Les poissons en France

Sunday, July 27, 2008


We've just got back from a couple of days in Barcelona. Guy bought us 3 nights in a hotel there, so he rather pushed us into going! We'd said that we wanted to go for a long time, and we weren't disappointed. The hotel was very swish, but, when we arrived, we saw that it was in the middle of an area of old factories and warehouses that are just about to be re-developed. However, this wasn't a problem and we soon felt safe walking back from the metro station in the evening. The metro system is fantastic; the longest we had to wait for a train was about 7 minutes one evening at 11 o'clock. Normally the trains were every 3 minutes.

We spent the first day touring the city by bus with an audio-guide so that we could get an idea of what was there and roughly where it was. The second day we tried to pack in as much as possible. We started off in Gaudi's famous 'Sagrada Familia' which took all morning. Then, after a couple of refreshing beers, we went to the Picasso Museum. Finally, from 6pm till nearly 9 we were on a guided walk looking at the Modernist buildings in the centre of Barcelona. All of this was then finished off with a meal in a swanky restaurant before crawling home.

We must mention again the Gaudi church, the Sagrada Familia. We knew that it wasn't finished, but we weren't prepared for the inside to actually BE a building site. But, as a building, it is incredible; it's a faithful execution of one man's fantasy. And it has to be seen to really appreciate it.

As you can see we've only scratched the surface of what can be done in Barca, so we fully intend to go again.

PS Sorry that there are no photos, but I had a bit of a senior's moment when we were packing everything into the car. I didn't take either of our two cameras, my bag with my driving licence which you're supposed to take with you when you drive, nor my glasses. Luckily I was wearing my prescription sun glasses, so I was OK to drive as long as it was sunny! (However, I did try to leave these in the hotel room, but remembered them before I drove out of the hotel garage)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Creature Comforts

We are nearing the point when we'll have our first 2 rooms finished. And the cats are pleased.

Sue is busy grouting all of the tiling, although, now that she's finished the walls of the bathroom, the floors are a lot more straight forward.

We're pleased with the bedroom now that I've got the wardrobe doors fitted, although the interior designer says that it needs some colour to 'lift it'!

I was struggling yesterday to fit the heated towel rail. It is very heavy and the fixings supplied with it stood no chance to keep it attached to the plasterboard wall. I bought some different, metal fixings but they were no better. So, on the advice of Cyrille, I went to Gourdon to talk to an ex-plasterer who had just opened a shop selling all manner of screws and fixing systems. He showed me what to do but I really needed a tool to fix the metal 'chevilles' into the plasterboard. So, he phoned his wife, got her to bring his own tool to the shop and lent it to me. He had no idea who I was or where I lived, but that was no problem even though I'd only spent about 4 euros. When I took it back, he said I could borrow it whenever I wanted. That wouldn't happen in England!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mile Stone


We have passed another significant milestone (or should I say Kilometre de la Pierre) today, we have a functioning shower. I am sure that our neighbours will be as pleased as us. We/I as the designer, were a little concerned that it would malfunction and flood the rest of the room. Fortunately our fears were unfounded and we had great fun trying it out, not both together you understand, although there is plenty of room.

We spent the rest of the day moving back into the kitchen and tidying up after the workmen.

So, things are back to normal, or at least what passes for normal around here!

Friday, July 18, 2008

We Got Floors !

Our plumber duly finished laying the pipes for the underfloor heating in the kitchen and dining room, and was then smoothly followed by the builders on Thursday. Whilst I have moaned about the lads doing the 'screed' by hand, I have to admit that JP has made a nice job of it. It took him and Alexi, the appentice, the best part of 2 days, but this evening we have another floor ready for tiling.

Meanwhile Sue has started to grout in the bedroom. As she quickly discovered, it's a slow process, at least it is for us.

I've been cutting the floor tiles which go up to the walls in the bedroom. My old electric tile cutter blew up and I've bought a new one but I find it not particularly user-friendly. So I'm cutting the tiles without the guard, which means that I get covered with dirty water. When I'd finished today, I needed a shower, and Sue suggested that I shower outside using the hose pipe. She'd found that the water in the pipe is really hot where it has been warmed by the sun, and as there's about 60 metres of pipe she thought that there should be enough 'hot' water for me to shower. So, thinking that we live in a very quiet spot I duly went out to shower. Just as I started to wash my hair, JJ took a visitor to look at our garden. I ducked back behind our house and finished ny shower. I went indoors into our passage to remove my wet pants, and blow me down but John and Lesley came walking past with a visitor heading up the hill. Fortunately (for them) I hid in the entrance to the kitchen. I don't think I'll be risking the outdoors shower again!!!!

In the middle of all of this chaos and confusion, we had to go into Cahors last night for the Blues Festival. Last year we went with a group of friends on one of the evenings when you can stroll through the town listening to bands playing in different hotels and restaurants. This year, however, my old friend from school was playing at the festival, to be followed on stage by Bill Wyman (of the Rolling Stones) and the Rhythm Kings. This obviously demanded that we bought tickets for the show.

We had a good evening, and it was nice to meet up with Bob, but it was also somewhat ironic to see all of these legends from the past, playing for their pensions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Early Start

Our friend Paul stayed with us for a long weekend following 2 weeks at a french language school in Toulouse. Sue and I therefore had a nice break from 'work', but this morning we had to get him to Gourdon railway station for the 6.30 am train! So we were back to it with a vengence, especially as Thierry, the plumber, was here at 8.30 (along with his uncle) to start fitting the underfloor heating in the kitchen/dining room.

They seem to have got on very well and there's not too much to do tomorrow.
As part of getting ready for Thierry, we had to remove our temporary kitchen. As we won't be able to get back in there till next weekend, Sue's cooking in the passage. Fortunately it's lovely hot weather again, and we can live on salads.

Meanwhile, the vegetable garden continues to produce. At the weekend, Sue staggered back to the kitchen with a virtual wheelbarrow load of goodies.

Monday was the 14th July, Bastille day and a National Holiday. We all went off to Castelfranc, a village on the Lot, where they were staging a day of events and exhibitions. When we arrived, the first thing we found was a small garden which was open to the public. Or at least that's what we thought it was. A very eccentric english gentleman asked us if we wanted to go to the workshop. We thought that it was part of the display, but we then realised that our 'friend' was to hold a workshop discussing how to write a novel! We beat a hasty retreat. We strolled around the village, looking at the market, car boot sale (Vide-grenier or 'empty your loft'), photography exhibition, gardens and resident artists.

However, even though it was the Fete Nationale, Etienne (our electrician) turned out for work as he wanted to get the external lights finished before he goes on holiday.

We are highly delighted with the results. We love it when we can see something finished.

Today I took the tiling on into the bedroom in an attempt to get to the wardrobes. I need to fix the positions of the tiles in them so that I can finish the wardrobes and we can get our clothes in there.

Hopefully we'll have the shower operational by Thursday. The plumber is due to connect the shower unit tomorrow and then we can grout it. Nearly civilised.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Slow Progress

Since our friends moved on, we've been back to tiling and painting. Having said that, we did go off to Limoges yesterday to buy clothes for the wedding we're going to in Ireland in August. However, Sue's been finishing the walls in the bedroom whilst I've been carrying on with the tiling in the bathroom. We've been trying to get it finished before our friend Paul arrives on Saturday, but I now know we're going to fail. Even if we'd got all of the tiling done, we then need the plumber to connect up the water to the shower.

My problem now is that I've got a lot of small pieces of tile to cut and fit. However, the Lady is happy with what I'm doing, so everything is OK!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

R & R

We've had my old school friend Ray and his wife Fay staying with us for a couple of days, and, as we've said before, visitors mean we have a break from the house! We had hoped to have the shower ready for them, but we failed. Ray and Fay went off yesterday, so I've now got a week to get it ready for our friend Paul next weekend.

We took our guests off to Terrasson, an ancient town crossing the River Vezere which flows into the Dordogne. In the 90's the Mayor, realising the need for Tourism, pushed to make the old town an attractive visitor's site.

The view of the old slate roofs (rooves!) at the foot of the church makes an attractive scene. However, the reason for our visit was to go to the Garden of the Imagination. Monsieur the Mayor also commissioned a Landscape 'Artist' to transform an abandoned hillside into a garden full of arty gardening ideas. The result does work well, even though there's not many flowers.

Now, holiday is over and back to it! No peace for the wicked.