Episode 6 – The Big Wormy Beam





July 2006

I shouldn’t be agreeing to this…(deep resigned sigh)………………………….

…………………………………………….  but if I don’t you will still go and do it anyway!”

Thus said my doctor, and of course he was right- Come hell or high water (hopefully not coming in via the roof) I would definitely be flying to France for my first proper summer holiday in our new hovel

Seemed ironic that we had the first real opportunity to get the renovation work under way and here I was, basically incapacitated. My doctor agreed that I could go, but only for a relaxing holiday,and only if I promised that I would not stretch, bend, pick up or carry anything heavier than a tea cup. I must have frequent rests (in a proper bed! ..I dare not tell him about the leaky airbeds..) and not exert myself in any way

Of course none of the above was synonymous with property renovation, especially for a hands-on control freak like myself.

I would have to supervise instead- hmm…………., who was malleable and amenable enough to do the stuff I couldn’t and at the same time work alongside Trevor without wanting to throttle him?

Only one candidate came to mind, my daughter, who found herself with an unexpected fortnight in France lined up ….and no, I didn’t tell her I was planning to use her as builder’s mate.

So, less than a month after a full hysterectomy, (with complications) I risked the crush of Ryannair and took my rather fragile tum and seventeen stitches over to Carcassonne- along with my super strength HRT and crates of Co-Codamol. Bloody marvellous stuff, shame it ran out……….

Naturally the pain killers  went by the wayside and I was soon relying on the anaesthetic properties of  the local rose instead. Clearly this did not go unnoticed as Olivier and Noemie who ran the village hotel/bar were referring to us as “Les  Anglaises (rose)” within days of our arrival!

We had been greeted with  extreme curiosity by the natives. Why would an English couple want to buy a sad looking village house ? We were certainly bucking the trend of many of our fellow Brits in France who generally seemed to prefer newer builds with proper right angles and level floors or charming farmhouses now renovated with all mod cons and who positively thrived on having picturesquely neglected undergrowth to hack through and turn into nice gardens with lawns and pools.

It’s not that we don’t like sitting in someone else’s nice garden, but Trevor is so pathologically averse to any kind of horticultural exertion that it ‘s almost a medical condition and although we had enjoyed it, our big high maintenance garden in the UK had been a bit much even for me.

The idea of a terrace, a courtyard, enough room for tubs out front and lots of window boxes seemed more practical, particularly as we have lush river banks, a river beach and country walks right on our doorstep to enjoy.

Doooggghhh (!) diary moment– we had owned the house for two years before we realised that “Rue de la Plage” really DOES mean beach street, and when the new Mayor’s boys hacked through the concealing vegetation we actually found it!

So now we have a three storey hovel with wallpapered doors and a funny smell in the garage-what next?? Fumigating the lovely wood wormy beam in the garage seemed a good start, particularly as it seemed to be holding half the house up.

We had an exciting (for me) excursion to M. Bricolage ( That is Mr do-it-yourself and I generally do because Trevor has to be galvanised to work when the sun is shining and the beach is calling) and we bought a monster vat of chemicals apparently toxic to all wood loving creatures that crawl, fly or hang around eating medieval village houses for fun.

With the accompanying gun we (or rather Trevor because I’m not supposed to be doing anything) wandered round the house soaking every bit of wood we could find with the vile mixture.

Guess where we ran out of gunk? Yep..just as we reached the big wormy beam

Garage (originally the kitchen)

Garage (originally the kitchen)

Isn’t that a Roald Dahl children’s story??

We enjoyed our first village fete, paella with local rabbit and copious quantities of red wine, followed by dancing in the square and an excellent band performing outside the new Mairie

My daughter amazed me by eating octopus

She clearly amazed a few male pastis soaked villagers too in her little white ra-ra skirt ( she is 6 feet tall and blonde!)

She politely declined several cordial invitations to admire their boules trophy (?!)  fortunately Kirsten didn’t understand all their kind offers as they were naturally in French

DSC00085Kirsten practising for later when the band invited her onstage……………..

I love this place

About coteetcampagne

Artist, period home maker, renovator, restorer, Francophile. My mission is to save the old stuff, one beautiful piece at a time
This entry was posted in Renovation and restoration diary- France, What we did, how we did it and what we used and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Episode 6 – The Big Wormy Beam

  1. Pingback: Episode 124- Pest Control Chez Nous | Blog-sur-Aude

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