Half Woman, Half Squirrel

Digging up treasure

The image on my phone was captioned: ‘Would you like to explain yourself?’

img_0532I could see his point. At almost a metre across, these four aluminium light shades are ‘statement pieces’. I hadn’t slept well the night after Baz went home back in February, leaving me alone in France, I had been wide awake early the next morning and went on Ebay …

Yes, I’ve used fairly similar excuses before. Several times

The squirrel gene has kicked in. There are plenty of projects to get on with and the longer spring days should allow me to dig them up to work on. I can barely wait to get home from work tonight to get started

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The shades will eventually look great in the kitchen. (Once we have a kitchen, that is)

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These are just some of the little ‘bits’ that came with the shades

This pile of accessories is just the support cast. They have all been scrubbed and will need a lot of elbow grease. The seller found one of the small reflectors left behind and very kindly posted it on at no cost. I worked by hand on the flower light but this time I am using various drill-mounted polishing pads to get a shine. More fun, less strain

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Before and after initial polishing with ‘Mothers’. Pretty convincing, I’d say

The lightshades should be going to France sometime in the summer, but there’s no need yet. More pressing is the cast iron washstand (Very hard work) that needs stripping back before re-painting. Currently it has moved into our hallway at home between working sessions so that it doesn’t rust as soon as I strip it. After the two fireplaces of 2014, I swore no more cast iron

Who was I kidding?

What Remains

Elle ne rit plus

After a day of noise aplenty, this evening is extremely quiet. Even the pigeons have packed up and left

Downstairs is now a full-on building site, and barely feels like our house at all

That’s OK. I know there has to be a time like this, when there is less house than there was – literally, as we are three walls down from my last visit. Numerous pickups loaded with rubble from the false walls and the huge stash of charbonne have been a sobering reminder that there are some things best entrusted to the ‘better equipped’ than we are. We could not have done this part of the work

Newspapers show that the last time anyone lit a fire here was January 1973. Makes sense

The house is temporarily without radiators, and the hallways are suddenly broad and impressive. Every single pipe of any sort in the house has been cut with an angle grinder. Plus, the sink, the bidet and the disgusting laughing toilet are all gone

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‘Elle ne rit plus’**

** That’s the last of the toilet humour, I promise

The defunct monster boiler and fuel tank have been removed, as well as three monolithic cookers of various weights and ages, two of which were up on the second floor and required huge effort to move. There is a double bed wedged into the top staircase at the moment, yet somehow that doesn’t seem important. The air is thick with dust and I have retreated to let it settle overnight

But I feel that it has been well worth coming down for this. There is now a definite commitment on both sides and stuff is happening

There will be a bathroom of sorts this summer. And a (relatively) clean area to make toast and coffee until we get a kitchen built

Feels good. Feels really good

Round and Round and Back

Big is not always better

The house has benefitted hugely from its first dry year in possibly decades. Today the sun was out and proud, and – though I couldn’t feel my  fingers or toes – the house basked. Even the water in the cellar is drying out, thanks to the new roof

This house never complains. It doesn’t threaten or stamp its feet. There’s no drama, it is just chilled and calm and forgiving. I love this house

We had talked of moving the kitchen into part of the cave/garage to allow more space, but now we have decided to keep it where it is. We can keep the floor tiles, the floor to ceiling two-metre wide larder, the chimney breast with its bottle shelf and the cute sink/drainer in the corner. What we will have to lose is the quaint old coke-fuelled range, the horrid Formica cupboards and the frill (Sorry, I just cannot live with that frill)

A simple kitchen, but enough for us. And enough for the house

When I told our builder yesterday that I had changed my mind again, he said it was good that we’d taken time to decide how the house will work best for us. And that’s true, because the mind can run riot in a house like this – all the possibilities – but the ‘feel good’ factor is important too

And this feels right. For us and for the house

 

 

Luck is on Our Side, but Gravity isn’t

Today’s meeting with the builder, the plumber and the electrician was another roller coaster. This time it was ‘Non, non, non’ from Jerome the plumber. ‘Non’, there isn’t enough in the budget to do what I want. ‘Non’, we can’t keep the art deco bidet (that was a solid ‘non, non, non’ on its own) and ‘Non’, the soil pipe isn’t working because it runs flat through the cellar to the road, due to several beams. So we’d better stop using the loo for a while. Despite this, we are undeterred. Baz and I aren’t going to let this trio of experienced French artisans pee on our campfire. Non

We plan to up-cycle the few bits of furniture we found here and put various work surfaces on top to make a kitchen next to the garage. Now we need to make sure that none of these tradesman chucks anything away, as to them it is all junk. They may actually be right about some of it

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Doesn’t exactly scream ‘La Cuisine’, does it?

But we’ve had some luck recently. Some months back a company importing stone a few doors away from our office had done a runner and left their unit, so Baz called our landlord to tell him. Baz asked if we could have a look inside when they sent their people in to clean. His response was ‘Go for it’

Lovely jubbly
Lovely jubbly freebies

The tenants left it in a horrible mess, with live electric wires hanging all over the place, several inches of stone dust and a blocked gully full of contaminated water. It took weeks to clear and repair the unit, but thanks to the help of the clearance guys we scored two sparkling white kitchen table tops still in protective plastic, as well as some carrara marble, and a stunning transparent piece, ideal for bathroom shelves. One guy gave us some smaller red pieces too, and he was so enthusiastic that it seemed rude not to take them. They will certainly add some colour somewhere

The joinery company next door has given us an enormously tall wardrobe with huge drawers, which was removed from a London house. It is heavy and beautifully made, with lovely  glazing bars and fielding. If we hadn’t taken it the whole thing would have been trashed, which would have been such a waste. So we have the bones of the kitchen for free

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Now we just need to move the electrics, knock down the dividing wall, install gas, get a new boiler and running water and somehow find a solution for the soil pipe….Oh yes, then get all this down to France. And build something kitchen-ish

Enough. I must stop using this blog as a to-do list. It won’t make it happen any faster!