Sunday 31 October 2010

One window, two windows.....

Oh and 'tis a rainy day here in France, as you can see from the above photo. You can see the ex Pig-chick Hut / Office now recycled into a wood store, and the pile of roof tiles waiting to be put on the Tall Barn when our builder-man gets around to it, and the rain drizzling down the window pane. 

Hang on a minute! Window-pane?  

Yessir! Window pane, with attached window as well! And it opens and closes like a real window should, but then it is a real window, yes, yes, yes! A REAL WINDOW. 

And so how did this happen. Did it magic itself up? Like as in suddenly there was a window in the hole which previously held empty space?

Ah but no. This was another magic wand waved by Team R & V, as in friends Ron and Val who visited us mid October "For a rest", they said "But we'll bring our tools with us 'just in case'..." 

And it became their mission to fill the gaps where once windows had resided.  When Labartere had been a house, and not a ruin. 



Twooooooo Windows!

But not only that, but "You need a door to keep out the draughts" said Val: 

And so she made one. In a day! 
And here is the other side of the door:

So we have one window, two windows, three doors. Ah but where are the other doors? 
In the Half Barn. Because meanwhile, Danny, our French builder, also went on a mission to get us warmer this winter, and put a temporary door in between the Half Barn and the house, plus a baby window in the back of the Half Barn, plus the doors at the front. 

Et Voila!

Ooops! Wrong photo! 

And how Labartere looks now:
Lounge window to the left, 'kitchen' window to the right, and further right is the Half Barn with its glass doors.  

And just before Val and Ron arrived the swifts parked up for a quick rest, before carrying on with their journey southwards to Africa. What courageous creatures. Such a long way with such tiny wings. And I always find encouragement from their visit, and feel inspired by their efforts. 

The mist lay heavily over the land on the morning they visited, but as with all things, it didn't last long. Off those little birds flew, and onward I continued into my day. Ahead lay the visit of Team V & R, and the infilling of the door and window spaces, plus their efforts  to boost our flagging energies. 

It's a rainy Sunday. The chickens are sheltering all about the place but have the option to retreat back into their little Chicken house.  The sheep and lambs are in the Sheep Arbre / Barn, the pigs are in their Pig Abode. And we are inside our house with doors and windows between us and the weather. Hooray for caravan living, but even more hoorays for farmhouse-style living!Hope you are snug and dry in whatever part of the World you are living in. 

Oh, and the Pyrenees have just had their first dusting of snow and we can now see the shape and contours of those mountains. It is as if they are coming alive, as if an artist has gone along and given them some highlighting. OK, so it means that we are heading into the cold weather, but hey! We have windows!

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Look: A Fire!

And outside it was the pouring of the rain. But not inside. Not today.

Backtracking to a couple of weeks ago: Danny (our French builder) had reappeared for a fleeting visit to install a log burning stove into The Hut / Office so we could be roasty-toasty during the winter, rather than being frozzled like we were last winter.

But: uno problemo. The cost of installing the fire was too much to warrant the outlay, or so Hubs said. And it was decided to forgo the fire and opt for an oil filled radiator. Me and Hubs, ...well I must admit to feeling a little bit squashed. We had been looking forward to having that fire simmering along, but not to worry. We could manage. We've done two winters here already. We can manage another: sleep in the caravan, work in the Hut/Office, cook in the kitchen over in the house. Never mind that the house has no windows. Or that there is a hell of a draft in the caravan. Or that mice seem to enjoy frequenting the Hut/Office as much as we do. Not to worry. We Can Do It.

And then: A bright beam of inspiration hit upon Danny: why not put the fire in front of the only chimney that hasn't fallen down, which is in the house. Wouldn't cost much.Could do it now. Good idea? With reluctance, we agreed. Didn't seem to be any point really, since the chimney was the 'lounge' which at present was being used as a storage depot. But Danny was enthused so we let him get on with it.

Friend Val was visiting, as was Ron, her partner. Me and Hubs, well our energies were sagging after a hectic year, so we were emotionally flat-lining. So the V & R Team rolled up their sleeves, and decided that enough was enough and began the 'Get Vera And Lester Into The House This Winter' project. Off went Ron and Lester to do shopping at the local Brico. (DIY store). Val went into house moving mode, and with serious enthusiasm began stripping out the lounge, denuding it, making it bare of all things previously stowed there.

I, meanwhile, hovered. Sort of felt like I was on a roller coaster over which I had no control. The busyness of R and V was astonishing, and I felt an onlooker. It was quite nice.

And it was decided that the 'kitchen' would move over into the 'lounge' together with the sofas so we could have a sit down in comfort. The fire would keep us warm. In the now empty ex-kitchen room we could sleep. Seemed a good idea. No more caravans. That was a very good idea!

However: Once Team V&R had left, I got on with moving the kitchen stuff into the 'lounge'. Up at 5 I was. Did quite a bit of shifting. Up at 9 Hubs got. Took one look at the new 'kitchen' and announced that it didn't look right, and that he had a Good Idea: Move the office over to the 'lounge'. Make it a shared area for sitting, slobbing-out, and working.

So everything back in the original temporary kitchen, apart from the seating. Over from the Hut/Office came the office equipment, of which there is loads. Chaos ensued. Muddle ran rife. My mood hotted up. Seem to have spent loads of time trying to sort muddle out from the continuous shifting about of our living and working accomodation over the last two years. Not to worry though. Onwards.

And so: Look!

Hubs' Working Space

My working space, where I am sitting to write these words for you. 
The sofa is useful to collapse on when I am suffering from mental constipation!

And above our heads we put a tarp. 
To stop the dust, and bits of walls that still become unstuck from the house, and act as a tiny deterent to the drafts. We are in  a sandwich of tarps, because we have also laid tarps over the floor to act as a barrier between our feet and the concrete.

I think it looks quite fetching!

As for the bed. Well that stays in its flat-packed form for the moment, as we continue to sleep in the caravan. Not to worry, though, because we are roasty-toasty all the day long now.

So: thanks to Danny for his inspiration for the fire. Thanks to Team V&R for doing some shifting. Thanks to Hubs for his brainwave idea of moving the office over to the house. And another thanks to Hubs for coming up with an absolutely spiffing idea of buying an electric blanket for the bed in the caravan. Now why didn't we think of that before!

We have a fire! Yippeeeee! I am getting tidied up. Yipppeee! 

And can't resist sharing that lovely roaring fire with you again:

Sunday 17 October 2010

Hubs has a moment, and so does Max

And so it came to the evening. Much work had been done by Hubs / Head Everything, including the first 'Sawing of the Wood' which has been much anticipated by himself, longed for even. Several hours into the first Sawing Session, with arms and back aching, his enthusiasm for a log fire indoors remained undiminished, but his bodily self was not so keen to keep on with the task. A suggestion from moi, however, that might it be a good idea to use the electric chainsaw instead of the hand saw, enabled him to carry on. First Log Pile built, which is small but beautifully formed.

The Log Pile comprising little logs because we have a little fire. Bools is searching for mice. 

The storage depot for the Wood Pile? In the Pig / Chicken / Once Upon A Time Office hut. Will tell you more about the change of use another time.

The once upon a time Pig / Chicken Hut, then morphed into our office, now the Log Pile Home

Another activity for Hubs was the Gathering of the Acorns. Many bucketfuls have been gathered from the bounteous harvest which our Oak trees have given us this year, all of which have been donated to Max and Tess (our Tamworth pigs) for recycling. This they are doing very well as can be seen by the lovely pile of manure they are making for us. But they don't go to the loo randomly over their paddock like our sheep do, but use an area which they have especially designated for this purpose, which then gets trodden over by themselves into the ground to become ready-to use compost for veggies next year. Clever heh!

So the Gathering of the Acorns has been a task which has gone on for many weeks, and still the Oaks are shedding their harvest. But I am all acorned out, so Hubs took a turn at harvesting this provender, and very well he did too, and another few buckets were picked up.

And then he had a go at moving the hay bales, having been told by our farmer friend that they needed to be put onto pallets to keep their bottoms dry, and that they should be covered since they were not being stored in a barn. We would store them inside somewhere but only have our living accommodation as dry space, and hay bales and us would not get along too well co-habiting, mostly because of the hay bales tendency to moult, assisted by Bools who likes to rub his back on them, back scratching being one his most favoured occupations. I am already combating Saharian Dust in my house, so moulting hay bales are definitely out. Plus, the heavy aroma of wet hay drying is something which is most pleasurable and not so pleasurable. Nice to have the aroma of drying grass, but the aroma of wet grass which isn't drying is something else. Plus, I noticed the other day that some of the bales were steaming. On plunging my hand inside the bale I found the interior to be hot. Cooking. The grass was cooking itself. So better for them to be outside. Fire inside a log burner is one thing, cooking hay bales is not. Therefore loads of reasons not to share the hay inside our living space.

So, anyway, Hubs up on tractor, lifiting bales, turning them, putting them on pallets. Only he took the topper off the back of the tractor so he could manoevour better. Not a good idea. Because the balance between the weight of the bales of hay and the tractor, minus the weight of the topper (the grass cutter), made the tractor almost topple over on its side. So Hubs had a 'moment' and got a fright. Thought he might be on his way to Heaven as the tractor did a sideways lurch.

Some of the hay bales wearing their Tarp Bonnets.

But not to worry. His time is not up yet. The tractor righted itself, and the final project of the day was to try and  put the topper back on the tractor. This is a project which remains unfinished, however, because there were three metally things which had to line up and connect and he could only manage to get one of them in position. An Internet search is hopefully going to fill in the correct sequence for this task. Bless him, he is managing the tractor wonderfully well. It is another one of those steep learning curves, with the fundamentals being given to him by Angel Ron (our good friend, and the previous owner of the tractor) and Patrick (another good friend, a French farmer and the mender of the topper). His experience is growing. It is quite something to see him perched on his tractor, doing manly things. It is quite something seeing him build the Log Pile.

And so it came to the evening. Tired and happy. Dark fell. Late evening: a noise. Outside Hubs went, to do an investigation.

In the moonshine there was a large mound. A huge dark mound. Flickering his torch over the mound he fetched up a reflection of an eye.

yyyyyyiiiiiipppPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEeeeeeeeee!!!!!! Maxy-boy! On board Tess! Really on board. As in almost lying full length on top of her.

And so, are there to be piglet babies, that is the question. But at least he is managing to get on board. We thought he wasn't managing the task. Thought that perhaps Tess wouldn't let him. He can be an irritating piggy-being when he wants to be. Perhaps she didn't want to make him a piggy-dad, that is what we had begun to think.

But:  Ta Da!!!! He was up, therefore they are, and maybe the patter of tiny piglet feet might happen sometime next year.

So Wahooo for Max and Tess for having a moment of mutual appreciation. And Wahoo for Hubs for doing his manly tasks. And Wahoo for me for carrying on with trying to get rid of the copious amounts of dust which overlay everything. I am winning. I keep telling myself I am winning.

And last night, we sat in front of our wood burning stove and enjoyed the delights of a living fire. It wasn't particularly cold and we didn't need the fire lit, but there is something about a fire which warms the heart and lifts the spirits, especially if one is not having to tend the fire. This is another manly task of Hubs / Head Keeper of the Fire.

Ah, chickens are having a squabble in their Chicken Hut, so need to go let them out.

Hope you have a good Sunday. Hope there is a warm fire burning in your heart.

Monday 11 October 2010

Message to Roz

Thanks for  your concern, Roz, but I'm still here, although somewhat frazzled. Will let you know what we have been up to soon. Lots. Hence the frazzlement of moi.


We are in the house!!!!


We have new additions


Oodles and oodles of dust abound everywhere.
Absolutely everywhere
Like as if a Sahara sandstorm has blown through the house.

Not to worry

Thanks to angels Val and Ron
Who blew up the storm
Which signalled the arrival of our windows

Our Windows!



Our loo
But only half a loo
Nevertheless, we have a loo.

No more porta pottying
That is a blessing. 

No more empty spaces where our windows should be
That is equal a blessing.

So yippeeing, and more yippeeeeeeessss. 
Still frazzled but happily so. 

Hope you are well Roz, and will catch up with your blogs, and everyone elses soon. Thankyou for watching out for my blogs, as it is always encouraging to know that one's blogs are read. Did think I might close the blog down, but these words for you arrived in my head this morning. Writing, for me, is like having words posted in to my mind, and today some were posted in, so I guess the blog is to continue.

Anyway, I must continue on with the conquering of the mini Sahara-effect which is still overlaying everything, so bye for now