Our Renovation Life

The Building Works Take Off..



It has not escaped my notice that whilst I’ve been writing about all sorts of stuff – I haven’t really shown you the progress of the house.  So without further ado and somewhat of an album filler on the blog (although I don’t do many of those #promise), here are some pictures to keep you going. I will keep popping up pictures over the next few weeks until you are up to date.

Some catching up to do as my kitchen currently looks like this!

So, you can read about how and when we bought the house (back in 2004) here. We left it for years – we had kids, we moved, we renovated two properties in the UK and we got married.  Life just seemed to get in the way and if I’m honest, I was more than happy with my lot in the UK.  Things changed somewhat in 2012 when Mr Normandy suffered a bad back injury. Turned out he had two prolapsed discs – years of physical hard graft had taken its toil.  He was able to carry on working but we knew at some point he’d have to take it easy.

We got planning permission to extend the house within two weeks of applying back in 2011. I highly recommend asking the authorities for planning, services or anything you so desire in December. The “yay it’s nearly Christmas”, “we’re winding down” really does seem to get you the seal of approval. In fact, when I was sent the form to declare whether we had finished it or not (so they can put your tax foncieres up), the chap was so chilled out that I actually sent him a Christmas giphy. You know the moving pictures you see on facebook. Yarp I sent the man in the tax office this..

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He replied with this  J’ai transférer le mail au SIP de Mortain pour la taxe d’habitation,  Merci, bonnes fêtes de fin d’année à vous

Did I hear from him again. Did I buggery. I still haven’t seen a cent of all the payments I made for tax habitation – you don’t have to pay this if its uninhabitable and soon to be extinct. I can’t talk about it. The scars run deep. It’s not a huge amount. Let. It. Go. Still he was a nice chappy…

Once we had approval we needed to start works, otherwise it would expire and we’d have to apply all over again. We didn’t want to take our chances. So, Mr Normandy headed on over in 2013 to make a start. Once you’ve made a start you can take as long as you like but start you must. I’ve said start a lot in that paragraph.

Mr Normandy went out for a total of 2 weeks and in true Mr Normandy fashion he made a cracking ….. (fill in the blank!)



I should also say, at that time, you could extend the property by 125 square metres without the need for an architect. You still needed to give 6 duplicates of all your plans, fill in a complicated looking form (we paid someone about £600 or was it £300 – I can’t remember – to do this and submit all the plans etc) which included aerial maps, several photos of the property (taken by my parents who were on holiday in France – but did a detour of some 3 hours) site map and your mother’s maiden name and time of birth. Just kidding.

You could not tear down the building and start again which is what, ideally, we would have liked to have done. So we had our box that needed to be made bigger.

Bearing in mind, we had no electric, no water and no toilet facilities this was not an easy task. Mr Normandy would fill up buckets of water (which would take over an hour to fill) to then put on the back of the truck to mix concrete up with.  Thankfully during the second week, our neighbour offered his water and a hose, to make the job a little bit less time consuming. Merci that man!

A slow way to mix concrete
Romantic sleeping quarters – at night Mr Normandy could hear the mice scurrying around



Yarp I’m not staying there anytime soon. I was happy to man the ship back at HQ.



In true Mr Normandy style, he made the most of the two weeks. Here you can see the foundations for the kitchen and what will lead to the stairway up to the first floor. We then left the property until 2015……

Our French Life, Our Review Life

Review Of Granville Carnival


Ok so we were toying with the ideal of going here. Could we be bothered? When Sunday comes around we’re all pretty tired. The boys usually have cycle training in readiness for the season and Miss Normandy has horse riding lessons on a Saturday morning – at the incredibly reasonable amount of 20 euros a lesson. Did I mention that things to do here are far cheaper than in the UK? Yes, you have blah blah. Well I’m telling you again! Continue reading “Review Of Granville Carnival”

Our School Life

French School v British School


Now I did touch on this slightly in a previous post but I don’t think I did it justice really. I’m going to talk about the primary school here in France. In particular, the type of work the children do. Given that I’m not in the classroom and my little fella doesn’t go into massive detail about his day – I’m going to tell you how I see it sitting in my ivory tower.  You have to give our children credit. They really do just get on with it. Continue reading “French School v British School”

Our French Life, Our Renovation Life

Where Are Orange On The Bureaucracy-O-Meter?


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Send message – I’ll send you a message alright

Okay, so judging from my recent poll it seems you would like to hear more about renovation woos or maybe whoops? Could it be that Orange are up there on the bureaucracy-o-meter and ranked number 1? One being the easiest company to deal with in France? Could it be that they have got this internet, telephone and wifi thing sussed? Well I’m about to tell you, so grab yourself a cuppa, as I don’t know how long this could take. Continue reading “Where Are Orange On The Bureaucracy-O-Meter?”

Our French Life, Our SMS Life

Our Normandy Life SMS – Social Media Solutions


Our Normandy Life was set up to detail the journey of a family of five’s move to Normandy France. To give people considering a move, especially with older children, a positive and practical guide on all that this entails. This has led to more writing opportunities – all of which would not have been possible without the effective use of social media.

Who am I?

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I am a freelance writer with experience of running another successful blog prior to starting afresh with Our Normandy Life.  My previous website The 1970s Diet had over 1.7 milion views. Giving up those types of viewing figures and all that comes with it, wasn’t an easy decision. However, I was confident I could recreate the same level of success, with the effective use of social media.

You can read all about my achievements with this blog here. In short, because people read the content of the blog and based on my viewing numbers, I was able to work with many brands which were relevant to the parenting/dieting content. Companies like Zaggora, Bamboo Clothing, Helly Henson, Diet Chef, Breville,more Breville,  Micro Scooters, London Sea LifeBook ReviewsHotel Chocolat, Arla Foods and many more. I was ranked in the top 500 in the Tots 100 parenting network which has over 8,000 blogs reaching an audience of over 10 million. I also featured regularly on round ups with the UK’s biggest parenting blog network Britmums who are Britain’s “biggest collective of lifestyle bloggers and social influncers”. And to my delight was shortlisted for the Brilliance in Blogging awards in London (category Health) in 2014. I am pleased to say that I have continued to be featured by Britmums in a very short space of time.

This all started with me simply opening my laptop and writing. What I love about social media is that you can really run with an idea, create something from nothing and earn money from it.  The blogging community (writing about their chosen subject) and now the vlogging community (using youtube to talk about their subject) are excellent examples of this. These people are earning a living by merely using social media effectively and you can adopt the same approach for your business in Normandy.

I am passionate about helping people maximise their social media potential whether you’re a complete novice or consider yourself a dab hand. I want Our Normandy Life to help your normandy life no matter what sort of business you run here. Be it a gite, shop, gardening services, B&B, mobile hairdressing or salon. I am confident I can help.

social media

How can you help me?

Your normandy life will more than likely consist of running a self-employed, small business. You may be using social media already and feel that there isn’t much you can learn from it. However, you may not be seeing the results you would like. In particular, if you have paid for ‘sponsored’ posts by facebook and haven’t had any more sales or bookings. Are you using instagram, twitter, pinterest, youtube and other platforms properly?  You may not have a clue how any of it works and need help understanding basic functions.

You may not know what to put in posts or how to engage with your customer base.  Are you having a dialogue with the right potential customers? There’s little point of someone liking your page who lives in a different country and will never buy anything from your shop. Whatever your level of experience, I am confident that I can help you get the best from your social media interaction.

Here’s what people are saying about the help they have received from Our Normandy Life

“We are now in our 2nd year of running our rural retreat Gites here in Normandy and after having an enjoyable and thankfully successful first year we are looking forward to welcoming our guests for 2018 however, I wanted to focus the business on a specific target market and felt I needed some advice on the best way of going about this. Whilst I was using social media – at times I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was relevant and sometimes I didn’t quite understand the jargon. Natasha explained everything clearly and in a logical manner. I have no hesitation in recommending her services and have total confidence in her abilities when I hand over for a social media holiday!”

Cheryl at Gites Le Bisson, Heusse, Lower Normandy , Facebook Gites Le Bisson

“Having just re-branded our shop with a name change I felt that our social media interaction could do with an overhaul. We have a good solid customer base but we wanted to target other potential customers in the area. There were some practical aspects to facebook that I had never got around to understanding. I’m glad we took the time out to go through all of these and other ways in which to be creative and engaging with our customers. The impact was more or less immediate and over our busiest time – Christmas. The amount spent was far less than traditional advertising methods and was well worth it!” Johnathan The English Shop, Sourdeval, Normandy

We moved to Normandy last year and had to quickly set up our two gites before the season started, whilst also settling our two girls into French school.  I needed to focus on this so asked Natasha to take over our social media accounts for a month. I know how important this is – it’s a job in itself. I knew I could trust her completly and was delighted with her posts. I love that she is just as passionate about our business as we are!” Deborah Powell, Gites de Jonquille, Percy, Normandy

What’s Involved?

I can arrange a meeting at your business or home address for either a morning or afternoon appointment. I will go through all the different social media platforms and discuss how you can use them effectively. I will answer any questions you may have or things you don’t quite understand. I will also give you a personal appraisal of your unique business and what specifically you can do to engage people.  What you are doing that works well. What you can improve upon. Prior to my visit, I will ask you to complete a brief questionnaire to establish what you would like to gain most from my visit so I can tailor it to your specific needs.  I will also be able to have a look at your presence on line and give you an unbiased view of what I, a potential customer, thinks. At the end of my visit you will receive an individual handout on what has been discussed, as I appreciate it can be a lot to take in. It doesn’t end there as I can offer a follow up service or take over your social media for a short time or a longer period.

How much does this cost? 

Our Normandy Life – SMS 

Social Media Solutions – Passionate About Helping Your Normandy Life! 

Siret Registration Number 83513385100013

My fees are listed below:-

Morning Appointment 9 am – 12pm    75 euros

Afternoon Appointment 1pm – 4pm    75 euros

These sessions will include a print out on what has been covered, hands on demonstration of the core social media platforms i.e facebook, twitter, instagram and youtube and how you can engage your customers more effectively.

Social Media Management

25 euros per month or 8 euros a week

No need for passwords – simply add me as an ‘admin’ on your page and I’ll do the rest. You can use this a social media holiday or just to get an idea of what type or things you should be writing.  There is no notice period once the one month is up you simply take over your social media again.

Follow-up Visit

one hour – 25 euros

two hours – 45 euros

Facebook Messenger HelpLine

30 minutes – 10 euros 

Written aricles for your website

50 euros per post 

Review Post on Our Normandy Life website

100 euros per post 

Travel Fees

Up to 25 Kilometres one way – Free

Over 25 Kilometres one way – 0,42€/ km return trip 

For more than 1 hour travel, a 12€ hour will be charged on top of above.

Payment Methods

Cheques (made payable to Natasha Alexander), Cash (receipt provided), Bank Transfer (RIB details available upon request) and paypal (3% additional fee added to cover charges). All payable after the SMS service has been provided upon receipt of your Devis (invoice).

Natasha Alexander

Our Normandy Life – Social Media Solutions

Saint Pois, 50670 France

Passionate about helping Your Normandy Life!

Contact email: ournormandylife@gmail.com

Website http://www.ournormandylife.com




Telephone Home 02 33 69 72 80

Telephone Mobile 07 69 73 36 07

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Our Review Life

D-Day Commemorations In Normandy

Got myself some French Resistance going on!

Where to start with this one. Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the absolute best time to come to Normandy is around this time. As you will be aware, D-Day – the day of the beach landings during the Second World War – was on 6 June 1944. We are here in Normandy, the very place that this happened, so there is an infinite amount of activity going on during this time. The hive of activity actually starts at the end of May as they can’t possibly fit everything in during one week of June! Continue reading “D-Day Commemorations In Normandy”