NEWSLETTER

Newsletter Juin 2006

The beginning……clearing the garden en taking away all the rubbish

After 3 days we had already a huge pile of all the rubbish that we found in the garden and the small buildings that Hemko had demolished. It seemed to us that the previous owners stopped cleaning the house and taking care of the garden since the moment we signed the purchase contract. A nice challenge…. 
Our next job was finishing the holiday cottage for our first guests 
We have done a lot in a short time; taking away all the weeds, painting the shutters and walls outside. Inside we tiled the bathroom, painted all the walls, installed a new kitchen and we decorated. We are really proud on our holiday home. To our pleasant surprise it is already fully rented July and August 2007.
A look inside the holiday cottage “ before and after” 
The living room the first week The living once finished
The new kitchen. We like it a lot that you still see the old beams of the former barn.
The tiles were already bought by the former owners. Martine tiled the bathroom and got completely mad as there were a lot..…the neighbour thus gave us a hand.  The bedroom in the first week. We have now added a huge picture of Dutch tulips.
The first time a car stranded on the Passage du Gois
We live at 800 meters from the Passage du Gois. A submersible road (4 km), which you can cross only an hour and a half before and after low tide. However, some try to check if they can do this later. The attempt on the day these pictures were taken was not successful. There are escape towers along the road, but the car of the people concerned flooded in the water…..
Our new neighbours
 
We have a true zoo around the house, as we live in a natural reserve with a lot of birds. Around the house we have a litter of wild kittens and lots of beautiful small lizards and bats at night. We are very happy with our new home and its surroundings. However, no time to relax yet, we still need to finish our first B&B room next week.

Kind regards,

 Hemko en Martine

Newsletter September 2006

 

We are now three months in our new home in Beauvoir-sur-Mer (French Atlantic coast). Our holiday cottage and our first B&B room are finished. We did not do this all alone; we got help from our family, friends, the neighbours and even our guests. Our first summer here was great. Please find below a small impression of our first 3 months.
Our first B&B room, which is situated in our home, is blue and is called “La Cabine de Plage”. It is a family room, as with is we have a yellow room for the children (or partners that snore ;-) . With the rooms is a bathroom with a shower.
A small impression of the blue room. A picture made by Hemko of the Passage du Gois in the evening.

On the 12th of June we received the keys of our new home. The 10th of July we had our first guests in the holiday cottage and end of July we had our first B&B guests. As there was very little time we litterly worked day and night. Most went well, but we had a few disasters as well with our DIY. 
Just before posing the glass doors of our shower they fell out of our hands in a million pieces. An all this on the day the guests did arrive…. Martine bites the dust.

It was not only hard work for us. We enjoyed the day we went to work with the neighbours, who are fishing cockles and once in a while we had the pleasant surprise of family and friends that came to visit us unexpectedly.
Our neighbours in our street are either “pêcheur a pied” (fishing cockles and similar) or the are cultivating oysters.  These “fruits de mer” are not common to eat in the Netherlands, but for the French they are a true delicacy raw. As we noted that most of our foreign guests do not agree to this we always cook them first.
We had not noted when we visited the house in March, but there were grapes in the garden. They were most appreciated by the local birds. Thus Hemko spotted a few rare species. We greatly enjoyed the evenings that we cooked for our guests. Most of the times we did eat outside. We cook French and Italian meals and do serve of course the local wine “Fief Vendéen”

Once our guests were back home the work for us did continue.
We made more changes in the garden. Hemko enjoyed setting the fire to the rubbish. We attacked a new project. The next B&B room. First step was removing the old stones from the floor. As you can see easier said then done!
This is what the porch looked when we bought the house….very very ugly. We demolished it the first day. We kept the main wooden structure and this is what we made of it. A lovely place in the shade.

Without the help of family, friends and neighbours we had never achieved as much as we did in such a short periode of time.
Though it seems simple to take away a wooden pole…it took 7 different techniques before it was finally out of the garden. We made our neighbour happy with an old mower, which he restored and is now for show in his garden. 
All the hard work did cause some back problems for Hemko, so we were happy that our guests gave us a hand. Martine’s parents helped to give the front garden a facelift.
Kees a friend of Hemko who stayed in the holiday cottage helped finishing the B&B bathroom. Here he shows his son Bas how to eat a french bread. Françoise (a former french collegue of Martine) came to visit and met our new born niece Amélie. Francoise helped us with the translation of our website into the French language. Our neighbours Lynn and Len helped us with the English translation.
Life at the Passage du Gois
The locals know where to park, when they are going to look for cockles. However, no doubt this car owner was a tourist and did not realise the speed of the water when the high tide is coming up.
Our favourite spot; the beach “Plage des Dames” on the island of Noirmoutier. Our nice new life, the pleasant contacts with all the neighbours and the beautiful weather made us realize that we made the right choice to move to France.

We are curious what the autumn and winter will bring us. Last winter, when we lived in the area in search for a house, we never had to use our Dutch winter coats. We hope this coming winter will be just the same. We unpacked all our books and had the chimney cleaned. We look forward to reading in front of the fireplace. 

Kind regards,

Hemko en Martine

 

Newsletter november 2006

We are looking back at a wonderful year in France. We drove quite a number of kilometres to finally find our home. We have been working like crazy to finish our holiday cottage and our first B&B. We are now preparing two other B&B rooms and look forward to the upcoming tourist season. However, with the pictures below we look back on our new life in 2006.
When you realize that this picture was taken mid-October you will understand we are very pleased with the weather over here. After the French Rivièra our region has the highest number of sun-hours per year. The sun is thus not only shining in the summer. Only the month November is known for its heavy storms. With only 800 metres from the sea the wind blows right at the house. However, as it stands already for 200 years and has walls of more then 60 cm thick, there is no reason to worry. It was a different story for this dam in the local harbour.
Each time when we take a stroll over the Passage du Gois at low tide we see amazing animals. This picture is of a snale of the size of Hemko’s feet. Since a few months there is also a seal that you see sunbathing at times. In the Netherlands you do have occasionally jellyfish, when the wind blows from the east. So they are here as well, but then slightly larger. The basket next to it is approx. 30cm.

We have been working hard in and around the house
The front garden was thus neglected that we had not seen that it once had been asphalted…… However, we found a solution and it does look a lot nicer now.
We try to make the backgarden tropical. We used the stones we found in the soil and decorated with shells. We also bought a small palmtree, a dream of Martine.
We had longed for a house with a fireplace. We never had one before. Our living room is cosy now. Hemko lights on this picure the fire place for the first time.
We were very happy that some friends who stayed with us gave us a hand with lifting these poles. In November Hemko’s steptahter used the poles for our jeu de boules.
The DIY in and around the house is very often something that we have never done before. We are therefore very glad with the help of our neighbour Stephane. He has loads of experience. Hemko learns a lot of local slang from him as well.

Although we just started we had already more guests in the first year then we had expected.
We cooked about every other day for our guests. We always tried to use the local specialities; Vendée ham, chicken from Challans, cockels and the sea salt that is harvested further down the road. On the picture you see chicken in sea salt. Hemko has become already a connoisseur of the local wine the Fief Vendéen. In the neighbourhood we have found some very nice restaurants as well. We did enjoy the nicely presented platter of fruits de mer.
Till mid October we ate outside with our guests. Our french neighbours thought that that this was a rather strange habit. After dinner we gathered around the fire to stay warm.
This picture is taken when we had just received the keys to our new home. A lot has happened since then….. This picture is taken in October. One of our guests had taken a portable Jacuzzi with him. It made us long for our pool that will be installed in March.

We hope you enjoyed the photo-album with our new life in France.

Kind regards,

Hemko en Martine

Newsletter spring 2008

Spring 2008 – as it is low season now for us, we are converting our barn. Weather is improving, so we see that each day our pool is 1 degree Celsius warmer. We did have though some really bad storms this winter. We live less then a kilometer from the atlantic coast. A boat got stuck on the beach, not so far from us. Hemko made some pictures of the storm.
We had a few storms that were over 100/km hour. This picture is taken at the Passage du Gois at high tide. Port de Bec at 3 km from our home.
The boat at Les Sables d’Olonne in March. We went to see it with our neighbours. The captain was Dutch, so they joked a lot with us.
Martine likes to go hunting for decoration after the storms Our neighbour Stephane found this crabnet floating in the harbour. It is now decoration at our place.
We did have good weather too. In January we took of some of the barn roof away to replace it with transparent material. Stéphane our neighbour helped with the briks.
Our summer kitchen will be rustic and mostly made with briks and oak doors. Hemko en Tony busy covering up the bar non the inside.
We did find some dust and other things while cleaning before painting. All wood is treated 3x for woodworms etc and than painted dark Brown.
Martine tiling the summer kitchen. We left some of the original wall without the covering layer, so you can see the local stones. On one side also some transparant panels for more light.
Eddy, the son of our neighbour Stephane, helps us every Saturday Stéphane sometime as well. In this case with his quad to pull out a tree.
We made a short trip to the English coast to visit our friends Lynn & Len. We lived next to their home in France, when we were househunting.
Stephane extended his spot in the harbor Port du Bec. The harbor is a historic monument. The use of iron or concrete is not allowed. Our car broke down, so we had to hire one.
Not only work all the time, but also some time to relax and read in the sun this January. People are fishing cockles all year round at the Passage du Gois. Here we visit with our french friends from Brittany.

Kind regards,

Hemko en Martine