The End of 2017

It’s the end of another year. A year which started in Sri Lanka and is ending in France. A year where terrorism and politics seem to have dominated the news and a year where personally, things have been pretty good.

This year the main event was buying our new/old French house and starting the many projects which have accompanied it.

This year we celebrated three happy weddings, all very different but all very right. We’ve had great times with all our familes and valued old friends.

This year I decided to take up crafting, I started throwing clay around and poking needles in felt. It’s been creatively satisfying and a balance to my screen-based career.

This year we enjoyed our second year of Agnes and Welsh Terrier mayhem. The rugs will never be the same.

And this year we laughed more than we cried so that’s a good thing.

And for 2018? Well, the intention is that it will be a year of Integrity. From the food we buy, the clothes we wear, the choices we make, the goal will be to choose quality over quantity and we are aiming to do all things with integrity. We’re aiming high!

And of course as we always like a bit of challenge, perhaps it’s time to sell our London flat and look for somewhere new… and of course, we’d like to travel more!

And for me personally, I’ve written this blog now for six years. What started as an adventure moving from LA to London in 2012 has turned into a collection of memories and thoughts and continues to be something I enjoy and so I’ll continue writing my observations and nonsense in 2018.

And so with a folly of a new fondue pot to ring in the New Year (and will most likely only be used once) have a very happy New Year!

The IQEA test

Two hours and several stripped screws later, I passed what I’m now calling the IQEA test. The Stenstorp Kitchen trolley was assembled and ready for installation. 

There were a few extra bits and it had all been a bit of a challenge but it looked nice and, above all, it was done!

Another IKEA road trip

It seems there’s always something to do and this time it’s a push to try and finish our new apartment downstairs in time for Spring.

The kitchen is installed, not plumbed in yet so not quite functioning but looking very nice and Big T is busy painting everything he can get his brush on. Photos to come.

In anticipation of furnishing, we nipped off down to IKEA in Toulon, a place we seem to have gone to a few times before!

With our haul squeezed into the back of the Mini, we drove home with another few lamps, a rug and a new kitchen island for the Caretaker’s Cottage downstairs. 

We are now the house of a thousand table lamps as every bedroom needs two lamps and two bedside tables so that’s eight of each and every sofa needs side tables and lamps… another six of each! Lighting has been a challenge but we’re finally achieving the ambiance we were hoping for as the house feels like more of a home day by day.

There will always be some large projects on the horizon as we’d like to upgrade the kitchen and bathrooms, move the staircase and put in electric gates (oh to dream!) but these are for the long term.

In the meantime, I have a kitchen island to assemble!

Agnes sees snow!

With rain (and a leaking roof) came snow on the nearby hills. 

After lunch we decided to drive up to the nearest ski resort, Gréolieres les Neiges to have a look and show Agnes her first snow.

Ready, Set, Snow!

Forty five minutes later we were in a very different world. The resort wasn’t open as there wasn’t enough snow to ski but there was plenty of snow to throw at a very excited Welsh Terrier.

With extra snowballs
Pure joy

Agnes absolutely loved it and despite having fur which seemed to turn snow into snowballs on her legs, ran and jumped and barked and had a wonderful time.

We came home, lit a roaring fire and Agnes collapsed exhausted on the rug. 

A very good dog day out!

Drip Drip Drip

It had rained heavily for the best part of two days and as I was in the little bedroom upstairs, I noticed that things were not quite as they should be.

I had been worried when we left in October as I’d noticed a crack in the plaster and had left a bucket out just in case…

It turned out to be a different crack as drip, drip, drip, the water plop, plop, plopped into the bucket…

As soon as the rain stopped, the leak stopped but it looks like we have a problem to sort out as there’ll be more rain on the horizon.

Two Days Later

I had survived but it was pretty miserable for a couple of days. 

Luckily the village pharmacy was open on Boxing Day and we were able to buy some very effective cold tablets and, as it was raining all day, there was little to do but wallow.

After another twenty four hours it seemed the worst was over and while still heavily congested, I felt things were certainly much brighter.

Pity about the timing but not entirely surprising!

The Christmas Cold

Having fought off a cold since the beginning of December with extra vitamins, hand sanitizer and a refusal to be ill, Christmas Day was unfortunately accompanied with a very heavy head cold. It had won after all.

I soldiered on through the day with breakfast, presents, walking the dog and a delicious lunch and then it was game over as I sneezed and sneezed and sneezed and everything seemed to ache.

It’s fair to say I wasn’t the most fun and with nothing in the house except for a few soluble aspirin which barely touched the swollen glands, it was all a bit of challenge.

It was an early night with no sleep due to a temperature and an aching head and with Boxing Day rain, a day on the sofa.

I was not much fun!

The First Christmas Brocante

Over the summer we discovered a new source to feed the brocanting addiction, a small second-hand furniture shop just up the road from us where the pieces were exactly our style and prices were extremely reasonable.

We just happened to be driving past yesterday and so stopped for a look, as there’s always the chance of something new…

The Brocanting Gods were certainly on our side as we found a standard lamp, a lovely marble-topped side table, another slightly bigger marble-topped table for downstairs, a pot for the garden and a free lamp thrown in as a gift. All this for the bargain price of €120 after a bit of negotiating.

The new sherry table
A working standard lamp for €15
Big T’s €5 lamp now painted and waxed
One of our best finds… a €5 standard lamp

 Apart from losing the dog for a second who ran madly into the middle of the road causing panic all round, we drove home triumphantly to unload our new purchases.

A very naughty Welsh Terrier

A Very Rustic Christmas

I had packed all the decorations in my suitcase and upon arrival, unpacked everything and immediately decorated the tree.

We’d been given a lovely (and incredibly scented) wreath which fitted perfectly on to the mantlepiece (despite the challenge of packing it!) as well as some new Christmas ornaments. It was all feeling rather rustic for our first Christmas in our French house.

The Christmas Mantle with Welsh Terriers
Rustic Tree
Dried fruit and felt ornaments

The Airportr

With a large suitcase (by my standards) packed to the brim with Christmas (Yuletide) essentials, a pair of skis, poles, ski boots, a bag of clothes, Christmas presents and a laptop, I was faced with a first world conundrum. 

How to get across Central London to Gatwick airport on public transport?

Option 1: I could take a taxi but it usually takes longer.

Option 2: I could lug everything myself but required several flights of stairs and even I’m not that much of a glutton for punishment.

It was then I discovered the Airportr. Servicing British Airways and American Airlines (so far) Airportr picks up one’s luggage, checks it in and it arrives at the other end without having been carried up a single step. Brilliant!

For a worthy cost (£20 per bag) it seemed like the ideal solution and so I booked a collection.

My bags left home the evening before me, they were tagged and barcoded and my passport and boarding pass were scanned. All I had to do was get myself and my hand luggage to the airport in time for one of the busiest travel days of the year.

It was all ok until my phone rang at 5:45am with a man saying that BA wouldn’t let him check my bags as they needed to see my passport. Damn having several citizenships, it causes more hassle than it’s worth.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. I set off and arrived (for once) an hour later and met the Airportr chap at check in. My passport was checked and my bags were successfully checked in without me touching them once.

It was still money well spent especially as everything arrived (including skis) without a hitch in Nice.

Christmas in a suitcase!