Day 263, Monday 29th
Another frost but this soon clears. Today, guess what we're doing.
The monotony is broken by a visit by a French lady who I understand
is doing work for the commune. How naive can one get? I answer all
the questions, about glazing, roof insulation, and floor insulation.
By this time the penny has dropped. She's a canvasser for a company
of some sort. The give-away is when she asks if the Boss will be
here when I get my "free inspection" tomorrow. The inspection is for
woodworm and termites.
Anyway, more tiling while the Boss goes shopping with a friend. I
also have to cut some logs, using my new toy chainsaw.
Day 264, Tuesday 30th November
The weather is cool and crisp. The Boss and I
go out for an early morning walk, with me planning to jog part of
the way. Half way out, the local farmer passes me in his car and
says there are some men looking for us. I guess the saying you can
run, but you can't hide is about to come true.
The Boss has stopped and is
talking to two guys in a car.
It's the termite inspectors. I got the time
wrong. So home again tout suite and a sales pitch about termites,
woodworm etc, and the risk of the house collapsing. Anyway, the
result is it's 7,700€ to drill and inject all the woodwork. Thanks
but not this time.
The extended sales pitch means its breakfast
at about 11:00. But of course all I can think about is not tiling,
but woodworm. We've still got some beams that have not been treated
by us and we resolve to do this soon. After a bit more tiling!
In the afternoon, Fabrice the farmer comes
over. He's got the electricity bill and the bill for the tiles we
used in the hearths. The price of the tiles has put paid to any
suggestion of using them for the hall as well.
And after an extended period of talking French
it's time to stop tiling for the day and leave it until tomorrow.
Day 265, Wednesday 1st December
The weather is good, so its an opportunity to
do all the awkward tiles that need to be cut. I can cut them
outside, leaving the dust to blow away, and not get back inside
When nothing is square, each tile cut has to
be separately measured. I'm using a large angle grinder to cut the
tiles, which makes short work of cutting, bat hard work on my arms.
Its heavy, and the gyroscope effect when its turning makes it
difficult to handle and probably a little dangerous. And don't ask
me to explain "gyroscope effect". Do a Google search if you're
I now wish I'd invested a little more when
buying a tile cutter and bought a powered one. Live and learn. What
we do is measure in situ, go outside and cut, bring the cut piece
inside and check that its right. As I go along, I somehow seem to be
getting better at measuring. Don't ask me why, but the more tiles I
cut, the higher the percentage of "right first time".
Yvonne applies tile cement and lays the tiles
as fast as I can cut them. Now, the hardest thing is mixing the tile
We do this with a paint stirring attachment on
an electric drill. One of the secrets to good tiling seems to be
getting the consistency of the cement right. It must spread, it must
stick, and it mustn't be so runny, that the tiles can be placed and
levelled and then will not sink once this is done. So mixing too is
As with plaster, it seems better to mix the
tile cement and then leave for several hours before use. But despite
all this getting better and better, its still slow.
Day 266, Thursday 2nd December
Its misty and cold; well, cold for those of us
now acclimatised to the sunshine of South-west France.
Spencer, our oldest son has booked a flight
for the end of January, staying for the weekend. He may come with a
partner, and I say "a" partner as they seem to change fairly often.
This means I need to start thinking about the lounge again. So we
take a break from tiling and get the insulation down on the lounge
This takes most of the morning and of course I
run out with 4 square meters of floor un-insulated. So, back to
Brico's. I can't recall if I told you that Brico's have built a
massive extension, mostly with the profits from our renovation
Anyway, the shelves are being moved, new
shelving added and of course, everything in the store is in a new or
a temporary location. What this means is one can't find anything
without either good luck or lots of searching. No luck and lots of
searching later, I ask Jean-Pierre for help. He's the guy from the
Brico's story of week 8.
Together we walk the entire store, each isle
from end to end. And we still haven't found what we are looking for.
Finally he asks a colleague and we get to an end of isle where there
is insulation for floors, but not the stuff I want; tre normale!
So I go to the builders merchant. They have
lots of different insulators, but nothing for under the floor. So
its back to Brico's, to buy the stuff I don't really want!
At least the floor will be warm.
Day 267, Friday 3rd December
Its getting close to Christmas and the Boss,
being kind and considerate (no, no, I really mean that!) is giving a
Christmas dinner for some friends, one of whom will be spending
Christmas alone. This means the pressure is on to finish the kitchen
tiling and the curtains on shelving.
So, while I have my head down tiling and
grouting, the Boss is preparing food. We've tried the grout in
several ways. Very thin and watery, thick, and in between. We've
used a grouting squeegee, a sponge and a cloth. None really works
well and we end up with grout on all the tiles as well as in the
Cleaning excess grout off becomes a major
time-consuming task. If we clean it off too soon, the grout is still
soft, and we wipe away too much of the grout in the gap. Leave it
too long and its hard and has to be scraped off rather than wiped.
This is a hands and knees jobs, slow and laborious. And it takes up
several more days, in between bouts of tiling.
Day 268, Saturday 4th December
The sun has come out, and its warming up
quickly. I'm getting bored with tiling and so decide to take a
break. We've got a small window in the lounge, which, with some
work, could be re-used.
I have removed it in one piece, frame and all,
and ordered and collected a sealed double glazed unit to replace the
non-existing glass. Double gazed units seem to me to be very cost
effective. This one is 17€. I spend all day in the sun, dismantling,
sanding, and rebating to take the thicker glass, and add some
outside oak to frame the glass and fix it properly.
A quick trip to the largest supermarket with
the Boss and I manage to buy a small "delta" sander for less than
10€. It will have been made in China, but their quality is getting
better, and at that price, I don't expect too much. It will help
finish the corners.
By the end of the day, we have a real window,
as opposed to the cardboard cut-out made by Steve on his last visit.
And here it is.
This is from outside (obviously). It's the
original real oak, with a little magic from me and double glazing
courtesy of Brico's
And from inside, before cleaning up the
surrounding wood and stone
Day 269, Sunday 5th December
And today a real day off. We go for a walk,
part on the road and partly on footpaths. Soon we'll be saying
goodbye to all of this for a while.
But things are moving on