Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Neighbours

The Neighbours

It really is a wonder we get any work done at all.  The people who live in the nearest hamlet wave every time they drive past, as do the local farmers on tractors and anybody walking by.  Most of the time I can’t see who is driving so I end up waving to practically every vehicle that passes.  Brendan says ‘Do you know them?’ I reply ‘No, but I had better wave just in case’.

The closest neighbours don’t miss a trick.  They just blatantly stand in the garden and watch what we are doing, what is being delivered or who is visiting.  Today we collected old clay tiles from Jean-Claude (we bought the land from him and wife Pierrette, Brendan keeps calling her Pirouette!) to use as hard core.  As we passed the neighbour I waved, but he didn’t return my wave because he was too busy on his tippy-toes trying to see what we had in the back of the truck! However, they are lovely and I don’t mind that they are keeping an eye on the site.  They keep a pristine garden so we are under pressure when we get ours underway.

We have had offers of help, masses of fruit and plenty of advice.  I am sure had we been as involved with French neighbours from the start our French language would have been far better than it is today.  C’est la vie!

The Story So Far

I have decided to write a blog for three reasons; our friend Alan suggested I do one, friends keep asking me to post photos of our progress so far and as I have such a bad memory it will be nice for me to look back on (although I am sure this will be one experience I will not forget in a hurry!).
I am not going to get technical by detailing the R-values of our thermal insulation or the concrete to sand ratio because no one will want to read that (OK  just for you Alan it’s 1:4).  Hopefully it will be a light-hearted overview that you can dip into and enjoy reading.  (Alan, take note - enjoy reading, try to refrain from looking for grammatical errors and smelling mistakes!)
So here goes.  We had previously converted a three walled, dirt floor barn, complete with hay loft, into a comfortable three bed roomed house. Building a new house seemed a much simpler option for a new project.  With that in mind we bought a plot of just less than two acres in the same village. 
We took a chance and bought a Ford digger on eBay from the UK without viewing it!  We took another chance arranging the transportation of the digger with an unknown company.  For a couple of weeks we were being told the delivery was delayed, for all we knew it was digging holes in deepest Mongolia never to be seen again.  She arrived.  I say ‘she’ because she is now called ‘Daisy the Digger’!  Don’t you hate people who give their vehicles names?  We also have ‘Jenny the Generator’, ‘Willy the Wacker’ and ‘Minnie the Mixer’.  Sad!
 We were very excited the day we laid the first block for the garages.  Dad and Fiona (a friend) were on site and there were hundreds of gendarmes and a cavalcade for President Sarkozy’s visit.  No, no he didn’t come to visit us to cut a ribbon or crack a bottle of champagne against the building permission sign; he was visiting a farm down the road.  However, we did get a visit a couple of hours later from an old lady who told us the land belonged to her and we should stop building immediately because she was informing her ‘avocat’  Needless to say, we stopped building and contacted ours!  It was our land, just another Gallic family feud!  A letter was sent to the dear old lady and work resumed.
To date we have completed a quadruple garage with a terrace.  No, we don’t have four cars but Brendan needed somewhere for storage and ‘making things’.