Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Les grands travails

After last week's post Mrs M suggested that maybe this blog should evolve into a record of our new adventure in France. It's not a bad idea actually; I've been droning on about running, cycling and anything else that exercises me for some time now. I don't think I'm going to abandon the old stuff completely, but there's going to be plenty of goings-on to record from the southern side of the Channel over the next few months.

So we duly took delivery last Friday of our next door neighbour's place, which consists of:

- one large, empty, abandoned, uninhabitable house
- one small, one-bedroomed, quite cute inhabitable house
- one stone building, left half acting as laundry, right half currently a wood store
- one garage of wooden construction, in pretty good nick
- one hen house
- one greenhouse with approximately a third of its panes missing
- one shed, most recently used as a sheep shelter
- one fruit and veg plot
- about half an acre of grass; lawn over-glamorises it
- two ponds, connected but each on different levels
- half a menhir (basically a ancient monumental rock; think Stonehenge in extreme miniature)
- an 11 tree orchard

And stone me, there's a lot of work to do to get it looking half-decent. As I mentioned last week, the previous owner has managed the decline of the place over the last couple of years. He has, we discovered to our horror, undertaken some DIY however. I mentioned the one-bedroomed house above, which, as far as we remembered, had a rather lovely mezzanine bedroom and study area above the living space below. Well, blow me if he hadn't put a plasterboard wall in behind the balustrade and boxed it off, and done the same thing at the top of some nice granite steps on the way to the living room. Many Euros-worth of deterioration.

We need to be able to camp in that house, if not occupy it properly, by the second weekend in May, when the French national mountain biking championships are being held in our village, and the house in which I'm writing this now is rented out to some French mountain bikers. And making lots of dust after that point won't be ideal, so bringing the wall down is an early priority. Is....was....down the wall duly came yesterday. I employed a modicum of subtlety rather than just attacking it with a sledgehammer which was my first instinct. I blame You Tube - there's no excuse not to see how to do things properly these days, and Canadian Steve was my friend when it came to demolishing a plasterboard wall.

I'm only here till next Monday though, and I'm keen to get as much done as possible before then, so besides the demolition job I've:
- weeded, dug and levelled about 25 square metres of the veg plot 
- planted beans, chard and petits pois
- made the balustrade a bit safer, such that anyone leaning on it won't find themselves on the ground floor two seconds later
- started the marathon weed clearing process
- removed the first 20 metes of fencing that kept the previous owner's sheep in the right place
- bought and assembled a petrol-driven strimmer
- ordered a ride-on lawn mower. It arrives tomorrow afternoon, and I have to say that slightly to my surprise I'm not that excited - it just feels like a necessary tool

And that doesn't even begin the scratch the surface of what needs to be done. It doesn't even begin to identify which surface needs to be scratched. It would be easy to be hugely daunted by it. But it doesn't need to be done at once, and it could be, will be, terrific in the future. It's going to be a long journey though, and I'm sure there'll be ups and downs along the way. I'd love to jack work in for six months and crack on with it, but that's not going to happen. If I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure why we've bought this lot (other than the fact I'd have been heartbroken if someone else had bought it), and what we'll end up doing with it all. We will, however, have plenty of time to ruminate on that as we get stuck in. Expect more in due course.....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tweets by @skinsalive