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

Pushing on with the thrifty renovations 

Hello Dear Reader,

I have a digital TV recording box for my freesat. I love to watch home Reno and DIY programmes where houses are raised from ruins or built from the ground. Well, I like the beginnings and the ending and the middle bits are boring. Well, right here right now, we’re in the middle boring bit. It’s got to be done and the end results will be worth it. It’ll take a while and at least another year to get our home to gîte standard and a while after that to get it registered and legally up and running. We have a way to go yet but still we must push on. Today, I sanded the stairs and put a stain and sealant on the wood. Each coat will darken the wood.

Here we’re sanding and painting the balustrades for the third floor landing which are easier to paint before we construct them. Tomorrow we’ll build them or try our best to get it done. I’m painting the spare bedroom and today, I did all the cutting in.

I’ve also put another coat of paint on the bedside furniture. When they’re dry and before the final cost, I sand them with fine sandpaper to give them a smooth finish. It’ll all be finished and lovely, just as we’ll be returning to Cornwall. 

We have a massive list of jobs, all of which will be done by to keep the costs low: gravel paths, paint he exterior of the house, tile the bare floors, plant shrubs, build a garden fence. It will all akebtime to save up for and we will do it all eventually.

However long it takes, it will be done on a budget by us.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

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

Wood heating in France

Hello Dear Reader,

We had our firewood delivered today and the farmer just tipped it by our garden gate which I knew he would. Next, we threw it log by log into our garden no of course it got warmer and warmer. I don’t mind any sort of weather except wind, no one likes that. I’ve a shed full of logs to shlep up the garden, up the steps, round the side, then the back of our house and into our shed where it needs stacking. 

We are surrounded by forests in Brittany and wood is the main source of heating in rural areas. It’s reasonably priced and we bought wood that was cut three years ago, dried and stored in an airy barn. It’s dry and ready to use. I bought over a tonne. 

I enjoy the whole process of heating with wood: it’s prepayment so I can be warm and dry our clothes and not worry about cost, it smells lovely, it’s great exercise and it’s carbon neutral. We had a lovely surprise when the neighbour’s visiting teenage grandchildren came out to help us throw the logs into the garden, how charming. 

It’ll take me a while to move it all over a few days as well as aching muscles but it’ll be worth it to have a well stocked wood shed. I’m off to limber up and then move some wood. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

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.

Cheap renovation project in France 


Hello Dear Reader,

We’re cracking on with the renovations. It will be finished in a couple of days…….famous last words. I don’t enjoy this bit. It’s noisy, dirty and we get dirty and tired. We try and do as much as we can each day but don’t like to make noise into the evening as this is such a quiet village. I also like to clean thoroughly each evening so it’s not a mess to wake up to.

We take our time, have a lunch break and take the dogs out for plenty of walks. After lunch, we sat and read outside in the sunshine. 

This room will be a guest room for family and friends and it will be insulated and warm. I’ll go to the charity shops next week to buy furniture that I can upcycle. The weather has been cool today which is perfect DIY weather. I’ve no idea how much money we’ve saved by doing the work ourselves. It’s been great fun doing this together,I hold the board in place and DB secures it. I do the insulating. It doesn’t have to be neat as it’ll be covered by plaster board on either side. It’s another skill we’ve learnt out of money saving necessity.

Tonight, we’ll watch a movie, have a glass of wine and just enjoy the peace.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

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

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