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A HOLE NEW WORLD

Quote of the day:

A small hole not mended in time will become a big hole much more difficult to mend.’ - Chinese proverb





Yet another hole has appeared in the floor. Smaller than the previous one thankfully, and of course all very ‘do-able’.


Just to give you an idea of how minor the hole in the floor is, above is a picture of the gite as it was when we bought the house. Below is the picture of how it is now. All down to Simon’s hard work, so you see, a hole in the floor is small potatoes really.



The biggest problem with holes we have had was with the roof of the house.


Statistics are, I think, that about 99% of French rural house sales go through without having had a survey done. It was plain to see before we bought the old place that there was a lot of work to do. The roof had to be one of the first things after the gite renovation.


We got to it just in time. Any longer, then water would have got into the walls and the fabric of the building would certainly have decayed rapidly. It had already started in places.


Until the gite was finished, for the first few years of living here, it was a question of moving the thirty or so leak containers around the house attic. Whichever end of the house the wind was coming from when it rained, dictated the end where the buckets would be assembled. If we had a downpour the following day and the wind had changed direction, then the buckets, saucepans, storage containers, you name it, would all need to be shifted down to the other end. There were ’favourite’ places where there was always a leak, and others seemed to come and go willy nilly. If it started running down the walls, well, then that was definitely the worst. That happened many times during the earsplittingly spectacular thunderstorms we get here.


The worst though, was when it had snowed or hailed and the thaw set it. Then, there was no staunching the flow, simply a question of mopping up as best we could, as the creeping moisture seeped through each and every nook and cranny.


Happily now, the attic leakage containers are a thing of the past and we are mostly dry. Unless there’s a tornado of course, which is a completely different dynamic as the rain comes through the pillar box windows/holes stuffed with insulation, horizontally.


We have ancient, most likely ‘original to when the house was built’, terracotta tiles laid straight onto the earth, in what I laughingly call my kitchen. They will eventually be lifted and relaid as some of them are becoming unstable and breaking. That’s a way off yet although Simon fell into an ankle twister of a hole there yesterday.


Vermin. They are undermining the floor.


Mice, lerots (dormice/glis glis) and possibly even the disgustingly unthinkable rats (shudder!) have gauged tunnels out, using them for anything up to the two hundred years or so the house has been standing. It drives the dogs demented listening or smelling the creatures running underneath the floor, although we seem to be having a bit of respite from them at present, which is a huge relief.


At the bottom of the hole that swallowed Simon are mouse traces; empty walnut shells and lime tree seeds. Evidence it has been used as their store cupboard and dining room, beneath ours of the very same. Simon temporarily fills up part of the gaping chasm underneath with a bucket full of stones, laying the broken pieces of tile back over the top. It’s another very temporary fix as the tile keeps moving, we’re stubbing our toes on it and tripping over the raised edges of it too, where it’s not sitting properly.


That word ‘temporary’ again. Sigh.


I’m half expecting to come back from one of my many medicinal walks one day and find it the entire floor has been lifted.


It’s happened before.


I went shopping and upon my return not one hour later, was faced with this…



Same thing. Mice coming in from the cellar or through the wall behind the sink. Dogs going wild trying to get behind the fridge. Dodgy floorboards finally gave way. A perfect storm resulting in a person sized hole, which was then made into a massive pothole measuring some four square metres.


On this rare and beautiful occasion however, the rotted joist was quickly replaced permanently, holes filled and large sheets of ply now cover the void. All done in a day, but it certainly was a bit of a shock to come home to.


Simon’s offering of the day:


‘My doctor told me I’m suffering from paranoia. He didn’t actually say that but I knew that was what he was thinking.’




There’s a whole new world that seems to be waking up to Spring. There are bees all over the yew trees, each and every one of their orange ’saddle bags’ laden with pollen. As one lands on a branch or a gust of wind passes, huge clouds of it blow from the tiny cream coloured flowers that are covering the yew branches, with the hum of hundreds of workers feasting in the Spring sunshine.


An asthmatic’s nightmare I guess.





So it seems everyone and everything this weekend are busying themselves as Spring taps on the door.


Or maybe it’s the threat of rain from Tuesday for the following ten days.


Simon worked hard in the veggie garden on Saturday, prepping it for planting up soon.


Planting is my favourite job but sadly that‘s not possible this year. I think my surgeon would have a fit.



Today, Simon is attacking the kitchen area in a veritable frenzy of Spring cleaning, the like of which I have never seen before.


Probably will never do so again either.


A whirling dervish with a duster and polish.


My incrementally growing achievements today have been: doing the breakfast washing up, retrieving very light but bulky clean throws from the washing machine; hanging said throws on the washing line; a full length walk with the dogs, that being about 40 minutes; stitching up Ruby’s humping bed (yes, you read that right, don’t ask!) prior to washing where she’s torn it (again, don’t ask!); and lounging in the gloriously warm sunshine in the garden on my new chair and under my new throw.





Bliss! And also such a relief that some things are slightly more back to normal.


As I while away an hour basking in the rays of the March sun, nine months of builder‘s dust, of his own making in fairness, is being whisked away. Simon is washing, wiping, sweeping and vacuuming muck

away from the deepest recesses of the kitchen area that even I have thought twice before venturing into.


Too many spiders.


I feel very lazy indeed but there’s no way I could do it yet.


Those far depths have lain untouched since just before our youngest son‘s wedding last July, the last time the house was last thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom. Even that was a bit hit and miss given it’s a building site. What else can I do though? Half a day’s building work and the layer of dust returns.


Still, as I write, part of the room is now gleaming, with an enormous, teeteringly high wine rack, stacked to the gunnels with gleaming bottles that were previously hanging around on the floor, cloaked in a shroud of dust. The living area is still to be done however all traces of dust in the ‘kitchen’ are history.


But I’ve just tripped over that bloody broken tile again!




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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Jill, a RHS gold medal winning English professional gardener, garden designer and landscaper living in South West France since 2012. This is a personal account of my gardening life, some of the jolly and occasionally not so jolly japes that ensued while working, that probably caused my subsequent back problems.

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