Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Back to Montegut, this time prepared for more work.

Spring usually has excellent weather, a lovely time of year that offers a needed respite between the near freezing temps of winter and  heat of summer... spring, we are counting on you... please, don't let us down.

Our next undertaking will be to renovate Joseph's room. A very large bedroom upstairs, approximately 18 x 24 feet. One cousin told us he painted it when he was about 15 years old, that has been more than 35 years ago. Redecorating is not an undertaking taken lightly in these old french farm houses. Unless there is a structural issue, decor stays simple, classic and above all functional.

The ceiling was painted at some point, perhaps to hide water damage from broken roof tiles. The roof has since been repaired. The ceiling needs a lot of TLC and we will make needed improvements, just uncertain as to what those might be, could be stripping the paint or simply sanding and repaint.

This downstairs bedroom window shows the damage of poor renovation attempts. During the 1970's many stone farm houses were coated with stucco to modernize and repair exterior rain damage. Over time the stucco prevented the cement and natural stone stacked exterior walls to "breath". So, as the moisture built up it migrated to the inside of the walls, causing the interior paint to crack and peel and the wooden window frames to swell.  Needless to say stucco is no longer used on these old buildings. Currently the practice is a return to a very old technique, use a lime based plaster to repair the damage. I guess time will tell how this "new" method fares? I suspect our grandchildren will see the results.

There is a fair amount of damage around the windows in the downstairs rooms. It looks like a dreadful amount of work, but now it is only cosmetic. The target bedroom needs about a weeks worth of hard work, which will likely become at least 3 weeks total!

The wooden floor was in need of repair at some point. The make-shift patch cut from a tin can lid did the job! I like it, it works, it stays. Maybe a rug or maybe we will stain the wood like we did in the loft.

A couple of photos that show why we return, the potential in that hand carved railing! The wood is dry but very few cracks, the stairs are a little creaky but after 3 1/2 centuries it is in darn good shape.

A simple and effective front door lock.

The simplicity of design, the functionality of logical thinking and use of local materials...

Our little spot in France is still home to hard working farmers, the backbone and muscle that provides the delicacies that adorn Parisian tables. These old farms were self sustaining, the family garden is large by any comparison. Ours is about an acre, with loads of fruit and nut trees plus ample space for row vegetables bordered by a natural fence of berry vines and rose bushes.It has been a several decades (!) since the plum and pear trees planted by Barry's great-grandfather have been productive. At one time they were loved, the espaliered apple trees are proof, there are still 11 apple trees in the garden area.

We listened to stories, we read the books, we've seen the abandoned farm house renovations, we have seen the derelict buildings transformed into English holiday homes occupied a few weeks of the year and then left to stand empty.

We think we have everything  under control. Stay tuned, as you know nothing is ever what it seems.

And if you have, thanks for reading...