Thursday, 20 July 2017

Are garden fire pits worth investing in?

Are garden fire pits worth investing in?

Image result for fire pits

Are garden fire pits worth investing in?

The outdoors are always exciting for those willing to get up and get going. This is so especially now that it is summer. There is simply too much fun outside for you to remain on the inside. One of the things people will definitely want to invest in is a garden fire pit. To some, the idea may sound old fashioned but when you come to think of it, it’s actually a cool thought. If you are thinking about investing in this pit, then you might want to consider the advantages it comes with.

Why is a garden fire pit a worthy investment?

It gets everyone out

Isn’t that good enough? A lot of time, you are going to find that people simply want to stay inside and watch a film. However, if you want to draw them outside, sell them this idea and you will all be frolicking on the lawn and having the time of your lives.

It allows you to stay out in the PM

Summers are known for their starry nights and clear skies. Whoever gets an opportunity to stay outside and live these moments has memories to pass on a Garden Fire Pit creates warmth in your garden area and allows you stay outside under the stars for as long as you can. To make things even more interesting, grab a pack of your favourite drinks and laugh the night away with your friends.
Allows you to whip up some BBQ

Summer is the perfect time to set up a grill, and a garden fire pit makes some of the best steak out there. Get some meat from your favourite butcher and make a fire. Have the family gather around the fire as the aroma wafts around. 

A garden fire pit is more than worth its weight in gold. It has a great return and promises some fun moments.

This is a featured post

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Renovation project - Back in France, good friends and good food

Renovation project - Back in France, good friends and good food

Wow that was a hectic couple of weeks and things seem so different, we are now going to be selling two houses in two different countries and moving to yet another country, could we possibly make our lives a little more stressful?
But hey, that’s life and it is almost summer, this is our favourite time of year here in our little bit of Brittany. The sun is shining and friends are coming to visit. Our social life will be bustling and we start to realise how cosmopolitan we are. We have friends coming from England, Spain, Canada and France. This is the best part of living in another country; your friends group becomes so much wider. 
Huelgoat, Brittany France. Good friends

Huelgoat, Brittany France. Good friends

Huelgoat, Brittany France.  le crepuscule. Good friends. Good food
Even the sun is shining on a regular basis. We look around and sometimes wonder are we doing the right thing leaving here, we love this area so much. But if we want to try Portugal, we have to leave now.
But until that moment happens we will enjoy ourselves, we will also get rather large with all the soirées we are attending.

The only thing I miss now is our big BBQ; it would be perfect on our patio with friends and wine, 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Plymouth, UK. Places to eat and things to see, whilst waiting for the ferry to France

Plymouth, UK. Places to eat and things to see, whilst waiting for the ferry to France
So the time has arrived to say goodbye to family and head back to France. We have a couple of viewings booked in to our French house so its fingers crossed that we get a sale soon.
Though the realisation has just hit me we are actually going to be selling 2 houses in 2 countries, I can see this all getting very stressful at some point in the near future!
But we drive to Plymouth and think we will have a nice meal overlooking the harbour. This is such a nice place in Plymouth; the only problem is the parking. There is nowhere near enough places to park and double yellow lines everywhere. We manage to find a small car park by the harbour but they charge until 10pm at night. We do not have enough change and are on the verge of giving up.
We see a couple heading over to their car and ask if they have some change for a note, no they don’t but they do have a couple of pound coins and happily give them to us so we can park.
It is such a small gesture, but today as we are leaving family to meet a stranger willing to show kindness is so nice.
So parked up we head over to the restaurants to have a meal, but we are here at the wrong time, most of the restaurants stop serving food at 7pm on a Sunday night.  
Plymouth Harbour, UK

Plymouth Harbour, UK

Plymouth Harbour, UK

Plymouth Harbour, UK
I had so wanted to sit here for dinner, the view is beautiful, but one of the staff point us to a restaurant a street behind, we do not get the view but the meal is really good.
We chose to have a whole chicken that was really moist and tender with some sides and a glass of wine. The food cost just 21 UK pounds, the staff were really friendly and the restaurant had a really nice ambience.
Meze Grill may not have the view of the harbour, but the food and staff more than make up for this and if you are in Plymouth and enjoy Greek food (or just nice chicken) then we would highly recommend a visit.
Meze Grill, Bar and restaurant. Plymouth UK. Jenny and John in France

Meze Grill, Bar and restaurant. Plymouth UK. Jenny and John in France

Meze Grill, Bar and restaurant. Plymouth UK. Jenny and John in France

Meze Grill, Bar and restaurant. Plymouth UK. Jenny and John in France
If you want to have a look at the restaurant here is the link Meze Grill, Bar and restaurant

After our meal, we head over to the harbour to enjoy a relaxing drink before it is time to head for the ferry to France.  This is the relaxing part of a night time ferry trip from Plymouth to Roscoff
But for now it is time to get on the ferry and head home.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Big Price Reduction 92,000 euros- House in Huelgoat, Brittany, France

Big Price Reduction  92,000 euros- House in Huelgoat, Brittany, France

The house has been on the market for a few months now and we have had a number of viewings but not yet sold. this was not a problem as we were going to just enjoy our time here.
But, now we need to head over to Portugal so its time to sell, our sitting back enjoying ourselves is over, So we have decided to reduce the price. 
So now is your opportunity to buy at a massively reduced price of offers around 92,000 euros for a house with so many options available,
1.      The chance to live in a large family home in the centre of Huelgoat.
2.       A great holiday home with small manageable garden so no worries about spending your holidays taming wild overgrowth
3.      The opportunity to move to France and start a business straight away, a 2 bed house and a 1 bed house either of which can be let out, in a year round tourist location.
Only 92,000 euros with option to include all the furniture.

AT todays rate (11.07.17) the current exchange rate makes that only 

$104,890 USD


£81,562 GBP

Has there ever been a better time to start your new life?
The property in detail:
Habitable Area: 123m2
Land Surface Area: 161m2
Energy Efficiency: D - 227
Co2 Emissions: A - 5 
Living room with new wood burner set in a large granite fireplace.
Fully fitted kitchen with dining area.
Stairs to:
Main bedroom with door to large private terrace
2nd double bedroom
Family bathroom
All upstairs windows have views over the forest.
From the kitchen:
Enter the dining room with external door to patio garden and full utility room.
Doorway that can be locked to a separate cottage with:
Large living room with small fitted kitchen and large granite fireplace, separate external door to outside
Stairs to large bedroom with vaulted ceiling and exposed beams and wooden floors, door to private terrace with views over the forest.
Fully fitted shower room off the bedroom.
Large garage/workshop. 

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
2 of the terraces
House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
main kitchen

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
living room

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
rear view of main kitchen

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
Dining room

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
vaulted bedroom in the rear little house

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
living room in rear little house

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
bedroom in main part of the house

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
main family bathroom

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
stairs in main house
House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
area in front of little house (inside garage)

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
patio garden

House for sale, Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
garage and patio garden

The house has been completely renovated with new double glazing, new electrics, new plumbing, new fitted kitchen, new bathrooms, new wood burner and flue. 

The property is located approx 200 metres from the town square with a selection of restaurants, cafes, and shops. There is also a doctor and dentist in the town and a supermarket with 24 hour petrol. There are creperies and ice cream shops along the lake and within the forest you will find an internet cafe selling vegan food and organic beers.
There is public transport available with a bus service to Carhaix and Morlaix (Morlaix has a TGV train direct to Paris and further into Europe)
There is a mechanic/vehicle service garage and a taxi service in the town.
Huelgoat has a large leisure lake with cafes and an enchanted forest with many tourist attractions (again only approx 200 metres from the property). 
Although a popular tourist destination the area is never crowded. 
Here are some photos of Huelgoat (approx 200 metres from the house)
Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France

Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France

Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France

Huelgoat, Brittany France - jenny and john in France

Locquirec, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
Locquirec approx 40 mins away

Locquirec, Brittany France - jenny and john in France
Locquirec approx 40 mins away

Monday, 10 July 2017

Renovation project - Visiting a doctor in the UK

Renovation project - Visiting a doctor in the UK
picture courtesy of
I am really enjoying spending time with my baby granddaughter, she is growing up so quickly and I get to spend a few days staying with her, but one morning I wake with a sore throat. I try not to let it bother me but within a few days I feel like I have swallowed a pint of broken glass.
I actually have no idea what it feels like to swallow broken glass, but I think it is a safe bet to say it feels like I do at the moment. My head is banging and my face feels like it has been hit by a base ball bat, more than once!
I try the chemist and get a throat spray that is supposed to deaden any feeling but I am spraying constantly and it is doing nothing, my honey and lemon feels good whilst I am drinking it but nothing is helping. I have no choice I will have to visit the doctor.
This is something I have always dreaded during a visit to the UK, the need for medical treatment, we never take holiday insurance for a visit to the UK as we have our EHIC card for emergency treatment, and to be honest at the moment this is an emergency.
I remember when I lived in this part of the UK, years ago getting an appointment was horrendous, and we hear how difficult it is for people who live here. But I try the surgery that my parents use and I can have an appointment today. I explain that I am from France and only visiting so they ask me to come in a few minutes earlier to complete some forms.
I arrive and complete the forms, and ask how I pay, the staff do not know and don’t think there is a payment due, but they have all my details so no problem, they do not even want copies of my EHIC or my French medical cards.
I see the doctor who is so friendly and nice, and get a prescription for some anti biotics. These I have to pay for and, WOW! How expensive is a prescription!!!!
The following day I start to feel a little better, I realise just how much pain I have been in.
I am still happily surprised at how easy it was too access medical care in the UK and wonder if this will continue and how different it is to France where you need ID and payment up front for a doctor’s visit. But I definitely cannot complain about my recent connection with the NHS, but maybe this was just one doctor’s surgery that is friendly and efficient.

Hopefully I will be recovered when we get the ferry home in a few days time.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Renovation project - Decision made

Renovation project - Decision made
picture courtesy of
The decision has been made we are going to go back to the UK and give notice to our tenants, this is so difficult, they see the house as their home, they have got married and had a family in the house and we are going to put an end to it, I feel like an ogre! But this is the reality of Brexit, something that many people did not and still do not realise. I’m sure our tenants never thought the outcome of Brexit was going to be them losing their home in the UK, but needs must.
This is not something I could do over the phone, so we arrange to visit them, but the children have chicken pox, we cannot risk getting the germs and then visiting family, so we have come over to the UK and still end up having to Skype.
We eventually get to visit and explain our decision fully. IT is one of the most emotional visits I have ever had, it also feels very strange being in my old house, this was my life before John, this was the last home that my daughter lived in before she grew up. There are so many memories here from a very different life.
But life changes, things move on and we want to live in Portugal so the decision is out of our hands.
We will have up to ten weeks to wait for our house,
We decide to make the most of a bad situation and spend some time in the UK with family. It is so nice to see everybody again.
But it does not take long for reference requests to come through for our old tenants, we have to decide if we are going to stay in the UK while they move or go back to France and return later.

The tenants find a new property and the moving date is a few weeks away, it is not realistic to stay  until they move out as we have viewings booked in on the French house, so we book a ferry and get to enjoy some family time, 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Renovation project - Difficult times

Renovation project - Difficult times
picture courtesy of
Hi everybody, sorry for the disappearance and I hope you are all still here and ready to join me again.
We had not intended to stop writing but so much has happened over the last few weeks, that I just have not had the time and to be totally honest I also did not have the inclination most days. This blog has never been political but today I have no choice, we are not doing too well. As you are aware we have always completed our adventures and projects on a budget, we do not have big contingency funds for just in case, and at the moment we are at a just in case situation.
The house has not sold, this we cannot believe and I have spoken to the estate agents who have each said that since Brexit the sales in this area have plummeted.
Brexit has affected so many of us in France in such a bad way, mainly the uncertainty, but for some friends who rely on an income from the UK, that income has dropped dramatically. But this is not a sob story, it is as I said the realities of selling up and moving to another country and this is a reality, things happen outside of your control and there is not a lot you can do about it.
We have a couple of options:
1.    We can do what we had planned to do and actually work from our house, there is the opportunity to make a great income from renting out one half of the house, this means we could stay in France, we will have our five years when Brexit hits so will be entitled to apply for permanent residency with no problems.
2.    We still have a house in the UK that we rent out, we had always intended for this to be our pension (I’m pretty sure that with all the changes with the UK state pension we will both need to be dead before we can claim that) but we can go to the UK and sell it, it would mean giving our tenants notice which I feel so terrible about as they have lived in the house for years. 
We really want to go to Portugal and now we want to get there before Brexit hits so that we can be up and running and making an income so that we will be entitled to stay there. The whole thing is such a stressful mess and we have to make a decision soon as we are now running out of money, not a oh heck we are a bit short till we get paid but a big oh hell there is nothing left!
We really love where we are but we had always intended to travel to other countries before deciding where to settle for good, but now the time frame has been taken away from us, we have no choice, we have to sell the UK house. Luckily that is in an area that has very fast moving property, but not an expensive area, but more than enough to buy what we want in Portugal.

So as you can see and understand we have been hectic, we are now a lot more settled so I have the time to start to blog again, I hope you have the time to join us again.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Renovation project - Bonne Fête des Mères (Mothers day in France)

Renovation project - Bonne Fête des Mères (Mothers day in France)
Picture courtesy of
Today is the last day in May and as such it is mother’s day here in France or Fête des Mères. As far as we can see it is so much less commercialised than it is in the UK. Each patisserie has a selection of specially baked cakes. (The most popular seems to be the strawberry tart).
The actual history of mother’s day in France was more to do with the alarm at the low birth rate in France so mothers of large families were celebrated.
During World War 1, American soldiers sent so much mail back for mother’s day that a postal card was created.
In 1920 the French government made the day official for mothers of large families, but by 1941 all mothers were honoured, still a case of the bigger the family the better, but we won’t leave you other mothers out any more because France is nice like that.
In 1950 the last Sunday in May became "Fête des Mères” and all were required to pay homage to French mothers on this day. During the 50’s the celebration became far more commercialised. But as I said that may not be the case all over France, in our little bit of Brittany all we have seen is the fabulous cakes in the patisserie and the signs in the shops wishing a "Bonne Fête des Mères"
But remember it is moved to the first Sunday of June if it falls on the same day as pentecost
So for all you mums out there put your feet up and enjoy your day, even if you are not with your children
Bonne Fête des Mères
And for all you grandmothers here is a great quote

Une maman formidable donne toujours une grand-mere exceptionnelle.-A great mother always makes an exceptional grandmother.-Jean Gastaldi, French writer.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Renovation project - Shopping in France

Renovation project - Shopping in France
This is a slightly different post today, I have just been shopping and am still amazed at times at the cost and variety of things in France and the complete difference in attitude to shops from what we are used to in the UK.
The first example is the wine; always a fabulous bargain in France but this is unbelievable, 6 bottles of very drinkable Rose wine for 9.95 Euros.
Renovation project. jennyandjohninfrance. Wine
And when the mussels were available you could get 2 kilos of fresh mussels for 5.99 Euros.
Fabulous prices and there are so many other things that are just amazing, but then we go to the other extreme.
An example is the chocolate Christmas advent calendars have now been reduced to 70% discount, we are almost in June!!!!!!
Renovation project. jennyandjohninfrance.

Renovation project. jennyandjohninfrance.
This is the earliest I have seen the Easter range reduced (after all Easter was only a couple of months ago!)
Renovation project. jennyandjohninfrance.
This is something that I will always love about my little bit of France, the Christmas items are not reduced after Christmas never mind before Christmas and it is considered perfectly normal.

The staff in the shops also have quite a different attitude, they will not think twice about leaving the till to tend to another matter or chatting to the person in the queue, this is just the friendliness that is here, but don’t be fully fooled, if its busy and another till is opened, there will be a stampede!
Is there any thing that you love about shopping in France or would like to see?

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Renovation project - Carnac Stones, France

Renovation project - Carnac Stones, France

We have actually had a day out sightseeing and went to visit Carnac.

This is somewhere I Have wanted to visit for some time, it is famous for its standing stones and when you see them they really are amazing.

I was expecting just a few like Stonehenge but these are in rows covering a massive area.

The most amazing bit is that there are actually a couple of old houses built amongst them. Why anybody would actually decide to build a house in the middle of this site I have no idea, but as they say, “there’s nowt as strange as folk”

There is also a beach at Carnac and as we were leaving we saw a village centre with some shops and bars.

I could now pretend to be very knowledgeable about the area but I’m not, so here is some of the real info from the Brittany Tourism site:

The standing stones of Carnac are one of Brittany’s greatest attractions. Three fields – Ménec, Kermario and Kerlescan – contain around 3,000 aligned megaliths, which date from 4000BC. The granite stones were erected on the spot where they were dug, hence the differing sizes, although it is not known why they were put up; it is thought they had a religious or cultural significance.

Click on the link for lots more info about Carnac Brittany Tourism

But here are the photos to enjoy

Renovation project. Carnac Stones. jennyandjohninfrance

Renovation project. Carnac Stones. jennyandjohninfrance

Renovation project. Carnac Stones. jennyandjohninfrance

Renovation project. Carnac Stones. jennyandjohninfrance

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Renovation Project - Recycling in France

Renovation Project - Recycling in France
Throughout both renovation projects we have tried to recycle where we can, we have made tables from old walls, doors from old floorboards. Nothing has gone to waste.
But today I am rather proud of myself, I have really taken recycling (or maybe it’s more up cycling?) to a whole new measure.
Here in France something’s can be very expensive, they are totally random items such as coat hangers (yes I know strange item) chicken costing more than salmon and the biggest bug bear for me is wine glasses.
I have no idea why, especially as the wine is so cheap, but then maybe that is the reason.
I have always loved wine glasses and especially matching wine glasses, since moving to France, this is something I have given up on, I have lost count of how many sets of glasses we have had, but in a project they do not last long I know we are no longer in a project, but with a John they do not last long either
Tonight we have friends visiting for dinner; I am unwilling to serve wine from a mug so have no option but to get some new glasses.
At the intermarche I do not find any that I like, but then a brain wave hits me, the mustard here is sold in glasses. I go to the mustard shelf and see the matching glasses to 2 that we already have (yes this is not the first time we have drank from mustard pots!
Once emptied and cleaned they look very nice, our friends can’t believe it when I tell them we are drinking from mustard jars, all except John who is actually drinking from a nutella jar!

But have a look and at only 1.36 Euros each they are an absolute bargain with enough mustard to last the year
mustard pot wine glasses, jennyandjohninfrance,

mustard pot wine glasses, jennyandjohninfrance,

mustard pot wine glasses, jennyandjohninfrance,

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Rural France. You know you're a local when.......

Rural France. You know you're a local when.......

We have now lived in Rural France for over four years and this morning as I went to the town square to buy some bread and was given the fresh bread rather than the bread on the shelf (admittedly the bread on the shelf was only a couple of hours old!)  The realisation hit me,

I am now a local!

I thought about this on the way back to the house and all the other things that make you realise you are a local and no longer a visitor and decided to come up with a check list.

You know you're a local when

1.   At the boulangerie you are given the fresh baguette before they are put on the shelf.

2.   The sun is shining in spring you will still be wearing a sweater and scarf as the tourists         wander around in shorts and t shirts.

3.   At a restaurant you think what a cute dog rather than why is there a dog in the restaurant.

4.   At the market you will think what a big dog rather than why is there a big dog tied up next to the butchers van.

5.   You stop noticing the dog poo on the street.

6.   You no longer practice what you are going to say before you go into the shop.

7.   You know the difference between a boulangerie and a patisserie.

8.   You stop noticing that the street lights get turned off and walking home in the pitch black becomes normal.

9.   You never make the mistake of going to the post office/shop/bank at lunch time.

10.  Everywhere being shut on a Monday becomes normal.

11.  You make sure you know when all the bank holidays are and never run out of milk on those days.

12.  Strangers talking to you and being polite becomes normal and expected and you get upset if a stranger does not say hello as they walk past and think there is something wrong.

13.  In a supermarket, you join the rush to the front of the queue when a new till opens instead of letting the person in front go first.

14.  You know never to shop in a hurry, as the cashier may just get up and go and chat to another person or start a completely different job before returning to you some time later.

15.  You can walk around without photographing everything.

16.  You learn how to drink in a bar. A tiny glass of wine is normal as is almost filling your glass with a spirit then adding a splash of mixer.

17.  You stop marvelling at the price of wine in a supermarket.

18.  You stop marvelling at the variety of cheese in a supermarket.

19. You stop laughing at Easter eggs, advent calendars and any other holiday confectionery still being sold at full price the month after the holiday.

20.  You no longer get angry when driving through a village and the car in front stops to talk to a person walking past.

21.  You are no longer surprised when driving through a village and the car in front stops to talk to a person walking past.

22.  You think nothing of stopping when driving through a village and talking to a person walking past.

23.  When you are driving in the middle of nowhere and can see for miles around, you still stop the car for 3 full seconds at a stop sign.

This is by no means an extensive list, but just a guide, what would you add to this list?

If you would like to find out what life is like in France we are selling our current house, click on the link for more info House for sale Huelgoat