It has been a few months since I submitted a blog – in truth I was waiting for the garage to be completed but this has not happened although, it is almost there!
The builders were supposed to start the first week in September but, nobody appeared and eventually a new start date at the end of September was agreed which did come to pass!
If you can recall back to when I submitted the plans, we had what was used as a cow shed in front of our house and I demolished this (with the help of Papa and a tractor) in August. The builders came with heavy equipment and flattened the area still further as well as marking out roughly where the drive and parking area would be.
They then commenced with the foundations whilst our friends Brian and Lisa from Stevenage were here pouring copious lorry loads of cement to create the garage base. Brian came up with the bright idea of burying the satellite cable under this en-route to the dish which worked out well and it is now neatly hidden away.
The walls soon went up leaving gaps for both garage doors, the service door and a window which, along with the roof I was to complete. This took me a couple of weeks to do and when that was finished I contacted the builders to complete the outer finishing as well as the driveway.
I have since started the electrics and intend to have six LED strip lights, around 10 sockets, some automatic security lamps outside as well as power for the two electric garage doors. The French regulations differ from those in the UK and at first I thought that they were poor but on hindsight, apart from plugs not having switches, they are probably better. In France everything is double insulated and, in reality, the sockets are triple insulated which is not the case in Britain. Both are perfectly safe but France has a more belt and braces approach. There are other regulations referring to the cabling standards and the conduits but these are in line with the UK (apart from the double insulation) and, at the end of it, electricity is electricity! I eventually had to purchase a book to not fall foul of these regulations but am quite confident that I can carry out all the work myself – although I will get an electrician to connect it to our mains feed and certify the work!
Unfortunately the weather has turned colder and their revised start date for stage two was last week when we had frost overnight so the work has been postponed until the overnight temperatures improve so as not to damage the coating. I guess that we are now looking to February or March for all the work to be completed now!
The garage is however being fully utilised!
I am back to my regular golf games and organise a competition each Saturday morning which is well attended with a pool of twenty or so members taking part when available. After the game we have a drink and order plates of chips from the restaurant dividing the cost of everything by the number of attendees less one – the winner does not pay! This has proved popular and the spread of winners seems to be quite evenly distributed which keeps things sweet.
When I play golf I tend to speak in a mixture of French and English. Some of the players prefer to speak English to me (possibly so that they can understand me) whilst with others, we speak entirely in French. My language skills must be improving but I still find times where I understand very little or cannot express myself as well as I would like to be able to do! I am my own worst enemy as we still watch UK television, read in English (Kindle) and I listen to Radio Two in the garage!
The weather is turning cooler (as noted above by the builder’s reluctance to complete the work) but most days the sun comes out and temperatures shoot from minus figures to low twenties (in the sun). This makes for very pleasant living although earlier this week, when I drove to the golf course on my motorcycle in -3.5, I was not too comfortable with the conditions
The dog (Lewis) is now spending the nights sleeping indoors – yes, I know, we were never going to let this happen but, it did! He comes in when it gets dark, lies down on his blanket and hardly moves until when we get up in the morning.
In November I spent a weekend away on my bike with friends staying over at Nab’s house in Bourgoin Jallieu. He had organised a run on the Sunday with over 40 attendees along with lunch in the mountains. We had a great evening chatting and having a few aperitifs followed by mussles cooked in a sauce which contained copious amounts of pernod! I slept well …
The next day the run was magnificent as was the lunch with a stop after lunch to look across to the Alps and Mont Blanc – a great day and about 200 miles on mainly back roads.
Martine is now working four days a week at a beauty salon in the village covering the owners’ maternity leave for four months therefore, I am doing some of the cooking which is the first time I have really done this since before we got married. Mince and tatties has already become a staple diet but I can see me following Jamie Oliver’s instructions this next week as I experiment further afield!
On Christmas Day, we are hosting all the family here for dinner – 24 people! This is only a fortnight away therefore some thought needs to go into how we arrange things. Fortunately we had more people here for Martine’s birthday in the summer therefore we know that we have the room….
I am finding that my life here is becoming more routine but no less enjoyable as I settle more and more into the way of