Monthly Archives: June 2015

14/06/2015

So that’s it. We now have an indoor bathroom which is not a kitchen. I spent the past week sweating copper pipes (technical term meaning joining copper pipes together with solder). One advantage to doing things yourself is that you can install things the way you like them. In this case, it means that every water outlet is fitted with a stop tap. Unlike our house in Reading, where if you had a leaking sink tap, you had to switch off the entire house supply at the mains. With the installation here, if there is a leaky sink tap, you can just isolate that tap to change the washer; the rest of the house is unaffected. Speaking of taps, we actually chose a kitchen sink mixer tap for the bath. We didn’t want two separate taps for hot and cold water, and in France all the bath taps we looked at had a shower-head attachment. Because we have a separate shower, we didn’t need this combination facility. But it does the job, and actually looks quite good.

Of course there were a couple of minor leaks when I turned the water supply on again, but these were easily fixed. And there was a slight leak from the bath waste pipe, which was cured with the application of a smear of silicone sealant.

Due to the completely overcast weather on Wednesday, we had to light the boiler stove; but the rest of the time we have been using solar-heated water. Today it’s cloudy again.

This week I also broke through the end wall of the corridor, so we can now enter the barn without having to go outside or through the bedroom. Cat was very surprised to find an opening instead of a solid wall, and lost no time in inspecting my workmanship. Obviously it’s unlikely that the barn will be fully insulated by this winter, so I therefore installed a temporary door by reusing the old kitchen door which we removed when we first moved in. I had to construct a new doorframe though, so I made this out of pallet wood. Hopefully by this time next year this door will be replaced with an archway.

We have not seen the ducks for a week now, although we did notice a scattering of feathers at the back of the pond. We suspect there may have been a fox passing through. We have seen a couple of hares running around in the field opposite the house, so I think it’s unlikely that the fox is resident nearby. We were also surprised to see a female pheasant strutting about on the farmhouse roof this morning. It’s the first time I’ve seen a pheasant on a roof. The hens were all clustered together at their gate, watching. They weren’t too sure whether this bird was a threat or not. Or maybe they were thinking, “Ooh, isn’t she high up! I wonder how we can get up there?”

The garage at the aged FIL is now built, with the entrance correctly orientated. Well, I say built. The walls are up. They’re now waiting for the roofer to install the roof timbers.

And finally, there’s less than a week to go before my sister arrives. We’re looking forward to it – so I suspect this will be my last blog post for a while.

07/06/2015

Well, we hadn’t heard anything regarding our planning permission to install the new windows in the barn, so LSS called the Mairie. As I suspected, the lack of news just meant that everything was fine; so we can now go ahead. I will be constructing some reinforced concrete lintels first, but this work will start after my sister’s visit. At least I have now installed the electricity supply to the barn, and as a temporary measure have fixed a fluorescent light to a beam above the new bathtub.

To support the feet of the bath on the new floor, I laid some old tiles in a bed of lime mortar. Next week will see the start of the plumbing work, and by the end of the week we should have a fully functioning bathroom.

I dug a trench leading from the reedbed solar panel installation to the house, and laid sections of 16mm plastic pipe containing two electrical wires. This will bring 12V power to our Separett composting toilet, and should trim a minuscule amount from our electricity consumption! The required holes have also been drilled through the barn wall for the Separett installation; 20mm for the 12V power supply, 33mm for the urine waste pipe, and 86mm for the Separett ventilation pipe. I’m very glad I own a rotary hammer;  it made short work of these.

Next to the bathroom is an opening in the end wall of the house leading to an unused space above the pantry. There’s not really much room to swing a cat up there, not that we indulge in any cat-swinging, of course. But it could be a handy storage area, and I think it could also be the new location for the VMC (house ventilation extractor fan). However, this area had probably not been cleaned since the house was built in 18xx. I therefore set up the stepladder, and took out a full wheelbarrow load of dust, sand, straw, mouse-droppings, dead insects, bits of wood, and old bricks.

We also fetched another 700kg of sand with the trailer; we now have sufficient for any lime rendering I feel like doing. I must admit rendering is not a job I enjoy.

The horsefly trap has been reinstated in the garden, and is already functioning nicely.