May 26, 2016

ROOF WORK

lucarnes1

It’s hard to believe how much time has passed so quickly this year.  This was the scene at one of our favourite walks with Lulu, the morning after I flew back to France in early April.  The trees were bare, there was a deep frost and a heavy mist on the lake.

lucarnes1a

Whilst I was still back in the UK looking after my dad (who is now fine, btw), Nick was by himself chez nous (with the dog and cat for company of course) and supervising the start of some roof work.

On the front of the house are two dormer windows, known in France as “lucarnes”.  One of them leaked badly and last year we had some work done that we hoped might fix it but it didn’t, although they did look a lot better afterwards.

The source of the problem was the fillet of cement/concrete/whatever that runs down the side of the lucarne where it meets the roof tiles.  On one of them it was letting water in and we suspected that the other would soon follow suit.  So we decided to get the experts in and get it properly repaired.

lucarnes1b

lucarnes3

When the roofers took the outer layer of render off the lucarnes, underneath there were concrete blocks at the front and bits of flattened out corrugated tin at the back.  The only way to sensibly solve the problem of the leaks was to more or less rebuild the sides of both lucarnes.

lucarnes4lucarnes5lucarnes7

Roof tiles were removed either side, zinc flashing was fitted, batons were fitted to the sides of the lucarnes and they were then tiled.  The whole job looks much more businesslike, much smarter and we can rest easy in our beds in the knowledge that they won’t leak any more.

lucarnes6lucarnes6a

While the scaffolding was in place, Nick took advantage of it to paint the outer frame of the lucarnes, the new oak pieces that were fitted last year.

lucarnes9lucarnes8a

Once the lucarnes were finished, the roofers then moved on to repair the chimney stack and roof at one end of the house.  The concrete fillet around this was no longer doing its job and we had had leaks into the bedroom in heavy rain.  A good dollop of mastic was an effective temporary fix but we wanted it doing properly so that we could sleep in peace.  The roofers removed tiles around where the chimney stack meets the roof, fitted zinc flashing and replaced the tiles.  Job done.

lucarnes9a

Whilst all this was going on, the landscape rapidly changed.  Leaves appeared on the previously bare trees on our favourite walk.  The surrounding fields turned a startling yellow as the rape seed flowered and temperatures rose – although not as much as we had hoped.

lucarnes9b

On 1st May we hitched up the trailer bright and early and set off back to the UK to complete another task.  There had been a deep frost the night before and it was only 2°C as we pulled out of the drive.  We were reminded of the previous year when my brother came to stay with us for ten days in mid April – the temperature had ranged from 20-28°C for all of his stay.  This year was not turning out so good weatherwise, but we were getting nearer to finally getting all the important building and repair work done.  Poor weather but peace of mind on the house.

May 19, 2016

A TALE OF TWO CAKE STANDS AND CATCH UP.

cake stand4

So where did the month of April go?  Not to mention more than half of May?  With the spring equinox a distant memory and the summer solstice only a few weeks away the year is passing at an alarming rate.  We have been very busy, crossing the channel and back again, dealing with workmen (roofers), mending things (as always, we are tired of mending things now), reorganising the upstairs to accommodate new furniture and a guest, getting the garden in shape for the summer and, of course, living – the normal day to day stuff that you have to do regardless of whatever else is also going on as well.

More about all that later but just for now I couldn’t resist telling the tale of the two cake stands.

When we first looked at the little house at the foot of the château in Le Grand-Pressigny, the agent said that he thought the owner would want to leave all the contents.  We said that we sincerely hoped not as we wouldn’t want any of it – but I did rather like the cake stand that was on the table.

When we looked at the little house for the second time, just three days later, the agent offered me the cake stand.  I declined, as it wasn’t his to give away and taking it would have felt like stealing.  We made an offer on the house and the process of buying was put in motion.

cake stand5

When we finally got the keys to the house it was completely empty,thankfully.  whilst some of the furniture and contents might have come in handy we would have had to spend a great deal of time getting rid of most of it, and we wouldn’t have known where to start.  Everything was gone, including light fittings, shower curtain, in fact everything that could be removed without trashing the house.  Including the cake stand.

We thought that the old lady had probably got a firm of house clearance people in to get it all out and it occurred to me that one day some of it might turn up at a local brocante or vide-grenier, possibly even the cake stand.

cake stand6

May is the first big month for such events and there are several every weekend.  My brother had just arrived for his holiday with us on Saturday so on Sunday we set off to do a tour of some of the brocantes.  First call was to the one in Loches.

cake stand7

It was a nice one, not too big but big enough to be worth going.  Plenty of quality items for sale at affordable prices, not just expensive dealer stuff or useless household junk.  With the sun shining and the bars and cafés open, we were having a nice time.

Then I saw it.  The cake stand.

cake stand2

I recognised it immediately and swooped.  I was pretty sure it was the same one and when back home I looked through the old photo files that we took when house hunting to be sure I was right – and I was.  It had only taken me nine years to find it!

Of course it might not be precisely the one from our house, there must have been others around although I have never seen any.  Mind you, the day after my amazing find a friend showed me her cake plate – an identical top without a foot so a plate not a stand – and hers came from M&S many years ago!