February 25, 2015

MUD, A NICE LUNCH, MOUSE NESTS, MORE MUD AND GOODBYE ROUNDABOUT

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I arrived chez nous last weekend, very tired after a truly horrible journey which involved rain, hail, sleet, snow and a fifty minute hold-up due to a crash on the M1 which caused me to miss my train.

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Just as I thought, there was plenty of mud chez nous.

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The contractor turned up on Monday once the rain had stopped to begin digging the trench to take the electric cable to the gate.  While he was hard at work we went to Tours to choose some tiles for the new kitchen floor.  We dropped a note in the letter box of the mason giving all the details of our choice at teatime and headed home to cook a nice meal in our old kitchen for the last time.  And to use the dishwasher for the last time, too, as it was destined to be parked out of the way for a few weeks until the new kitchen is installed.

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On Tuesday we began moving our things out of the kitchen cupboards and with our temporary kitchen not yet up and running we went to Descartes in search of a spot of lunch.  We chose to eat in a restaurant we have passed by many times before, called, I think, “Le Cherizy” and were in for a real treat.

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It was very pleasant inside and for 13.50€ we had three very nicely presented courses.  Smoked salmon and avocado salad, steak and chips, and orange confit. 

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Excellent value and a most enjoyable experience so we will certainly be going there again.

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Today we started the job of removing the old kitchen. I always had my suspicions that we might find unwanted visitors lurking behind the units once we started taking them out.  When we moved in there were mouse traps and mouse droppings on top of the wall cabinets. 

Sure enough, a huge mouse nest was built in a hole in the wall just behind the cupboards.

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With the wall cupboards out of the way, the worktops can be removed, hopefully in one piece and, along with the old cooker and hood, will be on their way to a new home tomorrow.  We don’t like them but always felt that somebody else would be able to make good use of them – a much better option than simply taking them to the tip.

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Unfortunately the wet weather means that we can’t have our new drive for a while.  Our window of opportunity of fine weather has been and gone.  The contractor has filled in the trench and removed the roundabout that was in the middle of the drive then he’s off on holiday for a week so we are left to live with the mud and have no real idea when he’ll be back to finish the job.  It all depends on the weather.

The good news is that the mason has already ordered our tiles and, because of the wet weather, might be able to start the kitchen floor at the end of next week.  So the rain that has put the kibosh on our drive might have worked in our favour in another respect – the mason can’t get on with his huge list of outdoor jobs so can fill in with our indoor one.  Fingers crossed!

February 17, 2015

NEWS, SOME GOOD, SOME BAD

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The good news is that our new floor is fantastic.  It no longer slopes towards the door but is beautifully level and ready to have our furniture put back in the room – without the numerous bits of wood that we previously had to use to chock everything up so it didn’t fall over!

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The disappointing news is that even though the previous two weeks were fine and dry, the contractor didn’t come to do the drive as we had expected.

Now, after a weekend of rain, it is wet and muddy again and in a much poorer condition. If he was waiting for it to dry out in order to do it (the reason given for not starting the job), it looks like we will have to wait even longer before he can start.

Nick is now chez nous to begin the job of taking out the old kitchen.  I will be arriving soon, with the dog and the cat, which will make for a very interesting journey, I’m sure!

On the one hand I can’t wait to see the place again, after two months away.  It now seems unthinkable that for a number of years we didn’t see our little house in Le Grand-Pressigny for nearly six months over each winter.  I do remember feeling achingly desperate to get back each spring.

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On the other hand, I am really not looking forward to living with the mud.  With the cat, the dog and ourselves in and out of the house and the drive having hardly any dry areas left, it will be impossible to avoid trailing it into every room downstairs.  Maybe I should just give up and resign myself to letting the ground floor get filthy, as trying to keep it clean could be a waste of time and effort.

Upstairs is apparently also pretty bad.  According to Nick the cream carpets in the two bedrooms (a difficult colour to keep clean but not our choice as they were in when we bought the house) are rather grubby where the boiler man left his boot prints when he fiddled with the radiators.

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Still, we are lucky that the major job, the fosse, is now done.  There is however the unexpected effect on the ditch to resolve.  The waste water from the fosse is clean when it discharges into the ditch by the road, which with the recent heavy rain, is now quite full.  The entrance to the drive forms a dam that prevents the water running further down into the next part of the ditch, so maybe we need a pipe underneath it or something like that.

It feels a bit like “two steps forward, one step sideways” at the moment, but all in all it’s good progress. So long as you don’t mind the mud!

February 2, 2015

FOSSE, FLOOR AND BOILER UPDATE

The new fosse passed its inspection and the final certificate has arrived to say we can use it.  Hoorah !!!!

The remaining outside groundwork has been held up by the wet weather.  Fréderic the contractor has not yet been able to dig the trench we asked for to put in the electricity supply to serve electric gates and some lighting by the entrance.  (Both of which will make life much easier than fumbling in the dark with a torch to open the padlock that currently keeps the gate closed.)  Nor has he been able to scrape up what’s left of the scrappy gravel on the drive in order to renew it and make us a new drive.  All of this work requires a dry spell long enough to get it started and finished in one go.  The forecast looks promising for the next few days so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

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The unfriendly weather that has worked against us for the outside work has done us a favour in terms of the inside work, meaning that Alex has has to abandon gardening and been able to get on with the job of levelling the sloping floor in the “room that has no name”.

He measured the slope and noted a fall of 14.5cm across the room.  That’s nearly six inches!  No wonder we found it difficult to sit up straight on a chair!

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Basically he is putting a new floor on top of the old one, building slats for it to sit on.  The slats taper from the high end to the low end in order to produce the correct level.  This will produce a step out of the room onto the landing, but as there is already a matching step into the room at the other end of the landing this is hardly a problem. Not as much of a problem as not being able to put any furniture in the room without huge chocks under it anyway!

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Thanks to Nicole’s persuasive efforts the boiler man finally turned up and fitted the new boiler, which is up and running, keeping the temperature in the house above freezing while we’re still here in the UK.  He turned off the radiators that leak, which is probably about half of them, but there’s enough of them working for now and we’ll sort the rest when we get back chez nous.  We intend to replace all the older radiators but not until the weather is warm enough for us not to need them!

Other news is that the tree surgeon, having already removed the walnut tree, is coming back this week to reduce the massive lime tree and remove some other self-setting trees along the boundary.

Last but not least, Alex and Nicole have managed to persuade a reliable local builder to dig up and replace the kitchen floor as well as clean and redo the stonework in the kitchen walls and raise the lintel and height of the door into the utility room – the buanderie – the one that Nick bangs his head on every other time he goes through it!  The devis for the work arrived today, which is really good news, as the new kitchen can’t be installed until the floor is done (nor the new staircase).

It’s so frustrating that all this is happening while we sit here in Derbyshire waiting for news and photos of the work, but realistically it would have been no fun at all being in residence while it was all going on.  We are so lucky to have Alex and Nicole to take care of the project management for us, to chase up and meet with the contractors and tradesmen and make sure everything is going to plan.

So, it’s all coming together at last.  We won’t return to the house until the drive is finished as it’s all just too muddy and unmanageable at the moment.  We will therefore be two or three weeks later than we hoped/expected, but it will be worth the wait.  And by then, spring will surely be just around the corner.  Hoorah for that too !!!