jeudi 30 juin 2011


After some scything a frustrating morning with misbehaving expanding bolts. It looks like nothing has changed but in fact everything is now fixed, level and plumb.

More much needed strimming in the evening and a meal with the first of my leeks!

mardi 28 juin 2011

Blood, sweat and tears

Wallplates in place, purlins ready for lifting in a few days time and the two doors from Jasper and Ruby's bedroom into their shared bathroom morticed and tenoned in place.Third day on the trot of incredible heat and humidity. Finally in the early afternoon the mist rolled in and the thunder started. Mostly drizzly with a few short lived heavy showers. Despite the progress a hard tiring day of low motivation. The heat at night and the slow recovery of a neck injury from 5 weeks ago have made for some poor nights sleep recently. I have the valley almost to myself as both John and Sandrine and Philippe and Celine are away on holiday.

Tomorrow a trip to St Girons for materials and food then back on with Pont.

I wish Google would get their fingers out and fix the recent problems with posting photos on blogger.

lundi 27 juin 2011

Roof materials arrive

Two lorry loads of roof materials arrived today. Temperatures of 38 degrees centigrade (100 fahrenheit) in the shade again...exhausting to work in but lots of drinks, a few cold showers and a siesta make it possible.

First problem has been to get the huge oak wall plates and two purlins into position. The crane on the lorry couldn't reach so I had to resort to levers, crowbars and muscle - tough but it's done.

dimanche 26 juin 2011


Bathroom window
Terrace balustrade
New colour scheme for downstairs bedroom
New colourful shutters

Super hot today over 38 degrees C in the shade! Working at Pont which is slowly grinding to a completion but there always seems to be another thing that needs doing...still the loft hatch, a cupboard, some varnishing and stair to the garden from the terrace...then final clean, strim and remove rubbish from the barn before it's finished.
Another neighbour put their car over the edge last night, this time the Celine's brother (last time it was her sister). Unfortunately, driving under the influence is pretty endemic here. A few weeks ago my neighbour's son was killed by a hit and run motorist - probably a drink driver. Makes me fearful for my loved ones.
A trio of airbus planes flying overhead in formation a few days ago (A380 on the left).

samedi 25 juin 2011


Someone nicked my sheep shears out of the barn! Can't believe it. I still have three lambs to shear.
Today some pointing, prefabrication of a guarding for the terrace at Pont and then when it got too hot to work outside, I started to mark out the new connecting door downstairs. Removed the plaster and render which made a mountain of debris and dust.

vendredi 24 juin 2011


Last night lots of strimming and some weeding - then the realisation that there was only one hen. The fox has taken the cockerel and three hens whilst I was away. With two building projects, the farm and frequent trips to the UK something had to snap eventually. I can't do it all by myself and there are only so many favours you can ask of neighbours before they refuse. When I get behind with looking after the land and animals I find it heart-breaking. Nature takes back all my hard work so quickly. I have no doubts about my love for Susie and going to live with her, Jasper and Ruby, but abandoning full-time occupation here in favour of monthly visits (even if it is only for a few years) will be the hardest thing I've done in a very long time.

Today more strimming and a big day at Pont mostly painting (after decorating at Susie's with dulux trade it's shocking how utterly crap and stupidly expensive french paint is - I'd get better opacity painting semi skimmed milk on the wall and at least it doesn't cost £50 for 2.5 litres) and sealing windows. It has to be finished, photographed and on the market by Monday when the extension works resume. I will be there again tomorrow after some scything in the morning. Now for some more pointing.

jeudi 23 juin 2011


A way too short week in Totnes with Susie, Jasper and Ruby. The weekend we were in Cornwall and during the week I decorated downstairs and made Ruby a desk from leftovers. Managed to get the helical fixings for the warm roof here and hopefully have sourced some windows. Susie was busy preparing for a mock ofsted inspection, which seems to have gone well.
Totnes Castle from Susie's window

Back home to a jungle! much catching up to do before roof works start on Monday.

mercredi 15 juin 2011

Topping out

I didn't hold out any hope of finishing the walling before I leave for the UK - shame as I wanted to start the roofing as soon as I return. Anyhow I got up at 6.30 and made a start. I just kept going and by 2.00 I realised that I might just do it! It was very hot and humid and I moved about 2-3 tonnes or more of stone and concrete up the ladder. I was a bit worried loading out the big oak lintol with tonnes of rock - but I needn't have worried, there's no noticeable deflection at all. By 7.00 I'd topped out! Still some pointing to do but it'll only take a day or so. Elderflower Champagne to celebrate.

mardi 14 juin 2011


Most the day away today giving a second opinion on some damp at Donna and Hugh's new house...picked up a door for my troubles which should come up a treat when it's stripped and be perfect for our bedroom.

lundi 13 juin 2011


After racing along in wood, it's now back to a snails pace trying to finish the last bit of stonework. It's always slow once your up high and double slow now the scaffolding has been collected by it's owner....everything has to be carried up the ladder.

dimanche 12 juin 2011

The big lift

After a very long day yesterday and dawn start this morning, preparing all the beams and fixings - the lifting team assembled at 10.00 this morning. Each beam weighs in at about 280kg but 2 hours later everything was up and it was beers all round! Susie, Jasper and Ruby watched via the webcam. Thanks everyone for your invaluable help and Sheri for taking all the photos.

This afternoon a big clear-up, grouting in the beam ends and bearings, more preparation of joists and then their installation.

vendredi 10 juin 2011

Planning permission

Horrah! Today I received planning permission (Permit de Construire) for the extension. Just as well as hopefully the first floor will go up on Sunday! A busy day getting materials, then casting the last pad stone and pointing. Also the first injury today...I clouted my little finger with the hammer and it's gone all black! Gonna lose the nail for sure - it's the first time I've ever lost a nail.

mercredi 8 juin 2011


Today was a marathon of pointing - still both sides of the last remaining bit of wall to do. Also moved the massive oak lintol. Need to build a crane or wait for some visitors!Update:I flexed my muscles and the lintol is up...bloody hell I'm knackered.

lundi 6 juin 2011


Plenty of veg with the warm wet weather.

dimanche 5 juin 2011

Slow progress

A couple of days of torrential rain - time for finishing off jobs at Pont. Alun and Breezy are back and dropped in to see the progress at Pont.

Today was warm but humid...progress was slow but the addition of scaffolding has helped.

vendredi 3 juin 2011

Back to work

After a cold wet day yesterday, today has been warm, allowing me to scythe all the bracken in the 2 large fields in front of the house. There are some fence posts to be replaced and I heard a large tree fall in the woods.

Through the mid morning I rebated the little window frame and then pressed on with building up the front wall of the extension. A quick trip to St Girons for food and this evening a soiree at Sandrine and John's. It was Sandrine's birthday last week.

mercredi 1 juin 2011

Port d'Aula

The rain overnight brought fresh snow to the mountains this morning, so Susie and I set off to the Port d'Aula and a quick foot inside Spain. It was fresh all the way and the last few hundred metres to reach the Port were bitterly cold (-2) with light snow and a strong wind (gusts of 45 km/h).
Yoga at 2000m
At the Port d'Aula

En route we saw a solitary vulture soaring around the Cuns d'Aula and 4 Isard which took flight as we approached.