Heading back to the UK today and writing this on the ferry, so not the inspiring surroundings of the previous posts.

The day started as the coldest so far, the thermometer on the car read zero at 7.30am. The house was not as cold last night as Tuesday; I put it down to the hard work securing all the windows and doors!

All closed Up

All Closed Up

An eight hour drive meant I had to leave Riberac at midday so I had a few hours to finish this visit’s tasks.

The most important of these was to install a red and white chain across the drive (the universal sign of ownership in South Western France!). My children thought I was joking, but it is essential!

I own this house!

I own this house!

Chain in place, lock fitted, kitchen cleaned, it was time to pack up. Lovely to think if I have forgotten anything, I will be back soon!

The highlight of the drive back was eating an apple that tasted of apple, not natural apple but apple sweets! Although I quite like the synthetic apple flavour of sweets, I had never tasted an apple that tasted like the sweet, until today!

This  first visit to the house has reinforced the feeling that this was the right thing to do. Not only is it a lovely house in a fantastic rural area but it will give all the family something to think about and look forward to and me many hours of planning and hard work!

Until May

Until May

This is my House Martin

Woke up with the stark realisation that I am travelling back tomorrow.

What is my priority on this visit?

The resounding answer, over breakfast (I found new pastry, La Suisse, sweet croissant pastry sandwiching patisserie cream and choc chips dusted with icing sugar) was to secure the house.

This is not just from human intruders but also, from birds judging by the number of abandoned nests. These were cup shaped and cleverly attached to beams where a nail was protruding (I will look this up when I return, House Martins maybe?)

Housemartin nests?

House Martin nests?

So after testing my non-existent builders merchant French, I returned with two large sheets of plywood.

First all the windows without panes were secured (I had had this romantic notion of reglazing and refurbishing the windows on this visit, but my priorities, now here, had changed). Next, the open chimney in the bedroom window at the rear.

Now, this is something I will have to get used to working on and old French house; my instinct is to batten using a spirit level but when this was offered up to the mantle, it turned out to be so slanted it is untrue. Not only this but the opening width is out is by 50mm! Not one or two millimetres or even ten, but fifty…..two inches!

No need for that level!

No need for that level!

Chimney sealed, I then continued to clean, sweeping and removing more husks and nut shells and also the dust some fool created using a disc cutter inside.

All of these menial and seemingly minor tasks took from 8.00am until to 5.30pm.

Then it was into town to stock up on provisions and …….

Cafe Des Colonnes Riberac

Cafe Des Colonnes Riberac

Riberac centre in the winter

Riberac centre in the winter

After a Freezing Night

It was cold last night. The rain cleared and the temperature fell.

When I opened the windows it was thick mist and a heavy dew covered the grass, but it had a Spring feel.

My task today, I decided was to clear the downstairs back room (we call it the the salon, but don’t know if that’s right!). The major work was to remove the plaster board that was cladding (and hiding) the oak beams.

The Ceiling comes Dowm

The Ceiling comes Down (note the walnut shells)

This was not just an aesthetic task as, as I suspected, the void between the two was full of all kinds of dust and dirt.

Judging by the corn husks and half walnut shells, I think half the rodent population of south western France has lived in this house at some stage.

By lunchtime the earlier Spring feel had materialised into a glorious day. Blue skies and twenty degrees (I am sorry Aneesa, I know you still have no oil and the temperature  is less than half of that!).

The Sun Comes Out

The Sun Comes Out

After lunch in the sunshine, I proceeded to undo much of the good work cleaning, by generating clouds of dust cutting a trench in the concrete floor for the new pipework.

Exhausted, I headed into Riberac for provisions and a well-earned beer at the Café De Colonnes .

Cafe Des Colonnes Riberac

Cafe Des Colonnes Riberac

The Work Starts

Awoke 7.30 to heavy rain pounding on the roof.

After a wash in my bucket (I left my bowl on the Tesco checkout), dressed and out to the boulangerie at St Meard for a croissant and pain au raisin.


Breakfast done I start to clean down the front bedroom but find that the detritus from the attic falls through the cracks as I sweep the ceiling.

Armed with knowledge from last night, that there are no rats in the attic I decide if I am going to clean this house then I best start at the top.

I knew the attic was a mess from when I peeped through the hatch to look at the roof when we were being shown around. But I did not realise how much of a mess until I got up there.

The whole floor was covered in about 100mm of dirt, corn husks and rubbish. Amongst this rubbish were 35 antique bottles in a range of colours. These salvaged, I spent the entire day filling buckets with mess and ferrying then down the ladder to the outbuildings.

I though the rubbish must have accumulated over a few years but was surprised to find a newspaper dated 1925!

A very tiring and satisfying , day secure in the knowledge that we have the cleanest attic in Le Port!

The Garden and our Barn

The Garden and our Barn

Day One at Frelon Cottage

Arrived at 7.30pm on 1st April 2013 (I hope that is not an omen!), after a 14 hour journey!

Image seems blurred due to heaving rain!

Image seems blurred due to heavy rain!

The house looks lovely but on a dull early spring evening seems very unloved.

Bumped into the farmer, (Robert) whose family previously owned the house and he has set me up with electricity (from our barn but supplied from their house) couldn’t quite understand the explanation but it means power for my light , kettle and microwave! Ready made curries here we come!

The house is larger than I remembered, and in the dusk appeared to need more work than anticipated. However, now settled in and accustomed to the prospect, it is no more than I expected.

I have just had my first ‘meal’, Tesco finest Paella, I now remember why we don’t have ready meals at home, washed down with glass or two of red wine. I am now sitting on my camp bed in what will be our bedroom.

My luxury accommodation

My luxury accommodation

It is deafly quiet, so quiet it makes your ears ring. The only sound is the rats scuttling in the attic (no not really!) its bullfrogs croaking outside!

This house can be fantastic even better than I imagined. I can’t wait for Aneesa (my wife) to see it again.

Frelon Cottage in the rain

Frelon Cottage in the rain