Guest blog by @tizzler
Hi, my name is Chris, Tizzler on the UiB forum, Christopher to my mum when I’m in trouble, various other names have been used, none of which spring to mind or are not suitable for such a young audience as yourselves before the 9pm watershed. I’m a qualified engineer, did my City & Guilds as a fitter and turner at Camborne School of Mines many years ago and then worked for plant and tool hire companies in the south west of England for longer than I care to think about. I also bought and owned a tool repair business which I sold and is still thriving. Now a forty something year old I’ve started to appreciate the quieter life, hence us arriving here in Brittany.
Ideally we would have liked to have moved to the westest bit of Cornwall possible, but since we aren’t millionaires that seemed impossible. A few years ago we rented a friends gite down by Quistinic and both loved it. Then, like many other Brits who know nothing, we started looking at property prices and thinking ‘Really?’, we could just buy that etc. Anyway, another couple of holidays, another couple of years and things got to a position where we could have a go and move here. I did some research and found that if you couldn’t speak French, probably would never learn to speak French, had no job lined up, no prospect of a job, no idea how the tax, health, motoring etc. worked then it was probably best not to come to France. Having ticked all the above I was more encouraged by a French friend here who seemed far more relaxed about the whole thing and told us not to worry, we could sort all things out in time, it’ll be fine. It was a toss-up, English experts arguing or a Frenchman, ex policeman, ex mairie telling us it’s ok. We went with the Frenchman.
So, having got here it was now a case of what I was actually going to do with myself. Mrs T had her job to do, travelling back to England, I was sort of just here in the middle of winter with two Labradors. It quickly became apparent we needed firewood, so I busied myself with cutting, splitting and stacking, fitted a wood burner rather than the open fire that was here. I was quite enjoying myself, but not actually contributing in any sort of financial way to the running of the house. Then spring arrived and another load of outdoor jobs, one of which was the swimming pool base which took far more stone and sand that I could have imagined. Still, it was another thing I’d never done before and it went quite well. Whilst I was occupied getting stone from the quarry and learning Gedimat French, Mrs T had noticed just how bad the rotting pallets and ripped polythene that I called the woodpile actually looked…………the next project was born. I’ll say now, I’m not a carpenter, and the last time that I did anything that could even be loosely termed carpentry would have been in the early 80’s at school, but I thought about it, then had some more wine, thought about it a bit more, laid awake at night wondering how to join two bits of wood so they stayed joined, that sort of thing, lots of thinking and wine. Eventually I saw an advert for some wood, surplus to requirements, going cheap and not too far from me. Off I went, got it, bought some screws and then looked at it for a couple of weeks wondering how to join two bits of wood etc. Now, I’ve worked with, and repaired enough tools, and been on site with enough tradesmen over the years to not be completely clueless about this sort of thing, just hadn’t ever done any of it. Now I had some timber (as I started calling it, rather than wood……..much more professional sounding), a new box of screws and a nice new handsaw and no excuses. One evening, much to everyone’s amazement, me included, I made the base of what would become the Tizzler Mk1, the original wood shed, the basis of everything that would follow. The rest followed quite smoothly, the sticky up bits, or uprights as I now call them, the going across bits, or cross beams as they became known, it all went rather well. And I enjoyed making it. There was even a little section for a mower and some saws and stuff, and I didn’t have to lift soaking wet polythene to get firewood, I could just merely walk to the shed and take a piece. This was about the time when UiB was born, and being rather proud of what I’d built I posted a couple of pics so you could all see them. There were lots of positive comments and some people even wanted one for themselves. I could see no reason why I couldn’t do as good a job for someone else, so priced things up, gave quotes and actually got some work. This in turn sort of made me have to address all the things I’d ignored because I wasn’t doing any work.
Now I had to register with the chambre de metiers, get some insurance, sort out the registration of my van, register with a doctor, open a separate bank account for earnings, all the boring stuff that needed to be done. That’s all still ongoing, one thing sort of leads into another. Now as I have a social security number and a doctor, the carte vitale ball is sort of rolling…………once I get my birth certificate translated…………..where is my birth certificate……….
Anyway, with encouragement from Tom and Debbie Wizard, help from BJH and Liz, and work from other regulars on here I’ve had a busy summer, learnt a lot, achieved a lot. Mr Wizard has just finished building a website for me, I’m going to have an advert on this site, I might even get some business cards made. A lot has happened in our first year here. Apart from our own personal journey, there’s obviously been the referendum, the £ taking a hammering, terrorist attacks, the impending US election which seems to have been going on forever, but we’re still here to tell the tale. Winter is almost upon us, cold wet mornings, dark evenings, wet dogs, all that sort of stuff, but at the moment the weather is glorious, the trees are magnificent just before they all lose their leaves and spring will be here soon. And, I don’t have to grapple about in the dark under the polythene for firewood!