Thursday 29 August 2013

Propitiate the Gods this is all going too well

The masonry is going brilliantly. The mason has gone off to visit family for the weekend but has nearly finished the bedroom window up to the lintel.

Most of the crepi has been chipped off the back ready for jointing.

We called in to see a blacksmith at the bottom of the road last Saturday to talk about the balcony and after a nudge this morning he turned up this afternoon full of 'no problem' 'I can do that'. And because we have scaffolding only until the end of September, he could fit the platform by then and then do the rail later. He even responded to my 'not too much later' with a grin. And he could do it slightly bigger and match the rail!

Which reminds me we still haven't heard from the guys that promised to send an estimate for the wooden balcony by the end of August. Hmmm me thinks they may have missed the boat.

And that's enough.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Excited about a tiny hole!

When the guys took the crepi (plaster) off the outside they revealed two deep holes in the wall. I bet they go through................................let's take the plaster off the inside too. So we spent yesterday chipping away ...........................................and they do.
I can't tell you how ridiculously pleased I am about this. It's like finding hidden treasure and there is so little in this house. Surely it means that some of the house must be older too because who would recently have built a house with these tiny holes that are so common in the area? (Fly comments please?)

A friend has put lovely orangey red glass in hers that looks wonderful. I can feel a visit to the stained glass man coming on. But perhaps I'd better have a closer look at the cellar wall first.

Friday 23 August 2013

Inside and Out

Reused beams from the cellar.
The mason had an hour to spare...............

Thursday 22 August 2013

The mason is a genius

It's really hard to show the real impression of how fantastic the new hole is. They have actually ended the day with more finished than this shows. Both sides are up to the top and the lintel outside has been made. Because the new window is wider, the old lintel won't do, obviously,  so they make a new one out of reconstituted stone - who knew.
They reuse the old 5 stones of the lintel. The huge end ones stay in place and the middle 3, including the key stone, are stretched out with reconstituted stone in between. The window above is hanging in mid air with its lower stones removed. Well, we hope it's still hanging.
I've escaped this week. The house is filthy and full of busy men. They are sweet guys but there is nowhere to be that isn't in the way. I've been repainting some of our garden furniture peacefully back at the rented house.
The scaffolders removed the balcony. The metal is sound but the concrete was more than a bit ropey. I went to the blacksmiths to start the process of making a new one but of course they are on holiday. Patience.
Him Outdoors has been putting up the metalwork that will support the plasterboard in this room. It allows the walls to be insulated and plasterboarded easily. One of these days it will all come together beautifully.
The plumber also came this week and rattled off a list of things that we need. After a bit of imagining us wandering around DIY sheds trying to decide which of the 5 varieties of identical fittings we require and envisioning the frustration, we have arranged for him to accompany Him Outdoors. Yay.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

French banking - sigh

Just had a conversation with our English speaking french banking advisor which I need to write down while I remember and to share with you because it is another French weirdness.

We belong to Banque Populaire. Apparently we actually belong to Banque Populaire Occitane which has nothing whatever to do with the Banque Populaire which is now local to us. (Incidentally when I referred to the bank where we set up the account as 'our branch' it apparently isn't, she is our advisor and therefore she is 'our branch' - who knew.)

In order to get a few thousand euros in cash for whatever reason, we would have to organise a transfer to a branch of the local BP which costs 18 euros. (Pause while Him Outdoors has a fit about having to pay to get his own money out of his own bank.) The advisor has to arrange a special transfer of money because the local branches no longer keep cash for security reasons (!)

We each have a card to use in a hole in the wall. With this you can take out 900 euros each, each week and so accumulate the required amount.

But only if you send our advisor an email telling her what it is being spent on, so that she can explain the activity in our account. (More HO fit - what bloody business is it of theirs what we spend our money on.)

Envisioning the 'fits' this made me laugh on the phone which obviously deeply upset the French advisor - sorry.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Little sister

Today was busy. The scaffolders were here. They built scaffolding up to the level of the balcony and then paused for much sucking of teeth about what to do next.

Bring in the big boys toys.

Jack hammer and large power drill were produced and huge noise ensued while they attacked the balcony.

I was playing quietly in the cellar tapping off decades of plaster ready for rejointing. Him Outdoors was finishing repairing the floor in the kitchen and then block laying.

Suddenly noise stops, much muttering and they've broken the drill. Borrow one and continue but no good.

So all change with the tools. My hammer and chisel are suddenly invaluable. I won't mind will I.

And I felt like a child again. Three brothers and I all playing happily. They break their toys and mine are grabbed because I won't need them because I'm just a ger-ul.

Monday 12 August 2013

More french differences

On Sunday a man we knew from our last house stopped by as he was passing.

Usual chat about how we'd bought this house. Oh this was the house of my best friend at secondary school. I would pass every day on my way to school.

Some discussion of what we were doing and would he like to see. It must have changed since you last saw inside.

Oh I've only been inside once I think and I don't remember it . . . . . .

I can't imagine my children having a best friend that had never been in the house.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Meanwhile back on the ranch

We have a nearly finished back door into the garden.
A beautiful front door

A hole in the floor for the stairs down to the cellar.

And look what lovely peaches are growing
But coffee first.

It's all happening here

Today is Medievale Fete day. So we went up to see the start of the parade.


A glorious morning with a wonderful collection of smiling people enjoying the parade. (Both the participants and the crowd).
Lovely stilt workers. And stunning owls. Quite happy to sit on the man's hand and look glorious. (The man didn't look too shabby either!)
We retreated when the parade had gone to an open air mass. I'm sure the day went on hugely successfully all day. Such preparation for a wonderful day.

Sunday 4 August 2013

150 years of trains

This weekend has been a celebration of 150 years since the opening of the railway to our town. Today was 'the planting of a tree' and an exhibition of photos and information about the railway.
Since we now live directly above the station, I was interested to ask about the chemin rurale which runs beside our house and was used by the town as a main way down to the station. Nowadays there is a huge drop opposite the station, so how did 'they' used to get down. Well of course, duh, in the old days there was only one track and no cliff. When they put another track in - note to self to find out when - they must have cut the cliff and everyone had to go round.
Also learnt from one guy how as a lad he would come to the pictures in the town from the other side of the valley via the station, crossing the rails illegally and going up past our house.
But the best bit for me was the band.

A lovely oompah oompah band which had people tapping their feet. Like something from a 1950s English bandstand. And because we live above the station, when we went home we could still hear it playing from our sitting room - yay.

Saturday 3 August 2013


Another day of painting. Him Outdoors has put clear glass in the door and found some paint in the shed. So now everything is all primed and undercoated. I love it when a plan comes together!
After I finished that, I decided to put some Annie Sloan 'Antibes' on the inside of the cupboard which HO has just finished lining the back of with plasterboard. So every time I go to my kitchen cupboard I shall think of you Sue :-)

Interestingly, HO walked past it three times without noticing that I had done it..........................

Thursday 1 August 2013


The general opinion is that this balcony is probably ok for now, but who knows for how long.
We are having scaffolding put up in the next couple of weeks (it should be there until the end of September) for the mason to enlarge the balcony window and the one above so why not use the opportunity to get rid of the balcony. The English scaffolders said that 'they can soon drop that for you'.
When we had the barn converted we used some lovely guys to build the car port. So last night, mindful that it was the last day of July and they were bound to be on holiday for August and probably too busy anyway, I rang them. 'Pourquoi pas'. They are indeed on holiday for August but if I email the plan of what I want, they can get me a first estimate before September and there is a vague chance they might be able to do it while the scaffolding is up! And if they can keep the balcony railing .............

Last time, these  two tiny guys turned up with a truck of huge timbers that they turned into a perfect 'abri' with ne'er a joint out of place. Brilliant to watch and beautiful job.

Ssssh don't tell anyone

We asked a friend where they swam in the Dordogne. There are lots of 'beaches' heaving with people especially now it is Aout and the world and his wife are on holiday. We hoped for somewhere more select.

Well we haven't been there for a couple of years but try this - followed by a long list of instructions. Unfortunately that place had been washed away by a change in the river's flow but maybe if we turned here ............................. and here .............................. and here ...............................................

Not bad eh (and Him Outdoors isn't bad either :-) )