Tuesday, 31 March 2009

June Saturday flights only £10 return, including all charges....

Goodness, I just looked on Ryanair and Saturday flights in June are £5 each way, including taxes and charges. These fares are currently available for both the London Stansted - Angouleme(Cognac) and Birmingham -Poitiers routes. I checked 20th-27th June....... just make sure car hire is booked through a comparison site, the cheap airlines charge a premium over the going rate for car hire! Book by 2nd April. (Edited to add 30th May -13th June dates are also available for the same routes/prices and also EastMidlands-Limoges)

If necessary we can take debit/credit card payment for deposits so you can secure these great deals (although we do have a 2% surcharge for credit card payments)

....White Shutters' pool will be heated, air temperatures should be perfect and almost permanent daylight hours, and no crowds at the beach.....we also provide nearly all the baby equipment, linen, towels and pool towels, so flying is no problem!

We are connected......

Great news, the wi fi broadband is up and working a day earlier than expected. It does sound a bit sad to be so pleased about that, but anyone who runs their own business knows how important it is to stay in touch. It means we can have more holiday as a result, but still sort out any crisis, and do a bit of work as required.

Our guests can totally ignore it if they wish, but even just for skype phone calls, checking in online or researching a day out, it's worth bringing a laptop. The speed seems good too (now that may totally put a spanner in the works with it being April 1st tomorrow!)

I believe work is progressing on the downstairs bathroom, boxing pipes, stripping wallpaper and painting and finishing off the tiling above the shower. We are not sure why the bit above the shower has been wallpapered in the past, when the rest of that wall has been tiled to picture rail height.

I did hear a mention of lunch outside in the sun, which is a bit worrying. Does he not know this is no holiday, but a working trip.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Loaded Car.....

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday) we attempted to get everything in the car.........but didn't "quite" manage everything, so some will be going in May! All the DIY stuff, pool heater, most of the hardwood furniture, cushions pots and pans and crockery (the latter clanks a lot behind his left ear!) is there though... the painted writing desk and my very shabby chic little cupboard will go next time!

So after a lot of effing and blinding, and realising the roof rack we have doesn't fit the car we have had for 5+ years (we have never needed a roof rack as it's a people carrier!) this is the loaded car. Yes it rained and hailed on and off all afternoon too........but there is a lot in that car.

I did get a phone call at 11pm last night to say he was on the ferry at Portsmouth safely so the suspension hasn't collapsed, yet! We alwasy use LD Lines as their ferry crossings are so much more reasonable for anyone based in the south west, not glamarous but they have always got us there safely, with OK catering to pass the time. Normally the ferry gets in to Le Havre at 7am UK time, so 8am French time. The clocks went forward last night so i think he has lost two hours. It takes 5 1/2 hours from getting off the ferry to arriving at the house with a couple of shortish stops. So normally arrival time is 1.30pm and today it will be 2.30pm (French time, so he should be there about now.)

Coming home, the ferry leaves at 5pm, so as long as we leave by 10am absolute latest that leaves plenty of time. It's autoroute all the way from St Jean d'Angeley (15 mins) to Le Havre. Although LD have changed the time of one ferry (I think the Sunday or Friday one) to 4pm. So check crossing times if using LD, I would not want to be responsible for a missed boat! We are back home in Gloucestershire well before midnight as the evening ferry gets a move on, and docks at 9.30pm UK time.

The weather forecast for the next 5 days is 15 degrees and brilliant sunshine in Charente Maritime, I hope he gets on with the work and isn't outside sunning himself with a wine glass in hand....except for the obligatory French style lunch break of course! They do say that the number of hours of sunshine, within the one hour radius of La Rochelle, is the second highest in France, after St Tropez area.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Final Countdown.....and shabby chic furniture

Our three week Easter refurbishment trip is nearly here. Next weekend we will be trying to fit in three times the volume of "stuff" into the people carrier than the volume of the people carrier....excluding people except one driver! So far we have:

One 5 ftx3ft oak table that extends to over 7ftx3ft.
2 sets of boxed hardwood garden furniture for six (2 tables, 4 benches and 4 chairs)
One heat pump 2ft square base weighting 70kg.
Paint, tool boxes, brushes, nails, screws, tile adhesive.........................!
10 boxes laminate flooring for the Children's room.
24 sets white china
12 sets single duvet covers
Egyptian Cotton king/double duvet covers
New pots and pans
Wrought iron bed head
Rugs, throws and cushions

and whatever else can be squeezed into the gaps, I am not sure the newly painted writing desk will count as essential items! It was one of those treacly varnish items, I am pleased how it turned out for a £20 purchase! I have seen similar things on that well known auction site called Shabby Chic Painted French Furniture. Here is my Shabby Chic Painted French English Writing Desk in England..... inside the compartments are some lovely French style papers from the shop which I sealed.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Dining Room or Games Room or both!

It will be a lovely games room once the clutter left by the previous owners is cleared... no pics on the official website yet as it doesn't quite look the part, yet!

or a lovely dining room for huge gatherings around a huge table! Apologies for the awful photos, taken in winter... the flash was not working properly but look at the view of the terrace and pool through the huge double doors!

My OH's (other half, husband, long suffering one) eyes lit up when he saw the pool table when we viewed the house. It has come from a bar so is very solid and level and heavy, and yes we did test it out when we bought the house in January (and stayed that one night!) The only problem is that it's in the Dining Room......

.....perfect for huge family meals and a couple of sofas at the far end clustered around a coffee table with a book case to make a reading corner (where the clutter is just now.) Well that's my opinion anyway.

I have managed to source a very solid oak extending table that can be tucked away when not required (or live in the kitchen.) It seats 10-12 when fully extended, and will also be perfect as a cropping/crafting table when we hold our scrapbooking retreats in France. Not too precious that children can't play games on it when it's just too hot outside.......

So I think this will be the muti functional family room for eating, games playing or curling up with a good book away from the rest of the rabble! We will work out the best arrangement at Easter.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Floor Plans

After posting about the ideas for the children's bedroom, it would help to have some floorplans, this is how the house is arranged just now. May not be exact to scale!

Children's Room

We have lots of plans to freshen and brighten White Shutters. One plan is the bedroom we call the "Children's Room". As the natural light is limited (but the room is cooler and it's easier to sleep in light and bright summer evenings for little ones), we are going to make it into a fun themed underwater/seaside room for children from tots to teens, and certainly not twee! The room has two sets of sturdy pine bunk beds (full single bed size) and as you walk in the end wall will look like this. I hasten to add we are not artists, this is a clever wallpaper muralI have been buying up fishy rugs, and bright stripey duvet covers, and have some yellow shell material for scatter cushions for lounging about on the new laminate flooring. So hopefully the new room will appeal to all our younger guests, be low allergen, cool at night and totally screened from bugs. There is also a ceiling fan in all the upstairs bedrooms to keep the air moving.

Is that cheerful, sunny and bright enough?

Pool Heating......

Now I hope I'm not tempting fate, but of all the investments in a holiday house in France I think the biggest draw for shoulder seasons will be "is the pool heated?" especially as that's when families with smaller children go on holiday! So today I reserved a heat pump for the pool. It works a bit like an air conditioner, it sucks the heat out of the air and pumps it through the pool water. They work when the air temperature is above 5 degrees, and pump four- five times the heat into the pool compared to the electricity used. The pump cuts out automatically once the selected pool temperature is reached, and just running overnight whilst covered, will keep a beautiful swimming temperature for all. So they are far greener than traditional pool heaters. Solar panels are greener but cost a huge amount initially, and are not as good on cooler days.

So now we will be offering a nice warm pool from April/May to October. Well as long as we can get it plumbed in right during our visit at Easter! ...and the car does not give up hauling a heat pump, two sets of hardwood furniture, paint, tools etc etc etc over to "our house."

No pretty pics for pool pump acquisition day, they are not exciting to look at!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

White Shutters is ours!

I am back dating the blog, originally started as Blue Shutters, we are keeping the shutters white, and so White Shutters we now are!!
The buying of our Holiday Rental / Gite/ House/ Maison/ Cottage has been fraught over the course of 2008. This is the third house we tried to buy, very nearly failed again, but here we are at last with our own French Dream. The compromis de vente was signed in October, as sterling plummeted and interest rates fell and the credit crunch took hold big time. By Christmas sterling was 1.02 euros to the pound. However, a week before the acte de vente, we finally knew we were signing after all and so we beacme proud owners on Friday 16th January 2009.
Our initial postcard was drawn up with only pictures from the agent to use. We now have just over four months to get our house ready for the summer season. There are lots of plans, as we have rented many gites in France, and so have some idea of what we like and what we don't like on holiday.