Living Off The Grid

living off the grid  For the last 2 weeks I have been at my house in France-    .which is why you haven’t heard anything from me.

  Now, as you may know, the house is completely isolated from   the digital world many of us live in, no fibre-optic cable, no    .mobile phone signal, no television…

 So it wasn’t so much a case of deciding to have a digital break.. it was pretty well enforced on me !!

Thing is though, I haven’t really missed it.

The first week I had my sister and her family over and it was just great to spend time with them, especially her 2 children.

Last week my mum came over and it was nice to spend time with her.

I think we all have a tendency to become slaves to our mobile phones and email, (and the bad news on TV), and when you break from this routine I think it helps to change your thought patterns, gives you some new insights on all sorts of stuff.


French translation app


So there I was sitting in a restaurant last week in Granville France. The menus were all in French and I don’t speak a word of French.

My mother and I managed to muddle through but I remember thinking how much easier this would be if I had a mobile phone with a translation app.

I am in France for another  3 days and I have only now opened my laptop and turned on my mobile phone…

One thing i have been playing with this morning is the google translation app  which will translate French to English.

You speak into it and, although the voice recognition is not great,it will translate directly into French and say it out loud.

I’m going to give this a try later when I go out to the shops, I think I’ll do a test beforehand with my gardener – who is bilingual – first.

 I really want to find out how accurate it is and hope I won’t embarrass myself.

The only downside to these apps is that you need an Internet connection. Not sure if they’ve got 3G Internet in my local village??


Renovating The New House


As you may have picked up from previous emails Dave and I recently bought my next door neighbours house for peanuts at an auction – when the bank repossessed it.

My sister did a bit of research and found the original advertisement placed by my neighbours when they put the house up for sale 4 years ago.

The asking price was €380,000…. and we got it for €65,000 !

The moral of the story is that the value of anything depends upon what others are prepared to pay, not what you think its worth….

So we have started renovating the house. Dave and I did a lot of the work ourselves on our first French house, knocking down walls, painting and decorating, re-doing the electrics etc etc which is why it took so long to finish !

One thing I think I am pretty good at is working out how to do things faster and easier so this time I am NOT trying to do everything myself.

Delegating has not been one of my strong points, but I know I need to do it more and get better at it.

So this time I am treating the whole renovation as one big outsourcing job.

 Just as if I was creating a piece of software or a new website.

I have been working out first of all what I want the renovated house to be able to DO.

 (Its going to be a holiday let – to get a return on my investment – make my assets work for me)

From there I have worked down to what the house (and the land) need to have in order to be able to meet my objectives.

(For example, having a games room where a family can entertain themselves in the evenings or when the weather is not so good).

I have also been getting together ideas of how I want each individual room to look and how that fits in with the overall “look and feel” for the place. Pinterest has been useful for that.

And I have also been hiring builders and labourers to do the actual work – they have started already !

One thing I have worked out is that you soon find out what people are good at and what they are not so good at..

So…… when the family came over the first thing that surprised them was the scale of the renovation work.

The second thing that surprised them was that I could get the project started so quickly, and that such rapid progress could be made.


Useful Tools


What is my ip – find out what your ip address is


SEO Quake – SEO Toolbar


Grammarly – online Grammar Checker


all the best,


Sarah Staar

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