dimanche 29 juillet 2018

dimanche 22 juillet 2018


Guests staying at our neighbours gite, reported that their dog went crazy during the night barking and barking but when they opened the door it wouldn't go outside, but they heard something large running away through the undergrowth. Next morning they found some very large bear tracks outside the gite, which they photographed and showed to John and Sandrine. Rain the next day washed the tracks away so we haven't been able to see them and the guests have left with their photos. We're being extra vigilant with our sheep.

vendredi 13 juillet 2018

What lies beneath

Once the hearth and fireplace were finished it was time to lift the floorboards. The boards are supported on concrete sleeper walls with battens cast into the top of each wall. The battens had rotted away and were often soaking wet, because between the walls close to the back wall of the house the clay and rock was almost level with the battens/underside of the boards. Also the groove which each batten lay in, was like a drainage channel for any water seeping out of the rear wall. No ventilation under the floor either.

I dug out all the clay and rock between the sleeper walls, stopped the them before the rear wall to avoid them acting as drainage channels and replaced the battens, before replacing the boards. It should give the floor another 2-3 years of life before we need to tackle the job of replacing everything and casting a properly damp proofed and insulated concrete floor under the timber one.

And with the first coat of limewash...

mardi 10 juillet 2018

Fireplace again

Rendering the walls...

 First coat (thrown)

Second coat and tiling

samedi 7 juillet 2018

Fireplace stage 2

I last worked on the fireplace in 2008, when I discovered the volcanic cill that rears up like a wave out of the floor. The micro granite is incredibly hard and last time after " days of hammering, chiselling and disc cutting I conceded partial defeat and enclosed the remaining rock in a 15cm high timber surround and filled the rest with concrete.

The floor in the living room (the original part of the house which I didn't build) has no concrete slab beneath, just clay and rock - so slowly it is rotting at the edges. Re building the floor needs to start with the fireplace where damp and water seep in, prevented from downward progress by the cill.

I can't afford to hire a compressor and pneumatic drill, so the hammering and chiselling re-commenced. No room to properly swing the sledge hammer so 3 more days of seemingly fruitless effort were required. I can appreciate why convicts were sent to break stones with sledge hammers - nothing is more soul destroying. Despite hours of bashing the same piece of rock with all your might, there are sparks, some splinters of rock and the constant rebound of the sledge.

Eventually of course it succumbed, little by little and the height of the hearth after concreting and eventually tiling will be just 4cm.  The hearth is now straight rather than bowed giving us more space in the living room...once I've filled the gap now devoid of floorboards!