Sunday, 26 August 2012

Kerb Crawlers, Compliments, and Cones

I'm all behind!  Those of you who have known me for some time will say I have always been ‘all behind’.  Sally-Anne, don’t even go there with the green trousers and the wobble!  I do not often have access to the internet lately and when I do I am under pressure to attend to all the important things.  I would love to spend more time on the blog and show you a little more of the area, but sadly it will have to wait.

Creeping Crawlers
I am wondering if something was lost in translation on my post about the sexy slugs and their amorous activity.  The kerb crawlers have increased dramatically.  The cars are driving very slowly past the site.  One car overshot the turning and mounted the grass – truly!    Are they driving past at a snail’s pace (sorry) hoping to see some slugging?  The most likely answer is they are doing exactly what the LGB and I do when we pass a site; slowing, stopping and staring.  We have also done a little sneaking around building sites too.  Large house, small bungalow, garage, shed – we don’t mind.  We like to see what materials they use, styles, designs; basically we are nosey.  Therefore, now that our grey breeze blocks resemble a house people seem to be noticing it more.

Firstly the roof is nearly complete on the main house (just some pointing to do) and the poincons are in position.  What a huge milestone!  The LGB has done wonders to work in the extreme heat with no scaffolding and no help.  Bravo!  My hero!  Secondly, the oak truss is up in the kitchen/diner.
We chose the pine cone for the top of the roof

The pine cone is a symbol of immortality

Bob and Tony came over to look at progress.  Isn’t it amazing what a vegetarian can do with the promise of a bacon butty.  I simply wafted the porcine aroma in their direction and they were putty in our hands.  So having buttered them up the LGB asked them if they would help for an hour to put the oak truss up in the kitchen.  Meanwhile, Kevin arrived with an orbital sander.  I think he had seen me sanding the oak beams with my 6€ hobby sander and took pity on me.  The smell of bacon butties had him under our spell and he helped out too!  We used up Brendan’s three months’ supply of bacon, but it was worth it.  It was all up and looking lovely when we realised the king pin was the wrong way round.  The perpetrator said we had better not tell anyone what he had done, so my lips are sealed Your Royal Harveyness!  Thank you boys!
Here she comes!

Pat on the back lads - we've done it!

Quick undo it before the LGB sees us!

Get the professionals in to finish the job properly!!

Ah - there's lovely

A masterpiece of engineering!  Beautiful!

I am thrilled to bits, chuffed and delighted with the oak truss; it looks absolutely stunning.  It was one of the biggest highlights of the build so far.  I have mentioned before how much we both love wood, the smell, the touch and how beautiful it looks and oak is probably one of my favourite woods. 
However, it was a bittersweet day.  I couldn’t reach my sister to wish her a ‘happy birthday’ because she was in hospital with my lovely nephew Oliver, 12, who had been diagnosed with meningcoccus.  It was a fraught wait for blood tests but thankfully it had been caught in time.  It made me think how things can change in a heartbeat.  (Julie and family will know exactly how it feels.)  Things that seem a problem or important suddenly pale into insignificance. Coincidentally, Oliver’s initials are OAK and when he was a baby I used to say that the little acorn would grow into a big strong oak.  Get well Ollie; you will soon be kicking a football around again. Every time I look at my beautiful oak truss I can think of you! Xxx 

I think I received a compliment this week, or a back handed compliment, or a slap in the chops, I’m not sure which.  When all the ‘boys’ (I use that term lightly as I am sure when the average age is three score he really is no longer classed a boy) were here I passed a breeze block up quite a height to one of them and the person later told his wife I was a ‘strong old bird’.  Now to me this conjured up an image of Fatima Whitbread meets Giant Haystack crossed with a broiler chicken.   I won’t embarrass him by naming him but he spoke with a Welsh accent! 
I would live with those legs for a stomach like that.  

Let's show the 3 stooges how it's really done!

Et Voila!

Mick helped us put the terrace truss up; and pretty fabulous that looks too!  I can say that about our house can’t I?  I don’t mean to sound boastful, I am just excited that it is all coming together.

The LGB has side-tracked to dig a huge hole for the septic tank.  There is a reason for randomly leaving the roofs and starting this.  Daisy the digger cannot lift the tank which is a 4000 litre concrete box.  Therefore, when we order the extra tiles that we need to finish the roofs we will ask the driver to lower the tank into the hole and hope he will accommodate us.
I am still working my way through the windows.  There was too much dust flying around when the LGB was digging so I had a little respite from painting, but I will have to make a huge effort because putting the windows in will be one of the next jobs.
Kitchen and Terrace

Thank you again to all of you who are feeding and watering us, giving us a bed once a week for a good night’s sleep, a nice relaxing shower with no fear of unexpected visitors, doing some laundry and of course giving a hand.  You know who you are and you’re all little stars.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Frisky Slugs, Feeling Blue and Finials

Permanent Wave
I don’t know who they are but they keep waving.  We are risking life and limb here waving back at them.  Well, the LGB is risking life because he is atop the roof and has to let go of the rope to wave and whilst I’m not actually risking a limb to wave back there is the chance that I could take an eye out with this paintbrush.  And they have already driven past six times today and waved each time and now my arm is aching and I’ve got paint splashes all over the place. Actually we love it.   

‘Who’s that who just waved?’
‘I’ve no idea.’                                                                                                      
 'Who's that then?’                                            
‘Isn’t she the Irish lady who introduced herself last year?’       
‘I think you’re right.’                                                
‘Who's in that tractor?’                                                     
‘Is it the one that has the red car with the three legged dog?’ 
‘Oh, maybe.’                                                         
‘Why are you waving to him?’                                         
‘Just in case we know him.’                                                  
‘But he’s a UPS delivery driver!’    

The LGB adding finishing touches to the roof
 The LGB continues to lay and point the ridge tiles in high temperatures.  It was still 30 degrees in the sun when he finished at nine o’clock tonight.  (He is currently talking to a moth that has got into the caravan, explaining why he has to swat and kill it!  I think the sun has got to him, poor thing - the LGB not the moth!  I hope the sun has got to him and he has not decided he gets a better conversation from a moth than from me!)
The finials are in place

Feeling Blue
No sorry, the colour is just not doing it for me.  The one colour I did not want for the windows and shutters was blue.   Specifically Charentais blue, but blue all the same, so why did I choose blue?  Because I thought it was grey blue.  But it is blue and now I’m blue.
I have decided to simply undercoat the windows and ponder the final colour at leisure.  Maybe by the time I make a decision the undercoat will have a lovely aged, crumbly, flaky look (sounds like an ad for a chocolate bar), looking like it’s been there a hundred years.  Perfect!  The pot of Pebble Drift paint previously purchased will have to be used on garden benches and chairs and anything else that looks in need of a lick of blue paint.  So don’t stand still around me for too long.

Jobs Worth
As you know I have a bit of a fetish for interior design magazines, in fact I bought two yesterday that I already have!  On the rare occasions I have access to the internet I have become a bit of a blog stalker.  They are my on-line magazines.  They don’t take up any room, I don’t have to hide them from the LGB and best of all I get to have a little nosey into other people’s houses.  I laughed out loud when I read one such blog where the American blogger referred to her ‘wallpaper installer’!  How posh is that!!  Whatever happened to the good old ‘decorator’?  I am at present working as a ‘paint applicatrice’ (I just made that up).  Suddenly with a job title like that painting 24 windows and doors doesn’t seem such a chore.  Loving it!

Next Night
Ignore the last two sentences.  I have under-coated five window frames and four and a half windows (half means just one side of a window).  That has taken me a day to complete and that is a 9 pm, twenty one hundred hour finish.  If the LGB had let me have UPVC windows I wouldn’t be feeling like I was drowning under a sea of frames and windows.  I know, I know it’s in black and white, I have libelled myself, I confess it was me who wanted wooden windows.
I actually enjoy painting, I find it quite therapeutic.  However, sadly I am allergic to paint brushes.  Well not exactly the paint brushes but the cleaning of the paint brushes.  If I won the lottery I would throw each paint brush away after use.  Come to think of it, I haven’t won the lottery and that is what I do anyway.  I don’t mean to.  I wrap them in cling film with the good intention of using them again but when I get round to using them they have gone hard so I just throw them away.  The LGB buys a nice set that he says are ‘his’ and I mustn’t use them, but of course I do and then I have to sneak them into the bin when they are hard and beyond any usefulness as a brush.  Unfortunately, he usually finds them in their cling film wrapped – ‘I promise I will use you again soon’ state and he just puts them in the bin with a sad little face and a ‘what’s the use telling her off she’s not going to change now’ expression. J

Closed Shop
Today was an absolute scorcher.  The LGB made an early start but had to call it a day early afternoon.  We went in search of chestnut flooring for upstairs.  We didn’t have much success as, unlike the mad-dogs and Englishmen, most of the French population have shut up shop and are sunning themselves on golden beaches.  They really do literally put a sign up to say they are on holiday for two or three weeks (congĂ©) .  They do not seem fearful that their customers will take their business elsewhere.  I admire them for that.  The nearest we could come to joining them was a cold beer, some people watching and free entertainment from a rock band in Angouleme.   It was still 33 degrees in La Rochefoucauld at 9 pm.
Can you believe the mess an ants nest makes?

Lots of sanding before they could be put in place

We are preparing to put the oak trusses in the kitchen/diner.  The beautiful beams have been stored under a sheet and alas have some water damage and once again the ants have been nest building and have made a dreadful mess of some of the lovely oak beams.  It now involves a lot of time and effort to sand and clean them up ready for use.  I am also treating them with an insecticide and applying a colourless varnish for protection in case it rains before we can get the roof on.  Did you notice I said ‘we’?  I can help tile this roof as it is only one story.

A Sluggish Night
The LGB and I sat down last night to enjoy a well-earned glass of wine and a spot of relaxation.  I should have known it wouldn’t be what we were hoping for when my glass of rosĂ© would have been better described as vinegar and his red vino wasn’t much better.  Well, what would you expect at 50 centimes a bottle.  Not really!  The LGB paid over 5€ for his.  I threw mine away, but he has never been one to give up easily on a glass of wine however rancid.  
Brendan caught sight inches behind our heads of a most extraordinary spectacle, we thought the bad wine had given us hallucinations.  We both leapt from the seat and crept forward to get a better look at what I first thought was a little snake coiled up.
I ran for the camera and he moved the sofa.  We spent the next ten minutes in blatant voyeurism watching two slugs unashamedly copulating whilst hanging from some kind of slimy snotty stuff.  I am sure a biologist would have been enthralled.  Apparently it is called apophallation but I am not going into the details of this because you may be eating your breakfast or tea.  It was eerily mesmerising but also rather disgusting; like something from Alien.  I will let the photos speak for themselves.  We let them finish their business and the LGB dislodged them with a slurp and evicted them from the awning with a caution for lewd conduct and a public disorder offence. 

Look away now if you are of a nervous disposition.

In flagrante delicto

Sperm is exchanged through their protruded genitalia 

 Apophallation allows the slugs to separate themselves by one or both of the slugs chewing off the other's penis - nice!

All done!
Here endeth your biology lesson.

We have made more progress on the build but it is getting late so it will have to wait until next time.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

I'm Late, I'm Late!!

No internet access this week so I am late with last weeks blog.  My apologies to those of you who have been trying to leave comments.  I don’t know what the problem is.  I have tried to Google a solution but to no avail.  Please keep trying as it is always nice to get them.  Thank you anyway for the messages coming through other sources.

Last Thursday evening when we pulled up beside the caravan I noticed the farmer had taken the bales of hay.  The LGB didn’t notice the absence of three four feet high bales.  On Sunday evening I was taking photos of clouds (you know me and clouds; I’m a sucker for a bit of the fluffy stuff).  The LGB said ‘Isn’t the grass green?’  I knew where this was going and replied in the affirmative. ‘Take a photo of the field.’ says he.  ‘No, I want the clouds.’ says I.  He gave a little titter and said ‘You’re not very observant are you?’  ‘Why’s that?’ says I.  ‘Because you haven’t noticed that the hay has gone.’ replies Inspector Clouseau in his I’m so alert, sharp-eyed and on the ball sort of way.  I poke him in his ever shrinking belly and answer ‘No, you’re not very observant you fluffy-headed numpty, the farmer took the bales three days ago.’  One, nil, oooonnnnnne nil, one, nil, one, nil.  You’re not singing anymore!!!!!!  (If you don’t follow or go to football you will not have a Scooby-doo what that is all about.)

This week we collected the windows and vent tiles we had on order having been notified they had arrived.  When we arrived we were told one window was missing!  Just one more spanner in the works and another trip into Angouleme on another day.  We weren’t looking forward to loading the windows but the lad in collections got them on our truck on a pallet with the LGB stood on one side to balance it.  Health & Safety would have had a fit.

En route we collected an armoire I had purchased at the weekend and of course we had to have another little browse around the depot vente and came away with a big oak table and a plant pot!  We really shouldn’t be let loose.  The LGB was convinced the onlookers at Leroy Merlin were tittering and saying ‘Zees Anglaises zay buy all our old rrrubbeesh’.  I’ve said it before; one man’s rubbish ……… and all that.

Anyway being a full moon I knew Grumpy would make an appearance.  I was right.  I wasn’t lifting the windows properly, putting them down correctly, I was being a scaredy cat, too cautious, too slow, wrong Stanley knife, and so on.  His affliction reappeared, you know, the one where the thought doesn’t quite reach the bouche!  I think he thinks because I’m built like a battleship I should be able to perform like one, unfortunately I’m more your blow up dinghy in these situations.  But hey, even they could save your life!  Once again my thoughts turned to wanting to ‘lamp him one’.  So I did.  As soon as the windows were stacked I made a hasty escape for some retail therapy and I hit him where it really hurts ………… right in the wallet! Ouch!

P.S.  I am not a violent person and have never hit him physically.  I have my urges well under control – for now.  Now tell me again Mrs Bobbitt what you did when your husband p****d you off? OUCH!

Back to more serious matters.  I’ll give credit where credit is due - the roof is coming on a treat.  To look at it, it is all but covered.  The LGB had to take a couple of hundred tiles up the ladder on his shoulder (not in one go), pretty exhausting.  Now of course is the time consuming bit – all the ridge tiles to put up and cementing them in place.  This will also be a bit trickier as the LGB will have to take off his safety harness and do it free rein. All this has been done whilst he has been visiting the back doctor a couple of times a week.  He’s a martyr to the cause.
Coming on a treat

Sadly I have not been able to help with the roof apart from loading the tile hoist.  I have been sanding and cleaning bits of furniture we have bought and generally tidying up the site.

I love shutters that are crumbly and flaking and rusty gates, but I think the neighbours would think I had completely lost my marbles if I did ours like that.  The LGB would be none too pleased either.  I nearly resorted to pinning the tail on the donkey again to choose the colour for the windows and shutters when we finally managed to whittle the myriad of colours I had torn out and earmarked down to a grey.  Whereupon I immediately changed my mind to Pebble Drift, the one I had had in mind all along. I thought a grey grey would be too oppressive and bland on an overcast day, so I opted for a blue grey.

Blue is the colour
I handed my miniscule sample over to the lad in the paint department and requested a matt finish.  No, no matt finish so I opted for the satin and ran away before I could change my mind.  I did a few laps around the aisles whilst waiting for the paint to be mixed.  He waved me into the pit stop and took the lid off the paint pot.  It looked nothing like the colour I wanted, but I said it was fine, grabbed the pot and jogged to the checkout and paid before I could plonk it on a shelf somewhere and leave empty handed.  I questioned the total bill but was assured it was correct.  On further inspection outside I had been charged twice and at 75€ for 2.5 litres I returned for a refund.

I am not sure what goes on with the paint in France.  It is hugely expensive and the quality is not good.  The same makes in the UK cost a fraction of the price.  When we did the barn conversion we went to a specialist paint shop and bought 6 litres of paint at a cost of 210€!  What I thought was the price per pot was actually price per litre.  But to be fair, it was good paint.  I have so far painted one window to test the colour, but the jury is out at the moment.  At that price I am sure I will learn to love it. I have some Farrow and Ball earmarked for inside the house but will have to arrange a mortgage before buying that here.

The LGB is having Saturday and Sunday away from carrying tiles because Dr Crochet more or less said what was the point  him treating Brendan when he wasn’t resting his back.  So, today I began sanding all the windows in preparation for painting.  I’m not happy with the one I put a coat on yesterday, it is too blue.  A second coat has gone on today.  
My little workshop