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Ups and downs

October 23, 2011

Monday started with a trip to the hardware store to try and change the paint we bought at the weekend – no exchange but they did attempt to modify the colour for us. Limited success, although it’s supposed to a beige shade it really is much pinker and doesn’t match anything, ah well expensive tin of undercoat!

At the house we got stuck into the wallpaper removal, crack filling and general repairs to the décor. The wallpaper in the WC and bathroom is proving a real problem, its vinyl and does not want to be soaked and removed. There is also a ton of work do to with the wiring so I’m trying to save money by doing a lot of the removal of old switches and sockets myself. The wall lights in the middle bedroom were very scary; they were not proper sockets just some old telephone-size wire buried direct in the plaster. There did not appear to be a live connection so I ripped it all out, June didn’t want them anyway. I’m also replacing some light fittings and changing closet lights from incandescent to fluorescent.

The wiring under the wallpaper!








Lunch! We have found a small bar in Elven that serves a simple lunch, croque monsieur with frites, beer for me and wine for June and a cup of coffee to follow.

On Tuesday Marc had arrived and was starting work on the wardrobe in the master bedroom – AAHH, now I get it, he’s building the walls from some solid plaster type blocks so it appears to be part of the room, in fact it is now. Next comes the crown molding (coving) then we’ll be ready to paper & paint the outside in a day or two.








The Tree Fellers also showed up (well there were two actually but why ruin a good gag) and they spent most of the day removing two large overgrown pine trees from the front of the house and cutting down a couple of damaged trees at the back. They split & stacked all the wood, ground out the stumps and completely cleared up. They also uncovered a small dolmen in the process 🙂 It was raining most of the day and they asked if they could eat their lunch in the house. They had brought a couple of lawn chairs, a cooler box, a cooking stove and a pan and duly set to and prepared and ate a hot meal.









It’s amazing how every job is turning out to create about three more, removing the cistern from the WC meant we had to turn the water to the whole house off as the little tap to the cistern would not shut off – needs a new one which Marc will do on Wednesday. He also started on demolishing the bathroom – the tub is cast iron! The quality of the work of the original installation is very suspect, and I am getting ready for more surprises and expense. I could NOT get the tile off the wall, only achieved breaking a couple and deafening myself. Marc is going to have a go later.

The weather has turned colder (around 15C) and the house has had no heating in it for over a year. Consequently the fabric of the building is cold and I’m a great believer in thermal mass – it’ll take a while before it feels warm. We removed one radiator to be able to remove the wallpaper behind it and it was full of thick brown rusty water 😦  This means we now have to remove every radiator and clean them out before the heating can be turned on – we are waiting for the oil delivery guy to check the oil tank and boiler, it could be a week or more before we have heat. We are freezing even though we are well wrapped up and working.

Wednesday was spent in Baden as we had to wait for Orange to show up to investigate/fix our internet problem. I also had to spend the morning printing and copying documents and getting them mailed off. About an hour before Orange showed up the neighbours had some work done in the garage area which is the adjoining wall to our part. Much banging and cracking and the Internet went down a couple of times. By the time Orange arrived all was normal and it’s stayed that way – can’t be a coincidence, can it?

We arrived back at the house on Thursday to discover that Marc had been busy, bath tub removed, half the tile removed, paint on the walls of the wardrobe and he’d even started on the wallpaper in the hall. However, he wasn’t there on Thursday so June and I got stuck into more wallpaper removal, washing down and crack filling. I got three radiators off and flushed them out and have discovered that the valve system (combine inlet & outlet) means it is impossible to isolate a radiator for removal without shutting down the entire system. Also removing more than one at a time means the water drains out of the other removed radiator pipes – this is going to get very tedious.








It never rains but it pours as they say – the shop vac decided to quit working – we brought it from the USA and had it plugged into a transformer. It worked fine for a couple of days and then just quit. I stripped it down and the motor just fell apart – well it is 15 years old. Now I have to buy a new one because this place is just going to need it for a year or so while we get sorted.

The alarm company were supposed to show up and remove the system but by 4:30 we were frozen silly and called them to cancel the appointment and left. Home (!) to a hot shower and a couple of G&T’s and an early night.

Friday was freezing – literally. There was ice on the windscreen at 9:00am and the ambient temperature was about 0C. We got an email from Sylvie (Marc’s wife and our original friend in France) which gave us some cause for concern as he was basically banning us from the ground floor for a week while he lays the tile and listed all the things we needed to do before Monday!! We arrived at the house and again got stuck into removing the last of the bathroom wallpaper. Marc arrived and explained that it wasn’t that critical but we did need the toilets; sink unit and bathtub delivered so he could measure up the drains etc. We have planned on a big discussion on Saturday afternoon to make a project plan for next week. As we had to go to Vannes at lunchtime, we decided to spend the rest of Friday shopping and arranging for the delivery of all the bathroom stuff.

Late Friday evening Sylvie called to tell us Marc had got the boiler working and we have hot water and the heating system is working. However he wants to wait for the oil delivery and checkup on Monday before turning it on fully. On Saturday the car battery failed 😦  somehow I managed to get the car started and drove straight to the dealers where we bought it. Diagnosed as “dead”, they replaced it immediately but now we were too late to get the shopping done, ah well lets go for lunch! We met at the house and discussed the coming weeks work plan which explained a lot and then all four of us attacked the wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom and hall/landing. These truly are great friends – Marc wants us to be done with ripping out and cleansing before we move in.

We did discover some more defects, found out some truths about the house via a neighbour and now have a firm plan to get us moved in by November 11th. A bit of a roller-coaster of a week but we are getting there and it ended on an ‘up’.

More details to follow, this is getting a bit long

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2011 13:32

    Slogging along are you? My goodness what an undertaking! We’ve noticed the French love of wallpapering everything, even the celings….rotten job removing it!
    It will be worth it in the end. Sounds as if you have an excellent artisan in Marc.
    Bon courage! Jo

  2. dorothy murray permalink
    October 25, 2011 12:54

    Oh David and June what a story. I love reading it ; not loving the idea that it could be all ahead of us also.

    Keep up the good work. The ice on the windows reminds us of Ireland and our parents houses!!.
    Good luck

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