Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Kitchen progress

Well, the units for the 2nd half of the kitchen are now firmly affixed and it is looking goodTomorrow, Andy will be cutting the worktops, putting up the stainless steel splashback on the wall above where the hob will be and 'tweaking' various 'bits'. I, however, will be mostly laying the floor tiles if all goes according to plan.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


I guess that about sums up with the weather down here at the mo! Sunny skies, temperatures in the low 20s.... Andy is busy making the kitchen cabinets at the moment, so I took the opportunity to get myself out on the mountain bike again. I found some interesting routes on and was able to download one of them to my Garmin device. It was a shorty, just 10kms, departing from Soueix, but I really wasn't up for anything much longer. It had its nice momentswhich included some lovely views up the valley towards SeixBut sections of the ride were simply horrendous and totally unsuitable for a mountain bike ... long sections of steep narrow paths, up which I had to push the bike, narrow steep and rutted paths back down again.... quite exhausting. I have to say that so many of the circuits that have been put together by the local tourist information offices in this area are in a similar vein. They are principally walking routes but 'doable' (in their opinion) on a mountain bike. I wonder how many of them they have actually ridden!

Andy has spent all day in his 'workshop' today and has produced the L-shaped run of units for the other end of the kitchen which we will be fitting tomorrow. We can then put the worktops and doors on and fit the gas hob. We will then have a fully functioning kitchen - hurrah and hurray! I am looking forward to finally getting the floor tiles laid this week which will make a massive difference.

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Mum and David arrived on Wednesday evening and were quite stunned by the transformation that has taken place here! The new furniture and lighting arrangement now facilitates sociability rather than deterring it, which is very pleasing.

Yesterday, we took them up to Peguere in search of some mushrooms and found our first cep and several chanterellesplus a couple of other boletes that we have not been able to identify. We had thought they were bay boletes bu they do not stain blue when cut, so we are somewhat puzzled. Anybody got any ideas?Anyway, it was nice to be able to show my brother the view from the top, as it we had low cloud when he visited in June which hid the vista from him. Yesterday evening we had a lovely meal out down in Massat as an early Birthday treat. Excellent quality food and perfectly cooked, so we shall be returning.

Our visitors left this afternoon, suitably re-charged after their brief stay - as my brother succinctly put it, the Pissou environment is 'good for the soul'.

Back on with the kitchen work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Making something beautiful

Well, Andy has been working like a demon for the past few days. We decided that with mum and my brother arriving tomorrow for a couple of days at Pissou, it was important to have a) a functioning but not necessarily completed kitchen and b) the living area finished. So yesterday, he plaster-skimmed the living area which I then sized and painted today. After a considerable amount of cleaning up and moving around of furniture, we were able to put the bed-settee and the armchairs into their new positions and with the addition of a couple of lamps the new look is taking shape. I still need to find suitable pictures or a mirror for the wall and Andy will be making a couple of occasional tables, but already, it feels like a warm, clean, cosy space in which we will be spending a not inconsiderable amount of time this winter!

The kitchen is also progressing, with the sink now firmly affixed (no more washing up in the bathroom washbasin - hurrah!), the oven in situ, two beech worktops expertly and (almost) seamlessly joined using a masons' mitre joint and masons' mitre bolts to clamp them together. Tomorrow, Andy will be building the final cupboard with drawer unit that will sit next to the washing machine and then the whole of the right hand side of the kitchen will be in place, the doors can be attached and I can start stashing kitchen clobber away and out of sight!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Getting there

The L-shaped unit which will house the sink is now solidly secured in place, the units have been joined together and levelled. The un-cut worktop has taken the first coat of linseed oil well...
and the oak doors likewise

Friday, 18 September 2009

Projet progress

Our deadline of next Thursday is looming (mum and David will be arriving to stay for a couple of nights) by which time we hope to have a useable kitchen in place, the woodburner back in situ (tiling is currently in progress) and the 'living area' plaster-skimmed and painted. It's going to be tight, but Andy is making good progress with the hand-made bespoke kitchen unit frames which he is constructing from quality pine taking shape.......which he is putting together using the traditional mortise and tenon method... to which the solid oak linseed oil treated doors and the solid beechwood worktop will be fitted. My painting and woodwork tidying duties are almost completed and the kitchen is slowly coming together

Potager update

It would appear that, with all of the ongoing house renovation work, I have been sadly neglecting the potager. Fortunately, it is now the end of the main season so no produce has been spoiled by my lack of attention. It feels like an appropriate time for me to reflect on the successes and failures and what I have learnt from my first attempts at growing my own produce.

Overall, the potager has been a massive success -the variety and the quantity of vegetables that I have grown has way exceeded my expectations. My only real 'failure' has been with the turnips, but that is due entirely to the vole community who were 100% successful in their destruction of the crop. The cabbage white caterpillar has also made a pretty good job of munching their way through my cauliflower, savoy cabbage and white cabbage leaves, but fortunately they are robust plants and seem to be recovering well.

What would I do differently next year? The main thing would be to put in tall supports for the tomato plants before they start falling over! I would also give them more space than I did this year. I would also weigh the produce that I have had from the potager as, although I know we have had masses of tomatoes and French beans, it would be nice to have a record of how many kgs has been produced.
What would I grow next year that I haven't grown this year? Some beefsteak and plum tomatoes.
What has been the biggest surprise this year? The mystery gourd that appeared from nowhere and produced 5 good sized fruit that taste like a cross between pumpkin and butternut squash.

I am already prepared for the autumn and winter, with the autumn carrots developing well, the parsnips ready for harvesting as soon as we get a good frost, the leeks are swelling nicely, the autumn spinach is making good progress, the spring greens likewise and the lambs lettuce is now coming through. I will be planting the onion sets, shallots and garlic before the end of the month. It will soon be time to dig in some horse manure and some compost in order to replenish the soil ready for next year's growth. What a satisfying passtime this potager business is proving to be!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

No excuses

You will no doubt have heard the expression 'all the gear, no idea'. Thankfully at Pissou we now have all of the equipment but also all of the knowledge to create a bespoke kitchen of quality. Such equipment includes the following;
- table saw
- router table
- mitre saw
- planer-thicknesser
- bandsaw
- pillar drill

I am very much looking forward to seeing the final result which is expected in the course of next week!

In the meantime, I have finished painting the walls, ceiling and window frames and will be tiling at the weekend.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Clean and bright

Whilst Andy was sorting out the upper level of the barn, clearing space for his kitchen 'workshop' I got the walls and ceiling sized, some of the woodwork cleaned up and the kitchen beam sanded down and painted afresh. It is all looking wonderfully clean and bright and we are both now starting to get impatient for the job to be finished so that we can move back downstairs instead of eating and living up on the first floor.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Being sociable

To be honest, we are not known for being the most sociable of people. Indeed, some people may consider that to be an understatement! But yesterday, we were amongst a large group of people invited to help our friends Justin and Emily to celebrate the Christening of their twin daughters, Myla and Thea. It was a lovely afternoon and a great opportunity to catch up with various friends that may have been somewhat neglected in 2009. Justin spit roasted 'Balls', one of his Gascon pigs that he had slaughtered a week ago especially for the occasion and there was some great live music to round off the afternoon. After getting home from the celebrations, Andy cracked on with the plaster skimming in the kitchen, which he continued today while I headed over to Pat's for a VTT outing. I struggled to make it round the 26km black route, largely due to a very poor nights sleep and a complete lack of energy. It didn't help that the majority of the ascent was in the first 7 kms and a great deal of bike-pushing was involved. Pat however was on fire and riding strong! It was good to get out and when I returned home, Andy had completed the skimming around the fireplace and in the kitchen, so I will be sizing the walls and ceiling tomorrow and painting on Wednesday. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Coming together

Today, we scrimmed the kitchen and fireplace areas ready for Andy to plaster skim on Monday. The new concrete floor is curing well thanks to the humid atmosphere and the covering of plastic sheeting that we should be able to remove by the end of the weekend. It really is starting to feel like we have turned the corner of the kitchen renovation now and I can see how beautiful it is going to be.Andy recovered a lovely old piece of what I think is chestnut timber from the barn this afternoon which I sanded down before applying a coat of linseed oil which has really brought out the colour and grain. It is now in place above where the old sink was located.I also applied a coat of linseed oil to one of the oak kitchen unit doors to see what shade we would achieve and it has come out a wonderfully rich, warm colour enhancing the natural grain. Just beautiful! So, a busy week next week and I am hoping it will all be finished by the time mum and my brother come to visit in just under 2 weeks time!

On a different note, I pulled up 2 carrots from the potager this evening which were both notable for different reasons!!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Slab laid

It took most of the morning for us to set the levels for the new concrete slab and to accurately fix the rail for the tamping board. Nothing is ever straightforward here. Then, in the course of 3 hours this afternoon, the concrete was poured and the slab levelled. Physical work, but we will at last have a kitchen floor and wood-burner base that are level and damp-proofed. Probably a day off tomorrow and an outing on the mountain or road bike, then scrimming and plastering (for him) and hearth tiling (for me) on Saturday. Then next week, while Andy is constructing the kitchen unit carcasses, I will be painting and probably also laying the floor tiles.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Ready for concreting

Good progress today. Now ready for doing the concrete slab tomorrow. Nice to have a comparatively 'clean' space at last.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Progress 2

The delivery arrived late, not until early evening yesterday, but we were still able to get some plasterboards up before close of play. Today, more of the same plus the tricky construction of the frame that will support the plasterboard to the right of the window. 'Tricky' because, like every surface in the house, the walls are so uneven it is hard to get a level/even structure. There is also the question of the pipework for the washing machine and the waste to the exterior to consider. But by this evening, all of the plasterboard for the left hand section of the kitchen is up, the frame to the left of the window is up, all but a small section of the ceiling plasterboard is up, the lights and most of the electrical sockets all fitted and working and the plumbing in place (the sink waste pipes will obviously not be remaining in the position shown in the 2nd photo!).Tomorrow, we should be able to complete the plasterboarding, lay the floor membrane and put down the 're-bar' flooring reinforcement ready for a morning/day of concreting on Thursday.

Sunday, 6 September 2009


When I got back from the Alps, the kitchen area was down to bare ceiling boards, bare stone walls and a bare concrete floor. The majority of the 'dirty work' had been done.By close of play today, we had completed first fix electrics, plumbing for the new sink placement and erected a new frame for the plasterboard walls. The fuse box is now firmly and correctly affixed to the wall as opposed to hanging on by a wing and a prayer by a couple of poorly placed screws. The new ceiling lights are firmly affixed in the new ceiling plasterboard above where the gas hob will be accommodated and the wiring for the new double sockets are in place behind the frameThe new sink will be situated below the windows which separate the kitchen from the porch, with the washing machine to the left. Tomorrow, plasterboard delivery and a delivery of sand and gravel for the new concrete floor which WILL be level! By the weekend, I would hope to have the new plasterboard walls and ceiling up, all sockets and lights connected, a waterproof membrane laid on the floor and a new concrete slab laid.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Homeward bound

Torrential rain today. More of the same tomorrow. So I will be headed home in the morning where I will re-assume my supporting role in the creation of the new kitchen! At least all of the filthy, destructive work is now out of the way and we can start laying the damp proof membrane on the floor and up the walls, attach the frame for the new plasterboard which is being delivered on Monday and put up the new ceiling and lights. Then early next week we will be laying the new concrete slab, fixing the walls etc etc. Still much to do, but the transformation will be impressive!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Getting the legs working

We had lovely weather here yesterday so Gem and I and our bikes took the Mont Chery lift up the hill and did a nice little 8km circuit along very pleasant and fun tracks and trails which was then followed by an interesting downhill route which was far too technical for my liking! Without full body armour, I am simply not brave enough to throw myself down such terrain which is littered with exposed tree routes, loose rocks and gravel, with tight turns and steep drop offs - and that was only a 'green'! So in the afternoon, I took myself off on a waymarked 15km cross country trail which included 300m of ascent. It was fantastic and afforded some great views of Mont Blancand of the high mountain pastures above les Gets ... just beautiful.By late afternoon, the storms had moved in and we had a lot of rain overnight. But I awoke to clear skies this morning. It took me a while to get going, but I eventually got myself onto the Mont Chery lift and headed up to the halfway station from where I ran/walked the 2.5km to the peak at the top which gave another stunning vistaall the way down to Morzine in the valley belowFrom the top, I picked up various waymarked paths and ran back down to les Gets (700m of descent) which was fun but steep in places. I got back just in time as more storms and heavy rain rolled in at lunchtime. Forecast is not fantastic for the next 2 days, but hopefully we will have enough clear weather to get in some more running or mountain biking action.