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Obstacles

August 4, 2012

So on we go but no fosse guys arrive – apparently he still has a bad leg but expects to be back on Tuesday.  We spend the day removing radiators, painting & patching and generally cleaning up bits & pieces as part of our decoration preparation.

Tuesday and the Profosse guys arrive at 10:30 – we need to go shopping. When we get back they are all scratching their collective heads because they have brought 13 tons of gravel but can’t use it. The paper from the Mairie hasn’t arrived and it turns out they need another inspection from SPANC and they are closed on Tuesdays – so they dump the gravel and leave for the day.

The weather has turned amazingly hot – must be over 31 today – and no sign of the fosse guys. Profosse boss calls and explains that there is a BIG problem with the new system – apparently the Mairie in Trefflean will not allow the filtered water to flow into the ditch at the edge of the road. This is all new to everyone – SPANC, SIAEP, Permeasol and Profosse. Now there is big debate going on about how to resolve the problem.

I decide to repair the radiator mounting in our bedroom as it appears the plaster has cracked and bent the skirting board during the replacement of the radiator valves. Nothing so simple! I get the radiator off the wall, remove the skirting board and discover that it has got wet sometime and being MDF has expanded. We clean and repaint the radiator, remove the damaged wall-paper and patch up the plaster holes. It’ll take a couple of days as it’ll need multiple layers of patching. There is no replacement skirting available so I guess we’re using the old bit again with some careful adjustments.

By Thursday there is no news of the fosse project other than the guy from Permeasol, who designed it, will be back on Friday to re-examine the whole thing. He does and is not optimistic as there does not seem to be anywhere on our property where the water will soak away at the prescribed rate. He is really mad at the Mairie, the law in France states that if the ground will not permeate at a rate of 50 litres per hour per square metre then the surplus is to be run off into the ditch by the road. The Maire of Trefflean will not allow this and apparently his authority is greater than that of the SPANC etc. The Profosse boss came on Saturday to discuss things – he thinks there is a way around the problem but it might take a couple of Nelson’s eyes to make it work, we’ll find out next week, meanwhile we have a major construction site to look at.

The few days of good weather allowed us to get back into using the BBQ, we’ve had steaks, sausages, burgers, chicken and finally some ribs. All in all quite pleasant even if the weather turned a tad cool on Saturday and we ended up eating indoors. A pleasant weekend eventually highlighted by Lewis Hamilton winning the Hungarian GP.

As expected the next week turned crazy, Marc arrived to fit the remaining parts to the wardrobe, it really isn’t a very good job at all. He blames it on the non-level ceiling and out-of-plumb walls – I blame it on the fact he won’t listen to anyone else and won’t do what we want – he could be in for a surprise. The fireplace fitter arrived as well and turned our living room into a workshop. We covered the floor & furniture as best we could and he added some more padding and dust covers. Naturally there was a problem – the insert would not fit as it is 12mm too high for the arch lintel. Much head scratching until the guy figures out he can remove the cement joint at the top of the lintel and jack it up enough to push the insert in – it actually works! Then it’s down to putting the flue in the chimney, the heat outlet vent in the bedroom, cutting the vent in the chimney breast and generally putting it all together. He finally finishes close to 7:00pm and very nice job he has made of it. They will come back in September for the first lighting to ensure all goes well.

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On Tuesday June & I set to spring cleaning the living/dining room. There was a fair layer of dust after all the work, hardly surprising given what was done. It took us nearly all day but the result was worth it. We sat down for the evening and enjoyed the last 40 minutes or so of the Olympic Opening Ceremony thanks to a friend who had recorded it and made a copy available. It took about 5 hours to download off his server and quite a bit more fiddling to burn it on to a DVD but it was worth it, thoroughly enjoyed the final sequences.

The news on the fosse is still not good – Permeasol won’t go along with Plan ‘B’ and their only solution is another soak away and electric pumps to get the water up the hill – this would cost in excess of €3000 and is a non-starter for us. So Profosse are discussing Plan ‘A’ with the Mairie in the hopes of getting their decision reversed – I am not optimistic as it turns out our neighbours had fought  the same battle over four years ago!. They are also pursuing Plan ‘C’ which involves another soil inspection by a ‘friendly’ company so that the external drain is not needed.

Malcolm the gardener showed up and spent most of the day weeding, tidying, strimming and pruning – the place is looking better each time he comes, hopefully when all the construction is done we can spend more time out there. We had wanted to get the big hedge done but can’t get close to it because of the fosse trench and equipment. Our roofing contractor also arrived to start fitting the Velux windows but like the gardener he also got rained off from any external work. I spent the afternoon fitting the shower rail in the guest bathroom – a much more complicated job than it sounds as the rail is curved and one end is suspended from the ceiling. The roofer spent the day preparing the new windows, making frames and exposing the internal parts of the roof. The weather is not co-operating, every time he thinks about cutting the roof the showers start so he called it a day.

The fosse problem would not go away, we had a meeting with our neighbours who had a similar problem and learned how their system worked and what they did to make it happen. I had them talk to Profosse as well. Then I decided it was time for action – I went direct to the Mairie and was fortunate to secure about 10 minutes of his time. It was obvious that there was a misunderstanding of the system and the Maire believed that water would be coming out of the drain like a fire hose. I asked him to phone Profosse which he did right there & then – the explanation was accepted and the plan slightly modified by adding gravel and perforated pipes to the outlet. Profosse is sending the Maire a revised plan and the Maire has agreed to sign it on Friday morning. Work should start again on Monday!

While all this is going on, our plumber is updating the plumbing in the laundry room and adding a small sink so we now have hot & cold water plus improved (and acceptable) drainage to the new fosse. The days of taking the dryer condenser water out to the garage are over – I can hear June cheering now!

In the midst of all this construction stuff the repairers brought my mower back and said they had remounted the deflector – but they hadn’t, it’s exactly how I had it. Further discussion proved futile so I accepted it and I have a simple Heath Robinson fix that I know will work so that is how we’ll get the grass cut should it ever stop raining long enough. Funnily enough it didn’t rain all afternoon after the roofer left.

Also in the middle of all this the opticians called and told me my glasses were ready so I drove all the way over to St. Ave to collect them – they were useless, I couldn’t see a thing with them. They want to check against my old ones so I went back on Friday for another check. They could not work out why the correction wasn’t working and suggested I see an ophthalmologist and they have made me an appointment for the following Friday.

One of the things we have been missing in France (of all places) is any decent biscuits to eat with cheese, the trip to England readily identified what we needed and I ended up buying a few packets online. On delivery they turned out to be packets of crumbs but, after a few attempts at communication, the suppliers agreed to replace the entire order at no cost to us. Good customer service!

The weather being in uncooperative mood the roofer decides to wait until Monday and we set about cleaning out the laundry room. Removed all the old rubbish and construction detritus, fitted new lights and sockets, a towel holder and thoroughly vacuumed and washed the place out. This will do until the rest of the house is decorated.

Onward & upward

David & June

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2012 13:48

    Hi – we have been wondering what was going on with your fosse. Now we know. Nothing is ever simple, is it?? What a project. The fireplace does look very good and you will be warmer (for less €) this winter – yikes – just the thought of winter gives me the chills. You certainly have done quite a bit to your place. We are still awaiting a quote (from 2 months ago) to make the unfinished room into a master with walk in closet and en suite. I’d like to know about your closet as I am having problems envisioning what we want/need and problems we’ll encounter – walls and floors..
    Send rain please – we have to water the vegetables and flowers
    everyday. The lawn is brown in the unshaded parts and the sunflowers in the fields are hanging their heads from lack of moisture – only the corn is watered…
    BTW is your couch leather and teak?? How long have you had it?? It looks identical to the one we bought in Chicago in 1982. Son #1 and family have it in Canada since 1990 and have had it recovered twice because it is so sturdy. Also do you have a Gustav Becker clock??? I don’t know if I will get your reply from this site so could you email me with the answers. Yup – onward and upward. Bonne chance!! Jo

  2. August 4, 2012 14:46

    The couch is by Eknornes – its leather and ash – we bought it in 1982 and it’s in the original state, never recovered or anything. The clock is unknown manufacturer.

    If I could send rain I would – it’s hissing down again today 😦

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