Having said in last week’s blog that we were feeling particularly fatigued the previous week we did pick up tasks last week with the renewed vigour that was required. This was helped by the fact that the weather improved greatly and we had a number of warm, dry, days which allowed me to cut the lawns for the first time in about 3 weeks!
I also mentioned at the end of the blog that we were going to collect something fun for Grange on the Monday which was a pool table – the first piece of equipment that will be in our games room. We found it on a French website which is similar to Gumtree and it was relatively convenient to us just outside of Brest.
We took the opportunity to visit a number of brico (DIY) stores to do some research into the most cost effective insulation, flooring and interior cladding which we need to order so I have the materials to progress in the, likely to be coming, wet cold days We think we have decided what to use and, having asked for people’s suggestions, we have decided on lambris for the interior. While not our ideal choice, and much more traditional that the other options we considered, as ever these decisions boil down to practicalities like ease of sourcing and cost. Having decided to build such a large building there is an impact on the amount of materials that we need to do anything …
Getting the pool table into the Grange’s games room was an emotional experience and, while the legs have come off, the top was incredibly heavy (although isn’t slate) and just the ideal size to make it almost impossible to manoeuvre at the top of the staircase into the games room. Foolishly, we hadn’t considered this aspect of the table very much and are now really pleased that we hadn’t bought a slate topped proper bar table as that would have been all the more difficult again.
Thankfully, as a second-hand table, it does require a little TLC to make it look amazing so we have left the legs off and the top upturned in the games room so that it isn’t (yet) too much of a distraction from other tasks that we need to progress.
The principle other task I have begun is behind Grange where I want to dig the ground out, ultimately all around the building, to the same level which will make it easier to build and use the wood store – hence this week’s title and well done to those who picked up the 17th century reference. I knew this would take a few days to complete as, remembering when I dug the foundations out for the building itself, the ground is mostly root and slate with some soil. That said, I am pretty pleased with my progress and am half way along the back which, I think, is likely to be the harder half.
Other, smaller, tasks included progressing the insulation above, and ‘repairs’ of, our poêle which turned out to be a slightly larger job as I discovered a hole had been burned in the baffle (the bit that prevents the flames shooting directly up the flue). We thought that it may be simple to find a blacksmith in this agricultural part of France to bend us a sheet of steel but, despite asking a number of people, drew a blank. However, despite the burner being quite old (predating our predecessors in the house) a neighbour knew someone who knew someone who knew where the fire came from – Buckfastleigh in Devon. Obviously! A couple of emails and phonecalls later and we have some new parts winging their way to us which should arrive in the next couple of weeks, before the really cold weather arrives.
In advance of David’s uncle and aunt’s arrival yesterday in their lovely car, I also spent a couple of hours clearing out one bay of Grange to be used as a garage and we were able to park a car in there for the first time.
Yesterday was the annual Commana Horse Fair which, thankfully, was dry and warm unlike the complete wash-out in 2016. David and I visited to look at the animals which are always the most interesting part of the fair although there is a large market and ‘brocante’ (flea market) stalls. We were very disciplined and didn’t spend too much, although, eventually, we would love to buy a whole menagerie of ducks, chickens etc but, sadly, this is unlikely to happen for a year or 2.
Today’s cultural activity was Saint Cadou’s own cochon grillé which is held as part of the annual Saint Cadou pardon (saint’s day) although, while some village’s make a big thing of their saints pardons with parades and services, we don’t see too much evidence of the religious aspects in our village just eating, drinking and music – very Saint Cadou. We went with David’s aunt and uncle and our guests who are staying in Granary to give them the whole rural France village experience which they tell us they enjoyed.
Next week will be progressing the levelling behind Grange and, if I make sufficient progress, starting to build the wood store itself then I feel we are really making progress!