I missed autumn

Ok, maybe not completely. I saw autumn this year and I felt the weather getting colder, but I didn’t go out once just to appreciate the colours and take photographs! The reason for this is only because we are busy with a ‘process’ and I can’t wait to have it finished! This old house here in Beynes taught me something about myself. I actually knew this already…

I am good with the idea, then the dream, then the planning, but I am not good with the process! I want it done and move in and start decorating! I can not handle living in dust! I hate it when things are standing around everywhere. (Strange, as I am not really the best housewife… cleaning isn’t high on my priority list.) Working on a house is not good for the impatient. As we finish a room, I immediately move in and pack out. Then you do a next room and everything is covered in dust again. Have you ever seen a house after someone used a grinder to remove tiles?? You try to keep things clean, till you give up and just wipe every cup and plate before you use it.
I am really good with the end, the finished product.
I can see this in all my photographs. I have before and after photo’s. A lot of them. I have a few photo’s of while we’re busy. Living in the dust, I can see nothing I want to share with anyone. Definitely nothing to write about in a blog. I paint walls and stop doing anything else (like go out and appreciate autumn, for example) just to get it done!
Why do we always buy the houses that needs work? We are a big family. We like space. We need space. There are craft stuff, art stuff, electronic stuff, exercise stuff, music stuff… We need a big house… but I like this old house… Maybe I do like the process a little bit…

We had two weeks school holiday in November and we tackled the lounge and the last bits in the ‘finished’ kitchen, where I have already packed out everything, hanged things on the wall, etc. I wonder how many times in the last three months have I unpacked and repacked the little IKEA cupboard with the wine glasses so that it can be moved out of the way of the work. Today I dusted all the glasses and repacked it in the cupboard in its new spot next to a wall that I know I must still paint… I do not like the process!
I love it when its done… : )

One week later…

I actually started typing this post a week ago. We are much closer to the end now and the dust is all gone, now I actually like renovating this house. : ) In the lounge there are just half a ceiling still to be painted. The tiles are replaced. Its clean again. What did I complain about? : )  Unfortunately, if I now want to go see autumn, I’ll have to take photographs of the leaves on the ground. Next year…

Just by the way… I moved the IKEA cupboard again in the last week. Not a problem, you unpack all the glasses, move, and pack it back again. That’s nothing for people like me, who loves the ‘process’ so much. : )

It would have been better to post lovely autumn leaves, but I need to give the evidence that I help too. Don’t know who had the camera?

The wall was tackled again…

We have to eat here… : )

and we should sit here…

the lounge floor had the same story as the kitchen floor. Cement to be removed… Two ‘not so willing’ helpers and Peggy’s mark. : )

I did miss autumn, but we surely didn’t miss Mandi’s birthday. It looked a bit better than the above photo’s by then…
She and her friends had a sleepover in the holidays and waffles with cream on her birthday.

We are actually not completely finished… so give me a day or two for the after photo’s. Do know that it already looks much better than the above… : )

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The new (or old) becomes the normal

I live in a house that was build in 1840. I have old skew stone walls. The name of the house opposite me is ‘le clos Normand’. On the other side are old stone houses that used to be stables. I leave my house and drive down a little street that could be a puzzle picture. : ) I pass a château when I take the girls to gymnastics… but so soon it is just a normal life. I sit and wonder what I will show family and friends when they come to visit, forgetting that it might be ‘new’ to them again.
Then there is also the fact that I could quickly walk to the station to be in Paris an hour later. Will I go tomorrow… maybe next week. : )

But the strange (or normal) thing is that life is exactly the same. (For the moment we ignore these people’s thing of speaking and writing everything in french : ) ) We still have washing, and bathrooms have to be cleaned. The family have to eat everyday. When you travel to gymnastics you talk about normal things, like what happened in school today and forget to even look to the right to see the château again.

across the road…

So let’s forget about dirty kitchens and bathrooms for a while and see the little ‘pretty, old’  things around the house.

the little men that keep the shutters open…

the wooden ‘nails’ that keep the beams in place…

old stone walls that ‘hopefully’ keep the house standing… : )

ring the bell and I’ll open the door…

The weather is changing fast. Early mornings are cold, but the days are still ok. I want to go to the brocante in Montainville on Sunday and I don’t know if the weather will be good enough to join the South Africans for ‘braai day’. : ) Whatever you do this week-end, have a lovely time.

September.

Everything comes to a standstill in France during August. Everyone is on holiday, even boulangeries and small businesses close for the month. In contrast to that, September seems like everything comes back to life again.  More people on the trains, school children are waiting at bus stops and moms are walking their little ones to school.
In our lives things are back to normal as well. The kids are back in school, gymnastics have started again and tennis and tumbling will start today.  Many things are different to last year in Courdimanche. The children are now in new french public schools. No more special french classes. The schools they were in last year had mostly immigrant children and here all children are french. A different culture…  The girls say that you can now talk to your friends and actually hear each other. No more screaming children around you. : ) The boys were amazed by the fact that nobody talked in class. : ) Last year the children had no respect for teachers and would just keep on talking while the teachers were busy with class.
They all take the bus to school and the bus stop is just down the road, a five minute walk. After last year’s more than an hour travelling by train and bus the boys now enjoy a quick 15 minutes by bus.
So let’s see what the new year brings with Mandi and Franci in Collège François Rabelais in Val de 4 Pignons and Jaco and Pieter in Lycée Viollet le Duc in Villiers Saint Frédéric.

The girls are enjoying gymnastics already, which is now in Maurepas. The new coaches knew about them coming as the friendly coaches in Cergy phoned them to tell them everything about the two South African girls. What level they are on, and what they like and don’t like to do. : )

September started with a huge brocanté here in Beynes. Everyone empty their attics and then somebody else buys it again. : ) But a festive atmosphere with 400 stalls and the whole region looking around for bargains.

As everyone is busy again with work or school, the work on the house has slowed down a bit, but a few small things have been done…

Danie sanded the stairs and gave it a new layer of varnish.

he turned the old kitchen cupboard under the stairs into a pretty blackboard for me…

and the empty pots in the courtyard received a few plants… choice of plants? everything on sale : )

 

Painting rooms.

It is the end of the 2 month summer holiday. The shops, television and ads in the mailbox all tell you that la rentrée is here. Back to school. This year was a bit easier to do the shopping for school, as we know now that you don’t find lined paper. We know what grand carreaux and petits carreaux mean and we are not surprised by all the blocks in the exercise books. The kids are excited for this year. They will be in ‘nicer’ schools and their french is much better now, than a year ago.

The holiday is over, but the work in the house is not done yet. But then, is work in a house ever done? In this family it will anyway change again in a year or two as someone gets a new idea or a child goes into a new ‘phase’.

The kids have worked hard in their bedrooms, but still have some plans. They have their own ideas and plans and colour choices… there are limits! Prices of paint also added some extra limits. Paint in France is really expensive.  Our solution for this was a 25l tin of white paint, on special, and added paint tints for each one.
The boys’ rooms had the most work because their rooms had old wallpaper, which were not the best colours and tearing off in places. The girls could only paint their walls and move in. Our room is still orange, but painting them is low on the priority list.

On day one, this is what we found. Not as bad as the kitchen… The boys’ rooms are on the first floor. The original old rooms of the house. We and the girls are in the new rooms that was created in the attic at some stage. Therefore, I should mention that I have to climb 31 stairs to my bedroom! : ) Enough to keep anyone fit…

Pieter’s room before…

getting rid of wallpaper… with some help… and taking a break…

…and changed into a  gamer’s room…

Jaco’s room before…

… getting rid of old wallpaper…

…to change it into a black and white, drummer’s room.
He still has plans with the empty walls…

Franci’s room before…

…  now colourful…

Mandi’s room before…

…a teenage girl…

our room before…

… and only washed the floor and moved in… : )

There is also a guest room… but that still only has some before photographs. I quickly finished removing the wallpaper when Hartman came to stay over one night : ), but it will be painted before the next guests arrive…

The kitchen… had a wall… and a floor

Maybe I should start the story by showing the nice stone wall in the room behind the kitchen, which is the reason for all this dust and work for a week… and that wasn’t planned at all.

the kitchen on day 1… Danie started on the spiderwebs…

Then we wondered why a wall can be so nice on one side and covered with ‘fake’ wall on the other side, and opened just a small piece to see what’s behind it… and it looked nice and ‘stoney’ : ) and then Danie cut open a big piece and then…

a stone wall covered with cement…

Dust, disappointment, work, why did we do this!.. and no turning back as the thick ‘fake’ wall had no support at the bottom and had to be taken out. That alone took two days. Our first decision was that we will just paint it… but, we are six people and with some fun we (not really me, they) started to ‘chisel’ (if that’s a verb) stone after stone…

…and then mixing white cement and slowly covering the gray cement between the stones… by hand…

This ‘mistake’ will actually be very nice in the end. The work was stopped first to do the rest of the kitchen, but the finished part looks like this now…

The rest of the kitchen…? We found this when the kitchen zink was taken out… : )

Then they started fixing… tiling and filling holes in walls.

The floor has a story too. I think houses can tell a lot of stories about the people living in them. In this house somebody decided to tile this big kitchen/diningroom with nice tiles. Then somebody decided that it is too big and cut a line through the tiles and build a wall in the middle. Then somebody didn’t like the wall and take it out again, but now there is a line of cement in the middle of the tile floor. Then somebody thought it a nice idea to cover the tiles with a thin layer of cement to make it smooth and then stick novilon tiles onto that. Luckily they stopped just before sticking the tiles. Then somebody (which is now us) saw that if you make this cement layer wet and use scrapers and a few people you can get the cement off again. So, that’s what we did.. and many hours of scraping later…

we went from this…

doing this…

to this…

The cement line is still in the kitchen, but just this morning Danie discovered a whole pile of the kitchen tiles in his outside building. Cement line fixed!

In the meantime I’ve painted the walls and all the beams. We could use our loose IKEA kitchen cupboards from Courdimanche, with one difference in this house, that the corners are not 90 degrees. All walls are skew. : ) There are still little things to be done, but for now we are here…