And here we are 4 months after starting our project it’s FINISHED!!!
Back at the end of June Mike decided I should start marketing without any photos with availability from 1st August…not shying from a challenge I went for it using our other properties as a touch stone and a follow up telephone call to reassure folk we were not talking nonsense! Our 1st guests arrived on the 2nd for 1 week…apart from sewing curtains until 11.30 pm the night before we were pretty well on track.
Our date to be able to say finished for fixtures and fittings was agreed as 30th July for us to stay and try the house out…thus the reason for late night curtain making – street light actually attached to our house between the bedroom windows…we never noticed it until we went to bed (the bed a super kingsize & possibly the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on),turned out the light and then asked Mike to turn his light out as it was light enough still to read…a dash up to Cherbourg the next morning to buy blackout material…but for one reason or another I bought 5 meters forgetting there were 2 windows – I needed 10 meters – so a 2nd trip was needed!!!!!!
So here we go – I’ll try to line up the before’s & afters!! The main bedroom started as 2 rooms.
main double bedroom half way
The bedroom at the back was in a dreadful state, broken windows, holes in ceiling and water penetration destroying all the plaster
The bathroom was a kitchen…holes in ceiling.
Kitchen – oh dear, basically falling down! New roof, walls etc.
unveiling BoB House More pictures here
I’ve embroidered all the towels, put in as many little thoughtful things folk would enjoy – I just hope everyone that comes to stay with us enjoys the house as much as we really did renovating it!
There is just so much going on in this area of Normandy, certainly I have learnt that the British side of the Invasion Beaches whilst busy with parachute displays etc. this American sector seems to making a huge affair out of it all…I’m finding my head is spinning and not able to express myself sufficiently, I’ve decided to try to make sense out of it all and at the same time to kill 2 birds with 1 stone…I’m starting a new blog and as we’re also creating a new web page it makes sense to join the 2 projects together.
Our new webpage will be about Normandy, a lot of it about what this hidden peninsula has to offer, our concierge services, from car hire to bikes, war tours and in depth information plus our houses.
My blog will be following the 70th anniversary preparations and manifestations, the whacky and official ceremonies plus I am researching bits of interesting historical facts – along with Mike’s photographs I hope I can bring this wonderful part of France alive for you all…and of course I’ll be updating about our renovation project in Sainte Marie du Mont plus all our creatures here at Ferme de l’Eglise…watch this space!!
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
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!
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