Happy New Year

So apologies for the lateness in this update and the slight venting, but it’s just been one thing after another here.

When I left you Dad had just returned to the UK and I was getting stuck into work again but always here things take way longer than planned to do and each thing I try and do invariably brings up 10 other things that have to be done first.

A few, what shall I call them??? Disasters? Surprises? Hmmm let’s settle on opportunities.

So first up the wood burner. There I was feeling quite pleased with myself that I’d got the hang of this fire malarky when we had a really cold snap (minus temps overnight). Went to light my fire on first day of cold and it wouldn’t catch even though I was using about 5 firelighters. End result was the living room filling up with smoke with smoke and CO alarms going off. Of course all this meant that I had to open all the doors and windows to vent the smoke out losing any heat I’d built up. Long story short, turns out, the chimney isn’t lined (another job to add to the list) so there was just too much cold air in the chimney acting as blockage, stopping it draw. So now when there is a cold snap I have to keep the fire going 24/7 and each time I get up in the night I go and check on the fire – makes for a long night! Below is a picture of how bad the smoke got. While the lights aren’t to my taste they are what I have for now and believe it or not there is a third one hidden in the smoke. Oh and it still leaks when it rains (see photo 2)

What next? The car. Got up one Saturday to go and teach a private yoga class (my first with new client) and the car is all iced up, on the inside. I can’t get the boot open cos the lock is frozen in which sits my can of de-icer. Manage to scrap a port-hole big enough to drive and make my way to the class while the ice melts and drips all over me. When I finally get the boot open the de-icer has frozen to the mat in the back.   So off I go to the garage to book it in and of course it’s not covered by the warranty (grrrhhh). I leave the car in the garage for a week to pick up on my return from the UK. Garage calls on Boxing Day to say they hadn’t finished the work so can I take the car back? Deep breaths…..

Oh and wait til I tell you about my electricity and conversations with EDF. I now know more about electricity and amps and power than I ever thought I would need to. As some of the rooms were starting to take shape I thought it would be a good idea to fit some lovely shiny new efficient radiators. Oh the excitement of having more than one radiator in the house and heat in the gite where I was camped out. But no, I don’t have enough power coming into my house to run all the radiators I had bought and have lights, tv and kettle on at the same time. And as for washing machine well forget that unless I turn all the radiators off. So technician was booked for 14th December only he doesn’t turn up because they choose that day to go on strike (I know, the French on strike, as if). Appointment is rebooked for 26th December. Great excitement again in anticipation of all the lovely heat that is to come and being able to use the kettle (yes I know I can boil a saucepan of water but more on that later). But no, he takes one look at the cable coming into my house, scratches his head makes a few phone calls and say ‘sorry it can’t be done, you need a new cable’. Oh says I. When can you do that? About 8-10 weeks and it’ll cost you around €500 (!!!!!!!!!) but we won’t charge you for todays visit. Well gee thanks.

Suffice to say 5 phone calls and 6 emails later I’m still waiting for the official quote for the work which of course cannot be scheduled until I’ve paid for the work in advance. The good news is that they are coming on Tuesday to do the quote. Quite why they need to come out and visit when the technician took loads of photos is beyond me.

Lovely radiators that one day I’ll be able to switch on….

Enough already. But no I’m not quite finished yet. Got back from a flying pre-Christmas trip to the UK to find Merlot has a bit of a lump on his face. Assume he’s had yet another fight and don’t worry too much as he’s eating, drinking and doesn’t seem bothered by it at all. Well a few day ago it suddenly got much bigger so yesterday morning we went to the vets. A traumatic experience at the best of times as my gentle old man usually turns into a wild creature with about 10 legs trying to get him in the cat box but yesterday he was very calm. Ended up having to leave him there while he had to have an operation (cue more €€€€€) to have an abscess drained. Picked him up yesterday evening and he was looking very sorry for himself, he tried to walk when I got him out of the box but cos the anesthetic was still working his back legs gave way so I tucked him up in bed and let him sleep. Now all I have to do is get the antibiotics down him twice a day for 10 days……..

I think it’s about time for some good news. But first up I did say I’d come back to using the saucepan in lieu of the kettle. We (me plus Christine and Eric who’d come for Christmas and New Year) get up on Christmas Day to warm the croissants – cooker won’t light! Eventually it lights but the max we can get is the equivalent to gas mark one – having just adjusted all the jets so it works well I have no idea. So opening wine and using what heat we have, the wood burner and all the rings we start cooking our dinner around 10am and sit down to eat at 3.30pm! Still no idea what the problem is but next up is to check the regulator……

After all that excitement, in true Christine and Eric style they donned their work clothes and got stuck in. And by New Years Eve I had a lovely painted bedroom to go with the bathroom that’s almost finished and a cabinet already for a sink to be fitted. This was no mean feat as it is impossible for me to paint as I’m just far too short to reach the ceilings and the tops of the walls. I can only just about reach on my tippy toes on the top rung of the ladder. I don’t have a before photo of the cabinet but if I tell you it took Christine 3 days of cleaning with sugar soap and brasso before we could wax and polish it will give you some idea of how dirty it was.

It’ll have a sink one day/Lovely cleaned and waxed beams./A working non-leaking shower.

This week I’ve been out with Builder Dave fitting a shower (how I’ve gone from a health and safety advisor to this I’ve no idea) and getting what will be my bedroom ready for us to start on Monday. Under pressure to have this done as the plasterer returns on 20th March to do this room. A simple job of just clearing the tools etc until whilst re-routing the telephone and electric cable we discover the remains of a very large pole cat nest.

So at the moment all work on the other rooms has to stop. Well that’s not entirely true as there is a list as long as my arm to do but it will have to wait because of plaster and because I can’t lay the floor until he’s finished……….

And smelly shower room is no more! We smashed it out in preparation for installation of the upstairs bathroom. And what did we discover? Only that there has apparently been a leak for years, so all the plasterboard and insulation behind the tiles was soaking wet – could even wring out the insulation. But best bit was that the shower had no trap! Yes you read that right, no trap. I didn’t even think that was possible…

And so the work continues but I can now see the end of the upstairs and would hope it will be finished by May (ish) ………………

Until next time……

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