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We did it!!! Now For a Bit of Time Out!!!

A big, rather delayed and long awaited HELLO to all my Building The Dream followers!!

Apologies for the delay in update and leaving you hanging, but my family came to visit and after all the mayhem of moving, finishing the concreting of the barn floor, moving out of the gite, into the barn and getting the gite ready for the summer lets, along with squeezing in Scott's 40th surprise 4 day music festival birthday celebrations in Belgium (amazing and well deserved we think, even if it did add a little to the final panic of getting things ready!), we just had to clock off and take the chance to spend some much missed time with the family and recuperate!

We are extremely pleased to confirm that WE DID IT!!!!! Yeeeeeeeey!!!!

As usual, we did not make it easy on ourselves and there were times when we thought we wouldn't do it all in time, but we got there in the end!

With Scott's special birthday and the Belgium festival booked, I had arranged for his Mum and Step Dad to come and stay so they could be there for Scott's birthday and also look after Summer while we were away. Again, a surprise for Scott - he had no idea they were coming until I pulled up on the driveway with them in the car! ;o)

Not only was it lovely to have them with us, but also a complete godsend! Although not obliged to do so, they both mucked in and helped us with the move, which pushed us along much quicker. I really do not think we would have done it without their help and am eternally grateful - thank you Brenda and Fred / Mum and Dad / Nanny and Grandad!!! :o) xxx

Our first let was the 11th July and just by the skin of our teeth and with a 4.30am finish cleaning frenzy the night before, we managed to have it all ready and sparkling with pool gleaming and ready to be jumped in (this was touch and go as we left it a little too late to take the cover off after the winter season, being too pre-occupied with all the other things we had to do, but with the help and advice of a very kind friend, we were even allowed two quick jump in and swim cool downs whilst frantically scrubbing the liner and squeezing in a 20 min swimming lesson with Summer before we had to hand it over to our guests!) and garden looking fab (again, thanks to the same very generous, kind and amazing friend who came to our rescue with her mower at the drop of a hat when our mower decided to give up the ghost the night before! Thank you Suzanne - you are the best!!!)

I do have to admit that we were very lucky our first guests were running a little late, as all the finishing touches were completed just as they were rolling down the driveway - PHEW!!)

It is all very hard work, but well worth it when you see the reaction of the guests when they arrive after their long journeys and are happy with what they see. The small added touches like the little welcome hamper we leave them and the little decorative touches we have purposely left out on the website to add a little extra on arrival, along with the beautifully laundered, crisp and clean bedding and fluffy white towels displayed as hotel style as I possibly can, all go a long way!

Now, as far as the gite is concerned, we just need to do the changeovers each time we have guests leave and new arrivals come in (which unfortunately for me means a lot of washing and ironing, although my washing line does have a rather picturesque view now, ironing is probably my least preferred job around the house, which I will avoid if possible!!) and keep on top of the pool and ground maintenance. Can't really moan, it is a satisfying job when you see the hard work pay off and means that we have more time and freedom with Summer during her summer holidays.

The barn is so different this year with the new floor and doors. It is brighter, there is much more space and now with access directly into the garden, it feels much more private. We really like it and although it really is still a barn with furniture in, I would say I prefer the space and feel of it to the gite/cottage. It is much more "us".

A lot of other changes have been made around the place, but too much to fit in right now, so will come back to those at a later date. For now, here are some pics of our "Hippy Commune" (as we like to call it) this year. Excuse the mess - we are still not completely unpacked...

The Kitchen (complete with washing machine and dishwasher I might add!) ;o) ...

Bathroom (featuring my moost recent renovation project - the bath and our Summer Sunday family mural to brighten things up a little)...

Summer's room and millions of toys to try and squeeze in!!...

Our room (unpacking and organising still to be done and fingers crossed for a further wardrobe with my clothes feeling a bit squished!!) ;o)

New feature this year - an actual dining area!!! Amazing!!!...

Lounge area with very recently fitted Double Doors to garden - what a difference!!!...

We are currently holidaying at my Mum's house in the Marais Poitevin as we have not seen them in a long while due to them being in England the majority of the time. It is lovely to be with the family and we have holidayed here for the last 10 years, so it always feels like our holiday place. The only problem is that we have once again had to pack all our bits up and move!

We are regularly visiting our house to make sure the guests are happy and maintain the pool and garden. Scott has some design work he is doing at the moment, so although we are "on holiday", things haven't really stopped yet long enough for us to properly relax. At the end of the week, we will be heading back to our place, which I think we are actually all quite looking forward to as we will be able to unpack all our bits and enjoy the space we have created.

The view that we now have from the lounge area is really beautiful and it is actually quite hypnotic to sit and take in the peacefulness of the countryside and the rolling hills which seem to go on forever whilst watching the wildlife doing it's thing.

My sister, niece, nephew and cousin came out to visit for 9 days, which was lovely and very well timed as it meant I could spend my birthday with them, but it just seemed to go so fast!! I just blinked and they had been and gone!! Both myself and Scott were still feeling very tired from everything leading up to the holiday period and although we had a lovely time with them , I don't feel I was in holiday mode enough to properly relax with them all and have as much quality time with them as I would have liked.

I do miss the family terribly and hate the fact that when we do get to spend time together it is restricted by time and governed by school holidays. I miss the days when I could pop round for a cuppa with the sis and be there within 20 mins, no toll roads, ferries or planes to catch.

My niece and nephew have grown so much since I saw them last and I do feel I have missed out on a lot of that. They are gorgeous and I have so much love for them!

Below: Rocko and Lula - sibling love! xxx

I know we are only "across the pond" as they call it, but I still find it so hard. Hard enough to make me re-think things and wonder if we could/should go back to the UK to be closer to family again.

There are pros and cons to both countries and there is no way we could have what we have in France over in England, but to me, people/family are only around for so long and buildings (hopefully, with a bit of love and care!!) are always there.

There are many things that we miss in UK and many things that we would miss in France if we moved back. Something which has caused a lot of discussion for the past year and which requires much MUCH further discussion before any decisions are made. One thing we do know is that we do not want to let go of our place in France and that if we do decide to move back at any point, we would want to continue developing the barn and spending the school holidays here. It would just mean that the tables are turned with the amount of time being spent here and the majority of the time spent in UK. I will keep you posted on this, but for now, we are in France and it is our home...

Another thing I had promised myself I would do during the summer (amongst all the French paperwork I need to catch up on) is finish the children's book I have written. I may have mentioned it before, but in case you don't know, it is a story which I was inspired to write when I did the mural in Summer's bedroom when I was expecting.

Just watching the mural progress and come to life and then seeing Summer's reaction to it when she came along and how she interacted with it made me realise how special it was and then one day, when looking back at progress shots I had taken, the story just came to me. The story just flowed out and was written within about half an hour and ever since, when life slows down enough for me to focus on it for a while, I work on the illustrations and the putting together of it all.

The book is called "Summertime on Rainbow Hill" and is aimed at children from birth to around 5 or 6 years old as as well as being a fun and magical story, it is rhythmical and teaches colours and spellings also. It seems to really be coming along now.

My main wish with the book is that I can get copies printed for the children in our family. It is dedicated to Summer and she was my inspiration to do it in the first place, so for her to eventually hold a copy in her hand will be amazing! One of the characters, "Summer-Lulabelle" the fairy, encompasses both Summer's name and my niece, Tallulah, so it is very special to them. It is already so great to see their reactions to it so far, hearing them getting excited, talking about the characters and getting their input and feedback on the illustrations as I go along.

After all the hard work and effort put in, I may well try and attempt to get it published, but the children's book industry is a very competitive market, so I don't expect anything to come of it, but you never know - anything is worth a try!! Watch this space people!! ;o)

The mural also inspired me to set up "Madame Mural", my mural painting business - adding some colour and sparkle to other people's little ones' lives.

Here's a sneaky peak of the first mural I did for Summer and which the book is based on...

OK, I think that is enough babbling for today - the sun is shining and there is a lake to be swam in not far from here, so I am outa here!!

Until next time! :o)

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