During the summer months Dave, my husband, and I have been very busy. We have recommenced work on the roof again and I seem to be constantly attached to either shears or a lawnmower since the hedges and grass have been growing as if on some sort of miracle grow spray.
Dave finally has his C.D.I contract (Contract Duration Indeterminée) at work, which basically means he is no longer on a short term contract but a full time employee with all the legal cover that this implies. It is open ended with no finish date unlike his previous contracts which were all dated with specific days for the contract to end. His company could have got rid of him at the end of the contract with no reprisals, which would have been scary for us as we now live here and need an income… so celebrations are in order and we are really pleased.
With Dave at work, I do as much DIY as I can – including repairing the roof! After we peeled off the old tiles from the edge we found that the wall was missing a few stones and was in rather a degraded condition. The walls in this area are made up of lumps of granite with the occasional stones and bricks thrown in and all fitted together with lime mortar. So the first job was to take off all the loose stone, clean out any loose material, fill the wall back in and concrete over the top. Many women might be put off having to do this but, honestly if you can do a jigsaw puzzle or bake and ice a cake you can do this. Putting the wall together, is just like doing a jigsaw, turning and twisting the bricks until they fill gaps and look quite straight. Making up the concrete mix reminded me of baking a cake, you have to get the powder to water mix just right or it won’t set it smooth properly and getting it level is a bit like icing a cake.
After this interesting and dare I say fun job, the next thing was to strip off all the old tiles and see what we had underneath. I must add that it’s always best to keep the roof swept and dust free as much as possible when up on the roof as it’s like walking on ice if there is dust underfoot – very slippery. I found lots of old snake skins under the roof tiles (tuiles), luckily I’m not scared of snakes so won’t be upset if I uncover one while I’m working.
Any broken, cracked or old tiles are used to make paths or for ballast under a concrete floor, everything is recycled as much as possible. Thankfully, all the beams on the roof are in good condition and just needed painting with a strong wood treatment to keep them that way.
It is rather hard work doing this job and I have got lots of bruises and grazes to show for it. However it’s great to know we are saving loads of money and we also have a really good understanding of exactly how our house is built, which we wouldn’t have if we had contractors to do the job. This extreme DIY is mad but excellent fun and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Recently we decided that we would have some “me time” and do some tourist-type things. We started on Saturday with a “grosse matin” which a lie is in. After that we went to a little village called Le Vanneau in the Marais Poitevin also known as Venice Verte (green Venice). There was a floating market going on, it is held once a year and the traders sell their produce from boats – and visitors also go out on boats to make their purchases. We explored the local area and came across a village called Arçais which was lovely, there are lots of waterways covered by overhanging trees and the effect is beautiful. The village boasts a good camp site, restaurants and a brocante; luckily we didn’t have much money on us or I could have spent a fortune in the artisan craft shops and brocante.
Sunday morning we nipped down to the large farmers market at Pescalis, held every Sunday morning in summer. We spent too much, as is usual at these things and bought some lovely Loire valley wine, homemade goat’s cheese in two different strengths and some Gala melons which smelt amazing – they were at the perfect point of ripeness.Sunday afternoon we took a ride out to le Rocher Branlant. An amazing place with giant – and I mean giant – granite stones all tumbled about including in the river. Rocher Branlant is really pretty and you feel dwarfed by the stones, normally it is a very tranquil place but we were there for the vide-grenier (flea market) and the place was packed.
It was great to have a weekend off and remember what we came to France for in the first place – the good life – but now we must knuckle down and do more work on the house.
Donna and Dave Faulkner moved from the Isle of Wight, UK to Deux-Sevres in France in 2012 and are known as “extreme DIYers” to their neighbours.