Rent A Traditional Country
Definitely rest day. One day we will rent in France. "Procrastination is the thief of time" (the source of this quote will know who he is!).
I'm now beginning to wonder. By putting the year on each day am I assuming I will be writing this in 2005, and if so, will any of you still bother to read it by then?
We finish lifting the floorboards and clearing the floor from the "kitchen". Next, will come the hardcore and then I have to figure out how the ready-mixed concrete lorry can drive across the muddy field to deliver, and then leave again.
Yvonne removes years of paint from a fireplace to find an amazing piece of plaster work, meaning that the kitchen, has now become the lounge and all my carefully laid computer drawings, must be adjusted to suit. Mr Septic tank man is probably just giving us enough time to change our minds about the plumbing arrangements!
We lay the trees out in their proposed locations and a couple from the next hamlet, walk past. After the customary handshakes and an explanation of what we are doing he asks about the trees. He says it will be hard work planting. I didn't know just how hard. Even with the soil ploughed, the rocks and clay underneath needed some serious pick work, making more than one planting a day impossible (unless of course we had some friends out here helping).
But now our first tree is up. Just one thing. Without water and electricity for a pump, I'll have to pull the daily water ration for the tree, from a well about 6 meters deep. But that's for another day.
It rained hard last night. I get my van stuck in the mud, but leave that till later. The entire morning pulling up the remaining floorboards in what will be the kitchen. Then we start to level the soil, before the hardcore goes down. Whose idea was it to rent a house in France?
Our 82 year-old neighbour turns out to help push the van and the neighbouring farmer has used his tractor to fill in the holes (without having to ask him, what a nice man) dug by the soil testers, in readiness for the septic tank. But no sign of any septic tank. A flush toilet must be one of the miracles of the modern world! And its still raining.
After lunch we go to Bergerac, to buy mature trees. We get these in the van, but to change gear, I have to rummage through the foliage to find the gear lever. We also buy five 30kg bags of compost. I know I'm getting fitter, but Yvonne asking if I need a trolley for them, sounds to me like taking the mick. If the van gets stolen tonight, they won't get any jewellery, but they will have a beautiful garden.
We stop at an enormous hyper-market on the way home, to buy some dining table chairs. These are to complement the rather suspect ones in our temporary accommodation. As time is getting on we buy prawns for dinner; 1kg of decent sized prawns for the equivalent of £3.75.
Either I haven't been working so hard or I'm actually getting used to it. I still ache, but don't creak quite as much. Maybe a lie in tomorrow, and NO, I still don't have a backup.
Well, despite being a couple of crass amateurs, the scaffolding is now up and I can see onto the roof. It would have taken about two hours less if we had a nice flat garden to stand it on. I won't tell you what I saw on the roof, as that's for another day; probably of pictures.
Yvonne spends most of the day clearing the garden. She falls backwards on uneven ground and has a massive bruise on her thigh and one on her back. If we were in England, she'd be telling you all that I've beaten her again. The bruise looks almost like a map of where to rent a house in France and I have to air-brush out all the other parts of the anatomy in the picture.
Another bonfire helps clear the weeds, more ivy, and woodworm leftovers from beneath the downstairs floor. We put up the mailbox. So, we now have keys to the mailbox, but not to the front door!
And then its early knocking off, so that we go round to a friends and use the Internet. I have signed up for a real "free" Internet account. You pay only for the telephone call at national rates, and nothing else, unlike some Internet accounts, starting with Free!
I'm now so stiff, that each time I sit down, it takes me an age to get up again. A call from some good friends who are coming here in May raises the spirits and we celebrate with a beer (Yvonne drinks red wine) at a local bar.
Despite me asking for and not getting a discount from the septic tank man, he has not yet been back. We don't know if this is good or bad.
Anyway, I have unloaded 300kgs of scaffolding, by myself. And lucky I did so too. If I'd left it any longer, despite my best efforts, it would have come off of its own volition, probably in the middle of a busy inter-section.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse. It seems almost like an English winter, except the sun pokes its head out more often. As its a little dark inside, (electricity, that's what we need), we did most of our work outside. More clearing of ivy, especially around the second well. It has water in and it is deep! Yvonne says if I give her any gip, they'll never find me down there.
And no, I have not yet got a backup, thank you for asking.
Well today I had my first major disaster. Nothing to do with walls falling down, or sliding off the roof. As my friends will know, as a computer expert, I am always extolling the virtues of backup. Do I need to say anymore?
For those that need to wallow in my misery, I lost all the original images, all the "style" information that affects look and feel of the site, and before you ask, NO I DIDN'T HAVE A BACKUP, nor could I recover the data.
Anyway, started to remove the floorboards from the "living room". Did you know that nails in oak, have a chemical reaction, making it almost impossible to remove the nails (yes Nick, I know you told me so). So every floorboard has to be carefully (for that read brute force and ignorance) prised until the nails break, or pulled through the boards. Arnold Swarzanneger eat your heart out.
The local post-woman tracks me down with our first mail. I tell her we are going to put up a mailbox, and she notes the names of everyone at this "address".
Monday is local market day. I had hoped lots of pictures, but my battery is running out, so not too many. The important thing is lunch is not bread, cheese and pate again. It's bread and left-over chicken. The chicken was "label rouge" meaning free-range. And you really can taste the difference.
Today I collect my scaffolding. Except tomorrow I'll unload it without the help of some big strong boys; sorry grand (no not grand silly, it's French; grond!) robust garçons. 300kgs will not be too much fun.
Septic tank man arrives, agrees what we want and will be back "tomorrow" after checking the local authority requirements for the size required, based on some mysterious (well, mysterious to me anyway) criteria.
Having unloaded a bit more of the van, we can now cook more easily, but can move about less in our temporary abode. I guess the next stage will be to unload the final things from the van, and I'll then move into the van to live!