2 February 2010


Now that we had a room full of lovely furniture, we couldn't wait to go back again and enjoy it at the end of May, the UK Spring bank holiday. We had a whole week off work and intended to spend most of it chilling out and enjoying ourselves, having a bit of a break from the DIY.

However, we were expecting visitors towards the end of the week - our neighbours from home were coming to stay for two nights on their way to the gite they had booked in the Auvergne. That meant we had to get the other bedroom tidied up to receive them and, if we had the time and inclination, we would try to get our new shower cubicle fitted in the "salle d'eau".

Towards midweek, Nick was beginning to get twitchy about fitting the new cubicle. We had considered leaving it until our friends arrived to give us a hand but he was keen to get on with it so it would be fitted and working for when they arrived.

When we saw the house in August 2007, there was a grotty little shower tray with a spectularly tasteless shower curtain - made of clear plastic with a pattern of pandas on it.

When we took possession of the house in November, the curtain and the rail for it had gone, along with everything else that was even vaguely useful. We replaced it temporarily with a new rail and slightly better curtain but there's something fundamentally unpleasant about shower curtains - it's the way that within moments of getting lathered up the thing gets sucked in towards you and clings to your anatomy. Horrible. Still, the shower itself worked extremely well - there was always plenty of lovely hot water and the water pressure in the area is phenomenal.

Nick had decided to buy the shower cubicle and tray in England and bring it over on the van with the furniture. That seemed sensible as he could be sure of what he was buying and following the instructions (perish the thought) if necessary. He had weighed up the compatibility of the UK fittings which would have to fit to the existing French pipework and was confident he could tackle it.

Things went well at first. The old shower tray came out easily and the new one went in without a hitch. The pipework matched up perfectly and Nick made a good job of replacing some tiles around the top of the tray. So far, so good.

Next we had to assemble the cubicle. This is where things went pear-shaped. He screwed the mounting framework to the walls and we tried to put the thing together. It just would not go. We had arranged to have lunch at the hotel in the village with Barrie and Lucie and when they turned up to walk down the hill with us, the cubicle was still in pieces, Nick was at the end of his tether and I had taken the dog for a walk to "get some air". When I got back, all three of them were pushing and shoving, turning it this way and that, balancing it on the furniture to get a different angle and a bit more purchase. I noticed that they had even opened and apparently consulted the instructions but to no avail. No amount of head-scratching, cursing or pleading would persuade it to go together and stay together.

We gave up and went to lunch. After an excellent and "bien arrosé" lunch we tottered back up the hill and, without even changing out of our good clothes, got stuck into the assembly problem again, determined that this thing was not going to beat us. Within five minutes it had gone together perfectly. There's a moral in this somewhere.

Nick fitted the assembled cubicle to the rails, sluthered plenty of sealer all over the important areas and we looked forward to our first shower in the morning, the day that our visitors would arrive. It looked magnificent.

Nick was first in. Happy sounds of suds and singing escaped from the bathroom. I was next. As I stepped into the shower I noticed a little puddle of water on the floor. Why are husbands so messy in the bathroom ? I showered in my usual neat and methodical fashion and as I stepped out there was an even bigger puddle. There was no escaping the fact - that our new shower cubicle leaked. Damn.

With every subsequent holiday we would spend ages trying to work out where the water was coming from. The pipework was fine. We had used masses of sealant to bung up every possible gap. We thought maybe it was the way we threw our elbows about inside the shower and water was getting out through the door. Even more puzzling, it didn't leak every time. Still, at least it worked and we could shower properly - we just had to do a bit of annoying mopping-up every time.

Eighteen months later, on New Year's Eve, we discovered the cause of the leak. Nick spent yet another ten minutes scrutinising the cubicle and emerged triumphantly from the bathroom to announce that he had the answer to the problem. "We" had put it in upside down. The panels had sealing strip right up to the very top where it was not needed but the sealing strip at the bottom appeared slightly too short leaving tiny gaps, therefore indicating that they were in the wrong way up.

I thought it diplomatic not to enquire whether there had been any clue in the instructions as to exactly which way was up !!



  1. The moral of this post is 'things always work better after one has had a good French lunch'.

    Shame about the upside down problem though - I bet there was many a groan and even a bit of a post-mortem when you both realised what had happened.

    I'm with you on the horribleness of shower curtains.

  2. FF - the question is - do we try to fix it by taking it out and refitting it or do we just carry on mopping up ??

  3. My cubicle may not be as fancy, but at least the muggins fitting it managed to get it in the right way up and watertight!

    I won't gloat though. It's the right way up only because that's the way I got the door opening the right way... Until I read this I didn't realise there was such a thing as an "up"

  4. Simon - we had no idea either. Mind you I suspect the good lunch may have blurred our judgement, chuffed as we were to get it to fit together at all.

  5. Hi Jean
    We took our shower over too. The base took forever to level up. I thought it would be so simple but it literally took two days to get right (on and off).
    Our biggest fear was if the water pressure wasn't good enough. As it turned out, it was brilliant.
    We chose large tiles thinking it will not take as long to do...it worked perfectly. We love it.
    No leaks yet, so I think it's the right way up.

  6. This same project is in our near future and I'm not looking forward to it. Fortunately the directions (even if they remain unread) will be in English.

  7. Suburbia - "de rien!"

    Ken - the water pressure in France - "c'est formidable!"

    Carolyn - anything to do with water or electricity makes me nervous !

  8. The wine probably made it easier to fit the thing together, but I suspect that it was also the cause of it being upside down.

    I tend to say to leave it as it is. At least now you know there is just a little mopping-up to do. You can't tell what it will be like after you've pulled it out and re-installed. These things just aren't meant to be moved once they are in place :)).

  9. Martine - I agree. We might just leave it for now. But I fully expect that at some point Nick will decide that "making do" isn't good enough and will feel compelled to sort it out.

  10. There is nothing I hate more than bricolage. Everything that can go wrong will.
    The shower looks great, hooray for you two.

  11. Dedene welcome !
    I don't know how people stay sane when they have major renovations to do. Just the bit of DIY we have taken on is difficult enough. For a holiday home, anyway.