Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Happy Christmas 2012

Hi friends and family and anyone else who happens to be passing by. I don't normally send out one of those Christmas letters with my cards, but if anyone is interested then I post a link to this page, where I summarise the year, thus saving on paper and postage and ensuring that only those who really want to know what we have been doing actually have to read it!

This year started with 'more of the same' I suppose. The building project continues. January saw us making progress with the garage. It was cold but sunny and we managed to get the wall structure built before February, when we were hit by the coldest winter in 45 years. Snow is pretty unusual here but we had up to a metre of snow and temperatures that never got above -8 for two weeks. Needless to say, everything ground to a halt and it became a full time job to keep warm on our 3 kw temporary electricity supply! It finally thawed in March and we were able to get the roof on, the windows in, the doors in and covered with a weatherproof membrane. Unfortunately that is as far as we have got as other things have taken priority! What we were able to do was to finally move all of our possessions here and on the same piece of land in the same country..Some day in the future we may actually be able to unpack them all!

Other progress has been opening up the kitchen and living room and completing the electrical work so that finally, as of 4 weeks ago we have had a proper electricity supply. Next job is to put in a proper hot water system so that we can have more than 15 litres of hot water at a time! It arrives next week!

Of course in all of this we have also had to earn some money and so my work has continued at Bordeaux and Ian(sic) has been starting up his handyman business with a few jobs for other people.

Just as we were in full flow over the summer, my mother had a stroke. I was summoned to UK and spent the period of the Olympic games by her bedside. She didn't really make much recovery and died 3 weeks later, so there has been a fair bit of going back and forth before and after and no doubt more to come next year as we get on with 'sorting' things. I am doing fine but obviously have my sad moments, particularly because she never got to see our house in its finished state. My brother was also just in the final stages of his mammoth building project as well and starting a new job, so it was a stressful time for us all.  Their project was featured on Grand Designs. You can see it here. Bear in mind it is carefully edited for TV!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvMJeoTZn6o

The dog has been in our lives all year, going from being a complete and utter pain, to the best dog in the world on a regular basis. He learns quickly, but unfortunately he doesn't always learn the right things! He also proved to be an obnoxious teenager, constantly challenging for top position but also being nervous! In the end we decided to get him castrated, and that is beginning to prove to be the right decision, as the hormone levels have reduced and there are now channels of communication with him. I reckon another year and we may have cracked it! We are also considering getting another dog, as he is just one of those dogs that is so much better when he has a dog to relate to rather than a human.

Other tasks this year have included trying to get to grips with French bureaucracy, in that we registered the car, I changed my drivers licence to a French one, we filled in tax forms, and finally we both registered as small businesses. That in itself took several days of work, but stage one of our 'integration' has started.

On a less positive note my aatempts to improve my French have stagnated a bit. A summer of speaking English has not helped; so maybe that will be my New Years resolution and my goal for 2013. This, along with a list of jobs, that if we really started to think about them would make us panic, plus trying to earn the odd shilling to keep us going will no doubt keep me well and truly busy!

So, Happy Christmas to you all and best wishes for 2013. If anyone is around the aea do pop in!

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