Life in France

A not every day story of normal people trying to live their dream in France starting at the beginning and ending?

Thursday, March 31, 2005

I Failed!!!!

Damn blast etc etc. I have failed! I wanted to get the floor sanded down and varnished as well as the bathroom floors and stairs, well I haven't made it. The floor in the bedroom and at the top of the stairs was just to dirty and has taken far longer to clean than I thought it would. Another day on it and I could have finished it but I don't have that luxury as guests arrive tomorrow afternoon. I am starting this afternoon to lay the first coat of varnish on the floors in the bathrooms and then just before I go to bed I shall do the staircase. At least then they will have one coat and it will give them a bit of protection. If I get up real early tomorrow I could possibly get the second coat done but I have to have at least 6 hours for it to dry. Maybe it's worth a go, I will see how I feel in the morning at the moment I am knackered and need putting out to grass I think...... munch ......munch.....

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Spluttering and Coughing

Well we made it to the guy who sells the marble and guess what? Of course , we saw a piece that we really liked that just happened to be bloody expensive, 350euro's to be exact! That's for a piece 120cm long by 60cm wide!!!!!!! That's one reason I was spluttering. I suppose we could have just plain white or rose colour but now we have seen this gold/brown it would always seem to be a second choice. As with everything here we can have it in 15days, everything you order will be 15 days here. That's not to say that it will take 15 days, it may well be earlier but then again it could take longer. The 15 days just gives them something to say to you that doesn't sound to bad!!

We have also hired a machine to clean the floorboards to try and cut down the length of time that it is taking to do. Guests now arrive on Friday so I am really going to need the extra day to get the sanding finished today and the first and maybe second coats of varnish down. If I can do that tomorrow then we should be ok as I need 24hrs for it to dry properly before you can walk on it. Looks like the floor might be ready with literally hours to spare........

The dust is horrendous even with a bag on the machine, it is pouring with rain but I have to have the doors and windows open else I wouldn't be able to see anything. I am covered in a reddish coloured dust from the wood! So lots of cleaning up to be done as well before Friday.

Off I go again then........

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Walls OK!

You will be pleased to know that after my deliberations of yesterday that the wall is ok! or maybe you just don't care, anyway it matters to me as it means I don't have to clean the stones off again after all. They have dried out a little darker than they used to be but luscious pronounced them ok so that will do for me. The bathroom shelf I made from reclaimed chestnut flooring has also passed muster so all in all a good day yesterday.

Today we wanted to go and by some marble for one of the bathrooms to use as a washbasin holder and dresser surface. We rang the man up and in true French style when asked what time he closed this afternoon he wanted to know what time we would be going. On being told about 4pm he said that would be ok he would wait!!!!! (he actually should close at 6!!) Typically French eh? We also had to ring the estate agent on behalf of some English friends who are interested in buying in the region. We got the assistant who said that Madame would not start her day until 10am. Another example of how to be French. I used to get frustrated about it when we first arrived but now its a case of ahh well can't beat them so join them.

So back to work I go, varnishing today so perhaps I finish at 3pm to go to the marbier if he decides to stay open!

I'll let you know!

Monday, March 28, 2005


Ha not that sort of stoned, well I don't think so anyway. Perhaps you budding chemists out there can tell me, can you get high from inhaling the fumes from a mixture of turpentine and linseed oil? If so then maybe I am! This morning I have been using a mix of the above to seal the exposed stones in the wall between the bedroom and bathroom and despite the doors and windows being open (it's a lovely sunny day) the smell has permeated through the whole of the house. It has taken me the best part of two hours to do and now that it is finished I'm not sure that I really like the finished result! Maybe the oil will soak in a little more and dry a little lighter but at the minute it makes the stones look really dark and stand out far to much for my liking.
I suppose if it doesn't lighten up I will have to live with it or clean the stones back again......... Not sure that I want to do that all over again. Luscious gets back later this afternoon so I suppose I will wait and see what her view is. If she doesn't like it, then it comes off!!!!!!!

This afternoon is going to be spent making chestnut window shelves for the bathroom and bedroom.

Enjoy your Easter eggs, just got the 'cadburys' flake egg to eat now....... yummy

toodle pip

Sunday, March 27, 2005

All Pigged Out

OHHHH my stomach hurts, I think I have overdone the chocolate bunnies and eggs but what the heck. Who can resist a big handmade dark chocolate bunny made by our own chocolatier in the village. They are to just die for and his cherries filled with Kirsch and dipped in chocolate .... What can I say? It's just chocolate heaven.

But...... There's always a but isn't there? All things must be paid for and my penance for this feast of pleasure is to spend half a day with my hand stuck down the toilet system piping as I try to fix two new pipes in place for the new toilets to be fitted to. A wonderful job which I am pleased to say has now been completed. I just have to seal the floor now with a polyurethane varnish and bob's your uncle (or maybe he's not) I can fit the toilets. That will be all three upstairs done and ready for use. Now that is what I call progress! Given myself the rest of the day off to eat MORE chocolate... oink oink Happy Easter to you all.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Sunshine and Chocolate

The sun is out, the sky is blue and I have lots of chocolate to eat, ohhh yummy! It is of course Easter and the French with their usual mastery of holidays have declared today a "fermature exceptionelle" which means that it isn't an official holiday but what the hell it is Easter and we did work yesterday, we are not working Monday as it's an official holiday so we need a long weekend! Ahhh, what a way to live eh? I really am pleased that we escaped the rat race of England to come here. After nearly three years we have no desire whatsoever to return to blighty. The mayor even stops his car to talk to us now when he see's us. Maybe he only wants to see how the crazy English are getting on with rebuilding a house that they would find habitable in the first place or as is more usual we end up talking about the weather and the state of his cows and the new calves. Lynda thinks the calves are adorable and wants to bring some of them home until I tell her that in perhaps 18 months they are destined for the table! Oh horror in her eyes, she just wants them to grow up and live a full life and then go to cow heaven if they have such a thing. Not sure that she is cut out to be a smallholder sending her animals to the abbatoir and then getting the meat back and eating daisy or whatever she named them. I think it better to eat them as you know that they were well cared for by you and had a happy life as best as you could make it for them. Much better than some supermarket meat but that is a whole different issue.

Off to make myself sick eating all my chocolate bunnies and eggs..........

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

All's Well

All is well at the house of the French peasant. The window is done, the stairs are in so now its back on my knees again to clean the floorboards that were relaid. Have dug out the knee pads again, strapped them on and off I go. Only 25sq. metres to clean and they have to be done and sealed by next Wednesday as we have people booked in for the Thursday for four days which is good as it means we shall be earning some well deserved money by them staying. They have already stayed with us once before so know that the house is not completely finished but are quite happy with that and are looking forward to seeing what we have done since their last visit. I hope they think a lot has been done! I'm hoping to get the walls above the stairs plastered before they arrive it's a nice job to have done but not essential. The flooring takes priority. Having already started I can say that the colour is a beautiful deep reddish/brown and will make a wonderful contrast with the light colour of the ash staircase. Things at last are starting to come together, after 3 years we now have something that resembles a house once more!

Only we could take a reasonable house, rip the insides out, take of the roof and after three years be back to where we started if you see what I mean? A house with new floors, new roof and new electrical wiring and new plumbing. We like it though and we hope that our guests will as well.

Suns still shining, mice are afraid as the cat is back on the prowl so all's well with the world.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Still Here on Terra Firma

That's that done then. Back on firm solid lovely earth after an excursion up a ladder and finishing the job off by leaning out of the window and using one hand to hold on to the frame and the other to render around the top of the frame!! Not easy and my arms ache from hanging on real tight!

Thank you to all those people who have taken the time to leave comments, all very welcome and today I found out that I have earned 88cents on the google ad programme, hey hey not a fortune but it's a start I suppose. I might get enough for a beer one day so come on people click on those ads for me. It doesn't cost you anything and it helps me and leave a comment and I will return the favour. That's what its all about isn't it?
Day off today as we have to take the cat to the vetinary for her annual checkup and injections so she is in the house at the moment and can't understand why she can't go out and wander about as is her want. Think she guesses something is going on as her travel carrier is out as well, that normally means something is happening. The vet here is really nice and patient and the cat is usually very good so lets hope today she behaves as a lady should. The mice are out holding a party to celebrate a day that they don't have to watch out for her, she can catch and eat up to 5 of them a day, she's a great mouser although I'm not sure the mice would agree.

Off to get some lunch and a glass of wine so have fun and catch you later....

Monday, March 21, 2005

Closer to Heaven

Today I have to climb up a ladder to put some render around a window that the builder put in for us. It's only a small window in an end gable wall but it is about 25' above the ground. Now that may not sound very high to you but to someone that doesn't like heights or ladders at all it is a long way up! The ladder seems to wobble an awful lot and I have to try and hang a small bucket of cement render from it and then hang on to the ladder and fill in around the window. I have to do this as at the moment there is a gap all round the window that lets in water. I tried to lean out of the window to do it but as it is so small I couldn't lean far enough out to reach the gap! The walls here are about 3' thick which doesn't help either. Just going up the ladder to make sure it is ok was enough to get my legs wobbling a bit. Great brave person that I am I thought about closing my eyes but that's not much good if you are trying to work as well. Thought about using scaffolding but that would cost nearly 200 pounds to hire so it looks like its going to have to be the ladder. If I pass a rope through the window and tie it to a beam in the house and the other end to the ladder then at least the ladder won't move, perhaps I should do the same to me so if I do fall at least I won't hit the ground. I'll just be left dangling like a fish on a hook, so if you don't hear from me for a little while you know I will be on the end of a rope dangling 20' in the air admiring the view!

onwards and upwards then.............

Thursday, March 17, 2005


There in, there fixed, there usable! The stairs are fixed and we have at last used them. They are definitely not straight but as the walls run out by at least 4cm that's not surprising though is it? They are beautiful and hand made as well, we also have the beechwood flooring down in two of the bathrooms and they are just halfway through doing the third one. The old chestnut flooring has been relaid in one of the bedrooms and now they are doing the area around the top of the stairs (landing in English). Only one problem, there isn't enough old flooring to do the other two bedrooms but as I suspected this would be the case then its no great surprise. We now have to decide whether to buy new oak flooring or chestnut flooring. Suppose it depends on the price, I know oak is about 40 euros a square metre and we need about 40 sq. metres!!! Not sure about chestnut. I would prefer chestnut but hey, we will have to see as we don't have a bottomless pit of money, unfortunately.

Well, once again the sun is shining it's 30°c in the direct sun on the "terrace" but 18° in the shade so I am taking my baby for a ride in the sun to celebrate the new stairs and floor. ( baby = Harley)

Enjoy....... Its a lovely day tra lah

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

By popular request the stairs. almost finished just not fixed! notice the left rail leans a bit!

Stairway from Hell

As you can see perhaps from the title all is not well with the staircase. They are having a "petit problem avec le mur, il pas bien droit" great, what did they expect in a 120yr old house built out of natural stone and rock? Nothing here is straight or level! So we didn't get to use the stairs last night as only the top half had been fitted so it was up the ladder again! Today they are still having a problem and they have now gone for déjeuner not to be seen until 2ish I suppose.
The stairs are 90% in but I think the last 10% is going to take a little longer. Will we have them ready for tonight? gallic shrug, maybe we will or maybe not.

The sun is out again and I'm going to work outside. It's already 18° so they is good as it usually gets warmer towards three-o-clock. yippeee maybe after 4 weeks of sub zero temperatures springtemp has decided to arrive. Saw 5 deer in the field just behind us about 200m away. I'm pleased about that as I hadn't seen any for a while and was wondering if they had all been hunted. Thrush was on the menu last weekend at one restaurant. Not my cup of tea really I can't really imagine eating a songbird. Funny though, it is illegal to kill blackbirds. Funny laws the French have. ta ra

Monday, March 14, 2005

Stairway to Heaven

He's here! The carpenter and two assistants arrived this morning and they have the rest of the staircase with them and they have decided to fit it first! Hooray, I might have a staircase in place by the end of the day, I can't wait it will make so much difference to the look of the room. I will take some pictures for the records and if it is finished by the end of today will have a little celebration drink. I name these stairs and may all who use them use them safely!!

They also brought the beech flooring for the bathrooms which I hope they will start tomorrow all being well with the stairs of course. Other news, the cat caught another mouse today and tried to bring it into the house. I was just a little faster than her and she ate it outside the front door to the amusement of the workers. The boiler is still being temperamental but I have the solar working and the hot water is HOT (68°c) the sun is shining so I am going to eat my lunch in the sun on the terrace. Well it will be a terrace when I have finished it. At the moment it is just a sort of level pile of stones but it is in the sun!!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sunny Day

The sun is out the sky is blue and I'm stuck inside working. I had hoped to have today off as the carpenter wasn't coming until Tuesday and I was all ready for him, everything on schedule that is until Thursday when we had a telephone call from him. Is it ok to arrive at 8am Monday? MONDAY arrrgh help, I couldn't really say no as we have been waiting for him to come for 5 months now and you know how temperamental some French workers can be. If I said no then maybe he would come Tuesday but not finish anything as he only has a week so maybe the extra day could be a good thing. So with a smile in our voices we say; "of course its ok, not a problem see you Monday" put the phone down and then panic. I have to finish the plastering a day earlier and seal under the doors where the new floor is going as I can't get to them once the floor is down! On top of that the boiler has decided to play up again and is depositing fluid all over the cellar floor because a radiator has sprung a leak. That plumber is dead if I see him again.

At least I can have a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the sun later as a reward and can listen to the Welsh/Scottish rugby match on the internet so life isn't all bad.

toodle pip

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Michael Angelo

At last all the boards are in place between the beams in the roof above the stairwell. I have now finished the filling in of the gaps with a plaster mix and after a couple of days crawling on my knees and laying on my back to complete it I take my hat off to Michael Angelo. Just how did he manage to paint the ceilings of those churches? To spend all that time laid on your back balancing on wobbly scaffolding, give that man a posthumous medal he deserves it!

The carpenter is still set to arrive next Tuesday and so far I am on schedule to complete my work ready for him to come in and get straight on with putting in the stairs. That will be a real treat, stairs instead of a builders ladder. I can't wait. The sun has finally put his head out and the temperature is now rising and the last of the snow is melting away so spring might at last be on its way. Time to say farewell to the snowman...........

Sunday, March 06, 2005

snow at Le Gouty

Bonhomme de Neige

The weather has gone bananas. We have had temperatures down to -12°c and SNOW!! Lots and lots of snow. 20cm of snow is a lot for here, it is after all the south of France not renowned for the quantity of snow that it gets! The wind has caused it to drift as well and it has made some beautiful sculptures. The local council snow plough has been right up the drive to the front of the barn to clear the snow which is great. That would never have happened in England, they have a massive plough on the front of a go anywhere Uni-mog four wheel drive thingy.

Lynda wanted a snowman so that's what we did yesterday morning, this morning you can just make out a large blob where he was as the snowfall overnight has completely covered him in new clothes. The cat is loving it as well leaping in and out of the drifts. To think it's spring in a fortnight, you wouldn't think so at the moment though. The sun is shining so maybe we will take a day off working on the house and go for a walk in the snow later.

From cold and sunny France have a great day.