Category: Summer 2015

Running Repairs

Time is just zooming by. We agreed before we got down to the barn that we would not be going hammer and tongs this year. We wanted to get the barn finished but not on a mission. Having said that we seem to be cracking on at our usual pace and not getting much chill time. This is not all bad as we should have the bedrooms finished before guests arrive.

So Saturday was spent getting a lot of the damage from snowfall a couple of years ago fixed. The outbuilding chimney is back up as is the vent pipe and fan for the composting toilet. In the afternoon we built frames for the partition walls downstairs and fixed up how the area under the stairs was going to transform into a wardrobe. In the evening we went down to the village for a drink with Rene and Anouk at the Auberge. A cheeky glass of rose and a meal before heading to bed with an alarm.

Sunday was a bit of a continuation of the previous afternoon using up all the random noggins of plasterboard we could find to build the bedroom walls and fix in a reclaimed window to gain more light from the stairwell into the green bedroom. Supper was spice crust salmon fillets with a sweet corn salsa. Though palatable neither of us would be desperate to have it again so you will not see it on the menu at the chalet.

Categories: Summer 2015, The Project

Pic des Trois Seigneurs et Etang D’Arbu

An early start as we had a walk planned for today…

Main criteria was no more than 700m vertical, start high, good views and some water to flop in.

I managed to look at the maps and come up with a plan near Massat just over an hours drive away. Stunning drive over via beautiful cols to our start point of Port de lers at 1517m.

We had a steep climb up for 40 mins to reach the ridge line and then it was gorgeous ridge walk with some very easy scrambling up to the summit. Amazing views and luckily some wind too. It was 40 odd degrees.

We had a lovely picnic at the top, and pieced together the sky line to our barn and beyond which was fun. We are gradually beginning to get to know this part of the world.

We had a steepish descent with some scrambling best not done in wet weather! To the lake. Thought about a dip here but carried on down.

By the time we reached a small river about 30 mins from Billy, I was in it. It was so hot it was crazy and no wind. Straight under, even Al got his feet wet too!!

We then had 30 mins give or take on a small path back to the col.

A really fun loop which I know we will be doing again before too long.


Categories: Summer 2015, The Project Tags: Tags:

The last few days

Tuesday 30th June

We have promised ourselves we will not go flat out this year and take things a little steadier…..

Forecast is for a heatwave for the next 2 weeks so outdoor jobs need to be done early in the am before we over heat!

Main jobs for the day were to start strimming the pathways and terraces which are all somewhat jungle like. To unpack and remember what we have and have not got. To go collect the new batteries from the auberge and stock up with water and to get the fridge working, with the temperatures predicted we are going to need a fridge!

After breakfast on the terrace, strimming and a little unpacking we headed to the auberge. Had coffee with Rene and Anouk, collected the 2 very heavy batteries and headed back up to the barn.

Managed to get both batteries carefully balanced on the muck truck and up to the barn. That was good but having the wrong connection cables means we cant link them together yet which we should really do to keep both batteries running at the same level. So Al managed to get enough power from the old battery to get the fridge running and we will survive without lights till we get the right cables. Bit of a pain but not the end of the world.

Hot hot showers, needing to add cold water to the solar bags and then a lovely roast chicken and salad for supper.

Weds 1st July

A VERY windy night, solar panels had taken a tumble and the wind kept gusting all day.

We did an hour of strimming before brekky and raked up most of the grass from the back terrace at the same time.

Enjoying our breakfast on the terrace. The new table, chairs and parasol are perfect for the 2 of us and will get loads of use.

We cracked on with sorting out the veg patch after brekky and it was really not too bad after a very good weed in May when we were here last. Lots of things have taken, potatoes, radishes, broccoli, beans, courgettes, red and black currants, goose gogs, etc etc. so hoping we can enjoy what we have planted in due course.

It was so hot we moved inside to start building the door frame for the green bedroom. Lack of power tools stopped that after an hourish.

We finished the day with planting some new veggies before having a salad for supper.

Thurs 2nd July

SHOP day…..Al did a quick strim session whilst I got sorted for things to take down the valley a quick brekky before heading off with our long list of things to do.

We stopped at Seix market on the way and collected some plants for the garden.

The usual fly around and try to get all done before midday and everything closes.

Collected the generator and it works a good start, materials from the DIY shop, laundry in, food shop, bought the scythe that Dad had given Al as a birthday pressie last year. Then back up the valley stocked up on lots of water and then unloaded in time for a late lunch at 3pm.

Hung all the washing out only for the wind to gust so much that it snapped so all washing now strewn all over the terrace trying to dry it!!!!

Delicious prawns and aioli on the terrace.

We prepped the toilet flue which broke last year but decided it was too hot to put it up and too windy to climb a ladder so will wait till it is cooler and calmer tomorrow.

Dad had given us some curtains he had found which Elsie had altered for us, we put up a rail and got them in situ look great and fit perfectly so thanks Dad!

Al made some meatballs and I made a spicy tomato sauce to go with them which was a nice change.

Friday 3rd July

It seemed a bit cooler and was really blowing a hoolie still so we thought ideal time to do the dreaded bracken, which we had got under control but not being here for 18 months it has gone a bit wild again. Al tackled it with the scythe and I wielded the brush cutter. One. tank of fuel and we were almost there, could not believe it. Hard work but after brekky we just decided to crack on and get it finished as there were so few horse flies about with the wind making it much easier work. Had enough petrol to finish off back terrace and around the log pile one big tick off the list! We had both been dreading the bracken……

With this constant wind we have attached the solar panels more securely to the crates out the back so hopefully they will not tip over again.

We really want to finish one of the bedrooms before the Breese gang arrive so after a yummy chicken and crouton salad we managed to get the door frame up and in place and the corner post also sorted. It all went far too smoothly. Helps having a generator that works and power tools which are charged up! Looking good.

We have been on a healthy eating and no booze since we got back but as it was Friday and we were pleased with progress we thought we would have Rene and Anouks bottle of champers on the terrace with homemade burgers and a new very delicious lentil salad recipe with cumin, spinach, mango chutney and some other weird things but it worked. Enough for 4 people but none left by the end of the night. I had made a rhubarb and almond cake which was still warm and we had that for pudding. Perfect finale to a lovely day.

Categories: Summer 2015, The Project

We’re Back!

A long day of travel. Ken kindly dropped us at East Midlands for our flight to Carcassone. Mark and Von who had very kindly looked after Billy for us for 7 weeks collected us at the other end and we landed to hot hot weather…..

After cold drinks and chat with Mark and Von we headed back to the barn with a stop for food supplies on the way and then a stop to say hello to Rene and Anouk.

It was then up to the barn for about 8pm. We had a fabulous surprise of a bottle of bubbles left by Rene and Anouk to welcome us back so we saved that for when it is chilled in the fridge. All looking really good, within the hour it looked like home again, we had a lovely salad for supper before crashing. Lovely to be home.

Categories: Summer 2015, The Project

Early May stint at the Barn

New look lounge

So after packing up the chalet, loading up Billy (the newer VW van) with more stuff we headed south to the barn. Had a stopover on the way south to break the journey from Chamonix, which was great made things very easy.

After not getting here at all last year we thought we had better stay with Anouk and Rene at the Auberge for a couple of nights as we had no idea what state the barn would be in. That was great to be able to crack on with cleaning up the place and sorting before having to move back in for 10 days. Also meant we got to catch up with Alison and Peter for dinner one night too.

Lovely to be back at the barn especially as the weather was so great too.
A quick resume of what we did in our short time there…..
Pleasantly surprised that it was in a pretty reasonable state, a bit of mouse action but generally all OK.

Clive had been up and sorted out the gutter for us out the back of the main barn.
The gutter plus, toilet flu and outbuilding flu had all come down in a storm last year so that will be on the list to do first when we get back.

Main problem was that the solar battery was totally dead so it was candlelight suppers and bed early. Al did manage to get the fridge going with just enough power which made life a great deal easier. We managed to use the outbuilding battery for internet access.


One of the main jobs we wanted to do was sort out the garden and plant as many things as possible for our return end of June. We got some lovely rhubarb out of the garden and made some jam with that too whilst we were there. Fruit bushes all looking very healthy, loads of red and black currants on their way, goosegogs looking healthy, alpine strawbs galore in the wall and hopefully some rasps later on.

Planted lots of things in the garden, broccoli, spinach, beetroot, courgettes, onions, beans, peas, salad, herbs and even some carrots! why I am not so sure!!!!!  Hoping when we get back that some will have taken.  So a little bit of digging and planting daily made sure it was all sorted by the time we left. Hot sunshine made it great to be out in the garden.

Generator also not working so that curtailed a few things. That has gone to St G to get fixed so hoping again when we get back that we can pick it up and that it works we will see!!!!

Used up some old varnishes and got the outbuilding terrace re varnished much needed. The other 3 terraces also need doing.

Steps built from old staircase salvaged from Chamonix so now we can get from the main barn to front terrace easily.

Strimmed all the pathways and back terrace gradually so that will not be totally wild on our return. We are still expecting it to be quite wild though!

Roses have survived well and hoping the clematis also comes back to life so a few hours sorting those flower beds out.

Assembled a wardrobe which came from Cham to fit in the red room which is now nearly ready for action.

Made some more battens for the compost heap from old forklift pallets.

Caught up with lots of folk, Alison and Peter for dinner. Up to Clive and Giselles for dinner one night, drinks at the bar and saw lots of the locals, had a catch up with Henri the Mayor. Coffee with Ian and Nina, a visit from Hans as he was walking his dog up to the cascades. Great to have a walk with Anouk as well as some chit chat time before their season goes crazy busy.

Managed to get some good walks in too.
Cascade D’Ars with Anouk, really stunning with all the snowmelt at this time of year. Cirque D’Anglade looked great too plus a walk up to the Cascade Bege to see the huge avalanche up there.

Lots of good food, drinks and cards on the terrace before candlelit dinners and early to bed perfecto!

So we got quite a lot done in the 10 days we were there and now will look forward to getting back come end of June so we can hopefully finish downstairs this year…..we will see.

In the meantime we have 2.5 weeks in Mallorca, a wedding in the UK and 3 weeks in the UK to catch up with friends and family all good fun.

Categories: Summer 2015, The Project