Translators R us

After the last few, frantic weeks, a few evenings of being able just to slob out seemed extremely appealing to us, but the best laid plans…….

When a neighbour called in yesterday afternoon, it soon because apparent that this was more than just a social visit. She and her husband own a magnificent country hotel complex, known locally as the chateau. For personal reasons, they need to sell; it’s been on the market for several years already, but with no sign of a sale, she’s trying different forms of marketing. She’s signed up with a company that seems more proactive than most French estate agencies, but they work exclusively in English, the international business language. A friend who was going to translate the description documents had fallen ill and the poor woman was at the end of her tether; this needed doing urgently and please could we help?

We agreed, of course, not realising that the document ran to 17 pages. She’d tried to translate it herself, but I suspect, using Google translate, giving her sentences such as “…guests come to discuss, have glass or a coffee and to slacken after a bathe or a moment of bronzing”, or “they take their collation by appreciating the present moment around present and slackened discussions, for a true moment of happiness”. At least laughing at Google’s suggestions helped keep us awake, as we’d decided to keep working till it was finished. That was 3 o’clock this morning. 

When we did finally surface for breakfast, it was to find a message on the phone; she is utterly delighted with what we’ve done, she says it absolutely captures the spirit of what she wants to portray. I must admit to having allowed myself a little poetic licence in places, but that made it more fun. 

At last, we’re in!

Five and a half years, and heaven only knows how many hours of digging, demolition, designing, stripping out, plastering, filling, wiring, plumbing, roofing, tiling, painting, varnishing and general hair-tearing, and finally, yesterday, the big day arrived. It has so often felt that we’d never actually get to this point, but we did it – we moved into the new house. The last two weeks have been pretty intense, working from 8am till 11pm most days; I can’t begin to describe how tired we are, but I’ve been struggling even to eat, have no interest in cooking and am too tired to sleep properly, waking at 4am, panicking about how much needs doing. Nick’s always been stronger and more resilient than me, but even he looks drawn and has lost his normal bounce.

Friends rallied round to help; Kieran, Adrian and Gerard helped Nick to move the big stuff, then we all carried the contents of the kitchen cupboards through to their new home; as the new house is all upside down, having the bedrooms on the ground floor and the living upstairs, it meant that everything had to be transferred diagonally, stuff from upstairs going down and vice versa.

In addition to that, there was the shower screen to fit in the bathroom, which seemed to entertain all four men for several hours, while Christiane and I cleaned and sorted the bedrooms in the gite, ready for the arrival of Alex and family next week.


By 5pm enough was done for us to move in and we were all shattered, so we called it quits for the day. Nick and I had a birthday party to go to, where, amazingly, we managed to stay awake. We had planned that, after walking and cycling this morning, we’d take the rest of the day off, but, surprise, surprise, we ended up sorting the kitchen cupboards until 7.30 this evening.

Now it’s time to stop and do nothing for at least a couple of hours. There’s still a lot to do before we can call it finished, but it’s habitable so I think it’s time for a break now.

Apres cinq ans et demi, et des heures innombrables de travaux, nous avons, en fin, déménagé dans la nouvelle maison. C’est un jour que je pensais n’arriverait jamais. Ces dernières deux semaines, on a travaillé tous les jours du matin au soir et on est completement épuisé, meme Nick, qui est toujours plus fort que moi.

Kieran et quelques amis nous ont aidé; toutes les choses de l’étage devaient aller au rez de chausée et vice versa, car la nouvelle maison a les chambres en bas et le “living” en haut. Il a fallu aussi poser l’écran de douche, un metier qui a amusé les hommes pendant assez longtemps lorsque Christiane et moi ont nettoyé les chambres au gite, pret pour l’arrivé de notre fille et sa famille la semaine prochaine.

Cet apres-midi, on avait l’intention de nous reposer, mais il fallait ranger tout dans la cuisine, donc on a travaillé jusqu’à 19h30, mais maintenant il est temps de dire stop et de profiter de tous nos efforts.