Thursday, February 25, 2010

Man Flu

Hubby called from Montreal yesterday to tell me he was laid up with the stomach flu. He said he had to leave work in a hurry!!
You can guess what that means. Anyway he was in his bed feeling very sorry for himself and I hope I sounded sympathetic but you know how it is ladies.........

I just hope he doesn't bring me a little gift when he comes home for the weekend.

I just had a thought, we have challenged each other to lose some weight before our next trip to France. The lengths some people will go to!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's a Done Deal

We have booked the tickets and are all set for our week in France in April. After all that research I had done on the complicated plans to go to France via the UK (hubby's idea) to pick up hubby's new passport!! he then decided it was far too time consuming (and exhausting.....and complicated) so I researched going directly to Paris and driving down, and what do you know, it was a lot less expensive. Strangely it was also much less costly to rent a car for the entire week, returning it back to the same pick up location than just renting for the journey down, using our little blue van for the week, and then renting just for the journey back, almost half as expensive in fact! Also this plan also allows us to stop en route to pick up some stuff. This time around we want to try and get a washing machine and a heated towel rail. I know, exciting or what?! No wonder the visitors to my blog have dropped off drastically (if the comments are anything to go by) but these are the things that make up my existence!

Anyway hubby wants to buy one of those strange French (?)/European (?) top loading machines. All I can think when I see one is "can I get a decent load in there....will a duvet fit in?" If anyone has any comments or input on that, do pass it along. I couldn't find a photo of one but I am sure you French dwellers know what I mean. You lift the lid, then you open the drum. The drum seems very small but we do have limited space where it is going to be installed and most of the time it will just be the two of us.

So another mind-bogglingly fascinating post from SITH. I am sure you have now concluded I really am soft in the head. :)

I am sure you look at the first picture and wonder at my longing to be back there, but then I look at the one above and cannot wait to see that view through my new french doors. I do however love the old windows and hope to be able to recycle them somehow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On The Road Again...

Gone are the days when you went to your travel agent to book your holidays. No, it is yet another skill I have had to master. And believe me the logistics of getting from Burlington, Canada to Limoges, France are not for the feint hearted. So I have spent a good part of the last few days doing just that, all the different scenarios, leaving on this or that date, stop overs, car rentals, connecting flights and all on a shoestring of course. Also I have to maximize time away, satisfy hubby's desire to be in France while not being away from work too long, pacifying the two (2!) lots of people I work with.

So this is what I have finally nailed down - leaving Friday afternoon (once hubby has returned same day from Montreal!) arriving in London at the crack of Saturday morning. Pick up car rental and rush down to the south coast to see the in-laws and pick up hubby's new passport. Up the next morning again at the crack of dawn to head back to Stansted for our flight to Limoges. Hopefully be picked up in Limoges by our wonderful neighbours and hence finally arriving at our little piece of France Sunday afternoon. All of course with jet lag!!

Spend a productive five days in France, looking out through our lovely new windows, admiring the beautiful ceiling and discussing the next stage with our builders. We would also love to be able to see our staircase installed but have been warned not to hold our breath on that matter.

Return to UK on Saturday, pick up another rental car, meet up with friends and hopefully cadge a room for the night, up at the crack of dawn Sunday morning to catch our fight back to Canada. Once back in Toronto, wave hubby off on his fight back to Montreal. All for the very reasonable cost of just over $2000!! Travel has certainly got a lot more expensive since we bought the house!

Anyone having anything helpful to suggest, please do - only polite suggestions please :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Then and Now

Hazel over at Mud Walls & Beams gave me a great idea for today's post. Hazel and her husband, Richard, are a further down the road on their "living the dream" project than we are and she posted some photos to show just how far they have come. They are now living in France full-time so they have had the time to make so much progress and we are very envious, but know that one day soon, we will be in the same position. Their house looks absolutely gorgeous and it gives me inspiration.

When we first saw our house, it was looking quite sad and even the estate agent's ad was entitled "Save Me"! But we were immediately smitten and could see all the potential. You couldn't actually approach the house from the rear or open any windows due to all the many years of overgrowth. That's Mark, our estate agent, in the picture.

I remember how we spent the days after closing (several months later than the above photo, so even more overgrown) clearing all of that overgrowth. Notice also the dilapidated roof.

This is how it looked this summer, two years on. New roof, new dormers, cleared overgrowth, but still plenty of ivy, that really is being a bugger to get rid of and we spent many hours when we were there in December removing yet more of it, it is actually growing in the wall, we cut all the roots a while back thinking that would kill it off.

And this is the rear wall just a few weeks ago, almost ready for rendering. We are hoping to be able to remove the last few bits (and any new growth) when we are back next time, hopefully in April, and get the wall rendered and the area cleared to start a patio. This spot is a real sun trap so we plan to build a gazebo/pergola type construction to provide some shade with roses, jasmine and honeysuckle - doesn't that sound heavenly?

In the first two pictures you can see the door in the rear of the kitchen and the window on the side. As I write, work is underway to change these over so that we will have french doors on the side where the window is and a window in the rear, where the door is currently located. Stand by for more photos.

Thanks for the inspiration Hazel, doing this post has reinforced that we have come a long way, even though there is still a way to go.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Back Again So Soon?

Yes but I have just finished a wonderful bookand wanted to share. It is "The Girls" by Lori Lansens. It is a fictional "autobiography" of conjoined twin girls. I know it sounds like a strange topic, but it was a lovely book, one that I did not want to finish. My daughter belongs to book club and this is where she heard about it. They read a very eclectic selection of books which isn't always my cup of tea and I will read most things, but this one was a hit.

While I think of it I read another great book recently, again not necessarily a topic I would select in the book shop, again came to me through my daughter, and again one I didn't want to finish, I wanted to carry on reading about those characters. That to me is always the sign of a lovely book. "Through Black Spruce" by Joseph Boyden. A story about a first nations family and how their traditions are sometimes at odds with modern day life in Canada. That sounds like a very dry revue but it was really interesting and I couldn't put the book down.

One of my all time favourite stories is "The Raj Quarter" by Paul Scott. This was made into the classic BBC programme "The Jewel in the Crown" which is a fabulous watch, I have watched itmany times, a beautifully made drama, actually made back in the 80's I think but it doesn't look dated at all, and the books are just as wonderful and evocative of that time in British history. I bought the set for my daughter for Christmas. Do let me know if you have any good recommendations as I am looking for my next read.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hello February - Roll on Spring

It's hard to believe it is a month since we were in France and over a month since Christmas. We continue to have unseasonably mild weather here in Southern Ontario, with the temperatures hovering around freezing rather than plunging below so no complaining there.

Hubby just started his new job in Montreal and is currently apartment hunting, preferably downtown so that the rest of the family can enjoy weekends in the thick of things close to great bars, restaurants and great shopping. I love that city - although it isn't very temping at the moment as the temperatures are a little more "normal" for the time of year at around -10 C.

The family is taking advantage of our last year here in Canada and are booking their holidays, Dad to be here over Easter and Mother here for a week in May. And friends muttering about booking flights!

We have given the go ahead for work to commence in France and still planning to be there sometime in March, hopefully to coincide with the staircase installation (sorry if I am repeating myself but pretty excited about that particular milestone!).

Not much else of note happening. Just working my two jobs which does not leave room for much else. Almost time to start thinking about taxes etc.

What a boring post, sorry will try better next time. :)