A very nice surprise

The heating in my apartment is useless; electric radiators which get hot but don’t radiate the heat. In my first couple of weeks here, I had them turned up full in the living room 24 hours a day, I didn’t dare heat the bedrooms too, and the temperature only achieved 17°C on two occasions. I have an app on my phone on which, in theory, I can track my energy consumption; unfortunately it’s only worked for one 24 hour period, but that single day cost me 9 euros ! I turned the heating off and happily, the weather improved.

I decided to look at a pompe à chaleur réversible (heat pump that does heat and aircon), got an estimate and took it to the management company’s office. I asked how long is have to wait for a decision; she wasn’t sure, but thought I’d probably have to wait till the residents’ AGM – in September! Oh well, if that’s how things work…….

Imagine my surprise then, when a week later I received an email telling me that, for exceptional reasons, I can go ahead! I haven’t asked why, I don’t want to stir things up, but I did call into the office to check that I’d not misunderstood the email. So next winter I should be toasty warm and if the summer is as hot as last year, I’ll have aircon too.

Apart from that, I’ve had a few days off. It made me realise just how exhausted I was and it’s been really difficult to motivate myself to start again. However, in the end, I had no choice; a neighbour from Caupenne offered to come over to help with jobs that I can’t do myself. I made a long list before he arrived and Kieran said he’d join Paul to help dismantle the big wardrobe in the spare room. It was a very good quality wardrobe and took a lot of work to take it apart. There were quite a few “right said Fred” moments, when the screws they expected to find didn’t exist or they just couldn’t work out how various pieces had been fitted together, but eventually it came apart – and in a saleable fashion, which meant somebody else could take it away. I put it on le bon coin (an internet selling site) and a couple came to buy it this morning.

“Right” said Fred, ” have to take the shelves out, them there shelves will surely have to go”……..
Much more spacious.

Another job I had lined up for Paul was tile cutting. When Ludovic took away the clutter collector, it left pieces of tile on the wall below that were too short. I managed to find enough spares in the garage, Kieran brought his tile cutter and Paul did the cutting. I’ve retiled the bit of wall now and just need to grout it.

So the balcony is looking clearer, as is the garage since I sold all my packing boxes and the kitchen is more to my taste. There’s still a lot of decorating to do, but it’s good to feel that I’m gradually making progress.

One room done – well almost

One of the first things I had to do when I moved in here was to remove stickers from windows, doors, mirrors, cupboards…… nearly every surface was liberally covered in stickers, from the parrots and palm trees on the fridge, to the orange and olive trees on the windows, to a 2 metre high poppy on a wardrobe door, to the waterfall that completely covered the spare bedroom door. That has taken hours of work so far and is proving to be very difficult to remove.

The next item on my “has to go” list was the sliding glass window and the clutter collector it sat on, between the living room and the kitchen (sadly I’ve got no “before” pictures). It stuck out by 15cm on both sides of the wall, covering a chunk of work surface and serving no useful purpose, unless you like somewhere that gathers clutter.

Just needs varnishing and tiling underneath now.

I can’t rely on Kieran to do all these tasks, but he recommended a friend he’s worked with before, Ludovic, who has a business doing renovations etc. The first time Ludovic came round, I’d just got to the stage in the assembly of an IKEA chest of drawers that required more strength than I possess; he was very happy to oblige, leaving just the drawers to put together, which Kieran did when next he was over.

A week later, Ludovic came back to remove the window and the clutter collector, which he replaced with a piece of oak, as well as putting me some extra shelving in the kitchen. I’d finished decorating my workshop by this point, but was struggling to reinstall two of the shelves; again Ludovic was happy to help. He looked around the room, asking if I’d done the decorating myself; well yes. What, on my own? Yes. Didn’t I ever sleep? I had to admit not as much as I’d like!

Anyway, apart from a few bits, that room is now done; I filled the built in wardrobe with fabrics and can now sew again. A woman who runs textile arts courses recommended a patchwork club in Seignosse, where she explained “at the moment they just do traditional patchwork, but I think, with the right person, there may be some interest in textile arts”. So I’ve joined and I think she might be right, I’ll wait and see.

As the weather’s warming up, it felt like time to take a few days off; there’s a swimming pool just a five minute walk from here, it’s not open all the time, but is fine. I found the proper route for the longer walk around the lake and am gradually working my way through all the paperwork involved in moving house.

A bit of DIY

I’d intended to have some time off when I’d moved in to my new abode, but the weather’s been very cold for the last week and the heating in the apartment is frankly pathetic, it’s only achieved 17°C on a couple of occasions so far, mostly staying around 15 or 16. That’s fine while I’m busy, but not ideal for sitting around.

Gemma sent me a lovely warm dressing gown, which I put on over my many layers in the evenings, along with extra socks, while I wrap my feet in an old quilt.

So the cold is one reason for keeping busy; the other being the horrible, old lady style, salmon pink, vinyl wallpaper that adorned the walls of my workshop. I want to be able to fill my workshop with my textiles stuff, which is currently filling the spare room. So the paper just had to go!

I stripped the top layer, hoping I could just paint the backing paper, but it was too much of a mess. I found lining paper and paste in one of the many DIY shops (oh, the luxury of having a choice of shops!) and reclaimed my pasting brushes from Kieran, but wasn’t sure what to use as a pasting table as the paper is a metre wide – wider than a standard pasting table. All became clear when I read the instructions on the paste packet; you paste the wall! That was a first for me, as was the screaming pink colour of the paste – it dries clear.

I’ve papered the first wall today and it looks ok. Another couple of days will see the papering finished, then I’ll paint and will be able to start filling shelves and cupboards. Once that’s done I can have some time off, as the weather should be warming up a bit soon.

I should have taken down the shelf supports, but my tool kit doesn’t run to the specialist screwdriver (star head) required.