Sunday 19 July – Perfect Priory

Well we’ve made it.  We are both a bit shattered but at 10 am today our first guests arrived in the newly finished, revamped, redecorated and refurbished Priory.  And, while I may be a little biased, it looks amazing.

In my last blog, I said that I wasn’t panicking about getting things complete on time, and I never (quite) got to that point.  It certainly was nowhere near as fine a run thing as it was when we were preparing Granary in our first year and not as many stitches were required.  However, as then, we did have some very long days that more resembled our working life back in London – albeit the work was more fun.  Also, as then, we did have some assistance on the last day from 2 friends, Pierre-Jean and Cyril, who were instrumental in getting things over the line without us having to put in an all-nighter.

The last 2 weeks have actually not been totally focussed on Priory.  As my last blog mentioned our first guests of this COVID year arrived in Granary last Saturday which meant that we had to take some time to prepare that.  Because we had been using it as storage for all the Priory furnishings we had to empty it, give it a pre-season deep, deep clean, and do a number of smaller maintenance tasks that had been building up.

These tasks were all fairly minor individually (reattaching some tiles; replacing the wood above the new front door; giving the new front door 2 more coats of gloss; reattaching some hanging basket brackets that had blown off in the wind; plumbing in a new cooker we had bought in the spring ….)  but collectively added up to a day’s work and meant that Granary looked amazing when our guests arrived.

There was a moment of greater panic when we were preparing Granary than we ever had in Priory as on the Wednesday during, but not while actively, deep cleaning, the electricity supply tripped and could not be remade.  David managed to identify the circuit which was causing the problem so restore power but without most of the sockets and so without all the niceties of TV, fridge, kettle …

Thankfully Pascal, our super-electrician, came to the rescue at 0830 Thursday morning and had resolved the problem by lunchtime.

Granary prepped, back into Priory and its own issues, inevitably plumbing based.  My Facebook message last Sunday mentioned one that had manifested itself that day caused by the fact that water cannot drain uphill!  Thankfully I was able to resolve that relatively easily.  Monday’s problem initially caused more concern and was to do with the new en-suite shower – again!

The shower has proven more than problematic and our new plumber, Terry, had visited at least 4 times to try and make watertight.  Two weeks ago we thought he’d managed and it remained dry for about a week before it started seeping again.  Fearing the worst that we would again have to strip off tiles and cut through to the pipework we were starting to cut things really tight.  Thankfully, Terry identified what we believe (hope to goodness!) was the cause without striping tiles off and resolved.  It has remained dry so far – but then it did before!

As of 8 am this morning the gîte is finished and looks fabulous.

I have made you wait long enough – now the pictures and the ‘big reveal’.  These are some ‘quick and dirty’ images that probably won’t be used for marketing but I thought you’d like to see them before we update our website.  As such, they really don’t do the finished project justice.  To compare with the ‘before’ just see the relevant pages on the website.

Again, as a partial narrator, we think everything has made a huge difference and it is difficult to identify individual things that we like the most.  However, if I were to choose the new king bedroom with its en-suite shower room is fantastic and much roomier than we’d expected.

The new heating system is far more efficient and will ensure that the gîte is cosy all through the year and the fire can be used for atmosphere rather than the principal, inefficient, source of heat.

The kitchen is fabulous with lots more storage and we have splashed out on a fantastic range cooker and, if you have seen in the pictures, a holiday home for dogs joining us.  We particularly like the new back door that our carpenter friend has made (the same carpenter who made Granary’s lovely new front door) with some lovely detailing.  With the much larger window it provides more light and makes the garden and terrace more inviting.

More light was what we had been trying to achieve in the lounge which, due to the age of the building, doesn’t have any windows.  Now, it is more like Blackpool illuminations!  We love the new rustic chandelier and the spots we have added into the niches in the dining area.

And finally, possibly the largest visual change is the mezzanine. Removing the old lambris from behind the bed and adding lights and character has made a huge difference – and means it is no longer a squeeze to walk along the end of the bed.

It looks great now and will look magical when decorated for Christmas – which is good as this week we have received reservations for both Priory and Granary for Christmas this year so someone will really enjoy it.

It has been a long 6 months plus to get here and, as is always asked on Grand Design type programmes, while due to confinement it is well over time (over 6 months rather than the 3 hoped) it is roughly on budget. Of course we have had some help and we must thank a number of people.

Pascal, the sparky who rewired and installed the heating system; Terry for stepping in and picking up the plumbing with all the problems he had to deal with; John for his fabulous door and new storage space under the stairs; and Pierre-Jean and Cyril for their assistance on a couple of occasions

Looking back when we completed phase 1 of our refurbishments in 2015 when we were fully booked for the first time ever, we had a truly international clientele.   Then there was an Irish family in Priory, Spanish in Granary, English in Hayloft and French in Stable.  Tonight, the first night full in COVID 2020, we have Irish again in Priory, Belgian in Granary, Swiss / German in Hayloft and French in Stable.

We are having a couple of restful days, not completely off as David is in the gym next week, before picking up all of our other tasks possibly starting with hedge cutting and sorting out own house which has been somewhat neglected and now resembles Granary when it was being used as storage.  The next major project is finally completing Grange but before we do that I need a few déchetterie runs to dispose of the packaging and waste of everything we have put in Priory.  Where has my lovely empty concreted garage bay gone?!

I’d have an early night but they do insist on showing the Grand Prix highlights so late – and there’s breakfast for Stable early tomorrow so no lie in …


I want to dedicate this blog to David’s Grandma who sadly passed away early this morning.  David was very close to his Grandma.  Regrettably she was never able to come out and see our new venture and we only managed to see her once a year but she will be sorely missed.