dimanche 30 septembre 2007


For the past few days I've been working at the house at Pont de la Taule. The electricity is due to be connected tomorrow and I needed to install a fuse board and earth. This morning field No 2 got its autumn 'short back and sides' then for lunch I went to Massat where there was a steer roast - free for all the inhabitants of the Canton. The boeuf was enormous, enough to feed the 500 or more people who showed up. Most had come with plates, cutlery and copious side dishes. I turned up with two slabs of buttered bread! The cow sandwich was delicious. Met up with Justin and Emily and a few friends.

And for dinner tonight? Boeuf Bourgignon.

vendredi 28 septembre 2007

jeudi 27 septembre 2007


The clouds stayed low today, but Pic de Lasirouge showed itself briefly...here's the view from the house.

mercredi 26 septembre 2007

Cold spell

Temperatures have dropped, this morning 6 degrees. There's a decent dump of snow above 2000m and over the next few days snow is forecast down to 900m (I live at 800m). The thatchers are now due in about 3 weeks time so things could turn cold in the house. Today I brought some logs into the house and lit the Rayburn for the first time this autumn.

samedi 22 septembre 2007


Yesterday was another big clear up day with a bonfire and trips to the dump plus some farmwork.

Today it's been overcast and drizzly, in fact it never seemed to get light. So I built two sets of matching bookshelves (one in each corner of the bedroom). At last I can get rid of the bookcase at the top of stairs which robbed the bedroom of light and space. Also I can now bring all my books into the house (some were in the workshop). It's great to have space back in the bedroom.

mercredi 19 septembre 2007

End in sight

A beautiful day today. The sun shone but it was never too hot (perhaps 20) and with the fantastic clearness that occurs as autumn approaches. A big clear up in the morning, stacking wood, loading rubble into the trailer and stacking the old roof sheets - then finishing the roof battens. No jarring power tools just me a saw and a hammer - bliss. Three or four more days of mostly leadwork and the roof is ready.

lundi 17 septembre 2007


The weather dawned clear and Meteo France revised it's forecast to thunderstorms in the afternoon and then rain and strong winds tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. The tarpaulins are pretty ropey in strong winds, so I decided to attempt to fit the ply for the lead gutter to the last gable, then strip the roof and insulation and fix the new felt and battens today - hoping that the rain would hold off until the evening.

Halfway through stripping the insulation, as I tore out a big piece of fibreglass (vile, horrible stuff, should be banned), I realised there was a snake in it! A black and yellow Western Whip Snake - Mrs Whippy I think, perhaps 3 feet long. I don't know who was more shocked! She slid onto the ridge beam. Everytime I tried to reach her with a long stick she disappeared into the recesses of the roof between felt and ceiling boarding. Hopefully she found a way out - otherwise I might have company tonight, a duvet being the next best thing to glassfibre.

Just as the roof was ready for felting the black clouds rolled in and the thunder started. In a race against the weather I managed to staple the felt to the roof (rather haphazardly) before the heavens opened, though with strong winds and the felt flapping around, I didn't manage to escape some water ingress. Eventually the rain eased and working in wet weather gear I refixed the felt and every other batten before nightfall.

dimanche 16 septembre 2007

Chimney flashing

After three weeks of good weather it's going to be showery tomorrow. Today I built the solution to the chimney flashing problem. It was one of those jobs where there was nowhere to stand, no room to swing the hammer, nothing to support the required construction and impossible to measure for the piece of wood or ply you needed to cut. English expletives echoed across the Pyrenees but the job is done. The flashings will require a bit of lead burning - it's been a while since I did any, but Claude says he has an Oxy-Acetylene torch so hopefully I can get it done later this week.

samedi 15 septembre 2007

Angle grinder grinds to a halt

My Ryobi angle grinder which has worked it's guts out cutting the Aleu microgranite of the hearth, chopping through the wall for the rayburn chimney and all the work on the barn and house gables cutting slabs, blocks and concrete has died - or at least the bearing has gone, fortunately just as the last slab was cut! Hopefully it can be repaired.

The dell printer also packed up but I've managed to mend it.

The Bosch drill thats been back to Bosch twice already is also knackered but I'm gonna give up on that one - Bosch isn't the same since they started fabricating in Hungary.

jeudi 13 septembre 2007

Play of light

A tremendous view this evening with light playing on the mountains.

mercredi 12 septembre 2007

Mont Rouch

A magnificent day on Mont Rouch. It has a reputation for being a tough day out. 2000m of ascent from the nearest access in France, the barest trace of a path (not actually true) and unremittingly steep all the way. Plus it's higher than Mont Valier and Pic Certescan, in fact the highest Peak in the Couserans.
Yes it was a tough day, about 8 hours including lunch - but in fact Mont Rouch is a fantastic mountain and deserves to be better known (it's rarely climbed). The views are immense and interesting as it stands on a southerly kink in the chain, so the views are often of the spanish side of the neighbouring frontier peaks. The walk is scenic and the terrain varied with some lovely ridge scrambling.
I climbed from Salau, following the Ravine de Leziou, before crossing Les Clots de Dessus and gaining the Crete du Laquet which was followed to the French summit (2888m) in about 3 hrs 45 mins. A scramble across the 150 deep notch put me on the Spanish summit (2888m) and lunch before more scrambling took me to the Point Geodesic (2848m). A steep descent to the Col de Servi completed the horseshoe and little before Pic de Moustiry I scrambled down to the scree slopes which descended steeply to Les Clots de Dessus once more. Amazingly I saw one other person, the restauranteur from Col de Latrape with his dog which managed to follow him just - here he is on the French summit viewed from the Spanish summit.

mardi 11 septembre 2007

Windows and chimneys

Yesterday I finished the third gable and opened up the last one. It's difficult to do much until I work out how to flash around the chimney. The thatcher is looking at it at the moment (via e-mail).
So today I installed a tiny window for the mezzanine bedroom and to allow some cross ventilation in the main bedroom, now I've lost the dormer.

It took all day to bash through the foot thick concrete filled concrete cellular blocks which make up the wall...and now the house is full of concrete dust (again). When the last gable is finished I'll render this wall - I've always hated the blockwork but knew it would have to wait.
Tomorrow, weather permitting Mont Rouch.

vendredi 7 septembre 2007


Another beautiful day. Third gable coming along nicely, some more scything of ferns and the cows have arrived.

mercredi 5 septembre 2007

Pic des Trois Seigneurs

View along the ridge of descent to Trois Seigneurs (the peak on the right)

Etang d'Arbu

My promised day off arrived and the day dawned clear. So off to Pic des Trois Seigneurs. Though only modest in height it has the reputation for the most spectacular views because it stands north of the main chain. It didn't disappoint. Just under 2 hours and I'd climbed the 1000m to it's summit and with not a cloud in the sky I absorbed the view for an hour whilst taking brunch. Descent was via the long ridge leading to the Port de Lhers.

Looks like the thatchers will be a couple of weeks late starting due to delays on other jobs, so I can take things a bit easier and take advantage of the good weather with a few more walks over the coming weeks.

mardi 4 septembre 2007


Half the house is ready for thatching.

lundi 3 septembre 2007

So much for good weather

Weather was forceast hot and clear until at least Wenesday - fat chance! Today dawned cloudy and rain threatened all day. The battens due for delivery today didn't arrive until 4.30 so I've been playing catch up. With rain now forecast for tomorrow morning I worked until dark to try and get the roof covered with felt (it's currently open to the elements). Finally it's covered with a combination of felt and tarpaulin. My day off tomorrow will have to wait until Wednesday and hopefully better weather. My thatcher seems to be incommunicado, which is starting to become worrying.

samedi 1 septembre 2007


The dormer window (chien assis) was demolished today. I lose my view of the mountains from the bedroom but the house looks so much better without it, somehow more solid and grounded. Photos on Monday.