Rent  A  Traditional  Country
Farmhouse  in  South-West  France

Week 43

Day 281, Monday 31st January

We've struggled with the leak on the second toilet for too long now. Therefore the schedule of work is changed.

The first thing is install our satellite TV, which the Boss got as a Xmas present. Then, clear the lounge again ready for the floor and then finish the second bathroom completely.

Some time doing research on the Internet, and with the satellite dish sitting on the grass, propped up by a cool box and an old grout container, I begin. With a little fiddling, a long cable dragged from the kitchen to the dish outside and hey presto. We can now receive all the UK terrestrial television channels, plus a few news and documentary channels. Get the coffee on and we can now retire happily.

After lunch, while watching typically junk daytime TV, we go to a larger town, in preparation for the second bathroom. First, the bath and shower taps. As my French is getting better and better, finding what we need and placing the order is simple.

Tiles for the bathroom is a different store, but this too, as we know the type, is also a quick purchase. By the time we get home, it's time to watch soaps on TV. Its not moving the work forward, but it is novel.

Tomorrow, work starts for real.

Day 282, Tuesday 1st February



No, it's not in keeping with 1839, but it is on the back, so relatively unobtrusive!

I start the day by putting the satellite dish up permanently. The direction it points means it can be put up at the back of the house. Getting it up is not difficult, but then getting a cable through the wall, requires a masonry drill longer than anything I currently have.

I spend the rest of the morning trying to fix the freezer that has defrosted itself; unsuccessfully.

After lunch another trip to Brico's followed by a coffee. The longer drill does the job, but some of the stones in the wall are pretty hard. Now the fun part. I need to re-align the aerial. The Boss sits in the kitchen watching the test screen, while I try and get the dish pointing in the same direction as it was when propped up on the grass.

Each time I move the dish slightly, I shout and she shouts back, but the kitchen is too far from anyone up a ladder outside the back wall to hear what she's shouting. So it means a small movement of the dish, down the ladder, stick my head through the small lounge window and then shout. Then back up the ladder, another small movement, before going down again. What a way to keep fit.

Eventually, we have UK television again. We still have a cable dragged across the lounge floor and over the kitchen door, but that is only until the lounge is finished.

Rather than start on the bathroom the Boss spends the rest of the day cooking everything that has defrosted in the faulty freezer. I spend the time putting away the tools I've been using and which are now scattered all over the house.

Tomorrow, bathroom and some pictures to go with it.

Day 283, Wednesday 2nd February

Another heavy frost, but clear sky and a beautiful morning.

If you read week 38 you'll know that my digital camera went faulty after just eight months. I duly sent it off to the manufacturer for repair under warranty. They told me it was outside warranty as it was an ex-demonstration model. The cost of repair was more than I paid for it and more than the cost of a new one!

Anyway, they sent it back, "Without repair" and I had bought a new one. But the old camera actually now works, and clearly has a newer version of software loaded. Thank you Olympus. But don't you think they could have done this before I bought a new one? So using my faulty camera, here are the bathroom before pictures.


Looks more like a children's adventure playground, but give me a week or two!

Day 284, Thursday 3rd February

The weather is warmer and the sky is clear blue. Somehow, perhaps, I should have seen that as the calm before the storm.

The storm came when I had to pop down to Brico's for a particular size screw. No cash as usual, and can't find my credit cards. Somehow my credit cards always seem to be making the news. It's not unusual to loose them; only unusual not to be able to find them.

Half the morning has gone while we were searching, and after lunch we try Brico's to see if I had dropped them there, then the coffee bar. No success, which resulted in a quick call to my bank in England, to cancel all my cards.

My French card is already dead and awaiting replacement, so no issue there, and my Brico's loyalty card was with the lost ones. Now, the challenge is to get Brico's to issue me a new card, with all the loyalty points accumulated to date, transferred. That should test my French.

Back to work, rerouting cables in bathroom two. Why rerouting? Well, when I told Steve which wall to put the light switch on, my computer was dead, and I got it wrong! In addition, we have decided to add a heated electric towel rail in each bathroom. That means more wiring to French regulations. Oh joy.

But tomorrow, it will begin to take shape.

Day 285, Friday 4th February

It's the Boss's birthday today. Forget that at your peril. Therefore an early start, down to the flower shop with the Boss's credit card as I currently have none. Then off to get the croissants, and still be home before 9.

She ("Who's that? The cat's mother?") thinks as its her birthday, it means have breakfast, open all the cards, and then take it easy. Oh well, it only lasts one day.

The morning is taken up with another visit to Brico's. Some marine plasterboard, special screws for metal studs, and another 100 meters of plastic conduit. I've already used 2 reels 50 meters long. I think all this plastic conduit will make a great maze for the mice, who will be able to negotiate the entire house in the roof, walls or under the floor, without ever being seen.

In the afternoon, a friend brings the Boss a birthday card, but this doesn't stop me working on the "tongue and groove" on the first wall of the bathroom. The "tongue and groove" is actually thin sheets of MDF with grooves so it looks like real tongue and groove but is easier to install.

By the end of the day, the simplest wall is almost complete, with sound insulation in the gap between the two sides of plasterboard, the tongue and groove almost up, and all the electrical work approaching completion. I have not worked too hard all week, but I'm happy with progress.

Then, its out to dinner at a friends house. Lynette bakes her first sponge birthday cake.

Day 286, Saturday 5th February

Early start today, as I'm taking the afternoon off to watch the Six Nations rugby. That's what happens when you've got TV!

My objective is to finish the one wall that has the tongue and groove up. This I manage to do, as well as remove the sink and the leaky toilet. However, not without a challenge. The plaster I'm using seems to set very quickly, unless mixed quickly with plenty of water.

Too much water and you have to add more plaster, without getting lumps. Too little water and it "goes off" and one ends up with solid lumps. If you've ever tried plastering, you'll know that unless its nice and smooth, you don't really have a chance.

Now if we added a Sky subscription to our satellite service, we could watch all the lifestyle channels, and I could see how Tommy Walsh mixes his plaster.

Oh, and the rugby? Well France won against Scotland, but the match was dreadful and they did not deserve the win, and England lost to Wales and I might as well have been watching paint dry. So much for satellite TV.

Day 287, Sunday 6th February

Of course Sunday is a rest day. The weather is warm enough to drink mid-morning coffee outside in the sun.

After lunch we walk through the local woods. The wild primroses are just beginning to flower and we discover an old well in the middle of nowhere. As it's a "rest day", the Boss is gardening. I do the grunt work with the Boss doing the more refined stuff. The heavy work means removing elderflower bushes and another hundred weight of rocks.

Its a good work-out, and it shows just how much fitness I've lost while on holiday. By the end of the "rest-day", I'm cream-crackered, but the roast duck makes it worthwhile.

Tomorrow, back to indoor work.