Tag Archives: holiday rental normandy

The unveiling…

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.

St Marie du Mont 15 (1 of 1)

St Marie du Mont 14 (1 of 1)

main double bedroom

main double bedroom half way

bedroom armoire

bedroom space

armoire bedroom

The bedroom at the back was in a dreadful state, broken windows, holes in ceiling and water penetration destroying all the plaster


St Marie du Mont 12 (1 of 1)


The bathroom was a kitchen…holes in ceiling.

St Marie du Mont 13 (1 of 1)

shower 1

shower2double sink


Kitchen – oh dear, basically falling down! New roof, walls etc.

St Marie du Mont 17 (1 of 1)



St Marie du Mont 11 (1 of 1)


lounge 3lounge 2

St Marie du Mont 16 (1 of 1)


St Marie du Mont 18 (1 of 1)


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!


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keep turning the handle!

That’s what it feels like now…keep turning the handle, don’t let go now!

In actual fact everything is going really well, but we are tiring slightly…Mike is on a mission saving the original fireplace in the main bedroom…so kind soul has slapped on 2 or 3 coats of what is called ‘crepe’ almost like artex but harder!! 2 electric sanders so far have been burnt out…but as you can see he is half way, when we paint it and get it looking something it will set off the room.Image

Meanwhile downstairs the kitchen has had plasterboard & insulation put in place, the new window, door and a wall blocked up




We had to lose a window on the left as I want to put in an American Fridge so there is on tap filtered water & ice, no need to buy bottled water!

The electrician plumber is back next week to do 2nd fix, the shower tray is in place, take no notice of the toilet placing here…it’s just out the way!! But between us we’ve designed a great big Italian shower…



twon house phase 2    a (1 of 1)

So tomorrow, off to choose tiles for the bathroom & kitchen plus the kitchen units, I’ve already bought the cooker which I’m thrilled with!

May is wonderful in Normandy this year the blossom is unreal…the scent is heady – just to give you an idea here is the view from the bedroom now the trees have opened up a bit more … the candles on the chestnut tree are huge!

twon house phase 2   c (1 of 1)


We’re also starting to see the folk arrive for the 70th anniversary…look what was parked outside the house yesterday! Jeeps all sorts are starting to congregate!

twon house phase 2  g (1 of 1)


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We’ve had a brain storm! Another vacation rental coming on line…

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 windowImage

The view from the master bedroomImage



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going green – we went green yesterday!

First of all please be aware we are not Eco warriors here! Our new ‘greeness’ has come about in 2 ways – a ring at the door bell and a blocked drain!
Door bell rang one day – a man (Emmanuel) with a van stood in our gate way trying to flog me brushes and products for cleaning… all in very rapid French and also seemingly expensive – I tried to dismiss him, but his persuasive powers won! I made the fatal error of looking and sniffing – before I knew what was happening I was a regular on his round and started to buy more and more of his products, it became a standing joke in our household how much would Emmanuel extract out of me this time! But more importantly I fell in love with the products and they actually are more economical as you use less.
I was sort of aware the products he was selling me were green, more they were compatible with the ‘fosse’, we do not have the luxury of main drains, nursing a fosse d’eaux with the amount of guests we have is actually quite stressful, so products kind to the fosse are incredibly important here in rural France.
This year alone we have had 2 blocked drains, a failed fosse, so the whole garden had to dug up and new tank put in for the cottage plus the main fosse for the main house has continually emitted out dreadful smells on a regular boring frequency!
Then the big decision came about with a 2nd blockage in the drains… water everywhere in the courtyard every time someone had a shower, smells wafting up from the tank – it was horrible and all these smells floating up into one of our rentals.
We called out the local enterprise that deals with all the horrible things, the big lorry arrives with pressure hoses etc. but after half an hour he couldn’t find the block. Our courtyard was due to be dug up to find it – now this prospect of the whole courtyard dug up was totally horrifying as it isn’t exactly small!
Fortunately Andre, (our man who is literally renovating our house),  found the block at the end of the pipe, the unblocking procedure could commence! This is what turned us totally green … the block was probably a meter in length the whole of the 10 cm pipe. The only way to get it out was the literally pick it out with a crow bar. The smell unbelievable and was just black tar like substance with calcium deposits. The really frightening part of this was, this was the pipe out from my washing machines, the black tar stuff was the deposits gathering over the years from the ‘normal’ washing powder… I was vaguely aware petrol is used in washing powders and cleaning products but never again will I use ‘high street’ brands if this is the residue they leave…
Emmanuel called in again yesterday, this time I really paid proper attention to his products and took the decision  to turn away completely from supermarket and well known brands…we now we are completely eco products, no chemicals at all – from our loo rolls, kitchen paper, shampoo, soap (the rose is gorgeous) washing up and washing powder/liquids, polish, floor cleaner, hand cream (best I’ve ever used)… even the deodorants (no aluminum) and the bleach is also friendly for the fosse.
All of this delivered to my front door, in fact I’m even helped to put it away!  The company that makes it is German EMAS (verified products) http://www.hakawerk.com – all containers are recycled and they pick up empty ones, not tested on animals, no chemicals or petrol traces plus the actual products are great!
One step further we are thinking of taking, (we already leave the washing up liquid and cleaning products in the rentals for our guests), to also supply shampoo & soaps in the rentals requesting that our guests use them instead of their normal brands whilst here.

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Filed under biological products, gites, holiday rental, Normandy, rural, Uncategorized

international art model!

One of our roosters is an international art model… how cool is that! I didn’t know anything at all about it until this email arrived


I thought you might be interested in knowing that at least one of your roosters is now an international art model. We liked how colorful they were, so took some photographs. An artist friend of Jessi’s, Ray-Mel Cornelius, specializes in, among other things, roosters. Here’s a link to some of his rooster paintings.


and a couple more


Knowing that Ray-Mel likes to paint roosters we sent him some photos of yours. Here’s the result. This one Ray-Mel named Eli.

There may be more in the future. If he does another, we’ll let you know.

Thanks again for the wonderful stay.

Jim and Jessi

Then when I opened up Face book I find some photos of Jenny Cote – her book is published that Clarie our lamb has a starring role in… all of a sudden I am surrounded with internationally recognized creatures!!

The Llamas have settled in so well and with the 2 sheep make a wonderful foursome… they are always together, every morning down at the gate of the paddock patiently waiting for us to open our bedroom curtains, it’s rather endearing and reassuring that they are there every morning.

Our season is starting to draw to a close, to be honest will be glad when we’ve closed up for a while and get some down time… this time of year starts to be hard as we are tired now, when something goes wrong it’s almost through gritted teeth that we attend to the problem – stupid things like a leaking shower head and a DVD player not working.. why couldn’t they hold out just for another 3 weeks or so?! Irrational I know, but after 6 months with 1 more month to go we’re ready to close the curtains at night, the nights are drawing in very quickly now – (locking everybody up at night now is not far off 7.30 p.m. only seems 5 minutes ago it was almost 11 p.m.) –  light the fire and watch lots and lots of TV, my hands are itching to get my knitting out too… so this next few weeks we’re going to push ourselves to get all the yucky jobs out the way like the accounts and office all straightened out, to then feel relaxed and enjoy our tower project.

Yes, the tower… looks like we have permission, we’re just waiting for the actual letter to arrive – we’ve been told verbally and the Mayor has given us some stone for it , but until the certificate is here we don’t start the foundations… however the stone mason is here today with his son dressing stone in readiness… it really is a big thrill to be building such a statement!

I feel that this winter is going to be another hard one – the hedgerows are weighed down with berries and fruit – our pear trees are full of fruit too – if the snow comes again at least the barn has been rebuilt and all the other roofs on the animal shelters are reinforced too,

so for me another adventure of big time snow would be quite the thing, (still a child at heart you see!)


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6th June d- day celebrations in Normandy

I know it is the 13th June but we have only just started to recover… so goodness knows how the stars are – the veterans! I have heard all the serving parachutists and Army boys were complaining of being tired too!

What a week we’ve had!

Muir, Harry & Harry2

Harry Kulkowitz came and stayed with us in our home for the 7th year… he landed on Utah Beach 6th June 1944 and went right through to the Battle of the Bulge, lied about his age and joined up with a whole host of other New York Jews who all joined up enmasse. Harry was a radio interceptor, trained in England and came across the channel by boat.

We were asked by our Mayor when we first bought our house in this village if we would take a veteran in as English speakers so obviously we were delighted – Harry was billeted with us and as we tease him we can’t get rid of him! I think over the 7 visits we’ve had all 3 grand children, his sister, his 2 daughters and each time his son Mark who owns and runs the Mad Batter & Carroll Villa in Cape May NJ. see this link http://www.philly.com/philly/green/96201444.html

He came this year with his son Mark and his youngest daughter Tessa.

Harry is rather frail now – he’s having memory problems but quite frankly when he is stimulated he is a lot better, but there were a couple of occasions when he was completely exhausted so we had to help him stand on parade and one time in a wheelchair… but take into account jet lag as well he did remarkably well!

For this post I’m mainly going to add photos so you can all see for yourselves the respect and the love that is shown to the veterans. This year we had 600 paratroopers come down over Ste Mere Eglise – French, German, US, British, Belgium and Canadian. 10 planes. The men all here for a week to see for themselves the 6th June celebrations… it was just wonderful to sit on a table with Americans and Germans side by side bantering and showing huge respect to the old boys.

Our weeks was as follows:

Harry arrived 3rd June – slept 15 hours and then on the 4th June it all kicked off…

4 p.m. ceremony in Carentan to be awarded the Order of the Senate – effectively as he is already a knight of France holding The Legion d’Honneur this senate is equivalent to being made a Lord!

6 p.m. Houesville for ceremony to mark the passing of Reg Alexander a Screaming Eagle that came to Houesville for over 25 years died in January. followed by Vin du honneur in the Salle du Fete

8 p.m. Banquet with 2 star general and 200 or so serving soldiers – we left around 1 a.m.

5th June the 600 parachutists, big event in La Fiere followed by a birthday celebration here for a little boy born on 6th June (cake & champagne) followed by another banquet this time in Ste Mere Eglise – 600+ people to include soldiers and local people – huge firework display at the end – got home around 1 a.m. again.

6th June we tried to keep it calm – so it was just a visit to Utah Beach and the museum there – dinner at The Mayors house, 5 course meal – home for around 2 a.m.

7th June Went to Grandcamp Maisy for lunch and met the 2 star General in the same restaurant then on to Coleville sur Mer where Harry was invited to fold the flag at taps. Got home for 7 p.m. and straight out to dinner with a local French Army Officer – another 2 a.m.

8th June party for Harry at our house 35 for 4 course dinner – very late night – 2 a.m. with Harry, Mark & Tessa due to leave at 6 a.m. – luckily Mike woke up!! They got off OK we’re left with a mountain of washing up!

We also had a British Veteran staying at our Utah Beach house – he was a Scots Guard and came through Normandy in a Churchill Tank… delightful chap and with his son researched one of the battles he was in – traced a house that he almost demolished, returned to the spot and apologized to the owners… still the same family to this day!

We met another British Veteran – another Harry – Royal Navy his job during the invasion was dropping off the lads as close to the land as could get… he was escorted by 3 ex Royal Marines that all served together one of whom was the first 4 British Legion chaps to pay respects to the fallen coming through Wootton Bassett from Afghanistan. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/5771032/Wootton-Bassett-A-very-British-way-of-mourning.html

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photographs © Mike Forster

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cute little lamb?… more like a full on battering ram!

Claries a cute little lamb? No sorry folks she’s now a full on battering ram…she’s actually quite powerful and also wilful! It’s going to be a challenge to keep her, I’m wondering if I need to find another to keep her company and maybe her desire to be with us and especially Mr Willerby may subside a bit… I’m getting slightly fearful that with her head butting games she plays with the pup she may indeed hurt him one time. Certainly she has the strength to hurt me when she wants her bottle!

Yes, you read it right, when she wants her bottle!… she’s not weaned yet either… I’m making it longer and longer for her feeds and have got it down to 2 … may even try 1 today but haven’t worked out which feed to cut yet – night or morning.

The Llamas are doing really well now – calm is in field and I actually think they are enjoying each others company now.. it is a lovely sight to see the 2 of them grazing almost side by side! I have also out of the corner of my eye spotted some flashes of galloping Llamas so I think they are actually playing too now.

We’ve been let down on the 2 donkeys e were going to take on… it all got terribly complicated plus as they are Sicilian donkeys that don’t like the rain… don’t ask why are they in Normandy then?!!! Anyway long story short we’re not having them which in a way is a relief – we are now looking for a Cotentin (local breed) and I thought a pregnant Jenny would be a good idea that way she wouldn’t be interested in Stavros in the field next door who is intact and she’s have company when her foal is born… so that is my latest mission!

The reason we want to get a couple of donkeys is that the Llamas can be rather aloof, they don’t always let strangers pet them, whereas the donkeys do…our guests we have discovered actually come here for 2 reasons, either because we allow dogs so they can bring theirs OR they like to fuss our tribe…

We had a delightful Dutch couple stay with us recently – the 2 Jack Russell’s kept disappearing, we knew that they always give a huge greeting to folk when they return back from a day’s sightseeing, however it wasn’t until I received this picture yesterday did I realize the full extent of our Jack’s determination to share holidays!!

Jack Russells with our guests in the cottage

Yesterday whilst on the phone I heard Madge almost howling – when I looked out the window she was at the cottage door demanding to be let in… sure enough the door opened and in she went! Our American visitors had only been back 3 minutes!! We do also have guests from time to time that are not interested – funny the dogs don’t bother them… hang around us instead almost like having bored teenagers in the house…’I’m booorrred’!

We also had a mounted policewoman stay with us recently, I rang my friend Fanny in the village who’s Father in Law owns the Chateau in our village which is a Haras, they have 75 mares in this village with 35 foals due to be born and 8 stallions doing the business – with help from Fanny’s husband!! We were treated to a trip round the Haras met the breeding mares and the stallions even saw a ‘echographie’ (this is a case of an English word has left me, remembered… ultra sound!!), of a foal in a womb… even though Fanny & I are friends and see each other every week I hadn’t quite grasped the size of the Haras less than a 10 minute walk from us! It is a lesson to me you never really know what is on your doorstep!!


Filed under D Day, France, gites, holiday rental, Holiday rentals, Invasion BeachesWW2, liberation, Llama, Normandy, Uncategorized