Author Archives: darkhorsephotos

About darkhorsephotos

Experienced Qualified Professional Photographer, Ex Miltary Royal Navy 24 years B.A Honours 1st Class Hons Currently Building a business & home in Normandy France.

Plans & forward thinking…. Or thinking forward…?

At First glance it seems rather simple to stick up four walls & create something simple & habitable…

At first glance…… The key words…!!!!!!!

It’s that time of the month where the budget has been and gone, there’s waaaaaaaaaay too much month left at the end of the £>€ conversion rate….
And thinking has to be about controlling next months outgoings & workings….

I think the problem with any ” Creative ” process is having the experience to be able to Adapt & Change & Go with the Flow, making the best of circumstances & happenings…

Half Full, Never Half Empty has long been a saying I’ve thought of as being ” very me ” ….. And here comes the ‘ BUT ‘ …..

BUT I don’t quite have that experience to be spontaneous with building a house….
I have ( or feel I have enough ) skills to attempt most things, have enough understanding & brains to work out what’s what… Sometimes though you just need that ” confirmation ” from someone who’s been there & done it from being a 15 year old apprentice through to bring a Journeyman & then on to a Master of his trade….

In the previous career, I HAD to plan, HAD to organise, HAD & WANTED to lead by example, hell you can’t take a Nuclear Submarine to sea for Three Plus Months with no chance of a a Food Top Up, if you ran outta something you Ran out… The plan was to run out towards the end, but ….. Never the stuff the Skipper likes, not if you want to have a grumpy Old Man in Charge of 20,000 Tonnes & a whole lot of Nuclear Warheads…..
Ok, you’re gonna use it up at some stage, but there ARE things you don’t want to run out of….. coffee, sugar, milk….. Etc….
Best you hope it’s not the Bog Roll that runs out…!!! 🙂 What goes in must come out….. Hahaha……
I can already see Stevie Micallef & Jean Brodie muttering on about Vegetable Curries & using certain Veg..:-) haha…..

Anyway… Plans & First Glances…

The image is the Layout of Gite 1…. Approximately..!!
Big boxes = Rooms, small boxes = Doors, Red lines = Windows / external doors….! Simples…
Or not as the case may turn out to be …..


The thing is….. The walls are there, the floor is there, there’s a ceiling of sorts…. BUT…. ( we’re back at that word again ) what needs going in there is :- AND there’s the Women’s Perogative, the twenty years of ” oh, I wouldn’t have put that there !!!!! ” to consider ….. 🙂

Lighting… What / where / Spots – pendants.. Lamps…Wall mounted / roof mounted ?

Plugs… How many….? Where.?? This reflects on what kit is going where. TV etc….. Which is reflected in the position of the lighting.??? & the Heating….

Heating… Underfloor.??? Electric wall mounted radiators, wheeled plug in ones.???? gas fire.?? ( does that mean an external gas tank & Plumbed line in…???? Thermostats & wiring for them…??

Insulation….. Probably more important than you think … But it needs to go in DURING the process…

Kitchen…. Simple enough, but it needs to be light bright & airy & user friendly…. And the Plumbing…!

Bathroom …… Simple enough you’d think…. A cludgie, a shower & a wash hand basin…. BUT… The plumbing needs to be SUCH that it ties in with the existing plumbing to the Fosse & to the Hot water tank & cold water feeds….. AND works with the Kitchen ( see above ) …

Oh and it all needs the Windows & Eternal doors Fitting…!

AND on top of that little lot… I’ve gotta get the Sparky & Plumber to understand ( my Spoken French is improving BUT… ) & get the lines run DURING the process of putting the basis together… 🙂 hence the requirement to get the What’s Going Where Sorted EARLY……:-)
Image taken Late Nov 2013….. My Nephew Lee Daglish & my Father respectively…



Photography & needing a Challenge .

Oh, it’s been SO LONG since I actually went out with my proper work camera and actually challenged myself to be creative & think…

So when Saturday morning arrived and all the Horseboxes & traffic past the East side of the house ( main road from Carentan , it’s only a ‘B’ class road ) I twigged that it might be wise to check the local website for Graignes Hippodrome……..

It’s only a thousand yards from the front door, I could have walked and checked, but wanted to be sure & give me maximum time to take pooch out & check the camera & clean the glass…..

I discovered there was an entire afternoon / evening floodlit event…!!!!!!!!
First race was @ 16:40 by the website, so I duly rocked up in my best scruffs & my wooly hat with the RN badge…

It was Trap / Buggy racing, the kind where they have to Trot, but by god, it was seriously quick trotting…
It took some mental working out & metering of the light & awareness of the direction to get the right exposure without testing or shooting willy nilly on Automatic….

First shots were…!!

Graignes Hippodrome

The driver was 60 years old if he was a day… And no slim jim…!

Graignes Hippodrome

First shot of the day….! Get It Right First Time Or Fail


I was overjoyed at them, right first time & no mucking about..!!!

there were some really challenging lighting conditions & the very sudden Hail Storm brought rainbows  out afterwards…

Graignes Hippodrome

Challenging lighting conditions.:-)


The chance opened up to leg it across the track & shoot from the inside …. I was sure it was getting a swearing at as they flashed past me….! BUT WHAT A SERIES OF SHOTS I GOT….
This being a favourite.


Key Inspection ….

Well, we are in France & that Most Certainly brings Officialdom & Red a Tape to the fore….

Today was a Red Letter Day though…. A Very Special Red Tape Officialdom Day..

The Electrical Consuel, ( the only building inspector that I need to get a certificate off ) arrived, spent 35 minutes going through 32 plug sockets. & 6 radiator boxes. 6 TV points & 6 telephone points ( don’t get me started on jobs for the boys !!!!!!! ) 11 lights & one Oven connection…!

Every single line was checked, he almost had a Tartan Fit ( how very Scottish of me ) when he discovered the Water Tank in the Comblé ( learning new French words Daily ) attic….! And that it was above some of the Electric junction boxes….

But seeing as he had never seen that before, HE had no rules or regulations to fall back on to say NO….. So he was left with no choice but to PASS the Building AS Safe… 🙂

Certificate in Hand, ( the Sparkies Hands as he needs a copy so he can supply US with his 10 year guarantee on his work ) and a copy of it ready to go to ERDF ( the mains elec supplier ) to complete the Paperwork for the permanent supply…:-)

All We need now is the Devis ( estimate ) to arrive from ERDF & to get them paid upfront & then the work done within two & a half months… & things are almost All Singing / All Dancing…

Well, Apart from the half dozen other complications of a staggered build process 🙂

A Rather Talented Strawberry Blonde Friend of mine once said to me ” Small Steps forward & you will get there…. ” then he went off to go bang the Tubs & play some Rock n Roll………

Today was a big step, a great step, it’s good to be going forward 🙂

Last week saw my Wife finally arrive here for a bit of a holiday…
The first time together in @ 4 & 1/2 months… Some HUGE changes since saw the place..
But it was TimeFor a week of rest & taking pooch out for fun…
Beach & Forrest… 🙂

West coast beach @ Pirou, must have been @ 10Km + to ourselves…!!!

Lessay Forrest…
Pine cones & Squirrels GALORE….


Her BEST Cesear Romero impression….. 🙂

All work & no play….?

A very popular proverb.??? Or a reality.?

After managing to hit several key deadlines & achieved lots of work, along with one very bored pooch and the desperate need for at least a weekend off, I took the weekend off.



As you can see , awesome changes… Early Sept 2013 > Late Feb 2014…


The fact I hadn’t gotten out and about with a camera ( apart from the iPhone one ) for absolutely weeks was annoying me… The above shot being iPhoneography…:-).
Best camera to use is the one you have to hand… And it was long overdue that the Workhorse camera went out & about…
The above shot was taken 200 yards from the front door on a Walkies with pooch…

Well, it was Superb weather all week & this weekend is due to be awesome too… So WE downed tools on Saturday afternoon, returned the ceiling plasterboard Lift to the Sparky, which I was lucky he left with me, or more likely he wanted the lights fitted so he could finish & get the ” Consuiel ” inspector organised to certify the work so he could be paid…:-)

There WAS only one place to head to on a glorious Saturday afternoon for a wander & chill out with the pooch…
UTAH Beach… 17 miles from the house…


And a bottle of local cider & long tall bowl of cold water for pooch were very welcome after a three hour romp along the open sandy beach…





Been a long overdue blog update too…
Will be really good to get visitors over this year… !!

Been a long long time….

Well, where do you start after such a long time of not blogging..?
Somewhere near the beginning would be ideal I thought, but that seems such a long way back. About a week ago I kinda hit a rough patch….

Combination of things I guess, loneliness, no communication from the Wife, in fact with only the dog for company the Spoken word was beginning to be a one sided conversation….. Language barriers although I am getting better slowly, an unhappy Sparky / Plumber from being a tad underpaid at the end of the month, the prospect of at least two weeks without any running water , hot or cold…. Which has now rolled on to five weeks… No washing for me, unless it’s in a bucket & the kettle has been in the Full Power State for 5mins…. And only a working toilet as the good thing…!!!!

The bills were mounting up, the water , the elec, Food for me & pooch, satellite fitting ( Internet An ESSENTIAL ) , car tax due, trade accounts due, both here and in the UK, Certificate for the Fosse to comply with Regs, the ” Terracier ” needed paying for the digging in of the waterline to the house & for the completion of the sewerage line out to the Fosse touts Eau……….
It would have been something like 50 meters of digging Wet Clay soil at two feet deep by a foot wide by Hand otherwise…. Not something my back would thank me for…!!!

Car tax, not something you pay in France, but since the car doesn’t have a Certificate Contrôlée ( French MoT ) and isn’t ready for one yet, but it does still have a Valid UK one…. it’s easier to stump up the 6months roadtax and solve the problem rather than dig a new one just now…

Indeed folks, the budget was tighter than the zulu hatches on a war canoe in a force nine in the mid Atlantic…!!!
Been there done that, threw up, violently, it’s the HELL of all diseases… Seasickness.

Anyway, I was somewhat down in the dumps about the state of things and the fact the place wasn’t arriving quite as quickly as hoped… And there has been a hell of a lot of finance put into what’s been achieved with the help that has been here. It’s been over a full month on my own, possibly what triggered the malaise….?

In order to occupy my thoughts I set about a back up of both the phone & the Pad…. There were images galore to sort out & remove to free up space …
Images to look back at and judge how far We had come in what is a relatively short four months… !!!

RETROSPECTIVE, a look back at where you have come from and the path you have taken to arrive where you are now.
A very apt word. Applicable to everybody….
What would your Retrospective be & what will it teach you.??




FatBoy Slim > We’ve come a long way baby….

It’s been a bit of a good week weather wise, and with that, we have managed to make the Upper level of the house Watertight, or as near as damn it…. @ 95%….

The a East side is finished, barring the Chimney piece that’s now on order….
The West face, there’s Two full windows fitted & the frame in place for the Sliding Glass of the Third…
BUT because I still need @ 250 Tiles lifted onto the roof, there’s no Glass fitted yet to avoid possible damage etc…
BTW…250 tiles = 1 & 1/4 metric Tonnes.!!!! By hand..!!!

It was this evening I asked myself about how far we’d come … As the changes are gradual, it’s hard to step back & observe..

So I went to the Archives… And… Below is a compare & contrast..:-)



Momentous Days & Expensive Ones…

Momentous …… Such days are rare indeed, they only happen every 1000th Monday in your lifetime ( if you are lucky ) …

Everything seemed to happen on the same day…!

The Brand New A Frame ( in green oak ) is made & up….
It is now supporting the weight of the roof Truss, the ‘Orrible Breeze Block Wall can come down, but that’s Next Year…


The Permis de Construire is complete, it gets handed in Monday Morning ..! 🙂
The entire East side of the Roof is ready for tiling. It’s all battened up & waiting…


The Tiles… > around 7 Metric Tonnes have been lifted & Shifted, up to the ” Premier Etagé ” ready to be drilled & passed out the Window to be screwed individually to the Roof…
That’s 1/2 of the tiles…! Only 1/2… My back & arms ached…

The Windows Were Ordered & are due for collection Wednesday coming, the Fire / WoodBurning Stove was ordered two weeks ago, it’s also due for delivery this week…!
That’s 180Kg of Iron & Glass to go upstairs…!!!
The Windows WILL be every bit as heavy…. Well the Velux not quite so, but the three 2M 15cm x 1M 80cm wide Double Glazed PVC West Side Windows WILL BE…

The Fact that Two of the Dormers are almost ready for the retaining concrete walls to be knocked out & the gap ready for receiving them… They have been Sliced ready for the mallet & chisel job that will be Tuesday / Wednesday WEATHER permitting.?? More like Friday..


Expensive…. Well they are much more common than their Momentous cousins..:-)

Things are Coming together nicely ……… But
The Three Velux Windows… The Three Large windows, the Stove / Woodburner & the A Frame & the Building Materials & the Tiles for the roof…. The Water Board Fees for Connection are a bit steep & the Electricity board fees will be equally Steep I’m sure… But a necessary evil ….

Expense was expected… But that’s life… And the Future… Our Future.. & my Fantastic Wife…