Category: Spring 2009

Departure Day

1 Comment

It seems to have come around very quickly again but it was time to pack up and head off to Carcassonne for our flight.

We were up quite early for us 7am and had a quick brekky and then packed up for the next few hours before having a last shower and heading off. We said our good byes to Freddy and Daniella and gave them the ladders back before hitting the road.

We stopped at Mirepoix (well worth a visit) for a quick coffee break and then decided  to find somewhere with a view for our picnic lunch. We stopped at Faugenay and found a beautiful spot up by the church looking over the hills towards Carcassonne really stunning. A good picnic lunch and then on to Andie's sister's house who had kindly said they would house Vinnie for 3 months whilst we are back in the UK. Mark, Von's husband gave us a lift to the airport which was fantastic. Carcassonne airport is small and totally chaotic but Ryan Air were well ahead of time so we were back to Wirksworth by 8pm, a quick beer with Stevie who had picked us up and then it was a pizza at the local pizzeria and bed, both quite tired.

It is lovely to be back in some ways but we are loving The Pyrenees area, the barn and the opportunities it offers more and more.

Until Mid SeptemberBye

We had a leisurely trip 

Categories: Spring 2009, The Project

Big Clear Out

No Comments

Another overcast day so we decided it was time for "egg window surprise" Al did a fantastic breakfast of egg window and sautéed potatoes to keep us going. It was a good feeling to have no pressure for the last day and not having to run around like headless chickens getting things done.

Instead we gradually cleared out the inside of the barn of all the dead wood which will make good logs and we shifted any decent wood we had saved up onto the first floor. All of a sudden we have a huge space in the downstairs of the main barn which will be ideal for next time where we can work inside if the weather is bad. We basically pottered on tidying and sorting with bits of packing etc.

Outhouse doneOuthouse done 

A late lunch and then a final tidy up of the wood down by the river and I managed to tweak my back on the last lift of the trip. Left me on my back in the outbuilding whilst Al did the final last bits of heaving and burning.

We had arranged to meet Clive and Giselle for a quick beer and catch up at the bar and then it was back to the barn for a delicious Shepherds Pie before bed.

Categories: Spring 2009, The Project

Bits n Bobs

No Comments

Left the barn early to get down to St Girons. First stop was Annie's to drop off the cement mixer. She was a bit flustered, trying to get horses fed and animals sorted before getting to work. Then onto La Forgue to pick up some additional stove pipe bits. Lee had given us a small wood burning stove he salvaged from renovating his place. It's a beautiful Godin No 13 with the flue exit at the back so we needed another 90 degree bend. Next down to the town to load two washing machines with laundry. One with very dirty work clothes and the other with bedding. A quick coffee and postcard writing while the machines did their stuff and on to Mc Donalds for internet. We know exactly where all the power sockets are in the place now and so just plug in and set to without even buying anything. We even plug the batteries in for the cordless drill.

Lastly a bit of food shopping for the last two days before heading back to UK.

On the way back we tried to catch Annie at Pont de la Taule to arrange a time for a drink in the evening. We could not find her so left a note on her truck. What we did find was a lovely old arm chair outside a house with a sign saying "free – help yourself" (in French) so we did just that (at least I think that's what it read on the sign). Innocent

Back to the barn and the clouds started to roll in. As we were unloading there were a group of 3 youth banging in posts for the new donkey enclosure. Breezy had a couple of words as it transpired that they were going to put the fence straight through the middle of our parking area.

In between showers we fixed the ridge slates on the outhouse and ran around putting washing on and off the line to dry. A few odd jobs done and then we sat inside out of the rain brushing down and blacking up the Godin stove for an hour or so before meeting Annie at the bar in Salau.

Fresh prawns and aioli followed by Alder smoked trout fillets and stir fried veg and noodles.

Godin 13Godin 13 

Categories: Spring 2009, The Project

We have a slate roof and lights too!!!

No Comments

After a stormy night with thunder, lightening and strong very gusty winds it did not look promising for slating.

However, after brekky it had stopped raining so we decided to start and if it rained we would move inside and do inside jobs as such, but we were lucky it stayed dry all day and after a really lovely cool morning, it was a scorcher in the afternoon. We had reached over half way with the slates so we were keen to try and finish the slating today.

We got a good system going and by 2.30pm we had finished the whole roof and even if we say it ourselves, it looks FAB!!!!

It's finishedIt's finished 

It is amazing how quickly the smaller slates disappear onto the roof, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle fitting it all together but we are pleased with the finished product. We have decided to use slate as the ridge slates rather than zinc so we located a few long thin ones which we just need to nail in and we are done.

We had lunch inside as it was just too hot and since we were on limited supplies it was jacket potatoes so easier to eat at a table.

The afternoon we decided we would move into the outbuilding to live for the last few days so Al set too with rigging a simple lighting circuit from the solar panel which works yippee we have lights. We moved all the bedding into the smaller building and a table and we were ready for romantic night in our new abode!!!

The rest of the pm we spent tidying up the unused slate, pruning a few trees at the front and having a visit from Serge and Ginette who we rented the apartment from a while back. It was good to see them and show them around.

A well deserved few glasses of rose at the bar and then back to have pasta surprise and scrabble in our new pad and a good nights kip!!!!

I was slightly worried about falling off the mezzanine so Al took the drop side and was still there in the morning so all good. 

Categories: Spring 2009, The Project

Shifting stuff about again

No Comments

We were planning to get down to St Girons today to the market and get internet and washing done. The transhumance started at Seix at 6am and essentially meant that 2000 sheep and an assortment of ramblers would be walking up the narrow road to Salau to arrive about 9am. Not a great day to go down the valley?

We also came to the conclusion that we needed to find more slate before continuing with the roof. If we were to go on through the sizes and then found some larger ones we would not be able to use them.

First off we explored the other two derelict granges just down stream. Then we walked down to Françoise’s grange where we found a stash when we did the big roof. Lo and behold there was another big stash. We had to wait until the transhumance passed our place before driving down to the village to get permission to snaffle the slate.

In the meantime we shifted wood from the bridge up to the barn using the mucktruck and trailer.

Once the transhumance had been through Breezy got the OK to gather the slate and so wood was replaced with slate. We do spend a lot of time shifting heavy things from place to place. Once all the slate was in a pile at the barn all we had to do was to move it all again into piles based on size, wire brush it, shift it again onto the roof, arrange it like a 4m x 4m, 4000+ jigsaw puzzle and nail it in place. By the end of the day we were over half way and bushed.



Categories: Spring 2009, The Project

Solar pannel and slating roof

No Comments

Complete contrast to yesterday with fantastic sunshine.

Over breakfast I got all the solar PV components out to wire it all up only to find that the terminals on the battery and the battery leads supplied were not compatible. Boo.

As we have some cement spare which will mot last until the autumn we made a batch and capped the wall between the toilet and the main barn. What was a dusty random stone step will become a clean stable step that no longer spreads dust everywhere.

Off down the valley to phone Nigel (our solar man) to seek wisdom re the solar stuff and to check in for Ryan Air flight.

In the afternoon we started the slating, having graded all the slate we decided to clean (wire brush) each bit as it went on the roof. Working together we cleaned and then carried, arranged and nailed each row working our way through the sizes. At the end of the day we had between ¼ and 1/3 of the roof done.

Very hot shower from the solar bags and back down the valley for drinking water and to seek somewhere to put the van for a couple of months near Carcassonne. Spoke to Nigel who had a fix for our connection problem. Salau was busy with people getting all the preparations made for the transhumance over the weekend.

Quick drink at the bar and back to the barn for a pasta surprise.

Categories: Spring 2009, The Project


No Comments

A mizzly morning so we decided to get some small must do jobs done before thinking about the roof. Started with the fence around the veggie patch. Big tick!

Fitted the door to the outhouse and cut it up as a stable style door, fitted bolts etc. another tick.

In the afternoon we made windows for the three openings in the building. Tick!

Shower then down to Salau to make a few phone calls – nobody in so not very successful.

Veggie Plot FenceVeggie Plot Fence  The FenceThe Fence The Out Building DoorThe Out Building Door It's a Stable Door too!!!It's a Stable Door too!!!

Categories: Spring 2009, The Project

Great walk

No Comments

An early start and picnic making as today we went off for a walk with Ian and Lee. Met up at the mines and set off from there for 2 hours of steep uphill to Cap de Ruos overlooking Spain. Great walking weather with sun, clear skies and a cold wind. Having gained the col we ventured along the ridge for another hour to have lunch on the top of the mountain.

Fantastic views over the snowy lakes of Spain. On the way down we had an explore into a variation of the valley we ascended and saw 4 Izzard. Well deserved beers in the café.

Word games and an early night.

On the Way Up  On the Way Up  And more... ElevenseesElevensees  Breezy and AlBreezy and Al Smile know you want to...Smile Al…you know you want to… Lee, Ian and Al at the ColLee, Ian and Al at the Col Windswept at the topWindswept at the top EspanaEspana It was freezing up thereIt was freezing up there Lee and Mont Rouch in the backgroundLee and Mont Rouch in the background

And more…



Categories: Spring 2009, The Project Tags: Tags:

Slate snaffling

No Comments

Woke up to sunshine which was great, always much more motivated with a bit of sunshine.

Had brekky in the sun and then set to on giving the floor a quick sand and varnish which did not take too long, looking good, we are both pleased with how the outbuilding is shaping up.

We then headed down the valley to do a couple of errands, lots of recycling and the tip en route to collect some slate nails from Clive. No luck there as Giselle had not been into town yet but is going in the next couple of days which is great as it will save us a trip to St Girons before Saturday.

We then went on to see Lee at his place he is doing up in Pont de la Taule as he has a few large slates for us which we are in need of for the roof. He is cracking on with his pad there and it is beginning to take shape. We snaffled some slates and a sink too, thanks Lee. We had a cuppa and planned a little walk tomorrow with Lee so hoping the weather stays good and we can go and explore a new area up from the mines which Lee knows. Headed back up the valley for lunch at the barn after unloading the slates and sink. Delicious chick sandwiches in the sun again.

We decided to finish the veggie patch as it looked like the rain was going to descend on us later and leave the second coat of varnish until later, so we carted a good few loads of the compost to the veggie patch and dug it all over. Next on to fence building in an attempt to keep the donkeys out, not sure it is boar proof as I am pretty sure if the wild boar want something in there the fence will be uprooted by them, trial and error we will see. Only got half way through that before giving up as we seemed to be getting eaten by mossies which was a shame.

Another quick sand and varnish of the new floor and that is now finished. Always good to get something completed.

We have also decided that we do need to keep on top of the pasture land we have or it will get overrun by trees. So we attempted to start on clearing the new saplings by the river as a starter, but again gave up after the mossies followed us.

Hot showers and beef curry for dinner.

Categories: Spring 2009, The Project

Generator & Flooring

No Comments

A full day was planned for today as Al was very keen that we should try and get all the flooring down in the outbuilding, mezzanine and main floor. Although small, these things still take time. Al was very patient whilst we went through how to floor again and I set to upstairs whilst Al started prepping the downstairs with batons ready for the flooring to go down.

We fired up the generator which went all day. Thanks Dad, a really lovely pressie and it will get a lot of use, we will think of you each time we use it, I am sure. We had the generator running in the workshop which was great which meant as we could not hear it, made working much more pleasant.

Thanks Dad the FAB generatorThanks Dad the FAB generator  Finsished the floor and a finished Breezy too!!!Finsished the floor and a finished Breezy too!!!

A late lunch and we had the mezzanine done and the batons down, backs beginning to ache a bit too!!!

The challenge had been set and by 730pm we had got the rest of the floor down and it looks great and creates more light in there as well, quite transformed from a few weeks ago when we arrived, almost habitable!!!!

By the time we had tidied away and put dinner in the oven, had a shower etc etc it was 10pm we were starving so raost chuck went down well. A quick game of “Dicewords” which is a game Dad gave us and we are just getting into it, makes a change from Scrabble. A few more layers on the bed as it was still quite nippy and bed by midnight a late night for us!!!

Categories: Spring 2009, The Project