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Trench warfare

October 6, 2012

Last week marked the anniversary of when we signed the acte de vente and paid over our money to buy this house – what a year it has been and we are not done yet! Saturday dawned but we took no notice until it had really got going – then we got stuck in. June with a marathon washing session of clothes and all the guest bed linen, I took all the soaking wet towels (from the flood) out of the garage and aired them off. I also opened up all the doors & windows to try and dry the place out a bit; seemed to help. That of course cooled the house down so we lit the woodburner – wow, this thing can really put out the heat!

Next job was to clear the end bedroom and then move the office. After some investigation using long phone cords I found that the Livebox connection is nothing more than a regular RJ11 cord so as I had a 25’ one lying around all I needed was a phone socket close to the middle bedroom. There is a phone junction box in the attic so after some rewiring and the addition of a phone socket (found one somewhere when we initially cleared the place) I now have a working phone line. Then came the move of all the computer stuff. Its amazing to me that even in 2012 there is a separate wire for keyboard, mouse, screen (2), printer, speakers, internet, phone and webcam – then there’s the power cords, printer, processor, speakers, Livebox, phone. You would think there was a better way – I recall selling computers in the 80’s that were advertised as only needing a power cord and a printer connection.

Profosse had promised to be here on Saturday afternoon but no-showed and a call from them cut off before I could answer it. No replies since so I sent them an email. I did not get a reply until Monday – another bunch of lame excuses and they can’t get here until Thursday, not good enough. I searched the AngloInfo website for an alternative but the only company that could do it – couldn’t because their man was on vacation!  An internet search revealed a local company and a phone call found someone who spoke excellent English. We spent the next four hours exchanging phone calls with repeated promises (all broken) to call me back. They eventually got to the guy doing the scheduling and the result is they can be here first thing Tuesday. So we ‘sandbagged’ the garage door with old towels and watched the sky, eventually heading for bed with one ear open. Funnily enough we were awakened a bit early by the noise of farm equipment – turns out they are harvesting the beans today, the later arrival of the machine was quite a sight and blocked the road for a while.

Tuesday came and the guys with two trucks – one equipped with an air conditioned office full of computers and other electronics, the other with water jets, nozzles and evacuation pumps. First guy runs the camera tube down the drain and finds a small blockage – turns out to be a frog! By the time he got that out the second guys had run their high pressure hose down the drain and rigged the extract pump. There followed much washing and drainage but it was obvious the blockage was permanent. The camera revealed why – the drain has an inspection pit lined with granite blocks and providing access to the soak-away. The blocks had collapsed apparently and the soak away didn’t. The cure is not yet determined but I suspect more (expensive) digging and drain replacement. In the meantime Mme J (who could not stay away from such excitement) determined we should acquire a pump in case of heavy rain before the repairs can be made – she kindly offered to go with me to the local expert shop. The trip turned out to be a failure, there is no automatic pump that will fit in the drain so we returned and replenished the sandbagging. We watched as they harvested the beans from the field – the machine looked like something from  Star Wars – all completed by the evening but they didn’t shut the machine down until something like 9:30pm – can’t complain as our neighbours are just the best people in the world.

Wednesday morning arrived and fortunately our sandbags had held and there was no flooding. Attempts to contact Profosse went nowhere and I started searching for alternatives. The inspection guys don’t do repairs; they are supposed to be sending the report so we can contact companies for estimates. We spent the rest of the day working on the remaining two upstairs rooms, cleaning off the remnants of the wallpaper and glue and getting ready to fill cracks etc. This job is made doubly difficult by the original decorators who stick the carpet partly up the wall on top of the wallpaper and also used the carpet glue to fill cracks. They also nailed a plastic trim strip to the edge of the carpet along the wall to form a sort of skirting board. The glue is a pain to remove and the little nails are embedded in the plaster and every so often the scraper hits a hidden one. Right at the end of this, Mme J appears with a bowl of green beans for June and a message for me that she has found a local company. They arrived at 6:30 pm to examine the drainage problem and provide an estimate. He said he can start on Friday and the cost was very low, not sure I actually believe it but we’ll see as there is no time to pursue alternatives. The weather forecast for Thursday and Friday is good but next week is full of rain.

We escaped any flooding on Thursday and spent the day as usual with a trip to the hairdressers, shopping and lunch. We were supposed to Skype with a friend at his 90th birthday party but somehow the “start now” message didn’t get through and we had an early night instead. Our drain guy arrived at 8:30 Friday and began digging where the inspection team had indicated – no luck so he moved over about 1 metre. As luck would have it the report from the inspection team arrived by email but it didn’t help very much. All of this investigation and discussion ably assisted by M et Mme J and their dog, they even brought their drain rods to help find the pipe direction. Off he went again with the digger but no luck again but he did find the water main which immediately split so we had to turn the water off! He then moved over even further and nearer the house and then found the end of the drain which took a lot of digging out to fully expose, it was indeed blocked by large rocks and there was no outlet. So, he filled in the original holes and then started off towards the road with a new trench for a complete drain. He also went and got some parts to repair the water main so we had that back on by 12:30. There followed the usual French 2-hour lunch and then he laid the pipe into the trench. Mme J suggested we flush and test all the rain gutters before filling anything in so armed with a ladder and a hosepipe all was duly flushed – it worked! Next off, backfilling and leveling off what remains of our garden and would you believe in the middle of this a load of sand dropped into the trench had a large rock in it and it split the pipe! Another 30 minutes to fix that and then our guy was joined by a female personage who promptly grabbed a shovel and started filling around the pipe. This turned out to be his wife and she did all the garden restoration work, raking stones and twigs, setting the edging stones and even brushing the grass to remove excess dirt. They replace the gravel as best they could, now we will have to get some more or the path is going to be very muddy. They left at 7:00pm – long day but now we can rest easy should we get heavy rains.

Now we are getting on with the decoration of the last two rooms and hopefully we can get them complete in a week or so.

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David & June

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2012 20:11

    We are living such a boring life down here in PC… no wonder I don’t write in our blog…YOU on the other hand have so much going on. Your last post of Fire and Floods reminded me of a good joke: Two Jewish guys sitting on the beach in Miami. One says to the other: So what are you doing here? Well I had a fire in my factory and it burnt down. I took the insurance money and retired here. The other says: No kidding, my factory had a flood and I took the insurance money and retired here. The first guys says – So, how do you start a flood???
    Your soil is sooo stone (small boulder) free – that is a plus but what an upset OMG! Never mind it is looking good. You, at least have had a family visit. Someday we will too!
    Love the posts !! Our blog, i’ll get aroundtoit this weekend as our dear departed friend answered his wife when she inquired about having sex! Keep up the good work…

  2. October 7, 2012 19:08

    Wow, how do you cope with the disasters around the fosse, but on a meaner note, it does make excellent reading and helps me feel a bit better about our disasters!
    we had considered originally buying in the country but decided on a town house because of the fosse issues, but who knows maybe next time

  3. October 7, 2012 19:22

    Jo – Moshe says sorry about the fire – Josef says “shush – it’s next week”
    J & J there are fosse issues in towns too – hope you don’t find out.

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