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Published: April 23rd 2013
Start of loading van
Seems like there is a lot of space-note the Great Escape poster!
Last day of work for 8 months! Was duty, so kept pretty busy – but still time for cakes for the few that were in. Its red nose day and cakes were being sold in CID – ‘fraid the chocolate muffins weren’t as good as they looked – unlucky Sarah! Weird to say goodbye, hugs all round.
Both children and respective partners turned up for planned evening out, with a meal down at the Ox, Ashley Cross. Lovely to have them all there and had a lovely meal, followed by a complete surprise of a gathering of friends at the Brickies. What lovely children we have! Organised everyone to be there and had a really special evening – thanks go to everyone who made it, we really didn’t have a clue, and it was great to catch up and see everyone. All still feeling a little surreal.
Had to say goodbye to Joe and Didi – its going to be a while before we see them again – sad to see them go – what have we done?!
Desperately trying to pack things up. Trying to organise what’s going to France,
After a day of packing - no escaping now!
what’s going into storage and what’s being left at the house. Carly and Tom are around for the weekend which makes it a bit easier. They went off to watch the rugby while we continued to try and sort the house. Peter came to pick us up for a much anticipated last supper with them and Fez. As ever, we had a lovely evening, excellent food, ridiculous conversation and a late finish.
Too much to do to stay in bed. Carly and Tom came over after their night out and cooked us breakfast – I don’t feel we’ve done enough to deserve our kids, they do so much for us! Another day of packing and planning and another goodbye to Carly and Tom. Easier though as we’ve planned to stay with them after our initial visit over to France.
Went over to pick up the 3.5 ton Luton truck with tail lift from U drive. Spent the day packing it – its impressive what Jim managed to fit in, and for those who have too much time on their hands and are actually willing to read it, I’m
going to list it:-
Cagiva motorcycle; Suzuki SV650 motorcycle; washing machine; folding screen; 6’ x 8’ French windows and frame; corner kitchen cabinet and carousel; a double kitchen cabinet; a single narrow kitchen cabinet; x2 wall kitchen cabinets with glass doors; a king size bed with mattress and x4 drawers; a single bed and mattress, power planer, mains drill, one battery drill; angle grinder, jigsaw, oribital sander; hot air gun and assorted tools. One bench log saw, x2 chest of drqwers, atleast 20 bin bags of clothes and linen, surround sound system, dvd player, satellite receiver, cd player, amplifier, tape player, 3 metre x 2 metre rug, books, cds, dvds, plants, trees, over mantle mirror, contents of larder, tumble dryer, vacuum cleaner, framed pictures, lamps, ornaments, full size wooden garden table and x4 chairs and cushions, and 1 Triumph silencer!
Jim finished packing in the dark. See the photos which should be attached somewhere close by (hopefully)
Left around 7.30am and drove to DFDS ferry terminal, Dover. Made pretty good time. Went via the weigh bridge - 4850 kilos. Drove onto the ferry with all the big boys, felt a little small. Shared
The drive back
Not what we had in mind for the weather.
a plate of chips and had a quick kip. The journey the other side went on forever – uneventful but long and arrived 11.30pm. Next door Jennie, had lit all the fires, had a clean up, turned on the lights , turned on the fridge after stocking it with eggs, and was there to welcome us – what a gem!
Unpacked the truck and tried to find homes for everything. Very cold still. Cutting of wood in between sorting all the bags out. Getting fed up with trying to carry king size mattress – they’re so difficult! First real evening of sitting down in front of the living room fire and chilling.
Unloaded the motorbikes and introduced them to the big barn, their new home for a while. More sorting – more cutting wood.
To make full use of the truck we went into Epinal to Brico Depot and bought:-
12 sheets of 8’ x 4’ plasterboard, 6 sheets of 8’ x 4’ insulated plasterboard, 135cm x 145cm double glazed wood framed window, x12 4metre lengths of 75mm 63mm pine; x2 2.6metre
solid beech wood 40mm work surfaces; 1 reel of 1.5 pre wired electrical conduit 100 metres; 1 reel of 2.5 pre wired electrical conduit 100 metres; x8 2.4 metre 75mm x20mm pine; x7 crates of 20 1664 beer; 1.5 grants whisky; 1 litre vodka and 70cl barcadi; 1 bottle of wine; x2 40litre bags of compost and a bagette!
Then had to unload it all again – feeling as though this was just being too damn clever for my own good!
More sorting, and getting everything ready for leaving again!
Left around 8.30am, missed the ring road around Brussels and had to go through it, not very well signposted! Obviously been snow the night before around Brussels and Luxembourg and drove through some snow, but not too bad. Arrived early for the ferry, but not early enough to get on the earlier one. Thought we were going to have trouble getting through customs as the ferry company hadn’t amended the truck registration as requested. They had only amended the outgoing journey – not very helpful but not a problem as it turned out. Another pretty uneventful and long journey and got home around 11.30pm. Coffee and bed.
Returned the truck. Lots of cleaning and packing of the remaining things – more than anticipated. So much to clean!! The gate that Jim had erected for the new tenants ( as agreed ), had come away from its fixings and had to be secured back on, but no power tools, all in France!! Back for a very welcome supper with Peter and Yola, they spoil us – we’ll miss them – but hoping they’ll visit us in Grandrupt with Fez in August. Borrowed a couple of drills off Peter.
More frantic cleaning. Jim managed to see Ric and Lorraine, and returned Peter’s drills. I managed my last yoga lesson – was sad to say goodbye – its been such a long time. Had a quick coffee with Pete and Vicky and said goodbye to them too – so many good byes!
Woke up with toothache! Last frantic cleaning while Jim was packing the car – too much stuff. Had to leave a couple of things behind and poor Black Beauty (the car )was right down on its suspension. Drove to Wandsworth to stay with Carly and Tom for the last night. Got there early afternoon and spent the time at an emergency dentist, got some anti biotics for an abcess under a troublesome tooth. Fingers crossed it’ll sort it and the tooth will last until we complete the US trip – time will tell.
Caught the bus to Shepherds Bush Empire to see Joe Bonamassa in concert. My treat and a great start to our adventures! Actually, wasn’t as great as I had anticipated. He can sure play, but I felt the very long tour dates were showing – it wasn’t an inspired performance and seemed very short and lacked some of the favourite numbers – no Sloe gin! Not a patch on the BIC performance last year – sorry Joe, seems like a betrayal but Just saying how I see it! But it did mean that we were home early enough to get to chat to Carly and Tom before going to bed.
Another goodbye! We will be seeing them again at the end of next month, so not as painful as it could have been.
Got lost going out of London – managed to lose the south circular ring road and couldn’t find the A23! Consequently was late getting to the Euro tunnel – arrived at 11.45 for the 11.50 crossing!! But somebody is looking out for us up there – the train was delayed by 20 minutes and we drove straight on!!
Another long journey, but went via the Peages and was much quicker – arrived around 8.30ish.
More unpacking – more homes for all the last minute bits and bobs that actually don’t really have homes, but get moved from pillar to post – should have just chucked them!
Off to Darney to buy washing powder – it wouldn’t fit in the car and had to ditch it in Poole! Did a machine wash – our first one in our newly purchase washing machine newly installed – a treat! Still really cold – still cutting wood – still lighting all fires.
All mod cons now set up, stereo, tv with surround sound, computer (no internet) – all so weird!! Looking like home – but could do with a working kitchen – can’t have everything!
March – Easter Day
Tried calling Mum and Dad and Sal on next door’s phone, but they were all out. Ate our Easter egg from next door.
Cutting of wood (always!) – stripping of wall paper in the spare bedroom, plastering around the window. Digging bed for vegetables.
Cutting of wood (always!) – more stripping of wall paper. Mowing grass.
Happy Birthday Tommy!
Finished stripping wall paper in preparation for Sally & Greg’s visit on Sunday. Bleached the walls to try and kill the mould! Tooth feeling ok, still concerned but its hanging on in there. Visit to Darney for shopping and bought memory stick – can’t believe Darney supermarket had a memory stick –technology is indeed everywhere. Now using it for trip to Epinal to try and find internet access to download this lot. Been a fair bit warmer during the day and car read 17 degrees – but perhaps more to do with Black Beauty’s black paint job, and sitting in the sun for a while – but still nice to feel the warmth on the back! The house is really beginning to look homely and we’re enjoying being here – no regrets so far!!
Sanded down walls in spare bedroom, but got to sit and have a coffee in the sun. Cleaned off 30 years of dirt off the skirting boards and doors.
Damn tooth started playing up again, started on the second load of antibiotics – fingers crossed this time. Options aren’t looking too promising – bad reviews of local dentists, real red neck stuff, sounds brutal and I’m a coward. Sounds as though travel is going to be involved, but how far? Still, not there yet.
Started painting the walls in the spare bedroom, good old magnolia – bought 10 litre tubs of cheap Crown magnolia and white paint from B and Q before coming out, French paint is ridiculously expensive and crap. Amazing the difference with a new coat of paint.
Happy birthday Didi – I did text Joe, I don’t know if you ever got it, but we were thinking of you.
Finished off the painting, hope the smell of new paint won’t be too strong, sister and brother in law arrive tomorrow. Room looking a lot better.
Went off to a Vide Grenier (car boot sale to most). It was bitterly cold and masses of stalls. A lot of children’s plastic toys – apparently same the world over, but came away with a bedside rug for the newly decorated bedroom, a large copper kettle and a mattock blade, all for the grand sum of 10 euros.
Finished off with some cleaning – place looking better than it ever has – perhaps not saying much – but those who have seen the place in its early days will be impressed - probably the only people! Guests arrived without getting lost! Showed around the place, seemed a little underwhelmed!!
Still concerned with the tooth, still not settled down properly, but ongoing with the anti biotics so still hopeful.
Started on work – Sal and me started knocking off the plaster behind the wood burner in the living room. Made a real mess. The boys started on the drilling though the kitchen to the living room wall. A 2 foot stone wall – they made more of a mess!
Work has progressed, though more in mess than achievement – finding it difficult putting up with inches of dust everywhere. But it’s all to our advantage in the long run.
Weather has been terrible and constant rain – it all looks a bit grim in this weather, not to mention cold and damp everywhere.
Took the guests to our favourite spot – Brico Depot in Epinal! Bought some more supplies for the ongoing wiring job. Stopped into MacDonalds for free wifi, feeling pretty cut off from the world with very limited phone signal (a drive out is required before I can send any texts) and no internet. Next door has offered us the use of theirs when its working – just that it hasn’t been yet. Managed to book our shuttle bus from Los Angeles airport to Claremont, I think anyway. Seemed to take ages. Managed a few updates and checked hotmail, but the background shouting of children and inane music started to get to us. I can only assume that this is a ploy so that people don’t hang around using free wifi – it certainly worked on us and both Jim and myself left complete with head aches. We had managed a quick check on Facebook though and saw Carly’s last moving entry’ in relation to us leaving, “…and just like that, with a panama hat placed on top of a mountain of bags, they were off…..Bon voyage parentals …”
Woke up at 4 this morning and lay awake worrying about the things we should be doing for our trip, 2 weeks on Wednesday! Worrying that we’re getting too involved with the wiring job and not concentrating enough on the trip. To that end, and at a more reasonable hour, we started writing a list of things to do and buy both in the States and before we go, as well as what to take with us. Went next door and begged use of their internet – its up and running!! Conversed with JimmyT in the States, who was asking whether we wanted the crap or expensive version of crash bars fitted to the bikes – we chose expensive! He is so good at communication and getting things done, I don’t know how on earth we could have got this far without him. With lists done, I felt a little better, but time is indeed ticking away…..
A little more organised….during the day work has carried on in the garden here, mostly because the weather has changed from cold and grey to hot with blue skies, and in the evenings we’ve downloaded music onto the Nexus, with our travels in mind, as well as copies of official documents.
I’ve changed our booking back to the UK for the 22nd
April as opposed to the 27th
April and made appointments with my dentist. The tooth has settled down, but is definitely not right, so x2 45min appts booked with a filling repair for one, and a root canal for the other (a crown to be added on our return from the US) – not something I’m looking forward to, but it’ll be nice not to have to worry about it on our travels. Hoping to get some of our gear together tomorrow, check out how much we plan to take!
No more tooth!! Torn out by the roots, or what was left of it…just horrible, but gone now, my eye is still numb!! Took the coward way out and came back to Poole early to get it sorted, I’ve still got another appointment on Thursday for the other broken tooth, French bread and dentistry of the 1960’s has a lot to answer for.
We’re staying with kind friends (who actually aren’t here), but we’re very grateful for the offer of the use of the house. It makes life much easier, having the use of communication and so I’m taking the opportunity of updating my blog….finally…I hope that it won’t take so long next time…and we might even be in the US……
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