The week promised to be more constructive as the bathroom and bedroom began to take shape with walls, ceilings, electrics and plumbing being considered whilst the sun smiling strongly in the courtyard garden forewarned us of rising temperatures heralding thunderstorms and warm, welcoming rain! The working Monday ended with a frolic in the River Anglin to cool down.
Then home to Captain Sensible's version of Salade Nicoise, an important task of baking bread, a myriad of low level domestic duties, piano practice, search for materials, and a 'catch-up' on writing! Did I say I was tired? NO!!!!!!! The weather then deteriorated with necessary rain accompanied by thunderstorms and wind.
We met an absent neighbour who appeared today in their barn next door. We discussed the problem associated with the higher level of ground on their side of our wall which is above our internal floor level. I like French people because mostly they are always very amicable... donc, voila! ... we have permission to dig a trench to replace the soil with gravel to help the walls breathe, mais bien sûr we will leave it neat and tidy and evacuate the rubble! Later in the week, this proved to be difficult.... one foot below the soil level is cement and sometimes higher so no wonder the wall by the chimney breast was very damp! Drills are insufficient --- we have to hire a specialist tool to dig away the cement.
The top layer of stringy brown wallpaper revealed the paper firmly stuck to the plasterboard below. It looks like it will be a long and painful endurance test to expose the bare walls. Several soakings with water and washing up liquid then using the steamer kettle seems to make the paper easier to remove even. Little by little we will achieve!
The 'sheds' have been swept so we can store the 20 or so bags of used and dirty sand generated from blasting the beams which look so much more friendly. Eventually it may just get sprinkled on the garden.
The chaps are about to start plastering the ceiling between the beams having completed the prep work. Their backs are taking a toll from digging ditches, distributing rubble in puddles in our lane, cutting a door hole in a French breezeblock wall and reaching high to the ceilings. I am enormously grateful, I really am.
My level is that of a skivvy and remarkably it brings me enjoyment to provide coffee, tea, lunch and sometimes cakes or ice-creams but more importantly to sweep the site clean, several times a day. Sanding woodwork is not so pleasant ... but I am ready to lift buckets of rubble, problem-solve and add ideas for project management. I am not confident with buying bathroom furniture, nor considering where the electrics should go, nor calculating tiling or paint, but over the last 12 years I have become well-used to house renovation and the inside of DIY stores. My patience and interest has had to grow. I fully respect builders in ways that I know my colleagues never did. So many people in the UK appear to criticise builders - but in France the artisan is respected. A builder has to be intelligent in order to create a house of beauty out of inflexible materials; he has to be strong in mind and body; he also has to endure dusty, dirty and unpleasant conditions. And they make jolly good cooks!