Below you will find a selection of the most recent entries from bloggers in the Your Home section.
To view the entries from individual bloggers, click on the links below:
Gareth Jefferies - Alpine Property
Gareth Jefferies left the West Yorkshire Police in 1999 to make a new life for himself and his wife in the mountains. Responsible for marketing and technology at Alpine Properties, a French-registered estate agency with bilingual agents located all over the French Alps, Gareth is usually the first contact you will have the company. He is always happy to discuss your project with you, usually by email, suggesting various properties and making appointments.
Virginie Dor - Space of Mine
As founder of Space of Mine, a professional business specializing in residential organizing, Virginie Dor is committed to helping individuals and families better their lives, take control of their surroundings and time by creating organizing solutions that are individually tailored to each client. As a proud member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), she is an expert in clutter control, work flow, space planning and time management.
Tara Lissner - Swiss Gardening School
An enthusiastic, self-taught gardener, Tara Lissner is passionate about gardening and eager to share her zeal and knowledge with other gardening fans. In 2012, she joined forces with Hester Macdonald, a British-trained landscape designer, to launch the Swiss Gardening School.
Aislinn Delmotte - Settling Here
Aislinn Delmotte runs Settling Here, a company which aims to provide practical help and advice to individuals, couples and families relocating to the Pays de Gex, a region where some of the customs are similar to those in neighbouring Switzerland, but where many aspects of living are entirely different.
Sophia Kelly - Sophia Kelly Home Design
Responding to the growing demand for home design services in the international community, Sophia Kelly provides a range of tailor-made services, which are perfect for clients who have just moved into a new home or who simply need help reorganizing one that they have lived in for many years!
By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School
Well, we’ve had snow, sunshine and rain and with the time change this weekend it really is beginning to feel like spring. I’m enjoying the flashes of colourful bulbs in bloom everywhere I go with the scent of hyacinths heady in the air, the garden filled with birds chirping before dawn and the massive bumble bees defying gravity with their flying skills – it feels like spring.
With this change in seasons comes that irresistible urge to get back to the garden, long gone are the lazy afternoons with gardening books open for inspiration, now is the time to work.
I spent hours outside this past weekend fixing up the vegetable plot, assessing the state of the compost bins (I have four), trimming back errant rose branches and carefully clearing out the perennial border. I also had some time with my mulch. I love mulch – a curious statement perhaps but not when you realize what magic it works. I keep a large bin of leaf mould and once decayed, after at least a year, I spread it on beds in the garden which need an improved soil structure, perhaps areas where I’ve noticed the beds drying out in the summer. Leaf mould does not bring much in the way of nutritional value to the soil however it really does improve the structure. By adding a layer of at least 6cms to the earth, weed growth is discouraged, humidity is retained and the insects do all the work by working the leaf mould into the soil. I use well composted garden material as mulch in areas like the vegetable plot and perennial beds where I want to add nutritional value as well as improving the soil structure.
I planted a green manure of spinach this winter in two of my raised vegetable beds and this weekend turned them into the soil – I’ll wait another couple of weeks before I plant something in them. My herb bed is showing signs of life with the tarragon coming along nicely and the unstoppable chives reaching for the sky. I’ll be moving the beans into a new position this year and have just moved the structure that they will climb up from one bed to another – now all I have to do is choose a variety. We have had snow over the Easter break in the past so if you are thinking of sowing vegetable seeds directly now do consider buying some fleece to protect your young seedlings – better safe than sorry.
by Gareth Jefferies, Alpine Property
I don't suppose living in the Alps is that great from an Ecological perspective. Though as time goes on we are learning (actually, being slowly forced) to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment. Not many people think about this though, even with the government's attempts to help (see the DPE labels). I've written about it in the past too (An Eco-Chalet in the Alps). Despite this I did have a customer say to me recently "I'm only interested in building a new place...for eco reasons", maybe as time goes on it will happen more often? Though I'm not sure that building from scratch is that eco-friendly, despite the fact the heating bills will be less. The carbon footprint from the new materials might well outweigh the long-term benefits.
I've been living in my house for 14 years and have only got around to upgrading the last remaining single glazed windows this winter. It's never been a priority for me as I'm well aware that the pay back won't happen for 20 or more years. I took the opportunity to take some infrared pictures to show the difference before and after. It was a bit of an eye opener. Not the difference the windows made but how much heat my house is giving off!
The first photo shows my house on a cold day (-7C), the ground floor is 60cm of solid (stone and rubble) construction with no insulation. The upstairs of my property was insulated when it was renovated 30 years ago. They use hollow bricks with a small amount of mineral wool insulation stuffed between them. There is no vapour barrier and externally the walls are wood clad. The shocking thing here is the walls are 10C. The single-glazed windows are obvious on the picture and are only slightly colder (15C) than the inside temperate at the time (19C).
By Aislinn Delmotte, Settling Here
“Raising Global and Mobile Kids” was the theme of an interactive seminar run by Settling Here in Feb 2017 at Webster University. The expert guest speaker was Kristin Duncombe, a Geneva based psychotherapist and author. The seminar looked specifically at international identity and mental-health, and Kristin spoke about raising children in an international context, and the impact of a global, mobile existence on identity and self-esteem.
The diverse audience included anglophone and francophone parents, who are raising children who are bi-cultural, bi-lingual and also third culture children. It’s not always easy to categorize one’s family and its culture but I liked Kristin’s presented definition of third culture which breaks down into three: namely the culture(s) of the family, the culture of the host country (ies), the expatriate subculture and/or the bi-cultural families subculture. There are a lot of cultures at play for some of our Global kids and the critical tasks for parents are to help their kids understand their culture(s) of origin, help them get along in mainstream society and also deal with being a "hidden immigrant".
By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School
Wow! What an autumn we’ve enjoyed. The days, although shorter, have been filled with the most wonderful light – the trees have kept their leaves for the longest time and spoiled us with their rainbow of colour. I am a sucker for a good tree, once I find a good one I make it a point to drive past when I know it is at its peak. My children are tormented with the constant “ohhs” and “ahhs” and “look at that” from my position as driver. This month my favourite is the fabulous Gingko biloba, the Maidenhair tree (photo above) located in the park by the Musée du Léman on the lake front in Nyon. Although native to China this specimen tree grows very well in Europe. It is one of those beauties best grown in public places for all to enjoy as it can reach a height of 30ms. The leaves are fan-shaped and turn the most vibrant butter yellow at this time of year.
The only downside of trees keeping their leaves for such an extended period is that the leaf raking seems never to be done. As I’ve mentioned before rake up the leaves, bag them in black sacks with some air holes, keep them damp for at least a year or more and hey presto, magic leaf mould. Leaf mould is a brilliant mulch for the garden, keeping the weeds to a minimum and the moisture retained. Unlike garden compost it does not bring much nutrition to the garden, so best not to add it to the vegetable plot.
By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School
Well we’ve been on a roller coaster with the weather over the past few weeks. The Indian summer lasted beautifully through the end of September and with the arrival of October the temperatures dropped and the bise wind rose. The tomatoes hung on to the bitter end but it is all over, the green ones are now in the kitchen in the hope that they may turn red but I predict an afternoon of green chutney making in my future.
This time of year is always bittersweet for the gardener, the glory of the summer garden has come to an end, the perennials have all gone to seed and while the seed-heads look wonderful the colour is slowly disappearing before us. Dahlias continue to perform and until we have consecutive nights of freezing temperatures they will continue to shine. It is a time to think about the future of course because this is the perfect time to add plants to the garden, trees, shrubs, hedges and perennials can all be planted until the freezing temperatures arrive. Have you got plans for trees, adding perennials? Take advantage of dry days to get out and make plans and plant them up, it is never nice to garden in the rain.
I’ve been busy this week, harvesting all the beans, I’ll be drying them out, shelling and storing them for use in soups and stews over the winter. I aways cut the plants to the ground, throwing them onto the compost, and leave the roots alone until the spring, this allows the nitrogen nodules along the fine roots of the beans plants to augment the nitrogen in the soil. I then cover the bed with about a 10 cms layer of mulch and leave that to work its way into the soil over the winter. Home made compost makes for a great mulch but it should be well broken down and at least a year old. If you don’t have any ready to go there are a number of places locally where you can buy it by the “big-bag” or have it delivered. I’ve used BGS Compost SA in Givrins, although closed on Saturdays it opens from 07:00 Monday to Friday.