This evening I saw three flats. Let the flat hunting begin!

I’m focusing on Maida Vale and Little Venice so off I went to see three mansion flats, that is, flats built in purpose-built blocks built by the Edwardians.

It was a very different world to our current reality, the streets were clean, the people were professional and while two of the flats were out of our price range, suddenly I felt excited about moving.

Of course I should mention the third flat was a complete shithole, needed a complete refurb and is within our price range. Sound familiar?

I’m seeing three more flats tomorrow and then, with Big T arriving for a week, we’ll go back for second viewings.

More to come…

London has melted

It’s official. Having gone to M&S this evening, I discovered that all the fridges had broken and there was no cold food.

I was forced, that’s right, forced to buy a bottle of tonic water and a packet of crisps. Lucky for me I had gin and green soup at home!

Can we have the real London back please? Hot London can’t handle it!


Coming home from work I discovered a sold sign on our For Sale board.

Seems a bit preemptive as we haven’t even got our solicitor onboard but if things are going to move quickly, it’s a good thing I’m off to see four flats after work tomorrow!

Another working weekend

Another weekend… another weekend of cleaning.

I arrived with very glamorous luggage consisting of replacement mop heads, sponges and rubber gloves. It was all systems go.

All the cupboards were emptied, the bedding was all organised according to size and each set of sheets was folded inside a pillowcase, a very handy tip from the internet.

Everything was cleaned and/or bleached as we move downstairs next weekend with the Russian invasion. Eyes on the prize as hopefully we’re going to use the Russian money to buy new gates.

Imagining our fancy new remote-controlled wrought iron gates!

Summer Solstice

It was the longest day, light till 10:30pm and then after that, it’s all downhill. As Big T reminds me, it’s the beginning of winter and it won’t be long before it’s dark at 3pm!

In the meantime, it’s light at 4am so sleep is a luxury and going to bed reminds me of being a child when it was still broad daylight outside.

It feels like a long and lovely summer so far.

An offer on the table

Crikey, an offer on the table and it looks like we’re taking it!

Just when it seemed like we had no more renovations to do, no more furniture to buy and no more major projects on the horizon (as if!) we’re now going to have to start flat hunting in London if all goes through or we’ll be homeless!

Of course in the UK, sales can fall apart, chains can stagnate for months (or years) or the buyer may simply change their mind and pull out with no repercussions. What a crazy system.

It’s early days yet but we’ll be contacting our solicitor tomorrow to get the ball rolling.


Lavender Fields in Provence

Having travelled extensively around the South of France with many trips to Provence, we’ve never quite timed it right to see the lavender fields in bloom. The lavender in the garden had started to flower and it seemed like it was the right time to go.

We decided we would take a day off, pack up a picnic and drive into Provence in search of lavender, after all, it really is synonymous with Provence.

We set off early before the day heated up and headed towards Moustiers-Ste-Marie. It was a couple of hours before we arrived in a picturesque village built into towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls providing a dramatic backdrop.

We stopped in a small square for coffee before meandering through the streets. Known for its distinctive blue and white pottery, we admired the wares but resisted the temptation as a fridge would have to take priority.

Having seen a lot of lovely villages in France, this was certainly one of the most beautiful and would certainly be one we would recommend or return to.

From Moustiers we set off in search of lavender and took the route towards Valensole. Almost immediately fields of lavender appeared, the distinctive balls of green and purple arranged row after row.

We stopped on the side of a field and set up our picnic in the shade. The clay was wet and heavy and clung to the soles of our shoes inches thick. It had been a wet spring!

We sat and ate our lunch before taking the obligatory photos walking through rows of lavender. Buzzing bees mingled with the sound of motorbikes as the road had the kind of curves sought by the Sunday enthusiast.

After lunch things went a little wrong with my navigational skills as we ended up doing a rather extended tour of the region and certainly more than we intended. We saw lots and lots of lavender fields, lots of scarlet poppies and lots of purple sage filling the eyes with colour and the nose with pollen. It was a saturation of the senses.

Valensole was a lovely village with a busy square and would certainly be worth another look, had we not driven through another twenty or so lovely villages! Gréoux les Bains had the faded charm of an old spa town with elegant hotels and a large casino. More to discover about both the town and the region.

The day was now very hot and memories of driving through Provence in a hot, sticky Mini came flooding back. Yes, I remember now, I think I used to sit on a towel.

The dog was suffering so much she gave up standing with her head out of the window and lay motionless on the back seat, a picture of furry misery. We were all very hot and tired as the journey seemed endless.

Eventually we made it home and staggered out of the car. I cooled off in the pool, Big T cooled off with a large G&T and the dog perked up enough to enjoy a game with the hose pipe but seemed somewhat shelled shocked. We’d enjoyed the day but felt we’d done too much, quel surprise!

And so it was an early night for these intrepid but not very hardy explorers as it was another early start back to London for the working week and a chance to recover from the working weekend!

The Weekend TO DO list

Every weekend seems like a massive TO DO list and this was no exception. As the Airbnb deadlines loom, we are running out of time to get things ready.

There are things we can’t fix like cracks in the old walls and a broken mirror which was cemented into the wall in the bathroom (before the wall settled) and so our focus is on getting everything clean and tidy rather than perfect. Despite that, it seems endless!

This weekend we discovered how to change a lightbulb in a swimming pool without being electrocuted. Actually it wasn’t as hard as we thought and the replacement bulb wasn’t too expensive. Standing waist deep in water with an adjustable spanner removing the connectors from a large light bulb, we weren’t entirely sure what was going to happen but apparently swimming pool light bulbs don’t have the same effect as dropping a hair dryer in the bath. Good to know.

We went to look at new fridges as we have a relic from the 1980s which doesn’t really reflect the concept of “boutique hotel” and really needed to be replaced twenty years ago. We bought lots of cheap wine glasses, guaranteed to be broken and even more crockery and cutlery. How many forks are enough?

We managed to find a pet sitter for the Little Dog so Big T can come to London and have a break from a group of Russians who have booked to stay for two weeks. We met a very nice family near Valbonne who look after dogs and are happy to have Agnes to stay. We stressed that Agnes can’t be trusted and if a gate is left open, that will be the last they see of her. Hopefully all goes well when the time comes.

We did a lot of packing up in the kitchen so that drawers and cupboards are cleaned and not full of old elastic bands, candles and miscellaneous crap. And then there was the relentless gardening which Big T tackled with a new hedge trimmer as it seems things insist on growing enormous due to a very wet Spring and it seems as though we’re constantly pruning.

While we did a lot of work, we also managed to enjoy a little of the weekend with an evening spent in Cannes on Thursday, a very nice (and exorbitant) G&T at the Carlton Hotel started the weekend off and then on Sunday, having worked and worked and worked, we decided to go to see the lavender fields in Provence, something we’d never done properly before and that was completely exhausting!

And so with less than two weeks (and only one weekend) we have a lot to do!

Back to London and more work…

Welsh Terriers can’t fly

We had spent a very pleasant evening in Cannes having a drink at the very swanky Carlton Hotel followed by dinner in the backstreets where things were a little more reasonable and people-watching was a little more real.

From there we decided to drive around Cap d’Antibes and enjoy the golden light of the sunset, something we don’t always take the time to enjoy.

Agnes, as usual, was standing on my lap with front legs hanging over the side of the car. the top was down, the wind blowing in our fur and hair respectively when suddenly Agnes jumped or slipped and was completely out of the car. Hanging on by her collar I managed to wrangle her back into the car, there wasn’t time to think, it was pure reaction. Luckily we all kept our cool and we didn’t end up with a small and rather squashed Welsh Terrier on the road but it was a lesson learned by all.

A hand will always hold the collar, two legs outside the vehicle are the maximum allowed and we suspect Agnes may have been a bit scared and might refrain from jumping out of a moving car with the roof down… time will tell.

Apart from that, it was a lovely evening very much enjoyed by all.

Tragedy averted.

The First Paying Guests

We had our first paying guests downstairs, a German couple and a dog, and all seems to have gone well.

Luckily I wasn’t there as I’m far too uptight about how people look after our stuff and luckily Big T was there to catch the dog when she ran out of the gates and down the road…

The worst thing that happened (we think) was Big T finding a cigar butt by the pool which seemed to indicate a certain lifestyle choice. I don’t even want to know what was going on… best not to think about it and wash the sheets on a very hot wash.

Too much information

Other than that, the Germans left on the dot of 10am as promised and the occupation was over.