vendredi 30 décembre 2011

UK again

Back to blighty for Christmas. Whilst Jasper and Ruby were with their dad, Susie and I crept off to explore Salcombe with Anna, lots of swanky clothes shops which the girls loved!

Then a flying visit to see the Hewitts at Shenmore and a very blustery walk up table mountain.

vendredi 23 décembre 2011

The two days of rain striped away the snow around the house, but walk around Guzet Neige enabled us to have a good trot in the snow and an epic snowball fight lasting most of the day.

The following day the weather was warm and balmy so after a walk upto the airstrip at Joubac to admire the view and sunbath, there still time to squeeze a little bit of retaining wall building back at Quelebu.

jeudi 22 décembre 2011


Horray! The central heating is working. It was bloody frustrating as we had to fill and drain the system three times before we found all the leaks - only three leaks which wasn't bad considering the total number soldered joints. I still have a permanent cold water feed and all the hot water to plumb but that can wait. The house is warm and cosy and after the snow and torrential rain of the last few days. We found a xmas tree in the woods and with the Rayburn working we had a lovely pork roast last night. Today off for a bit of snow shoeing!

dimanche 18 décembre 2011

Susie, Jasper and Ruby arrived on Saturday. As did the snow which made for a nice xmas feel to the start of the holiday. The central heating isn't finished yet but hope to get it done in the next few days. We're keeping warm around the fire until the weather improves. Susie and Ruby added some decoration to the living room and the front door.

jeudi 15 décembre 2011


All the radiators are connected to each other, but removing the old water cylinder today proved problematic.

First of all I couldn't empty it. I'd put a drain tap in the cylinder when I installed it but to connect a hose to the tap required several adapters and with them attached there just wasn't room for the hose without crimping it. Eventually I succeeded but not before several leaks into the kitchen below.

After dismantling all the connections I was ready to remove the cylinder, but then I remembered the cupboard in which it sits needed to be dismantled to get the tank out (I'd forgotten I had to do this when I installed it). Once out, the header tanks (feed and expansion and cold water) had to be separated from the cylinder (it's a combination cylinder but I want to reuse the header tanks). Some careful sawing and voila. Needless to say after a trip to St Girons to get more pipework and fittings, and re-assembling the cupboard there isn't gonna be time to get all the central heating working before Susie, jasper and Ruby arrive on Saturday!

A big clean up tomorrow, some essential small jobs, washing, chopping firewood and shopping. There's snow forecast for Saturday - we'll just have to keep the fire going as I can't light the rayburn until it's plumbed in or I'll damage the back boiler.

mardi 13 décembre 2011

Race against time

All morning fetching plumbing supplies then working late into the night plumbing in the radiators. Slow work, but I've started at the difficult end where I have to join into existing network. Hopefully things will go quicker tomorrow.

lundi 12 décembre 2011

Getting there

All the radiators hung, lots of little tidying up jobs done...tomorrow pipework!!

samedi 10 décembre 2011

Another long day (aren't they all?) and the dining room floor is ready for varnishing.

vendredi 9 décembre 2011


Got the kitchen tiled last night and have now started on the oak flooring. Nail gun problems so have resorted to good old hammer and punch.

mardi 6 décembre 2011


It's been a busy few days since my last post. Besides trips to fetch plasterboard with Ian, another to collect the new water cylinder and radiators, and yet another to give Justin some urgent advice with his latest construction project and see Emily and the twins, work has been progressing here.

The construction of an attic to house the feed and expansion tank, infilling the last piece of first floor (Susie's walk in wardrobe), patching the hole in the living room floor where the stairs used to land, studwork, plasterboarding, hanging two new bedroom doors, screeding the kitchen floor (1/2 tonne) ready for ceramic floor tiling and working out some of the electrics! Oak flooring to be collected on Thursday, once that's down I can start on the central heating - at last.

vendredi 2 décembre 2011

A dusting of snow

Field clearing and studwork today.

jeudi 1 décembre 2011

Works resume

Back to the continuing Indian summer in the Pyrenees (26 in the sun today) but work has now switched to indoors. Next week the central heating, but first all the necessary preparation work. Today I installed the rayburn - knocking through the wall to connect the chimney and positioning it on the plinth I cast before leaving for Totnes.

jeudi 24 novembre 2011


The diagnosis is that fortunately I haven't ruptured a disc. I have put a torsional twist into my pelvis. The junction where the two halves of the pelvis join at the pubic bone was visibly misaligned and had to be popped back. The twist has knotted up my lower back/sacrum and various muscle groups that run from there to the groin (Psoas, etc) which have been irritating adjacent nerves. Hopefully, now the twist is gone things should get better.

samedi 19 novembre 2011

Roof finished!

Still trying to take things easy...but I have managed to finish the slating and with the help of nathaniel (a neighbour) finished the cover beads to the lead flashings where new and old meet.

Busy preparing for the next stage of works - the central heating!

jeudi 17 novembre 2011


A slow return to light duties as my back slowly recovers...still very sore and requiring painkillers and hot water bottles at night.

Some guttering, some internal studwork and a little leadwork.
The weather is still warm and sunny, but it's getting colder in the evenings and the fire is now regulary lit.

dimanche 13 novembre 2011


Last roof 4/5ths complete. I could have finished it today but by mid-day I'd ran out of lead. I pressed on with finishing the guttering and then clearing some of the soil bank beside the timber extension which had collapsed in the rain and was impeding the ladder.
I felt a small twinge in my back from the shovelling so decided to call it a day. In the shower I reached for the shampoo bottle at my feet and slipped a disc! The pain was so intense I nearly passed out. Somehow I managed to make it upstairs to bed but the pain all night has been like nothing I've ever known often inducing nausea, despite pain relief. John and Sandrine my neighbours are beings stars - bringing me food, calling the doctor and fetching medication.

So frustrating that after all the building, I've been stopped by a shampoo bottle! 3 hours more on the roof would see the slating finished.

22 hours after the event now and I've managed to stand up. The ridiculously intense pain is thankfully subsiding a little.

vendredi 11 novembre 2011


Another lovely day - front roof finished and some of the guttering up too. Tomorrow I start work on the last roof, hopefully will get it done before the rain next week.

mercredi 9 novembre 2011

Roofing again

Excellent (topless) weather for roofing and with John helping me today the work is speeding along. About a metre of snow fell above 2500m over the past few days....still too early for skiing though!

mardi 8 novembre 2011

Back at the ranch...

Sun, snow, mushrooms and of course more roofing! The wind over the past few days was strong enough to bring down some trees and branches in the fields, so there was some clearing up to do this evening and a few fences to mend.

lundi 7 novembre 2011


Sunday was a lovely day, so we set off early for a walk on the moor, making a circuit between Haytor and Hound Tor.
On the way home we met a group hunting rabbits with 4 beautiful Goshawks.
An early flight this morning and I'm back home in France. Heavy rain and strong winds have filled the rivers, stripped the leaves from the trees and given the roof a good test.

vendredi 4 novembre 2011


With all the redecoration nearly finished at Susie's, we gave the living room a bit of a makeover. Susie made new curtains and I made some window seats.

Back to roofing and guttering soon!

samedi 29 octobre 2011


Another trip to the UK and a break from the building works.

Earlier in the week Jon and I took down a huge eucalyptus tree in the garden of my flat in Bath which was now taller than the three storey terrace, alas I forgot my camera.With Susie, Jasper and Ruby, I made an interesting walk around the coast to Dartmouth for a fish and chips super before walking back to the car park arriving just as the sun set.

Yesterday an excursion in the estuary above Dartmouth on sea kayaks with Dominic. Beautiful calm conditions.

mercredi 19 octobre 2011

Cladding the dormer before the rain and then some internal for a big clear-up!

mardi 18 octobre 2011

First roof complete

Tony and John left early this morning leaving just four courses and the ridge to complete. They worked their socks off and their help was a real boost at a time when I was flagging. It was another hot day today (mid-thirties in the sun).
Virtually nowhere to stand on the ridge, quite difficult and frequently frustrating slating, but at last the first roof is finished. Even managed a little work to the front dormer before dark. Rain due tomorrow afternoon so a useful test for the roof.

dimanche 16 octobre 2011

Work progress

Last night with rope and pulleys we managed to manhandle the cast iron bath upstairs to it's new resting place in the bathroom.

Today was a semi rest day. In the morning we helped the local farmer move the escaped cows into the field in front of the house.Then we went for a stroll up to the airstrip at Joubac. It was another amazing day and when we got there we were surprised to find 4 aircraft parked up. Another 2 came into to land shortly after we arrived and there was soon a grand lunch underway for all the pilots.
When we got back, we moved the rayburn and took down the last of the old chimney.