14th March 2020

Downstairs is very cold, only the bedrooms and bathroom heated, the main area which was the garage is bitter. It has a stone floor and double glazed patio doors with an electronic shutter outside but there is a gap between the door and the shutter open to the sky. Hmm! We unpacked the car and everywhere is a mess. There are 2 kitchen cupboards both filthy, a small fridge and a freezer and 2 combined fridge freezers – a bit excessive you might think but remember they only used this as a summer kitchen and had lots of parties. We, on the other hand are going to have to live in it and make it usable until the upstairs kitchen is ready.

downstairs kitchen after cleaning up a bit, summer furniture and the pool covered in leafy water

All the summer outside furniture is also in this room, or cavern, as I like to think of it and all the stuff from the car is piled up on top of it. Having dumped it all and finding it too depressing and cold to think about where it will go, we go to Lidl. It was a bit quiet for a Saturday, but no queues and no panic buying. We spent 124 euros on essentials which might have included some wine, chocolate and cakes …

On the boat yesterday the gin was on special, only a tenner, bargainous as my daughters say, or ‘you wouldn’t be without, would you?’ as one of my friends used to reassure me when I’d got a bargain that wasn’t really a bargain. So we got 4 bottles and when we got here, we found we already had one in the motorhome fridge. You can’t have too much gin in an emergency.

We move a cupboard out, clean it and the hideousness behind it and heft it to the other side of the room underneath a gaudy wall hanging of men on camels. Then we move the dishwasher next to the washing machine, which is next to the ugly and very dirty Belfast sink. ‘That’s got to go’ I think, not for the first time today. (see gaudy wall hanging).

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We’ve put stuff in the biggest fridge freezer which I had washed out before we left last time, because it’s going into the new kitchen when its finished. It’s blocking the light into the kitchen and Mike wants to move it next to the cooker in the alcove, but I’m worried that it will be right up close to the cooker and there should be a piece of wood fillet in between them, (the kitchen person at Leroy Merlin told me so it must be true), so we argue about it. Then we argue about whether the dishwasher door can open if we put the other smaller fridge freezer at right angles to the dishwasher. I go upstairs to try to find places to put things until we have a workable kitchen and by the time I come down, (I may have stayed a little longer in the warm then was fair), he’s moved the big fridge freezer into the space beside the cooker. It’s a fait accompli. I’m not happy but continue pack stuff away – grumpily.

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We ordered a router from Orange in January and I set it up but it doesn’t work. I try all sorts of methods but it still says installation error. Infuriated I ring the English helpline. I can speak some French and know what I want to say but wouldn’t understand the reply, so can’t ring the French one. The English helpline doesn’t work weekends, so it will have to wait until Monday. Until then I will roam intermittently to keep in touch with the family. Mike’s phone doesn’t work at all outside the UK. He gets no service, hasn’t done for ages. So when he arrived in Jersey on Thursday we went to the Apple shop to find out why, because Virgin tell him there’s no problem and it will work. It never does. Turns out it’s too old and can’t update the operating system so will never roam no more, as I’m sure some country and western song intones somewhere. This is all a bloody nuisance and I’m tired so abandon it until Monday.

The world doesn’t end because the big fridge is next to the cooker, and the dishwasher door does have enough space to open. My spatial awareness is crap. We are exhausted so we watch tv. Good and bad – we can only get British free sat which is comforting in a way, but it’s no good for our French language skills. Even worse, and at the risk of offending some readers, the previous owners were Scottish and the satellite dish is aimed at Scottish tv. And while Nicola Sturgeon is very impressive, much more so than Boris, I really don’t need to know what the weather is going to do in Dunfermline in the next 3 days.