Our focus this week has remained working in Priory to prepare for our first guests (2 weeks and counting) and while we have made good progress and we remain, I am confident, on track I have not attach many photos to this post as all rooms are still works in progress rather than having completed any – I will post in the next 2 weeks as we complete.
Priory is our largest gîte, sleeping 6 in 3 bedrooms, and the oldest building in the village having been built in 1640 as the presbytery during the construction of a previous, long lost, church. It is a magnificent slate building with lots of evidence of its previous ecclesiastical history, including a dovecot from where Kergudon gets its name – Kergudon meaning ‘home of the dove’ in Breton.
Unlike some of our other gîtes there is no immediate need to change the kitchen and bathroom, although we have painted all the wood cladding which is a very French decorative style, and changed some of the fittings which are a little dated including replacing the living room furniture for leather sofas (dog friendly gite) and the sofa bed in the mezzanine dressing area (still protected from the dust for now …) and replacing all the beds.
We are doing the same to all of the rooms where light fittings and furnishings are beginning to show their age, while also installing some more essential luxuries such as radiators in the bedrooms and a heated towel rail in the bathroom.
We have finally managed to clear out the living space of Priory which has acted as our new furniture ‘warehouse’ since we arrived in France only to discover that we are missing 2 of 3 boxes for a dining room table we ordered in the UK and had delivered direct to our removals firm. In the hope that the extra boxes are sat homeless in the back of their warehouse we are in discussion … Thankfully they have to visit us again as they will deliver our star piece of newly acquired furniture – more of which in the future.
I also mentioned a hole in the wall last week, which I would best describe as a short arrow slit overlooking the front door. As we are certainly not aware of the building ever being a fortress perhaps it is evidence of the existence of 17th century door-to-door salesmen. We discovered the hole when I pulled on some old rags sticking out of the wall which had been used to block it up, but now we have sealed it with a glass block allowing light to shine in and display this rather quirky feature.
During the week we took a day out to visit a new bank, some distance away, to see if they could assist with our plans for developing Kergudon and provide some finance. As I’m sure you can understand, a gîte business, especially one under new ownership with no history, is not the most secure business a bank might be willing to lend to. However, through a friend who has ‘contacts’ we found a friendly bank, albeit in western Normandy, who were happy to help us out. Our visit to them was a pleasant day out but, despite being a formality to sign the paperwork, our meeting lasted very nearly 4 hours and while the life was draining from our bodies, in true French bureaucratic style, we had to sign so many things it felt like one signature for every euro we wanted to borrow! However, all was positive and we will be able to develop Kergudon next year with a couple of large projects.
Sadly, the positive was balanced out with a negative banking experience in that during some of our many purchases required to renovate Kergudon, the details of our bank card had been acquired by a fraudster and was being used merrily, mainly in Spain, for flights and entertainment. Thankfully the bank picked it up and has cancelled the card however, so begins the slow process of reclaiming our cash which requires a visit to register the fraud with the gendarmes – open 3 days a week for a few hours (obviously – not much crime in these parts!) and grateful that the French are still so attached to cheques for paying for things that we are not completely cashless until a new card arrives. One of life’s frustrations.
Finally, yesterday we said goodbye to our first guest who had stayed in Hayloft for 2 weeks with her 3 dogs. Leanne, had come to France house hunting in this area and left with her property focus narrowed to our own village of Saint Cadou which she fell in love with. She kindly awarded us 10s across the board (with one 10++) on our feedback form (yes, as the newbies keen to provide the ideal holiday accommodation we’ve gone a bit corporate and seek feedback from our guests) and left with only one regret (other than the obvious) which was she only visited our pub, St Hubert, on her last night which she loved and wished she’d visited sooner. Perhaps next time …
We continue in Priory next week – with more photos but, while you wait some updates on (Le)Garratt – 5 weeks to go …