Given that it’s nearly five months since I last did an update on our renovation progress, you might be wondering what we’ve been up to in all this time? Although it’s been a long time since my post in March, we’ve actually only spent 3 weeks in France between then and our current visit. So what did we do on the mill in that time? Let me give you a quick update.
First, we tackled the dangerous and totally useless fireplace. After taking professional advice on the state of the fireplace and chimney that we had inherited, Colin started taking the existing fireplace and chimney apart
and we had a new wood-burner installed. We now need to refinish the living room wall. (But that is not a priority for the moment)
Flushed with pride and enthusiasm back in October, after our somewhat traumatic house purchase, as we moved all our stuff into the mill we spent nearly 2 hours at the local insurance office, setting up our household insurance. Enter it on the computer (Computer says ‘no’. Consult colleague on how to get around the constraints of the software. Print everything out in triplicate, sign all copies and file in numerous paper files)
‘Un vieux moulin, bien entendu vous avez des volets ?’ With an old mill, you have shutters of course?
Err, actually we don’t.
Sorry, we can’t insure you for theft then. Everything else is OK; fire, flood, third party liability – Just get shutters installed on your downstairs windows and come back – we’ll set up the theft insurance.
I’m not terribly convinced of the return on investment here – eye-watering sums of euros spent on installing shutters to make the fabric of the building more secure (and therefore insurable) against the actual risk of loss and the value of the contents within! But they will look good and provide some energy efficiencies, keeping the heat in during the winter and keeping the house cool in the summer. Pity we couldn’t have been tax resident in France when they went in – we could have got some significant tax credits for the energy saving aspect.
Colin and I spent a full week in May giving sixteen shutters two coats of ‘lasure’ on each side, in 30 degree temperatures, to protect them against the weather, before we went back to England.
But I was really pleased with the character they give to the house.
Over Easter my son and his family came to stay and it’s fair to say that nothing got done on the house as the weather was gorgeous with temperatures over 30 on some days. We worked on our tans by planting scores of rural hedging trees for wildlife habitat and to consolidate our border along the roadside, currently marked by a row of elegant mature acacia trees. I was delighted with these acacias when we first viewed the house in the spring (when they were covered in blossom) but not so enamoured of them when I discovered they are very invasive, with an annoying habit of sending runners out underground and popping up all over the garden. They’ve got wicked thorns on them too, as we painfully found out.
And apart from stripping, scrubbing and whitewashing another bedroom in readiness for family and friends who were due to visit that’s about all we managed to do this spring. Oh, and some running repairs on the vanne, sluice gate mechanism that controls the flow of water under the mill – ably assisted by one of our friends who were staying for a few days R&R.
So that about brings us up to our arrival this summer. We had a fortnight’s holiday booked off anyway, before our decision to move over permanently so we decided to crack on (finally) with the bathroom renovation that had been put on hold – we couldn’t inflict the very basic sanitary arrangements that the remodel would involve on visitors, now, could we? Not that they were much to start with, but at least there was a shower of sorts and running water upstairs.
Here’s a little teaser of where we started – more to follow!
Thank you so much to all of you who have posted messages of congratulations and support on the blog and facebook regarding our move to France. We’ll miss everyone in the UK but are close enough that we can pop back regularly for short breaks. And of course we’re always happy when friends and family want to come and visit…but you might want to wait until the bathroom is finished!