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Ten little soldier boys…..

Well it is day three of ‘mission render’ and it has been a tough few days. We started on Wednesday morning with Rob and Jamie taping up the ceilings and walls to protect them whilst Chris and I went to get the mammoth cement mixer and provisions for the week. Then Vincent and Will arrived at 9h30 and Pierre turned up around 10h. So we started in a civilised fashion after coffee and croissants. Rob said he felt a fraud eating his croissant as he hadn’t earned it, ‘oh you will’ I told him and never have I spoken a truer word!

The idea of this render is that it gives a ‘solid’ feel and look to the walls so they needed to put a good 5cm on, which might not sound a lot but believe me it is. So we started with Rob on mixing duty, the frogs in the living room and the rosbifs in the hallway. No contest really as the frogs are all experts, which isn’t to say that the rosbifs weren’t doing a good job, they were, just that in terms of speed, getting it on the wall and arms about to drop off they were not quite on the same level!!!

One of the first jobs that had to be done was to cover the sooted wall in the living room where the old fire place had been. This is done with a mix of lime, sand and fresh cow poo!! Mmmm yummy. Will got that job, nothing seems to faze him. Better him than Chris who would have covered himself as well as the wall!!

I was under doctors orders not to get involved in manual work so was restricted to being cook, which has been slightly frustrating as I am used to getting involved in everything and have been itching to have a go! However the result could be premature labor so I decided for once to do as I am told!! No comments needed thank you.

At the end of day one they had completed one and a half of the large walls in the living room and the wall in the hallway. I should point out that summer has arrived and they are working in 30C heat, although inside it is OK as these stone buildings keep nice and cool but still it adds to the pressure. We finished day one with 10 of us enjoying a huge Paella à la Catalan squeezed onto our front terrace amongst the pile of sand and sacks of lime.

Day two and we lost Pierre as he was only available to help on the Wednesday. But the five that were left were undeterred, and Vincent and Will continued in the living room. The ‘finitions’ that they have done are excellent, I shall take pictures when it is all cleaned up as at the moment the scaffolding is in the way. Rob and Jamie moved along the hallway into the bathroom, whilst Chris was on mixer and runner duty after demoting himself from rendering as he realised that that was a skill he didn’t have and the others were doing a far better job!

Around lunch time Jamie started to feel decidedly unwell and so took a break and had a lie down. When I came back from one of my numerous hospital appointments he was still in bed and not getting any better. I am not sure whether it was just the combination of great heat, very physical work and working with lime or if he had got the gastro that prevented Garth from joining us. Either way Jamie was not a happy bunny and he was conscious of being around me so took himself home. So hence the title (remember Agatha Christie’s book, that is the PC title!) Poor Jamie he was doing a grand job, I hope we haven’t finished him off!

So we ended the day with four. Rob, whom is in his late 60’s, doesn’t seem to be fazed by anything and just keeps on going. Although he is giving himself a hard time as he doesn’t feel he is doing as good a job as Vincent and Will. Well he really shouldn’t as what he has done is really good and we are very happy with it. By 18h30 even Vincent and Will were flagging. Unfortunately there is always a good hour of clean-up after tools are down as you can’t leave the tools with the render on so everything has to be scrubbed and the floors swept. Last nights dinner was a more quiet affair as the four fellas struggled to lift their spare ribs!!

So here we are day three and it is going to be a scorcher at 32C+, the sun is already pounding down and the sky is a vivid blue/violet without a cloud in sight. A perfect day for the beach! If only. Vincent and Will are finishing our bedroom wall whilst Rob is applying the badejont (whitewash), this not only gives a brighter colour but also seals the walls. It will take at least two coats of badejont, which is lime powder and water mixed. We can if we want, add a pigment to the mix to add colour. However for now we are going to do the two coats, one today and one tomorrow, plain, to see what it looks like.

If we have time we are going to also replace the tie-bar, which we took down 10 months ago, this is the metal bar that runs the width of the house and basically holds it together so might be a good idea to put it back! Then it is clean up time. That is going to be difficult as the floors, walls and windows are covered in the render so will need lots of scrapping. It will be great to put the house back together again as our bedroom has been a storage cupboard for the last three weeks and it is getting increasingly challenging to get in and out of bed!!! It will also be good to move Rob from the bathroom and into a bedroom!!

Apologies for the quality of the photos, but it is hard to take good photos without being in the way and there is also a lot of dust in the air. I shall take more this weekend when the light is right. But for now I shall try to explain how it looks. The walls which were already fairly solid being stone are now even more so. One would think that they were a metre thick almost. They have a lovely natural, organic feel to them as they have followed the form of the stone and have been rounded around the windows. They are also very tactile, you want to touch them! At the moment, without the whitewash on, they are a straw-like colour and you can see flecks of the hemp (which looks like straw) in it. We like this, I am not sure Rob does though! It is a look that suits this old building as it is both very solid and natural looking, and most importantly will not let in any air so goodbye dust and cold!!

I should also point out that, even more than usual, we are creating intrigue in the village and have had a stream of visitors popping into see what on earth we are doing. It is great, and I think we might have even impressed a few!!!



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