As I look back on the past week it seems as though I have spent all of my time painting, or if not actually applying paint, then doing the preparatory work required to do so.
In last week’s blog I said that we were going to paint much of the exterior wood around Kergudon the same ‘Breton’ blue as we had our own back door but that, what I had hoped would be a quick and simple job, expanded in scope as I had to rebuild the base of the front door of Granary where the wood had begun to rot. I chose to include the new door to the boot room in the things to paint this week as well, as since we had it made for us many months ago it has only had a couple of coats of primer and I didn’t want it going the same way as Granary’s door.
However, before I painted this I need to fill around the edges. As we are hoping to make the boot room as air tight as we can so that it can double up as our drying room for walkers, cyclists, fishermen etc we don’t want to heat the space and have all the hot air leak out. As a quick and cheap construction for what was an old storage barn, the door frame had large gaps all around that I wanted to fill with mortar.
This was my first experience of making mortar with French ‘ingredients’ and, having sought advice, I bought what they use to mix. Their sand is definitely not the same as the builders’ sand I used in the UK which was all uniformly of the same, fine, grade, the French is much more like sharp sand with bits of grit and coarse granules making the mix very difficult to adhere in large gaps – especially against the none too absorbent slate. However, with much patience (and a little cussing!) I managed to fill the gaps satisfactorily but it took me practically all afternoon although at least meant that it would dry overnight.
Tuesday’s plan to start sanding all the wood was dealt a blow when I realised the equipment I needed was still in the car which David had taken to work in Morlaix so I had to shift target and returned to my foundation trench after I had rebuilt the base of the Granary door.
Having bought my new weapons last Saturday digging the trench became much easier and I managed to get to the end of the 16 metre trench fairly quickly before I went back to the start to dig to the correct depth as I had only scraped off the rock hard surface layer previously. It was certainly made easier but there is more to do – perhaps I may relent and see if there is a mini-digger and driver for hire!
Sanding moved into Wednesday when I had recovered the tools and I managed to get all the wood rubbed down and white spirited or sugar-soaped before painting the first coat of primer. Immediately they started looking better, in fact having sanded off the sun-faded surface layer of the Granary door it was clear how bright the yellow would have been when new, but I had hoped to get 2 primer coats on as I was now a day behind and had a hard deadline of yesterday to complete at least the Granary door as we had guests arriving.
It meant that sadly, we couldn’t take our Thursday off and do some ‘research’ somewhere, but as the great weather continued it allowed me to carry on painting and get the second coat of primer on and the first coat of colour which I managed to finish on Friday. Other than some minor tiddlying to scrape the excess of the window glass (I hate faffing with masking tape and find it as quick to cut in roughly) and replacing the handle and lock to the boot room, they all look great and are much better protected for the winter weather. It also makes the rear of our own house a little more interesting and colourful (albeit that the window frames are not huge) for when we start to use our terrace next year (when I will make sure it looks a lot less like Steptoe’s Yard!)
I was pleased I had got at least 2 coats of colour on all the wood on Friday as Saturday was one of the wettest days we have had for a few months which meant that I focussed inside (handy as we have family visiting and so our own living area needed a major tidy) but sadly meant that the Foire à l’ancienne at Commana was a bit of a wash-out. David was employed all day as a waiter for our friends who own the crêperie and had a really busy day as people stayed inside eating and drinking and avoiding the weather. He was handsomely paid in lovely food which we shall enjoy over the coming few days. Thanks PJ and Cyril! David really enjoyed it – and it all helps improve language skills – but he came home exhausted which was aggravated by us staying up until 2 am this morning with our guests – we didn’t even get to the Fest Noz! However, I still managed to get up and make breakfast for 2 gîtes at 0745 but the rest of the day has been pretty lazy …
This coming week will be a little weather dependent as we come into autumn but will hopefully include foundation trenches, hedge cutting and wall building (well it has been a couple of weeks …)