Actually purchasing the village house in Lonlay l'Abbaye took more than a year, but in the autumn of 2015, we had the keys in hand. Around that time we sought help for what was surely to be a somewhat extensive renovation, but we had no idea that it would eventually involve rebuilding most of the interior of the stone house from the dirt floor up!
So it is that it is now 2019, and we are hungry for progress - more anxious than ever to see the place finally habitable and capable of sustaining life, liberty and our leisure pursuits in Normandy. The early part of 2018 did see some progress: walls and floors were finished upstairs, interior doors were hung, and some heaters installed.
By September of 2018, we had reason to celebrate with another visit to Le Presbytère, the lovely B&B run by Toinette and Tom Jack in nearby St. Bomer les Forges. Le Presbytère was the perfect stopover for us and our daughter, Andelys, as we enjoyed a glorious breakfast there before heading over to see the newly installed bathroom (!!) at our village house in Lonlay.
If you can believe it, this is the BEFORE and AFTER!
To jumpstart the bathroom work, Joseph and I had travelled to Castorama outside of Caen in June, where we met with the builders and ordered all of the fixtures, tiles and bathroom fittings that they estimated would fit in the miniscule space, giving us a functional bathroom.
The floor plan was reworked a few times, but we were very happy when they sent us photos showing us that the basics were in. By the time we stopped by with our daughter in September, they had added a heated towel rack and the only remaining work to be done in the bathroom was installation of a light and fan/vent on the ceiling. Of course it needs painting, but we may do that ourselves.
The wall that the hot water heater is leaning against in this photo is where our small kitchen will be installed soon. In October we met Nicola at the Leroy Merlin superstore outside Caen and ordered all of our kitchen appliances and cabinets. That visit became something of a comedy of errors when we could not summon an Uber to pick us up at the suburban store and were worried we would miss our train back to Paris.
Nicola bravely volunteered to drive us back into Caen - the roads around the city being a snarl of highways, industrial develpments and connecting routes. There was only one catch, and that was that Joseph would have to ride in the back, if he didn't mind. Well no, except (ahem), there were no seats in the back of the van, only tools and building materials, paints and her sweet dog.
I sat in the front passenger seat and turned on my phone for navigation to the train station. Due to construction and dead ends however, Google maps was taking us in circles, the minutes were ticking by until the train would arrive, and Joseph and the dog were sliding around in the back with levels, lumber and the like. At last, we saw a sign that showed us where to go, and Nicola made a hairpin turnaround on the highway, qualifying for the next Fast and Furious film. We made it back to the train station with a few minutes to spare and Joseph upgraded us to first class as a reward for our jangled nerves!
The swallows are amazing and intrepid creatures who make a long pilgrimage every year from Africa to nest in their preferred locations. Their habitat is shrinking, so we are pleased to welcome them. We may have to have someone come to clean those windows again before the spring though, and perhaps install a removable shelf under the nest to catch the droppings. It's always something...
Speaking of construction work, we also met a lovely and fearless woman who has taken on the project of renovating a "maison de maître" with a fascinating history in the hills of Lonlay l'Abbaye. She gave us tea and a tour of the wonderful place. Perhaps more about that next time as well.