Sunday, 10 May 2015

I said a hip hop, Hippie to the hippie, The hip, hip a hop, and you don't stop, a rock it..............

You will probably be aware that there’s not much to blog about as there has been no building work.  Actually that is not quite true as we have had some major structural repair.  The LGB has had his hip replacement.  That’s pretty major.  Strange isn't it how building or more precisely property blurb can also describe those of us in our dotage.  In need of structural repair – I’ve just covered that one with the LGB. Would benefit from modernising – we all get stuck in a rut and could do with a little help.  Would be enhanced by an extension – yes, I’d certainly be enhanced with a 38FF extension; I don’t suppose the LGB would complain either.  Lovingly restored - has a sugar Daddy to pay for all the cosmetic surgery.  You get my drift.

Whilst the LGB was undergoing structural repair I stayed with him in the hospital the first night.  Twenty eight euros for bed breakfast and an evening meal seemed too good a bargain to turn down, especially in a city and a private hospital to boot.  Not so!  In true French fashion the veggie meal was a no show.  I was offered the same cordon bleu as the LGB.  Don’t get me wrong but last time I looked a cordon bleu thingy contained something representing (or imitating) chicken. Just the vegetables for me then. The LGB said it was more cordon blah than cordon bleu!

Breakfast didn’t arrive either; this deal was looking less and less attractive. They bustled about and returned with two teeny eeny weeny intsy tinsy winsy packets of melba toast, one pat of butter and one square plastic pot of jam.  Yummy, that really filled me up for the day!
No really, I can't eat all of that.

Then the onslaught. Half a leg, one buttock and a bikini line shaved.  Him not me. Boy, oh boy, there is going to be some scratching and itching there. Nurses came and went. Blood pressure taken, blood samples taken, urine samples taken, temperature taken.  The anaesthetist practised his English declaring, “All zee women luuuurve a man wiz a French accent, non?”  The nurse raised her perfectly plucked eyebrows skywards. The operating surgeon walked in, looked at the LGB said “Okay?” the LGB nodded, the surgeon said “marvellous” to guffaws of laughter from his medical staff audience and exited curtain left.

Later that night we popped downstairs for a coffee and breath of fresh air.  Outside the front doors we read a sign stating what the visiting times were and outside these hours the doors would be locked. We had chosen ‘outside these hours’ to go out for a breath of fresh air. So there we were, locked out of the hospital. A little, tiny hint BEFORE we exited the building would have been so much more useful. So with me wearing the LGB’s pyjama bottoms and slippers we followed the terribly useful instructions on the door and walked along the main road and around the back of the building, pressed a buzzer and explained our predicament.  That was just the first night.

I was categorically forbidden to take a picture of the LGB pre op in his natty paper knickers and matching mop hat with coordinating slippers!

When the LGB was being kept awake by the thunderous snoring of the patient in the next room the nurse stuffed some tissue in his ears. He found the screams of another patient in an unknown room a little disconcerting and the banging and clattering and loud voices night and day was enough to wake the dead.  During the day there were building works outside, which made the LGB feel a little more at home but was not conducive to a peaceful recovery.  Needless to say I was instructed to purchase earplugs.

Medics came and medics went at all hours of the night and day. One came whilst the LGB was immersed in his book. She studied the cover and said “The Physiotherapist”.  The LGB looked up and replied “No, The Hypnotist” and pointed to his book, The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler.  The medic replied “No, I am the physiotherapist”.  Our lives are like an episode of ‘Allo, ‘Allo!

I stayed another night, but taking no chances I went self-catering and duly brought in the ear plugs, sandwiches and a kettle (the tea was dreadful).

All went well, apart from the epidural hurting like hell.  We could not fault the staff or hospital………..just the food.  How can one make a soup in so many different beautiful rainbow colours all taste like dish water?

The LGB is doing very well.  He says never before have his drawers been pulled down so many times by so many women! At no gain. He is walking a good distance.  I still have to put is ruddy socks and shoes on for him.  I think he can do it himself really, he just likes that feeling of dominance over me.

So there you have it, the LGB has had his structural repair.  My building blurb? What would that read?  Looking tired and rundown. Could do with a facelift and re-thatching. Yeeees, some of you know what I mean!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

How Did That Happen?

It only seems like yesterday that I was going to 18th birthday parties and it seemed sooooo grown up to be invited to a twenty-first party.  Aahhh, those salad days.  These days we are invited to 60th and 70th birthday celebrations and Dad will celebrate his 80th next year.  In May the LGB aka Hop-Along is celebrating a big birthday.  When I say big, I mean he will have to call on all that wind he is so full of to blow out the forest of candles on the cake.  He’s a few years older than me, but as an official spinster of the parish I will soon be saying ‘my boyfriend is sixty’!  How did that happen?

Courtesy of

Many men when they reach a certain age of crisis get themselves a new car or clad themselves in leather and hoik their arthritics legs over the shining metal of a motor bike.  What’s my old man getting?  A new hip. My street cred has just plummeted.

Joking aside, Hop Along has been suffering.  I finally managed to get him to visit the doctor when he had saved up enough ailments to warrant, in his mind, wasting the doctor’s time. So with himself limping, coughing, nursing a sore throat and a tooth infection (he doesn’t do a sicky by halves) we set the alarm for the crack of dawn for our 7 am appointment. Later that day with a tome of prescriptions in his mitt and a referral to a specialist we visited the pharmacist who swapped the pieces of paper for a bagful of creams, potions and tablets.  She even threw in a free bar of very nice soap!! Always good to keep a potentially lucrative client on side.

A visit to the radiographer followed. He informed the LGB he had ‘special bones’. Puzzled we returned to the doctor who on seeing the x-rays confirmed the LGB’s hips were kaput and in fact one of the problems may have been ‘congenial’.  I think he meant congenital.  A subsequent visit to an orthopaedic consultant confirmed the diagnosis when the consultant told the LGB his hips were completely worn down and in fact he had the hips of an eighty year old man!  We are now looking for the aforementioned octogenarian to give him his hips back because they are no bloody good to us.

That was just the start.  No such thing as a one shop stop here. He had urine and blood samples taken.  Next stop was the cardiologist.  This rather rotund man whilst extremely pleasant was in no condition to advise anybody that they ought to lose weight for the sake of their health. He wired the LGB up and Eureka, found a heart. A little drop of antifreeze should do the trick! Back to the pharmacist to buy crutches and bandages as instructed then another drive to Angouleme to the hospital to book his room. Then back to the lab to collect the results for the blood and urine tests.

Today we returned to Angouleme for the final appointment before the operation with the anaesthetist. The LGB is still trying to pronounce that one. En route we somehow came to discussing whether, in the event of the worst outcome he would come back to haunt me!  We’re a bundle of joy and laughs us two!  I said he would have to so that he could tell me how to finish the house.  

I can watch all kinds of surgical procedures on the television but the LGB hates them.  He is very squeamish about these things. He says in the event that he may have to have one of the interventions he would rather not know what is happening to him on the table.  He has been very relaxed about the whole process and just eager to get the new hip and back to work.

The appointment with the anaesthetist went well until he told the LGB he would be awake during the operation. That went down like a lead balloon.  The LGB is no longer the happy-go-lucky-pre-oppy-chappy he was this morning. He’s gone a little nervy and is muttering that perhaps he won’t have the second hip done after all!  I am trying to console him by telling him he won’t feel a thing, he will just be able to hear the sawing and chiselling, with a little bit of hammering thrown in.  Just the normal sounds of a building site really. For some reason that information is not going down too well.
Amazingly, from the first visit to the doctor to the operation will be about three weeks.

Blue for a day!
Before Hipsgate the LGB had nearly finished plastering the house.  We have undercoated everywhere except the landing and one bedroom. I have been varnishing the bedroom floors.  I mixed a shade of cappuccino for one of the bedrooms, had to repaint a little and spent forever trying to mix the right match again.  I painted the en-suite a sunny shade of sky blue.  Two days later I mixed a shade of mocha and repainted over the sky blue.  A girl can change her mind can’t she? 

My paint mix looks good enough to eat!

A few pictures of what has been done so far. The kitchen units aren't fixed yet as they will have to come out to tile the floors.

I now have doors to replace the curtains under the sink.

Drawers painted in Fired Earth carbon blue.
Handles in Annie Sloane charcoal

With my mixing stick still smoking I mixed a green/grey for the dining room and hallway. I’m pleased with the outcome; the LGB is just dizzy with the mixing and changing colours.


He has been tidying the garden to make life a little easier for me whilst he’s recovering. The consultant says he will be out of action for three months because of the nature of his work. He’s made a couple of raised beds to grow veggies. We have been tidying, bringing in some furniture from storage to the house, generally doing the things he won’t be able to do for some time.  I’ve been painting pieces of furniture, emptying boxes and moving boxes.

Some lovely days and evenings in the garden

The cranes coming back.
Summer must be coming!

I’ve never stayed in this house on my own. I shall be checking under beds and in cupboards before turning in at night.  I’m not sure who will be more scared, him or me.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

'Twas A Week Before Christmas ..........

As usual I am a little behind, so what's new in my world.  So humour me just for a few minutes and pretend Christmas hasn't happened yet.

A few of weeks ago we had our own little Rosetta moment. Okay, not on the scale of landing on a comet but our own little momentous moment nonetheless. All along the build there have been little milestones, little hurdles to overcome, stages that have played on my mind at least, if not on the mind of the LGB.

We successfully laid all the pipes for the underfloor heating. Miles of it.  Well, eventually it was a success. We fought with the pipe as it snaked itself into a tangle time and again and then fought with each other and after one little punch up  sent each other to Coventry for an afternoon.

A spaghetti of pipework

The next big stage was screeding the whole ground floor. Our helpers, three old age pensioners arrived at the arranged time. You can always rely on "Rent A Wrinkly" to put in a good days work for a cup of tea and a slice of soft cake that won't play havoc with their dentures. However, what you can't rely on is your delivery arriving at the arranged time. A phone call informed me that because of a problem with le chauffeur we could expect our delivery 45 minutes to an hour late. However, when he arrived le chauffeur who has delivered to us before was delightful.

Let the hard work commence

It was hard work but by Friday evening I was overjoyed, the LGB was overjoyed and knackered and had horrible cement burns on his knees. We uncorked a celebratory bottle of Pomerol. Now the floor must be left to cure for three months after which time we can lay the flooring. However we had my Dad, Sister and nephew coming for Christmas so we had to make the house comfortable and put in place some improved cooking facilities than we had the previous year.

Dad's room the day before his arrival.  No pressure!

Less than 2 weeks before the arrival of the Christmas guests!

Twas a week before Christmas when all through the house,
Not a bedstead was standing from which guests could rouse.
The curtains were nailed up at the windows with care
A gesture of comfort for guests sleeping there.
We hunted all corners in search of the beds
Tore open boxes and found pillows for heads.
The LGB was plastering and hanging up doors
Whilst I with my paintbrush was varnishing floors.
We cobbled together a kitchen with sink
Brought in tables and chairs and two sofas of pink.
(They are red actually, but it didn't rhyme!)
We laid down some rugs on the concrete floor,
I varnished the work tops, then varnished some more.
Good will to all men was beginning to wane,
The LGB was shouting and calling my name,
"Oi, Deborah, get a dance on!" "On Chancer" "On Vixen!"
"Oh come on!" "What Stupid? Folks are coming, get a blitz on!"
I hung fairy lights and a picture or three,
Searched out some baubles and my eighteen inch tree.
The effort's been made, the LGB's poured us some wine
Now all we can hope is to have a good time.
Sit down on the sofa and turn off the light,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

"Have you put the cat out?"
"We haven't got a cat!"

All's well that ends well.
We managed to cobble together a comfortable, warm and cosy room for Christmas.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Is There Anybody There?

Hello............. there anybody there?  Remember us?  Long time no see.

I forgot all my blog details and passwords and have had the devil's own job trying to get back here!

And so.............
The wanderers have returned. To say we wandered isn't quite true, we actually stayed with my Dad. We were in the UK for what seems like an eternity.

The New Year did not start well with the news that Big C, the LGB's bigger, younger brother had the Big C. The decision was quickly made to return to England to help finish a loft extension and act as chauffeur for hospital visits.  Little did we know we would also be accompanying Dad for scans and later three operations.

We know Chelsea, Brixton and Tooting intimately now. In our work clothes we window shopped at Harrods and wondered if we would be allowed past the door men in their smart uniforms, us in our scruffy garbs. To his credit one did wish us a good afternoon but seconds later as we passed a Bentley with cream leather interior we noticed the waiting driver lock the doors. Don't judge a book by its' cover Sir! Minutes later we saw two well dressed gents stealing from Boots. Like I said, books and covers.

Brixton is vibrant and a bustling melting pot of ethnicity.

Big C is doing well eight months on and is thankfully clear of cancer. Dad is awaiting another op which may precipitate my return at some point. We are mightily glad to be back.  The garden is not going to win any medals at the Chelsea Flower Show this year.  Having said that we are hugely grateful to our lovely friends who once again came to our rescue checking the house, forwarding mail and strimming the field.  We came back to flowers, champagne, home grown goodies and lovely meals (we must go away more often!).

Everything mechanical had seized up; the car, both sit on mowers, the digger, whacker and cement mixer to name a few. A mouse had made a nest in the engine of the mixer and invited a few snails to squat too.  The LGB has had his mechanic's hat on and to his credit has everything up and running again. It has been a long slog getting on top of things but we are getting there.

The summer visitors have gone, a job to do for clients and then time to knuckle down and work on the house again. That's not to say we have been completely idle. The LGB has almost finished the fireplace, we need to choose tiles for the hearth.  A damned fine job he has made if it too, although it irks me to say it as there was a minor domestic when I was not allowed to help in the construction. I said he could have all the credit for it, but no, I was banished to floor sanding!  It is a beautiful feature in the room and my floor sanding was bloody good too!

Lunch for 14 and picnic area for the children. A glimpse of the fireplace.

Deborah free zone!

We were treated to a play from the picnicers, looking like the Von Trap family.

We have laid all the insulation on the ground floor in preparation for the pipes for underfloor heating. Installing the heating is the biggest job left to do and a little daunting for me but as usual we will overcome. Still, no pressure, we only have three guests coming for Christmas. Remember last year? In fact my last post was about cooking Christmas lunch on a camping gas ring and a one temperature cooks all cooker.  Déjà vu.  Sorry to mention Christmas in September.

The Boy graduated in July and has found a job.   How proud are we?  Peacocks come to mind.

That brings you quickly up to date and I will endeavour to write on a more regular basis from now on. Famous last words. A bientôt.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Tis the Season

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Hey!  I said not even a mouseA critter behind the wall is disturbing my Christmas Eve tradition of present wrapping whilst guzzling sipping wine. The creature is making so much noise I am fearful we will soon have no insulation left. This may be the season of goodwill to all men but that does not include mice and if they think my sofas are on their Christmas menu, think again. Meanwhile The LGB is wallowing in the long awaited bath complete with bubble bath, candles and wine whilst morphing into a prune. (Yes, we have a functioning bathroom and even builders can be in touch with their feminine side! I could be in big trouble now.)  I hope he is out by Boxing Day because we are spending the day with Old Bones on Bikes.  The rain is lashing at the window pane and the wind is howling a gale.
Bah Humbug!

We have a table and chairs set up in the upstairs makeshift living room. Christmas morning I headed upstairs with our traditional breakfast of Buck’s Fizz and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on toast. I'm no Nigella, but I make a mean scrambled eggs.  These however looked watery. I had poured hot water on the plates to warm them and forgot to pour it off before serving up! Scrambled eggs on soggy toast!  
Bah Humbug!

Where else would you want to spend Christmas?
After a luxuriant shower (did I mention we have a bathroom now?) we made a little effort and dressed up in something other than work clothes. On Christmas day traditionally we go for a long walk but the pouring rain scuppered our promenade this year.  More Buck’s Fizz it is then.
Bah Humbug!

The starter was king prawn and lobster cocktail. I bought frozen lobster. I could not have dealt with the demise of a live one on Christmas day (but that bloody mouse better stay out of my way). I've never cooked lobster but there was no problem there, plonked it in hot water and hey presto.  The LGB then took a hammer to it. He asked if I wanted to dress it. What! I'd managed to pick out a few smart clothes for myself, the least dusty ensemble I could find but I certainly wasn't going to start thinking about dressing a lobster.  Apart from assuming they would look good in a contrasting shade of orange or green for a chrismassy look I really wouldn't know where to start.
Bah Humbug!

The next stumbling block was how I would cook a sumptuous meal for two on a one ring camping gas burner, a gas oven with no temperature control and one saucepan. The gas burner is fed by a hairspray size canister which unfortunately has a habit of catching fire.  Subsequently I have to stay within view with my pompier hat on, ready to flick the safety switch off before the thing explodes and ruins all the LGB's hard work. Watching a saucepan of potatoes cooking is neither convenient nor stimulating.  Everyone knows a watched kettle never boils. The gas oven is a one heat setting burns cooks all.  The control knob just turns round and round. The LGB says if it’s brown it’s cooked and if it’s black it’s ******! You get the picture.
Bah Humbug!

All mod cons here
Self combusting gas ring

The LGB decided to throw another spanner in the works and make my task a little more difficult by doing a little plumbing on the only day of the year we are meant to do no work and placed a step ladder in the middle of our makeshift kitchen! With my lonesome saucepan and the limited cooking facilities and a little jig around the ladder I did manage to produce an edible spread fit for human consumption. The LGB thoroughly enjoyed his festive feast.
Ah big hug!

The beautifully decorated shop fronts.

Strasbourg Markets

Before Christmas we enjoyed a few days in Strasbourg with friends.  It was well worth the nine hour plus drive to get there.  It has been a crowd puller for hundreds of years.  We stayed in Maison Rouge a great hotel situated in the heart of the city. We were a stone’s throw from the main square Place Kleber that housed the biggest Christmas tree I have ever seen and an amazing light and music show across the façade of a building.

The historic centre is an island circled by the river which was our circuit for the first day.  La Petite France was my favourite area. It was full of fairytale character and teeming with old higgledy piggledy timber framed buildings.  Artists sat in the streets peddling their wares whilst painting.  The LGB bought me a very pretty watercolour from a lovely man. The second day we wended our way up and down every street possible and viewed the beautiful Gothic Cathedral. The third day we took a train to nearby Colmar another wonderfully historic town with more fabulous Christmas markets. We came across more artisan stalls there with beautiful handmade pieces. Well worth the visit.

The evenings were magical when the stalls were illuminated. The smell of mulled wine, gingerbread men and bretzels wafted through the chill air. Many of the shop fronts are elaborately decorated with huge efforts made to outdo one another. I have never taken so many photos in one place.  It was a great kick start to Christmas.  

Building update
Family bathroom up and running. Tiling to finish.
Plumbing for bathrooms completed.
Unit for family bathroom sanded and painted.
Kitchen ceiling plastered.
Angouleme stone to finish fireplace ordered and collected.
Logs stacked.
More details to follow.

By now Christmas will be over, but I hope you have all had a wonderful time. I wish you health and happiness and all that your little hearts desire for 2014. Thank you for popping by the blog and for your comments on the blog, facebook or by email. Each one is much appreciated. xx

Did I mention we have a bathroom now?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

It's Rained, He's Plastered and I'm Annie Sloaned.

Summer arrived!  There was no forewarning.  Spring didn’t stroll along with us, holding our hands and lead us sedately into summer.  There were no little teasers for the heat to come. There was no mellow preamble, just wham bam here I am. The heat was intense with no let up.  However, those sizzling days of summer now seem a distant memory.  The cranes are departing to warmer climes shouting their goodbyes as they fly overhead.  Since the last post basically it has rained every day which meant the LGB couldn't do what he planned to do so he's plastered every day.  Let me rephrase that because that doesn't show the LGB in a very good light. The LGB has plastered every day, not the LGB is plastered every day, although I am sure he would not turn down the opportunity to get plastered any time soon.

A couple of boring little photos of plastering in progress.

He was coming along swimmingly with the fireplace and chimney in the kitchen/family room when Sod’s Law came a-calling.  No sooner had he opened up the roof and begun building the chimney than the rain arrived and he had to cover it all up.  Do you know the Charente is meant to be the second sunniest department in France?  Well someone tell the Big Man because you could have fooled me.  I have hardly been further than the post box for days.  It is during these days of relentless rain I miss having a shopping mall close by just to escape the weather and enjoy a mooch in the dry.  Then to rub salt into the wound we had a flurry of snow …….in November!

A tasty tease of the fireplace coming along nicely or so the photo would have you believe.  We are out of the picture having a domestic about how we are going to get the heavy lintel into position. More about the fireplace to follow.

But every cloud has a silver lining and the rain has meant we have just knuckled down to working indoors.  The bathroom floor has had a fourth coat of varnish.  The LGB has worked like a Trojan from morning until late and has now plastered every ceiling and wall upstairs.  What a difference it makes!  My next job is to paint the rooms.  White to start, until I decide on colours or wallpaper!  Sales of paint brushes will go through the roof.  I’m still not washing the brushes!

Whilst the LGB has worked his little socks off my days are much easier. I have been varnishing doors and I have spent many hours sanding down a unit for the family bathroom. It would have been easier to head to everybody’s favourite Swedish shop for a new one. Why do I do it? I seem to be under the delusion that I was put on this earth to rescue things that other people have made redundant and save them from the scrapheap. One person’s junk is my piece of well-made furniture at a fraction of the cost of a new piece (unless you go to the Swedish shop).  This one has dovetail and mortice and tenon joints. (I wrote that like I really know what I'm talking about, didn't I?) Other bits I have bought have place names and surnames pencilled on them, maybe the maker or the client’s name? I do wonder at the history of my bits of junk, who owned them, where they were housed. Hence the garage is full of pieces of furniture waiting to be spruced up.

Doors mid varnish

Bathroom unit before I started work on it

When I was back in the UK I partook of an Annie Sloan furniture painting afternoon at Marilyn & Melrose in Alnwick, Northumberland. Annie Sloan developed paint that you can use on almost anything even fabric covered furniture and shoes!! If you don't believe me have a look wriggle test here! The afternoon was enjoyable if a little pricey at £65, but we did get a delicious slice of cake and coffee.  The LGB says if he stands still too long he is fearful of being Annie Sloaned!  That could become a bit of cockney rhyming slang ‘Cor blimey, he was Annie Sloaned last night!’

Now we are enjoying a little break in Strasbourg at the Christmas Markets. Hopefully some time in the not too distant future I will post about it.