we find a parking space. The main road outside the hospital has parking spaces all along with no charge. We love Brittany so much!
So we head over to where I think it is with john convinced we should go in the opposite direction, there are so many entrances. We see somebody and ask for directions to the dentist and he replies in English, I think at some point I will stop sounding like a sat nav, even with all my words correct people know immediately I am not French. But hey he was helpful.
We find the dentist building and try to check in, the receptionist explains that we need to go to building 5, OK no problem, we head out and the building numbers are enormous so there is no missing number 5, the only problem is that number 5 is paediatrics and gyneacology, so we assume there must be another section  number 5, we walk around and no we cannot find it, we head back to the dentist section and see a member of staff leaving the building, we stop her and show her the piece of paper the receptionist gave us and she says, “ah yes, batiment 5 you need to register”
We head back over to building 5 and enter there is a great big sign stating what is in there and there is nothing to do with teeth!
But then we see the accueil sign and a number of desks, we go over to one to ask what we need to do and this is it, this is where we book in, this is where everybody books in for which ever department or building you require.
Why they don’t have this info on the front door, we have no idea, but at least we got to visit most of the hospital.
We have our documents and ID checked and are given some papers and told to go back to building 6 (the dentist).
The emergency dentist in Brest is open from 9, 30 to 11.30 and 1pm to 4.30 so we are now definitely not the first in the queue.
But it does not take long to be seen, the staff were excellent, and the male dentist could speak English, though unfortunately he wanted me to stay in case of any problems. I don’t think I gave John much comfort as I sat there shaking and feeling ill. I am not good with the dentist!
But he was x-rayed and there was a large infection, the dentist drained and cleaned it and then prescribed some even stronger anti biotics and a mouth wash and told us to make an appointment to see a dentist, at this point we all laughed a little bit, he said if there were any problems to come straight back until the dentists returned from their summer holidays.
We leave and once again think how fantastic the health care is in France and how lucky we are to live here.
Top tips
  • If visiting Brest university hospital without an appointment, go to building 5 to register
  • Ignore the big signs for paediatrics and gynaecology
  • Ensure you have full ID with you.
  • Take your passport or ID card as well as your health card
  • If you are going to an open appointment (1.30 – 4) go a little earlier to register so you are not too far down the queue.
  • I am not sure what you need to do if you have an actual appointment so good luck from us

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Renovation project - It's august, France is closed for the holidays

Renovation project - It's august, France is closed for the holidays
Photo - Sylvain Naudin
John is still no better, his abscess is getting more uncomfortable and the anti biotics he had have made no difference. We need to see a dentist. I telephone to make an appointment but the dentist is closed for summer holidays, no problem there is a new dentist in our village, I pop down to find that closed also. We ring a friend and ask if they can give us the number to their dentist, we ring and they are closed until September.
We sit there and wonder what to do, he really needs to see somebody we consider going to the doctor but the last time they gave anti biotics that did not work, we are left with no choice but to visit the urgencies in Morlaix (this is the emergency department)
We arrive and book in and I spend ages trying to describe the word bridge in French I had forgotten to Google this before we left, eventually I just say bridge and I receive the reply  “ah bridge” they knew exactly what I meant.
We go through to the doctor and explain again, he looks at John’s mouth and agrees he needs to see the dentist but unfortunately the emergency dentist at Morlaix hospital is also on holiday for august, so he gives us the details for Brest hospital.
Brest is our local big city. The hospital there is a university hospital so we know there will be a dentist available.
But we cannot go until tomorrow, so we leave with another prescription for stronger antibiotics and pain killers.
Our biggest top tip on this is do not get a tooth ache in France in August!
This is actually one of the things we love about rural France, people work to live not live to work,
It is August; we are going to go on holiday!

But it is not just the dentist that is on holiday in August it is virtually everything, if you come to live here do not expect much of anything during August other than to enjoy your life, the sun is shining and it is almost impossible to get any work done or complete anything but hey, there is wine and sun shine and the living is easy, after all that is why most of us are here and it really isn’t a problem normally, just when you happen to get a surprise toothache

Friday, 22 September 2017

Renovation project - Exchange date in the UK

Renovation project - Exchange date in the UK
photo courtesy of
The exchange is now due for Wednesday, but once we were assured that the solicitors had everything they needed and nothing more was sent to the UK house, we arranged to go home, we will be leaving on Wednesday, but before we go we stop off at the house with a nice bottle of champagne for the new owners and a list of everything they will need to know.
We also drop of some cider and rose wine for the neighbours so they could try the Breton version.
On the Wednesday we drive home and stop at a service station every so often to see if the e-mail has come through saying the exchange has taken place, the day gets more and more stressful as we start to believe that it will not happen again and tomorrow we will not be able to e-mail our consent as we will not have any internet.
We decided to travel home via the Dover – Calais route as the Plymouth – Roscoff was just so expensive. So it is 2 days of driving but we do get to spend the evening in Boulogne sur Mer, we have stayed here before and the restaurants are really lovely (we didn’t really sight see this time but if you want to have a look around here is the link to our last visit).
As we are sat at Dover port the phone rings, it is the estate agent, they are ringing to let us know that the exchange has finally gone through. The feeling of relief is enormous.
This is it.
The house is really being sold.
Johns birthday uncommon goods

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Renovation project - Stress, stress, stress

Renovation project -  Stress, stress, stress
pictiure courtesy of
The surveys are completed and there are no problems, I speak to the UK agent who says that there was a little thing but nothing to worry about, the buyers will get the survey in the next couple of days, the French ones show a couple of anomalies but nothing bad and the water survey is perfect.
OK its hopefully full steam ahead.
I contact the UK solicitor and don’t get a reply, that seems normal practice for the UK, I then get an e-mail saying it has been passed to contracts; yippee it’s on the final stage.
We make arrangements to go back to the UK for the final signing and also because we have just had a new baby grandson. This is such a happy trip.
I am still waiting to hear if we can still exchange on Friday? (It is now Wednesday and we leave tomorrow early morning)
We don’t have much response from the solicitor. We contact the estate agent to see what the holdup is, they contact the solicitor and we are told we are just waiting for some replies to the enquiries.
Then I get an e-mail, with a list of questions! These are the questions we are waiting for answers for, we had never even been asked the questions. We also find out that the final contract had been sent to the UK for signing and they are waiting for that.
Wow the stress levels are now through the roof. I manage to get everything sent back to them before we leave with an e-mail that leaves the solicitor in no doubt of how I am feeling; this is much easier to do in English!
Apparently the exchange is still planned for Friday and yes you guessed it as much as me, it didn’t happen, we are now aiming for Monday, oops that didn’t happen either, now its Wednesday so fingers crossed.
We have also been informed that we must contact the solicitor every day to confirm that we want to sell; it is very difficult to do this without a great deal of sarcasm. If only everything was a simple as a French sale with no English solicitors to mess it up.
The one thing we can say is that the estate agents have been great, they have answered every phone call, chased up everything we have asked them to and been pro active chasing up the solicitor (who still hasn’t returned my call)
But on a positive note we have had a great time with the family and visiting the new baby on a slightly more negative note; John has got an abscess and infection in his mouth again, so we have a trip to the doctors for some anti biotics

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Planete Chocolat

Planete Chocolat
The stress has not really reduced until today, today is a fantastic day, I treated myself to a box of chocolates, not just any chocolates but luxury Belgian chocolates that will be delivered to my door!
I am a big chocolate lover and at times the only thing to reduce the stress I am feeling is chocolate, but it is not something I eat a lot of here in France though as it is both very expensive or not that readily available in our little village.
But there is a site that has amazing Belgian chocolate that can be delivered to your door here in France, called Planete Chocolat. and if you click the link you will see that at the moment you can get free delivery within 24 hours
The delivery is tracked with emails arriving to let you know that they are being delivered and at what time to expect them, unfortunately ours was one of the last deliveries so I had to wait all day, but believe me the wait was worth it and the packaging that it came in made sure that there was no damage to the box.
The presentation was so nice. The box was something that you would want to use again after the chocolates are finished (which didn’t actually take many days) but the box was not the only part of the presentation, the box came in a great bag with a greeting card, my chocolates actually greeted me!

But the presentation aside, the chocolates were pure luxury, I had the pralines selection and my only difficulty was choosing a favourite, which I never managed, maybe after my next box.
But don’t worry if you don’t live in France, Planete Chocolat also deliver worldwide, so you won’t miss out.

Thank you Planete Chocolat for helping to reduce my stress levels
Disclaimer this is a featured post

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Renovation project - Surveys, Surveys and more Surveys

Renovation project - Surveys, Surveys and more Surveys
I have realised that it has been sometime since I blogged and I apologise, but I really had no idea just how stressful selling 2 houses in 2 countries would actually be, so I feel a little more human and can now get back to the blog. I will pick up where I left off and surprisingly this one ends with me saying how stressful it is starting to get!
We arrive back in France and for the first time neither of us have been ill on a visit back to the UK, that really has to be a first.
We get to the house and have a look round and think that we need to get everything in place and ready. The diagnostiques will be checking all over the house, and the guy will be here in the morning.
Then I check my e-mails, the diagnostique company has e-mailed to change the date, it is over a week away, this is not good at all. I ring the company and there is nothing they can do, I realise how difficult it is to argue in a different language. I don’t want to be too awful but I can’t find the right words, (however my tone is definitely coming through) i have no choice, it is still difficult to speak on the phone, so trying to argue when nobody can see my expression means I accept the next appointment, only John can see me hopping about waving my arms.
I am not happy, but there is nothing to be done.
Later that day we also receive a telephone call from the estate agent in the UK, the survey has been arranged for the UK house on the same day as our diagnostiques are being completed, later still I have an email from the Notaire, he has arranged for Veolia (the water company) to come out and survey our drains, again on the same day.
OK maybe this is all going to be a little bit stressful. But after next Thursday, things can only get better, assuming everything passes and the UK survey values the house at the amount the buyers have offered.
I had no idea that the UK surveyors could value it for less and that would put a spanner in the works.
But today we are going out for dinner, my head is banging, my stress levels are through the roof and I am not cooking, I want a steak burger with a bottle of wine and I want somebody to bring it to my table with a smile.

Crepuscule here we come.
I am so glad we came here as seeing the special board really cheered me up, souris d’agneau, which I could only translate as mouse of lamb! It was lamb shank, but somehow, mouse of lamb sounded so much better 
Jenny and john in France, renovation project. Le Crepuscule, Huelgoat

Jenny and john in France, renovation project. Le Crepuscule, Huelgoat

Jenny and john in France, renovation project. Le Crepuscule, Huelgoat

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Renovation project - We have accepted an offer

Renovation project - We have accepted an offer
We have another week in the UK as we need to get the solicitor sorted and everything in place for the sale, as hopefully it should be very straightforward, the buyers have already sold and need to move quickly, this could not be better for us as we can move as quickly as they like.
But now we have a dilemma with the French house, we are still having interest but we have not had that offer yet. We discuss this and decide to drop the price, hopefully then when we get back too France we may have more luck in selling it.
I give all interested parties a days notice then put the advert on the blog and face book, within a few hours I have received an e-mail. We chat for a while and then the offer comes,
We cannot believe we have sold two houses in two countries within a week, but now we are in a real quandary as which country do we stay in?
The UK house is ready to go, the buyers are happy to have the furniture left, which is a bonus for us as we would not want to try to sell everything even thought the washing machine is only 3 weeks old (I have discovered I have another priority in life, toilet, shower ad now washing machine, I think I am the most easily pleased person in the world!)
We decide we need to be in France sooner rather than later and book our ferry back, I had really not expected to be in this situation and probably should’ve waited until we were in France before reducing the price.
But hey that is life and I’m not complaining.
Luckily as I used to work as an estate agent in France I am aware of all that is required, we book our diagnostiques on line and these will be completed on Tuesday morning so we need to be back at the weekend.
It’s a quick round of goodbyes to all the family, but it is not so bad this time as we know we will be back again in a few weeks to sign the final contract

It is a strange journey home as we are both still in a state of shock at the sales, but hopefully all will be well with no problems after all, what could possibly go wrong? 
 I am sure it will not be stressful at all

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Renovation project - We have sold the UK house

Renovation project - We have sold the UK house
The house is ready to go on the market and the appointment has been booked for the photographs.
Before this is completed we actually have a couple of viewings, these were people on the estate agent books, looking for this type of property, this is why it is essential to have a good agent that knows the area as they may have somebody waiting to buy your house before the advert is printed.
But booth viewings just did not sit right, they were developers who both wanted to turn my lovely family home into bedsits, they both said they would be high quality, high level bedsits but it would still mean that yet another family home disappears and the neighbours would have a night mare with parking.
But we cannot turn down a house buyer, we just hope that somebody else will come along; after all it is not even on the market yet!
The day comes when all the photos have been edited and the advert goes live, we have a call immediately from the estate agent with a viewing. So its fingers crossed, we have 3 days to wait.
Those days are spent having an amazing time with the kids we even have 2 of them stay together for a sleepover. The time we get to spend here is fantastic and my heart starts to pull a bit knowing that we will be leaving again soon, but our next stage in life is waiting and all the kids and grandkids cannot wait for our new place in Portugal with the sunshine and the pool.
I get to see my granddaughters first sports day so even with living out of the country for 5 years I have never missed a first with her yet.
Tuesday arrives, the house is cleaned to within an inch of its life and the viewers turn up. They are a young family, exactly what the house needs and apparently exactly what they need, as within half an hour of them leaving they put an offer on and we accept.

We have sold
Woo hoo and to the nicest young family possible, there will be no developers, no problems with parking just nice people to mix in with our nice neighbours I don’t think I could be any happier. 
Well I would be if we sold the French house as well

Sunday, 20 August 2017

How to sell a house in the UK

How to sell a house in the UK

The time has gone so quickly, I can’t believe how much we have done and how knackered we are.
We invited the estate agent around to give advice on the house as we were planning on a new bathroom and possibly a new kitchen.
But after having a big discussion and a look around the house, the agent recommended that we did very little other than clean and decorate. This left us in a bit of a quandary as we had planned to remove the carpets to expose the original wooden floorboards. Again the agent said that these were not really necessary for a sale as there was a ceiling limit on the price of houses in this area.
As the agent left we sat and discussed his advice. We are so glad we asked him to call around, this is the biggest piece of advice we can give if you are selling in the UK, get a reliable estate agent to come and appraise your property, ours lived in the area, knew the area and sold plenty of houses in the area.
His advice was invaluable, but we did not go along with leave the carpets as he was not aware of Johns abilities or our dedication to getting a job completed, the agent thought it would take far too long and cost too much, it was neither.

But as long as your agent knows your area he will be able to  advice you what is necessary and as such may save you a lot of time and money.
The whole house was cleaned and decorated; we used a magnolia colour that is neutral, warm and clean. We left feature walls in the living room and the dining room which were just a slightly darker colour, these walls had been decorated and were much darker or patterned, this was to much.
dining room before

dining room after

dining room different angle

living room that had been used as a dining room

living room, redecorated and new fire surround installed

living room from different angle
The bedrooms we left as the wallpaper was still in good condition and it would have taken far longer to strip and redecorate. 
bedroom before

bedroom after, cleared and decorated

small bedroom 
The biggest changes were in the bathroom and the kitchen, again these rooms were just cleaned and decorated. John did some extra boxing in to cover pipes etc. But after just a couple of weeks the house looks so different.
bathroom before, with a personal choice colour

bathroom neutralised with a clean colour

kitchen before, 

kitchen after with neutral colour and some simple boxing in covering the boiler
It is amazing how much difference a good clean and redecoration can make, you really do not need to spend a fortune getting a house ready for the market. ensuring that the property is neutral and inviting is far more important. Remember that just because you like a particular colour (I love lime green!) not everybody else will and some people can not see past the furniture and decor.

Top tips
  • Always get an agent to appraise your house that knows your area.
  • Follow most of the advice that your agent gives you, they know how much your house will sell for, but you will know how much work you can complete
  • Do not spend too much on the house; you may not get it back.
  • Putting a new kitchen in, may not be the best use of your money, as the new owners may not necessarily like your choice.
  • Try to keep every as neutral as possible, you are selling a house for somebody else to live in, you are not selling your personality

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Renovation project - Gardening in Cheshire

Renovation project - Gardening in Cheshire
OK so I am not the world’s best gardener but hell, how long does it take to make a little garden look pretty, well not even pretty, just tidy
The first thing is to try to get some of the ivy under control, I have some snips, ranging from hand too tree size. And after a whole day it does not look a great deal different but I have completely filled two big wheelie bins and have a pile for another one.
The ivy takes a couple of days to get to a point where it looks OK, I have also met some more of the neighbours from behind the house who are very happy with my efforts, so it must look a lot better than it did.
Next we need to clear the garden, the swing set and trampoline are moving a couple of houses along so rather than take the items to pieces they are lifted over the fences, with 5 men it does not take long, but for anybody living behind it must have been a strange sight and listening to them was hilarious.
It really was one of those comedy moments that you could not imagine.
But the back garden is now cleared, we still have the lawn mower and strimmer in the shed, and john cuts the grass.
I set about the front garden and the passage at the side. I think I fill about 10 wheelie bins in total with just gardening rubbish and a least 2 car full’s of normal rubbish go to the tip.
But it is getting there; a big tip for when you are clearing around flag stones is to slice along them with a knife. This removes all the weeds in a clean line without hurting your fingers trying to pull them out, this is a useful tip for clearing weeds from anything hard,
But a week later we have a garden, the front has bark covering and a couple of potted plants, the passageway is clear and the bins stacked neatly and the back garden is big enough to have a table and chairs and a lawn.

I had forgotten how big the garden was and although the front garden now looks very empty it does look clean and tidy, this is not our home, we do not need to personalise it, it just has to look good and now I think it does.
Here are the before and after photos

Sunday, 6 August 2017

How to keep the cost of renovating your bathroom down

How to keep the cost of renovating your bathroom down

Image result for refurbishing a bathroom

The cost of renovating your bathroom doesn't always have to be high. You can carry out various processes to save yourself time and money. 

A bathroom should be a platform via which you stamp your creative mark at the home. Don't forget that bathrooms should be renovated over time as they are prone to wear.

How much do you need to change? 

The less you desire to change, the cheaper the process will be. Don't mind your small budget; modify the appearance of your bathroom by only painting the walls, sticking up new towel rails and shelving and replacing tap handles. Avoid re-tiling as it might be quite expensive for most bathrooms. Instead, put overlay directly over the tiles to reduce the demolition work needed.

Why you shouldn't move your plumbing fixtures.

New plumbing can cost you a lot. This doesn't mean that keeping your cost low is impossible. Ensure you reuse the existing waste points and water supply areas for your bathtub, shower, and floor waste.

Get your hands dirty

If you are able and willing, doing most of the renovation part you save on labour costs. This doesn't imply that you can't hire an expert for the whole process; you can engage a professional when it comes to complex phases such as demolition

Shopping around for materials reduces your cost of renovation

Do you have the inclination and time?

Shop around and buy materials, fixtures and fittings yourself. Before you start shopping, know exactly what is needed. For instance, floor tiles differ from wall tiles. Also, bathroom wall paints should be resistant to moisture. When buying a tub, go for one that has wastes at certain ends to lower your installation cost. Ensure you have all the required materials with you before renovation starts to avoid unnecessary delays along the way. If you would like to know some rough estimates on the cost of renovating your bathroom

Disclamer: This is a featured post

Friday, 4 August 2017

Renovation project - Home is where the heart is

Renovation project - Home is where the heart is
Well we are back in the UK and it’s time to get the house ready, there is so much cleaning and clearing to do.
I look at the gardens that are so overgrown, we appreciate that not everybody enjoys gardening,and that the tenants started to move out some weeks ago, so have not been able to do anything to it recently but as I look at the front garden, I remember my little cherry blossom tree, as I look at the big tree in the garden. We have to make the decision, when it was my home; I had a planted garden, with all sorts of flowers and plants. But we will be selling and we will be leaving the property empty, so we have no choice but to dig everything up and make it look nice, but so that it does not require any looking after.

The back garden is the same, there is so much ivy and a swing set and trampoline (which my granddaughter absolutely loves, but is not good for a sale) we have to work out what we are going to do with them. They are like new; the old tenants do not want them. We really don’t want to throw them away but we don’t have time to advertise them.
We have a chat with one of the neighbours who knows somebody who would appreciate them. As it turns out it is a neighbour from further up the road, this is a guy I remember, he had just met his wife when I left, so I congratulate them on the birth of their child (well three of them and 8 years late!)
This is something that really takes us by surprise, the house is on a main road, yet the neighbours are so friendly and nice. We chat to so many and as the rubbish collection is still weekly we can use the wheelie bins of many different neighbours this cuts down on our trips to the tip.
It is strange as I remember this being a nice place to live, but I had forgotten trust how lovely my neighbours were and how lovely the owners of the little corner shop were.
I actually have a pang of homesickness for this house, then I remember the job I had when living here and the long hours and the traffic and I fall back in love with my little French village.
We have more than a week’s work here to get the house ready for the market, but this means I get to see much more of my granddaughter, and have her for overnight stays. This is the best part of this trip, though on her first visit she breaks my heart. She tells me how much she loves this house, so I ask her why and she replies “because it means you aren’t so far away”.
I can continue to write now I have dried my tears, we talk about what our new house will be like and the new swimming pool like we had in Spain and she is much happier.
So here are a few photos of the house as it is, we will show you the after photos soon. But for now, it is make a plan of action to transform the property for as little money as possible. So do we replace the bathroom and the kitchen or do we just redecorate. 

Decisions decisions

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Moving Day Checklist

Moving Day Checklist
picture courtesy of
The big day has come, moving day. You just completed purchasing a home and are ready to move in. There is so much that goes into moving that it is impossible for first-time movers to know what to do. Here are a couple of tips and a basic moving checklist to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Basic Checklist Before Moving Out
         Talk with your Moving Company – Be sure you select a moving company near me that can arrive on time for the move. Make sure all your stuff is ready. Most moving companies offer a free estimate and a free walk through of the house to give you an accurate quote and so they can prepare their employees. There is a big difference between moving from an apartment into a house, then moving from a house to an apartment. You many also want to talk to your moving company about storage as well.
          Have A Steady Job – This is a necessity. If you do not have any type of job security, you are not going to be able to maintain your apartment and will be evicted. Most apartments will require a deposit and proof of income to prove that you can afford your new living situation. You just purchased a house, the last thing you want to do is to loose it. Many people are defaulting on their loans and loosing their homes because of this.
           Have A Backup – In case something happens and you lose your job or your hours get cut, do you have someplace you can go if you lose your apartment or must terminate your lease? Be sure you have savings before you move out. Again most housing companies will need prof of how much you make or sometimes a bank statement.
           Boxes & Tape – Boxes & tape are two items many people forget about, also how expensive they can get. Be sure you check out your local grocery store or retail store and see if they have any boxes products came in. Be sure you do not purchase cheap tape. They last thing you want is all of your items falling out on moving day.
          Moving day Prep – Be sure you are ready for your moving company. This means most items are boxed up, labeled and pushed to the side and organized. Having a smooth move will help make sure everything runs smoothly. Labeling boxes will help movers place boxes in the correct room so you don’t have to. Making sure boxes are pushed to one corner of the room will also help movers move in and out of the home effortlessly.

Moving Tips

A storage unit my be needed for the first time if necessary. You can put all of your important items in the unit so whenever you need them, you know exactly where they are. You might not have a lot of stuff to move, but you would be amazed at how difficult it can be to get bigger items up flights of stairs and around tight corners. If you damage the building, you’re going to be paying for it.

Hiring a company like Attention to Detail Moving, can eliminate this worry and potentially expensive type of mistake. Attention to Detail Moving offers everything from apartment moves to cross country moves. They even offer full service packing of your goods, in case you needed help. Be sure to call Attention to Detail Moving for a free moving quote before you start signing rental paper work.

Disclaimer: this is a featured post