Thursday, 30 August 2012

Monday, 27 August 2012

Tinchebray Prison

Dates from around 1750..

The courtroom used until the 1970's

The chapel 

The Church St Remy, built by the English in around 1050

And the local laundrette 

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Time to get organised so here is the assembled shed. OK its not blue, but it will allow me to clear out the salon ready to build the staircase. It was 32 degrees yesterday and today and lord knows what in the sun so it was a bit of a struggle, trying not to fry.

I'll fit the shingles for the roof over the tar felt sometime later.....

Monday, 13 August 2012

The most important thing


At the stroke of midnight

The floor is finished (well all the boards are down). Just in case you ever lay a board floor and like me you don't have a floorboard clamp (like me) here is how you can add lib and make a reasonable floor clamp:
Two pieces of softwood and a g-clamp do the trick.
For the floor I'm using cut floor brads. Turns out these are not available in France so I had to import the nails from England. This may sound a bit excessive but trust me they are the very best nails for the job. Because of their shape they pull the board down nice and tight, something any other nail will not do. If your wondering why there are two hammers in the picture that's just to illustrate the difference between an English and a French hammer. They both have their place but being an old fashioned kind of guy I still prefer the weight and balance of the English hammer. Especially for a floor where square "rose buds" just look wrong.
As an aside I love my new saw. The quality of Makita tools is just staggering, and made in England too. Considering it was just 20 pounds more expensive than the cheap Chinese stuff, I think its well worth the difference.
The finished floor; OK there are tools still strewn about the place but hey is was midnight by the time I put the last board in! Tired now......going to bed.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Shed No2

This is the stock promo image of what Shed No2 will look like. Hopefully just big enough to organise some of the junk and create a bit of clear space to work. Three tab shingles for the roof. I think I'm going to paint it pale blue, just like a beach hut.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

6 Months

For me deadlines are good, they give me a focus. So 6 months it is; house finished and moved in, all rooms finished. That means by the end of January 2013 the jobs done. How hard can it be......

Footnote: I've just been away on holiday with the family for a week and it has allowed me to stand back and reflect. Sometimes its not the size of the project on paper its the size of the project in your head. As the years have gone on the size of the project has got a lot smaller; most of the big stuff is now done. So whilst 6 months sounds ambitious I don't think its too unrealistic......and it would be good to sleep in a real house after three years.

Friday, 3 August 2012

If you make the time

If you make the time you can do good things:
And here is the finished beam:
But then as my neighbour says, I need to stop mucking about and get on with it!

A little folly

When you have been renovating a house for about 8 years there is a chance you lose sight of why you are doing it. You start to cut corners in an effort to finish the job. Thankfully that's not a situation I've found myself in. Now you could say spending 15 hours on a beam to hold up one corner of the salon is a bit, well silly, but that would be missing the point. When you take on a house like this you have to decide why you're doing if from the start. Either you doing a "makeover" a "renovation" or a "restoration". To be clear the easiest is the makeover; laths, plasterboard a lick of paint and a kitchen from B&Q and you're done. Next is the mid tier, change the room layouts and make the house into a modern house; central heating, insulation and gas boiler all add up to a practical and comfortable house. A modern house. Lastly and the most costly is what we have here, a restoration. The difference to my mind between a renovation and a restoration is about how you go about it and the quality of what you do. The feel of a house is very subjective but hand made doors, beams, solid floors, cut beams for the ceiling and sympathetic repair rather than all out gut job is what makes the difference. Ultimately if when you have finished it looks new; it's a renovation. If when you've finished it still looks like an old house, then its a restoration.

This is the beam to span between the old supports and the new, bearing in mind that the main timbers have been raised 44mm, and therefore the floor is higher.
Good old fashioned mortise and tenon joints.
And a half finished floor. 23mm X 200mm pine boards do the job. Not the best or most expensive floor but one that is strong and will last.

Footnote: The essence of life.
None of what I'm doing is difficult, but it is hard work. A friend of mine once said to me; "Walk a mile in a man's shoes". And he was right. Many people are critical of the work that others do, many people like to think they could do a better job. Most of those people have never done it. There are many people renovating  / restoring / making over houses in France and good luck to them whatever their plan. To those who like to think they could but never have: "Walk a mile in a man's shoes". The main difference between anyone I reckon is not skill or talent or intelligence; it's just the will to make the effort.