Thursday, 11 December 2014

Inspiration for the Cottage Kitchen

When we return to Brittany, apart from getting the electricity connected and getting quotes for the farmhouse roof, one of the things we will be improving is the cottage kitchen. Last time I did lots of cleaning in there and we ate some meals at the table but we weren't able to cook and the decor is pretty dingy to say the least. 

Here's a little reminder:

I have some ideas of what I'm going to do to make it more practical and homely including:

  • painting the walls white
  • removing the cupboards above the sink and putting up open shelving
  • painting the remaining cupboards and maybe replacing some of the panels with fabric
  • putting a curtain on the sink cupboard
  • decoupaging the tiles with pretty fabrics
  • making cushions for the kitchen benches (I'm halfway through making these)'s one....

  • buying a fridge and oven!
  • installing a water heater (we need electric first!!)

I've also made a colourful patchwork tablecloth for when the decorating is complete:

I have a board on Pinterest called Cottage Kitchen Ideas where I gather inspirational ideas.

Here's a few of the pins that have given me ideas:

Love the hanging utensil rack.....
Mechant Studio Blog
Open shelving......
Old kitchen utensils.......
So pretty......
Lovely the apron hooks....
 Not quite my style but gorgeous colours.....
Thanks for visiting!

Maggie xx

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Going Home

With the alarm going off at 5.30 am, we struggled to get up. We had a quick cuppa then did some quick last minute chores. We had calculated we could leave at 6.45 am at the latest but we didn't actually leave until later as Chris had difficulty fixing the access barrier in the pitch dark.

Chris had to put his foot down driving to Roscoff. We must definitely leave earlier next time and have a different regime for the day before. This was the first trip though so we could make allowances!

The ferry was leaving at 9.15 am and we were meant to arrive 60 minutes early as we had the cat and dog. We were late and the man in the passport booth gave us a light tap on the wrist. It was all OK though and we boarded the ferry quickly. With Spencer and Max settled in the motorhome, we went upstairs and found some nice comfy seats. Chris fetched a coffee and we ate the huge pains au chocolat we had bought from the local boulangerie.

The 6 hour trip went pretty quickly. We read, played games, chatted, sewed, dozed and had an English breakfast for lunch. This ferry was so much more comfortable than the outgoing one and it really made a difference to the trip.

We arrived in Plymouth slightly early and soon we were on the road home. 

Back to reality but feeling very unreal!

This had all been such a wonderful experience....a new life in a different country speaking a different language and learning new customs....and etiquette!

I felt like we'd been in a little glowing bubble in the middle of the French countryside.

A life within a life.....

I'm so going to miss our little piece of Brittany....until next time we're here....

Thanks for's been lovely to have your company.

Maggie xx

Even though we are now home in England, I will still be posting occasionally about our next trip and other things related, so please still pop by.

Also please visit my other blog, Flowers in the Window.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Last Tasks on our Last Day

Our last day....oh no....I'm so going miss it here...I knew I would feel like this.....

When we woke up there was a beautiful sunrise through the barn...

We had a list of jobs to do before we left for home in England.......Chris was already busy with his door security measures.

I hemmed the other curtain for the cottage back door.

It was peaceful sewing at the kitchen table and I hope to do lots more sewing there in the future.

Next time I will try to bring my sewing machine and make some quilts and cushions and other homely stuff!

 We had our morning coffee and Chris rang our neighbour Henri to let him have our number and thank him again for the veggies. Henri also said he would keep an eye on the house for us whilst we are away and will ring us if there are any problems. We also sent a message to our other neighbour, Serge, asking him to ring us if he notices any problems with the house. I'm so glad we have met such a friendly neighbours.

I returned to my curtain and hung it up at the back door. It looked lovely.

I was pleased that I'd now put up a curtain at the front and back of the cottage...they will make the place look more lived in whilst we are back in England.

After lunch, I decided to tackle the woodworm in the cottage staircase.

Before I made a start, a tractor pulled up outside and it was Serge. I got the gist (he speaks very fast French) that he would co-ordinate with Henri about keeping an eye on the house. We all chatted for a while and then we showed him around the barn and inside the farmhouse. He kindly offered to help us next time we are here with felling the oak tree using his tractor. He was keen to look down the well we had uncovered and then he bid us 'au revoir'. We were pleased that Serge had dropped by and I thought we had managed the conversation quite well in French....we'd maybe even improved a little!

So back to the woodworm! Donning mask and gloves, I applied the treatment.....under and on the stairs....mainly the risers. Hopefully this will do the trick.

Chris spent the afternoon doing odd jobs including digging out the area underneath the downpipe.... the well.....

.....fixing some wood into the cottage flue pipe upstairs to stop all the grot coming down and landing on the living room floor.....

...and positioning some large stones to discourage anyone from driving up the side of the house.....

Now, Max, no going walkabouts just when we're about to leave!

I continued to clear the moss and vegetation from the rest of the front of the house.

Again to make it look a little more lived in whilst we are not here.

This is how it was when we first arrived....

We had a nice pizza and cider dinner al fresco before doing all the last minute tasks and packing the van. Luckily we didn't have as much stuff to take home with us but Chris was still working until 10.30pm and Harvey J was in chaos!

We had to leave early in the morning to catch the 9am ferry at Roscoff.......

Today it had really dawned on me how wonderful this whole experience had in our motorhome.....renovating a beautiful farmhouse......surrounded by peaceful countryside......making new friends......speaking in a different language.....wonderful..wonderful...

Thanks for joining me,

Maggie xx

Friday, 12 September 2014

I've never seen such huge Pains aux Raisins

We got up early to arrive at the vets for Spencer's 9.15am appointment.
The clinic was spotless and the staff were friendly and helpful. Spencer had his examination and worm tablet for his pet passport. 

We then drove into Gourin to check about our bank account. To cut a long story short, the bank hadn't been able to confirm our address yet so we weren't able to use our bank card or cheque book. Luckily when I went in to the bank today, the same helpful young man who had opened our account spotted me and came up to greet me and apologise about the address saga. He arranged for me to withdraw cash to pay the water bill. He said he would ring me next week to let me know everything was ok with the account.

So we then went to the Mairie to pay the water bill in cash. This was fine. In fact we didn't have to pay as much as we thought. 

We then visited the boulangerie.....what a treat! We had meant to visit earlier as we really want to support the local businesses. We will definitely be buying all our bread and pastries here next time. I've never seen such big croissants, pains au chocolat and pains aux raisins! A young couple run the shop and they were friendly and welcoming. They also sell fruit and veg and cold drinks.

We hurried home to have coffee and half a pain aux raisins each. These were huge....and delicious!

Having finished the hemming last night, I hung my curtain up at the cottage back door. I know it's best to have curtains touching the floor but I took this one up a bit higher for keep it cleaner....I can always adjust the length later.

I'm so thrilled with the way the curtain looks. It makes the cottage look so much more homely and it's so pretty with the sun shining through. 

I think these curtains were made for this lovely with their floral front and striped lining in blue and white........

Chris then called me. He had decided to go up the ladder to review the farmhouse front roof. 

It seemed scarily high but he said he was fine.  The corner of the roof needed some waterproofing. Chris had a temporary solution to an expensive job in the future. He cut some battens the correct length in order to fit some waterproof roof lining that our son in law Sam had given us. 

Whilst Chris was preparing this, I removed some moss and vegetation from the front wall of the farmhouse. 

Chris was then ready to climb the ladder again. I had to stand on the bottom rung to secure it wearing a hard hat just in case he dropped anything!! We stopped for lunch and then he went back up and finished the job. He was very brave and at least the roof corner now has some protection from the weather.

We then had a look at the back roof as we knew rain was making its way in. The roof is covered in felt shingles. We had found a couple of packs of these lying around and worked out how they were put together. Unfortunately it's very difficult to see which ones were leaking from the outside roof.

We went inside to see if we could shed any light on it. This was the first time I'd been upstairs in the farmhouse (apart from perching on the ladder). Chris positioned the ladder so I could climb up through the first floor door on the side of the house. I'm so glad I went up as it was fascinating. Unfortunately my phone ran out of battery so I couldn't take any photos. We took the opportunity to relocate some slate tiles (700 we estimated later) from a section of the floor that was about to collapse. Boy those tiles were heavy. I think if we hadn't moved them, they would have fallen through and been smashed to pieces by our next visit. We gave up on the back roof situation for the moment.

During the rest of the afternoon, Chris did some odd jobs and tidying. I continued with the moss removal whilst amusing Spencer by throwing the ball into the pond.

I seemed to be making progress.

 I also cleaned inside the kitchen around the cottage front door in readiness for putting up the other curtain. 

We finished off the shepherds pie for tea followed by the crumble I made yesterday. We were both very tired and had aching bones and muscles!

Thank you for popping by!

Maggie xx

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Bucket Test

This morning we got up early and after breakfast made a start on our tasks.

Chris was straight up the ladder fixing the down pipe......

.....whilst I made the new hose connection.....

I took some photos of the house from the road......

 ...because we're going home soon and I don't want to forget anything.....

....including the view up and down the road.....

To test the down pipe, I performed the bucket test from the upstairs window! 

The water flowed from the down pipe with just a couple of leaks that Chris would fix later.

Max was enjoying the morning sunshine.....

Spencer was jealous because I was taking photos of Max so had to act the fool.....

This morning we had been discussing treating the woodworm (petite vrillette) in the cottage staircase. To prepare, I mopped the floor in the cupboard under the stairs. I hadn't mopped in there before and the floor was covered in the thick muddy residue the same as the rest of the downstairs had been. It took three buckets of soapy water before it was reasonably clean. I noticed a rodent hole in the corner of the cupboard....

There was also woodworm frass (the dust that falls from the wood when the woodworm beetle bores out) and some woodworm holes in the wallpaper on the underside of the stairs.

It was so dark in the cupboard I had to wear a head torch. Please please let us have electricity next visit!

I spoke to Chris about the woodworm again. He was of a mind to leave the treatment until next time as it was only affecting a couple of stairs. He showed me some more frass up the stairs and there was also some on the bottom stair vertical. I said I could do the treatment as there wasn't too much. Chris wasn't keen but said I could do it as long as I wore mask, gloves and was very careful. How old am I?!

Chris had been busy outside putting in the fence posts for our access barrier...a security measure for when we leave.

I made a shepherds pie for dinner using some of Henri's veggies.......

....then I helped Chris fix the panel to the top of the farmhouse front door opening.....

 Another good security measure and the birds won't be able to get in and poop everywhere.

After lunch, I started digging the hole for the middle fence post for the access barrier. What I thought would be an easy task, was the opposite as the ground was solid, compacted gravel from many years use in the past.

It was supervised work!....

Chris and I managed it together in the end....Chris bashing the ground with a heavy spike and lump hammer and me digging out the loose stones and earth. Chris then drove the met post into the ground.....

...and began fixing a strong plank of wood to the posts.

I took to the cool of the cottage. I cleaned the rest of the back door and surround. I had bought some curtain rings and hooks at Bricomarché....

.....different to the UK ones I'm used to but looked like they would do the job just as well.

I had brought a pair of long curtains from home in England as I thought they would suit the at the back door and one at the front. I knew they would need hemming so I hung one on the pole at the back.....

......they looked much prettier than I had imagined.....

They were too long so I pinned up the excess.....

These curtains have a lovely striped lining that you can see from the outside......

After much pinning and adjusting on the kitchen table, I made a start on sewing up the hem.

Whilst the shepherds pie was in the oven, I picked some blackberries and made a crumble with some tinned peaches.

We ate dinner but were too full for the crumble so we'll have that tomorrow.

I continued hemming the curtain into the evening.

We have to get up early tomorrow as we have a 9.15am appointment at the vets in Gourin.

Phew...that was a long post!

Thanks for sticking with me to the end!

Maggie xx