Rent  A  Traditional  Country
Farmhouse  in  South-West  France

Week 18

Day 118, Monday 28th June

The Boss is back to her paid job for the morning. I have several errands and then go to get the remaining bits of plumbing; assuming they are in stock. I go to two stores, one of them a trade supplier, with lots of plumbers waiting for their supplies for the weeks work, the service takes a while.

When I get to site, I start with tea in the sun and then on to work. The sink and bidet taps need to be assembled and fitted. I've finally got the correct sized U-bend to go with the taps. Again, there is the irony of measurements. The U-bend connection to the sink is 1¼ and although they never say, its actually inches. The exit to the waste tubes from the same U-bend is 32mm. Now you know why I'm confused.

I've got all the pipes connected to sink, bidet and toilet, when the Boss arrives. We want to put the last tile on the edge of the shower walls, but the walls that we built aren't completely square. There is some debate about the best way to proceed. Eventually the Boss goes off to do some gardening. Then she leaves to prepare some dinner.

She leaves 10 minutes too early to see the cold water supply to bathroom 1 connected. I've blanked off the shower until the taps are in and grouted, but the sink works, of course with cold water only. The bidet works except I've reversed the hot and cold taps so turning on the hot tap gives cold water. And the toilet flushes, without using the hose!

There is only one leak and that is a joint I haven't used my magic compound on. I remake that joint, flush the toilet again for fun and go back to the rooms buzzing.

Now, just the shower and some hot water

Day 119, Tuesday 29th June

Today, we're off to Bordeaux to collect the washing machine, fridge, cooker and TV. So a later start than normal and after 20km, we turn around and go back as I've forgotten all the paperwork.

First, a visit to IKEA, to get odds and ends. While the systems at IKEA are really well organised, some of the staff need people skills training. I can't be bothered to put this onto one of their suggestion cards. When you've got large items, they let you drive into the loading bay to load up.

The receipt has a code that opens the barrier. As I'm in a right hand drive, I get out to go and enter the code. Without my glasses, it looks like 044. But the barrier doesn't open. Eventually another car arrives and he tells me the code is 04A. Time to get my glasses on. So I enter this and the barrier opens. By the time I have walked round to get back in, the barrier has closed. I go back, enter the code again, and do a Le Mans type start, jump into the van and just start to move and the barrier comes down. Eventually one the shop security staff arrives with a key and opens it to let me in!

Then we go to collect the electrical goods. The washing machine on "two days delivery" ordered ten days ago, is not yet in stock. I want to cancel this part of the order but they want us to take another machine. The Boss decides to manage the negotiations. Our sons, whose mottos are "Its the principle", "They've got to give something" and "No one takes the p*~#", would have been proud of her.

And then its home; or at least back to the rooms. Bordeaux again reminds me of what I am missing, crowded roads and traffic jams, but as soon as we are on the outskirts of the town, the motorways and main roads are clear. Its even a pleasure paying the motorway tolls.

Day 120, Wednesday 30th June

We start the day on site by unloading the cooker, washing machine, fridge and TV. The "lounge" needs to be tidied before these can be stored. But the fridge goes into the kitchen and also goes into immediate use.

We frequently throw away sour milk as a bucket of water just does not keep it cold enough when its really hot. I've tried putting things in a bucket and lowering them down the well, but I've lost a few bottle of beer that way so no more. Now we can open a fridge and get the milk out, cold and fresh. Of course the beer goes in as well.

There's still some bathroom tiling to be done. The Boss does the tiling, with me doing the tile cutting where necessary. Tomorrow we should be ready to grout. A quick trip to Brico for two bits of plastic pipe, only one of which is in stock. The Boss suggests that they might have the right thing, but in the wrong place on the shelves, and she was right. The last 40mm, 90° bend in stock, sitting with the 32mm, 45° bends. Of course; where else would one find it?

Under duress, I am forced (against my better judgement) to tell you about some strange goings on. It started with two pot plants being uprooted overnight, but placed neatly lying in another pot. Then, a watering can, left full outside overnight, has been found empty, some way away the next day. This has happened more than once. The latest was a pot plant, moved from its regular spot.

As someone who dismisses ghosts, my only thought is that she's being smoking whacky-baccy without me knowing, but she has insisted its in my diary. I wonder if "the ghost" knows how to do tiling, plastering or plumbing? And if he or she is responsible for Brico being out of stock of the one last thing I need, I'll be doing some haunting of my own.

Day 121, Thursday 1st July

As its overcast and therefore darker than normal, I oversleep. We don't get to site until late morning, while it threatens to rain. Occasionally the sun comes out and it gets temporarily hot.

On the drive to site, we stop to look at our house and barn from across the valley. The patch of yellow sunflowers brightens up the whole area. And then its back to tiling.

The view from the front upstairs

The view from the front downstairs


The view at the back

It's actually quite exciting to see a room getting to the point where it looks finished, almost, even if there are only three walls and no ceiling. Looking at the size of the bathroom, I'm sorry that we didn't get a larger shower tray, making the shower a bit more spacious. But too late for regrets. No going back!

Lunch on site and we open the fridge. Such luxury, we open and close the door a few times just for fun. Fresh milk, pate that you don't have to sniff and wonder if you're going to get food poisoning, and butter that doesn't run off the knife.  Perhaps we've been in the outback for too long.

I've had to rearrange the high quality EDF inspected and approved wiring; ha; so that when we go home and turn off the light we don't switch the fridge off! Nothing is simple in the outback.

And the shower waste is now connected. As there's no water in the waste-trap, I expect some "maulvaise" odours from the septic tank. Just in case, we have bought some more clever bacteria, like those good bacteria they advertise on telly. These don't process the waste; they process the odours. Thank goodness for good bacteria.

Day 122, Friday 2nd July

The last of the tiling and then grouting. Except the best laid plans ...

I have to drill two holes to fix the bidet to the floor. Well after wearing out two drill bits, I get frustrated and decide to us the hammer action of the drill as well. Remember that I am using my heavy-weight, one speed pneumatic as my Bosch "Excellence comes as standard" has decided to take a rest.

Of course the obvious happens and I crack the tile. And before you ask, I was using the Tommy Walsh way, with criss-crossed tape over the tile. Well most of the crack will be hidden by the bidet anyway. After a moments reflection and a few seconds for the blue air to clear, I knew I'd be looking at that crack every day, simply because I know it's there.

Remove the tile, remove the old tile cement, which seems to set rock hard and then drill the new tile before it goes in. After blunting another masonry drill bit, breaking two more tiles, and swearing a bit more (I know, occasionally the new relaxed and laid back me disappears for a moment), I feel a trip to Brico and a coffee coming on.

Bricomarche have separate drill bits for masonry, wood, glass, and metal, but nothing for tiles. I ask them if the glass one will do, and there is some discussion in French which is too fast for me to follow, and then a look at the tile cutter section, some way from the drill bits. It seems you can get special drills for ceramic tiles, but guess what? No stock.

Oh well the coffee was good. A bit of lateral thinking, whatever that is, and I decide to cut a slit using an angle grinder. As its all under the bidet, the size doesn't matter. And hey presto, with a bit of fiddling and some final tiles by the Boss, we're ready to grout.

Grouting is not difficult, but its slow and cleaning all the tiles behind you takes a while. We finally leave by 9:00. In the morning, no doubt, a few pictures; after the croissants of course.

Day 123, Saturday 3rd July

It doesn't matter how many croissants I eat, they still taste good. I used to think I must be Italian because I ate so much pasta, but perhaps there's a Frenchman inside trying to get out. Do they eat croissants, or is it just the visitors?

The day started with some heavy dark clouds around and by the time we get to site, its getting really dark outside. We start by an inspection of the bathroom. To use the vernacular, we're well chuffed. The grout looks even, and it hides many of the tiling beginners errors; like some tiles slightly higher than those around it.

So to the pictures.

Nice bathroom, (when the pipes are hidden, you cover the plasterboard, and fill in the hole in the floor, but aren't there some rules about personal privacy?




My great grandmother had taps like that

Nice shower, but what about the lights?

I thought you were in charge of the taps?

The Boss begins by going over some uneven grout, and I start on connecting the shower taps. I made the mistake of jointing two bits of pipe-work using my special cement. I should have waited until the taps were on. Now; how to get this undone? After much struggle, the Boss suggests that something like white spirit might dissolve it. And she was right.

Walking back to the bathroom after lunch, I stepped on one of the floorboards that had been lifted and laid back temporarily. It had moved and the end slipped of the joist. It went crashing to the floor below. I went crashing to the floor, but although my legs went through, I landed on the next floorboard, with my legs dangling.

Having caught a thigh on the way down, I needed the ice from the new fridge. Lucky we had it. Anyway, that was the end of the days work. The Boss watered the trees and we stopped for a beer or two on the way back to the rooms.

So not much progress today, and moving in day is just a week away.

Day 124, Sunday 4th July

Despite what the day and date say above, it is actually day 145, Sunday 25th July. Why you might ask. Well it's simply this. On day 124 my computer stopped working. I believe the technical term is b*%%#@>~.

Not fixable by the local PC shop; "Mort" (dead). Not fixable by me; you know how it goes, take out a few screws, look blankly at the innards, put it back together again and have five or six screws left over. Do that often enough and one could then build a second PC with the left-overs!

Anyway, I left it on the floor of the kitchen to collect dust, mice droppings, and a few accidental kicks. Did I say accidental? Three weeks later and before I send it to the great PC haven in the sky, I press the on button and hey presto. The Boss will probably say its the work of the ghost.

Of course I have not kept a written diary because my writing's so bad even I can't read it. I don't know what we did the last three weeks, so from memory ....

Go to week 19, 20, and 21