Abridged Too Far: Robert's Diary from
La BEHORAIS, 2002

Episode 3ème: Octobre 2002

Mardi

1

Alan the builder has a job going up in Caen, Normandy where the people have a new log burner they bought, which is too big for their fireplace, and they want to sell it cheap and less the 19.5% VAT; I'm all ears and going with him today. Nice trip him driving, I was able to have large quantity of vin rouge with my steak at lunch; oh yes, bought wood-burner and saved e200 - a good day.

Mercredi

2

Went with Alan this morning to get materials as 2 vans required, sale on and he gets discount and if I use his account the VAT is 5.5% instead of 19.5%, so I bought 2 hot water systems for e105 each. Alan helped me install one in no. 1 and I will put the other in no. 3 later. The builders have dressed and rendered the arch into the extension no. 1. A bloody good day.

Jeudi

3

Another step towards civilisation - I have hot water in no. 1, and am back to carrying buckets of it to no. 3 - didn't realise how much time washing machines, dishwashers, instant hot water saved, still I'll get back there one day.Arch in no. 1 is nearly complete. Riggette is back from Paris.

Vendredi

4

Started the day with a celebration to hot water, bathed myself in the blue plastic watsit, emptied it out refilled with glorious hot water and did the washing, filled buckets with wonderful hot water and washed the Bestalwagen, filled special bucket with magic hot water and washed the floor: P gets it tomorrow.
Went to C'briant to buy another Wood burner for no. 3, which was on offer at e199, now have enough Wood burners to open a shop. Alan has finished the arch and the plastering in the main room; he will be back in a week's time when we hope to have the windows and doors.
After work went to Tabac bar for a couple of beers sitting outside in shorts and summer shirt 1st week in Oct at 6pm - magic.

Samedi

5

Did a bit more Electrical work in no. 1, then went into contemplation mode with a bottle or two of vin for the rest of the day.

Dimanche

6

A quiet day due to too much contemplation, did meet up with the builders at lunchtime for a few non-contemplator beers, they are off to do a job in Normandy while I sit and wait for the doors and windows. P has found a new spot in no. 3 - it is behind the wood burner where the temperature exceeds most Crematoriums - she seems content.

Lundi

7

Finishing off odds and sods of electrical, plumbing and roof bodging no. 1.

Mardi

8

Attacked the old pigsty adjoining no. 3, this was part of the original purchase with no. 1 & 2. I hope this will become my ablution parlour - bog to you lot in Glemsford - it is a sound building approx. 3 x 5m, the normal 1m thick walls and a good slate roof. It also had for nearly 200 years a false ceiling to keep the pigs warm, this was constructed with 3" beams - like my loft at 65 Egremont Street - and straw mixed with mud, it was a stubborn sod to remove, even had the Bestalwagen towing out the main beam, it is now just a piece of history, the bois in a heap waiting to become wood burner fodder, and the straw is in the ozone layer via a very good bonfire.
One of the beams had some graffiti which said Napoleon was a good old boy, this had been crossed out and replaced with wanker and the date 1815.

Mercredi

9

Stumbled out of bed late with my body suggesting I was too old to be pulling beams out, took the easy option and went materials buying.
Purchased all the bits to install wood burner in no. 3, arrived home at lunch time, saw English registered car at house next to Yugoslavs.
Stopped to be polite - nosey - and they have bought it!
Suggested they came for a drinky - only had to ask once - they are Publicans - god save us - who have bought it for a Holiday home, the long and the short of it is I now have the key to keep an eye on it and to test the plumbing - I now have use of a bath or a shower 100m from my door - glad I'm a shy person.
On my shopping trip I bought two carpets, one for beside my bed to stand and undress on rather than the cold tiles, and another large one for in front of the fire, fool that I am I expected a big smile and "cor thanks Dad" from P when she came home, instead she gave a quick glance, sit on them she did not - tart.

Jeudi

10

Went into Rouge for haircut I booked yesterday, I now have the shortest hair I had in the last 40 years - translation problem or she was M.Le Penn's daughter.
Arrived back at 10 a.m., ignored the amused look by my neighbours, who are used to seeing me looking like a bad impersonation of John Pertwee as Dr WHO and started the installation of log burner, finished at 9pm, not an easy job but the results are far better than I had hoped for - very happy knackered chappie celebrated with a few Port and Brandies.
P not best pleased on her return as she can no longer cremate herself behind the borrowed log burner, she did grudgingly sit on the rug and purr.

Vendredi

11

Thorough washing of house this morning, to remove yesterday's soot. Then yet more Electrical work on no. 1.

Samedi

12

Finished off all the electrical work I can do till builders have finished. Did the weekly lavage, just hung it out as the heaviest rain I have seen here started. Went for quite a few beers with my new English neighbours.

Dimanche

13

Still raining and a very cold wind blowing, new English neighbours Lorraine, Kevin and friend Alan came round at lunchtime for a farewell drink as they are going back to England this evening.
Decided it was far too horrible outside so even P and I decided to check out the new wood burner and a few bottles of vin rouge.

Lundi

14

Went to Angers with Alan the builder to collect the long awaited windows and doors, arrived back and Alan went off to get the windowsills.
Spent the rest of the day digging outside no. 3 to find the old cold-water feed, so I can connect up properly before Winter arrives and my hose fed supply freezes up: found it!

Mardi

15

I have been told that a French family has bought the last two empty-semi derelict properties in the Commune, all sorts of rumours about who they are and what they paid, if the rumoured price is correct I have had a very good deal.
Two windows in the kitchen no. 1 are in position, a slow job as since the extension was built, 15 years ago, the standard size of windows have changed and the block work has to be hacked out, still it is a lot cheaper to pay Alan to do this than have them made to fit.
Have fitted cold water plastic pipe to no. 1, dug up the eau box and meter box no. 3 rearranged and installed water pipe no.3.
Very windy day a few more slates off no. 2, Polly missing all day, frightened by the wind, when she turned up 14 hours later she was in a bit of a state am going to try and keep her in for a couple of days.

Mercredi

16

Polly confined to house today, much complaining to start with, the normal threats "I'll phone the RSPCA" till I pointed out they have no jurisdiction over here, that I could eat her if I want.
Protestations ceased and she retired to the cupboard under the sink using the bog rolls as a pillow, she was there all day even with me under the sink as well finishing the plumbing, even the blow torch didn't phase her, she arouse at Thon-Tuna-time which was late today as my help was required to rod out the communal drains which were flooding with today's torrential rain.
Kitchen door and bedroom window apertures have been cut down and rebuilt ready for fitting tomorrow.

Jeudi

17

All windows and door fitted extension no. 1, fitted restrictor plate for log burner no. 1. Had delivery of my logs now in the barn behind no. 3, have gained social acceptance by having a good bois store.
P still staying in, now her choice, she ventured out at 4 p.m. for an hour, is now keeping a close watch on the wood burner - it's getting very cold tonight.

Vendredi

18

All windows and doors fitted no. 1, now weatherproof and secure. Eau man came and connected no. 3 water, so can get rid of hose.

Samedi

19

Got up late this morning as out celebrating Tania and Jeff's 17th wedding anniversary - Jeff's 5th wife - first frost last night, but a beautiful but cold day today.
Today is a designated housework day, went to caravan to get thick duvet and found it has been sub-let to a group of mice, bought this to Poll's attention who found her case and produced her contract which she assures me does not cover the catching of foreign mouse's or mice anywhere in the small print, she left the caravan with mice intact and a satisfied smile.
I shall be placing her in her travel container on Wednesday and taking her to C'briant market where thy sell live Rabbits, Chickens, Geese, Ducks and other mangey creatures in the hope she will fetch enough for a couple of mouse traps.
She is nothing but an ornament, a loveable one and she knows it.
Finished housework and washing had a lazy get over hangover afternoon.

Dimanche

20

Got up late again as I started reading "A Child called IT" by Dave Pelzer at 7p.m. and finished it at 4.40 a.m. a very tragic and moving true story, thanks for sending that over Sister Dear.
Had a good soak in the bath, and cooked a wonderful Boeuf Bourguignon.
Now the weather has turned colder Polly has given up the idea of being a great outdoor explorer and reverted to Suffolk habit of only going out when both sets of legs have been crossed and a pained look appears on her face.

Lundi

21

Was awoken early this morning by a lot of crashing and banging, after investigation I ruled out Polly with wind and discovered it was a horrendous thunderstorm, this led to the day's downfall, as an hour or so later when I went for the morning crap and bucket of hot water, I discovered water running down the walls of no1, where I did not require water.
A combination of the first heavy rain and the strong wind in a different direction has proved that the roof is shit.
Spent the day with builder Alan patching up the roof which when done 20 years ago was not done by the best craftsman en France.

Mardi

22

Woke up this morning to find we had had another night of heavy rain and a gale force 8 was blowing, took the white plastic bucket for hot water and my bowel for a crap to no. 1 with trepidation, the good news was we had been successful on the back roofs and no water was engrossing, the bad news was that winds had shifted and what should be a living room, looked more like a swimming pool.
After investigating said problem Alan and me came to the same conclusion, that the problem was the derelict roof of no. 2 where it joins no. 1 will have to be stripped to the 1st A frame and redone, accepting this I am pissed off as it is money I didn't want to spend at this stage and most of it will be wasted as when I finally do up no. 2 it will have to be taken off.
Good part of the day was we finished the ceiling in the kitchen no. 1. Went home to no. 3 at 6 p.m. still in a pissed off mode to find Polly who had been in all day had a dose of the shits.
After clearing this up and reminding myself that management operates a " no kick up the bum policy " I sat down with a very large Pastis to try and decide weather to cook dinner or end it all, Radio 4 had the answer, was treated to ½ hour of Pam Ayres - thank you Pam - have replaced sharp knives in drawer, cooked and eaten tea and the world is well,
will finish the bottle of Gamay Rouge and let the fuck it factor wash over me, bon nuit.

Mercredi

23

Another very wet day, P still not set paw out of la maison.
Started the metalwork frame for ceiling back bedroom no. 1; Alan had to leave at lunchtime to buy his road.
I went shopping for mousetrap.

Jeudi

24

A wet day, ceiling up in bedroom. Cheese gone from trap, no dead mouse. P ventured out this evening with only a bit of persuasion.

Vendredi

25

Another wet day, one wall metal frame and plaster boarded.
Polly a bit bolder today.

Samedi

26

Housework day today, went with a few friends to a meal at TPU bar to celebrate George's 68th birthday,
... came home at 5 a.m.

Dimanche

27

Severe headache and rollicking from P for being out all night, arose at 11.30 or 10.30 as the clocks went back, spent a quite day reading.
Have found out P is being stalked by the ginger and white cat - gender not known - who for years has had all the territory under its control and is now reclaiming it, hence P's reluctance to go out.
We have had a day of showers and strong winds, but nothing compared to England I am glad to say, as I would have had real roofing problems!

Lundi

28

A fine day still quite windy, plaster boarding progressing.

Mardi

29

After a cold start we have had a shirtsleeve day, been up on the roof no. 1, and have re-bodged the front adjoining derelict no. 2.
Allan has started preparations to plaster outside if good weather holds.

Mercredi

30

Good Weather still holding end wall plastered. Started on back of roof.

Jeudi

31

Both Allen and me spent the day on the back roof.

End of the 3rd month, have been a bit fed up as this month has been all pay out and not the progress I had hoped, but I can see we are making progress.



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