Monday, 27 January 2014

Renovation Project - The roof comes down!

Renovation Project - The roof comes down!

We have woken to no rain and the weather forecast says we have two days, so we get to work on the barn roof.

We knew this was rotten but like the porch we had no idea just how bad it was, john starts to remove the slates, we plan to do this carefully so that we can save the slate and hopefully sell it, but as seems to be the norm nothing goes to plan.

The slates come off in clumps, many still attached to rotten bits of wood, they then proceed to disintegrate when we try to remove them from the wood.

This job is going to be much quicker than we planned.

We also realise that parts of the barn roof are held together by the ivy and cobwebs and not by the wooden beams; thank goodness John had already built the new floor inside it as he would not have been able to stand on anything original.

Once the slates are removed from one side he starts on the other side and again most just fall off, we give up on the idea of selling the slate and just start to pile them up, I’m sure we will be able to find a use for them somewhere, after all we have lots of pathways to install in the garden and broken slate always looks nice!

Once all of the slate is removed John starts to remove the rotten beams, some of which only need a slight push to come down. It is amazing really; we have managed to take down an entire roof using no more than a normal hammer!

 We were hoping to be able to use the oak beams within the house but the majority are not even good enough to burn on the fire. John has a bonfire in the garden to get rid of a lot of this rotten wood as we do not want this next to our good wood.

The new flat roof already has a coating of waterproof on it, but the edges are not covered as we could not get to these with the old roof in place.

This needs to be made water tight before the rain starts again. John asks me to pass him some tools to scrape away the dirt and as I stand on the edge to get on the roof I feel it slide beneath me, bugger I’m going to go through!!!! Is john concerned? Of course he isn’t, he just says don’t stand on that bit, I need that in place! He can be a real arse at times!!!!!!!!

The edge of the old wall (this is where the wall met the old roof) is cleared and secured, I also now know not to stand anywhere near this edge! And it’s time to start making the cement to secure everything into place.But first I have to remove all of the rubbish, there has to be at least a tonne of debris that all has to be removed by hand!

Some friends had said that they had a cement mixer, but John said that we were ok and didn’t need to use one, no of course we don’t, because we have me!!!!! I hate mixing cement it’s dirty, heavy and I have to put up with john saying is the next bucket ready yet, no it’s not ready, does it bloody look ready???????

My back is breaking and I have had to move 40 kilo bags of sand and then the rain starts, so it needs to be done even more quickly, I could easily cry at this moment in time, I hurt and ache all over, it’s raining, I’m cold and wet and I have cement in my hair, I don’t ever remember seeing this bit on the TV programs, all those happy smiling faces, this is the reality, sad wet faces and the rain getting heavier before the job is finished!

We have to call it a day, the weather won, but most of the cement is in place and the last bit is covered with a piece of roofing felt, this will put the new roof to the test and I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow but now I am going to get a shower and lie down, how I wish we could order some take away food now because the idea of cooking just makes me want to cry even more!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Renovation project - The simple things in life

Renovation project - The simple things in life

The weather is bad again, how much can it rain???? We cannot do anymore outside so John does a few bits and pieces around the house, we look at the table and realise that we will need two tables once we are up and running as a B&B.

John checks the wood that we have and we do not have enough to make a table the same size, but now that we have our sideboard we also do not have room for two big tables.

We make a smaller table that fits perfectly next to the table that we already have so that if we have guests they can be put side by side to make one large dining table.

But for now this is going to go in to the kitchen, once there it looks fantastic and we are now in two minds as to whether or not to change this small table into a kitchen island and put some doors on it. But for now we have a kitchen table that is just right for us, it is so nice to be able to sit at the kitchen table for lunch; it really is the simple things in life that make it good.

The new shelves are added to the kitchen wall, this does cause some discussion as I really did not want white walls behind the metal shelves, John knows this and asks me what I want, I want to use some of the metal splash back behind the shelves, he then tells me that this would not look right and goes through every option until I accept the white walls, why the ******** hell does he ask me if he knows what he’s going to do??????

I pop to the supermarket and there is a sale on, I can’t resist buying a couple of little outfits to send back to the grand kids.

I wrap them and go to the post office; the post office in our French village is so different to the post office back in the UK and a word of warning, never go if you are in a rush.

There is one person who works (and who regularly takes little breaks so that nobody is there) and she talks to everybody who comes in, a trip to the post office is more like an outing, it is not quick and nobody rushes, it is also shut for the two hour lunch break, so I have no idea when those who work in France are supposed to use it!

I am getting more and more used to this laid back way of life and I no longer stand in the queue cursing how slow everything is, I now think I could no longer cope with the UK version where everybody rushes and nobody speaks.

John has had a problem with his teeth recently (well it’s actually been on and off for some months, he thinks he has an abscess) and it has now got to the point where it is really troubling him, so we head off to our local dentist only to find that it is no longer there, he has retired!

We call into the tourist office to get an address for another local one, but remember that friends had discussed a dentist in Morlaix that could speak English. We call at Sheila’s to ask for the number and she very kindly offers to call, they have no appointments till March, so she then even more kindly rings around a number of other dentists, but there is no answer, we then realise it’s Monday (Many places in rural France not only shut on Sunday’s but also shut on Mondays!). We give up on the dentist and make a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow to get some antibiotics. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Renovation project - There is a hole in the wall !!!!!!!!

Renovation project - There is a hole in the wall!!!!!!!!

We wake to no rain, even the sun is actually shining, what a fantastic day, so good that we make a start on taking the porch down.

John pulls on a bit of wood and the whole lot comes down, apparently it was just a wire that had been holding it in place, OMG, this was so bad.

John climbs onto the stone wall and gives a gentle push and the whole lot comes tumbling down, I hadn’t even considered this bit to be unsafe!

We do hit a major snag though; the beams in the porch actually went in the wall at the back of the house. John has to remove them which leaves a hole in the house wall. This needs to be fixed immediately as it will be very cold and the rain will come in.

John removes all of the wood and now has the joy of retiling the outside of the house. We also look at the old bathroom window and decide to remove this; we have already removed it from the inside, as this is now the bathroom wall.

John has tiled many roofs in the UK, but the tiling is different in France.

The empty space is covered by planks of wood and crochet hooks are hammered in to place and the tiles are added to these (john does not like the French way of slating!)

Our first problem is getting the correct slates, friends know of a roofing merchant that can supply them but this will be an extra cost that we could really do without. So we look at the slates that are on the old barn roof, these are bigger but can be cut to size. This will be a long job, cutting every slate to size but time is something we have plenty of, money is not.

John climbs on to the dilapidated roof and it immediately disintegrates under his foot. He has to carefully stand on the edge where the stone wall is, as he takes the slates down the roof beams disintegrate into dust in his hand.

I am there as watch out to let him know if he is going to fall or if there is any danger, I also take the slates and stack them sorting out which can be reused and which just crumble.

This job doesn’t take very long, and to be honest if we had just had another big gust of wind, we probably wouldn’t have had to do this job at all!

We have the stack of slates and John cuts them all to size, next is the actual job of fitting of them. John carefully removes the window which is only held in place by a couple of the crochet hooks (the window was not sealed in anyway, so no wonder there was such a draught) we still can’t believe that a window could’ve been just added in this way!

The wood planks are attached and John starts to add the slates, keeping the lines straight and the pattern continuous, this is not made easy, as if there is a knot in the wood you cannot get a crochet hook in, but you can’t put it anywhere else if you want the pattern to look right. John really does not like roofing in this way, and I think anybody in the vicinity now knows this, I also learnt a few new swear words and believe me after doing this project for so long, I really didn’t think that would be possible!

More tiles are removed as the new ones are added as some of the old ones break very easily, so John has to retile a much larger section than he had planned.

Once it is finished we look to see what it looks like and if you can tell the difference, the only difference is the colour, but once all are weather worn this will not be noticeable, now we just need some more dry weather as the entire barn roof has to come down, and we would prefer to take it down rather than have it all fall down.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Renovation project - Goodbye toilet, my old friend!

Renovation project - Goodbye toilet, my old friend!

Today is a momentous occasion, we are removing the toilet from the shed, this is quite an emotional day. The toilet is just a bog standard outside toilet but when we moved into the house and found it, it was one of the happiest days of my life. The house had no toilet so to find this behind a locked door in the shed was amazing. However now we have three beautiful working bathrooms it is no longer required and as the shed is no longer fully waterproof we need as much space as we can for the wood and tools.

As with many aspects of the house, no real thought seems to have been given as to where the outside toilet should have been placed and it takes up over half of the shed.

I decide to video the demolition and all is going well until I realise I have not actually pressed record! Bugger!!!!!!

The walls come down very easily as they are constructed of clinker block (this is a lightweight red brick) it is always worrying at how easily these walls come down.

The job does not take very long and John removes the old toilet and seals the drain. What does take a long time is bagging up all of the debris and taking it to the tip. But what a difference it makes to the shed, it is enormous now.

We think about what we are going to do with the shed, the roof is holding on by a whisker and the room inside is a good size. John is going to have a great workshop and will point the walls inside (at some point we will also build a side wall as at the moment we have a piece of tarpaulin covering the side to try to keep the weather out.

I have also been very busy, in addition to bagging the debris and driving to the tip, I have made a start on the floor at the top of the house, well actually I had made a start before we left for Christmas, but I have been carrying on with this job every spare moment.

I am scrubbing the wood floor with wire wool, the wood itself is in good condition it is just covered in forty years of dirt and grime, this is a long and tedious job and takes the best part of two weeks to do, it really is a labour of love (well not quite love because by the end I really hate this floor!).

Once it is finished I give it a quick once over with the sander, you can still see where we took the wall down and the floor was not varnished, so this has to blend in with the rest of the floor to prevent an obvious stripe, this is not easy but once I have given it a couple of coats of stain and a couple of coats of varnish it looks really good