8 December 2017



There is good and bad news on the kitchen front.  The good news is that most of the units are now in.  We also have new internal doors which we are very pleased with.  They are white, stylish, some glazed and some not, and are infinitely more attractive than the horrid dark plain doors that came with the house.


The bad news is that the kitchen company have let us down big style on the kitchen.  In a nutshell we think they forgot to order it.

With the delivery date approaching fast we queried why we had heard nothing about it and that’s when we think they then ordered it, only to find that the appliances would take until several days after the agreed start date to arrive.  In order to have something ready for the fitter to fit when we vacated the house for them to get on with it, they deleted the appliances from the order so that delivery of the cabinets wouldn’t be held up.  We think they then forgot to re-order them until we enquired why there was no sign of our appliances. We have deduced all this judging by snippets of information told to us by the fitter and shop manager – it’s not exactly the kind of thing that people would openly admit to!

This is in such contrast to the service we received from this company only two and a half years ago, when we bought the kitchen for our house in France and they sorted out problems quickly and painlessly, helping us out enormously when the shipping company trashed several of the units in transit.

Speaking of shipping, things started to go really downhill when the delivery company turned up with the cabinets.  The moronic oaf that carried most of the packages into the house bashed the boxes into our brand new front door in order to shove it open, scratching the bottom panels.  What is it about driving a van that turns people into idiots who have no respect for their customer’s goods or property?

With the house now transformed into a building site, everything covered in a layer of plaster dust and gritty dirt, some of the cabinets were found to be the wrong size, damaged or missing altogether.  It quickly became very obvious that it would take much longer than the week promised to fit the kitchen.  So we extended our stay in the cottage for a second week.

When we got a final delivery date of 13th December for the appliances we extended our stay by one more week, making three weeks in total.  What a shambles.  And just to add insult to injury, our fridge freezer, which we were not replacing, mysteriously acquired a large dent in the door, which nobody owns up to knowing anything about.


In our quest to get all the big, messy and disruptive things done as soon as possible, we booked replacement of the horrible (very fashionable in the 1960’s) fireplace in the sitting room for this week – to follow on from the kitchen work which we had been told would be finished by now.

gas fire2

The demolition of the old fireplace was a very messy job and not without surprises.  Namely that the hearth seemed to have been built on a huge slab of concrete – thick enough to “hold up a multi storey car park” according to the fireplace engineer!  Most of it had to be chipped away to reveal a proper floor level and enable them to fit the new fireplace.

gas fire3gas fire4

And here it is.  If it wasn’t for the fact that the glass front has a small crack in it and we therefore can’t use it, we’d be very pleased with it.  The engineer and his mate blamed the delivery company, but then they would just because they could.  To my mind the thing should have been inspected for faults or damage long before they started the job and in time to replace any damaged or missing parts.  Nobody does quality control any more.  They expect you to pay up front for fear that you might not pay at all, then expect you to put up with faulty goods until they can fix it.

The chimney breast also needs a significant amount of plastering to finish it off.  This was not the engineer’s job, apparently, which is not something we appreciated when we ordered it.  However, we like the look of the new fire.  It’s very smart and stylish and makes the room look bigger – and I no longer bash my ankles on the corner of the old hearth stone when I walk past it.

So all in all, things have not really been going to plan.  Sure enough, we will get the kitchen finished eventually and the chimney breast will get plastered and finished off.  I just wish this was not happening so close to Christmas, which seems to be passing me by yet again.  We have missing appliances, a damaged front door, a damaged fridge freezer, a brand new fire that we can’t use, a big plastering job to organise and a house that’s a tip.  This is not at all what we were expecting and our excitement at having our projects come to fruition is marred by disappointments.  It just shows how important it is to have good people working in any company.  No matter how good the product is, the service is hugely dependant on how good the staff are.  Unfortunately the people we were so pleased with at the kitchen company last time have moved on.

A friend of mine once said that if you go through life expecting 100% from people you will always be disappointed.  If you reckon on 50% you might just be pleasantly surprised.  I thought at the time it was a sad reflection on human nature but he was probably right.


  1. Its an interesting story you tell Jean and so different from our totally new build from scratch. Sorry to hear your troubled news. Maybe you need to import some Australian trades people (but not plumbers). When Susan and Simon return, they may tell you more of our rural retreat. Best of luck for the future work.

    1. Leon, the plumber, builder, roofer and glazing people were all excellent, which lured us into a false sense of security.
      We were bound to come unstuck sooner or later.

    2. If it weren't for bad luck you'd have no luck at all, it seems.

    3. Ken, we're trying to focus on the positives, that in the end we will have a house that we have done up to our taste rather than someone else's.

    4. Happy Birthday, Jean.

      Here's one positive thing: there's nothing like living for days, weeks, and (?) months in either a construction zone or in temporary accommodations to make you appreciate the result of all the work you are having done! I'm sure your place there will be fantastic when all is said and done. Do you plan to live a greater part of the year there or in the house in France?

    5. Ken, the legal maximum is six months in every year, if we're not becoming tax registered in France etc., although plenty of people stay for longer than that and seem or hope not to get found out or penalised in any way.

    6. To qualify for French health insurance coverage, you have to live here at least 6 months out of 12. For income tax purposes it's 6 out of 12 too, but U.S. retirement income is exempt from French taxes under treaty agreements. We're pretty happy with all that. We non-Europeans are not allowed to stay legally in France for more than 3 months at a stretch without applying for a long-stay visa before arriving in-country and a carte de séjour upon arrival. It will be interesting to see what happens after Brits are brexited from Europe.

    7. Good point Ken, who knows? Nothing is at all certain just yet, which is one if our worries, we can't take anything for granted. Being British no longer feels like any kind of priviledge.

    8. Unfortunately, a person's birth nationality is not a privilege but just a fact of life. None of us chooses where we want to be born, or to what parents. Acquired nationality, however, might be considered a privilege, because it's a special right accorded by authorities who have a choice in the matter.

    9. I was meaning the advantages we currently have in being an EU member, freedom of travel, access to health care etc. It's likely that we will lose all that.
      I'm not looking forward to the return to the bad old days of queues at Dover and the other borders every time we cross the channel, or presumably when we fly into any European country. We certainly hope the pet travel arrangements continue, or that could be very awkward for us.

    10. Even as non-Europeans, we qualified for French health coverage years ago. And we have freedom of travel in Europe too.