Tuesday. The lock of the front door seized up with the key stuck firmly in it. After repeated attempts to remove it I settled for leaving the key in the lock overnight and bolting the door from the inside. Faced with having to break the key off and replace the whole thing, we levered the key with a screwdriver and it gave way and came out, slightly bent but still usable. We removed the lock, doused it (I don’t think that is too strong a word) in WD40 and I wrapped it carefully in a towel in my handbag, like a puppy. Today, in LeClerc in Limoux, they cleaned the lock and cut 2 new keys for 21 euros and it is working again. Not only is this cheaper than buying a new lock, I was able to easily re-fit it myself without damage to the door, and we can keep the beautiful original lock. Not to mention that my handbag is much lighter!
The meeting with the builder was a real mix of good and bad news. Yes, the roof will be very expensive (though hopefully less than he originally quoted) but also yes, the house is actually pretty much structurally sound. The ‘sound’ bit was the last thing I had expected. He reasoned that the 400 year old beams are still supporting the weight of all the original floor tiles, so they are strong and we shouldn’t worry about a bit of movement. There’s logic to it, and he demonstrated his point by jumping up and down on the spot several times where I want to put one of the extremely heavy and apparently very humorous ‘baignoires anglaises’
Buoyed by this news I started removing the hideous 70s-patterned fabric from the walls of the Club Room (see remnant hanging right of photo – this awful material was covering every wall, right up to the ceiling). There are 3 or 4 layers of paper underneath before I reach the plaster, but it is encouraging so far. It would be lovely to be able to get one room looking presentable fairly soon, so that we could use it as a kitchen-diner, somewhere to have a cuppa and a sit-down, or even a glass of wine. Yes, that would be wonderful
I think I’ll have to settle for painting over the wainscotting. It is going to take forever to strip back this ‘brown stuff’, and then I’d probably paint it again anyway. But under the fabric wall covering was a fascinating glimpse into the thought process of the evil genius who decorated this one room, back in 1970-something:
‘Normandy Grey’ by Little Green would look a treat with the floor tiles and fireplace. It would certainly be more restful than this, but I am letting my imagination get ahead of things. Back to reality, I have to meet the electrician and the plumber tomorrow so that they can also scare the bejesus out of me, but tonight I am shacked up with a baguette and a very nice cheap bottle of red wine. Outside il pleut, in our house il pleut aussi, but in this apartment il fait tres chaud..
(smiley face, smiley face!)