Rent  A  Traditional  Country
Farmhouse  in  South-West  France

Week 50

Day 326, Monday 21st March


What a difference a day makes? Its cool and overcast. However that's no excuse for not working.

The morning is taken by cleaning the grout from the wall tiles. We've used a pre-mixed grout and eventually the tiles are clean, but the grout has shrunk. It leaves the grouting looking uneven even though its not supposed to shrink.

I try grouting them again, but it does not go on smoothly. Oh well, on a Monday, something has to go well. The search for the leak is it. I had not done the shower hose cable up and Spencer had tried to wash the bath using the hose attachment. Hence the water through the kitchen ceiling.

In the afternoon, its a bit of plastering to put right the bits I've messed up on previous attempts. Louis, the 82 year old neighbour comes over for coffee in the afternoon. And he brings chocolate biscuits. I like his style.

Before the work day ends, its silicone around the bath, to limit the water getting to the floor the next time we have visitors.

And then its homemade beef curry for dinner while watching a fantastic evening sky. It's a hard life

Day 327, Tuesday 22nd March

It rained hard overnight, but only for long enough to give the ground a light soaking. Because its greyer than normal, I wake up later than normal.

After a bit of work in the gulag, finishing of the final bits before the ceiling goes in, I run out of tile cement with only two tiles to go.

lavenderThe sun is trying to come out. That means it back to outside work. The Boss is planting the things bought on Sunday. I get on levelling the next bit of the mound ready for grass seed.

Some friends want a few stones. While collecting them, I spend a while removing the largest rocks from the area where there is still the remnants of a collapsed extension to the house. The ground is extremely uneven, however removing the worst of the rubble, or some of it, is the first step to levelling this part of the garden.

After a late lunch, we go to Richard and Lynette's with a boot so full of rocks that we have difficulty getting up the hills. On the way home we go past Brico's to get some tile cement. Then I have to light the wood burner, as the Boss is cold. It's the first fire for a week.

Put up the last tiles, grout the dry ones and that's it for today

Day 328, Wednesday 23rd March

The Boss isn't feeling too well and stayed in bed for the morning. That meant I had to work outside so as not to make a noise. After breakfast, its warm with some sun, so I'm back to clearing rocks.

The pile gets bigger, and I find an assortment of steel reinforcement, some of which still has concrete attached. The largest of these I can't even move. With the help of my SDS drill (a poor mans pneumatic) we make lots of noise and dust, but don't manage to break up the chunks.

This comes to a halt when the top of the drill falls off. I try and collect all the bits from amongst the grit and soil, and save the repair job for another day.

Later in the afternoon, we go into town to post a few letters, and buy milk and bread. For the first time for quite a while,  we stop for a coffee and sit outside, counting the British holiday makers arriving for Easter.

They are very obvious in Brico's, walking around like they're lost, and usually buying paint or plants. On the road, we divide them into a few groups. The 4 x 4 brigade all have top of the range "off-roaders"; Beamers, Mercs, Range-Rovers and the occasional Shogun. The "Year in Provence" brigade all try and look French, but wearing Chinos and designer shirts is a dead give-away.

You see, living here has made us feel superior to those with holidays homes, even if they do have two houses to our one!

Day 329, Thursday 24th March

 I really enjoy most of what we have been doing here, but tiling is the bane of my life. The grout on the bathroom walls is different to the stuff we used in the shower in the first bathroom. Its pre-mixed and shrinks as it dries, making several passes essential.

Almost a whole morning is spent cleaning the excess grout, and then putting a second layer over the areas that have shrunk and cracked. The two beams that are above the bath, may well get wet when the shower is used. We are using clear lacquer to preserve the colour of the wood, but protect it from the damp, and these get their second coat.

In the afternoon, as its nice, I collect all the dog deposits I can find in the garden, which makes for a big plastic bag. This easily outweighs all the tons of dog and cat repellent we have scattered around. However, it seems to me the more ground we clear, the less the dogs trouble us. Just another half acre to clear of rocks, level and plant on and we should be free of them. Ha.

A light drizzle in the afternoon, forces us back inside. The Boss is baking; the real reason why I'm overweight. In preparation for homemade oatcakes, a workout is necessary. The bathroom door needs to come off, to shave a little off the bottom, so it opens and closes freely.

It's a workout because the door has to be carried downstairs to get it outside. Once trimmed, carry it up again, lift it over the banister, try it and carry it back down, for the second attempt. Several trips make for a good workout.

And the final bits of wood trim are fitted, making lighting and ceilings, the only thing remaining. But weather permitting, tomorrow is woodworm treatment.

Day 330, Friday 25th March

The sun is shining, so what else can I do, but work inside? After breakfast, we open the cardboard and plywood "windows", to get some breeze through the house. I am about to treat all the bathroom beams for woodworm and want the place well ventilated.

The Boss goes off to do the weeks shopping, and I don mask, protective glasses and rubber gloves. Slapping the treatment onto old beams, brings a lot of junk down. Bits of old rotten wood fall off, years of accumulated dust are washed off and trying to do this, overhead, without getting the chemicals all over oneself, is tiring.

The answer is frequent tea breaks in the sun. Typically, the Boss gets back while I'm in the middle of a tea break, just sitting enjoying the view and the sun. After lunch, we are keeping away from the woodworm treatment fumes, which are claimed to be odour free. I'm sure that doesn't mean safe.

Outside, we collected all the accumulated building rubbish and make a trip to the dechétterie; the rubbish dump. You have to live in the right commune to make use of the dump, but the guardian knows us by now and does not ask where we are from. Then we go off to buy some porous membrane for the vegetable patch.

While out, we dropped off our spare dustbin at Charlotte's to collect more horse muck. We are told, that cow muck is better for vegetables, but one has to use what is available.

Maybe the Easter bunny will bring me an egg in the morning.

Day 331, Saturday 26th March

 We are supposed to be setting out the vegetable beds later today, so I'm saving myself by taking it easy in the morning. And thanks for asking; yes, the Easter bunny did arrive and left me an egg but no croissants!

Although the sun is out, it gets cloudier as lunchtime approaches. After lunch, we start to gather the boards for the raised vegetable beds however the farmer is spraying his fields. We retire inside while this is taking place.

By the time the spraying is finished the sky is dark and just as we go outside, the heavens opened. And that was our gardening for Saturday. Instead, the Boss and I start the undercoat and primer of all the woodwork in bathroom two. Of course before we start I have to clean up, removing tools, vacuuming the floor and cleaning all the drips of woodworm treatment.

And then we open the first can of Dulux paint, so lovingly transported from England. We managed to undercoat most of the woodwork, except for the bits around the sink and toilet, where I will have to free them from the wall.

After dinner, I can't bear to watch any more rubbish on TV, so I retire to the bathroom and finish undercoating.

Day 332, Sunday 27th March

Its still raining and with a bit of wind, water is coming through the parts of the roof, which are yet to be worked on. Back to moving buckets about to catch the drips. The clocks went forward so although I didn't get up until 10 o'clock, really its only 9, so I don't feel so lazy.

We are going out to a friends for a late lunch. Therefore not much point in starting anything heavy.

A good lunch with red wine and by the time we get home, its still raining, but just time to see a Bruce Willis film on TV, before bed.

Tomorrow, on to week 51