Skip to content

Coup de Coeur – Part Four: Whistle While You Work

An occasional series chronicling the tale of the renovation of a former medieval watch-tower in southern France …..  Part One is here, Part Two is here and Part Three is here

As often happens once you have overcome the initial excitement of something or other and reality cloaks you in its slightly constricting mantle like a heavy woollen duffle coat a couple of sizes too small, or a pair of pinchy stiff leather shoes, you need to knock on the door of fortitude and ask for her help.

This was the moment to be gracious to Lady Tenacity.  We were SO thrilled with the news that the house was empty and once back in France hightailed it pell-mell down the road to Marcoles from our present home further north.  In fact our rented flat is in the far north-western corner of Cantal and Marcoles is in the far south-western corner.  It’s a two hour drive each way but it’s a really lovely two hours passing glorious views of the Monts du Cantal and diving into deep tree lined gorges and delving through glacial hills. It never fails to delight us.  In the back of the car, making life less than comfortable for The Disgruntled Bean were the various accoutrements of operation clean-up.  We picked up more en-route and The Bean became ever more peeved.

Thus began the most relentless and mostly thankless of enterprises.   HB² took up a floor-board in the attic which is planted in our collective imagination as being a wonderful tranquil master bedroom and serene relaxing place when the house is eventually finished.  He discovered that our predecessor had used sawdust for insulation.  It doesn’t work.  That was abundantly clear.  The house was, is bitterly cold.  Of course the fact that the same  happy fellow had ripped several of the radiators off the wall in his spiteful retribution against those that dared to buy the house that he wanted to sell doesn’t help the refridgeration factor but the ingenious insulation wasn’t productive either.  And in places it had provided a gleeful nesting place for some or other rodent.  One that had made it’s hideaway complete with a variety of different flavours of nut.  Mercifully it was not in residence as we set about getting rid of the wood filings.  We took out something near to 30 bags from the attic. The black full sized dustbin lining bags not, for clarity, little carrier bags for shopping.  It was back-breaking and necessitated wearing a mask and goggles and the white hooded clean suits that a friend had donated to the cause.  I felt like a Ghost Buster but without the joy of a Marshmallow Man to distract me.  About half way through the exercise, husband returned to the US leaving me to continue the clean-up now with a looming deadline brought on by a discovery to be shared in a later post.  It was winter, it was still a four hour round trip and my romantic little project began to pall noisily.

DSCF3266

As a bit of light relief from the attic, the husband had braved the cellar.  Despite the valiant efforts of the town cantonniers there was still ample room for improvement.  Another 20 or so bags of rubble and wood and general stuff from centuries of life came out.  But what was revealed was magical.  So magical

that it is worthy of a post all of it’s own … and for that you will have to wait.

Meanwhile, Mrs Mop as I was rapidly re-branding myself was cleaning the whole place through.  The dirt of ages dissolved under my unrelenting mop and bucket and  whirling micro-cloths which I brandished with all the skill of a champion cheerleader.  The rather horrible floor on the ground floor looks marginally less horrible and the stairs and wood floors on the first floor begin to look quite majestic.  I cleaned the curious loo which sits at the top of it’s own staircase and bizarrely has a window to the rest of the house and I tackled and conquered the bathroom.  The loo in there is not fixed to the floor which gives an added frisson of excitement to those brave enough to use it and the bath is the very same bath that was given it’s own fanfare by the previous owner as being big enough for three, something I care not to dwell on having met him.  And I cleaned the shower on the first floor.  This was genuinely a labour of love.  The shower is a particularly odd feature of the house being on a podium in what has been the master bedroom.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for the facilities-in-a-bedroom approach favoured by many chic boutique hotels and will indeed have a tub and a pretty sink in the master bedroom of the finished house but this is simply incongruous standing with all its plumbing displayed to the world and has no virtue except for a dollop of comedy value.  However, whilst we go through the process of renovating and restoring and generally swishing and swooshing the house back to the triumph it deserves to be, a working shower is helpful.  I donned protective gloves, mask and goggles for the job because when I lifted the slats and revealed the tray it had clearly and absolutely NEVER been cleaned.  I removed the sludge and hairy deposits of the antecedent thoroughly and zealously, dredging the drainhole and can categorically state that I have seldom, if ever, been so fully disgusted.  And I have lived a little.  Indeed, I may still need some sort of therapy to truly achieve catharsis.

Now you will gather, I hope, that my husband loves me.  And to show his love that very day, he announced that a refreshing shower, after all my hard, and victorious toil in conquering the swamp pit, was just the thing he needed.

DSCF1443

I left him to it and took The Bean for a stroll round the village.  As I was walking back to the house I had a thought.  I ran it past The Brains on the way home a little later.  As casually as I could.  I just wondered.  Foolishly I was certain.  But I did wonder.  If he had remembered to close the shutters on the window whilst he was showering.  Since the shower is right in front of the window.  The relatively large and low window.  Of course he must have.  Mustn’t he?  No?  Well that was an eye-full for the town then and in particular the very elderly lady opposite  …. remember the house has absolutely no land to buffer it.  I’m frankly amazed that M. le Maire hasn’t had complaints.  Or maybe he is just too polite to mention it.

I didn’t count the number of times I went down with the increasingly testy Bean to clean.  It was many severals.  And it was groundhoggishly tiresome in that everytime I got it looking spruce, I had to drag more bags of rubbish and rubble through the spick and spanness and my fragile effect was royally spoiled.  But all clouds are silver lined in world of me – you just have to keep those peepers peeled and embrace the good when it falls in your path as it invariably does.  One of the shiney pieces of silver in this story is the man at the dechetterie or tip if you will.  He has the most amazing view of the mountains from his little wooden hut and he takes his job very seriously.

Actually in my experience most of the people that work at tips, with or without breathtaking views are thoroughly nice – or at least they are in England and France.  I have always been treated kindly by them.  And this fella with his bella vista backdrop is no exception.  He helped us with bags and bags of wood dust and yet more of rubble and some of indescribable and unspeakable impurity and always (having asked where we were from on our first foray) said emphatically ‘vous êtes de Marcoles, non?’ he being in St Mamet-Le Salvatat, the next commune over.  It rather feels as though being from Marcoles in some way explains our undoubted lunacy.  I like him.  The Brains was less enthralled though when swinging a large and heavy bag of wood-dust into the vast metal skip, it split above his head and spewed shavings over him in a comedy moment of epic proportions.  Or at least my laughter was epic.  He remained stone-faced.   In fairness, I did not escape unscathed … as you can see from this fetching picture of me complete with dirty lines effecting comedy whiskers.

DSCF1984

When the walls were washed down, inevitably, given the age of the paint, much of it flaked off.  The Bean should be less cantankerous about the place if she takes the time to notice that one of the slivers that snowed down onto my lovingly tended (a thousand times so far) staircase is an exact silhouette of her Beanship.

PS:  Of course the title is Snow White who righteously contended that if you whistle while you work the task will be easier, speedier and far more pleasant.  I can’t actually whistle.

50 Comments Post a comment
  1. OMG you are so funny….
    and I recognise and empathise with so much of this valiant enterprise toward what will be a wonderful end product.
    Please read my blog from the gitgo- we are with you every step of the obstacle strewn way!

    Liked by 1 person

    December 8, 2015
    • Thank you for the encouragement! Empathy is hugely appreciated! Your blog is on my list for a readathon …. I want to do it justice and life keeps getting in the way 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      December 8, 2015
  2. Oh boy! you are hilarious but what a huge task! Wow! Hmmm I want to know what is magical in the cellar or the attic? I am waiting for this post! you must be exhausted from this work!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    December 8, 2015
    • Laughing is better than crying so we laugh! I’m drip feeding these posts to do each bit some justice 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      December 8, 2015
      • hahaha you paint such pictures for me! I wish i could go there and help you and see everything!

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
      • My door will always be open to you. That I can promise. It is wonderful meeting so many people through blogging and you are truly one of the loveliest 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
      • Oh thank you dear Osyth! you are dear to me!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
  3. What a great place to have put a shower!! You are going to have so much fun

    Liked by 1 person

    December 8, 2015
    • The old lady seems to be unperturbed and has developed a spring in her step so perhaps we should leave it there 😉

      Like

      December 8, 2015
  4. PS: your hovel looks to be in significantly better nick than our hovel!
    I know, it’s all relative

    Liked by 1 person

    December 8, 2015
    • It’s photogenic! But in fairness the structure is very sound. My worst moments come when I gleefully take friends to see it and get a tumble weed response … As you know you do need imagination with an old place (actually any place) and it is remarkable how scarce imagination is 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      December 8, 2015
      • Oh I know all about the tumbleweed scenario. People just don’t get it mostly.
        I think my niece’s comment sort of sums it up “Good God Gill, it”s minging! Tell me you are going to paint it!?”

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
      • At least she was honest enough to say it I suppose! One friend berated my husband and demanded he promise I would not ‘be made to live there’. In fro t of me as though I can’t speak or think for myself!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
      • Other folk’s clear bemusement at our prize used to bug me, but I have truly risen above all that now . Worse is people who pretend to be enthusiastic then dine out on what they see as delusional enthusiasm!

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
      • You are so right to levitate! I shall endeavor to follow your example (when I’m not feeling engulfed in a cloud of bitchiness!)

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
      • I am thinking of setting up a French village house appreciation society..

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
      • I’m in with bells on 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

        December 8, 2015
  5. That is quite a project – more power to your mop! What a stunning home it will be.

    The shower-in-bedroom reminds me of what is probably the weirdest of all the weird French estate agents’ details we have ever seen. It featured a shower – similar to that in your photo – but implanted IN THE DINING ROOM.

    Truly. The table, chairs, dresser all in the normal position; and then, in one corner, the shower cubicle, facing into the diners. With a comfy armchair positioned for spectators to enjoy watching the ablutions.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 8, 2015
    • Now THAT has me chuckling out loud!

      Like

      December 8, 2015
  6. Jenny Adams #

    You are truly a miracle worker! Having visited La Maison Carré in its very raw state, I can already see the transformation. Encore de courage, mon brave! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    December 8, 2015
    • Thank you, Jenny! It will be lovely – there is still a very long way to go but be sure you will have an invitation when it is ready 🙂

      Like

      December 8, 2015
  7. Wonderful as ever Fiona. I laughed like a drain at the thought of the outside world bearing witness to HB2 showering!!

    Liked by 1 person

    December 8, 2015
  8. “I removed the sludge and hairy deposits of the antecedent thoroughly and zealously, dredging the drainhole and can categorically state that I have seldom, if ever, been so fully disgusted.” i THOUGHT i WOULD SPLIT MY SI

    Liked by 1 person

    December 9, 2015
  9. OOPPS! Vinny stepped on keyboard before I could finish! As I was saying, I thought I would split my side laughing over that one!!

    Liked by 1 person

    December 9, 2015
    • Well done Vinny – I like an interactive dog! And glad to make you smile and laugh. It’s the greatest gift we have 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      December 9, 2015
  10. ‘Hey Ho’, You should have called this post ‘A Room with a View’ in honour of the loo, being able to spy on the rest of the house while you take a precarious pee………
    I will never complain about my loo nestling like a throne in the middle of what I would describe as a short narrow corridor again – I incidentally covered the walls with those metal plaques depicting turn of the century advertising posters to try to distract from the ‘non Brittishness’ of it – Then Monsieur le Frog ruined the whole thing by wiring up a radio on a shelf tucked away amongst the bags of ‘Catsan’ and bottles of ‘eau de Javel’ so that it comes on with the light.
    So you sit there listening to Beethoven’s 5th – which brings me back to ‘Whistle while you work’ …………..can’t wait for the next episode when you reveal the ‘wonder’ that you have discovered….
    P.S. the wood floors look great – and I know how hard it is to achieve that shine – super slide show also xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    December 9, 2015
    • Men and their wires! I can’t tell you how much javel has gone into that tiny room just to get me agreeing to use it rather than buying coffee at the Auberge and using there’s which in turn made me want to pee again an hour later …. Thank heavens I was diligent about my post natal pelvic floor exercises all those years ago!

      Like

      December 9, 2015
  11. @”Now you will gather, I hope, that my husband loves me.” – oh yes, no possible doubt about that… your photo does prove it! 🙂
    * * *
    frankly and seriously speakin’: if you lived closer, I’d surely come to give you un coup de main(s)… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    December 9, 2015
    • P.S. @”whistle while you work…” I did recall this: 🙂

      * * *
      Lauren Bacall’s mama was Romanian… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      December 9, 2015
      • Just put your lips together and …. blow! Such a sizzling scene. I had no idea LB was half Romanian. Great heritage 😉

        Like

        December 9, 2015
    • Well spotted (as I was!) …. And your words and pictures help me all by themselves lovely lady!

      Like

      December 9, 2015
  12. Your husband is probably featuring on next year’s tourist literature…
    You have my sympathy…as does The Bean. I have done so much renovation/cleaning in the company of disgruntled dogs.who make their views all too plain…

    Liked by 1 person

    December 10, 2015
    • I read her face and in it my own real feelings reflected is the truth of it! She is not amused and why on earth should she be – in her opinion there is nothing whatsoever wrong with our little rented flat and in reality, she is absolutely right!

      Like

      December 10, 2015
  13. Well, this truly was fun (of course I just had to read about it and not suffer through it). But, I see in the photos, a marvelous place to spend your days, once all is completed. (Will it ever be completed is the question.) Bean looks quite content in his little bed and you, my dear, are quite dashing with that moustache! I will save my comments about Brains and the public shower stall for a later time. But thank you for bringing smiles into my morning. Clare

    Liked by 1 person

    December 11, 2015
    • Oh we have fun along the way …. When you can’t laugh at it, life is over I think! It will be wonderful and we WILL finish if only to prove to The Bean that she can disappear her gruntle! I may keep the moustache – I like dashes! Above all, I’m glad to bring smiles to your day x

      Liked by 1 person

      December 11, 2015
  14. Charming, funny and sweet, right down to the Bean-shaped paint chip. Still not clear on exactly what a tip is.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 29, 2015
    • Divided by a common language! A tip is the dump or rubbish yard …. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere – I’m England there are usually a few across a county and they are County Council funded on France there are more usually serving half a dozen communities. They are free and generally have several different giant bins taking for example wood, metal, plastics and then general landfill. However builders will generally have to pay a fee if they are dumping Lorry loads of waste.

      Liked by 1 person

      December 30, 2015
      • How tidy-sounding. A tip. Going to the tip. Love it.

        Like

        January 2, 2016
  15. Pan #

    See ? Another example of blunt american jargon versus the polite speech of the english.. I’m going to the dump or I’m off to the tip.. lol
    No matter what renovations you have in store, I hope you frame the first you’ve done.. Your writing is a work of art, 😒 and evidently so is your scrubbing.. please frame The Bean’s silhouette !
    The loo, precarious pee while spying, that commenter had me in stitches !
    I hope HB sings in the shower, if he’s going to be a daily attraction, he might as well go all in while hanging all out 😂

    😬 Where the heck is part 5 ! I need part 5 to read !!! What’s behind those confounded walls ? !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • I’m so pleased you are enjoying this and I love your commentary on it … HB2 singing in the shower all in while hanging all out has me chuckling loud. Part 5 was published yesterday …. enjoy 😉

      Like

      January 15, 2016
  16. Ok, I think I would have definitely preferred to carry out the furniture and stuff instead of the rubble and wood-dust and cleaning the bathroom! You are definitely a hero for having done that all by yourself! Love that little “Bean” on the wall 🙂
    And I forgot to mention in your earlier post how much I adore the ceiling of your attic! It looks beautiful! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    March 13, 2017
    • That ‘charpente’ … the ceiling structure in the attic is one of my most favourite things about the house … it reminds me of a huge spider! Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      March 13, 2017
      • Arrgh! Please don´t say that! 😉 I really, really don´t like spiders at at all!! 😀 Although as an amateur gardener I know they´re quite useful and I keep them there as long as they don´t venture in 😉 xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 16, 2017
      • Phobias are fascinating…. believe it not I am petrified of birds and yet I absolutely love to watch them xxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 16, 2017
      • Well, I do believe it because I like watching documentaries about sharks but don’t want to ever meet one in person. 😉 There are more phobias than people on this planet I sometimes think… Do you know a tv series called “Monk”? It’s exactly about this kind of things and I absolutely loved watching it a couple of years ago. It’s hilarious! Have a super lovely weekend! xxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 16, 2017
      • I shall look it up when I’m back from Maison Carree … defi I felt happy to take your recommendation xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 17, 2017

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Coup de Coeur – Part Five: Perhaps he’d like to come inside | Half Baked In Paradise

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: