Life in France

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

Monday, May 30, 2005

Falling towels

Yep the fine weather has come to an abrupt halt. It is throwing it down with rain and the temperature refuses to move above 19° quite a difference to yesterdays temperature of 36°!
So, no work on the infamous terace but as luck would have it another job in the house came up this morning. Luscious had just taken a shower before going off to work and was just hanging the towel up on the towel rail when THUD! the bloody towel rail has partially fallen off the wall! That sodding plumber is bloody useless. The three brackets that are supposed to fix the rail to the wall have never shall we say been level but they have have now pulled out of the plasterboard and the towel rail is sort of hanging by its screw ends and supported by its plumbing!

To the rescue, i can't just screw it back on to the wall, oh no, that would be far to simple. The screw fixings have pulled great chunks of plasterboard out as well. I have to support the radiator, take off the brackets and refit them with stronger fixings in different places and then repair the damage done by the old ones which were not up to the job.

Bloody typical, then perhaps i can get on with the job that i wanted to get done or at least partially finished today the rendering of a wall in the bedroom. It's never dull here eh?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Terrace cont....

The continuing saga of the Terrace. The damned thing is taking bloody ages to get sorted and finished but after my shopping therapy of Wednesday it is slowly edging closer to a sort of ending. At last the whole area is dug out and the part of the wall of the house that is going to be covered by the terrace has been rendered and waterproofed to stop the rain seeping through, that's the plan anyway. The outer shuttering boards are in place and I now just have to finish putting in place the four dividers and we are systems go.....That is after I have put back in the rocks that I dug out to provide the hardcore base for the concrete! Always is it thus, you move stuff from one place to another and then back to where it started from. Does this mean that I am not organised or is it just one of those little things that is set to always happen in life?

So plan is finish dividers today, break up rock for hardcore and sort out sand/gravel/cement for tomorrow to start mixing the concrete... About bloody time too only got four days left to finish it then it is holiday time yeee haaaaa then wedding anniversary and then the carpenter comes to put up the balcony. Another milestone in the rebuilding of Le Gouty......... Off for a cold beer as it is 40°c ( 104°f ish) out where the terrace IS going to be!!! sluurrppp

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

OUCH, sore wallet

Another wonderful day in paradise and as the sun is shining so brightly I decided that I needed to get some retail therapy. Sort of but not really. I needed to go and buy the timber for the shuttering on the terrace and the breeze block thingys to make a small wall as well so with borrowed van off I trundled. Well, you know how it is with boys and their toys? I couldn't resist a large pair of bolt croppers just right for breaking and entering, a sharp chisel set just incase I need to slice a finger or two plus lots of shiny bits for the piping in the house plus some pretty coloured tubing to run the electric cable through in the garden and under the terrace! Grand total for this little outing? 200 quid eekkkk bloody hell!

On top of that little sum I also did the household food shopping for luscious as she is very busy at the moment attending a course 30 miles away. She gave me a list of things that I HAD to get which I may say I got. Yep, I got everything, trouble is a few extras fell in as well like the 85% cocoa chocolate and the large chocolate chip cookies. No idea how they got in! Oh, yes I forgot about the chocolate cream cakes as well. I think you may see a pattern developing here?
In all that added another 100quid errr as well as the 12 bottles of cabernet sauvignon, 2 bottles of Muscat and the lonely bottle of vodka. Not sure what luscious will say but I DID get everything that was on the list..........

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Mission Accomplished

At last, the terrace has finally been dug out and is now ready for the next stage which involves wood, hardcore and a spirit level. If you drink the spirit then eventually everything looks level well at least from the ground it does unless I fall upside down but that would be just too confusing. Luscious helped on Friday to finish the digging out and sorting of the stones/rocks that have been dug out in the last few days!

Today the guests that arrived on Friday evening have departed so its running around now putting bedding into the washing machine and cleaning up again. After two days of playing mine host and cooking dinners for four and socialising until 2am and then getting up to get breakfast at 8am I am going to watch the rugby this afternoon at a friends over a beer or two. Toulouse v Paris should be a good match as long as Toulouse win!!! So, off to hang out the washing on the Siegfried line and to wander off to the neighbours.... toodle pip

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I didn't Get It Wrong

Honestly I DIDN'T!! Jean-Luc has Not turned up with his tractor thingy but it is not down to my poor French, he has been busy on his own farm with the sheep and has to dig out somebody else's land first. All this has taken him a lot longer than he thought it would ( normal for here) and so he hasn't as yet got around to me! That's ok except that I need to have the terrace dug out by tomorrow as I have plans to lay concrete next week so I am back to the chain gang method. This involves a pickaxe,shovel and a wheelbarrow and hard work in the sun! Still, at least the sun is shining so that is I suppose something except perhaps it would be nice if I could turn it down just a little. It is very hot working out the back at the moment but then again that's why the terrace is being constructed where it is so that we can relax in the sun. At least it proves I am digging it out in the right place. I am sweating buckets and I think I must be losing more weight as the day goes on. I keep drinking to replace lost fluid but it just seems to leak out even faster. Perhaps a beer or two tonight when it cools down a bit would be in order, just to replace those carbs that I lost today! Honestly, I don't think I sweated this much when I was running marathons and ultra distance (80 & 100 miles) but then my memory is fading as I grow older........Why DID I run those distances? Perhaps I was evading capture or something or it just felt good when you stopped, like hitting head on brick wall......Bit like working here somedays! TA RA

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Baby No.2

It's Not The Size That Counts

Well, at last my hand has returned to its normal size and everything bends as it should! That was one powerful little bee sting. As we sat at the table eating lunch the other other evening luscious was watching me struggle with the fork due my my swollen hand, she sighed and looked at my hand and said; "do you think we could market bee sting venom as a product?"
errr pardon says I.
"well, if it makes your hand swell up like that perhaps it could be used for other parts of the body"
After all this time is she trying to tell me something? I suggested that the honey could do the same thing without the pain, you know, spread it on and lick it off but that's just perverse...But then again.....

Ahem, the bees gave up 4.5kg of honey for which I thank them for their generosity and in celebration I took out baby number two for a ride! yeee haaaa

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Heavenly Nectar

Now what's the old peasant rambling on about? If you have never had the nectar of flowers you don't know what you are missing. I mean HONEY, no not that rubbish you buy in shops that has been mixed, refined and then things added I mean raw, natural honey straight from the hive, give or take 10 mins! it is divine!!!!

When we bought the house we inherited 5 ancient bee hives, some with bees and some without. The hives themselves were fashioned out of hollow tree stumps! We managed to save two hives and moved them from the back door of the house to a location a little further away. Unfortunately only one hive now exists as the inhabitants of the other have decided to move out. No idea where to but I hope they are happy. Anyway today myself and a friend moved the bees into a brand new house which meant that we had to empty the old stump of the honeycomb. I have got a bucket full of comb which I have been opening to let the honey drain out. I have had to stop though as unfortunately I was stung on the back of the hand and now it has doubled in size and I can't bend my fingers. The bee has had it's revenge I think.

it is all worth it though as the honey is just ........ Oh words fail me.
truly you should all go out and find your nearest apiarist (beekeeper) and get them to take you out with them so you can taste real honey just once in your lives and then you will see what I mean, it's a taste from heaven...mmmmmmmm

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Maybe, Perhaps

Hmmm, it is now Thursday and no sign of Jean luc! I know that he said this week which still leaves three days but.. Maybe.. Perhaps...Possibly I have not negotiated what I thought I had and he isn't actually coming to dig out the terrace or maybe he is but he doesn't know when or he has seen me digging out the edges and thinks that I am doing the whole thing on my own and don't need him anymore? Thinks........ Best I grab him next time I see him driving past to tend the cows! I really don't want to dig out the rest by hand as well. Although only 36m square it not a huge terrace it still amounts to a LOT of wheelbarrow fulls, roughly 6 cubic metres of soil/rock to move. No no no I definitely don't want to be doing that! Perhaps I could "borrow' some TNT/semtex or whatever they use these days from the local quarry? Now there's a thought.

in the meantime back to rough rendering the wall in the lounge so I can plaster it next week while looking out the window to try and catch jean luc. Maybe I should just take my chair and a couple of beers and sit at the roadside waiting? That sounds a much better idea.....

Monday, May 09, 2005

What lovely rock. 8" removed and ready for concrete when rest done!

Chain Gang

Now I am not so sure that getting to dig out the rock to level the terrace ready for the concrete was such a winner. Although Jean Luc will be coming with his little digger it can't cope with breaking up a bed of rock so I have been doing that part by hand ably assisted by a pick axe and shovel. It is bloody hard going I might say. The terrace is about 20' long by 10' wide and about a third of it needs rock digging out to a depth of about 8"! The sun is up and the temperature is around 30° I am stripped to the waist wearing shorts, safety boots and a kepi to keep the sun off. Now there's a sight to make you laugh. My only crime was to make a mistake with the magnolia paint, does it deserve this kind of penal servitude? I don't think so! M. Peasant I sentence you to ? Days of rock breaking after which you will put some of the broken rock back to make a base for the concrete to be poured over. Remember if you fail in your duty you will be given a pair of concrete boots to be forever stuck like a statue in the terrace. arrghhhh nightmares.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stay Of Execution

I am still alive, I don't know how or why after the the great magnolia fiasco! You can be sure it is because something else needs doing though and not my charm, wit and humour that won the day. My penance is to go to numerous DIY stores in the company of luscious and look at paint shades to see which one is suitable to overpaint a one and a third wall covering. I can't keep the one complete wall that was painted correctly as the two walls HAVE to be the same colour as "it just wouldn't look right and 'cos I want it the same" said luscious. I am in no position to argue so I accept my fate.
He He, it has been put off for a week as I have to get the terrace dug out! Tonight I have successfully negotiated with our neighbouring farmer that he will come over with his tractor and bucket next week and scrape out the soil thereby saving me 300€ (200 quid!) in hire charges and a lot of hard work! He only wants enough to cover the cost of his diesel. What a bloke eh?
All I have to do is tidy out the edges ready for the footings for the retaining wall. yeeehhaaaaa result! At least that is what I hope I agreed to? Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Hands up it was me!

ERRRR ooops ahhhhh errrrr. Damn, ok it was me! I confess your honour but I didn't mean to do it honest. What have I done? You may well ask. Big cock up but I don't think luscious is going to believe me, there I was resigned to painting the walls MAGNOLIA and getting the brushes and the paint out I began. Now, so far so good except for one tiny problem........ I was never much good at maths and calculating things and the end result now is that I have one and a third walls painted and I have run out of paint!!!!!!! It appears I have more square metres of wall than paint and more wall than I thought. Normally this wouldn't be a great problem you just go down to your local super DIY chainstore and buy another 20 gallons of the stuff except.... You can't buy magnolia paint in France, they just don't do it. I have searched the colour charts and have even taken a small painted sample in to a place that mixes it for you. They can get a shade that's close but it is NOT magnolia! Luscious is never going to believe that it was an accident and I didn't do it deliberately I am doomed.... Please let me have a full English fry up before my execution.......

Monday, May 02, 2005

Up with the Gods

Another day of sunshine, we are to get another horse!!! He arrives next Sunday so that will give us 8 to exercise so lots of riding in the evenings to come. Have worked out some routes that will take us from café/bar to café/bar and return. You get the general idea by now.
Until then I am at the moment back to perching on planks of wood placed across beams 25' in the air so that I can finish painting the ceiling above the stairs in a lovely crisp clean white. Having now finished that part it is time to seal the stone wall with a mix of linseed oil and turpentine.....smelly! After that it is painting of walls, the colour of course is going to be Magnolia!!!! I just sort of knew that that would be the colour, I did proffer an argument against and suggest alternative colours but to no avail. Perhaps my choice of colours is slighty off the wall as I happen to be a little colour blind! The choices I thought were ok met with a definite NO WAY from luscious but that's the way it is so I had better go and prepare the walls ready for the magnolia onslaught. Perhaps if I mix it with a different shade she wouldn't notice? I'm not that brave.........or stupid!!! toodle pip