A home studio at last!

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve now finally been able to unpack and semi-organize my ‘stuff’ – ‘stuff’ being the desktop PC, guitars, my music gear and all the associated bits and pieces.

I now have a studio cum office in what used to be a downstairs bedroom and which once looked like this:

 

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And here it is now:

 

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The guitar stash is a bit depleted – from 19 down to 9 – and now consists of my Taylor electro-acoustic, the Yamaha electro-acoustic, the blue Telecaster, the Gitane, the bling Tokai Les Paul, the old Precison bass, the Variax and the two Vintage resos. Bringing 19 guitars across to France wasn’t a serious option and I was thinking about pruning down the collection anyway.

I’m now starting to play guitar a lot more in an effort to ‘get fit’. I’m seriously rusty and as I’m getting a duo together with another English guy here, I need to get more fluent and build up the old stamina. I’d lost all the hard skin from my fingertips gradually, but now it’s coming back.

I also plan to write and record.

Quite what exactly I don’t know, but I have all the gear, lots of time and a lovely place to do it all in.

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House update – 18 months in…

Well, we’re 18 months into ex-pat life here in France so, how’s it gone, Monsieur-dame?

Here’s a rough (very rough) timeline:

  • March 1st 2010 – we arrived in France to look for a house whilst renting. We were after a small house without any major work needing to be done
  • April – we found the house we wanted, (a large house with lots and lots of renovation needed!) put a silly offer in which was accepted and then signed the compromis (a legally binding contract of our intention to buy and the vendors to sell) with a view to completion on 31st July
  • July 31st – completion wasn’t happening due to one of the vendors being a total arsehole
  • November – we eventually completed and the house was ours. We set about clearing the house as lots of ‘stuff’ was left. Work on renovation started
  • February 28th 2011 – we moved into the house whilst work continued. We existed mainly in one room with a bed, a sofa and lots of boxes of our possessions
  • August 30th – today! – the inside is finished apart from a few odd bits (snagging as a builder would term it) and the outside is virtually done, with the drainage being sorted as I type this

So, what have we ended up with?

We now have a fully-renovated longere with two reception rooms, downstairs bathroom, massive kitchen diner, a studio/office and a utility room, two huge bedrooms upstairs and a large shower room leading off a large landing. The house stands in about a quarter of an acre of garden with orchard, and there’s a separate parcel of land of about the same area, with a barn, directly across from the house.

Here’s what the front of the house looked like in April 2010. It’s not the same camera angle and view and in the following ‘after’ picture, but it should serve to give some idea of what it was like. The roof wasn’t too clever, the render was crumbling and vines and creepers were all over the place.

 

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Here’s the house today:

 

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The exterior painting needs finishing and the large shutters still have to be put on, but the new roof is in place and it’s all looking much, much better.

The builders are away next week, but work won’t stop. We have the exterior woodwork – door and window frames – to buzz down and then lasure so that they’re all a uniform light oak colour.

Anyway, it’s been a very busy and sometimes strange 18 months, but we’ve ended up with a house that we absolutely love, in a setting that couldn’t be more perfect. It’s quiet, rural and private.

To come – some before and after photos of the interior…

4 dusty gems from the 1970s

I don’t know about you, but one of the most rewarding ways of spending a few idle moments is a good old fussock around YouTube looking for musical gems.

Here’s a few that I’ve bookmarked recently…

10cc…they were always a bit too clever-clever for me, but I seem to have become a real fan of late. ‘Rubber Bullets’ is a great song – witty lyrics, an interesting chord structure and great ensemble playing. This is a live version with a nice jam at the end…note the changed lyrics…

 

Another fantastic 1970s band were Be Bop Deluxe, with the sublime guitar playing of Bill Nelson.  I used to play this tune in a band called ‘Spud and the Fabs’ – and sing it too…

 

The early to mid 1970s were great musically – it was still OK to be able to play your instrument well, as the Edgar Winter Group show in this 10 minute version of ‘Frankenstein’. It was OK to look as if you were actually enjoying yourself, too…

 

I’ve always had a soft spot for Mott, with Ian Hunter’s flawed yet consummate ability to live and breathe rock and the way that the band were so shambolic yet never quite fell apart.  Incidentally, Mrs Shark went to school with two of the band – Buffin and Overend Watts…and yes, he really does sing ‘cock in hole queen’, the rude little monkey…