The Great British Meltdown

Only a month or so since we were wrapped up in hundreds of layers for the late winter snow, we peeled off the layers and exposed delicate flesh to insane temperatures of 29 degrees. And it’s only April!

London, true to form, went wild.  

Camden was a seething hot bed of pink flesh and black leggings (ugh). Unkempt feet which hadn’t seen daylight in months were suddenly and shockingly exposed in sandals and it seemed like suddenly everyone was partially naked including a topless man wearing a woolly hat just outside my window at work.

For four glorious days this strange anomaly went on and of course, as temperatures rose, tempers frayed, skin was burned and everyone panicked about what to wear!

Luckily just before things got too crazy, the great heatwave of 2018 broke, the skies clouded over, temperatures went back below twenty degrees and things went back to normal.

It had been a strange week and did I mention it’s only April!

Another week, another weekend

Friday came around quickly, at 5:30am I left the house and was off to France for the weekend.

I had remote Fridays approved by my boss and so with a clear conscience, I was on email and working but also enjoying a warmer Friday afternoon in the garden. Not a bad way to work.

It was another productive weekend.

The father of Big T was staying for a week so after a lovely lunch with my first taste of bread for a week, we spent a busy Friday afternoon in the garden planting and cleaning, I had a video conference for work and then we knocked off and had an aperitif by the clean pool. It had been raining all week but as luck would have it, the skies had cleared and the weather was the perfect taste of Spring.

Saturday involved a trip to nearby Grasse where we went back o Fragonard, home of all things lovely. I spent all my pocket money on room diffusers, candles and a new bedspread for the Caretaker’s Cottage. Big T pointed out the exact pale pink bathmat I’d be searching for and even more money was spent. I’m sure we’re almost furnished but there always seems to be more… At least we don’t have to buy another bed or a sofa!

On the way home we stopped at our local brocante where I managed to find another bedside table for €15, too good a bargain to pass up. I didn’t have time to paint it but it fits perfectly in the Little Bedroom upstairs and I’m sure I’ll be able to find another to match! The dilemma now is whether to paint it white, grey, green or pink. Decisions, decisions.

The garden is progressing extremely well and more planting took place. Lavender, rosemary, pittosporum and more. The garden looks very different to how it looked last year, or even last week and we are enjoying it so much. When we first arrived, it was full of tired, dusty plants which had been tossed haphazardly into the ground. With careful planting, an eye for colour and texture, the garden is now much more designed and certainly Instagram-able. We really need to take some photos as things have changed so much.

Saturday night saw us back at the Auberge where we’ve enjoyed a few meals. This was no exception as we all had a good laugh, all ordered the same meal and all enjoyed ourselves immensely.

And so before long it was time to leave for the airport again. I just had time to cook dinner, change the sheets, make the beds, wash the clothes, load the dishwasher… and then it was back to London for a rest, I mean work!

Green Sofas and Musical Beds

Two weeks after they left London in the snow, the two large green sofas, several boxes and a new bed and mattress arrived in Le Rouret. If they could talk I suspect there had been adventures along the way.
It was late in the day on Saturday. We’d been hanging around all day waiting and were getting a little frustrated but finally the van arrived and after a great deal of huffing and puffing, two large green sofas were installed in the living room. They looked really good.
We’d already moved the duck egg sofa down to the Caretaker’s Cottage where it fitted perfectly (as I had carefully measured it first) and it looked very nice.
We unpacked the green sofas, plumped up the squishy cushions and sat down appreciating the softness. Then with shoes off we could each lie on a sofa or sit and talk across the room without sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. Just in time for guests to ruin!
It was an expense and we now own four sofas between France and London, but it was definitely worth it.
We took our glasses of wine and went downstairs to sit on the sofa there. The Caretaker’s Cottage is becoming very charming as it gradually takes shape and is a lovely little apartment perfect for a couple.
From where we started with two damp, leaf-strewn rooms which we couldn’t use, we’re really pleased with how it’s come together.
The next day we played musical beds as we moved the old bed downstairs and unpacked the new bed in the guestroom.
Although frustrating to dismantle bedframes, they had to be swapped as the old bed was blocking the window. I had ordered a bed with a headboard lower than the window frame and that problem was solved.
We now own two kingsize beds, three double beds, two rock ‘n rolling double air mattresses, two single beds, a folding camp bed and three dog beds between France and London.
That seems like a lot of beds!

Summer Bookings

As the Easter break progressed, the booking requests started to come in.

This summer we’re trying out renting the house through Airbnb while we camp out downstairs in the Caretaker’s Cottage. There will be pros and cons to this idea.
We now have bookings in July and August and only have one week left free in each month. My summer is going to involve a lot of washing and cleaning by the look of things.
The benefit to this is that we’ll make some money which will hopefully pay towards the big project, moving the stairs (more to come on that).
The downside is that we’ll be sitting downstairs listening to people swimming in our pool while we can’t. Hmm, it’s not a problem now but in August when it’s 35 degrees, it may be another story. And of course, people love to complain and I’m sure our rustic home may not please everyone, can’t wait for that!
In order to make life easier, I have stocked up on bedding for the house. With five beds to change, sheets to wash and a house to clean within a few hours, it’s essential to be well organised and that means having two sets of bedding for each bed. It’s really confusing as everything is white and there are three different sizes.
I now have boxes of bedding divided by size, (king, double and single) and will try and mark the sheets with a coloured thread to differentiate between them. Another useful tip I read was to put each set of bedding inside a pillowcase so one isn’t rifling through piles of white sheets in order to find the right size.
With eight bath towels, eight pool towels, sheets from five beds and sixteen pillowcases that’s a lot of laundry.
I must say my life is all glamour!

Up the Apples and Pears

When we bought the house we were made aware of an issue which had put off a number of buyers. The two bedrooms upstairs are adjoining and the stairs are in the wrong place.
It didn’t deter us as it didn’t really seem like a big deal.
If we have a family coming to stay, it’s a good solution for parents and kids as we give up our bedroom and move into one of the other rooms. There’s a family bathroom and it contains them on one floor!
As we’ve now spent time in the house, we do see a reason to move the stairs and separate the rooms with a hall. It would mean the master bedroom could have a lovely new bathroom and the Little Bedroom would have privacy and access to the bathroom downstairs so we had an architect round to have a look.
A local chap who works in Big T’s office came to have a look. Born and raised in the area, he’s familiar with the style of houses and knows how to work with the local builders and materials so he seemed like the right person to ask.
We talked about designs, weight-bearing issues and beams. We looked downstairs at the rather dubious foundations which have definitely been cobbled together over the centuries and we left him to come up with some brilliant solutions (we’re waiting to hear back from him).
It’s a fairly big job and involves closing up the ceiling where the staircase is currently, matching and patching the beams, raising the ceiling in the bathroom and gutting the interior. All costly stuff which hopefully the rental income will help towards.
If we’re able to do it later this year, it will make a massive difference to the house both in terms of usability and value provided the house doesn’t fall down in the meantime. Apparently there are some termites down there…
Dare I say, one step at a time?!

French Projects

A week in France means projects and as Big T had work to do, I was left to get on with some timely house projects as we get ready for summer guests and rentals.
Over the course of the week, I made six new cushion covers and have to ask myself how many cushions are too many?
We now have twelve cushions for the outdoor sofa and armchairs in stripes, pink and taupe. They are very comfortable but is it too many?
With the anticipated arrival of the two large green sofas, I suspect there’ll be more cushions on the horizon.
Another project on my list of things to do was to paint the Brady Bunch wall in the Little Bedroom upstairs.
It was a shiny brown wall made of wood panelling reminiscent of the 70s TV show when wood panelling was somehow acceptable. It had been bothering me since we bought the house and it was time to get it sorted out.
We’d talked about removing it but realised that could involve a surprise of what lay underneath so I took the path of least resistance, sanded it and armed with a can of paint, layered on white paint.
Shiny brown wood is hard to cover with thin French paint and five coats later, it was still looking a little patchy. My commitment was flagging and I declared it finished. What it needed was a final coat of rich, thick cream Farrow and Ball paint but perhaps that’s a job for someone else (hint hint).
The room looked much lighter and brighter and I was pleased that job was done. All that’s missing are bedside tables and the Little Bedroom is done.