Dulux Endurance+ is it worth it?

Our first paint review, let us know what you think!

What is Dulux Edurance+ ?
According to Dulux their Endurance+ is an extremely tough paint, “Diamond tough”, 20 times tougher than standard Dulux, it’s washable, and has a “Chromal clock” which means no colour fading.

Why did we choose it?
We are painting our soon to be Chambre d’hôte and recognise that in this environment our paint work is likely to suffer more wear and tear than average. So durability was an important factor when choosing paint. The price of Dulux Endurance+ compares well with Dulux standard emulsion. Endurance+ has a premium of around 18%. We had a quick look on the internet and reviews were positive so we thought we’d give it a try and see if it lived up to the hype.

Where did we use it?
The first area painted in Endurance+ was the hall landing and stairs, closely followed by 5 bedrooms and our lounge. We’ve used a range of shades from the relatively pale “Jurassic Stone” to a much darker “Stonewashed Blue” all in a mat finish. Surfaces were smooth or textured and we used a range of brushes and rollers.

What did we think of it?
Mr T has been the chief applier of Endurance+ and declares it “a joy to use”, which is just as well, he’s had a lot of painting to get through. The paint covered well even when going from light to dark, or dark to light. One of our bedroom walls has gone from light to dark, back to light and is soon to become a different shade of light, thank goodness we have been more decisive elsewhere. Endurance + is easy to apply and leaves a nice finish. Mr T thinks it better than other paints, he “likes it!”

Did it do what it said on the tin?

  • Diamond tough: Can paint ever really be diamond like? But so far so good, the paint seems to take a few days to really toughen up and during that time it can scuff like any other fresh paint, but after this it performs well. The hall was one of the first areas we painted and has stood up well to extensive decorating traffic carrying step ladders etc, we have not noticed any chipping, scuffs or marks.
  • Coverage 13 m2: Probably, and much better when using a roller.
  • 5 hrs drying time: Yes, and lots less when its hot.
  • 2 coats: Absolutely, we’ve not had to use more than 2 coats anywhere.
  • Washable: So far so good.
  • No colour fading: Too early to tell, with only 6 months since first application.
  • Water soluble: Mr T is a very tidy painter, but did get some on his beloved slouchy trousers (panic stations!), but it came off no problem (phew) with a sponge and water.

Conclusion:
Yep, we like this paint and we think it is worth the premium.

Mr T with some of his increasingly famous "cutting in".

Mr T with some of his increasingly famous “cutting in”.

Lounge - Before

Lounge – Before

Lounge - After a coat of "Muddy Puddle"

Lounge – After a coat of “Muddy Puddle”

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Guest stairs in "Jurassic Stone"

Guest stairs in “Jurassic Stone”

 

 

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Just a stones throw from us

Here are just a few of Mrs T’s snaps taken when  she’s been out and about walking, running and cycling. Mostly taken first thing in the morning hence they are a little atmospheric.

The postman always rings twice…..

…. or at La Maison Cèdre pips twice as he/she pulls on to our drive, so we can dash out and retrieve whatever goodies have arrived. For just over a week there have been daily deliveries from a well known department store; no it’s not additions to Mrs T’s boot collection or the latest technology for Mr T but package after package containing the bed and bathroom linen for our Chambres d’hôtes.

Just the first of many.

Just the first of many.

When pulling together our linen requirements it surprised particularily Mr T how much we needed. So far we have received more than 60 packets and there are a further 30 items to come. Luckily we have a sizable linen cupboard ready and waiting.

Our linen cupboard

Our linen cupboard

Little did we realise many decisions would need to be taken just regarding the linen for La Maison Cèdre.  It would be fair to say that Mr T appeared only to have been partially engaged in the discussions Mrs T is sure they had. But he was relieved to see the arrival of Egyptian cotton bed linen and towels plus feather all season duvets (with a hypoallergenic  option for our more sensitive guests). Also fair to say that he had a very limited interest in mattress toppers and covers.  Only today Mr T asked why we had bought synthetic pillows, Mrs T responded that only 2/10ths of our pillows had arrived and the feather ones were yet to come. We hope we have covered all bases and that Mrs T’s painstaking research into all options and many suppliers will bear fruit – only time will tell.

Opening our Chambre d’hôte begins to become more and more of a reality each day. New beds and mattresses are on order. We have just about settled on curtains, cushions, throws etc with the very patient help of Mrs T’s sister (Mrs S –  we couldn’t have managed without you) who has taken endless trips to a range of soft furnishing stores to match up the real thing with paint samples. Whilst we are very gratefull for her help we suspect it has been a bit of a busman’s holiday for Mrs S who has worked in the technical end of the “rag trade” for many years.

Room planning

Room planning

Now we are focusing on finalising our outstanding furniture requirements and painting the one remaining guest room. Mrs T is keen to point out that this does not mean an end to decorating activity. There’s the office, laundry room and our bathroom still to go.  Outside would you believe there is still some wall requiring a couple of coats of “Weathershield”. The walls are covered in vines so we have had to wait until now for them to die back. Mrs T has had her eye on these walls since we first visited the house as potential buyers, “they need a lick of paint” she commented, little did we know!

There are also three bathrooms requiring attention. Mr T has been busy removing the current fittings under the watchful eye of Mr G who will be fitting the new ones. Mrs T senses many more happy hours surfing the internet wearing her poor old iPad to the bone whilst we gen up on new showers, loos, vanity units, towel rails and the list goes on. Work to re-fit the bathrooms is scheduled for March and April. Mr T has offered his services as labourer to Mr G, aiming to keep costs down and improve his DIY skills. Mrs T will been keeping well out of the way!

1 Gone.

1 Gone.

2 Gone.

2 Gone.

1 To go!

1 To go!

So we continue to have high hopes of opening La Maison Cèdre for business from May onwards. What are you doing this summer?  Have you got time to squeeze in a trip to the beautiful Lot Valley and enjoy the benefits of the brand new La Maison Cèdre and its georgeous surroundings? We’d love to see you.

It’s that P word again!

It’s been a while since we mentioned the P word, that is painting.

We can hardly believe that we are still hard at it. Well to be honest the shorter days and colder weather means that we have a good excuse not to put in as many hours as we did in the warmer weather. But it just seems to go on and on…..

It feels like we have been using just about every type of paint known to mankind. We are trying to make sure we use the right stuff for each job (so we don’t have to do it again too soon). We have made use of:

  • Kitchen emulsion
  • Endurance emulsion
  • Normal emulsion
  • Interior gloss
  • Interior satin wood
  • All coat
  • Radiator paint
  • Metal paint

and that’s just on the inside!

  • Exterior gloss
  • Exterior emulsion
  • Exterior metal paint
  • Exterior wood paint
  • French shutter paint

plus associated primers and under coats.

And all of this is before we have even thought about paint for renovating some key pieces of furniture, for which we have already lined up specialist chalk paints, sprays and varnishes.

Our good friends at KIS have supplied the majority of these paints.  Don’t forget they continue to offer 10% off all paints full details on in our An offer you can’t refuse post.

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Rob from KIS Paints

Rob from KIS Paints

During one of Mrs T’s many conversations with Rob from KIS (Mr T is somewhat perturbed that Rob never wants to speak to him!) Rob asked what we were painting and received a rather unhelpful “the whole house inside and out!”. Rob then suggested that we may want to review some of their paints and to aid this he would provide some samples/discount. So we thought why not.  Who knows this might be a whole other career for us, that is reviewing paints not painting and decorating as clearly we are too slow to make any money from that. I can see us now with a special slot on DIY SOS.

We are keen that the reviews should be, well….. more interesting than watching paint dry. Most of this will be down to our creative writing, but we wondered what you like to hear about in a paint review. Some starters for ten:

  1. Does it do what it says on the tin? One coat, quick drying, odour free etc
  2. How difficult is it to remove from places it shouldn’t be. Cats, clothes, glasses, flesh, the new terrace (ouch!), the list goes on.  Mrs T is one messy individual and Mr T is sure it’s possible to paint a ceiling without gaining a set of white freckles and a streaky fringe!
  3. Honest critique of its relative positives and negatives
  4. Wearability, no not body painting but I guess we mean durability (so far, non of its been up that long)
  5. How easy is it to clean brushes etc.
  6. Value for money
  7. Just a little detail of what we painted
  8. Before and after photos
  9. Coats required
  10. Friendliness, by that we mean, how much preparation was required, ease of application, general effort required to get to finished.
Oh what a mess Mrs T!

Oh what a mess Mrs T!

Do let us know of anything else you’d like to know or if there is any paint in particular you’d like us to review.

A Terracetrial Transformation

A few weeks later and with the weather being kind we are finished and looking rather smart with our new extended Turkish Stone terrace.

The terrace extended and just waiting for the spring and our new table and chairs

The terrace extended and just waiting for the spring and our new table and chairs

Looking great down to our built in BBQ and the kitchen.

Looking great down to our built in BBQ and the kitchen.

New steps too

New steps too

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Our thanks to Mr DeF and colleague for a job very well done.

Their next commission to install a pathway from the terrace to the front door begins very soon.

And so we move into 2017 very much aware that the plan is to open the doors of La Maison Cèdre in the Spring and we still have more decorating to do than we would normally undertake in five years. Progress continues however, with Mrs T doing a great job with the wooden ceilings in the bathrooms. Not to be outdone, Mr T has almost finished decorating two of the guest bedrooms.

Plans for the new bathrooms are moving forward with Mrs T considering just about every piece of bathroom furniture and fittings known to man. To tile or not to tile, cubicles or walk in etc etc…..decisions, decisions. It’s all a bit beyond me to be honest along with the problem of overcoming the reluctance of water to flow upwards!

Overall not making a bad job of this decorating malarkey, but grappling with the mysteries of pipes and cables….I think not.

As Mr Eastwood once said: ‘A man must know his limitations!’

Blog watchers will remember in a previous post we showed you deliveries of Heating Oil and logs for our burner. Both of these arrived in large quantity with equally impressive invoices attached and a huge expectation from us that they would last at least until Mr T got his telegram from Her Majesty.

Well not quite….every visit to the basement seems to confirm the presence of a fuel thief in Prayssac!

In truth we are probably not using any more than we should be but watching the levels drop is unfamiliar and a reality check we could probably do without. I am however eternally grateful to be reminded about the learning curve thing.

So I now live in hope that one day I will wake to find I am speaking French fluently, empathising with the efficiency of French bureaucracy and totally understanding our new way of life.

In the mean time however, and just in case there is no epiphany, I’m desperately holding on to ‘the learning curve.’

We both wish family and friends old and new, a very happy and successful New Year.

PS Exciting news! We have just taken our first firm booking, and we very much look forward to welcoming Mr and Mrs W to La Maison Cèdre in July.

Happy Christmas with love from La Maison Cèdre

Mr and Mrs T would like to wish all our family and friends (both new and old) a very Happy Christmas.

Gingerbread Mr and Mrs T.

Gingerbread Mr and Mrs T.

We hope that you will forgive us this year for not having found the time to get into the christmas spirit very early and therefore please accept our apologies for the lack of Christmas cards. But we wanted folk to know how much we appreciate the Christmas wishes we have received and thought we’d use a blog to return them.

We have also decided we will donate a sum to charity in lieu of expenditure on Christmas Cards and invite you to express your preference:

  • Mr T proposes Hand in Hand for Syria who work inside Syria, taking emergency humanitarian aid to people in desperate need.
  • Mrs T proposes Chats du query a local french welfare charity for (yes you’ve guess it ) cats.
  • We jointly propose Oxfam who need no introduction.

Please cast your vote here and we’ll make a donation according to your votes in January.

It felt like Christmas started late here in Prayssac with christmas decorations a rarity in the local area until well into December. La Maison Cèdre is now decorated and preparations are in full flow for a pretty traditional and very quiet christmas for us. Our favourite christmas’ at home have always been just like this.

Looking forward to cosy times by the fire

Looking forward to cosy times by the fire

Mrs T's favourite christmas wear

Mrs T’s favourite christmas wear

We are aiming for a few decorating free days, some walking in the beautiful Lot valley, lots of home cooked goodies (if we can’t buy it we’ll try and make it is our new motto) and of course several glasses of excellent local Cahors wine (plus some fizz for Mrs T).

Our tree and newly installed curtains!

Our tree and newly installed curtains!

 

Finally our continued thanks to all who have and continue to support us in our new adventure. We are very grateful to family and friends on both sides of the channel. From practical help with decorating, translating French bureaucracy, putting us in touch with great trades people to visits, phone calls, emails and face time etc. We really couldn’t have got this far without you and your friendly faces and voices around us, you have made all the difference. Next year will bring more challenges.  We have yet to complete work on three new/refurbished bathrooms, finalise the decor in the guest bedrooms and open the doors of our chambre d’hôte, La Maison Cèdre to paying guests. We expect our opening to be around May. Bookings are now being taken so please book early to avoid disappointment!. Exciting times ahead as we look forward to 2017.

Love and best wishes to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Mr and Mrs T xx xx

Mrs T forages for free stuff

It all started with Mrs T’s delight at finding a rhubarb patch in the garden of La Maison Cèdre. She has for a long time loved Rhubarb and taken advantage of many overflows from friends gardens. Now we have our very own.

Does it count as foraging if it’s in your own garden?

We also have well established apple trees which were very productive in the summer, a pear tree which was not so productive with just two fruits (but that was at least one each),and a blackcurrant bush. The end of the summer brought our fig trees to life and with daily hauls of up to 40, our freezer is now well stocked.

Next came Mrs T’s first forage outside our garden as the walnut season commenced.  Not far from the garden, in fact over the fence but no one else seemed to want them so she helped herself. We also have our own walnut tree and trays and trays of drying walnuts the larder. Larder?  Yes a larder.  Mrs T thinks it’s fab and it has the added benefit of keeping us both fit as we regularly run (Mr T walks!) up and down the stairs to ferry supplies to the kitchen.

 

Just a fraction of our walnut collection.

Just a fraction of our walnut collection.

Finally there has been an abundance of sweet chestnuts. Mrs T first spotted these when out walking in the beautiful Lot valley which surrounds Prayssac. Having done a little homework to make sure she was collecting sweet chestnuts and not their cousins horse chestnuts, her regular runs were diverted to ensure they passed lots of sweet chestnut trees.  For a  few weeks she ran with gloves (they are really spiky) and a carrier bag.  Most of her haul is again awaiting attention in the freezer.

The spikey blighters that are sweet chestnuts.

The spiky blighters that are sweet chestnuts.

Whilst much of our ill gotten gains waits patiently in the freezer, some made it into the kitchen. Mrs T has been honing her keen culinary skills with a few new and some old favourite recipes.  Here are some recommendations:

Rhubarb:  Whilst the good old crumble takes some beating, a particular favourite of Mr T’s is Seamed Rhubarb and Ginger Sponge (Waitrose). The recipe is for individual ones but Mrs T makes one large one. Mrs T’s cousin, Nork from Ork has a fab rhubarb (which grows wild in Orkney) cake recipe, details on her blog which is well worth a read (here’s a link).  We also liked Mary Berry’s Rhubarb and Lemon Pots.

Mrs T's Posh Rhubarb and Lemon Pots.

Mrs T’s Posh Rhubarb and Lemon Pots.

Apples:  All our apples are eaters so not great for crumbles etc but a quick surf on the internet found a new Apple Cake which has become a firm favourite and it’s dairy free too (allrecipes). The second time Mrs T made this she  followed a tip on the site to halve the sugar and the oil, it was a drier mix and no-one noticed.  It’s really moist and smells wonderful, Mr T won’t hear of making any other Apple Cake now.

This apple cake is soooooo good.

This apple cake is soooooo good.

Figs:  Mrs T has long been a fan of the muffin. Her previous work colleagues were happy recipients for many years as we hope will our chambre d’hôte guests be in the coming years. Fig and Orange took her fancy and 2 recipes were combined to make her own (Mrs T’s Fig and Orange Muffin Recipe details are at the end of the post). They are moist, fragrant and the little seeds from the figs give them an interesting if slightly crunchy texture. Don’t be alarmed, they are lovely!

Figs were also the first fruit Mrs T preserved. She made a tasty Fig Chutney (from Beryl Wood’s “Lets Preserve It” unfortunately not available as an on-line link sorry) as a matter of urgency as it something we have found tricky to buy and all that French cheese is lovely with it.

Mrs T's first go at preserving.

Mrs T’s first go at preserving.

Chestnuts: The tricky part of foraging chestnuts is not finding them and getting them home but persuading the little blighters to shed their outer skins. Mrs T tried several methods and has settled on the boiling water and pliers method as the best (a farm in my pocket) sounds extreme and Mr T is not pleased that his best pliers now reside in the kitchen. Once out the shells we recommend Delia’s Chestnut soup, plus the most fabulous Chestnut and Chocolate cake which is more like a tort (Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall), it is gluten free, but packed with butter and chocolate so really rich.

It’s too early to start using the walnuts yet and Mrs T has in mind to make Jam with some of the remaining rhubarb and figs.  We’ve been saving jars like they’re going out of fashion.  Assuming Beryl’s recipes work out home-made jam will be a regular at our Chambre d’hôte breakfast table.

Mrs T’s newly found foraging habit is not limited to food, this morning following a plea for more kindling from Mr T, she picked up these on her run and spotted lots more for next time. What must the neighbours think!

Just a few twigglets!

Just a few twigglets!

PS Oh my goodness a new find in the garden! Much of the foliage in the garden is dying back for the winter and we have just found a few Kiwis. We are not quite sure when to pick these but there are local ones in the shops so maybe that’s a clue!

Our very own Kiwis.

Our very own Kiwis.

 

Mrs T’s Fig and Orange Muffins

You’ll need:

To preheat the oven to 200 C or 400 F or GM 6

A 12 hole muffin tin and cases

  1. 280g/10oz plain flour
  2. 3 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/8 tsp salt
  4. 115g/4 oz caster sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. Up to 7 fl oz of milk
  7. 6 tbsp sun flower oil
  8. 200g/8oz fresh figs (chopped)
  9. Juice and zest of one orange

Method:

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
  2. Add the sugar, orange zest and figs
  3. Put the orange juice in a jug, make up to 9 fl oz with milk
  4. Beat the eggs and then add to the milk/juice
  5. Add the oil to the milk/juice/eggs
  6. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir gently until just combined.
  7. Spoon in to muffin cases
  8. Bake for 20 mins ish
  9. Allow to cool in the muffin tin
  10. Transfer to a wire rack until cool or you can resist temptation no longer
  11. Enjoy