lundi 30 mai 2011

Turgilla with Susie

Susie is here and after a couple of days relaxing in the sun after the long journey, feasting on our home grown vegetables (beetroot, lettuce, radishes and a cep) and making another little oak window frame, today we went for a stroll up to the Cabane Turguilla.
A lovely gentian
20 minutes from the hut the thunder started and we just made the hut before the heavens open and a huge storm ensued. The wind was gusting and inside the hut it sounded like the roof would be torn off! We were none the less warm and cosy and after eating our lunch decided to have a siesta - hopeful that the storm would blow over! After a couple of hours it was still raging so we realised that we would have to brave it. We put on all our clothes and waterproofs but no sooner had we stepped outside than the rain stopped the clouds parted and out came the sun!
Dung beetles hard at work
An unidentified beetle

jeudi 26 mai 2011


Just about finished at Pont now. Valuer came, but I have to wait until next week for the valuation as she wants to consult a colleague.

mercredi 25 mai 2011

A productive day at Pont, 4 more sheep sheared in the evening, very hot (38 in the sun) and too many strawberries!

lundi 23 mai 2011

Champagne and ceps

A very productive day at Pont: coving up, bedroom painted, skirting and architraves in bedrooms 2 and 3, and few other little jobs, then off to St Girons for materials and sand.

Hot today (36 in the sun when I got home at 5.30). A short walk to get tea (a cep) then on the spur of the moment decided to shear one of the sheep. Mini is the biggest and has the thickest wool so did her first - a bit of a battle but after about 30 mins all was done.

A cep to fry then the champagne bottles to sterilise before bottling's fizzing away strongly so might leave it one more day.

dimanche 22 mai 2011


All day at Pont working on the final bedroom. Next week the plan is to do any farmwork at dawn, work a full day at Pont (with the aim of getting it finished by the end of the week), then doing pointing of the walls at home in the evening. I haven't posted any pictures of Pont for a while so I quickly took some today. Need to do some proper ones with a wide angle lens.
House and barn
Bedroom 1
Bedroom 1 with the hand carved marble sink in the window
Living/dining room the door leads out to the terrace
Looking towards the kitchen from the living room
Fireplace in the living room
Bedroom 2
Little bedroom 3
Bedroom 4 under construction

samedi 21 mai 2011

A relaxing day helping Susie to dismantle and reassemble our bed over skype, continuing with the slow process of stabilising the new doorway (not pretty but it's all being plastered) and some general site clearance.

The bullfinch chicks are doing well there's either 3 or 4 chicks from the 5 eggs.

vendredi 20 mai 2011

No Valuation

I had time to make curtains for the bedroom and living room, weed the vegetable garden and scythe the verge before the man from SPANC arrived to check the septic tank. It got the thumbs up! Then I headed over to Pont, hung the curtains, hung a door, sanded some plaster, collected some sand...the estate agent didn't show. Eventually, I left for home and got a message that she had got lost and been unable to find the property. Another rendezvous has been made for next Thursday. Hopefully I can finish most the works by then.

I'm early night beckons.

jeudi 19 mai 2011

New septic tank!

The septic tank and filter are under the little green manhole

Another busy day. First of all building some support for the "dodgy" wall. Then pressing on with the oak frame for the double kitchen/diner window when a prolonged thunderstorm arrived in the afternoon.

The septic tank works are complete and operational - an inspection tomorrow from SPANC the specialist department of the water board (SMDEA) which looks after septic tank installations.

There is still a lot of stone walling to build including a retaining wall and I'm reconsidering if I need the little window beside the big double one.
View from the kitchen
View up the road

mercredi 18 mai 2011


This morning a big delivery of oak for the first floor, plus the final materials for Pont. I ferried them over in the trailer, collected tools and acro-props before a trip to St Girons for ballast and cement. Once home the props were quickly put into service shoring up the wall. Very hot until a storm approached! It skirted all around Quelebu but never really arrived.
Urgent works in the coming days to ensure the wall is rebuilt solidly. I am feeling rather daunted at the moment by the works to come.

The septic tank works here are rapidly nearing completion.

mardi 17 mai 2011


Lots of progress today. I had to stay to answer queries and find places for discharging the excavated soil, so pressed on with rebuilding the front wall. It was 38 in the sun today, so hot work but I managed to get the wall upto window seat level - it's going to be a great view.The existing gable wall towards the rear corner must have been built against an excavated face as the stonework isn't faced at all - some difficult rebuilding to do. We also encountered some bands of rock which required breaking out - I hope it won't be an extra.Elderflower champagne now on the go...should be ready for Susie's next visit.

lundi 16 mai 2011


This morning the bullfinch chicks were born.

At dawn I got on with scything all the fields and at a little after 9.30 the diggers arrived. I spent most the rest of the day breaking out the solid rock outcrops with a sledge hammer and pick and trying to find somewhere to put all the excavated ground. I had originally planned on putting it opposite my house but it transpired that the land didn't belong to who I thought it belonged to, so I had to think again and quickly as the mountain of soil rose!
There are some huge rocks in the wall and unfortunately one of them crosses the doorway...a problem to solve another day as tomorrow I must progress with Pont, as I have a valuation on Friday.
and finally...the elderflowers are blossoming - champagne season is again upon us!

dimanche 15 mai 2011


Susie's dance show was amazing, although she wasn't performing this year, she's such a talented choreographer (particularly liked her piece "Three wise monkeys") and she obviously inspires her students immensely.
I'm now back in the Pyrenees. There's a jungle to scythe, masses of flowers, masses of strawberries and fences to repair....not to mention houses to build!

jeudi 12 mai 2011


A week with Susie, Jasper and Ruby in Totnes, before the major groundworks get underway at Quelebu. A trip to Jen's birthday party at Shenmore at the weekend, local walks/cycles with Susie, Dom and Al in the evenings and tonight is "Sprung" the annual dance show at KEVICC the school where Susie teaches dance.

The days have been spent doing the construction drawings for Quelebu and researching dormer details.

mercredi 4 mai 2011

Land acquisition

Today a long trip to the Notaire to buy the last two parcelles of land required for the extension. The last remaining hurdle is planning permission (permis de construire) which I should hear about in a few weeks time. In the morning a lot of digging to locate the sewer pipe which will need to be connected to the new septic tank.
After the Notaire and some final material purchases for Pont I fenced in the vegetable garden to try to keep the chickens out. Of course they can fly but it's a deterrent whilst the plants are still young.

dimanche 1 mai 2011


Hot, humid and thundery today - finished off the concrete, pointing, cleared a lot of enormous stones out under the doorway and made the oak window surround for the 'little' window.
A short storm at 6.30 with good sized hailstones - enough to move the car to the safety of the garage!
Back to Pont tomorrow.