Les poissons en France

Monday, November 12, 2007

Moving On

We had another site meeting this morning with the electrician, this time. He (Christian) is very nice and helpfull and also speaks a little english. However, all of this dealing with the artisans is wonderful practice for our french.

We seem to have reached the end of this phase of demolition and today, Monday, our 2 men have started preparing the walls for the new concrete floor beams; they are making a concrete 'ledge' for the beams to sit on. It looks drastic and we hope the house stays up until they put in the beams and then 'rebuild' the walls around them.

We're off to the UK tomorrow morning 2 am and we're planning to return by the 4th December. Everything should look a lot different when we return!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


The week continued as it began with us moving our goods and chattles down the road. It was like trying to beat the incoming tide as the builders literally knocked the house down around us.

In fact this process took four days; how have we accumulated so much in a year especially as we haven't even unpacked? Not everything was transferred to John and Lesley's. In fact most of it went into the pigsty (even though there was a typical French delay in supplying the large pieces of glass needed for one end). Fortunately we didn't have any rain and John fitted the glass on Friday. Ssh--- but I don't really like it, it doesn't look right, but it is waterproof and I will work on redesigning it - probably in year five. No aspertions on the workman, purely a design fault.

Apart from the fact that we have had no time this week to write the blog, we have been incommunicado. The "tidal wave" also swallowed up the telephone connection and consequently the broadband.

Never fear, with a bit of technical advice from our computer guru in the UK John has set up a connection from our ruined house via 75 metres of cable which runs down the road (but only at night and at weekends, in case someone runs over it) and hay presto we have a telephone and internet connection.The wonders of bodging (sorry modern science).

I thought you might like to meet the builders as they will no doubt be featuring on the blog a lot in the future - Jean- Pierre, a real "laddo" of about 28. He is continuely on the scrounge, have I got a cup, the next day it was a knife and then finally he wanted the grill off the barbecue to cook his burgers over the open fire. We made a pile of things to go to the dump behind the ruin, he was soon rifling through this and we got to the stage that we checked with him first before we threw anything away. Apparently he and his girlfriend have just set up home and anyway his heart's in the right place even though he drove his digger into a bit of the wall that wasn't due to be demolished.

Patrick, about 50; we look at him to check the temperature. If he's wearing his bobble hat we've had a frost but if he's sporting his beret its mild. However we are not sure he will make it to the end of the project; he chain smokes, never wears a mask and coughs all the time.
Cyrille - Le patron!

Thiery - the plumber, a smashing chap - the first thing he did was complete the form for us to claim a tax refund because we are installing a condensing boiler.
The electrician - (dont know his name yet) - he is a very quietly spoken man who has a good command of english, we have every confidence in him.

We had a full site meeting on Thursday afternoon and an enormous bomb shell was dropped by the tradesmen. We need to supply full plans detailing where we want all sanitary ware and lights, plugs etc by 8.30 Monday morning. I had an " epi" saying I had no idea where I wanted lights etc. as we had anticpated designing each room as we went along. No excuse, I was to do as I was told as they had to bury the services in the concrete, starting Monday. Guess what we've done this weekend?!!

Just a foot note on Health and Safety - there is none.

We have been told by the builder that all the concreteing will take about 3 weeks to complete and then it needs a further 3 weeks to dry off, so we are taking the opportunity to return to England for 3 weeks. We will definitely miss lunch at the "caff" (have been 3 times this week) but hopefully we will return to a calmer building site - hope springs eternal!

Monday, November 05, 2007

On the Move

By yesterday, Sunday, we'd started the process of sorting out what things we need for living, and what things we can store and forget (despite the fact that we tried to get rid of everything we didn't need when we moved out here). So I started the move to John and Lesley's house with the most important things first, the wine store.

Today, Monday, we were up early, to make sure that our things were out of the lounge. Cyrille had told us that we had a week before the floor disappeared, but...........by mid morning we had 2 men starting to rip up the lounge floor! It seems that the end part of the lounge floor has beams running at right angles to the rest of the floor, and these beams are sitting on the wall they want to knock down.

In the middle of all of this, JJ and Nadine finally finished getting all of their things in their car, the house shut up and they left for winter in Paris. So now we are all of the inhabitants of Mas de Bouye.
We have spent the rest of the day taking everything we think that we need for day to day living, down the road to our new 'holiday' home. Whilst all of this was happening, our girls (cats) were shut up in our bedrooms. They don't like all of this noise, dust and confusion. Sue has also been busy wrapping sheets around bannisters, over sofas, and trying to protect anything that looks like it could suffer from claw-damage.
By the end of the day the 'lounge' end of the house had been gutted. We are a bit shell-shocked as well.

However, the day also saw us broadening our experience of french cuisine. Knowing that it would be difficult this evening to organise a decent meal, Sue suggested that we went off at lunchtime to our local restaurant in St. Germain. So, in our working clothes, off we went and joined a restaurant full of workmen taking their statutary 2 hour 'proper' lunch. For starter we had a buffet selection from a huge range of cold dishes, although we subsequently realised that we could have helped ourselves to a bowl of soup first! A bottle of water and a small carafe of red wine (enough for 2 glasses each) was on the table, and we then had the most wonderful roast pork with garlic potatoes. We saw some people having cheese, and, when we were offered (but refused) the cheese, we realised that this was in addition to the puddings and not instead. Puddings were again 'help-yourself' and Sue saw some hungry workmen have 3 on one plate. All of this for 11.50 euros each. Absolutely unbelievable value for such good quality food. Sue started muttering that it wasn't worth the bother of shopping and cooking, at least whilst we are in the little cottage. I must admit that it won't be a hardship to go for lunch 2 or 3 times a week! But, there is one problem with this idea. You have to go back to carry on working in the afternoon; not easy with a very full stomach. Going to have to watch the waistline as well.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Time to Reflect

Today, Thursday, is a national holiday (Toussaint or Halloween) so no builders. This morning I had time to reflect on our visit to Oradour-sur-Glane. When we took David and June back to Limoge airport last Tuesday, Sue commented that we were very close to Oradour and so we diverted to have a look. For those of you who haven't heard of it, Oradour was a small town which was burnt and all of the inhabitants killed by a German Panza division on it's way to Normandy in 1944. The remains of the town have been preserved as they were left, as a memorial to the victims of this atrocity. There is an excellent Visitors Centre and I would recommend anyone passing by to make the effort to go there. It is a very humbling experience. For more information, search on Google; there is lots of information.

On a more mundane level, I finally got the door on the porcherie. All that is left to do is fit the last two large panes of glass whenever I eventually get them.

Our intention is to use the porcherie to store lots of our furniture and things whilst our builder demolishes the floor of the house. We've got this weekend and the start of next week to get ourselves organised and out! We feel very lucky to have the use of the house of John and Lesley, our english neighbours.