A new chapter

After losing Nibs the sadness in my heart was just so heavy I barely slept for several nights (24 to be exact).   Resuming “normal” just wasn’t working.  I couldn’t imagine life in Number 36 without the companionship of my large grey hound.   My work was suffering, I wasn’t really eating; what might be “just a dog” to some people was my very special boy and a character that played a huge part in both our lives.

To the astonishment (or disapproval) of some, a week ago last Thursday afternoon, a van pulled up outside Number 36 containing 1 very tired Miles and 1 rather confused little dog.

After seeking a lot of good advice, and doing hours and hours of research, the process of bringing this little pup into our world seemed to take forever.  In reality it was only a matter of just over 2 weeks.

Miles was absolutely fantastic, and at the 11th hour booked a cheap flight to the UK to facilitate the transport of the little boy, that we have named “Skype”, because that is how we chose him.  What’s so unusual is that quite accidentally he shares the same great-grandfather as Nibs.

The courtyard has been puppy proofed, and the dining end of the sejour has a make-shift barricade that will hopefully keep him from eating the sofas.  For the moment we are fairly hound & housebound, until he has had all his jabs and we can introduce him to the south of France in Spring.  I can’t wait.

After a few weeks living in an unhappy and empty house our energies are now occupied with feeding and entertaining one small (but growing) Weimaraner.

His arrival in our world is making us both a) tired but b) so much happier.  The rest of life goes on, we are back to work, and despite all the other difficulties and unhappier things, we have light and laughter in this house once more.



3 months ago today

When we started this blog we hoped to keep a record of our progress with the house, mostly for distant friends and family.

3 months ago today we officially “moved in”, and it would be fair to say that since then, thankfully, advances have certainly been made.   As it turns out, we have not been very good at updating the blog and circumstances rather dictate that continued and interesting progress on the house is likely to be slow or sometimes stationary.

So our future posts may become a bit more random – rather like life as we know it in Number36.

Miles & Nibs putting the world to rights

4 weeks in (8 Dec) – Miles and Nibs putting the world to rights

Walls of stone

Miles thought I should write a post on the blog. It’s been ages since we updated it.

Since getting the keys for Number36 I tried to keep a record of our installation and decoration but once actually living here the busy-ness of life has got in the way. Perhaps on a quiet afternoon I’ll get around to uploading some photos.

This really is a super house. It is a lifetime project and was bought for at least the 3 of us to enjoy.

Most of the time the radiators work, the fire has been a blessing, several walls are a better shade of white, and we have enough sofas and beds to sleep about 18 people. It’s a house that offers masses of space but is now horribly lacking that special welcome and friendly energetic face. No more woofing or the sound of paws on the tiles. No more snoozy groans by the fire, stretchy yawns or a big shake of the head and ears being flapped. The silence is absolutely deafening.

We lost Nibs so unexpectedly last Sunday night. It feels like months and months ago already. Time is going so slowly. We put the radio on, the TV on, but nothing seems to help.

We are very sad that he won’t get to sit out in the courtyard, chosen especially with him in mind. We are sad he only had his new bed 3 weeks it didn’t even have time to get smelly (a bed of ridiculous proportions and especially imported). We are sad he never got to eat all his Paddywack, a Christmas present from Scott and Emily, and we are sad that his new dog tags arrived in the post just days after he had gone. But mostly we are sad because we miss him so very much. Our daily routine no longer exists, putting on socks and shoes is just not the same. Leaving the house is so unexciting. Coming back into it is so grim.

this is more like it ...

this is more like it …

Even in the short while he was here, he had a few favourite places, but mostly by the fire hogging most of the kitchen floor. I find it difficult to spend time in the kitchen, without that nose observing my every move. I dread coming downstairs in the morning, the silent empty space a huge reminder he’s no longer here. And when I sit and work he’s not somewhere out the corner of my eye, on the back of my chair, resting his head on my knees, draped across my lap or curled up under my desk. It feels so strange to make a phone call, without him trying to join the conversation in the background.

All this unpacking to do and he's back on Facebook

All this unpacking to do and he’s back on Facebook

I miss him launching himself onto Miles for a cuddle, and all the giggles, nose-bleeds, cuddles and snoozing that usually followed, or curling up on the bed on lazy mornings and gradually kicking Miles out of it.   When bringing home the shopping or opening a box his nose is not in the way, and when Miles is working on something there is no great grey head closeby just checking he’s doing it right.




There are practical things to attend to.  His food and treats have been given away and his water bowl put in the bin.  We will finally be selling the dogbus; that stinky beaten-up old car purchased just for him. I have to send his incineration notice to the insurance people, and will send thank yous to all our friends that have sent such lovely and comforting messages.

We bought some asparagus grass in the market, and will try to grow it in the courtyard to remember our spring walks in the woods. We will plant some daffodils to his memory, and when I find the strength we will dismantle his crate that fills the hall. Yesterday we bought a dusty old lamp from a Brocante, that we will light in the hall in place of his bed once it’s gone. And finally we will go to his favourite vineyard and bury his collar and lead. But I’m not sure when that will be.

In the UK Weimaraners are often called “grey ghosts” – as they hunt in the morning mist they are almost impossible to see.  In France they call them “grey tombs”, which is how this house now feels.

Our enormous energetic noisy affectionate annoying but magnificent friend is no longer here. Life in number 36 is definitely not the same.



Colour of the day: Red White or Blue

The latest influence in our lives is Option Tempo – ”La couleur du jour’.

The EDF (Energy Dearly Furnished) have various “plans”.  Number 36 has a red white  & blue plan.  Since moving in we have not fully understand what that means but thankfully (and before it’s too late) we have grasped the concept and found the all-crucial internet page that tells us what we need to know on a daily basis.

It’s now EXTREMELY cold here – snow is on the mountains, the winds are icey – we have no carpets and the central-heating is still a mystery.

What this very patriotic chart shows is that when it is MOST cold and MOST expensive the cost of electricity is highest – on a red day it’s .50€ per unit !

So in Number 36 we now consider every switch, every bulb, how we cook every meal and when we wash.   Today has been a blue day which is great – I’ve managed to fit in 3 loads of washing AND we’ve put the dishwasher on.

It’s true – there’s nothing like an empty bank account to make you aware of your environment.  The log pile is getting a total hammering but if all else fails we could start burning some furniture.


The Moving Diary

I’ve been very bad at keeping the moving diary up to date on the blog.  I think we are both suffering “overload” for different reasons.   I’ll try to get some photos on here soon – meanwhile you can find a few of them on a Facebook album: The Move

Paint it white

Aged nicotine is not our favourite colour so it is decided that the easiest, fastest and (very crucially) cheapest solution is to paint every room white and take it from there.

However, French paint is infamous for its transparency and boy do we need a lot of thick thick white paint to cover those walls!

So in exchange for one of Miles’s large pots of beef Bourguignon (OK an unusual but fairly reasonable swap) we are expecting a delivery of English paint.  The paint should arrive on Friday so no real “brightening up” of things is expected until we have moved ourselves in.

Due to the scale of the task and the fact we are so pushed for time, Miles is determined to use a paint spray gun.

I sense this could be messy.  Does anyone have any dust sheets or a space-suit we could borrow ?!


Spooky circles of time

I think it’s fair to say Miles and I are both really annoyed at the “delay” in moving forward.  The extra 8-10 days doesn’t seem much in the overall scheme of things but is actually very frustrating.  For weeks we have been working towards the big “depart”, and we now find ourselves living amongst boxes that we didn’t need to have packed, rearranging work for clients, losing the phones & internet before we have moved to Quarante, and all the time knowing that there is SO much to do that we can’t get started.

We have 2 whiteboards on the go and now new lists added to old lists.

In this “void” of moving activity we are both trying (and in my case failing) to focus on some work.

As my mind wandered it suddenly occurred to me that Monday will not be my first visit to the Notaires office in Quarante.  The last time I went there was with my Dad when he bought his first house in Cruzy.  That seems a very long time ago now, certainly before I had nieces and nephews.  But then I also checked the timing.  It was November 2000.  I wish I could recall the exact date, but somehow it’s just a little bit spooky that 12 years ago (almost to the day) a different French adventure began, and I will find myself sitting back in exactly the same room.


Ready, steady …

After the last minute dash to get from the airport to the bank and then the notaires office, Miles now has The Key!

Look we are moving .... almost!

The plan is this ;

  • Thursday (tomorrow & a bank holiday) – without roadworks and general mayhem in Cruzy and with the help of some good local friends, several vans and other peoples trailers we move the bulk of our (now packed) possessions into No.36
  • Friday – start cleaning
  • Saturday – carry on cleaning
  • Sunday – more cleaning
  • Monday – phone lines switch over & sign documents
  • Tuesday – residency begins !!

Good eh?  So with tape measure in hand we excitedly went to the house today to size things up a bit before the Big Garage Emptying Day tomorrow.

Scrap the above.

Turns out we are not doing that at all.  The existing owners have not yet removed quite a few things from the house; tables, chairs, mattresses, boxes, cupboards, tv – etc etc.  They are removing all these things on Monday on the day of signing – so we will really have to wait until then to start doing anything.

We have a deadline to get No.44 cleaned and patched-up before 12th November, but our departure (taking into account transport (vans/trailers etc) and existing work commitments) is now set-back a week too, so it will all end up having to happen within 24 hours and then it’s straight back to work.

Hmmm.  So much for The Plan.  “C’est la vie”?!


Power cuts & toolkits

“some” of the toolboxes …

After a meeting yesterday morning I came home to crack on with work and then the roadmen cut off the electricity.  ‘C’est la vie’ at the moment.

So unable to do proper work I entered a zone.  It’s called The Garage.  I had forgotten quite how bad it gets in there if unattended.   Once I’d got over the shock, stumbling about on my own in the dark for a few hours was actually quite useful.  A whole heap of things got packaged for the dustbin, and I even managed to make my way through the dust (seriously you have no idea how bad things are in this street at the moment) to stack some boxes in a pile.

Most of my friends know I used to have a thing for shoes.  Now I live in the south of France (and mostly flip-flops) and lifestyle is rather different, the whole shoe-fetish has gone out the window.   So putting the shoe on the other foot (so to speak) what shocked me most from this adventure into The Garage was not the shoe boxes but the TOOL boxes.  My goodness how many does a man need?!

I lost count.  They are everywhere.

So dear readers a noteworthy point this Christmas – I rather feel that MrB does NOT need another toolbox 😉



2 weeks to go

or it could be less …

The ticking “moving” clock is now getting louder.  I think we’re doing pretty well on getting stuff crossed off the list prior to turning the computers off and living on tinned food for (at least) a fortnight.