Walk around Huelgoat lake

Hello Dear Reader,

I’m writing this whilst sitting in my garden after a day of doing nothing. Our first week was about decompressing, the three middle weeks were about house renovations and the last week is all for us to just enjoy our surroundings.

Yesterday, we hosted afternoon tea, nibbles, home made food and a few drinks for guests and had a lovely time. This afternoon, we visited more friends and sat in the very warm garden and chatted and had a catch up. We had a leisurely home cooked supper and then took ourselves out for a walk around the lake.

We do this walk most warm evenings. It’s a bit long for our old dogs so we walk them before supper and walk ourselves afterwards.

It looks bigger than it is. It’s an hour’s walk and with the exception of our house being at the top of a hill; it’s mainly flat.

Back towards the village.

Tonight people were fishing on the lake although I’ve never seen any fish.

On the south side of the lake, up a side street is the abandoned isolation hospital which closed a long time ago. It’s beautifully creepy.

Back out into the golden light as the sun was setting.

The hotel is in front of our house. Look straight above the two right hand chimneys and there’s our house on the hill.

The lakeside.

Golden reflections on a golden evening.

We aim to get out and about and visit places. Of course, I’ll share it with you.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Renovating in France on a budget 


Hello Dear Reader,

Today, I’ve given the bedroom walls two coats of white emulsion, sanded the skirting boards and given then two coats of eggshell. Scrubbed down the shower room walls and given them the first coat of paint. My thrifted side tables have had a third coat of paint too. We have painting to finish but it’s all just tidying from now onwards.

We want to get all the major jobs done by the end of the day tomorrow so we can get onto the fun easy parts. There’s snagging to do but a massive day of work has made such a difference. We’re also pleased that we’ve kept costs to an absolute minimum.

DB fitted the balustrade today that he’d previously painted. Everything needs a light sand and a final coat of paint. He has lights to fit, doors to hang and we have to move furniture around and tidy. We’ve got to keep going even though I’m fed up of renovations and just want to go out and visit about five places I’ve got on my list. Fortunately, none of them are going anywhere so I can save the for trips in the future. 

When I look at the photo above, I marvel at everything he’s done: cutthe hole in the floor, customised the stairs to fit, built the stairs, built the wall and built the balustrades. DB – you are a star! I am so proud of you xxx

It’s slow going but we are getting there.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Feed me I’m tired! 


Hello Dear Reader,

We’ve pushed ourselves hard today and set a deadline for getting this round of renovations complete. We had some pine trees down when we bought the house and the logs have sat in the garden for 18 months. I don’t want to burn them as the resin can damage a flue liner. However, stored for three years in the dry, they are fine and won’t damage a chimney. We offered the ‘green wood’ on Facebook and today, the loveliest couple came with a big van and took it all away. We helped them load their van and found out that they have lots of land where they season wood until they need it. They left us a nice bottle of wine, they have plenty of wood for a few years in the future and our garden is much tidier. It’s always great to meet new people.

As soon as they’d gone, we went back to painting. New plasterboard soaks up paint and it took for coats of paint to get an even finish. We bought Dulux over with us from the UK as French paint is so much more expensive. Tomorrow, I’ll buy some stain to paint the stairs to match the other woodwork in the house. 

We do bits and bobs then get out and about. I’ll do out and about tomorrow and I’m excited about going to Emmaus.

After loads of work, I needed good old fashioned comfort food and made Corned beef hash

To make this:

6 medium potatoes- chopped and boiled until just soft.

3 onions sliced and fried in two tbsp of oil until soft.

1 tin of corned beef, cut into cubes.

Add the cooked potatoes to the pan of fried onions.

Resist the urge to turn, allow it to catch and crash slightly.

Add the chopped corned beef and mix, pat down and continue to cook.

Don’t stir and allow it to crisp.

Cook the top half by placing the pan under a hot grill.

Serve with steamed veggies. Eat, put your feet us and have an early night before all the hard work starts again tomorrow.

We are getting there but soon we’ll have two fully renovated bedrooms, stairs and third floor hallway.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxx

On your marks, get set, paint! 


Hello Dear Reader,

I’m now back on top form and I’ve painted whatever I could today. We want to finish the painting tomorrow so we can make a start on installing the banisters. I’ll paint them before we install them as they are so fiddly. The dark grainy photo above is the inside wall of the spare bedroom, the light was fading. 

The outside has had a coat of paint, the walls have had a coat of emulsion and I’ve sanded and eggshelled the skirting boards. It’ll all get more paint tomorrow.

Painting over the stairs gives me the jitters but it’s got to be done. On my next trip, I’ll bring some hard wearing floor paint for the treads and risers; maybe a blue grey.

The stair rails have had three coats of paint and have been sanded in between. I keep reminding myself when I’m picking paint out of my teeth that doing it all ourselves is saving us a mass of money. When it’s done, I can do the pretty bits and renovate some furniture and hang pictures, you know, the fun bits. 

My only colour scheme is always white, white and white. It’s the cheapest paint you can buy. When it gets tired or grubby, just go over it with more paint and anything goes with it. It’s simple and bright and never goes in or out of fashion. 

Next summer, we’re really looking forward to painting the outside of the house. That’ll involve long ladders and nerves of steel and a few clean pairs of pants but it’ll all get done eventually as time and budget allows.

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

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

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

Paint, rest, paint


Hello Dear Reader,

What a day! I was up early to catch the good weather and get some laundry on the line and then get on with sanding furniture and adding a couple more coats of paint. When I went out to check in the washing later, I noticed that the side wall of the house was wet even though the sun had dried out the other walls. We’d had a leak and had to remove some of the stud wall and get the leak fixed. Luckily, a friend/hero came to our rescue and fixed it. It’s now drying out with a dehumidifier which has set us back a day but it would have been a lot worse if I’d not de I to have done some washing.

We’ve met some lovely people in Huelgoat, including a couple who have rescued dogs from as far as Ireland, Spain and here in France. They give these ageing and unwanted dogs the loveliest life on a French smallholding. We went for a barbeque lunch in their beautiful garden. Lunch lasted the rest of the day and then we came home and put our feet up and this evening, we’ve had another few hours painting.

Tomorrow, we shall plod on with more renovations and head over to Emmaüs in Morlaix to look for an armoire in the afternoon. Like any charity shop shopping, we could be lucky but we may well come back empty handed. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

My packing is weirder than your packing!

loaded cart

Hello Dear Reader,

If and when you go somewhere, you pack clean clothes, food, books, amusement, a coat, umbrella and maybe even sunblock. It’s way different for us. When you’re renovating a house on a tiny budget then the roof of my car feels as if it’s loaded like Buckaroo! On the roof of the car this time will be a room size rug we bought for £42 and an oil filled electric radiator we got cheap from freeads for £10 as we work towards every room having a rug and a radiator.

Inside the car will be paint as French paint is five times the price and it’s like painting with skimmed milk so we take at least two pots every time we go. There will also be sand paper, sugar soap, paint brushes and rollers as we move into the next stage of renovation of one of the rooms. Our aim is to get our bedroom finished in a few days, move the furniture and move in to it. I have furniture to paint whilst DB has the walls and door to finish as well as changing the British plugs to French plugs on some lamps we bought ages ago, again really cheaply, from TK Max with a gift voucher. We are still a way off hanging curtains and I don’t think we’ll get to the finished stage until next year. When you work to a budget and stick to it, you  have to be patient and work slowly.

Every time I go, I take something else I’ve found cheap, in a charity shop or totally free and donated or given away. I’m never going to buy new if I can get it ‘recycled as I can’t stand waste, hate the thought of good stuff going to landfill and want to make every pound do the work of a fiver! Yes, I’m tightfisted and proud of it! If I can do my bit to stop waste then I certainly will even if it means my packing is weirder than your packing.

In my defence, I’m not the only one. I really should take photographs of the weird things in the backs of cars, in trailers and on the roof embarking the ferry. I’ve seen trailers full of fruit trees in pots, sewerage systems, hot water tanks, wood stoves, garden fence and double glazed windows. I can also spot the renovators as we’re in our ‘holiday’ clothes of paint spattered jeans and with grout under our fingernails as we’ve worked right up to departure time and worked on the basis of ‘there’s a shower in my cabin and we’ve turned the water off in the house’. Obviously, there are people who might get someone else to do all the work, but they are in disguise are regular tourists.

I’ll keep you up to date with the renovations, the dog walks, the mini week long adventure and my little French village as it warms up in the bank holiday sunshine. We’re aiming to scout round for some second hand furniture to fill up some of the empty rooms and I’ll share some of our forays into charity shops and ‘le bon coin’ as we start making the house more homely.

Who knows, in time, it might be you renting it for one of your holidays.

img_3598

Until Saturday,

Love Froogs xxxx

Thrifty shopping and cooking

                         
Hello Dear Reader,
I get paid this week and that’s the time I stock up for the month or even two months. I also like to stock up the freezer with lunches that DB can just take, ready wrapped in foil and stick in his back pack. So, there’s nine pasties in the freezer and one inside DB
                       
There’s two quiches, each cut into six and eight portions respectively and a fruit cake in the tin, which keeps well for over the week.
I’ve stocked up on store cupboard items like tea, coffee and UHT milk, tinned fish and loo rolls. I also went to the local butchers and filled an entire drawer of the freezer with meat for the month.
I’m on holiday countdown now. We self cater and take everything we need with us. I’ll get together everything I need over the next few weeks. It might sound a bit stingy but the big treat for us is being away on holiday and we don’t want to spend more than we’ve budgeted for when we get there. We don’t buy new clothes, feed ourselves when we get there, take what we have and amuse ourselves with bike rides, walking, reading and if the weather’s any good, sitting on the beach. 
Today has been sunny enough that all the laundry was dried outside, the dogs have been walked, the windows have been wide open and the house has been aired. The cupboards and freezer have been stocked, the house has been cleaned and we’re well rested. 
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs