Day 242, Monday 8th November
The Boss goes off to work as usual for a
Steve and I take a trip to Brico's to buy some
Firerock. This is basically fibreglass that withstands high
temperatures and has a metallic backing to reflect the heat inside
the house. The smoke generated by the fire goes up the stainless
steel tube up the chimney. However, as the rest of the chimney is
open to the elements, so does lots of the heat generated.
In case you've forgotten the view, it is
now as the picture, but was ...
By blocking the chimney at roof level using
Firerock, the theory is that all the warm air can rise up the
chimney and warm the walls, without affecting global warming. Hence
we will get some heating effect from the fires in the upstairs
After lunch we meet Sparkie to collect some
firewood. We are buying a "brass" although I'm sure that is not the
spelling. A brass is 4 cubic meters, and as Sparkie explained, its
not really 4 cubic meters. Its is one Stair (again spelt
phonetically). I hope you're following
this. A Brass is 4 cubic meters, while a Stair is 4 cubic meters
theoretically. As there are gaps between the logs, you don't
actually get a cubic meter of wood. You get the wood, plus the gaps
between them. And 4 cubic meters of wood with gaps of air, is a
Anyway, it takes two packed van loads and now
all we have to do is cut every single log into two, carry them to
the house from the barn, and by then we'll be hot enough without
burning the logs.
More watering of the grassy knoll with some
slivers of green showing themselves, an outside light, several
scotch pancakes (because we had visitors, this is not the norm you
understand) and the day is finished.
Now we'll see if Firerock works.
Day 243, Tuesday 9th November
Its Steve's last day. He takes a trip to the
vet to get his dogs passport updated and brings back the croissants.
Ordinary Intermarche croissants, but, croissants are croissants.
Easy day doing odd jobs. Steve says the
electrics are guaranteed until he reaches Boulogne, but not
thereafter. We tried cutting a few of the newly acquired logs with a
blunt coarse saw. Perhaps the useless chain saw we were lent will do
Another trip to the DIY store to get sockets
and wall boxes, while they are on special offer. And then its almost
time for bed.
Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?
Day 244, Wednesday 10th November
The alarm is set so that we are all up in time
for Steve to leave and get his ferry. Except that my phone is still
on summer time and that means the Boss is up at half past 6, not
half past seven! Oh well, the new logs are working well and the fire
soon bursts into life.
Steve gets away and as its the coldest and
greyest day so far, and we got up so early, we go back to bed. Tough
old life this.
Later we begin to prepare the "lounge" for
progressing to become the lounge. Move all the assorted furniture
there into the middle of the room. Move all the building materials
like rolls of laine de verre (fibreglass) and floor insulation, to
the upstairs. With several stripped camp beds, and all the
building materials, the upstairs looks more like a doss-house every day.
And then pull cables. We work on the principle
that there are never enough sockets. But as I've only allowed for a
single circuit, and the limit is eight sockets, placement is
important. I'll probably put in more, but worry about the excess
after the EDF inspection, which I am really looking forward to!
However, having bought a large cheap bottle of
washing up liquid, pulling cables through conduit is now easy peezy.
After a while its gets too dark to work in the lounge unless
temporary lighting is rigged up, so any excuse to knock off early.
One more trip to Brico's where I order a
sealed double glazed unit. They don't want to take the order as the
guy that deals with glass is off today, but I insist. Except on
reflection, the last time I did that, they lost the order!
A few days ago, I made a promise which I am
now regretting. I have to play Scrabble with the Boss before bed.
However, unusually, I win!
I can go to bed happy
Day 245, Thursday 11th November
Its still cold and grey. We could almost be in
England, except its too quiet for a weekday.
The Boss decides its time for a spring clean,
after all the drilling and cutting that's been done lately. I mix
some cement and start filling in the gap around the "lounge" floor.
Why a gap you might ask? Well, the books all say for a slab of
concrete larger than 4 meters, add an expansion joint.
So we laid the concrete for the floor, almost
5 meters square and are putting an expansion joint around the
outside of the slab, and then concreting from the joint to the wall.
No, Tommy Walsh had nothing to do with this and perhaps the picture
will help to make clear?
Of course you can't see the expansion
joint. Its between the old and the new concrete. What you can see is
a block holding the cable for sockets back against the wall, while
the cement dries.
On your own, its hard. Shovel the sand and
cement, mix, load the wheelbarrow, over the obstacle course, empty
and level. The light is poor and its not getting warmer, even though
the sun appears briefly every now and then.
I take the shutters down so the Boss can
finish the painting of these. Doing so, was difficult when we first
arrived. Now it seems to be really tough and I thought I had got
stronger. I think it must be insufficient coffee and croissants. I
prescribe more frequent pain au chocolat, but the Boss disagrees
with the diagnosis.
We invite Louis over for an aperitif which he
downs in one, and then drinks a small French style strong black
coffee with two sugars. I hope I can manage that and still sleep
well at 82.
When its this cold, the number of gaps
upstairs, between the walls and the roof, become more obvious.
Oh well, less frequent showers means lower
electricity and water bills
Day 246, Friday 12th November
Cloudless sky and hence its roof day. This is
when I really appreciate France. No, not when I'm on the roof, but
when its sunny and the clear air becomes obvious.
I want to finish the tiles down one apex of
the roof. When we began the roof, we made the mistake of thinking
that we can press on and come back to the apex's. In
retrospect, its not that easy.
First job is to remove enough of the tiles to
make it possible to move about. Then, get some extra tiles and
special "faux tille" or ridge tiles as we've
been calling them onto the roof. They are larger and noticeably
heavier than normal tiles.
Just moving tiles about, with a chain of two
people and the scaffold platforms some distance apart, makes the
moving of tiles, slow and very tiring. And then we need cement on
the roof as the faux tille are cemented on.
By early afternoon, the apex is almost
complete but I need to wait for the cement to dry before finishing
the corner. I probably also need to move the scaffold to do so.
While we've got cement and the scaffold in place, we decide to use
the time to work on the wall.
The wall needs building up, to the height of
the roof, to eliminate a few of the many air gaps. The wind has got
up while the Boss collected and threw up the stones, so every time
it changes direction, I get to smell a little more like something
off the barbeque.
This is before
And this is after
When my arms can't lift anything else, we get
off the scaffold hoping to call it a day. No such luck for us
country folk. Get some logs from the barn, cut them and stack them
Oh for a chain saw, or even central heating
Day 247, Saturday 13th November
Its cold again today, but the sun looks like
coming out. We both wake up with headaches and as a result don't get
going until late morning. We suspect the cause is smoke blowing into
the bedroom, every time the wind changes. With so many holes between
the inside and the open air, we may have to do something!
I pull the final cables for sockets through
the conduit in the "lounge" and then start clearing up; again, so
that we can move some thing around and get to the fireplace. The sun
is now out in an almost cloudless sky.
After lunch, we go off to
Angoulême (see week
10 for the picture of the mayors pad), where there is a large
DIY store called Castorama. A chain once French, now owned by B&Q,
but still trading with their French name. While in a checkout queue
a few days ago at Brico's an Irish guy got talking and mentioned
that Castorama had petrol chainsaws at well under 200€. Pure
coincidence as I had never mentioned chainsaws or even logs, but
Of course while we are there, the range of
things means we wander about looking, for probably two hours. I buy
a petrol chainsaw, all the associated stuff like chain oil and
two-stroke oil, as well as a few bits I can't readily get at
Brico's. The Boss buys a mini Christmas tree and some tree lights
for 1€, as well as special furniture wax's and polishes.
By the time we get home, its too late to start
figuring out how to use a chain saw. So we collect logs and use good
old Desmond Decker, and a little manpower (no its not sexist as I
did the cutting).
Its dark by six, these days, so evenings seem
to get longer as we finish working earlier. Six egg yolks from three
egg shell; must mean we're going to win the lottery.
The Boss has "Sense and
Sensibility" on video. Despite my dislike of Hugh Grant, I try, but
give up half way through.
But as today was a rest day (well, almost),
tomorrow is work
Day 248, Sunday 14th November
Although the sun is shining, its even colder
today. Summer has really gone now.
Nothing for it but to read the instructions on
my new toy and then cut some logs. As I'll be out all day Tuesday
and Wednesday, the Boss will need enough to keep going until
Reading the instructions and precautions on
the chainsaw, is enough to frighten anyone into not using it.
However, once assembled and with right protective gear, it makes
really short work of cutting logs. We now have enough cut to last
for a few days.
Then its back to the "lounge". Finish off the
cementing around the outside. Start to build up the stone that has
burnt away, presumably from an open fire. The wood burner in the
kitchen shows what happens when wood burns at different
temperatures. If it burns good and hot, with a reasonable flow of
air, the glass does not soot up.
The Boss says the answer is to leave the fire
up high every night