Tag Archives: Renovation

The Next Supergite?

Court

Image by Supergites via Flickr

Have you ever looked for a house and found one that was so grand that, even though it was way over your capabilities, you just had to see the inside? It happened to us with this ‘Ferme Des Dames’ near Reims.

Accidentally we ran into this object online. Hugo send me the url and asked me what I would do with this Farm and Chapel. I fell instantly in love with the view, the stones and the atmosphere. These combined form this unique peaceful place to unwind. I could see myself gardening a little in the early morning overlooking the dewy valley. Or sit in the courtyard sipping wine made from the grapes over the terrace. Meanwhile the kids of our friends are running around with a ball. But *G* Continue reading

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Thermobull: The Russian Stove

Forget Janus. Be honest: If you think of cold winters, you think of Russia. And that’s exactly where Themobull is from. Just a few months ago we found this stove online and after a little research we found a Dutch reseller in Wijhe. Read: Searching for a Super Stove.

The Dutch reseller Kachelplaats was really friendly and helping and even willing to deliver the stove all the way down in Northern France. It was basically the shipping costs that made us think: is there a better way? Google gave us the Latvian dealer for Europe. There’s nobody selling it in Northern France. We had to arrange that ourselves. 🙂

We called Latvia. The dealer, as friendly as the Dutch, advised us not to buy the Professor because for its 1000m3 power would be far too warm for our 450m3 living room. We ordered one model smaller, the Docent or ‘Учителя’ as you wish. The Учителя is a sweet 200+ kg black steam train look-a-like stove with huge brass covers and logo. It’s a heat monster in shining armer.

Three weeks and one French strike later, our package from Latvia arrived. We were happy like children at Christmas Eve. See the unpacked pictures at Facebook.

The packed Themobull Docent

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From Water Mill to Supergîtes

We thought it was a nice gesture to thank our constructor Stéphane with a picture book. With this book, showing what has been done to create this superb gîte, he can present his first big job as a constructor to potential clients. It’s a simple story line of pictures in chronological order. You can look into it at ISSUU where we’ve published the digital version.

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A first Super night in our own Gîte

After 11 months of hard work, miles of traveling to and from France, laboring the garden and sanding the wood it was finally the moment that the beds arrived. We worked double shifts in the last weeks to get everything ready to install the beds immediately at their final place. The beds are huge and heavy, 100% natural material and fairtrade produced .. besides that they are gorgeous looking …

We had to wait all this time not because of the production but because of our own delay. The whole renovation took more time than estimated due to several reasons. You can read about them in the blog.

But this was THE day .. the day followed by the first night in our own Supergite, sleeping in our brand new beds.  Continue reading

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Bank issues

My first pay cheque
Image by dmmd303 via Flickr

You think the banking system is the same all over the world. OK, maybe not so the same in India or Uganda but in Europe all the banks use the same method to transfer money from one account to the other. Right? We discovered that’s not the case.

We started to become superstitious about the French banking system when we went shopping on a Saturday at a large Carrefour. In our lane right in front of us a family had piled up their caddie (shopping cart) and when the sweet caissière finally bleeped all 241 items, they grabbed their paychecks.

“You mean those paper receipts we used in the 80’s of last century?”
“Hell yeah, those!”

Without even a glimpse of embarrassment they copied the total costs hand written on a check and handed it over to the cashier. She stamped it and the shopping were paid. Deal done.

This all looks quite innocent. But what do you do when you have to transfer large amounts of money? Like when you want to buy a kitchen? Believe it or not: a paycheck does it all. And that’s where it really went wrong.

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Mud and Christmas

For all those who dream about owning a lovely old house that needs “just a little work”: There are moments that you just think, “What were we thinking?” One of these moments came right in the middle of our Christmas vacation.

A few days back, Stephane sent us fantastic pictures of the mill in a romantic winter landscape and we were really eager to see the beauty of the mill covered in snow. Even though we knew there was work waiting for us. “Who cares about a bit of cold when you can see such a superb, white scene while you’re working?”

The two days of Christmas we spent with friends. The snowy weather had changed into long and hard rains. It was really raining cats and dogs in the hills of the French Ardenne. So by the time we arrived at Tourteron the day after, the cranes, trucks and cars in combination with the ‘permafrost‘ had turned our loan and garden into one huge swamp and deep craters filled with mud. Slipping from the fence to the front door was the way to go over the next couple of days’ work. We were not so happy.

The first day we had to dig out the larger stones to make sure they didn’t break the new sewer system. We also had to transport white sand for the foundation in the pouring rain. Then we had to move one pile of 150 plasterboards in between the rain storms. They are not supposed to become wet since they’ll fall apart if they soak in water. The plates, sized 1,20 by 3,00 meters, weight 32 kg, had to go to the first floor and second floor. Eventually they’ll become the new walls and ceilings of the rooms. There we went in our muddy boots, feeling like double our normal weight, up and down the mill leaving a trail of dark-brown, slippery wet dirt. It was a French hell. 🙂

But in the end… we did lend a hand, and that makes us feel good.

This is how it looked:

Mud, septic and some kind of garden.

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Finally: the Official Launch of Supergites.nl

It’s finally live: the official Supergites website. Though it’s still in Dutch, it’s there and that’s the most important thing. The French, English, and German versions will follow in January, as will the calendar and the automated reservation module.

We also registered the gîte at the funniest website, Vakantie bij Nederlanders in Frankrijk . nl, which translates to ‘Vacation with the Dutch in France’. We’re eager to see how it works and whether it gives us any leads.

The gîte will be ready for rent April 1. Tomorrow we’re off to France for 7 days of hard labour. 🙂

Check our new design at Supergites.nl.

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The good news is here: We know when we’re opening!

This Saturday we went to see the progress in Tourteron. Although we were kept informed by Stepháne on a regular basis, we were not sure what to expect. In the end, even the three-and-a-half-hour drive does make us feel a bit helpless. It’s the same with any construction project: being there at least speeds the workmen.

Sanding Mess

Sanding Mess

When we arrived, the whole place was barricaded with hardboard. All the windows were closed and covered with black plastic. The larger ones were even covered with wooden panels. We couldn’t enter the house by the front door. We had to take the second door uphill. Entering bedroom 3, we stepped into one big, dirty cloud of grey dust. It instantly grabbed our throats. What happened here? Throughout the house the floor was covered with a 5 cm-thick layer of black crystal sand. OK, they have been sanding the wood. In the bare light coming through some holes in the roof and windows we could see the result. All of the wooden beams had become this beautiful light-brown, rough oak colour. Fantastic!
The second fantastic thing that happened was this: the water meter had been moved from the inside of the house to the outside. As strange as it sounds, the meter was originally installed in the middle of bedroom 3. That can be quite unhandy when you need to check something while people are renting. So Monsieur de l’Eau Official came, dug a hole, and placed the meter outside of the house. This resulted in a completely hidden water system. I love it!
The third thing I love about this update is the letters from the officials. The first letter  came from S.P.A.N.C.; it’s the official note telling us we have to wait another two weeks before we’ll know if we can install the new 4000-liter eco-friendly septic tank where we want it. Why does that make me happy? Because it means they have at least approved it! There’s another bureau involved who’ll have a final say, but this is a good start.
The second letter has not arrived yet. Why does that make me happy? It means we have to wait one more week. No news here means the complete building permit has been approved and we can start on the roofs and windows in one week.

Our plan is to open for rental guests the third week of March. Saturday March 20 will be the first time somebody can rent the first Super Gîte. That’s right before the Easter holidays.

In the next weeks we’ll have a reservation module online at the official supergites.com site, but any early birds who really can’t wait should contact us here: marco AT artmiks . nl . Because we would appreciate the risk you’d take by making a reservation on a project that isn’t even finished, we’ll have a very nice proposal waiting for you.

And you probably wonder what rent costs at the mill. A full week’s stay–Saturday 14.00 hours to Saturday 10.00 hours–will be 1200 euro in high season and 800 euro in low season. This includes double fireplace, four bedrooms each with its own bathroom, a 90-square meter living room, designer kitchen, and a warm welcome. It does not include electricity, wood for the fireplace, or cleaning. So, who’ll be our first guests?

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CSI (Crime Scene Investigation)

When we arrived at the crime scene it was close to 10 a.m. We expected someone to be there, but the house was locked. We headed back to the car to pick up the keys and to grab our phone. “Why is nobody here?” we wondered. The builders should have been there working–they promised to start at 8:00. But there were no sounds of drilling or hammering; the property was deserted.

After Sara opened the door we were confronted with a scene of delict. Next to the stairs there was a broken cup, a splash of coffee, a smudge of blood, a trace of driblets, and a Stanley knife. Grissom said, “This can’t be right. Something’s missing.” We looked around and followed a small trail of blood to the locked front door. “The victim is still alive,” Grissom observed. He continued with his findings. “There must have been two people, as the door is locked without any smudging of blood. But where did the blood on the floor come from? Did the victim cut himself or was he attacked?” The Stanley knife did not look as if it had just been used–the blade was pulled back. I picked it up. “No blood on the knife,” I announced.

Grissom went up the stairs to investigate the situation. I followed him admiringly. “What if someone fell down, losing his mug, and fell onto something sharp like…?” I went over the movements. “Like a shard of mug?” “We only follow the facts!” Grissom said with certainty. “Assumptions have many shapes, reality only one.” Smart guy. I bucked up.

We needed to find Stephane or Jamal, his assistant. Either one should know what had happened. We walked up the hill to Stephane’s house and we ran into Arthur, a fairy-blond boy with deep blue eyes–the 7-year-old son of Stephane. I gave him my regular greeting, “Bonjour Arthur, çava?” “Bien merci,” came his weary reply. “Ou est ton papa?” I asked him. “Au l’hopital.” He answered without a wink and continued his play.

There are moments you just wish you could speak all languages of the world. D’accord. Stephane is at the hospital. Not good. The blood must be his.

To make a long story short, Stephane did fall off the stairs and cut his hand deeply. Jamal took him to the hospital in Reims where he had to stay for two days. He needed surgery since he’d cut himself quite deeply and hit a tendon. He can’t use his right hand for some time: the delay will be at least three weeks.

No igh Fives for Stephane.

No High Fives for Stephane.

“Oh well, we need to wait for the building permit anyway.”

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Houston, we have a problem.

New pictures from France just reached my computer. Our contractor asked a friend to check our front garden to see if they can place the new septic tank in there. I’m in shock! I don’t know much about septics and all that, but I do know that the amount of ground water shown in these pictures does not mean much good. :-O

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