So, a few progress photos are in order, I think…

However, before we get to these, LSS lit the kitchen woodstove this morning for the first time this season, as the kitchen was feeling somewhat chilly. Autumn is now here. Which means, of course, that the pressure has been on in order to get any plastering or mortaring finished before the temperature dips below five degrees. (This adversely affects the set of the lime mortar). But I’m pleased to announce that the plastering has now been completed. Not the entire barn, of course, but the brick walls of the bathroom and toilet:

The lime render for the bathroom walls
The lime render for the bathroom walls

In the foreground you can see a gas heater which we bought for €20. It dates from the 1950’s, and still works. I renewed the gas pipe though! Oh, and the more eagle-eyed among you will notice that the area above the windows is not yet plastered; this will be done once the ceiling is in place! (Actually I’m not too sure whether I should say “plastered” or “rendered”. No “plaster” has been used; it’s a mixture of hydraulic lime and sand.)

Next week I can start laying the floor; so hopefully this task will be completed before it starts to get really cold.

It’s also been a busy time of year harvest-wise. The garden has produced well in excess of 50kg of tomatoes. So we’ve been having stuffed tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato salad, tomato sauce… you get the idea. We’ve frozen over twenty ears of sweetcorn. Unfortunately the potato crop hasn’t been brilliant, so it looks like there won’t be enough to see us through until the next season. I guess we’ll have to eat more pasta instead. The parsnips didn’t grow at all this year, so unfortunately there won’t be any parsnip wine. Melons did well though. Oh – and I mustn’t forget to mention the mushrooms; we’ve collected a couple of baskets of these little morsels too. And as it’s now hunting season again, some bits of wild boar have joined all the frozen vegetables in the freezer.

Yesterday I picked our watermelon. Yes, we have one. Just one. But it’s fairly large! LSS is now making more use of the polytunnel, and has produced several pots of sweet chilli sauce; these plants did particularly well in there.

The tree opposite our driveway yielded a few apples this month – but not enough to make any cider. However, LSS occasionally buys some grain for the hens from a nearby farmer, whom I shall call D.S. because those are his initials. Anyway, his apple trees were simply loaded, and the ground underneath was covered with fallen fruit. She asked him if we could have a few; and being a decent sort of chap, he said we could have as many as we wanted, because he didn’t have the time to pick any. He’s nearly seventy, and still farming, although he says he’s about to retire. Well, we must have picked up at least 300kg of apples. Not all in one go, of course!

Many years ago, LSS’s grandfather gave D.S. a seedling, and the tree is now producing huge red apples. They’re quite nice but taste a bit floury. The little tree which I rescued from the orchard (it had originally been planted by the aged FIL, but he had tied it tightly to a supporting stake with nylon baling twine and then neglected it – so it was nearly dead) has produced its first crop – a grand total of six apples. They’re large, golden-red, and very tasty.

So we now have approximately 35 litres of apple cider fermenting quietly in a corner. And we also have three 120-litre plastic barrels full of crushed apples, fermenting quietly away in the garage. These will be turned into apple brandy by a local distiller (the aged FIL has a permit to do this).

On the husbandry front, Mrs. Bunny produced 4 kits in the first week of September, and they opened their eyes this week. It’s the second time in a row she’s had such a small litter. Well, it just means she’ll be visiting Mr. Bunny a bit more often! I’m now up to date with tanning; I have 36 rabbit pelts in a cardboard box. Perhaps this winter I’ll cut them into furry strips so that they can later be woven into a bedspread.

A while ago I had mentioned that the signpost in front of the property was looking a bit worse for wear. The “D” had become illegible, so for a while now we’ve been living at “La arnoire”. Well, LSS painted a new sign on a piece of board. The dot over the “i” is actually a hole in the board. It looks good, though:

The new sign
The new sign

The old sign will be re-painted and then placed at the other entrance to the property.

Back to the bathroom project – I have constructed a framework to hold the suspended ceiling. It will be insulated with glass fibre, and then I will install some white pvc panels. The VMC (air extractor vent) is already in place.

Suspended ceiling frame
Suspended ceiling frame

Although it doesn’t look straight, the new wooden beam is, actually, dead level. And square. The roof beams aren’t. Oh, and this photo was obviously taken before the plastering was done!

Some wooden wedges have also been made for the shower floor. These have a 1:100 slope and should enable me to create a shower floor which drains properly. I don’t have a photo of this yet, but it’s on the cards…

Of course the plastering of the bathroom walls meant that the bathtub had to be moved out of the way. As a temporary measure I connected a garden hose to the hot water supply so it can still be used. A length of pvc pipe was connected between the outlet and the drainpipe, and sealed with silicone sealant. However, I have a suspicion that until the mortar for the bathroom floor tiles has properly set, the old faithful “bathtub in our garden” may well have to be returned to use in the kitchen!

Finally, we’ve been watching some of the Rugby World Cup 2015 on the laptop. I don’t support any one team in particular, but I do like watching Wales, The All Blacks, Namibia, Australia, France, and England. And the Springboks, of course.


Some of you may be wondering what has been happening with the Aged FIL. Nothing much, is the answer. Unfortunately LSS made the mistake of chatting to one of the carers in range of his hearing, and told her all about my sister’s visit last month, which was followed by a friend staying with us for two weeks. The following day the Aged FIL complained he had toothache, and wanted a dentist.
LSS called the dentist the following day, and unfortunately (because it was August) found that she was on holiday; returning the first week of September. So LSS called the doctor to come and have a look at him and prescribe some painkillers. Unfortunately the doctor was on holiday as well, so the Aged FIL received a visit from the locum. Who diagnosed gingivitis, and an extreme case of tartar. A prescription for mouthwash was dispensed, as was some advice for better dental hygiene.
The following day one of the carers presented him with a toothbrush she had found in a cupboard. “What’s that thing?” the aged FIL asked. “It’s a toothbrush. For brushing your teeth,” she replied.
“I can’t use that. You can brush my teeth for me.”
“Oh no I blooming well won’t! You’re quite capable of brushing your own teeth!”
In discussion with LSS, the carer related that she had had gingivitis in the past, and apparently it was so painful that she was unable to eat.
The thing is, the aged FIL is still eating quite happily, so his toothache can’t be that bad. LSS will speak to the dentist again once the holiday season is over, and see what needs to be done. The problem is that we’ve been down this route before.
Make appointment? Check.
Get doctor’s prescription for ambulance? Check.
Arrange for ambulance to take the aged FIL to the appointment? Check.
Ambulance arrives at the appointed hour? Check.
Followed by:
The aged FIL changing his mind and saying “I’m not going.”

Wildlife diary: LSS and I were watching a video on the laptop after supper (we don’t have television). As it had been a cloudy day, the boiler stove had been lit to heat up the water. This meant that the lounge was rather warm, so the door through to the barn had been left open. We were suddenly joined by another animal. It fluttered across the lounge ceiling, flew into the kitchen, and then back again. It was a bat! LSS hurriedly opened the lounge window and I opened the kitchen door. All in vain; it flew back into the barn the same way it came in. Still, we’re quite pleased we have bats. Even if we don’t have a belfry.