Category: Spring 2008

Last Day

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A grey day so we shelved the plans to walk up the Cirque D’Anglade. Instead we sorted out packing and cleaning the gite. Took a few things up to the barn to leave here and make the place secure. Back to the gite for lunch and finish cleaning.

Ready for the next installmentReady for the next installment  Blue flowersBlue flowers

The van is now packed and ready to leave first thing in the morning. Time for a drink!

Nine o'clock came with a knock on the door from a man in the rain. Lo! The composting toilet arrives on the last night, in the pouring rain, in the dark, three weeks late. Managed to arrange to store it in the Mayor's garage and we went to bed. 

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

Wine and fois gras

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A leisurely start with sunshine. Restarted the fir and loaded up the mixer to return to Annie’s place.

En route we called by the skip and scavenged some underground conduit which will prove useful later (a habit I get from my parents, Breezy is slowly getting the hang of it). Then on the way through Couflens we saw that the major’s car was outside his office so called by to ask a couple of questions. Apparently we can’t put a lockable gate on the bridge as the Association Forestière et Pastorale need access, when we asked about reroofing the small outbuilding in front of the barn he said to just go ahead and don’t bother with a permit. Lastly said that we had requested a phone line be installed by France Telecom.

When we got to Annie’s she wasn’t there so we had to negotiate the narrow foot bridge carrying the mixer on our own. Then up to Clive and Gizelle’s for a brew and to drop in the money we owed Gizelle for some shopping she did for us in St Girons.

Back to the barn to check the fire then we started attacking to brambles and nettles outside the front where the big wall has collapsed.

Where grey water tanks are to goWhere grey water tanks are to go  buit up wall at the frontbuit up wall at the front   Rebuilt wall at rearRebuilt wall at rear   Pipes and conduit out of the annexPipes and conduit out of the annex   Last box built into rear wallLast box built into rear wall

Finished the day with a bottle of wine and some fois gras outside the barn.

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

Last of the cement

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You guessed it! It rained!

Again rekindled the fire. Determined not to waste the cement and ballast we persevered with mixing concrete. This time concentrating on the walls on the river side of the barn. Part of the rationale for wall building is that at some point in the future we will have a load of digging to do in the main bit of the barn before laying a concrete floor; at this stage we will then just tip any earth out of the front door to backfill the walls.

Finished the cement, what a relief, no more incessant petrol mixer noise.

Got on with a few small jobs like fixing a new lockable bolt to the main door and reinforcing the back of the door.

In the evening we went over to Eke and Cecile’s for a drink and cake, a lovely couple in the village. Learnt loads about using chaux (lime) in buildings as well as options for sewage solutions.

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

Heavens Opened

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 First off, rekindle the fire to burn more waste wood. With about half a dozen bags of cement left over and a load of ballast we searched for places to use it. Having dug stones out of the inside wall under the gable end window we cemented in a slab of slate as a step up to make access easier. Then we started rebuilding the walls behind the barn using up some of the concrete to make them more stable. More rain off and on through the day prompted odd breaks. Louis came to visit about 3pm and scared both of us as we didn’t hear him approach over the noise of the cement mixer. Finally the heavens really opened promoted a manic half hour of activity to use the mix, pack away and return to the gite soaked to the skin and cold.

Annie showed up at 5pm for a showed, a drink and a meal to help us finish off random food before we depart.

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

Unstable Weather

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More unstable weather threatened in the morning so we tacked more of the outdoor jobs that could be dropped at a moments notice. Started off by lighting a fire to get shot of the wood not worth keeping and chainsawing more beams into logs for the wood pile. Also cleared random piles of rocks generated when we were building walls up to meet the roof in the autumn.

By the end of the day the whole outside looked cleaner and less like a building site.

Clive, Gizelle and the kids were over for a BBQ early evening (which got rained off – what a surprise). Ended up using the stove and eating indoors. Great to catch up with them although very tired when they left.

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

Productive Day

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Guess what…??? It was raining again when we woke up. So we planned the day to get the last bit of the back wall sorted. Full steam ahead when we got there and we had an excellent day, the rain stopped for most of it which was a bonus so we got loads ticked off the list of things to do before we leave on Friday.

We managed to get the back wall all sorted by 1pm ish which was fab. The pulley system to get buckets of cement up saved lots of time. With the left over cement we filled in the outside holes where we have the pipes coming out of the annex and a few holes inside the building too. We had also started a fire to get rid of the rotten wood which burned easily all day and cleared up another pile at the back of the barn.

Lunch in the sun about 2.30pm and then just as we had decided to tackle the wood pile, the heavens opened….so we sorted out the security of the gable end window. It is now very secure with bolts both into the slate slab below and the beam above as well as the previous central bar. We hope this will deter petty theft.

The rain stopped and we finished off clearing the wood, chopping it into logs and stacking it to dry out for use at  a later stage. The final challenge of the day was to get a HUGE rock out of the ground at the back and on to the old wall. It looked like it was going to take ages but actually only ended up taking 15 minutes.

We retired to the bar covered in ash, saw dust and cement for a quick drink before back to the apartment for food, scrabble and bed.

The most productive day yet, at least I thought so.

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

Still Alive

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Still alive after eating puffball! Blue sky morning so Breezy and I decided to get up, get our arses into gear and get stuff done up at the grange. Breezy started off by painting the ironwork of the bridge with hammerite while I got the strimmer out and tackled the nettles and brambles at the front of the barn. Salvaged a load of big rocks from under the nettles and started reinstating the wall at the front of the barn until I trapped my left hand under a huge rock. That will learn me.

The bridge is now green and looks loads better; hopefully it will last loads longer too.

After lunch we tackled clearing the old timber from the roof from around the building. Piled up the rotten wood and boards to burn and got the chainsaw out to log up the decent wood. Quit the barn about three to get into St Girons for a few errands.

First port of call was France Telecom to try and get a phone line into the barn. They were really helpful and filled in a web form there and then. Hopefully we will hear from them before we leave to arrange a visit and sort out a devis (quote). We have found out that the nearest place with a phone line is about 500m down the valley and a friend had a line put in over 600m and the bill was 90€. That was a couple of years ago but we live in hope. Apparently if we had a bill for services at the property over a three year period then the commune is obliged to give us a CU (certificate of urbanisation) which means that we can legally live there.

Next stop some DIY stuff then a bit of shopping and lastly internet in the car park of a hotel where we can jump on their wifi. Back at the gite before eight; a bite to eat and bed.

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

Sun Sun Sun

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We awoke to see the sun shining which was great news. We decided to head up to Port Salau for a walk something we have been trying to do for ages. We got a text from Lee saying he had the same idea so he swung by the gite at 10am and we headed off.

We had a lovely walk up to the col, Lee knowing the area well and being a fund of information re the area on the way. Lots of alpine flowers out too which was fab. We were lucky enough to see 3 alpine foxes and 3 issards.

When we got to the col a couple of hours later, the wind was a bit nippy so we did not hang around for too long but had a look into Spain and lots of adventures possible from here. We did wander a bit further up to the snow where Lee continued on to grab a couple of peaks and we trundled down for lunch in the sun.

We got back to the van after a leisurely walk back and Lee and Eric then joined us for a beer at the bar. Eric is living nearby and is a tree surgeon so he could be very useful contact for us. He also knows a good water diviner in the area so we have his contact details too. Something to tackle in October when we are out again.


It was a fantastic day to actually be able to get out into the mountains, fresh air and exercise and see some of the beautiful area we are in.

Al found a “puffball” so he went and saw Adam to see if we could eat it for supper…he said yes…so Al is preparing it now, smells delicious we will see.

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

Chris left for the airport

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Chris left for the airport at about 5:30 am.  We heard nothing!!!

We woke up to blue sky, which inspired us to get going, a very pleasant change from all the rain we have been having. On the way up we filled the trailer with more stones for filling in the back wall. We cracked on with filling in the second box in the back wall, which actually seemed to go quite quickly.  Al sorted out a rope to haul the buckets of cement up which made life easier. Lee popped in to see the place as he had only seen it from the outside. Also Daniella’s parents popped in to see the progress as they seem to be on holiday whenever we are down. They don’t speak English so conversation was limited to sign language!

By lunchtime we had finished the middle section of wall and set the last box in place ready to finish off tomorrow all being well unless the sun shines and we get out for an explore.

We spent the afternoon attacking the back outside area, mainly tidying up. We shifted a lot of the broken slate to infill where we are going to put 2 grey water tanks just behind the larger of the outhouses.  We trimmed the over hanging pine tree, shifted the rest of the ballast down to the front door, and removed the set cement from the grass where we had been preparing cement  last year.

Headed home at 5ish and pottered about, very nice!

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project

More Rain

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Guess what – rain again.

Left early as we had the VW booked into a garage in Seix. Vinnie has had a knocking near the drivers wheel when you turn right for ages but it is slowly getting worse. Dropped of the wood at Annie’s on the way and on to the garage. Took the guy for a drive and could not get Vinnie to knock at all. He had a look anyway and could not find anything wrong. Don’t you just hate it when that happens!

Picked up a couple of things in the local store and back up to the barn. As we had the trailer on we snaffled a load of big rocks from a bit of a land slip by the side of the 4×4 track then carry on with building the wall around the boxes inside. Got really cold and retired to the gite in Salau to warm up.

We were invited out to dinner a couple of valleys away with Lee who got in touch through the blog. Had a fab evening and met another two English couples. Really interesting company and chat about buildings, permits and adventures.

Categories: Spring 2008, The Project