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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.