Rent  A  Traditional  Country
Farmhouse  in  South-West  France

Week 55

Day 355, Monday 25th April

It is still raining and its really grey and dark outside. Makes me feel quite at home!

 The bathroom is finished! It's been cleaned, "dressed" (although I've seen it undressed) and I have my orders. Wipe my feet before entering, any splashes anywhere and there'll be real trouble, and any dirty marks around the sink, and I'll either be eating out for a week or not eating at all.

All we need now is a visitor or two who can tell us the rest of the house is the pits, but the bathroom is a sanctuary in all the madness. Now what should I do?

Its time to start using the "lounge" as a workshop as its still too wet to work outside. The kitchen needs some shelves on the wall and as the wall in question is plasterboard, its easier said than done.

Anyway, the cutting of block-board goes ahead in the "lounge" putting sawdust everywhere.

Tomorrow, I'll have to clean it all up!

cycling, running

Day 356, Tuesday 26th April

We are going to concentrate on the lounge as Clyde arrives in just under two weeks. We hope to have the floor laid and I'll have some sockets live, even if there are no lights yet.

If you read week 42 you'll know that I've used self-levelling compound in the lounge to get a level floor on which to tile. This is not cheap, but should have saved me time later. I say should have as its cracked and lifted in a few places.

The first thing I'll have to do here is remove the cracked expensive self-levelling compound, dig out some of the cement underneath and fill these areas in with a screed, levelled by hand. This I do, while moving the things that are in the room, around so I can work.

Before the screed goes down I use a strong mix of PVA which should ensure the screed sticks to the layer underneath. PVA, a little more diluted goes down on the rest of the floor to ensure the tile cement sticks properly.

Later on, the sun is out and maybe the weather is starting to change for the better. That gives me an opportunity to do a little work on the kitchen shelves in the sun. To end the day, a little plastering in the "lounge" just to keep my skills polished!

Tomorrow, electric under-floor heating and tiles.

Day 357, Wednesday 27th April

 Time to start tiling the lounge. This time, I'm not going to make the same mistake I made in the kitchen. We'll start with a straight edge.

The straight edge is one of the rails used in preparation for putting up insulation and plasterboard on the north facing wall. This goes down first. Then, the first few runs of under-floor heating get laid out.

The under-floor, gets laid out and sticks to the floor which has just been swept and vacuumed, to make sure it stays stuck. 

After the first tiles go down, a visit to the builders merchant is needed to ensure we have enough tile cement to finish the room and we get some more metal studs in preparation as well.

As its a warm and sunny day, we stop for our first beer sitting on the pavement in the sun. By six its still warm enough to wear only T-shirts.

By the time we stop work, my knees are really sore despite the knee pads, but the first line of tiles are down. I'm leaving all the cut tiles around the edge for last.

 And tomorrow, more of the same in  the morning anyway.

Day 358, Thursday 28th April

The Boss is off to work early; well, early for her. That means I start work earlier than usual. And its more of the same. On my knees, back bent, and it's hard enough to make me sweat and of course take frequent tea breaks.

 The sun is shining again and it seems to be getting warmer each day. Both the under-floor and the wood burner have been redundant for several days. However the down side is the grass is growing faster than ever. Soon we'll be joining the fugawee tribe (and if you don't know about these, call me for more information).

After lunch, its French lessons. One more person arrived than last week, but still most decided to sit in the sun rather than sit in a classroom. Anyway the room is air-conditioned making me very comfortable while the Boss freezes.

Its funny how the lessons go. There are times when I feel my brain has gone walk-about. I just don't get it, at all. Then suddenly something clicks. Is it me, is it the teacher, or is that just language learning? Despite not talking too much between weekly lessons, I feel we are making progress.

By the time we get home, its too nice to start work inside, so I decide to mow the grass. Well; the grass between the front door and the car at least, so we can walk to the car without having soaking feet by the time we get there.

Using a decrepit hover mower, on long, coarse grass and uneven ground, is better than any workout. And now we have a path through the jungle to the car.

Day 359, Friday 29th April

 The sun is shining and its going to be warm today. The Boss has talked me into going shopping with her; I must be going soft. First, I put down another line of tiles, which takes most of the morning.

Then, off to a larger town a little further away, where there is a very large supermarket, and also a good tile shop as we will soon need grout. While the Boss wanders around the store, I go and arrange a "carte de fidelity"; a loyalty card.

In the car park, we get approached by an Australian who must have seen the British registration on the car. He has done 16,000 miles around Europe in a camper van and he is just heading back to the UK, where he started his journey. Mind you, he took a year doing it.

Then to the tile shop, but they don't have coloured grout. So just time for a coffee in the sun, and then home again. It's too late to start tiling again, so the lawnmower gets another airing, to fight back a bit more of the jungle.

At 7:30, we're sitting outside, and it's still warm, and a deer emerges from the woods to find some tender greenery just on the edge.

I suppose there are worse places to live.

Day 360, Saturday 30th April

It's croissant day! As I have to go and pay some cash into the bank for some friends who are away, I might as well buy the croissants. I buy the usual four. The Boss, being very good, eats only one. As they say, some one has to step up to the plate, and I force myself.

Then, we jointly get back to tiling. Today, we try mixing the tile cement in the cement mixer. Its harder than I thought to get the right mix. However, once the mix is right, adjusted in the wheelbarrow, I put the cement down and the Boss lays the tiles and puts the spacers in.

thornless blackberry




It looks a bit insipid! But trust me, it will be a blackberry bush, supported by the invisible wires!

The cement runs out just as we reach the end on the first roll of under-floor heating mat. After lunch, as its hot and the sun is shining, we decide to do some outside stuff. The vegetable patch gets dug over again, and another load of sand and ash added. But it still needs the cow manure the farmer said we can have, but he's not around.

We work over the compost heaps, and plant the thorn-less blackberry, which is growing too big for its pot. We also put up the posts for support wires and I'm looking forward to the apple and organic blackberry pies!

Just time for a glass of wine in the sun, a shower, and then we are out to a local restaurant which has an Indian evening on. If the Boss agrees to drive, I do like a beer with curry, especially if we are sitting outside and its warm.

Day 361, Sunday 1st May

Well the curry place was fully booked, so we ended up with a pizza. C'est la vie! Next time if its Saturday night, we'll book.

Having given up on mixing tile cement in the cement mixer, we decide to mix it in the wheelbarrow. This proves easier and we actually get a reasonable number of tiles down before running out of cement.

Thank goodness for that, but the shops are open tomorrow morning