We have had a long, and for the most part, hot summer but autumn is just around the corner. The grape harvest is in full swing, the days are sunny and warm and the nights are drawing in faster and cooler.
This has been a summer of work with very little play, only a brief 4-day camping trip in August. So it is fair to say that we are tired but the house has been coming along leaps and bounds. Thanks to some local knowledge and help we managed to source enough flat stones to complete the front terrace, so far we have just laid them on the earth we need to take a weekend in October whilst the weather is still warm and dry to lay them properly and grout them into place. But at least we have the materials! We also have a beautiful front gate that Chris made but we need to finish the floor before we can hang it.
On the south terrace we still need to finish the small amount of pointing, another October job. However we have stocked some of the wood to create a barrier from the field, more to keep wild boar out than Louis in! We have also built a triangle in the far corner that used to be the building site area. Patrick started a stone wall for us and we finished it then with the help of our friend Yves and his tractor and trailer (much to Louis’ excitement) we filled it with another friend, Matthieu’s, rubble from his building site! I compacted the rubble and have been adding sawdust, of which Chris creates tons, to fill in the gaps and create a clean surface whilst we decide what will be the ultimate surface. The area will be a play area for Louis and where we hang the hammock!!! Oh yes we have visions of resting in the future!!
However it is the recent work inside that has made a drastic change to us. We have being creating our office space and our library. The office was in the mezzanine in the living room, however it was impractical as it meant climbing the steep steps and so I rarely used it and in fact in the two years that we had it as an office we never even unpacked our boxes and so were just sort of perched in the office. Not very conducive of efficient working! Instead we decided to convert the small room off the hallway into our office. First we put up some walls! We then took out the ugly aluminium window and replaced it with a beautiful wooden window in fitting with the rest of the house, we got Rob to build a brick arch, then Chris and I plastered the walls and put in a mezzanine floor using the old pine boards originally found in the house. I then painted everything, we laid the floor, again an original floor that has been lovingly restored, oiled and waxed it. Built a beautiful oak desk for us all to work from. Bought a huge sheet of MDF which I then painted with special blackboard paint to create a blackboard wall, had a Laurel and Hardy moment trying to get it in through the arch! Ran electric cables and put in plugs galore and heh presto we have an office, with a mezzanine storage space for important papers and files plus a single bed when we have lots of people over to stay. We still need to make three sets of drawers for our ‘stuff’ but it ain’t half bad! I feel efficiency coming along, for the first time in 7 years I can actually find things!!
The other big job was the library. It had always been out intention to create a library space along our large hallway for our collection of books. A couple of years ago Chris was given a couple of pine trees for free which he had to take to the wood mill to get chopped into planks and then store and dry. So between us we turned this into a 9m2 library! It took a lot of processing, and pine is not a particularly nice wood to work with as it creates a lot of sawdust, and then you need to paint it as the wood itself is not particularly beautiful. However last weekend we put the library into place, bloody heavy! I then emptied out roughly 40 boxes of books, old friends not seen for over 7 years! Dusted them and sorted them and between the three of us we filled those shelves. It looks fantastic, it isn’t complete as we will add a triangle at the top but for now it is absolutely fine.
What doing both the library and office means is that we have been able to sort out a lot of our things and create a lot of space downstairs in what will be the utility room, but what has really been a storage area. I have been ruthless with throwing away unwanted things, I hate clutter and confusion, it confuses my mind! So we need to finish the two terraces before the weather changes, sort out the chaufferie put a wall up and an air vent system in. Then we can start to work on the kitchen and wine school. There are still a couple of big investments to make, one we have half bought, but that said there is a still a lot we can do using recycled materials, an imagination and creativity!