Les poissons en France

Monday, March 31, 2008


Spring Watch Update -

This weekend I have been able to get out into the veg patch and plant a lot of seeds. I was delighted to hear the first cuckoo and to see the return of the hoopoe. Mr & Mrs Magpie appear to have finished the major construction of their home and are now on the interior decorating, wish our "nest" could be built as quickly!!

House Update -

Whilst I was in the garden John was cleaning out the joints between the stones in the stairs passageway. We have rejointed between the stones in the corridor and the downstairs bedroom. Unfortunately I can only work up to about five feet (poor old crock can't lift her arms any higher nor work for a prolonged period). Had my break over the weekend, but got to get back to it again today. We're pleased with our efforts but judging from the electricians comments its a bit amateurish!! We are confident however that "our guests" wont be experts.

Hope the roof coming off isn't going to be a saga like the floor with us reporting its going to happen, its going to happen and it doesn't . After today no rain is forecast for a while so we can only hope.

ps I don't know why my valuable contribution to the renovation of our house didn't merit a mention, but I've been back to filling the joints in the plasterboard. We've decided now that, in order to achieve the quality of finish that 'she' demands, we're going to put lining paper on the plasterboards. However I've still got to get the joints relatively flat.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Coming Off!

The builders were here this morning to add a bit more to the scaffolding and then work began. Fortunately, the whole of the roof didn't come off. They removed the tiles along one edge so that they could reinforce the top of the wall. I had seen some cracks in the wall and had been concerned that it was opening out, so I'm pleased that it is being stabilised.

The builders are saying that the rest of the tiles won't come off this week, as the forecast is rain and rain until Saturday. So, next week, it should be all stations go!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Watch

We have no sign of the owls at present and I hope that they are not disturbed when work starts on the roof. However we have a pair of magpies building a nest in a tree about 15 metres from our/ John and Lesley's bathroom window.

Magpies seem to be the most successful bird around here, which is a little unfortunate for us as we are superstitious and spend our entire time saluting magpies to nulify the bad luck (one for sorrow, two for joy.........).

John bought a new camera last year and having now seen how good the zoom is (see pictures above) feels that the expense is totally vindicated.

My greatest wildlife delight is to see deer and I have seen three today. We went to our French lesson this morning and whilst we were there we had the added attraction of bird watching. Alison has a bird table on her window sill and has the most incredible variety of birds. For todays "Twitchers" it was a flock of Siskins and last week it was a Jay who knocks on the window because he would like to come in, please?!!!


This morning, Cyrille arrived before 8 o'clock, to be followed by a lorry. The great earth removal had begun. We went off at 9.30 and we didn't return till 6pm, just in time to see the last lorry-load of spoil being driven away.

We were highly delighted to see the courtyard finally cleared. There is just a small amount of earth to 'lose' but we will be happy for it to be put up the long alley.

The builders have even begun to put the scaffolding up ready to start on replacing the roof.

But then we had another surprise! We noticed that the window men had been here and fitted the kitchen windows and the back door. And heaven be praised......Sue loves the back door. Life certainly is full of surprises.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bring in the Scrubbers

Yesterday we set ourselves up to start sandblasting the internal stone walls. Pathetic! I don't know if the compressor isn't large enough or what, but the sand was just dribbling out. And it was recommended to us by an employee of the shop where we bought it.!!! It was duly repacked and will be taken back, (although I'm not holding my breath that they will take it back).

So, today, Sue started cleaning the walls with bleach and a scrubbing brush. An excellent result. We were really pleased that the stones came up so well. We think that, once we've mortared the joints, the walls will look good. Well, that is if we can get the hang of pointing the joints, and Sue began doing this in the afternoon. We will see tomorrow how it all dries out.

The other area where we've begun our learning experience is plastering up the joints in the plasterboard. Sue has been very negative about this, and keeps muttering about finding an english plasterer to skim the walls and ceiling. However, I've persuaded her to have a little patience whilst we (I) at least see how we get on in the Boiler room.

It's been typical Easter/March weather with sudden very heavy showers with hail or sleet. Unfortunately the cold wind has been blowing into the house through the openings where we are waiting for windows to be fitted. We're keeping our fingers crossed that everything will come together in April.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Getting Our Priorities Right

We have no kitchen, bathroom,toilet or bedroom but never mind we have a breakfast/ appero terrace with a wall specially built at bum height so our guests can sit comfortably whilst downing their drink. JP started to build the said wall outside the kitchen/dining room this morning and by 6 o'clock it was well on the way. There will be steps down from the road.

Yesterday they built the steps down from the road to the porch/front door.

The builders are finishing off lots of bits and pieces before they embark on the roof. That's fine as far as we are concerned because the weather forecast for the forseeable future is awful and not suitable for removing the roof.

John has virtually finished the plasterboarding in the bedroom. Yesterday he located a large flat stone which he shaped to fit the bedroom window sill. The only problem was that it was so heavy and we would have to raise it to shoulder height. This part of the "we" thought that it was impossible. I was therefore amazed when I saw it in situ.

Apparently John had got it as far as the road outside the porch on the sack barrow and then JP volunteered to help him. Upon which he picked it up, negotiated the obstacle course which is the new steps and put it on the bedroom window sill. He is so slight I don't know how he does it.

Whilst all these exciting things have been going on (you can tell we are in a good phase) I have been doing mundane things like planting my potatoes. The moon's on the wax so it's a good time to plant I am told. I planned to plant some more seeds today but as snow is forecast I decided I would wait for Spring to return.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Did the Earth Move for You?

We were all psyched up yesterday for the start of the removal of all of the earth you've seen in the photos. Cyrille had hired a large lorry so that he could take the spoil up to the local tip. He only made 3 journeys before he wrecked the lorry! We don't know the full details of the accident, but the removal of the earth and rocks is now postponed till next week.....when he will use another lorry, but with a driver this time!

Fortunately we have now had 2 days of sun and the ground has dried out remarkably well. So Patrick has been moving the spoil out of the courtyard ready for the 'big' lorry next week.

We have also had the plumber here today, preparing the pipes for the water supplies to the downstairs bathroom. We're still a long way off, but Sue had a little senior moment, standing in the imaginary shower!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mud, Mud......

But it certainly ain't glorious. The septic tank finally did go in today after Patrick had dug out some more rock. Cyrille had to hire a digger equiped with a big pneumatic drill! It was a very precarious operation particularly with all the mud.

We have had a lot of rain recently and the weather forecast is unsettled for the forseeable future. I was therefore horrified when John told me that the builder has booked a large lorry for tomorrow to get rid of the enormous piles of rock and mud in the courtyard. Yes we are anxious to see that lot gone but not when it is so wet. However we are going out tomorrow so we will only come back to see the mess on the road and in what was called the garden.

Nevertheless we continue to make progress. John has got his metal work up for the final wall to be plasterboarded in the bedroom. JP has finished the second window in the attic bedroom.

We bought a compressor on Saturday so that we can sandblast the exposed stone in the house. We decided that a slightly smaller machine than the one we were going to hire would make the job more manageable. However we are cowards and decided that we would not "play" with the sandblaster until the weekend when there will be no-one around. Its not so bad making a fool of yourself but we would rather not do it with an audience.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Is It In?

It was a nice start to the day weather-wise, and Patrick began to dig the hole in the courtyard for the 'fosse'. Some of you may remember that we found out that there used to be a pond in the courtyard, so the builders were hoping that this site would not be full of rocks. And they were right! Within an hour, the hole had been dug.

We think that there used to be a pond in the courtyard because there must be a 'bowl' in the bedrock; water quickly appeared at the bottom of the hole!

However, looks can be deceptive, as the rock is only about 3-5 cms below the water.

Early afternoon, and I suddenly realised that it was in!

Cyrille was looking very pleased with himself, but, unfortunately, that smile was soon knocked off. He discovered that the Septic Tank was about 40 cm too high in the ground. So the 'fosse' isn't in yet. It will be coming out on Monday, and the rock will have to be broken up with a pneumatic drill.
At the end of the day we did our statutory inspection and Sue was 'oohing' at what she saw.

The second window is half built and so we are able to get a real idea of how the bedroom will look. By the time we get 3 Velux windows in there as well, it should be light and airy.

To round off another exciting day, I glanced out of the window at dusk, and I saw a large 'V' of birds high in the sky. We couldn't see exactly what they were but, in looking back on the blog, it was the 1st of March last year when we saw the Storks heading north. Whatever they were, they know it's Spring. We had rushed outside to see the birds and, at the same time, we saw a bat flying around the house. It's lovely to know that we are surrounded by Nature.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Traffic Jam!

The builders and the electrician arrived as normal this morning and began to get organised, but then we experienced a traffic jam.

In addition to the lad's lorry and Etienne's (the electrician) car and trailer, the Builder's Merchant's lorry arrived with more roof tiles and our 'fosse'....septic tank to you. This was then followed by the boss, Cyrille, with his digger on a trailer.
We're amazed by the size of the tank. We are obliged to have a 5000 litre tank because we will end up with 5 bedrooms. Sue and I looked at it and thought that it would take us 5 years to fill it up !!!

Despite the fact that it was typical March weather with rain off and on all day, Patrick spent the day levelling our 'courtyard' before he starts to dig the hole for the 'fosse'.

Meanwhile, the electrician has started to connect all of his wires to the Consumer unit. He says that he hopes to have them all connected by tomorrow evening, which will make it a lot easier to work in the Boiler room!

Yesterday we were out all day investigating ideas for the 'Interior Designer'. Whilst we were out, the builder made the steps from the stairs passage down in to the kitchen, and we are pleased with the result.

Today, JP was carrying on with the first of the 2 windows in our bedroom. He says that it will be finished tomorrow and then Friday he'll start opening the second one.

That just leaves me. I've been plodding on with the plasterboarding in the kitchen. And all of this was under the watchful eye of the 'Clerk of the Works'.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back to Work

The builders returned from their week's holiday and it was all 'crash, bang, wallop'. They put up scaffolding and began opening the last two of the new windows.

It didn't help that it was raining off and on. In fact the rain and high winds caused an early end to the day. After the men had gone, Sue and I did our statutary tour of inspection, and we put down a range of containers to collect the rain coming in above the new window in the lounge.

We went up into our bedroom and realised that we'll see 3 trees through the new windows. They'll be coming down!

The plumber was also here with us all day and we could see evidence of his, and the electrician's work in our bedroom.

Whilst the weather has been rough today, it really is 'proper' March weather.

There are big clumps of violets in the next field up the hill, the daffodils are in full bloom, the cowslips are all out, and Sue reported that she has 2 spears of Asparagus showing...and she only planted them 3 weeks ago!
We are forecast for more rain tomorrow but we are hoping that the builders will start on the Septic Tank very soon.