Sunday, April 18, 2010

Renovation update - the story continues!

I've not posted on here since the last Knit Your Square update, but a lot has been going on - in fact, a lot more, thanks to the arrival of my mad-but-strangely-loveable brother-in-law who drove all the way up from the south of France (about seven hours on the road) with his lovely 11-year old son,  to indulge us with  his excellent plumbing and tea-drinking skills!  After a long journey, he threw himself straight into helping around the house - well, he had to if he wanted beds for them to sleep in! 

First photo shows last week's renovating (wrecking?) team - a husband on the right and a brother-in-law on the left. They were far more professional in action than they look here!

Apparently, my favourite mug was the perfect tool to keep one of the copper pipes at the right height!  The rather strange floor tiles will eventually be replaced with something a bit lighter and a little more contemporary.

This arrangement under the sink was much admired by the men, and I was instructed to take a photo of it - German engineering at its best, I was told. Me? Well, I was more interested in having something coming out of the taps.

The chaos continued outside the house, too.  This photo shows the trench that had been dug out to re-route our water supply. As the road was being upgraded, the water company decided to do the water works at the same time, to save disrupting the new road surface at a later date.

This is the view from the back of the house showing where the road has been widened - they have still to lay the final surfacing material, but it's already a great improvement on the bumpy track that was there before, and has been well-used by the local children; at last, somewhere for them to use their wheels - of the bike, scooter, and roller-boot variety - without falling down a pot-hole!

One of the water meter boxes that will eventually be hidden from view - well, I hope it will; it's hardly the most attractive of garden features.

An unexpected surprise just outside the back door - some lovely violas that had seeded themselves from a pot I had planted last year.

Well, this is just a little update on things around here - more to follow soon, when I've scraped a little more of the inevitable dust away!  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The chaos continues - but we're getting there!

The work on the house is in full swing, although we took most of yesterday off and went to our favourite patisserie for lunch, sitting in the sun on the bandstand in the local square, then taking in a vide grenier (the French version of a car boot sale) before coming back for a snooze before dinner.  A good relaxing day to set us up for the days ahead. 

In the morning, one of the Husband's brothers (the other one is staying here for the week to help with all the plumbing!) came up with his wife on their beautiful  Harley Davidson trike - I'm the one in the driving seat (but I wasn't allowed to drive it!)

The plan today is to replace this horrid, ancient, too low sink with a brand new unit with a brand new shiny Franke sink!  I shall be so glad to see it go, not least because the previous owner had his bedroom in the dining room next to the kitchen and I always imagined him using it for all the wrong reasons if he couldn't be bothered to find his way to the bathroom - it's at that convenient height for a man!
All that will be a distant memory later on today!

I haven't had time to do any relaxing crochet lately, but I will try and get some done today, if only to keep me sane while the renovation work continues.  The great thing is having my brother-in-law around - he's a much better labourer than me, and he plumbs, too!  His 11-year old son is staying here with us, too, and he's been helping me with my French and running errands to earn some euros, so I shall take him shopping with me this morning.

There will be chaos outside the house, too, because the track running alongside our house is being widened and resurfaced - the work will take around two weeks so our quiet little hamlet will be a hive of activity, but it's all going to improve life out here, so will be well worth the hassle. 

Well, that's all for now from this little corner of France.  Of course, I shall be posting a photo of the new sink later!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A break from the madness that is renovating!

Early evening sunshine as we made our way out for a meal - the kitchen being completely out of bounds seeing as how the guts have been ripped out of it!  Photos to follow of the currently-not-very-kitcheny-kitchen - when the dust has settled!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Antics in the attic!

Well, progress IS being made up there.  One beam has been removed and replaced, and they've decided that the beam that was going to be left in place should be taken out, too, so the workload has doubled but I'm glad they've made that decision.  Fortunately, the room is empty of furniture so they can make as much mess as they like at the moment!

This is the first beam to be removed. It's been propped up by timbers then cut into sections between the props - the easiest way to remove it. 

The sections of beam being thrown out through the window! Not as scary as it sounds - the house is on a tiny track with no passing traffic and only one more house to the side of it, so no-one was in danger.  The sections have been stacked up in a barn opposite the house.

This shows one end of the new (steel) beam that has been bricked in at each end.


This shows the other end of the beam, and the acro props holding it up while the cement sets around the bricks.

This shows the section of unsupported (!) roof where the second beam has just been removed.

More timbers stacked at the window reading for throwing out.

This shows a piece of the old beam that has been cut to fit into one of the  sound beams in the room  - the timber was so straight, it was crying out to used.

Well, that is progress so far.  I haven't posted pictures of all the mess on the floor -  preferred to ignore that bit!  The end result of all this will be a huge bedroom with no obstructions and no risk of the ceiling caving in on anyone, so will be more than worth all the effort and expense.  I hope to be posting photos of the finished room at some point over the next couple of months!

Thanks for reading - I bet you're all glad it's not your house!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Help - look at my attic!

Well, work is well in progress as I type.  The first photo shows one end of the beam which goes right through the thick granite wall to the outside wall.  It has to be dug out at both ends. The second and third pictures show  how it  is being held up, by a combination of acro props and thick timbers.  The idea is to cut the beam out in sections and the upright timbers will hold each section up.   I have no idea what will happen next - it seems daft to ask the men  how the roof will stay on until the new beam is put in!  The last picture shows the mess on the floor - glad it's not me doing the work or the clearing up after!  I'm equally glad we emptied the room first!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April already!

Long time, no post!

I don't know where the time has gone but I think it's about three weeks since I last posted, apart from to add the fantastic running totals of our Knit Your Square to Give Your Share group on

Much work has been going on in the house and outside. This floor has been laid (apart from one tile that has to be cut round the staircase - Brother-in-law is coming to stay next week and will bring his special cutting tool to cut that last tile; I think we'll turn it into a sort of topping-off ceremony!).  My poor bookcase has been in every room of the house, I think.  We've had to move it yet again because it was in the way of the next project.  It contains about a quarter of my books - eventually, I have been promised a proper library arrangement to house them all but, for now, they crop up in various spare corners just waiting.....I'm longing to get them sorted once and for all.
This is the 400-year old beam that is being removed and replaced this week.  It is splitting dangerously and is currently being held up by acro props and timbers.  The room is in the attic and will eventually be a huge bedroom-en-suite which will easily take a double and two singles, ideal for when the family come to stay.  The windows look tatty at the moment but, with their wide reveals and sills, will look really good when they've been renovated.  In this room, besides the beam needing to be replaced, part of the roof also has to come off - all this is being done from tomorrow.  The attic was only ever used for storage in the days when the house was a working farmhouse. It had a rickety outside staircase as the only access, but we have put in a new staircase and landings - which meant breaking through the ceiling of the floor below and lowering the walls to increase the height of the doors - all very technical but, as one of my brothers-in-law is an architect, not too difficult to achieve!

These are the only windows at the moment but we will be adding a Velux window in the roof to let in more light during the day, and to see the stars during the night!  You can just make out the old water pipes - these are being removed this week as we add to the central-heating system up here.  The electrical wiring has all been installed - it just needs fixing once the rest of the work has been done.

We spent most of yesterday emptying this room of  boxes and spare furniture ready for the roofing work to be started.  For a change, I'm not going to be helping - we have the professionals in for the week.  I shall just keep the cuppas coming! I shall also be refurbishing myself -  I have a visit to the hairdresser planned, then a visit to the dentist and, as I'm not being called upon to assist, probably some retail therapy, too!

A Bit of the Woolly Stuff

I've also managed to fit in some crochet.  I have lots of squares crocheted, most of which need blocking, so photos will be posted when that's done.  For now, here is a photo of the lovely pattern book that Mrs Twins (see link to her fantastic blog in the 'Blogs that I Follow' sidebar) kindly sent to me, along with two balls of the most beautiful yarn in white and a lovely leafy green - it's called  Cygnet Silcaress  and is wonderful to work with. I've teamed it with a pink to make a square for Mrs Twins Blankets for the Elderly project, and something else as a surprise which will be revealed later when it's finished.

I've also made some rabbits for the grandchildren because I can't really send Easter eggs through the post - the ears were all tweaked after the photo but before they hopped across the English Channel - I hope they liked them!

Well, the sun has been shining and things have been going on outside, too. We've heard our first cuckoo, as well as the noisiest woodpecker we've ever heard here.  The swifts are gradually returning from their winter holiday in South Africa - they will stay with us until September when they will have raised their babies and taught them how to fly for their next winter holiday.  The local commune is tarmacking the track that runs through the hamlet and alongside our house but, sadly, they've had to fell two very old trees on our land to allow for widening the road to allow for emergency vehicles - this photo was taken in the rain, from our drive,  and reflects the sadness we felt at losing the trees. On the plus side, they were very old trees and may not have survived many more gale-force winds, and they will become a good source of firewood! You can see that the track is desperate to be upgraded - we have to wheel our wheelie bins along it - come rain or shine - every week. We're hoping that the widening will allow the dustcart to come to us, rather than the other way around!  Luckily, we have two entrances to ur property, so we shouldn't get hemmed  in while the work is being carried out.  The widening and re-surfacing starts on 12th April, and will include re-siting our water supply, too.

So, as you can see, I may not have been on here much lately, but there sure is a lot going on! And now I need another cuppa!  Hope you are all having a wonderful Easter.