Bobble hats and flip flops

Poised at the end of the hottest summer in forty years and there’s some wardrobe confusion going on.

I saw people wearing bobble hats and other people wearing flip flops. Surely it’s not that extreme!

I haven’t started the transition yet, it still feels warm to me and with just the addition of the obligatory cardigan to start the Autumn layering, I think there’s a little more to come.

Not ready for coats and woolly hats just yet!

The pitter patter of little scratchy feet

It was a strange and not entirely pleasant coincidence that, having bashed a small hole in the bathroom ceiling (roof with a view) we woke early to the sound of something scratching above us.

Perhaps, (we thought optimistically) it was a bird outside on the tiled roof but as dawn broke, we realised it was much more likely to be a rodent of some sort pitter pattering above us. It sounded quite large…

Later, I thought I would wash the dog in the bathroom only to hear a strange hissing noise (I sincerely hope it was the toilet) but am now too scared to go into the bathroom in case something jumps on me from above.

Apparently the gates will not be our last project for the year.


Above us only sky

The upstairs bathroom ceiling was looking suspiciously saggy and there was a very large crack across it.

We had discussed (in the future) removing the flat ceiling to give us more height and to go into the angled roof and so, fortified with a glass of Pernod (such a good idea) we cut out a small piece of the ceiling to have a look inside.

It quickly became apparent that things were not as they should be.

Light streamed through the tiles in at least four places and it’s a mystery how the ceiling hadn’t collapsed about ten years ago.

On the plus side, the bathroom isn’t part of the main roof but it certainly looks as though we’ll be ripping out the ceiling, fixing the roof and making good (my least favourite term) the insulation and plaster.

On a negative side, it looks like we might have the same issue with the small upstairs bedroom but frankly, I’m too scared to look!

Bird’s eye view over Nice!


The Secret Garden

Today we started work on the secret garden, or rather the side garden we have been referring to as “Mosquito Coast.” Yes, the first name is rather apt for a reason.

Living in London a garden is a premium and we couldn’t bear the thought of an area not being used. The side garden is at least twice the size of our tiny London courtyard and it seemed like such a waste so we’d been thinking about what we could do.

We had seen a lovely garden at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and decided it was the perfect inspiration for Mosquito Coast.

With a piece of string, white paint and a few tools we started mapping out our new side garden. Our challenge being that we have a gradient and everything slopes to one side.

A paved seating area leading to a water feature (perfect for breeding), winding paths and wild Provencal planting. We had a plan.

Still, day one and we had the first circle roughed out for the breakfast seating area, connecting paths and a vision of what it was all going to look like.

The Secret Garden, work in progress.

Gates and more gates

We went off to research more gates and before long we discovered La Maison de Portails. A new word learned, Portails. Gates. Good to know.

We have now looked at more gates than we can poke a remote control at and with varying prices ranging from almost €5,000 to €2,500 there doesn’t seem to be much of a contest. Best price wins.

It’s all very complicated. Try discussing how you’re going to run the electricity from the carport up the flower bed in French when you speak at the speed of a three year old. Challenging to say the least.

Finally we found nice gates on sale at yet another shop and with our newfound knowledge of gates including the portillon (the small side gate) we were off and running.

Hopefully that’s the research done and we can get these gates sorted.


Last of the Summer Whine

The last guests left yesterday. They were exceedingly nice and we ended on a high (we hope). As we waved goodbye and closed the gate, we all jumped up and down with excitement.

The Little Dog tore off around the corner to reclaim her garden whilst we went upstairs to inspect the damage.

The house was clean and tidy, only a few loads of laundry to do and the pool was looking tempting. We spent the rest of the day reclaiming our home, doing the gardening and washing in between swimming and before long, it was as if it had never happened!

Shut the Front Gate

We decided it was time to look for new gates. We have old broken wooden gates which have been repeatedly patched until they’re literally held together with bits of metal. While it’s tempting to keep adding to this art installation, it seems we’re heading towards new gates.

Saturday saw us heading off to Casterama, a huge DIY superstore near Antibes to start the process of looking for fancy new wrought iron gates, a must-have in the South of France.

Gates do not come cheap it would seem as we found the gates we liked, then needed to add the motorisation, then the installation and finally the fee for someone to visit the site to tell us if we can install said gates. It all adds up but hopefully it’s a one time installation. Gates for life.

Looks like this will be our last French project for a while as we’ve ticked a lot off the list this summer including new lights, pots and a large umbrella for the garden thanks to our airbnb guests.


After a few weeks of waiting, Big T launched a charm offensive on the seller of the shithole/perfect flat I’d seen in Maida Vale.

We couldn’t afford it and knew it would need a lot of work so we waited a few weeks before going in with our absolute best offer and the irresistible charm of Big T.

We were pretty sure the answer would be “no!” And we would be stretching to get there anyway… but it just felt right and who can resist the charming T?!

This morning there was a call from the seller accepting our offer. Holy Cat Piss Batman, what just happened?!

Of course now we need to push our sale through fast, push our mortgage through and make this happen quickly before anyone (including me) gets cold feet!

I have a strange sense of deja vu, renovating in winter anyone?

This should get interesting!

The Next Step

Things had gone quiet on the sale of the flat. I was starting to be concerned and followed up with the solicitor.

That seemed to get things moving as an email came back with questions and clarifications.

So that was good. Onward and hopefully upward.