Renovating in France


Hello Dear Reader,

After a week of on and off rain, it’s been great to throw open every door and window and enjoy the sunshine. Above is the view of our open plan living area. My thrifted sofa is covered in blankets as the dogs have commandeered it for themselves. The board is across the bottom of the Stairs to stop the dogs going up.

In between the showers yesterday, I laundered and dried all the towels and bedding and today did the same with our clothes.

Whilst I’ve got on with fussing the dogs, cooking and laundry, Dearly Beloved has made a start on the dividing wall. 

He’d done a lot more by the end of the day but here’s the start. The top floor use to be a self contained studio apartment but it’ll be two separate bedrooms when he’s finished. He does the building and I do the insulation and painting. The garden fence has served as balustrade around the stairs so we didn’t fall down them. They will of course be replaced!

I added the photo below, later in the day.


I made homity pie for supper and tomorrow’s lunch. We’ll eat it with salad. We are still eating at home, I really enjoy having time to cook and amble to the local shop just for a bunch of parsley if I didn’t have any.

To make it, I rolled out gluten free pastry (supermarket ready made!) 

Inside.

1 large tin a new potatoes – roughly chopped – 800g of cooked potatoes 

2 onions and 8 cloves of garlic – chopped and gently sautéed in some olive oil until soft. Don’t cook garlic on a high heat, it’ll burn.

6 florets of broccoli, gently steamed – you could use leeks or spinach, I had half a head of broccoli left.

200g of grated emmental or mature cheddar

Salt and pepper

Handful of chopped parsley

200ml of double cream (or the nearest I could get here in France – crème de Normandie- Entière )

Toss the lot together and pour into the pastry case. 

Bake at 180/200 for 40 minutes. It’s creamy, cheesy and loaded with garlic. O

I use a heavy metal deep quiche dish so I don’t blind bake.

Another day in thrifty homemade France.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Busy doing nothing

Hello Dear Reader,

This weekend, we’ve not done a lot.

We had a night out with friends in a local restaurant- I had moules. Today, i popped to the supermarket and I’m always impressed with the outdoor launderette in the car park. 

We’ve had a very lazy weekend.

We’ve had a lot of weather. Sun, rain, sun, rain, rain, thunder, sun. I’ve still washed and dried all the towels and bedding.

We’ve had big cloudy sky but warm rain and plenty of dog walks. 

Everywhere is covered in flowers.

Our local supermarket has the most delicious food.

Nectarines 

Plenty of peppers

Lettuce

Ready made love lunches.

Tomatoes 

Langoustines 

Fish

Le type of fish 

Carrots and parsley.

Today, lovely friends came for coffee and homemade, gluten free lemon drizzle cake.

Tomorrow, the holiday stops for a while as we start building work on a dividing wall. 

I’ll need cake for that!

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Keeping clean on a budget 

                       

Hello Dear Reader,

Not knowing how to do something does not make someone stupid. People grow up unable to cook, budget, make do and mend, thrift and so on. They are not stupid. There are some experiences that people don’t have until they need to and then they have to learn. No one should ever be condemned, shamed or blamed but some people haven’t had the experience of keeping clean on a minuscule budget. Currently, in the U.K. Families are having to cut back on hygiene as they can’t afford to keep clean. Now, we can add hygiene poverty to, heating poverty, food poverty, water poverty and period poverty.

I’m not referring to issues such as buying cheaper shower gel but not being able to afford to heat water or pay the water bill! People of my age remember the Rayburn, parkray or emmersion heater being cranked up on a Sunday night, pushing the financial boat out to fill and turn on the paraffin heater in the bathroom and that was the weekly bath! The rest of the week was a ‘strip wash’. Younger people, may never have learned these skills.

Hair was washed in the bathroom sink with two ‘fill ups’ for a couple of rinses and that was that. Now, I’m not suggesting anyone relives the 70s and 80s with me as I think people are genuinely cleaner now for a daily shower. However, people are living in desperate times where  food and living costs means they have very little money for personal hygiene.

Here, for what it’s worth are my tips and feel free to ignore them.

Basics – I don’t buy a lot of toiletries and happily use soap bars, shampoo, talc and anti perspirant and I buy those in Poundland. Even cheaper versions would be a litre of bath gel which is no different from shower gel for 50p. I used it for years and topped up shower gel bottles and hand wash pumps. I currently use Vosene shampoo from Poundland but I used to use Tesco everyday basics shampoo that’s 50p a litre. I buy anti perspirant for a Pound and get through a can a week. Lidl and Aldi have really large cans for 79p, that I pick up when I’m there. The only other product I use is Aldi’s moisturiser for £1.69 and that can last me almost a month.

Water costs – I live in the South West Water area and we have the most expensive water in the UK so I’m used to saving water. I have a gas boiler which heats water on demand and have previously owned an electric shower which also heated water on demand. I have the cheapest tariff for gas and electric and I pay by direct debit. I never leave a tap running, I’m used to jumping in a cold shower and not wasting water whilst it warms up and washing head to toe, including my hair in under five minutes and jumping out. Here in France, we have a tiny hot water tank and we still have to have very quick showers so we can get two showers out of one small tanks. 

Short of water and means of heating it. If you have a prepayment meter and you have the lowest of incomes then a shower is not an affordable daily option. Growing up, many of us didn’t have showers and managed to keep clean.


Above, is my bathroom sink (from our previous home, before we downsized) and I kept a bowl in the sink as I used the water to flush the loo. I used to keep a kettle on the landing and use a kettle full of boiling water to warm up a bowl of cold water. 

First, I’d wash my hair and then in the second rinse water, wash myself from top to bottom with a flannel and bar of soap.  I used to put the loo lid down, place the bowl on the floor to finish by washing my feet. Again, the water went down the loo. Three bowlfuls would be the most I’d need, that’s about seven litres of water. I went to work fresh and clean and I used to shower twice a week. 

Now, I shower daily, have enough hot water, enough toiletries but I’m mindful that people are going through tough times. Local foodbanks are grateful for donations of any: toiletries, sanitary protection, laundry products, loo rolls and cleaning products. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Thrifty food for holidays 


Hello Dear Reader,

We know how to live! DB went to Brico Dépôt in Morlaix with a friend today to buy materials for a dividing wall we’re building on the top floor. I stayed behind and cut the hedge at the back of the house.

Lunch was a baked potato with salad and dinner was egg, chips, beans and bread and butter for DB, without the bread for me. 

Even though we’re on holiday, we have meatless days, an ‘on toast’ day or a beans day And just like at home, have something ‘nice’ once a week.

Last night, I made pasties for supper with scones and clotted cream for dessert.


At home, beef flank, or skirt as it’s known is a cheap meat and is used in pasties, here it’s a cut of meat that’s called a bavette steak and it’s cheaper than entrecôte but still expensive. I bought ready made pastry which was surprisingly cheap and made gluten free pastry for me.

They were very popular and one guest ate two, so it must have ok.


Here’s a pasty recipe for you.

Tomorrow, we’ll go on another trip to Brico Dépôt for the rest of the supplies for the wall. Whilst DB is gone, I’ll look after the dogs and get some painting done. 

It’s all go here!

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Feeding friends


Hello Dear Reader,

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that remind people of home. I made pasties for friends. 

Some to eat last night and some to takeaway. 

I bought readymade French pastry that worked really well. Every one seemed to like them.

My odd looking pasty is made of my gluten free pastry that’s impossible to crimp. They tasted lovely though.

Until tomorrow 

Love Froogs xxxx

Sunshine, sunbathing and snoozing 


Hello Dear Reader,

The sun came out this afternoon and we just sat and read in the garden. We have plenty to do but we’re just taking a couple of days off first. We went to the supermarket this morning to get what we needed and had to be judicious and well planned as food prices are really high and we’ll need to menu plan just as we normally do. Anything gluten free is hugely expensive so I’m going to eat carb free for a while.

The fluffies get hot easily so we always sit in the shade or make shade for them. I didn’t read much and fell asleep in the sun. 

I’m going to be busy tomorrow with pasties and cream teas at our place for friends. A bit of Cornwall in Huelgoat. I had to hunt for swedes which are essential for pasties and beef skirt is bavette steak and really expensive here but it’ll all be worth it when they’re made.

Here’s our lazy, easy supper of ham salad that we ate in the garden.


I tried to make gluten free scones but the flour I had was just cornflour so they were more cakes than scones. I’ve been told where I can buy gluten free flour nearby and I’ll get something me better flour tomorrow.


This was the flour I used today and I’ll use it up in cakes or brownies so I can be sociable and have something nice to offer with tea or coffee.

Until tomorrow 

Love Froogs xxxxx

Lazy day in Brittany 


Hello Dear Reader,

It’s day one and  at at home at one pm this afternoon,  I didn’t know which day it was. It’s been a very lazy day of dog walking, coffee drinking, a bit of gardening and unpacking and tidying. It’s so very quiet here, no roaring A38, no busy car park outside our front room, no cars parked by my  bedroom window just birds in the forests and not a lot else. 


The dogs have slept and slept and I’ve just pottered about. We’ve caught up with friends and a massive thanks to Simon and Suzie for cooking supper for us last light. They are wonderful dog rescuers with 19 dogs who live in rural doggy heaven along with rescued chickens, rabbits, donkeys and cats. It’s a very friendly menagerie with very good food.

Work starts tomorrow when we go off to Brico depot to buy wood, plasterboard for our next stud wall, then whilst DB builds, I’ll be painting. The sooner we get the work done, the sooner we can relax.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Huelgoat


Hello Dear Reader,

We arrived very late last night after a rough crossing and I  felt particularly sick. I’m better after a night’s sleep and dry toast cures everything.  Not going to do much today, watch the last day of the Tour de France and some slow and steady unpacking. Lunch is a cottage pie I brought with us and dinner tonight is courtesy of lovely friends who’ve invited us.

We’re aiming to get out walking tomorrow, rain or shine!

Today, is just about getting our breath back.

See you tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Choosing a British run French Gite

Hello Dear Reader,

We’ve rented holiday accommodation in Brittany previously and had a mobile home on a site, a beach side holiday apartment and a rural gite so we’ve rented from the French and the English. When we rented from the English family. The French neighbour who was the key holder, did their cleaning and looked after us….didn’t speak a word of English but she was an utter delight. When we rented the French apartment, every transaction from beginning to end was in French and the camp site owners spoke very good English. We had a great time no matter which language was spoken. The English owned gite however was the owners holiday home and it was rented when they were back in the UK working. Consequently, it was very homely and it was very well equipped. You might have your own reasons for renting a British owned gite: you can ring them and book direct, you can ask them everything about the local area, they can help you with directions over the phone if you get lost getting there.

We will rent out our French home to family and friends when it’s completely renovated, up to ‘code’ and meeting all of the French regulations of which there are many. In the meantime, if you’re looking for somewhere to rent, maybe next year for a holiday or off season if they are open then, here’s a lovely selection. Click on the links below the photograph to go to their websites.

dscf4635_1

http://www.lederan.com/  Southern Brittany.

la maison de maitre

http://www.loire-gite.com/ In the sunny Loire and it’ll sleep up to two families so you could split the cost with friends.

maison halcyon

In the Charente Maritime http://www.maisonhalcyon.com/

dordogne

The heat and Lazy sunshine of the Dordogne http://www.lesgitestrepart.com/

dorgodne #2

Heat, beauty, peace and history then the Dordogne is perfect  http://www.lapetiteaubergegites.com/

eco gite normandy

If you live in the South East and wanted a quick hop over from Dover then Normandy has some stunning locations to visit and in which to stay.

http://www.eco-gites.eu/

Here’s just a selection and all of them beautiful in their own rights. All of which are British owned and you can contact the owners direct. I’m part of a British gite owners group (even mine is still in the renovation stage) and I’ve just shared some of their gites free of charge. I’m already getting enquiries and so far, and we hope to have it ready to rent by autumn 2018.

We’re off to France on Saturday until the end of August and of course, I’ll be sharing our renovation project, the days out and about locally, the markets and supermarkets and our experience of French life.

I hope you click on the links and take a look at their lovely gites and you never know, you just might book one for later in the season or for next year. Who knows, you might rent mine in a couple of years but until then, enjoy these.

See you in Huelgoat,

Love Froogs xxxx

Save money on holiday medical costs 

                      

Hello Dear Reader,

We first went on holiday to France in 2005, we had phrase book French and I got mild food poisoning. No sympathy needed as I was campsite cooking and may not have chilled something well enough. We found out to our cost that you can’t get anything medically stronger than a herbal teabag anywhere but a pharmacy. Also, you can’t just walk in, pick up meds and walk out and when you’ve made yourself understood then you won’t get them cheap either.

Don’t get ‘caught out’ like I did. Now, we save money by taking a few basic medical supplies…..just in case. Most of these are off the shelf and really cheap, not to mention small and lightweight to pack and take with us.

We take: first aid kit, pain killers, sprain bandages, antacids, migraine pills, anti- diarrhoea tablets, antihistamines (pills and sting cream) in fact an array of Mede we could need. Most have two year use by dates and I have them at home. We pay for our prescriptions and none of the meds costs more than a couple of pounds a go. We get a lot of meds in Poundland.  Everything neatly fits into an old plastic lunch box. 

You can pare this down and take half packs or just two or three items that are most important to you. An old makeup bag would squeeze into the car glove compartment and be a great place to keep them when you’re on your French holiday. There’s nothing worse than getting poorly whilst on holiday but it’d be a comfort to know some meds are at hand. 

Over to you Dear Reader, who else takes a meds pack on holiday (if you keep one at home, of course…..you may not) and does it save you money?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx