So here we are 3 weeks on…plaster board almost finished upstairs, the electrician is really going great guns with 1st fix electrics and plumbing…we’ve even bought loos now.
I’m being dragged out of bed at 6 am to get to Brico Depot in Cherbourg for doors opening at 7 am with the words ringing in my ears if you want to have a say in how it looks you’ll be in the Landrover ready to go at 6.30 am!
So now the pressure is on me to find the look! It is quite hard as I can’t really see how the light is going to be, especially in the dining room…once the new roof on the kitchen is unveiled I think I’ll be able to judge.
I’ve chosen parquet floatant for bathroom floor and an ultra modern double sink unit with lots of cupboards and draws for the upstairs bathroom…we’ll be building a big shower enclosure in here as well.
The garden has been transformed – over 10 huge sacks of ivy ripped off the walls, poor Mike had 3 trips to the dump with just rubbish from the garden! Hopefully I’ll be able to start planting up in a few weeks once the roofers are finished and there isn’t the danger of building materials, I’m thinking a rose garden with lavender in the 1st flowerbed with a lawn and lots of lovely climbers to enhance the beautiful stone walls.
Our days are like a military exercise …Mike is the go for and the labourer, can’t believe how many times a day he goes to the dump/builders yard or Brico Depot in Cherbourg! Me, I’m in charge of catering as well as everything down here at home, the washing and ironing, day to day running of the other rentals…quite often I’m seen in the boulangerie picking up bread in my pinny en route with piping hot food in the boot of my car at 12.30 (on the dot – I dare you be late for 4 hungry men ).
We’re very glad when it is Friday evening, Mike headed to bed around 8.30 pm and had a very long rest yesterday which enabled me to finally get caught up with all the laundry…today I’m really tired, so I’m having an easy day with tomorrow a changeover, new arrivals and more washing and ironing! Tuesday it big shop for the weeks’ catering & then Wednesday it’s getting the cottage in Ste Mere Eglise I manage ready and opened up for the start of the season.
As I say, sometimes it’s too busy! But wouldn’t have it any other way!
main double bedroom
stone detail in bedroom 1
rear kitchen roof being replaced
the asbestos roof is off!
the garden is cleared
So here we are a week on…all I know is everyone is totally knackered! Mike has had to go this afternoon for a lie down and I was close to tripping him up on the stairs to get there 1st!!
The atmosphere on ‘site’ is fabulous, the macon otherwise known as the chef is 60+, Mike is 60+, the other helper is almost 60…then the various sons’ come into to give the old ‘gits’ a boost! As long as I am on time with the food, coffee & wine we’ve a happy team! Everything stops at 12.30 for at least an hour…but just look what has been achieved in just 4 days! (We are a 4 day week…that is set in concrete!!).
Remember those rooms upstairs? – 1 blue room – wall has come down to reveal the most glorious double aspect, this will be the master bedroom at the front of the house with views across to the church …we are very excited about this.
Remember this room with all the wallpaper hanging off in all directions…all plaster boarded out with masses of insulation… When the old stuff was taken off this fabulous stone wall was discovered…looks like 180 years ago the house was extended and this is the original outer wall…behind the different wallpapers we are finding old newspapers but frustratingly we can’t find a date!
Water and electric are now on, the ‘sparks’ is really cracking on, we’re off on Monday to choose shower, loos, kitchen, taps, collect more plasterboard and other ‘stuff’…will we or won’t we be ready for 6th June…it’s so tempting but I’m still not advertising…yet!
at least a food deep of shells lurking under this roof!
1st April is normally known for All Fools Day or Jour du Poisson here in France…for us it’s Day 1 !!
We signed for the house yesterday afternoon so it is ours now, which is a bit of a relief as we’ve had our roofer mending the leaks and replacing rotten timber all last week…so we now have a leak free roof! But shock horror he told us last night that when he investigated under the asbestos roof he’s found at least a foot deep layer of shells…it must have been some form of insulation, we’re all at a bit of a loss over this – it’s going to be a right mess getting it all down!
When we bought Utah Beach it was a former fisherman’s base, he’d backed in 2 refrigerated lorries and built a garage around them, the floor was sand with thousands of empty bottles laid on their sides…to keep rats away from his fish – we’ve managed to get one of the lorries out by knocking down a wall and rejigging the whole layout…but the other one is there to this day, we keep tins of paint in it!
We seem destined to buy places with a bizarre twist…shells & bottles, wonder what-else we will find…I know Mike would love to find something that sort of declared Rommell took tea in the house…he was here in Sainte Marie du Mont checking the defences so it is possible he came to what now is our house, as it used to be a shop selling vegetables, cream, milk etc. The owner had a big farm in the village so this was the outlet…all way before food miles – how things have changed!
A decision has been made though regarding to layout, we have decided to take the bedroom at the front of the house back to it’s original size, it’s been sub divided with a wooden & hessian back wall, we’ve bought it as 4 bedrooms & bathroom downstairs, but we will end up with a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom upstairs, vacation rental, very much aiming at couples or 2 couples travelling together, or even a small family. The bedroom at the front will be a really great size with 2 windows overlooking the church and a fireplace…Mike want to put a 4 poster in it…we’re thinking on it!
There are plenty, plenty rentals in the area geared up for family groups, we see this house as a grown up’s destination, we want to try to make it just that bit more special, we’re not a Chateau, nor a 5 star place with folk fussing round you and we certainly don’t want to be a soulless rental that feels cold… somewhere that is a real pleasure to stay in with extra touches & good furnishings…my next problem is how to get this across in my marketing!
The roof over the kitchen is pressed asbestos so naturally we want to replace it…the outer walls are load bearing and in good nick but the windows are completely rotten…I had the idea to replace the roof with a total glass roof and just replace the windows…been told today the span is too large for glass and it’s just not possible to make the kitchen into a conservatory…so the next idea is replace the roof and put in 2 really big velux’s , obviously replace the rotten windows…but it should give me a bit more budget for the design of the kitchen – I’m looking at putting an island in and getting rid of the door between to dining room and kitchen…lots of light is the top priority for this kitchen as it will lift the whole ground floor…just hope Mns Mayor approves without having to go through masses of planning permission! We won’t be changing anything else exterior wise except tidying it all up and doing a make over in the garden!
The old shelves/armoire will clean up beautifully in the dining room.
So apart from asbestos we’ve also got lead paint and another horror from the ‘old’ days ! Protective suits and masks will be needed on site from time to time!
If all goes according to plan, Le Jour du Poisson is the day we commence…1st April. I keep reminding myself I’m 59 & three quarters, it’s OK I have the energy!! But hey what would we do instead? I know I’d sit and knit watching daytime TV, with our current rentals and this new project, I have the best of everything, even more wonderful guests that enrich our lives, plus bring the world through to us without having to leave our fur family…which is rather large now! (Last count 8 cats, 4 dogs, 2 llamas, 3 Alpacas, 1 pig, 2 goats, 2 sheep, 20 or so chickens and Goosie Goose)…
19444 6th June
Mike, did you notice that stone cottage opposite the church in Sainte Marie du Mont for sale? I heard myself ask a couple of weeks ago
…funnily enough I did he replied, do you think we should look at it?
I’ll phone Stefan The Notary, I said…so I did and 2 weeks later we’re ready to complete the purchase!
56 Place de l’Eglise 50480 Sainte Marie du Mont
Now the bad news…no one has done any work inside since 1944!! The floor is a beautiful example of the floors laid just after the war in haste to get everyone back into the land of the living as it were! I don’t think it’s been decorated since then!! Holes in the roof and around the chimneys…well take a look and then tell us we’re mad!! We may give it a shot to be ready for the 6th June week – we’ll see, but certainly it will be ready for July this year – I think it will make a great vacation rental…you can’t beat the location and next door are fresh oysters straight from Utah Beach the other neighbours are 2 restaurants, a butchers across the road, 2 boulangeries and a mini supermarket, 2 museums, hairdresser, post office and 3 miles from Utah Beach!
We’re the one with the red sign in the window
The view from the master bedroom
Angoville au Plain window
The next day we are due to visit another Mayor…this time the Mayor of Angoville au Plain which is just 2 miles up the road from us & where we have field. 56 inhabitants here, that’s all, but the church was used a field hospital June 6th with 80 wounded soldiers & 1 local child…the blood stains are still visible on the pews to this day, also shell damage inside the church, along with a great story of 2 German snipers up in the tower with no ammunition, no one was aware of them whilst the church became a hospital, eventually came down the spiral stairs, opened the door with their hands up.
This Mayor single handed has raised almost 42,000€ to repair the bell tower which is really in great need of repair, plus beautiful stained glass windows already installed, but he is now 8,000€ short to be able to get the contract in place to save the church…so guess who will be fund raising soon!
The really sad part of all of this is that the doors are left open for folk to visit& now statues etc. are being stolen…why are the generations so very different now?
After we left the church we went on a great trip around looking for the 1st foxhole Sam dug around Pouppeville 2 or 3 kms from Utah Beach- regrettably we didn’t find it! But his memory is so strong…he tells us when a house/field/whatever has been changed and he hasn’t been here for 69 years!!