Well lockdown may be officially over but it still feels like I’m living a half-life of groundhog days. And yet somehow it is already September.
Life here hasn’t really changed much since the end of lockdown other than having more freedom to go out but we are increasingly asked to wear masks in more and more places and remain in our socially distanced bubbles.
However, in shock news I have actually been out out, dancing not once but twice! A very small group of people, no changing of partners and remaining in your space but at least I’ve been out and had a dance.
I am still unable to fully open up my yoga classes yet as my space is limited to 2 students plus me to ensure distance.
What has changed is that I have been able to go back to work (note the appropriate safety gear) so I’ve had a busy summer of looking after swimming pools and house checks on changeover days. And of course the gardening jobs continue each month.
But the really big news that you’ve all been waiting to hear is that my roof is finally done. Woo hoo!! The front of the house and the gite roof have been replaced and are watertight ready for the winter. The back of the house will have to wait as right now I don’t really want to know what kind of mess is hidden under there. And what I don’t know won’t worry me. For now.
So, the weather was checked and checked and all looked good, people and tile lifters were booked. Day 1 of operation roof and the weather changed, horrendous downpours that came at us from nowhere. One minute sunny, the next minute monsoon rains. Needless to say a little bit more damage was sustained inside but thankfully after a change of clothes Builder Dave and Builder Dave Junior carried on and we finished both roofs in just over a week. My job was to unload the tile lifter, sort the tiles into keep or skip, jet wash the keeps, and then send them back up to the roof. It was a busy and very wet few days.
When we got to the gite we discovered that the main beam was holding on by a few splinters so a new one was needed and with the use of the tile lifter, ladders, some straps, and a ‘quick H, get here and hold onto this’ the new beam was safely lifted into place. All done with a full and thorough plan, detailed schedule of works and risk assessment – ahem! I’m sure people would never believe I was a former head of health and safety.
Pics from l to r; old rotten beams, new one being lifted in, finally in position.
After the gite roof was completed we (Builder Dave) then had to build up the stone walls to meet the new roof and fill in the holes left by the old beams. ‘All’ I need to do now is repoint it all but I’m waiting until the beam above the window downstairs is replaced in case it all moves and cracks. Despite liberal amounts of wood hardener you can still put your finger into the beam so it’s time to admit defeat and fit a new one.
Not long after the roof was completed, friends C and E who were due to arrive the day we went into lockdown arrived almost 4 months later. Those of you who have ready my previous blogs know that C and E work super hard and don’t let the matter of them both being over 70 get in the way.
In the time they were here they completely transformed and moved the allotment on, adding another 4 beds, hacking down trees, adding climbing frames and taking care of watering it all while I continued adding my ‘pathways’ around each bed to make it all more accessible and manageable.
While they were here the temperatures in my back garden rose to 45o at which point I ordered them indoors and out of the heat. Did that stop them? No! All the water damage to the ceilings from the roof leaks have now all been anti-stained and repainted, cupboards have been cleared out, the house was cleaned from top to bottom, and my wood barn sorted out.
But that’s not all. A number of days were spent in my barn fitting old kitchen cupboards for me to use as storage, along with a potting bench and racking added. The racking came from another old shed, which I plan to knock down, and was cleaned up and modified allowing me to completely empty the old shed ready for demolition later this year. They even found an old harrow to hang on the wall to hang all the garden tools from.
Since they returned to the UK I am enjoying the fruits of their labour on the allotment and never knew there were so many ways to eat courgettes!!
The last project, which was completed this week, was to take down the fake log cabin and the upside down shiplap along with the concreted in stones, as once more my garden was turned into a builders yard. A second block wall was then built with insulation added in between and a new beam added. I am hoping that this is going to make a huge difference to keeping my living warm this winter. While this work was being done I took the opportunity to move the windows either side of the door forwards so I could actually have a windowsill inside. Lastly the whole area was rendered. It’s still to be painted and the stonework either side needs to be repointed but it is a massive improvement to the house; the whole area feels lighter and less oppressive. I shall look forward to burning those logs and the rotten beams from the gite this winter that have all been chain sawed and stacked ready to use.
And what news of Luna? Well she keeps growing; I do hope she will stop soon! She had to have her operation and wore a rather fetching lampshade for 2 weeks afterwards – the bruises on my legs were like a dot to dot pattern and I think I was more relieved when it finally came off than she was.
And lastly in amongst all the work and dust, the making and freezing courgette soup, ratatouille and veggie curries I found some time to do a little bit of painting and a up-cycle and couple of bits; 1) an old trunk which I cleaned up, waxed and stained, added some feet, and lined the bottom with some old bits of silk I had and decoupaged the inside of the lid, and 2) an old chair I repainted and re-upholstered.
But wait, how could I forget the continuing battles with French admin?! 3 hours, 3 appointments and 99€ to add 5 words to my employment registration all in French – I was exhausted after that. This week I am back on my mission to sort out my driving licence; so far it has taken me just short of two years, with endless unanswered phone calls and emails, umpteem forms and registered letters to get precisely nowhere other than end up with no driving licence – eeekkk. I look forward to telling you that this has been a success in the next installment.