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February 17, 2012

Well we awaited developments and they came thick & fast this past week!  Number one was the nice cozy fire in the living room stank the place out after I turned on the kitchen extract fan when cooking dinner – it sucked all the smoke down the chimney and into the house! So that idea is not a starter – back to the woodburner research I think.

Monday both Marc and the electrician arrived as planned and got stuck into the various jobs. We now have a new main fuse board and apparently it is not necessary to run earth wires to every socket – somehow there is a connection in the main panel. I don’t get this but my French isn’t good enough to completely discuss it. He did discover some rewiring is necessary in the sous-sol as the previous owners appeared to have bootlegged in a string of lights and power outlets without knowing what they were doing. One of the big anomalies in French electrics is that the live and neutral are not marked on three-pin plugs or on older sockets. Consequently it is common to find them reversed between two or more outlets on the same circuit – with the expected results of hot neutrals. This can be as crazy as one instance we found where the cable was joined using little screw connectors and the colours were reversed on each side! There is also a grounding fault which needs some work – apparently some time in the past a lightning storm blew the ground right out of the box and it wasn’t repaired properly.

On Tuesday the electrician decided to attack the problem of the billiard table light – this meant drilling the ceiling in the living room in two places; one where an existing light could be tapped into and another over the dead centre of the table position. Then they cut a small trench across the floor in the bedroom above and ran a cable and conduit into it. We carefully unpacked the light – this thing is unbelievably fragile being made entirely of thin stained glass panels separated by even thinner brass frames. Amazingly it had survived but I had to supervise the unwrapping and subsequent lifting into place. When we bought it we had to take it back as two panels were broken and the store found three more broken in the boxes before we found a complete one. They connected it while it was still on the floor so then they raised it up and I went upstairs to pull the cable through. It all seemed to work out right in the end.








Then after lunch Marc said “lets get the billiard table” so he went across to the neighbours for some heavy lifting help and I disassembled the huge crate it arrived in. It weighs 120kg and took four of us to carry it out of the sous-sol, up the garden path and in through the patio doors in one go. June was ready with some pre-cut felt pads and we soon had it place exactly where I wanted it. Some minor adjustments and some unpacking of the internals, a little maintenance and cleaning and we’re all set for the first Anglo-French Bar Billiards championship.








In the meantime Marc has put the doors on the bedroom wardrobe, they only took about four months to arrive. They were supplied with three hanging rails instead of two, no handles on two of the doors and missing nuts on one. Ah well, they do look quite good even if they were very expensive.

The weather has improved and we have daytime temperatures in double digits so June and I have been gardening again, trying to cope with huge overgrown bushes, ivy everywhere and just years of neglect. We are trying to open up the front of the house, there are large trees much too close for comfort so we had two removed professionally some time back, we have cut back a lot of the bushes and next we attack the large laurel bush/tree in front of the patio doors. Everything is starting to bud so we need to get this done soon.






We also have to carry out some remedial work on our fosse septique, part of which we knew about from the original report when we bought the place but now it appears there is a new issue and I cannot get anyone to tell me what this problem is exactly. The original estimate for remedial work (including a new fosse was about €5000 – recent verbal quotes have gone as high as €12000 which is just not happening. So I’ve been researching alternatives and this is getting complex. Part of the problem is how the house is described – if its five double bedrooms then we need a 10-person system. I’m working on three double bedrooms and a single plus an office which would be 7-person system. The difference in price is over €6000! This is ongoing, the first thing is apparently the need for a soil permeation test and that is being arranged.

Further research into wood burners resulted in an on-site visit and estimate by the company that gave us a rough quote for €3200 – firmed up when Marc was present and adding a few extras to €3400 but work cannot commence until end of April – we’ll decide later. In the meantime we are going to block the fireplace chimney to prevent down drafts and deal with the oil bills. The smoke smell has nearly gone now.

French business focus is interesting – it’s much more about the people than the profits or service. Our local bakery is not very good; the bread is heavy and just not right so normally I drive to the next village when necessary. They however have decided to take a two-week holiday and the place is closed. I decided to go to the next village along on Friday and would you believe that one is closed as well for two weeks! The third option (apart from the supermarket) is even further. You would think that businesses in the same trade close to each other might coordinate closures but then the French don’t coordinate business hours so everyone goes to work and back home at the same time then they spend hours sitting in their cars complaining about the traffic. 

It’s raining today so we are working indoors, Marc won’t be back until Monday then no doubt we’ll have more fun & games and spend even more money. 

A bientot

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Maria permalink
    February 17, 2012 14:30

    Hi David, just found your blogs and they are great….keep them coming please! Your house looks beautiful and you have obviously settled in really well albeit with a few house problems but then this is France!!! We have been here for 3 and half years and still love it but I am still not used to not having a shopping mall nearby or 24 hour shopping…even though we came here to escape all that!!!! There are lots of pros and cons here…cons for me are the hunters who sem to hunt what and where they like, our neighbours horse was killed whilst in the front part of the garden!! As we have 2 dogs when we hear the shots we dont like to let them out..but all in all the pros win!!!!
    Keep those blogs coming….

  2. February 17, 2012 14:38

    Hi Maria,
    Thanks for the comments – I’ll keep the blog going, there’s a ton of work to do here yet!

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Mrs Niklasson's Adventures

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