The Mighty Quinn – my first ‘pet’ spider?

The only water tap at the house is over a massive stone laundry sink in the furthest part of the garage, and the installation of this tap was greatly anticipated because we had no water source at all when we arrived at the house in August

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I was too scared to include my finger in the pic for scale

Arriving at midnight for my first solo visit in October, I was none too happy (terrified, actually) to discover that an enormous spider lives on the windowsill above this tap. On the first morning when I went to get water he marched right out of his web and across the sill to take a look at me. I dropped the empty bottle I was holding, and backed off in a cold sweat

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All empty – time to say ‘Rebonjour’ to Quinn

I calmed down when he returned to the entrance to his web, where he remained for the rest of that week, observing me

With no way of getting around the water situation – I needed to fill bottles with at least 25 litres a day for flushing the loo, cleaning myself and the house and for making camomile tea – I could not avoid at least one visit a day to the sink of terror. So I reminded myself that he was here first, and to curb my extreme fear I named him ‘Quinn’. Through the week greeted him each morning and evening as my fellow resident, nattering away to him in French as I leaned over the tap

As a coping mechanism the friendly approach worked. I am not crazy enough to imagine that it was social interaction for ‘Quinn’ and for the whole week I didn’t take my eyes off this huge ancient spider faded to a shade of dark blond (did I actually just make a spider sound like Brad Pitt?), but I was no longer so scared and was at times actually glad of the company

Charlotte was horrified to hear about my regular chats with him, until she saw his photo – it’s hard not to be impressed by him. When I returned from my January visit she was as disappointed as I was that there had been no sign of him at the entrance to his web. I hope he’s OK and hasn’t decided to move on from his comfy domain. I have tried to be a good housemate

 

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!