January 13, 2010

THE OLD PILE

When we bought the house in 2007, at the back there was what can only be described as a large pile. We were not at all sure what was in it - it seemed to be overgrown stone, "silex" and general junk. It took up a huge area and we wanted the space for ourselves. The only way to find out what was underneath was to start digging.
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We didn't fancy doing that ourselves .... but we knew someone who would. Alex and Nicole Crawford. They have written about it recently in their gardening blog.



On that side of the house there was a wall separating us from our neighbour down the hill. Most of it had fallen down and Mme André had alarmed us with stories of someone climbing over and prowling around the property. I have no reason to disbelieve her although I wouldn't wish to spread ugly rumours either. In any case, when we were deciding on how to spend our budget for alterations, rebuilding the wall was a priority. So we hired Alex. He's good with walls.




There was also the case of the missing window. On the inside of the house there was nothing, just a smooth (!!) wall but on the outside was a window, complete with lintel and hooks for the shutters. Re-instating the window would be a big and messy job but it was a also a priority.

Alex tackled the wall early in 2008. We instantly felt much more comfortable knowing there could be no unwanted nosey prowlers.

Re-instating the window required planning permission, which Barrie organised for us. It was tacked onto the application for permission for the new half of a roof and the new velux window on that side. There was some uncertainty that we would get permission for the old window to be re-done because of its proximity to the boundary between us and our neighbour. Luckily it was granted.

In winter 2008-09 Alex engaged and worked alongside a local mason to put the window in. Barrie had a theory that under the "chaux" or render, there would still be the original glass. In fact there wasn't.




Having the new/old window made a huge difference to the house. Previously the one room downstairs could feel very dark. The window seemed much larger inside than outside and we are absolutely thrilled with it. It lets in so much light and faces west, giving us the evening sunshine.


Alex also made us some new shutters for the window and finished it off with those cute little people shutter fasteners.



Finally, in our last absence of ten weeks between October and Boxing Day, Alex and Nicole removed the pile. It was tons of overgrown rubble, dumped there by someone who had maybe demolished a building - goodness knows where - and couldn't be bothered to remove the spoil. (Why on earth would anyone do that - dump a huge amount of stuff up against a house and leave it for decades ?)


We couldn't wait to see how it looked. It was superb.



Now we have a fabulous clean and useable space. We might put our barbecue there - Nick really and desperately wants one of those huge imitation stone barbecues and changes his mind every few days about where to put it. This new space opens up another possibility ! Or we might put some kind of shelter where we can store our garden furniture. Who knows. But it's just lovely to have the option. Instead of just a pile.


As well as getting a huge amount of extra space (huge relative to the size of our tiny cottage that is), we gained another window. As the pile was gradually removed another window emerged. You can see it in bottom left of the picture above. On the inside it is hidden by the structure that forms the staircase. Maybe one day we will do something imaginative with that, too.


11 comments:

  1. Looks very nice and clean and spacious. You have such a nice place.

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  2. Hi Jean,
    What an interesting story and a lovely cottage. I can't wait to see it 'in the flesh' at Easter!
    Regards
    Gaynor

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  3. Hi Jean, I like the 'new look' of your blog!! It's fresh and clean ... and the colours of the photos look so much better. Keep it up ! Martine x

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  4. Ken and Gaynor - thanks, we're delighted with it. Nobody really wants a rubbish heap of unknown origin up against the house !!

    Martine - thanks, I like it. I thought the blog was beginning to look like a rubbish heap, too. But making changes is so time-consuming. Fortunately I have plenty of that just now !

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  5. Is it my imagination or have you changed your template? My memory is so rubbish these days I am just not sure. Anyway. so I can keep a better eye on you I've clamped you to my sidebar.

    Blog looks good and house looks tremendous

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  6. FF - well spotted - and thank you !

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  7. The cleaned out space looks great. What a nice piece of progress!

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  8. Hi Jean
    Oh, it brought back so many memories of what we discovered in our French property. I would never have dreamed of seeking permission to reinstate a blocked-up window...so I didn't! Up to now now one has said anything.

    The blog looks good but the window looks fabulous. Well done! I'm going back to the photo of what is under the window...looks interesting.

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  9. Walt - clean is the word. I always wondered what might be lurking under the pile. Luckily it was nothing too gruesome.

    Ken - oops, don't tell anyone else about that !

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  10. Jean, the Brico by the LeClerc in Perrusson has a wonderful barbecue in their display outside... The Harrogate! I am sure that the fine peepils of Harrogate would look askance at the fine lump of reconstituted cement. I would love to know who named it. Go and take a look next time you visit Lidl. You do visit Lidl don't you? The smoked chickens are wonderful... salad for two twice, chicken and mushroom omlette and a soup from the carcass - all for three euros. Costco do one in the UK but it isn't as succulent and the flesh is a lot tougher... and it is £8 for a smaller bird.We are just off over for a three week stay and one of our first purchases will be 'the chicken'... we arrive after the market closes! But we might go to the Descartes Sunday market for veg and fruit.
    I love the sideboard under the window - very practical [all the important things catered for... 20 bottles and three wine coolers... but you need a visit to Vouvray next time...] we recommend E.A.R.L. Bongars; he does a superb pettilant, touraine rosé and a still white. I count ten gaps. Where did you find such a great piece of furniture?

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  11. Tim - the Harrogate ?? !! Wonder why they didn't call it the Lisbon or the Venice or even the Moscow !
    Will look out for the smoked chicken next visit.
    As for the furniture, it came from here in Derbyshire. Sad but true. We tried to find stuff we could afford in France but.....it's a long story and there's a whole blog post about it to come.

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