Les poissons en France

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Trouble at Mill"

On Tuesday JP blocked up the inside of the new window in the salon. After he had gone home I went and had a look at what had been accomplished and I realised that he had done the sides at right angles not at 45 degrees like all the rest of the windows in the room. We mentioned it the next day and he apologised and then rebuilt it according to Cyrilles instructions. I decided it was best to keep out of the way until about 3 o'clock when I went to offer them a cup of coffee. Whoops it was still not right. Apparently it had collapsed about lunch time so this was the third time it had been built. Well JP said the client is always right so he demolished it again and stayed until 7pm and nearly finished it. All the workmen were making jokes but I am sure that they were sticking pins in me. All was well today, they didn't send me to coventry and the window is fine.

As can be seen, certain aspects of Health and Safety leave a little to be desired!

John and I continued to put the plasterboard up in the kitchen today. This time it was on the walls, each stage is a learning curve but I think we've cracked it. Its really exciting now as I am having to consider the finished article (although this is not just round the corner).

I am pleased that the bargain narcissus I bought when we were in England have made such a lovely show.
We were surprised today to see that our neighbours Michel and Michele had cleared their garden and planted out some pansies. I asked Michel when the Queen was coming but he said they had done it for the village. What a lovely sentiment, particularly as they do not live here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened...........

........but you will have to wait until we meet you to fill in the details because apparently it is illegal, although we are looking forward to roast venison!!

I enjoyed yesterday working with John and JP. JP no longer calls John, Monsieur John and I am Soos or La Patron instead of the formal Madam or 'your "femme", John'. I like people who take the micky out of me. Apparently everybody now knows that JP is helping us, including Cyrille who seems to have given it the OK. It will be a great help to us and to JP who needs the money.
The builders are having a week's holiday next week but JP is going to work for us all week.

John spoke too soon the other day when he said that I liked the windows. Yes I do like the replacement windows but I am not happy with the patio doors that have started to be fitted in the archways (they do not follow the profile of the arches) .

I expressed my displeasure on Thursday when the fitter was putting them in but John said I would have to put up with them. However over the weekend Nadine had her twopenn'th (although Jean Jacque told her to shut up, it was none of her business). JP then joined in and the result was that we had a visit from the owner of the glaziers today. We had spent the weekend trying to come up with a solution and fortunately the glazier will be able to make the modification.

John had some rest and recuperation today putting up more of his plasterboard. I routed out the joints in the stone work which is to be left exposed in the groundfloor bedroom. I am getting really excited now because things are beginning to take shape and we (she means Sue) are having to start considering final decoration, which I imagined was months away.

Since Friday we have had a very large hole in the wall and roof where a new window is to be built in the salon. The builders left on Friday forbidding us to go anywhere near this area as it was unsafe, and it did look it. Well today they have nearly rebuilt the window. The wall was very bowed in this area and very crumbly so they have had to strengthen it with lots of cement.

And now a message from our sponsors........ or something like that.
Miaow (hello), our Auntie Jenny has been complaining that we haven't had much space in this blog, and so we thought that would reassure her, and all you other friends who know us, that we are surviving in the midst of all of this chaos!!

The service has deteriorated a lot lately, and sometimes we have to go and find Mummy and Daddy to remind them that it is tea-time.

However, we get our own back by waking them up a couple of times a night, (at least Diana does!) just to keep them in line. We'll have to start some serious re-training once we get back into our 'home'.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Day of Rest?

We were expecting our helper today (Sunday) so that we could continue building the walls in the downstairs bedroom/bathroom/boiler room. I was out there at 8 o'clock and, whilst I was waiting, I carried on with the ceiling in the kitchen. I thought that JP wasn't going to come today, and we realised that he doesn't have our phone number, however, 10 o'clock and up he turned. So, switch from 'dry liner' mode into 'brickie's labourer' mode.

JP's not afraid of hard work and he wants to work for himself eventually. He's 24 and I'm 60 so I was struggling to keep up with him sometimes.

We crashed on and finished the bedroom wall before we stopped for lunch.

Then, during the afternoon, JP asked if I was up for getting the wall between the bathroom and boiler room finished. Of course I said yes, but, by the time we'd finished at 6.30, I was struggling!

Not to be outdone, Sue has spent the past 2 days clearing up rubble etc., so that we can move about without falling over things and so that we can more easily visualise the future layout of our house.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Little Bit More

Because the window men turned up unexpectedly yesterday and began to fit the big kitchen window frames, our builders had to change their plans for today. They have spent the day concreting the 'breakfast patio' just outside of the patio doors. They wouldn't want to splatter concrete up on the glass; they know now what Sue would say about it!

Our neighbour Michel has finally finished building the wall around his barn and along the boundary between his and our land. He does do a lovely job. If we didn't have a few other jobs on the go, we could start building the pillars for Sue's Rose arbour.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Full House.

Things are still buzzing here; we had the electrician, our 2 lads and then, to our surprise, the window men turned up.
We were pleased to see that the window fitters started to seal around the inside of the windows, and we managed to establish that they do the insides and the 'macon' does the outside seals. I guess that's macon John.

We were also amazed when they started fitting the frames for the 'patio' windows for the kitchen, which is great as the sooner we can get the room weather -proof, the better.

The builder lads worked till 6pm to finish the new window in the first floor bedroom. We're really pleased with the result.

They've even started to prepare the new window in the Salon. Sue inspected it and she couldn't get over how crumbley the mortar is which is presumably holding the house up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Busy Times

Strictly speaking, today was a day off for us as we've had to change the day of our French lesson. However, before we left this morning I had to liase with both the electrician and the plumber. After our lesson we went to Cahors to look for lights for the kitchen. When we returned, we could see that everyone had been busy.

As you can see there are lots of water pipes and tubes for the electrics which will disappear behind my plaster boards! All of the electrics will eventually arrive at the Consumer unit in the Boiler room.

Our macons have continued with the window and are ready to put the 'top' on the opening.

Having had our tour of the house, we walked round the front garden and the daffodils are ready to bloom. I think it was cold today and it is forecast for rain tomorrow but then the forecast is for temperatures up to 16 or 17 degrees for the next few days. Our neighbour Nadine is hoping that they will bloom before they go back to Paris next week.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday again....!

Woke up a bit tired this morning after my efforts over the weekend, but.....no peace for the wicked. The lads arrived to start on the new window next to the wall they've built and the window fitters arrived to start putting the new windows in where there are existing windows.

Then we had Cyrille and the boss of the window company to measure up all of the 'Patio Windows' (6 in all). We believe that we know what we're going to get but we're finding that little things crop up which we either didn't understand or which is done differently here in France. For instance, the men fitted 6 windows today, but, when I asked one of the chaps if they put mastic around the windows, I think he said no, it's up to the builder what he wants to do. So, when we inspected them, there are huge gaps all around each window. However, more to the point, Sue is pleased with them. (Big sighs of relief all round!)

The lads have got on with the window of bedroom 3 and so we've got a feeling of things progressing well .

Meanwhile, Sue has been steadily working through the vegetable beds, tidying them up in preparation for the growing season.

It's good when it's busy!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No Days Off!

Because we want to get to the stage when the plumber and electrician can supply us with water and electricity, we obtained the services of a friend to help us build the walls for the downstairs bedroom/shower-room/ boiler room. I set things up (cement, sand, blocks etc.) on Saturday, and this morning we began just after 8am. By 4pm the walls were two thirds the way up. Apart from running out of time (and energy), it wasn't safe to take the walls any higher. We need to let the mortar set. The plan is to finish off over next weekend.

This is where the Electrical Consumer Unit will go!

The entrance into the Boiler Room.

Sue in the Shower Room looking for inspiration.
We're planning to 'glue' sheets of plasterboard with an insulated backing straight onto the blocks. Sue is most concerned that guests in the bedroom aren't woken up by the boiler next door to them.
We're certainly learning a lot in a short space of time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The First One's UP!

I started to put up the plasterboard in the 'Dining Room' yesterday (Thursday) and it took a little while to work out where to start etc. But, with some 'advice' from young Jean-Pierre I plunged in at the deep end and, with the help of an 'elevator' loaned to me by Cyrille, I put the first board up. During the course of the morning I had a number of spectators, none of whom said anything. I now wonder if they aren't used to customers pitching in and doing some of the work themselves.

I didn't get the ceiling finished yesterday so, after our regular Friday french lesson, we came back home and I finished it off this afternoon. I even had both Cyrille and Jean-Pierre telling me I'd done a good job!

Just as I was finishing, a van arrived to leave some of our windows ready for the men to start fitting on Monday. Mind you it is only exchanging the existing windoes for our new PVC ones. They have got to measure for the big patio doors, also on Monday, now that we've got 'proper' floors.

Meanwhile, our two lads have basically finished our wall for the stairs.

For those of you who came to stay with us last year, this last photo shows what was your bedroom!

PS For those of you interested in food, Sue cooked me a fantastic but simple meal this evening of Mussels in a cream sauce. We had 1 Kg of lovely big Mussels each, costing 1.50 euros a kilo (£1.10 for 2.2 lbs ). It's a hard life!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Even Monkeys Learn

I've been learning how to prepare to fit a suspended ceiling for the past two and a half days. I've got a lot better idea now.

Part of the problem has been trying to find out how to do it. I've read books and product catalogues, and I've been give advice by 3 different workmen. Naturally each piece of advice contradicts what I've previously been told. I basically understand what I've got to do, but putting it in to practice is another matter. Our electrician is most anxious to be here when I start putting the plasterboard up, as I have to cut holes of the correct diameter for the light fittings, etc. and then pull the wires through ready for him to finish it off. He was here working until 6pm tonight so that I can start putting up the ceiling tomorrow! That's going to be interesting.

Meanwhile work on the house continues apace and our wall dividing the staircase and the 2 bedrooms on the first floor should be finished by the weekend.

Sue has spent another day out in the garden on the vegetable bed. However, she also planted out some Canterbury Bells that she bought on from seed last year. Whilst she was doing this she saw that the iris bulbs that Auntie Pauline had sent over to us are in flower. The reason that she sent them was that the irises are called Pauline.

For us, Spring is certainly knocking on the door.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Arrived

Not bad....the materials were delivered about half past nine. Only one item was wrong and I had to go into Gourdon to get it swapped so that I could begin after lunch.

It has taken me the rest of the day to understand what I'm doing and to work out a system for achieving a decent result. So far so good.