Monday 2nd September
- Another early start. On site meeting with plumber. All bathroom layouts confirmed (and even some items start to be plumbed in there and then). A particular highlight of this lengthy meeting was deciding the height of the sink tap in the master bathroom. I'm a fan of being able to get my head under the tap to brush my teeth. So when the plumber asked what height the tap should go, that was my (clearly deeply sensible) answer. At which point 4 guys looked at me in silence (2 holding heavy sink at right height, 1 holding tap in place, 1 holding pen to mark right place on the wall). 'So, you want me to actually demonstrate this?' So, the master bathroom tap is at the exact height that allows me (as shown in rather too public a forum) to get my head under it so I can brush my teeth. Aaaand, moving on...
- On site meeting with electrician follows. All light switch locations, all lighting positions, sockets too, which switches relate to which light groupings. This all takes a loooong time. Exactly as with plumber, pointing randomly at walls, there? Or there? Or even there, maybe? Ok, there, that light should go there. *Electrician draws on wall with marker pen*. No problem. That’s a pretty weird and surreal process to go through. Decision making becomes pretty instinctive though, can’t dwell on each one too long, or else they all stack up in the wings waiting, and process begins to drag. Bang bang bang. Done. Quick exchange of glance to confirm that other person is on the same page, and boom, decision made. Move on.
- Other decisions that swarm thick and fast include: built in cupboarding in master bedroom (shelves? Hanging? Drawers? All three? Lockable cupboard for our stuff?), under stairs lockable ski store (outside), terrace bannister design, book shelf position (IMPORTANT!), built in bunk beds, window vs. door in bedroom one (then what curtain/ blind to have for a door?), window is better, water pressure upped, garage and terrace extention to be delayed to Spring next year (this is a big decision, both financially and also has so many implications in terms of ski storage and so on – all needing solving).
- Finish on site, and head over 40 mins drive to Chatel to the lumber yard to confirm outside cladding colour. Process is that wood is burnt black, then fed through a machine that brushes the charred colour off in varying degrees based on how quickly the wood feeds through and the bristles of the brush used. A few tries at differing speeds and brushes, and the final colour is so beautiful. Delighted.
- Then head to another chalet nearby to confirm need for shower hose attachment and yes we still need to buy 5 of the darn things. Damn.
- Head to Thonon (on Lake Geneva – v pretty), and bathroom wholesaler. Purchase 4 shower trays, 5 shower hose attachments (man those things are eye wateringly expensive considering how minor they look), 5 sink drainage pipes (likewise – could spend E60 on one, and who looks at those? We spend far far less than this, but even so, far more than one would like to on something that seems so utterly inconsequential, times 5). But still the final figure for all of that gives serious pause. But have to hand over card anyway. *winces*
- Head to wood shop – decide on door design (times 17 doors), and get quote for kitchen cabinet door cladding. Look at some window frame colours.
- It’s now 5.30pm. There is the small matter of a 600 mile drive between us and home still to do, all before going to work on Tuesday morning. Having not eaten or drunk anything ALL day (far too much going on and actually we totally forgot), Drive-Thru MacDonalds is the clear option. Shame it takes 20 mins to order and get the food. Not so convenient or fast. And not ideal when we're already massively behind.
- Finally get on the road to Calais, and do some calculations, along with frantic phone calls to UK to work out that the last Eurotunnel train is at 01.21am. And we have to average 83 miles an hour ALL THE WAY (around 7 ish hours) to make it bang on the nose. Missing that train is not an option, as the one afterwards is at 03.50. Not to mention that the 03.50 is fully booked so we wouldn't even be guaranteed on it. Ugh. Panic stations.
- Cue incredibly high energy non stop caning it van style to Calais from Thonon (other side of Geneva).
- Highlights include:
Many many serious cow smells (many, many smells), lack of satnav (thanks lo tech van), and then lack of Darren’s back up satnav as iPhone ran out of juice around Geneva leading to TWO wrong direction exits (damn you Dijon and your confusing road signs), when we're in a ridiculous rush anyway, a FANTASTIC sunset, nearly running out of petrol and much guesswork about ‘making it’ to next petrol station, needing a loo break SO badly for so many hours as time too tight to stop anywhere, an 8 minute stop during the whole 8 hour drive which included 2 paninis, petrol, toilet, coffee and snacks, an emotional rendition of Lionel Richie Love Oh Love (GREAT driving song), and Fly Over the Rainbow (also great driving song, especially at sunset on a long straight road), amongst other oddball offerings in the random CD collection, and trying to do the perfect Peage stop with no missed seconds whatsoever. Maths becomes excellent as check in with our average speed time every 20 mins just to make sure still on track. There are only minutes in it, all the way.
- The main highlight was making it with quite literally 5 minutes to spare…phew
- And then, after all that, after driving over 1300 miles in a weekend, slamming through a series of biggish property decisions in a few hours, and arriving back in the UK with an enormous sense of relief, as we join the motorway at Folkestone, some b&stard evil lorry driver literally ran us off the road (er, Portway Haulage, one of your drivers is a danger to himself and others). Darren has the alertness and presence of mind to divert off into a bollarded area and avoid a really serious collision, and we are both fine (shaken, exhausted). Thankfully. Van is also thankfully undamaged, as an unexpected and deeply unfair damage bill at this point in the process might have sent us over the proverbial. And now we are both wired, and reach home around 3.30am. And set the alarm for work the next day for 8am. Gulp.