Fool for France

Well, obviously it’s time I gave up on the first floor being finished, even sort of finished, and just showed it to you. After all, as a photo like this one shows, these houses are never actually finished. Soon, soon, really, I’ll post photos of the bedrooms, whatever you have not yet seen. Just a Couple More Pictures on the wall. Or maybe I’ll just give up.

But first, what do we have here? Yes, that’s moisture on the skylight, somewhat obscuring the bird poo. On a day when much of France is expected to be in the mid-30’s — I think that is mid-90’s, Fahrenheit — we have fog in the morning and temperatures in the mid-20’s. It doesn’t happen every time but when it does, I am grateful. Weather reports are broadcast several times a day, who knows why, it doesn’t change from hour to hour. However from them I have learned that I am in a narrow coastal belt that is somewhat protected from the wildest of the Brittany winds and also from the hottest of the heat waves that can hit south of us, down towards Bordeaux, pretty hard.

Beyond that, can we see forever? No way, we’re fixing up an old house. All we can see are those bricks. As my fellow renovators are aware, once the hard shell of a brick is gone — in this case I think it is all gone — nothing remains but the soft, porous center. It took close enough to 150 years for the outside to go. The rest could be gone pretty quickly. Birds love this stuff. They not only have nested in the chimneys themselves but have pecked out some of the bricks and are nesting there. This particular chimney has three layers of nests.

So. You can take the chimney down and just leave it down. You lose much of the character of the house but it’s safe and cheap. Many people do this but it’s just not me. Besides, my site supervisor is a journeyman bricklayer who knows where to get those narrow little bricks.

Our plan is to ride out the winter with the chimney you see. In spring, down this old guy comes, to be replaced by one that looks just like it, but is new. I am outlining a whole Phase 2, work to be done when we can stand to think about it. This is high on the list. My bank account is in no hurry for spring.

It has been a long couple of years. We’re all a little burnt out. After this it’s all small ball, little jobs that it’s hard to get excited about. The guys are on another job, apart from bits and bobs here and there. I am beyond tired of writing checks. Sometimes I think of you guys who do the work and also write the checks. I have done that myself. No way would I want to do it again. Hats off to you. The learning curve is enormous. The work can be exhausting. Crumbling houses throughout the French countryside are grateful to you.

11 Replies to “Next steps”

  1. Not only does one get to see the exciting progress – if only a wonderful skylight, photographed so artfully – but we also learn so much about bricks. What seems so permanent-bricks-is actually something that has a lifecycle, accelerated by nature (birds).

    Glad that you will replace the chimney and retain the character of the house.

    We look forward to the further reveal of the ‘finished’ work.



    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with the chimney!
    No humidity here at all. Dry as a bone. Not too hot–around 90–and very comfortable for humans. But the birds are looking for water, and so are the plants.


    1. We don’t have ordinary day jobs. I liked my profession but never liked my job so for me to be able to practice my profession on my own terms is worth a bundle. Now if only I could figure out how to get it to pay…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The last sentence says it all … The crumbling houses ARE grateful even if their native owners are dumbfounded by the desire to breathe new life into them. Yours is VERY grateful because I am certain she has never looked so beautiful ☺️


    1. Thanks. I’m hoping to be able to test that idea. The previous owner is coming for a drink. I hope she brings a few photos with her. I have the good fortune to have bought a house that was always loved, if not always well-treated. I’d love to see how they furnished and lived in it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. In reality, I think it is true of more houses than not, that they were loved but the wherewithal to care for the infrastructure was not often available. I’m sure she will be delighted to see what you have done. Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

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