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The French Blatting Company

The House Renovation


In November/December 2010 I was taken into hospital with a suspected heart problem. I had been to the doctor as I was getting breathless. This was at 12:00 and he made a phone call and informed me I was booked into see the cardiologist at 14:00 at the local hospital that day (NHS?). They kept me as they thought I was at risk of a heart attack. In fact I have arterial fibrillation - a common and non-life threatening condition. Anyway, I digress (you'll see what all this has to do with a house renovation soon) Lynne was fine that day but got lost going home (nothing new there then). The next day she left early so she could drive home in the daylight. All OK, she found her way without a hitch. I then get a call from her at about 6pm that she was fine but having a panic attack and had called an ambulance. In fact a friend had phoned to find out how I was and she had asked them to call an ambulance. So the normal cycle started. She was brought to the hospital (same as I was in) where she was sedated and then flown by helicopter to intensive care at Nantes. I discharged my self and went there. She was in a coma for 5 days and then released to the ward. However the experience had frightened her so much that she insisted we went "home" so, in her words, she could die near the children. She wanted to be near her children, no one asked them if they wanted her near them but hey-ho.


We stayed in a house owned by my son which he lets out to students but was empty at that time. After a while we started looking around for a house to buy and eventually found one. We arranged a mortgage and were due to sign the purchase and mortgage docs on a Thursday in July (so we'd been in the UK for over 6 months but I'd been back to France every 4-6 weeks to cut the grass and look after things). On the Wednesday evening she looks at me with that funny look that women give men when they are about to shock them. "Why are we doing this? We have a house in France, why don't we just move back? But you must do it up and get central heating in". Now you can imagine, my jaw was on the floor, my heart was soaring way above me and I was, for the first time in my life (those who know me will agree) speechless.


So on the 23 July 2011 we moved back to France. On the following day I started work on the house by fitting some ceiling lights in the kitchen. Problem was that the ceilings/upper floors in this house are a mixture of horse hair, cow poo and earth and it was falling everywhere. Answer? We moved into one of the gites. 


On Saturday 6th August I flew to Leeds/Bradford and was collected by my daughter and dropped off at my sons to collect the Midget which I had taken back to the UK. I arranged with a friend, Chris Eccles a builder, to meet me on the Sunday at Sheffield Station and we would come back to France on the Sunday/Monday. He was going to help in the renovation for 3 weeks. We arrived at Caen at 8am on the Monday and got home about 11:00. We did this journey, from Sheffield to home without a windscreen as it had broken about a mile from J32 on the M1 at Sheffield!

The following morning at 5am Lynne has a serious panic attack. I phone for an ambulance and the normal cycle begins. This time she was helicoptered to Angers intensive care and was kept in a coma for 16 days. I was working on the house from 6am to 11:00 then off to the hospital to sit by her bed. She was brought round and after a few days transferred to a normal ward. Problem now was that she had lost the use of her arms and legs and couldn't even speak! Even now, (30/11/11) she can't walk properly and wobbles like a weeble man when trying to stand still. OK, by the time she came I home Chris had returned to the UK and I was on my own. I still had to take Lynne back to hospital 3 days a week for her re-adaptation care. By now she was walking a bit, could feed herself, oh, and could talk, and talk, and talk...

I now pressed on with the renovation at full speed as I wanted to get back in before winter set in. After a lot of aggravation I got a plumber to fit a boiler to my pipes.

During all this I tore my back muscles again (see the barn conversion for the full story) and was taking 9 paracetamol/codeine tablets a day (maximum dose is 6!) to kill the pain so I could carry on. The house is not finished. I must take a rest (I did work for 4 months and 3 weeks without a break and most of those days were 15-18 hours) and get my back better.


The kitchen needs painting and the floor needs cleaning and treating, the lounge floor needs treating and the ceiling needs painting. The new lounge/office needs partly tiling and the new wood floor needs treating. The walls need painting (they've been rendered). The bathroom tiles need finishing, and the bedroom floor needs a few boards fitting and treating. The same in the dressing room. The boards that need fitting are above the heating pipe joints which I needed access to in case of leaks.


So here is the before (where I have photos) and after gallery.



This is the kitchen before the renovation. The cupboards and islands are made from concrete blocks.

And this is how it is now. We (I) have to treat the floor (made of slate, clay tiles and oak) and paint the ceiling and tops of the walls as well as fit the plinths.
Oh, I forgot, I've also got to make a new front door.
Not much change here other than knocking down the concrete block made sideboard and filling the corner with the visual/audio stuff.
And now...
Please excuse the semi-naked lady, she comes with the house.
This has been transformed. I don't seem to have any pictures of this room before the renovation.
 It had a bathroom at the back which went across about 3/4 of the back wall so the window was inside the bathroom. 
The small room is a downstairs loo, washing and drying room and the boiler house. 
The room needs painting, the terracotta tiles need laying and the loo door needs hanging (and if I don't get it hung soon
it'll be me being hung!)
Again, no pictures of "before", it had a tardis type shower, a double vanity unit and a loo. The floor was broken clay tiles and bits of concrete.
Lynne's bath, with the shower in the background. If you're wondering why we have rats hanging from the beams it's to stop me walking into them.
I have to finish off putting the floor down and then the tiles. I didn't finish before as I may (did) need access to the pipes to fix the leaks!
My shower. It's huge and we could have a party in there.
Girl in a shower. This shows the size of it. Please note the ancient slate sink. 
The sink.
This was the room before. The floor was more broken clay tiles and we didn't use it.
And now.....
The room up the stairs is the bathroom. A bit odd but the access to the bedroom is via the bathroom.
This is from the other end and the room at the end is our dressing room.
No pictures before as it didn't exist. Two huge wardrobes.
Mine, and.....
So there it is. 4 months hard graft and, I hope a good result. Once my back is better I'll finish off. I reckon another 6-8 weeks over the winter should do it.
June 2012 and still at it. Finished putting down the wooden floors and tiles. Nightmare with tiles as they will not stay down but having sought 
and got advice from the Westfield Club forum I'm getting there. Yesterday (19th June) and today I did this. There are 11 different colours and it took a while
to get them at random.

I gave up with the terracotta tiles. They just wouldn't stay down. Thinking about it after I think it may be because we soaked them in linseed oil. When the wood is completely dry and I've sanded it to remove the marks and dirt I'll apply some clear varnish.




After 2 weeks nagging a drinking buddy, I get him to send one of his men round with a JCB to bury the rubble left over from the demolition of the original 
kitchen and bathroom. 
Our very own bombsite. 
 And the view from the front of the house down to the pond (which is covered in green weed)


JCB in action. The patch nearest the camera was where the rubble was. He dug out the pile of earth which is in front of the bucket and then dug out the rubble and dropped it by the pond.

The finished article. He's also dug out the gravel in front of the house. Still a bit of clearing up to do but not too much. The gravel removed from the front reveals a hardcore base. Good, we can build the new porch on it and I can lay a concrete mix to set the terra-cote tile on. Should be nice when finished.

The view down to the pond. When the grass grows back it will be much easier to cut

And the new car parking area. I didn't want the car park as such just needed somewhere to put the gravel. So a good 2.5 hours work with a JCB and my hour at 07:00 building the wall from the concrete block. The remaining blocks are going to be used to make a platform on the corner so as to make it easier to step from the car park to the raised level in front of the house. The exterior, timed, light switch is visible on the corner just in front of the pile of blocks.