April/May 2014

Bookings for the new season start around Easter with several groups of walkers, some returning from last year. Our chambre d’hotes operation restarts, but with the addition, after much discussion, of a dishwasher which makes life much easier when catering for 10-12 people. We need to start the generator to provide the power, and there is also a warm water feed at 35 degrees to reduce power use. Water use is much reduced of course using a dishwasher in place of washing up bowls, not to mention improved hygiene, and time savings.

January/February/March 2014

During the winter months we make a few improvements to the gite, installing a second shower even if space is rather cramped, and hiring a plumber to check the plumbing installation, fit water filters, new water pumps and – finally – solar hot water panels. Given reasonable sun we now have 300 litres of hot (60 degree) water which is enough to provide for groups if people are careful about what they use. After three days without sun we will need to top up using the generator.

November/December 2013

The good weather continues well into November, with 25 degrees up to the middle of the month and a flurry of visitors, (our last visitors arrive on foot in a gale, after a blustery 20+km hike from the gite at Col D'Oulliat).

September/October 2013

When the main holiday season passes the bookings become more varied. We have more bed and breakfast bookings: an entertaining week with a German family complete with two large motorcycles; a French father and daughter touring the area looking for peace and quiet; a surprise birthday weekend arranged by a French family for their mother; a doctor from Perpignan hospital taking a minibreak with his wife; a party of four French walkers who happen to pass and book up for the following week; an extended family from Toulouse meeting up for the weekend.

June, July, August 2013

The death of David’s father in June puts things on hold for a few weeks. Harold was always very enthusiastic and proud of this project, and would have loved to visit it, but sadly was too disabled to travel in his final years.

April/May 2013

It starts! The guest kitchen is completed and an opening date of 17 May looms. Workmen are arranged to start on the solar panel installation once permissions have been granted by the commune – but the workers do not show up! Our first bed and breakfast guests arrive on 17th May for 4 days. We serve breakfasts and two evening meals. All the systems work and the visitors are delighted. They are followed the next week by the Luxembourg teachers, and then a walking group from the Merite Jeunesse and Helène, a local mountain guide. After all this time we have a gite d’etape to be proud of.

January/February/March 2013

Persistent cold weather (3 inches of snow on 17th, and many flurries at other times), and several returns to UK to help family. In between, progress on the ceiling of the final kitchen, and levelling the floor, and tiling it. We contacted Gites de France in January and had a visit from Bernard, the local organizer, which resulted in a report and a listing as a “Gite de Groupes” with two “epis” (two star rating). Once we appeared on the web site, interest was immediate, with enquiries and bookings putting pressure on for a May start. Meanwhile we try to arrange refitting of the solar panels.

November/December 2012

We finish the last bathroom and move on to the final room in the house – a kitchen for the large gite. Another floor and ceiling to do, but at least it is the last one. Dramatic news as we are summoned to the Mairie (town hall), to hear that our submission to the town plan has been accepted. This clears the way to complete the house and open as a bed and breakfast in 2013, after four years of work and worry! We also arrange for security fencing to protect the rear of the house, and get the local carpenter to come back to finish some jobs after a two year wait!

September/October 2012

September/October 2012
After three years working on the house we took a month off in September for a different lifestyle – moving a Dutch sailing barge from England’s east coast to central France. On our return we were soon back in harness, working on the walls and installations for the final WC and sink, and maintaining the site, a never ending task. We get up early to watch the sun rise over the sea. (photo)

July August 2012

We have a booking! The prospect of real visitors staying in the house is exciting and rather daunting. Will everything be OK? Will it all work? A frantic two weeks of last minute finishing touches precedes the arrival of our first family.

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