House Renovation – Floor, windows and wall

2018-07-15 house renovation wall window floor

I know, I know. I just posted an update about our house renovation progress (all about getting new beams and what to do with the original ones). But as I have been in the south of France for longer than usual, there is more that has happened in the house that I’d like to document and share.

It is not an awful lot. After all, it’s only been a week and it is hot and the beach calls us from time to time. If you watched last week’s video or read the post, we (a.k.a not me, I don’t have that kind of upper body strength) inserted new beams (in French they’re called bastaing). After inserting new beams where the future second bedroom will be, Hagen was then able to add rafters (in French chevrons, if that helps) on which he then screwed wooden planks, which serve as the basis for the floor. In case anyone is interested, the sizes used for the chevron (rafter) is 63mm x 75mm, for the wooden planks is 25mm x 150mm and the wood is spruce.

Bedroom 2 floor

Bedroom 2 floor

Since the house and our neighbour’s used to be one house and the separation wall is too thin, we built a wall from the ground up for a proper separation and also structural support. The wall has not yet been built all the way to the top, as we have floors missing and it is simply easier, if you can stand on something whilst mixing mortar and piling bricks on top of one another.

Bedroom 2 wall

In order to continue building the wall on the second floor, my mum and I built a concrete foundation first made from a gravel, cement and sand mixture enforced with iron rods. Since my mum is much better at making a wall straight, I was tasked to mix the mortar in a bucket almost the size of a bathtub. I think I am getting better and better getting the mixture right quicker, not to thick and not too thin.

We’re also getting to a stage where we need to figure out what entrance door and windows we want. Unfortunately, none of the originals are in a good condition to keep, so everything has to be replaced. Experiencing the quality of doors and windows when renovating other houses, we realised that it would be better to get the windows in Germany or maybe from a Polish vendor conforming to German quality standards. It’s a bit annoying, but you can definitely tell that they last longer, need less maintenance and are just generally easier to handle in hot weather conditions. For the entrance door, we found a company in Perpignan called Verdi√© that make nice and new doors with good quality.

Windows collage

House Renovation – New Beams

2018-07-08 house renovation new beams

I spontaneously decided to fly to the south of France for a couple of weeks before our big travels. It wasn’t necessarily to work on our house and continue with the renovations, but more a mix of helping in my parents’ garden cause it still needs a lot of work, to go to the beach and get accustomed to scorching heat and sun (though London isn’t lacking in that department at the moment) and maybe, maybe, work a little on the house or do research to take some decisions.

As it turns out, we are working a bit on the house because my parents’ plan changed a little after their recent vacation to the UK. So, the last couple of days we’ve been adding new beams to help support the future floors, walls and staircase. Some of the original beams are a bit rotten, need cleaning and treating but we can’t take them out as they are shared across the neighbouring house.

So I didn’t actually do much with the beams that you can see in the video below. It was mostly my expert team of two who handled the heavy lifting and clusters of dusts. I was happily cleaning iron beams in the cellar. That entailed me filing off loose rust, handling a very heavy and large ladder back and forth (it’s all about that core!) and painting it with an anti-rust treatment. They all look very neat and shiny now.

Summery Orange, Rucola and Rice Salad with Caramelised Fennel

Summery Orange, Rucola and Rice Salad with Caramelised Fennel

With this lovely weather, I am now embracing the summer of fresh and filling salads. I received some fennel in my weekly vegetable box and had some other bits and bobs left that I thought would make a great combo.

One thing that I wish I could change though is the type of rice. I only had Arborio rice (otherwise known as risotto rice), so that is what had to do the trick and it was still delicious. I’d recommend using brown rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa, couscous or any other grain rocking your boat.

Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

What you need

For 2 people

  • 2 portions of grains of your liking as mentioned above
  • 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 1 orange
  • 60g rucola salad
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • pumpkin seeds, if you fancy

Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

Here’s how you make it

  1. Start boiling your rice (or any other grain of your choice) and add the crushed fennel.
  2. Cut the fennel into strips and steam them for 4 minutes (keep the leafy bit for the dressing and salad topping).
  3. Once the fennel is steamed, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and fry the fennel on a medium heat until it starts browning.
  4. Add the maple syrup and water mixture to caramelise the fennel. Leave it until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Cut the orange in half, peel one half and cut it into small pieces and add it to a salad bowl.
  6. Cut the cucumber into small cubes and add it to the bowl together with the rucola salad.
  7. Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

  8. In a glass or small bowl, squeeze the juice of the other half of the orange for the dressing.
  9. Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

  10. Add a tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice, the fluffy bit from the fennel and salt and pepper to the freshly squeezed orange juice and stir everything together.
  11. Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

  12. Let the rice cool down a little before mixing it in with the ingredients in the salad bowl and then add the dressing.
  13. Serve it on a plate and place the caramelised fennel on top.
  14. If you’ve got any seeds available (I used pumpkin seeds), toast them and then sprinkle them on top.

Last important step, find a sunny spot and enjoy!

Summery orange, rocula and rice salad with caramelised fennel

Being a tourist in London

Discovering LDN with family

This weekend has been a family packed weekend. Both our parents have been/are here passing through our home from a roadtrip through the UK or about to head to one respectively.

Usually there isn’t enough time to do touristy stuff in the London, but this time around, my parents stay for 2 days and I became a tourist. We visited Kew Gardens, to which I have only been in winter time when there is a light show, and Camden Market, cause my parents have never been.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens recently opened the newly renovated Temperate House, which my parents were keen on seeing. And since the weather was wonderful, we also had a little picnic with some delicious but questionable looking crumble. I didn’t know that Kew Gardens was as big as it is, as I had only walked a small path in the darkness of winter. There is a treetop walk that is rather knee-melting, if you have issues with wobbly built pathways in 18m height, but the view is definitely worth it.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

The second day we ventured out to Camden Market. I think it has been 2 years since I last went, so I was curious to see what has become of it. It was a Saturday and brilliant weather, so as expected, there were a lot of people roaming the streets and market halls. It’s definitely become a lot more organised and cleaned up since I’ve last been with lots more shops and food. Talking about food, I’ve had a great vegan doughnut and some of the best falafel I’ve ever tasted.

Camden

It’s time to start dreaming again

dream big

It’s honest time today, so please bear with.

My husband and I had a conversation the other day about dreams. Rather, it was more a conversation about how I should (could) make use of my time currently before we start travelling in 2 and a half months time. I am currently not working, so I have time available to me with which I can do something or several things. I could explore something I’ve always wanted to do, could spin some ideas about starting my own business or something else entirely. I also currently drive things that need to get done around our trip and house renovation.

However, I don’t go and explore. I don’t currently take the opportunity of my available time, which I won’t have forever. I don’t do it to the fullest extent and I find myself going back and forth on whether I should or shouldn’t.

I feel guilty that I have this time available, so I do as much as I can for things that “matter”, such as the trip, house stuff and various other logistical things that need to get done in life. I am someone that puts other people and to-do’s first before I eventually (if ever) get to myself, though I have gotten so much better at it over the past year. I also feel that whatever I’d start to explore now, I’d have to stop anyways when we’re travelling and then put all the effort back in after 6 months. Also, there are way too many things I’d like to try out, so I am also struggling with the luxurious dilemma of where I’d even start. It’s all too overwhelming (and privileged) and it is easier, at the moment, to play the ostrich game.

Not only do I feel like I have to take on all this extra stuff because I am not working, I also feel guilty for not using this time to pursue my own interests. Something my husband said during our chat made a penny drop and whilst I still don’t quite know how to tackle what’s in my brain, I know not to dismiss it and tame it. I will also try not to feel guilty about having this time whilst others don’t, but instead learn to treasure it and be grateful that I am given this opportunity to explore and dream. I am certain I will fail at times, but I will try.

I know I haven’t done this kind of real talk since I wrote about my brain surgery journey, but I think it could be a valuable thought process/learning to share. I think a lot of us are struggling with shutting off thoughts about our dreams (however big or small), taking a step toward making it happen or even allowing ourselves to have any. Sometimes, we tend to put barriers in front of ourselves where there don’t have to be any. There are enough barriers in life already, no need to invent them.

And yes, that is the rational part of me talking. Clearly, I have had some very irrational thoughts about this whole process and no, I haven’t stopped thinking them or felt any less doubt, though recognising what is tearing me in different directions mentally and emotionally surely must be a good thing.

Thanks a bunch for reading. I hope this wasn’t too much of a downer and maybe even gave you a little nudge to be better at this whole “do more of what makes you happy and explore your dreams” thing, as cheesy as it sounds. But somebody once said it, so it must be true.

Places we’re going to in Indonesia

Places to go in Indonesia

The last few weekends have been heavily focused on getting some more flights and places booked for Indonesia. Indonesia is the first country we’re going to and it is not easy being “flexible” and have a “let’s see where we’ll end up tomorrow” attitude because it’s all islands. You can’t just catch a car or bus to quickly hop over to another place; you either need to fly or take a boat. I’ve read plenty of posts and comments on taking ferries and boats for smaller distances (Lombok to Bali) and there are quite a few horror stories out there. For most parts, we’re going to take the plane. It’s not very expensive, so it is ok. But taking planes does mean that we have to book now, cause most planes for travel within the country easily book out (so I’ve read). And we’re less than 3 months away from take-off (eek!).

I didn’t think that figuring out places for Indonesia would be quite this hard. I suppose it isn’t, if you only look at the Unesco World Heritage site (ha!). Once you start looking elsewhere and get to reading various blogs and sites, then you’d almost want to ditch every other country on the list and just tour around the islands of Indonesia for 6 months. They have such diversity from one little island to the next big one. It is crazy to decide and give yourself a time limit. So far we’re at about a month.

Also, we have to take into account travel time in between places. You’d think that because it’s all scattered, it’d be easy to get from one place to another. Don’t get me wrong, I suppose it is fairly easy and there are a lot of airports and options. Though one trip we booked to get all the way to Papua takes 15ish hours excluding the ferry to get to another tiny island, when a direct flight would be 3ish hours. I am not complaining, it is what we chose and are aware of, but it is making me rethink other locations further down the line when, on paper, we’re already at the end of September and haven’t even left the country yet. Oh the irony when I said “scattered” and “easy to get to places”, ha!

On to the less waffly bit

In case you’re curious, the sites we’ve used so far to book flights within Indonesia are Skyscanner and Nusatrip. I also saw that Tiket is an option (as recommended by Lonely Planet), which we might try for the next flights.

Where we want to go

Jakarta
I think this might only end up being a day or two, as we have a lot of other stuff we’d like to see. At this stage though, I am even unsure, if passing through there is even worth it compared to other places.

Does anyone have any recommendations on what to see/do in Jakarta?

Temples
Hot on the list are the Prambanan and Borobudur temples. Just google these names and then stay in awe for days. They’re also both on the UNESCO World Heritage list, so we figured, if we’re going to see temples in Indonesia, then these two should be it. They are also relatively close to one another on Java island.

Lombok
Most people told us that Lombok would be better than Bali for a beach time out, as it is less touristy and less crowded. There is apparently a pink beach and Mount Rinjani, an active volcano you can hike around and up. We might also make a day trip to the Gili Islands which are said to be rather beautiful (but also touristy, so we’ll see).

Komodo National Park
How cool would it be to actually see a real dragon? I mean, it won’t take me on its back up in to the clouds √† la Daenerys, but I’ll take what I can. The time we’re going though is when they usually have their little dragons, so hopefully we’ll still see at least one. From a distance I shall think, as I read that they eat whole deer and young ones can climb trees.

Papua
We’re going to West Papua, more specifically to Raja Ampat, to spend a few days at the beach and snorkel our way through corals and clown fish. Getting there is a bit tricky, so we chose to take the ferry to Waigeo and back. Fingers crossed it’s all going to be fine. By the way, Raja Ampat is an archipelago with one of the most biodiverse marine life.
Also on Papua, we’re going to the Baliem Valley where the Dani people live. It’s quite tricky finding accommodation there, so should anyone have any tips…much appreciated.