dimanche 27 mars 2016


Back to France on Wednesday with Susie , Jasper and Ruby. The weather forecast doesn't look too good and we'll be without internet as we're in the middle of changing from SFR to Orange. Update when reconnected (hopefully the 7th April).

mardi 15 mars 2016


For some reason the post from Friday 11th March didn't publish so...After my last post I built a tool that enabled me to drive the last few 20cm helical cold roof fixings through the counterbattens which were located under the thatched verge overhang of the existing barn roof - there is no room to swing a hammer. The tool involved copper pipe, a length of studding and an old SDS drill bit. I threaded it through the thatch and used a breaker to drive in the fixings. Once that was done I could at last get felt and temporary battens on the roof to make it watertight. Some more snow showers and an overnight fall of 3 inches hampered progress edging up the steep roof on the battens...but it was like winter climbing only without crampons! 

The next day I collected a new little sofa for the living room, then sped off to Pamiers to collect windows.

An afternoon blizzard, mud and a temperamental stapler put me behind schedule and Thursday was looking like a very busy day with the last of the windows to install and a large hole to dig for the ErDF meter box, which would be installed 18th March. Next day was crisp with a good fall of fresh snow on the mountains. 

I was up early and had just installed the last window when a digger arrived. It was a contractor come to dig the trench and install the duct for the ErDF. I asked if they could dig the hole for the meter as well and they said of course! Suddenly I had a spare day with snow on the hills. 

I jumped in the car and headed off to Guzet - which was deserted as the school holidays in france had ended the weekend previously. The fresh powder was beautiful and I soon found my ski legs (if not my fitness) and spent 2 and half hours on Freychet skiing the off piste beyond the black run "dome"  -wonderful!


The duct was installed when I got back. My last day was spent putting in the floor joists for the first floor, having a huge clean up and filling the house with firewood for the next visit in a few weeks with Susie, Jasper and Ruby.

The flight back to the UK was delayed because of technical problems and then because someone on our plane decided to smuggle a knife on board. The police boarded twice and the second time left with the passenger. Statements had to be given and all the cabin luggage checked before we could finally leave Toulouse.

Back in the UK the weather is clear and bright (almost the first time in 5 months!) so we have been keen to get outside. At Dartington Gardens the snake head fritillarys, crocii and daffofils are out.

On Sunday Susie and I stretched our legs on Dartmoor, making a circuit joining Haytor and Hound Tor in beautiful spring sunshine.

A dipper catching some sun.

dimanche 6 mars 2016

A couple of inches of snow this morning and snow showers all day. The snow on the ground lingered until about lunchtime, then gave way to mud. Veranda beginning to take shape. I reused the decks that the sheep used to sleep on in the barn for the soffit - had to scrap the sheep muck off first!

samedi 5 mars 2016

Phantom leg

The weather is very changeable at the moment, some days the sun is out and it's 25 degrees, then the next day it's snowing and raining and there's a bitter wind. I have to press on regardless. Yesterday I was in agony, I couldn't move my right leg forward of my body or towards my centre at all, I thought I'd definitely torn something. I managed to keep going, dragging the immobilised leg behind me as I ascended the ladders and hobbled about. Putting my boots on and off and sitting was incredible painful. Then today it's miraculously much better! Weird, though my upper abdominals are tight as a drum from compensating...particularly hammering in nails from the roof ladder on the wrong side of my body because I could only bare to stand on the straightened dead leg.

Whether the weather is sunny, snowy or raining the mud remains and it's getting worse and worse. Everything is covered in it and the path to the barn is getting like a mudslide - I hate mud.

Slowly things are coming together though. Dinner at John and Sandrine's tonight which was lovely, though I'm probably not great company as I can hardly keep my eyes open!

jeudi 3 mars 2016

Weather luck ends

Tuesday dawned bright and clear, but I knew it wouldn't last.

I'd arrived at about midnight on Monday and the house was cold and devoid of anything to eat. Rather than head into St Girons for provisions, I had a black coffee and launched into the roofing. By 4 o'clock I had one half of the roof insulated and counter-battened, at last I could get something to eat! Since then the weather has been wintry. Strong winds, torrential rain and snow showers - not ideal. I've felted and battened two walls, fitted the last OSB panels, stocked the house with firewood and made some modifications to the kitchen in the house to accept a new larger fridge.

                                       Fridge niche raised...                     ...but had to lose the lowest shelf
Tomorrow is supposed to be a better day until mid afternoon, so I'm hoping to get the other half of the roof completed to similar state. That would leave the veranda construction, roof felting, battens and window fitting to get things more or less watertight. Possible, but the rain is predicted to turn to snow.

I also seem to have a groin strain, symptoms seem identical to a torn satorius I had about 15 years ago - when seated I can't lift my right leg off the floor...trying to keep everything moving with gentle stretches and a hot waterbottle.