We live in a small stone worker’s cottage on a wine domaine – Cellier des Troubadours, great wine – in the Corbieres near Carcassonne. Doesn’t it sound romantic? Can’t you just see the roses climbing around the front door? Smell the lavender and rosemary growing beside the terrace?
Me too. But only if I close my eyes. And imagine really hard. Because …. we’re renovating! Ourselves!
But, you say, I thought Mark used to do renovations for a living. Exactly, I reply. We moved in early April and Mark was so busy that he didn’t have time to do any work here. We’re the proverbial shoemaker’s children.
The good thing about taking a long time to renovate is that you have time to live in the house and see what works and what doesn’t. It’s not a theoretical design, you end up with a plan that’s based on the way you use your house. Of course the longer it is before you start, the more often you change the plan. You could conceivably spend your entire life tinkering with the plan and never actually get any renovating done. This applies anywhere, it isn’t unique to renovations in the south of France.
Yesterday we had another re-plan day. The kitchen this time. Good changes. Today Mark decided to make the floor in part of the kitchen. Oops, more re-planning. Even better. It’s going to be brilliant.
Seeing that everything else hinges on getting the floor done I’m all for doing it in stages. Especially if it means that I can actually start cooking on my new gas cook top with the wok burner in the middle.
Sam, Sam, what started this tiradish post? The stairs. We have the scariest stairs in the world. The won’t be here for ever but until the floor is down we can’t make a new staircase.
When our neighbour first used then she got up fine. She was coming down and froze in place. We were all outside and heard a quavering voice calling "Jonathan, please come and help me. I’m stuck on the stairs." These are seriously scary. Tom, our dog, wouldn’t use them for the first three weeks that we lived here. Belle, the pup – 5 months – still won’t use them.
The stairs are trying to kill me! They break. Usually when I’m on them. A good thing really. If it were anyone else they’d probably sue us. One day the bottom part of the staircase detached from the top. I saved myself by grabbing the floor with one hand and swinging to the ground floor. Amazing when you consider how unathelic I am. Adrenalin, you’ve got to love it.
But I’ve learned. I now tread carefully, ready at all times for the break. It happened today. Third stair from the bottom, the one that I’ve been telling Mark needs to be repaired for about three weeks. I am uninjured. Mark is repairing the stairs.
I don’t want this to sound too whiny. We have a lovely bathroom. It needs a couple of walls and a door but it is nice. I can lie in the tub and look out the window. I don’t see much more than the treetops but it is lovely.
The shower head is one of those old fashioned looking ones. Big and round. It’s like standing in rain. Except warm. Even though it’s a small space we’ve been able to make it look bigger. I’m a big fan of bathrooms.