Sunday, 27 November 2016

Bathroom Blues.

Hello everyone! I hope that life is treating you well, as we start the cound-down to Christmas with the first Sunday in Advent.

I'm afraid I had a bit of a meltdown today. The bathroom renovation is now heading into its sixth week, and considering our builder-bloke said, just before the works began,
je confirme bien la date du vendredi 21 octobre c'est le plombier et Ă©lectricien qui vont commencer et moi je commence le 24 octobre pour environs une semaine. "  ( I confirm that the plumber & electrician will start on 21st October, and I will start on 24th October for about a week)
I think we have been more than patient! 

There are so many things wrong, or badly done, that we despair of having it ever looking good!  He has not tiled right up to the ceiling - we admit that this might be a bit tricky with the beams, but why weren't we told? Also he's left great gobs of cement at the top of the tiling:
and if he's not finishing off to the ceiling, shouldn't he at least paint that part?
Look at this delicious piece of finishing off around the beam (Yes, that is more gobbets of grouting on the beam):
Another slightly bizarre thing is the way he didn't cut one of the tiles, to the correct height (granted the ceiling slopes, so it isn't horizontal) leaving it like this:

It's standing slightly proud of the others and, as you can easily see, not at the same height. It's like he just couldn't be arsed to cut the tile to match the others.

We are pretty sure that he forgot the fact that we'd asked him to box in the pipes, as when I asked it about it, there was a rather telling pause before he answered. And so how he's now going to do this we're not sure, as he has tiled right up to the pipes themselves - so how is he going to fix the box?:

And, with a charge of 222€ for the boxing in, he has the cheek to suggest that in fact we will be expected to paint it! (even when we'd asked him to tile it!) The best bit about the whole thing is the painting of the wall, and that's Mr FD's handiwork, because we hadn't asked the workman to do it (kind of imagining it was included in the "renovation of a bathroom") it wasn't "on the devis" so he wasn't going to be doing it, thank you very much! 

I see this guy every week at dance group, and although, as Mr FD reminds me, we are the consumers and we're paying him a pretty hefty fee to do the work, I feel embarrassed that we're not happy with it.

This morning, waking up again with a feeling of despair and dread about another week trolling down to our friends' home to shower every morning, I started crying and shouting at Mr FD (not that he is to blame!) I feel it's partly my fault because I suggested we used this guy as he was a student of mine, & I thought we'd get good service from him. How bogging wrong I was! I am worried that - if he doesn't put stuff right - Mr FD might want to pursue him through the small claims court, which would be a hassle in French. And it would mean I'd have to give up dance group, because I couldn't face him after that! (Yes, I'm already looking way into the future and panicking about what ifs...) (My speciality!) 

We have written a long, non-accusatory email, explaining what we are unhappy with, including photos - and had the French checked! It's hard because we rarely see him as we go off to work at 7.15, and he arrives (two days a week, if we're lucky!) at about 9.00, and he's never here when we get back at 5.45. So we've been communicating (not often) through emails, which isn't ideal. We hope to be able to settle this amicably, either by phone, or face-to-face, if he'll come over in the evening, but who knows.

I know that this is really a first-world problem - there are no bathrooms for so many people in the world - but it really is starting to depress me. I'm no longer excited about the thought of a new bathroom, but wishing we'd never started the project. It was fine the way it was!


Monday, 21 November 2016

And the News Hadlines are...

I really should be working, preparing for lessons, but I'm aware that I haven't called in for over a week. So here's an update:

1) We're fine

2) The bathroom is still unfinished. However Adal has said that he won't be charging for the extra work that he had to do. We are relieved that it didn't get nasty. It is just S-L-O-W!! It's looking nice, but there still seems to be loads to do, as Adal only seems to work 2 days a week. 

Reading back over my last few posts, I notice that I continually write "we hope it will be finished by the end of next week." This time, I'll just say We hope it will be finished SOON! 🙀

3) Thanksgiving dinner at church yesterday was good. It is an occasion when other Americans who are not a part of the church come to share food and fellowship. Those who are away from their home, their families for the first time, and who want to celebrate Thanksgiving with their compatriots. The chef at the local primary school prepares the food, and although this year wasn't as good as past years, it was still delicious.

4) We haven't sold the car yet. Luckily, as the bank loan was approved we can now pay the workmen for doing the bathroom, rather than depoending on the money from the sale of the car. It is partly our fault as we've not pushed it aggressively enough. We've had a couple of people show an interest, but noone has actually come to see it yet. It will happen...

5) Food has been good. I made a really yummy meatloaf last week, from this recipe. I also made a nice lamb-and-vegetable dish 

I added the remains of a butternut squash/chorizo/chickpea tagine whizzed up to make a sauce which added to it, I think. We are having the leftovers tonight, with rice.

6) The butcher at Carrefour is Fabulous! He has continued to be generous (link to a post at The Teapot)Which has meant that the Poor Cats have been getting meaty goodness three times a week. I went last night and the other person who feeds them had left mashed potatro. They had nibbled the edges but weren't keen...But when I mixed in the meaty stew I'd cooked up from the butcher's off-cuts they were a lot keener! He has given me some really good stuff - proper meaty bits! 

7) I've made 173 of the Bishop's Christmas cards. Unfortunately, I look at some of them and think "these are too hand-made!" I haven't been careful enough cutting the paper (very wobbley) or glueing the piece onto the card. I really can't quite see how I thought some of them were acceptable! So I think I need to make another 50 - I should be able to manage it by the deadline which is next Sunday, as long as I work most of Saturday! It's been a drag, and I rather wish I hadn't agreed, but equally, it is for a good charity (Phone Credits for Refugees) so that's good.

8) Work is pootling on. I've got lots of work (though a day off tomorrow, as my usual students are unavailable) This gives me a chance to go shopping in Roanne & to finish any planning I don't get done today. Mr FD is also working - still temporary, still don't know how long for, but it's looking more likely it will continue into 2017, which is nice. 

So thank you for popping in. It's been nice to have a catch up! Hopefully it won't be so long next time!

Friday, 11 November 2016

And still the bathroom remains unfinished!

The renovation of the bathroom is turning into a real saga - I'm still hoping for a happy ending!

Last week we came home to find that Adal, the builder bloke, had tiled the floor of the shower with the same tiles that he put on the walls...A bit bizarre, we thought - especially as we'd been expecting a shower tray to be fitted! - but we imagined it was going to be like a wet room effect. The quotation did indeed say that he would put tiles on the wall & on the shower floor.

Won't they be very slippy? we wondered...but he's the builder. He must know what he's doing. It'll be fine. Also, he didn't contact us to discuss this with us (we're not in the house when he comes as we both work, but Mr FD's phone number is left for the workmen if they need to contact him) so we assumed everything would be fine.

I was just on my way out to work when he arrived on Wednesday, so I just said, in passing, we're a bit worried about the tiles being slippy. Is there a product that can be put on to make them less slippy? I'll phone the tile shop & find out, he promised.

That evening at dancing, he came to me and said that the tile shop had told him that these were not suitable to go on the floor (because they'd be slippery, and dangerous, and also were too fragile.) Therefore he would need to take them up again to put down suitable tiles - which we would need to buy - and this would also involve breaking some of the wall tiles too, as he had already sealed the wall tiles to the floor tiles. And he'd give us a quotation for the work that needed doing.

Already the work has taken longer than expected (partly our fault, we admit, as we hadn't thought about the tiles we were buying needing a delivery time, rather than just being able to buy them) and now this is going to add at least another week! Also, we can't help feeling that this is, at least in part, Adal's fault. As the expert (or at least more expert than us) he should have had some kind of inkling that the wall tiles weren't suitable, and communicated his doubts/reservations to Mr FD - but no, he just went ahead, without checking with anyone, and it was only because I expressed doubts to him that he phoned the tile shop to check!

We know the work needs to be done, & we have bought the correct floor tiles now - thankfully the shop we went to had them in the warehouse next door! - and so we await Adal's new quotation. But I did send him an email - perfectly polite and respectful - pointing out what I've just said to you lovely readers, and suggesting he takes this into account when he prepares the quotation for the work.

What do you think? Do you think we should expect him to do the work to put right what was, in fact, his error for free or not? Or maybe you think we're at fault....As he is someone I see on a social basis too, and as I will avoid conflict at all costs, I want to try to be reasonable and not get litiginous. But equally, we don't really feel that this is our fault. I'd be interested to know what you think.

Sunday, 6 November 2016


This is a quick in-and-out post....It's already 3.15 on Sunday afternoon - I stayerd later at church for Christmas choir pracxtice - and I need to get on with the Bishop's Christmas cards!!

So, here is a quick update on the coming week's food...I'm trying to choose cheaper dishes, but the shopping bill this week wasn't much cheaper...Only by about 20€. Mind you, I suppose 20€ is quite a bit, really.

FRIDAY: Pork chops with apple, mashed sweet potato and carrots

SATURDAY: Kamchatka with bread. I threw in the knob-end of a chorizo, and also some mushtrooms. I meant to add spinach too, but I forgot!

SUNDAY: Bolognon and rice - I've cooked this in the slow cooker. I think there's going to be rather a lot of liquid. It may need reducing nearer to serving. It is described by Jack Monroe, the originator of the recipe, as "a furtive love child of bolognaise and bourgignon"

MONDAY: Mushroom bolognaise - this is priced as 38p a portion, so that's certainly cheap! Hopefully it will be nice (although I don't believe Kezzie would like it as she abhors mushrooms)

TUESDAY: The remains of the bolognan, with added kidney beans and served on tortillas. So we'd better not eat it all tonight!

WEDNESDAY: I don't know yet. I plan on shopping on Tuesday so will have to plan the week ahead tomorrow evening.

As always, thank you for your comments.

ALISON 59 - The bathroom is coming on, but still not finished. Sigh. We're hoping for the end of this week.

KEZZIE - The aubergine dish was lovely. Rather like  Imam Bayaldi but without stuffing it inside cooked aubergines, but having the aubergines mixed in.

BEVCHEN - Thank you for the German translation! And yes, 200 cards is a bit daunting!!

The "after" photos of the bathroom will arrivbe - when it's finished!!