Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Openings and ........

Oh Dear Oh Dear

The last couple of days we have not been very 'tranquil'!

O still smiling!

What started off as an ordinary door opening, covered in cement, is now the opening to a cave it seems.

The region where Ugly Betty is, used to be a prehistoric lake and a lot of the houses has been built with wonderful fossil stones called 'Stromatolites'
4 Stromatolites filling the wheelbarrow!

(In Gannat a mere 10 km's away, there's a very interesting museum explaining the region and the beasts that used to live here many many moons ago - )

The stones outside looks like landart
But getting back to our darling and the fact that we have to change all the doors and windows, this seems to be a rather daunting task as things can move and change in an eye-wink. As illustrated herewith!

The morning
Late Afternoon !

In the meantime we found old bricks and O chiseled away on a lintel for the doorpost! And the new doors and windows are arriving on Friday!

Poor Dusty did not think we'll use him as a packhorse!

The stone lintel ready to be raised to 2.20 meters

So now for the suite........ 

Friday, 25 November 2011


Concise Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary © 2009 Oxford University Press:
fêlé (familier), ~e /fɛle/
  1. adjective (fou) cracked (familier) (jamais épith).
  1. noun, masculine, feminine loony (familier);
So here you go - I found the word that you can apply to us - in French - Fêlé ! English translation - cracked - loony! (en vir my Afrikaanse vrinne - sommer mal man - in die bol gepik)

This must be it as nobody in their right mind will be chipping cement off walls 6 hours per day !
Wednesday was exactly 2 weeks that we've started on Ugly Betty's renovation.

It actually feels like 2 years!

Every morning we start with one hour of carting all the rubble we've chipped off the day before to the trailar - this allready is quite an excercise!

And then we just move in and chip chip chip, or as O has been doing the last few days, taking a couple of century's old wall down stone by stone. (I then of course cart all the lime sement and stones out into the garden)

But the new open plan lounge, dining room kitchen is slowly but surely taking form - kind of a new space being born out of 3 poky rooms. 

And this adventure will continue......

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hammers and Odors

Favourite tools!

Now I am a girl that can handle a hammer - that is why we never fight on site!!
The hand that got hit!
And when I do miss the target, oh boy, it certainly hurts like hell - I found out again this week!
With all the bashing we're doing, I tend to hit the same spot, but with a bit of tlc and Arnica Montana, you can almost not see the blue anymore ! In France we call Arnica Montana the plant for beaten women! It does work miracles!

It is incredible what a little opening up of an old stuffy house can do!
Brick wall down - now to take out all the rubble!
Taking down the old bathroom wall

Ugly Betty is actually smelling like a young girl again.

With thick layers of cement on her beautiful stone walls, dampness were trapped everywhere! The chipping off, although taking lots of time, is changing her odor daily
O chipping up the tiled floor

When O started chipping up the cement floor, we actually found old clay tiles underneath.
Unfortunately we are not able to recover them as they have become brittle with all the damp! In just 2 days Olivier did such a great job - almost 20 m² of thick cement bit by bit with a hammer, chisel and crowbar!

Now I know why we are a tiny bit tired at night!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

One week

Bathroom before
Today a week ago we did the final signing and 'Ugly Betty' became ours!
Well, tonight it feels like we've had her for years!

My handwork almost done
In one week we've almost done all the 'gutting' and that is maybe why there's not a bone in my body that's not aching tonight.

During the hours of carting bags of rubble, ripping up floorboards etc I was thinking that we certainly are not 'all there' as we say in South Africa.
Bathroom After!
After our big project here Aux Jardins des Thevenets, we should've know what is in store for us, but no, here we go again!

And the schedule is tight - the roofers want to do the new roof in just over 10 days time

In that time we must finish all the demolishing inside (2 walls must come out) put up the scaffolding and take off the old tiles.

The one thing that has been with us so far is the weather. Almost spring weather in autumn! We've had the most beautiful days so far and we lunch outside in the sun every day.
Making all our aches and pains worthwhile.

And our little hameau (hamlet) is really pretty. Only 6 neighbours and plowed fields around, it nestles between 2 small rivers, the Andelot and the Ancoutay.
We even have a distant view of the Puy du Dôme - our local volcanic mountaintop that is a landmark to many.

Ugly Betty on the right
Soon Ugly Betty is going to be 'La Belle des Sardons' !
Watch this space!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Déchetterie and wires!

O loading rotten floorboards - first trip of many to come

For my English friend, dechetterie is the waste disposal site where one takes all rubble.

When we first started work here Aux Jardins des Thevenets 9 and a bit years ago, we very quickly found the local déchetterie.

Now, with the gutting of Ugly Betty, we are using the same one, many trips per day there and back.

Wires everywhere
It is incredible the stuff that comes out of such a tiny little house
It really makes one wonder about people and the way they hoard (and then I think of this house and if I have to pack and clean one day - OH MY WORD!!!)

One of the things we discovered about the past owner of Ugly Betty (may he RIP) is that he must have had a fetish for wires. 
Telephone wires, electrical cables, anything wiry, you name it, it was hanging somewhere around the rooms!
You are being watched!
I am just amazed that he did not actually electrocuted himself along the line!
He even had a very basic surveying system at his front porch.

After the first day this has all been ripped out, but the incredible electrical system is just too much and we are waiting for the local electricity company to come and install a new board. Will be much safer for the future!

All in a days work getting Ugly Betty transformed!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Starting block

I know I know have kept many wondering with 'Ugly Betty'!

Well, Ugly Betty is the tiny little house we bought this summer and on Tuesday afternoon we did the final signing and she became ours.

First thing Wednesday morning, we headed over to our new little house to be converted into a gîte - self-catering cottage. I baptised her Ugly Betty as she's really ugly - only for now as she'll be turning into a beauty over the next few months. She has potential!

The decor to be changed
She certainly is a much smaller chunk than what we bit off almost 10 years ago when we arrived Aux Jardins des Thevenets!

So with this blog we'll keep you updated of Betty's journey and transformation from 'Ugly Betty' into a 'beauté'!

O demolishing the very horrible little entrance porch

Under the cement, beautiful old stonewalls

Gutting Betty
Before a run to the dump

The A team

Janine and Marcel, my 'French Parents' our first visitors
At the end of the first day..........