Les poissons en France

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chips, Anyone?

We went to Cahors this morning and bought a boot-load of bark chippings. This afternoon, notwithstanding the drizzle, I filled the 'Iris' walk.

We weren't sure how many bags we'd need but we have got about three-quarters of the way up the path. So, after the next trip to Cahors the path will be finished.

Then we wait for the roses to arrive. Once they're here and planted, we can decide what to do with the path once it turns the corner and runs under the rose arbor.

PS We've been chuckling all week-end about our wine man, Bernard, and his customers. I went down to the market Friday morning to replenish my 5 litre container. I was there just after 9 am but Bernard was already busy. An old 'gentleman' was buying a large quantity of wine; I should think he bought between 30 and 50 litres of red wine. What amused us so much was the total absence of 'Food hygiene'. We can imagine the authorities in the UK having apoplexies. Bernard was filling his customers containers, which were reused paraffin bottles. At one stage Bernard had to set up a syphoning tube, and, yes, he duly put the tube into his mouth and sucked up the wine to get it flowing!!! When he eventually served me (after about 20 minutes), he filled my little 5 litre container with no problems. However, he had to poke his finger into the wine in the container to make sure he'd filled it enough. It all adds to the flavour.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Step Gently

The weather, although unsettled, is continuing pleasant enough to allow outside work. Having previously prepared the wooden edging for the 'Iris walk', I've been working on that when I can. The Head Gardener was very pleased to see me laying the stepping stones that run up the centre.

I've set about a third of the stones, using a dry sand and cement mix (we saw it being done like this on one of a million building sites in the UK during a previous life). Once I've got all of the stones laid, we'll 'fill' the path with bark chippings.

Sue continues to move barrow-loads of soil whenever she can; I don't know where she keeps finding it!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Back up the Ladder

Monday morning and back to work! We had a pleasant day with friends yesterday but, this morning, it was up the ladder making a mess. I needed to make good some of the jointing in the hall where I've removed part of the beams and flooring. Raking out the joints and then remortaring and cleaning up the joints makes a lot of dust and mess, and we wanted to get this out of the way before we start the 'christmas' social season!

It became a little difficult as I ended trying to clean up the joints in the dark. You have to wait till the mortar is 'going off' before you can wire brush it. So, I will need to check it over in the daylight, but the main messy part is done. I can now concentrate on the bedrooms. Etienne, our electrician, came on Saturday morning and advised me that all of the old flooring in the rooms will need to be taken up before he can lay the electrical wiring. And really, to get the new flooring level, I'm going to have to lift the floorboards. It's just that I was going to try to do it in stages rather than all in one going! Oh well.....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where's the Roses?

Another lovely Autumn day; warm and sunny. So I crashed on and have got all of the rose holes dug for the Rose Arbour.

Fortunately I didn't hit bedrock. It was all heavy soil, which I think roses like. The trouble is, the deer like roses....to eat! Still that's a problem to solve in the future.
So, we seem to be up to date on the garden jobs, the bedrooms are ongoing, and the Christmas socialising scene is just about to start! I have to admit that 'working' seems a long time ago!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rip it Up

Having started on the flooring in the first floor bedrooms, I'm gradually working out what's to be done and how to do it. I've now removed half of the floorboards in bedroom 2.

I've reinforced the two weakest beams and then I've put small tie-bars between the beams in an attempt to tie all of them together, hopefully to reduce the amount of 'bounce' in the floor. At the moment I'm intending to do half of each bedroom at a time, although I will have to find out from our electrician tomorrow when he will be able to run all of the electrics under the flooring.

It's going to be quite a job!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bits and Bobs

It was a glorious day today; a clear blue sky with hot sun this afternoon. This enabled us to work on a number of ongoing jobs. I cleared out our things from the new cat's pens so that Sue could 'spring clean' (I know that it's autumn, but did Sue?)

I finished the morning by tearing up a few floorboards in Bedroom 2.

We've realised that some of the beams 'bounce' and, looking at them, you can see why; some of them are pretty thin. Still, that's another day's problem.

After lunch, I started to dig the rose holes. Whether I was just lucky, but I dug three without any 'rock' problems. Only 21 to go.

However, at that point I became distracted. Just near to where I was working there was the stump of a Field Maple that had obviously been cut down over a number of years. So, I had a go at digging it out. I managed it and it is now in our Bonsai area. It needed to come out and it's got two chances!

Not to be outdone by my efforts, Sue finished her labours by bringing two barrow-loads of earth from the compost heaps.

PS As an indication of how native we have become, I commented to Sue that tomorrow should be even hotter ( 21 degrees) but that Wednesday is only going to be 14 degrees! I then thought and realised that 14 degrees in the middle of November actually isn't cold!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

All Penned In

I've finished the pens, as you can see, although we have no intention to use them as a 'sin bin'. So, although I've got to make a couple of stands for the 'sleeping quarters', we're ready for 'guests'!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Down to the Wire

We've been going through the process of the 'final' design for the two bedrooms on the first floor so that I can organise water and electricity. However this has caused some anguish! The Designer had wanted a 'japanese' feel to one of the bedroom, with a wall of sliding doors!!!! This provoked considerable discussion on the techniques of achieving this look, at the same time as having only two of them sliding. At the end of the day, the idea was abandoned, but not before we'd been up to Brive and looked in the DIY stores.

However, whilst we were there, we bought the wire for the cat's pens. So, today I started fixing it.

At one stage I was interrupted by Bernard, how lives just down the road. He was out for a stroll, but, boy does he love to chat. I hope to have the pens finished tomorrow, although I guess I'll have to build some 'furniture'!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Keeping Animals in and keeping Animals out

I began weeding in the front garden this morning and soon saw that we had had a visitation from the deer in the night, as evidenced by the remains of their meal. I have been very patient up to now but enough is enough. Jean-Jacque and Nadine have been telling us for weeks that the deer are very partial to roses. I have chosen to ignore their comments as I have designed the garden to be full of roses. However, I fear they are right, so today drastic measures were required. I found an enormous ball of string in the barn which I wound round the trees boardering our front garden. However that is only one of many entrances, no doubt they will find the others with no trouble and it is impossible to barricade them all - but it made me feel better.

My anti deer measures did not stop there. We had a roll of wire netting in the barn which I had retrieved from the undergrowth when we moved in. I knew it would come in handy one day. I used it to cover the "cheapie" roses (which so far have not been attacked). With the remainder I fashioned sort of cloches to go over other roses and finished off using twigs to make a wigwam over some other plants. The idea is that the deer will not notice the nice juicey new shoots. Yes John thought my efforts were completely useless too - but he wasn't quite so polite about it!!

Meanwhile he has been busy building cat pens in the pigsty. Half of the porcherie has been given over to the cats and the remainder I can still use as a potting shed (to raise fodder for the deer). We have agreed that we will look after our friends' cats and they will reciprocate. It will be much cheaper and neither of us are very impressed with the cattery we used to use since it has been taken over. The carpenter has just got to fit the wire to the frame. I can stop nagging now.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Where's the Books?

I'm pleased to report that the flooring is now all finished in the library (it's really still just a landing at the moment).

I finished off the last bits of edging this morning and then spent the rest of the time before lunch working out the list of materials for the stairs; sizes of wood, number of treads and checking the head height clearance of the beams as you mount them. Everything seems OK and we won't need to issue guests with hard-hats!
Sue now wants me to clear up the back-log of small jobs that have accumulated whilst I've been playing with my stairs. In particular, she's anxious that I prepare the holes for the roses, which could be delivered anytime from now till March.......anything for a quiet life!!!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Everyone's Happy

No rain today and so the gardener was happy to get out, tidying, weeding and planting bulbs.

On the other hand, I was happily beavering away on the landing floor. I've fitted some of the 'space age' insulation under the flooring at the window end of the hall, as, below the floor is the 'outside'. I would have finished it, except I had misjudged the number of flooring sheets I would need to fit it into the doorways of the two bedrooms.

As it is due to resume raining again tomorrow, we decided not to go to buy two more sheets of flooring today. To make the most of the dry weather, I dug the holes for the two Judas Trees that Sue wants.

The first hole wasn't too bad, but when I started on the second, I could only remove about 3 inches of soil before I uncovered the bedrock! In consultation with the garden designer we filled in the hole and I dug another one about 50 cm lower down the 'hill'. Even so, this wasn't easy; I have dug the hole and removed a heap of rock and we're hoping that the tree will have enough room to grow!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Poor Little Trailer

Having finished leveling the floor of the landing yesterday, we went off this morning to buy the flooring...12 sheets of chipboard, 2 metres by 60 cm. We loaded up the trailer and secured everything down, but we'd only gone about a kilometre when we realised that we needed to stop. Our poor little trailer was trying to do a big trailer's job!

I'd laid a number of the sheets on the front panel of the trailer and, as you can see, the weight was just too much. Repairs to the front panel now required!

We managed to reload the sheets, putting some of them into the car and holding the rear door down with a 'bungie'.

So, this afternoon, I started laying the flooring. Even with only 3 sheets down, it's amazing how much better it looks.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Keeping Spirits Level

The Autumn weather properly arrived during the night; it is forecast for a prolonged spell of wet weather. This morning I started to level the flooring of the landing/library.

It's slow work, but another half a day and I'll be ready to lay the flooring! Just got to buy it first!

However, I have to work round the existing stairs that lead up into the loft/our bedroom (in the fullness of time). I've freed the feet of these stairs, chocked them up on blocks of wood, and then eventually I'll lay the new floor, before letting the stairs sit on the new level.

I'm hoping to have all of this done by the weekend, and then it's into the two bedrooms off the landing!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Playing with Toys

As we have the surround of the courtyard finished (John was determined to complete it before the winter), it is now necessary to keep it pristine. Therefore a sucker /blower to remove the leaves was purchased. It was assembled and I was poised with the camera for "blow off" if you see what I mean. However as he switched it on the wheels fell off. Much abuse followed about Chinese workmanship until he found the nut he should have tightened!! As you can see it eventually worked and it is now up to me to spend all winter finding and barrowing earth from wherever to fill the centre for grass.

Not to be out done I wanted something to play with. Fortunately we received a leaflet saying that the local garden centre had loads of offers, so up early to catch the "plants". And then, on Friday almost 1000 bulbs (never one to miss a bargain) arrived from Holland, so I will be playing for a long time yet.