Posts tagged “renovation

An impossible balcony, ancient Egyptian way.

We have a come quite a way since we started restoring 3 years ago.But unfortunately, we still have a way to go too. everything happens in its own time. Mon cheri believes patience will finally finish our house. I believe him, but every now and then I let my impatience kick him in the butt a little …just enough to speed up his patience a bit! I am careful not to push too hard though… he is the one doing all the work after all!

Up to now, we have knocked down walls, inside and out. We have opened up large windows and doors. We have put in a second floor for our bedroom. We  have put in a temporary plastic pool for cooling down during the hot Correzien summers. We have had the real pool dug out. We started building terraces. All this was of course mostly done by mon cheri. He is a Camel man. With patience. And a hat. But I have done my share too. The garden is taking shape nicely.  .By my hand. As is the potager with all those healthy vegetables.  The tomatoes are sweet, the salads bountiful. Bulbs are flowering, shrubs are blooming… except for twelve!! 2-year old lavender bushes which were carelessly dug out by a poor soul named William.. I wasn’t angry. I was only foaming a little at the mouth with boiling rage…

And now we have built a balcony.

…before…

We had Phillippe’s help, or rather “Fif” as everybody knows him.Aa tall,  willowy shoot of a man. He can swing a hammer just as well as rigging a chain saw. And he’s funny. He of course thinks we are funny too…the way we do things and the off beat ideas we have for our farm house. But he does them anyway, shrugging the shoulders, while a limp cigarette is hanging from a quirky smile.

So the day arrived to get those rustic solid oak beams into place. Fifi lifted one end of a beam and shook his head. “Comment on va arriver..c’est pas possible..on est que deux? He couldn’t’ see only two men lifting these heavy beams up straight into place…it is just not possible. The French love the expression: “C’est pas possible”. It is not possible.

But in the end, it got done with a little heaving and hooing. ancient Egytian style with ropes and pulleys, counterweights and muscle. Add my muscle to that too.

..and the first pillar goes up..

..it stands steadfast..

..and the second pillars stand straight up..

..and the third pillar stands..

If the Egyptians could build pyramids this way, surely we can build a simple balcony…using the same physics…n’est pas Fifi? He lookedat his handiwork with an even more quirky smile. “C’est pas possible”!, he exclaimed with proud disbelief…

..c’est pas possible..!

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Autumn at coin Perdu

A spectacular show awaited us when we arrived at Coin Perdu to lock up for the winter. Autumn in all its splendour. Our woods next to the house were blazing with colour and the far off hills were winking to be gazed at.

We have locked up for the rest of 2010 and will start work again in spring 2011. In the near future, some posts will appear on our work done in 2010. We have done a lot of work, but not enough to have our house finished and lived in yet…it will probably take us another season to get to that point.

..à la prochaine..

Ronelle


Missing the country

With winter at its worst in January and February, I find myself thinking of and longing for Coin Perdu more often than is good for me. Winters in Touraine are very grey, dark and sombre. On the odd weekend,  when  taking the drive to Coin Perdu to check that everything is still in order, we arrive at Puy d’Arnac in bright sunlight. Cold, but bright. Misty in the early morning,turing brighter during the day.  Maybe it won’t be too many years, or perhaps even months more before I can wake up on  cold January mornings with sun streaking over my bedroom floor at Coin Perdu.

I love Montlouis and our house  here by the Loire. I love our beautiful town of Tours, a mini Paris with it’s incredible architecture. I love the Loire with its wild unpredictability.

…la loire et ses oiseaux..

But the depth of my love lies at Coin Perdu, where the sunsets and clear stars  keep me outdoors early until late… Where I love the roaming cattle with their undisturbed manner, the bells clinging even somewhere at night. Where I love the buses roaming the skies, where I love listening to the the complaints of the owls in the dark of night, crying their dissatisfaction with us taking their barn…I’ve said all these things before. I will say it many more times. They are important things in my life;  the simplicity and honesty of the country side, where life isn’t always easy, but where the  comfort lies in knowing and acknowledging it. There aren’t short cuts in honesty, no shifting of boundaries. There is no playing around with honesty. Taking on a day can’t be played around with…animals can’t wait for their food, hay will be wet tomorrow if not cut today, the birth of a new calf cares not for convenience,  rain boots wait by the door for a good reason…nature dictates and man dances. It gives life its equilibrium. Keeps man humble, with his ear to the ground, his instinct awake. It keeps him alive. It gives him life.

So,  while I am waiting for March and spring to break through so we can pack and take off to Coin Perdu for the spring and summer months to resume working and restoring our mountain home, I have last year’s photos and many memories to keep me going these next two months.

But still, I can’t wait to…

…start working…

…fiddle in our barn kitchen…


…delighting in simple, delicious food…


…go for long walks…

…revel in rediscovering nature and animal life…


…paint, paint and paint…


…enjoying evening barbeques…


…enjoying breath taking sunsets…



A second birthday in the French countryside.

August gave way to the celebration of a second birthdya here at Coin Perdu. This time round, we only took a break in between work for early morning croissants and coffee, a gift, a song and continued later the evening with a meal around the fire…where else!

…starting off the day…

starting off the day

The day started off like any other ay the last few months…old clothes, gloves, work and sweat. But no, nowhere on the chantier(construction site)  was I to be seen. After all, I was birthday girl! So for this dayI roamed about in pretty clothes(to be simply translated as clean clothes !)

…brunch…

taking a break for a croissant and tarte peche

And for early morning coffee break, we sat in the shade of the walnut tree. Took of the gloves and feasted on croissants and tarte peches.

…froth on a cup…

frothing a cup

Gifts were unwrapped…no boughs and pretty paper this year though! In the spirit of the working year, they came clothed in newspaper and wrappings from the brocantes where they were bought. I giggled at the gifts, clearly seeing the attention that was paid to my comments on our stroll at the brocantes.

…olde worlde…

memory on a spoon 8-31-2009 8-14-26 PMold plates crumb scoop

And last, but not least. An end to another birthday here at Coin Perdu. A special day with all my loved ones close to me.

…santé!..

Petillante - Vincent Carême


Textures in nature

We always admire the most obvious in nature – a stunning view, blinding lightning, a cute butterfly, sweet cherries, sveltering heat, cool rivers, colourful wildflowers, majestic mountains, playful clouds…

Moving in closer we start noticing the less obvious, but intrinsic part of nature – its texture.  The feel of the roughness of  treebark under your hands, the smoothness of a pebble, the prickliness of a rosebush, the powder on an old limestone wall, the stubble of dried moss, the cool dense coat of green moss, the lumpy skin of a warty toad, the slipperiness of slyme, the delicate  artistry of a spiderweb…

Just like human life, the “older” nature grows, the more interesting the texture becomes…except of course, when texture is your lot to carry from birth, like our warty old friend, le crapaud communBufo Bufo.

I chose to do shots of all “old and worn textures”.

…born old…

S: o,oo6s; A: f/5,0

toad

…rust on an old chain…

S: 0,002s; A: f/5,0

chain in old wall

…old dried moss…

S: 0,002: A: f/3,5

dry moss on old stone

…a 150 year old wall…

S: 0,002s; A: f/5,0

old wall

…fine traces on an old brickwall…

S: 0,006s; A: f/6,3

old wall-1

…original stables wall from 1880…

S: 0.000s; A: f3,3

old wall 3

…an old weathered bistro chair…

S: 0,010s; A: f/13,0

old wooden chair

…rustic arches..

S: 0,25s; A: f/13,0

rusty iron arch

…medici pots, withstanding the test of time…

S: 0,005s; A: f/6,3

rusty medici urn

…gravel, smooth and rough…

S: 0,002s; A: f/6,3

smooth and rough

..a smooth snail on a smooth wall..

S: 0.008s; A: f/6,3

snail on wall 2

…the silvery stickiness of a home

S: 0,004s; A: f/5,6

spiderweb in fence

…a hairy creature in its  sticky home…

S: 0,004s; A: f/5,6

sir spider 2

This  is a contribution to the Sunday Stills challenge – textures, hosted by Ed Prescott.


Where to start?

…let’s start in the cellar…

the cellar

Where does one start a restoration process? Where exactly lies the beginning and does one ever reach the end? It probably depends on who’s doing the job.

As for us, we are those kind of peope who first jump in and then we decide which style to swim. It has had it’s catastrophical results in the past, but it has also been the way to many discoveries and unforeseen adventures. So it is with restoring Coin Perdu. We jumped in at the deep side buying it and we jumped deep side in living in the barn(a story for another day) and now we are jumping smack in the middle in the restoration process. So far so good.

Decicion made and the first blows were felled in the cellar under the house. It is a dark and humid area, with solid rock in parts, water seeping through the rock and steep side of the the hill against which the house is built. Every sheep and goat and animal in search of shelter, slept there. That’s how it was in those days: the family living in the house above the animals in the cellar, close enough to hear any mischief or attacks on the animals at night – man and beast, with their individual smells and flavours and habits snuggly together. Life was about survival and not about convenience or rather, luxury. This wasn’t Versailles. It still isn’t.

This dark and dungy cellar is to become our open and sunny living space, with wide French doors and double volume windows opening onto a patio alongside the old Tilleul tree, overlooking the hills. A pergola and walnut tree will provide cool, green shade in the blistering summer months. This is our anticipation. But first, we have to deal with reality.

…reality…

the cellar1

more rock

solid rock in the cellar

We spent three days working “down under”, clearing away the dirt and grime, while still discovering hidden “treasures: a wine barrel, a barrel top which became our outside table, small bits and pieces we turned into furniture for our living in the barn, preserved plums and peas, a snake, a toad and enough wood and twigs to start years of BBQ fires.

Shoveling away soil and chiseling away on the rocks made room for drainage. We measured levels, got out the plans, changed the plans, paused for coffee and cookies to recalculate heights and widths. I changed my mind about a door from there to a door here. We all stormed to and fro through the low entrance, knocking our heads into chanting mode, uttering some original vocabulary… We toiled on the bend all the time, for the beams are very low and very hard.  Hartman’s tall 1. 95 m commanded a hard hat after a while of which we only had one. Some strong language every now and then would be proof that on a hatless head somewhere, a bulge was growing.

…on the beat…

on the beat

…taking a break…

DSC_0091taking a break

We cleaned out the cellar and decided it was after all not the place to start renovating. Inside the house, knocking out the walls, is where it all needed to begin.

You might think three days were wasted. Not at all. The cellar was clean. The snake took a hike. The toad realized it was summer. It got us in renovation-thinking-mode. A team spirit was built, our heads got knocked into clarity and we were now ready for the work ahead.


Coin Perdu, our home in Puy d’Arnac

One day we started talking about getting  a small cabin in the mountains. We love the mountains.

One weekend, on the way back home to Tours from Toulouse, we  impulsively turned off into Donzenac, immediately fell in love with the area, arrived home and started our search for a little cabin in the mountains. In the end it didn’t turn out exactly the way we had in mind, but then,  it never does! It always turns out better. We found our house in Puy d’Arnac.

…arrival…

coin perdu in puy d'arnac

Plenty of work awaits us the next few months, but first, an introduction to what is going to become our little paradise. It already is. Welcome to Coin Perdu, our home in Puy d’Arnac, Corréze, where time seems to stand still, where the animals live shamelessly and nature grows wild and undisturbed, where the brooks take spontaneous turns and where the soul roams free.

…enter…

enter

…waiting to be unlocked…

waiting to be opened up

…la premiere grange…

la grange 1

…le four a pain…

Four a pain

…porcherie…

pig house

…the view…

a view

…Coin Perdu…

coinperdu1 12-13-2008 3-52-44 PM

the pig house at Coin Perdu

coinperdu2 12-13-2008 3-51-25 PM

a weathered shuttera small doorcatching the rainpile of woodchicken coopwinter pods

The following issue will tell about the final buying, the magnitude of paperwork, the signing and interchanging of land, the handshakes, the mayor of Puy d’Arnac and the municipal road running through our land…