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Coup de Cœur – Part Five: Perhaps he’d like to come inside

An occasional series chronicling the tale of the renovation of a former medieval watch-tower in southern France ….. 

And so it came to pass that we had an almost cleaned out interior.  One little thing kept bugging me, though.  As hard as I tried, the floorboards in the  grenier just refused to be clean.  I swept them, mopped them, swept them some more and mopped them again and again but everytime I thought I had banished their dusty film so it came back.  The thing is this.  Sometimes even I can be a teeny bit unobservant.  The me, who prides herself on having the most point perfect eye for detail can fail to see what is slapping me in the face with a leather glove and blinding me with with an eye-achingly bright light like a Gestapo Officer up close and far too personal.   On the other hand it took The Myopic Brains moments to notice when he arrived on one of his famed flying visits from wherever on the planet he was saving stardust.  ‘See those holes, darling?  The holes in the charpente which you have so eloquently been likening to the ‘Bottled Spider’ image that Antony Sher conjured when playing Richard III at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1980s.  Those holes, my love – they are worm holes.’  This was an epic ‘oh bugger’ moment for us both.  Up to that point we had been convinced that the house had no major issues and that it was simply a matter of stripping back and restoring and that the most taxing issue would be where to place the bathrooms.

Woodworm is a serious issue in any culture.  I have yet to recover from my mother breaking the news to me at 23 that she had burned my doll’s house (a 1920s treasure that was home to my imagination during the decades of growing up and which I had assumed would house my dreams forever).  It took me years to forgive her so perhaps those that are devotees of the idea of Karma are now looking sagely (and, perchance a little self-righteously)  at me and quietly explaining that she, karma, is a bitch and will always eventually, and probably when you are least expecting it, bite you in the bum.  In France the major issue is Capricorne or Longihorne as some will confusingly call it.  Like turmites they will strip a house systematically and thoroughly and are impossible to get rid of.  If you are infested with Capricornes there is no choice but to have all the woodwork replaced and even then, like all good terminators there is a good chance that they’ll be back.  They are lethal.  My husband is a Capricorn.

We called in to see the mayor.  He pulled his phone from his pocket, twirled it idly in his fingers like Gary Cooper in ‘High Noon’, performed some sort of sleight of hand scroll of the screen with the finesse of a seasoned poker player and found us two numbers.  Writing them extra carefully and clearly he looked at us with the heaviest and gravest of expressions and wished us heartfelt good luck and godspeed in our quest to get a verdict.  His last words echoed in our agitated minds … ‘l hope for your sakes it is not capricorne for these would indeed be a severe catastrophe’.

Bug Man Number One was more local being only 30 km away rather than the 180 km trek that Bug Man Number Two would have to make and by good fortune he was able to rendez-vous at the house in two days time.  We barely slept for those two days …. I convinced myself that if I had had the sense to recognise what the issue was a little earlier with my mop now propped in the corner eyeing me mornfully, all would have been well but since I was wearing the dunce hat and sitting on the naughty chair I had condemned the house and it would probably have to be burned like my dolls house.  And the village would hate me because it is their emblem, their symbol.  In fact any entente cordiale between Britain and France (tenuous at the best of times, let’s face it) would crumble and there would be friendly and then unfriendly fire.  Probably a war.  There was little doubt in my mind that I had brought about The Apocolypse.   And it was all my fault.  And The Bean.  She’d been there all the time and she hadn’t done anything to help.  If in doubt, blame the dog.  So I did.  But it didn’t help.  My guilt was my straight jacket.  I couldn’t eat nor sleep and consequently when we arrived for the meeting on a freezing cold February morning I had all the aesthetic appeal of mouldy baguette slowly decaying in a murky puddle.  In truth distinctly less appeal than that.  And a stomach that was growling and gurgling like a Grizzly Bear that has indulged in a barrel of rotten apples  because although I was not hungry, it was.

The man in question let’s call him M.  le Terminateur had the air of an unsuccessful travelling purveyor of quackery in the wildwest.  Wire-rimmed spectacles, slightly stooped and with a long face that was, well … long.  Slightly melancholy.  And he carried a bag – bigger and baggier than a briefcase out of which he produced an archaic looking probe.  He advanced up the two flights of stairs brandishing the prod before him, his expression  the epitome of ideal had he been an undertaker – sombre, dignified, subdued.  He spied the offending beam instantly and with no clues from Two Brains who was seemingly glued to his side, and poked it with aplomb.  He then peered solomnly at the beam and turned to walk back downstairs.  The twittering fool that was me almost fell backwards down the stairs in my haste to get out of his hallowed way.  I managed to effect a perfect study of a grovelling buffoon as I silently implored him to give us good news.  We gathered before him, we mottly three, The Bean, having grasped the severity of the situation, showed solidarity by prancing on her hind legs and adopting her most appealing expression. He delved again into the inky depths of his cavenous bag bringing out a piece of paper and a pencil.  On it he wrote one word and then handed the pencil to my husband to write down our details which he already had but just to be certain, you understand, so that he could send us an estimate.  It was only after he had left as stealthily as he had arrived (and after a total of less than 10 minutes in our house) that I dared to gibber at my husband to let me see the paper.  The word written was Vrillette.  I had no idea what it meant but I knew it didn’t spell Capricorne. I knew for now, my beloved is the only Capricorn of note in my life.  And the weight of my guilt felt less tortuous.  For now.  I am a mother so I am, of course, hard-wired to guilt but nothing so extreme as the fear of having to torch the jewel of the village need trouble me for the moment.

Of course that was not the end of the story.  When the estimate came through it was with an instruction that all the floor boards must be lifted leaving only a few to walk on.  The men would come and inject the charpente and spray the poutres (beams) only when the space was prepared.  We spent a total of 3 days working tirelessly together to get the rest of the do-it-yourself insulation out … I’d done my best but it was not good enough – the whole area had to be dust free.  We wrenched up floor boards, saving what we could and ditching the worst and relaid them in a rather fetching patchwork but without nails  which are themselves beautiful – long, crude, simple and mostly unsalvagable – to hold them.  We brushed and we hoovered using the little lightweight upright vacuum cleaner that my mother had given me the year before.  She is a little eccentric it must be said, and when I mentioned that I had left my wonderful hospital-quality, state of-the-art, all singing and frankly nifty dancing model with a friend in England and it felt a little churlish to ask for it back, she revealed that she had 4 hoovers.  All brand new.  None used because she also has a cleaning lady who has her own hoover.  I chose a sweet little bagless number and drove back to France triumphant with her nestled in the boot of the car.  This diminutive lightweight beauty has become one of my best friends.  I feel very attached to her – she makes life so much more bearable not having to sweep all the time.  A girl can only take so much Cinderella chimera after all.  You will understand, therefore that my marriage nearly ended when it appeared that the brave little beast had died in action due to the sheer mass of dirt she was being expected to inhale.  HB² had no comprehension that he had murdered  my precious. Anthropomorphising household equipment is not in his remit.  Fortunately both for him and for our marriage she had simply had a perfectly understandable hot flush but my grief did prompt him to go out and buy a cheap, cheerful and above all mighty macho and potent sucker-upper.  My Little Engine That Could is back in the civilised confines of our appartment leaving Wild Bill to rule the wilds of Marcolès.  And rule he did – spotless, dirtless and dustless in no time at all.  We were ready for the coming of the bug-men.

We waited and waited.  We waited some more.  And then we waited.  It is an often commented on fact that in France, if you aren’t actually breathing down the neck of the workman of choice they will repeatedly find other things to occupy them.  These can be other money earning jobs or just propping up the bar and putting the commune to rights with their cronies depending on opportunity and how they are feeling that day.  You do have to be prepared to get a little stern.  Actually in our case, we have not experienced this tendency but it appeared that we were breaking our duck with this fellow.  So we got stern (or to be accurate, HB² got stern and I supported him with dignity on the side-lines) and eventually the news came through that phase one was complete.  I should explain that we leave a key with my heart-throb, M. le Maire so that our absence is not an issue if there is a need to access the house.  Since vrillettes are all but invisible to the naked eye, I will just have to take M. le Terminateur’s good word that the operation had been a success.   But we do now sport plastic tubes that look a little like rawl plugs all over the charpente.  They are ugly and I dislike them and we will try and find a way to disguise them but I am not so churlish as to be ungrateful for the fact that they have saved the roof.  That is good fortune indeed.

Whilst the coy little waiting game was being played out I continued to clear through the remaining cupboards.  Nothing could have prepared me for finding a gun.  I’m very scared of guns.  I think that is a sensible approach.  My good sense told me not to touch it – I became convinced that it was loaded and might simply go off at any moment.  So there it stayed and I avoided going into the room it was in until The Brains returned some weeks later.  He assured me that Wyatt Earp himself, Doc Holliday indeed and least of all Marshall Will Kane could do no damage with it because, darling,  it is a toy.  Which you will see from the photograph is obvious.  I fear the delirium that our predecessor suffered from may be contagious.

DSCF1944

PS:  The title could only be stolen from Spike Milligan:

Today I saw a little worm
wriggling on his belly.
Perhaps he’d like to come inside
and see what’s on the telly

PPS:  If you want to catch up on the previous instalments, simply type Coup de Coeur into the search box on the top of the right hand column and it will find them for you.  Clever stuff so clearly not made by me!

122 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wicked old crook…vrillettes are woodworm…without which no article of antique French furniture is genuine.

    I’ve seen these horrible little tubes in many houses – not ones we bought – where the treatment specialist has persuaded the owners that woodworm will inevitably return – as will he with his bill.

    The answer to all the bugs is a horrible smelling glop which you slap on all available woodwork every ten years – you can buy it at all DIY shops…wear gloves and goggles.

    The compulsory pre-sale woodwork inspections make me howlwith…

    A..the pain of paying for them

    B…their total incompetence.

    Liked by 4 people

    January 15, 2016
    • In fairness to the inspectors they couldn’t actually get into the attic due to the profound volume of stuff packed in from floor to ceiling. We took advice from friends and they seem to think that the plugging is the norm now. I’m paranoid enough without going down the conspiracy theory route …. the really frustrating thing is that the charpente was replaced only 15 years ago by the previous. He refused treated timber on the basis that he would do it himself. He clearly never did. Hey ho …. but I will investigate the vile gloop you speak of. There will doubtless be more wood both in this house and in the final maison familiale if we ever find the blighter.

      Like

      January 15, 2016
      • When you have been presented with an inspection report on a house which offered no means of entry except via the chimney you tend be a trifle suspicious…
        And why we were buying this gem?
        To secure entrance to the back garden of the house we wanted to buy alongside…

        And as for termites…the chap from the town hall showed us how to detect their presence by pushing sticks into the ground to see if they attracted the little beasts’ attention…it was while demonstrating that he fell through into a hitherto unsuspected vaulted cellar below..

        Here we have termites….apparently you attack them with diesel or some mysterious liquid known as kampfing…which smells like diesel to me.

        The smelly glop has a name beginning with Xylo…the rest of the name varies with the brand.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 17, 2016
      • That I would have loved to see …. the town hall official tumbling gracelessly into the cellar …. did he do that cat thing and pretend he meant to all along?! I am happy NOT to have termites in our area though I did used to love what we called the ‘chung chung’ ants on Tom and Jerry which I think were meant to be termites. I’ll seek out Xylo but not a Xylophone. Thank you 🙂

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        January 17, 2016
    • That’s reassuring because we’ve just discovered some nasty little creatures in a house we’re renovating too! Definitely woodworm so that’s out Xmas DIY job sorted!

      Liked by 1 person

      December 26, 2017
  2. Oh my! You really DO love that house. How awful! I am afraid of things like worms and other creepy crawly things. I like the reference to karma and your doll house. Hmmmmm. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.🏰

    Liked by 2 people

    January 15, 2016
  3. Wow this house has been a huge huge project! I can’t believe it and I never heard of this before- worms! Finding a gun? I am also afraid and would not touch it. Each installment gets way more gripping and twists and turns Fiona!!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
  4. What a gorgeous roof. So glad it wasn’t a fatal attack, and I’m sure you’ll get used to the little plug things – they’re just flesh wounds. I would have behaved exactly as you did if I found anything gun-shaped – panic!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • The relief smelled tangible as did the fear when I found the gun!

      Like

      January 15, 2016
  5. Great story! I had to chuckle. I had a similar experience with the Old Lady of Petite Rue (aka my house). Didn’t get the bug man in just bought a sprayer and an ocean of stuff to spray. My neighbour told me that the vrillettes can only dig in so far and then they fly off so, (gallic shrug) why bother. Love your “voice”.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • Thank you so much … I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’m interested in the limited boring abilities of the vrillettes …. in future, I think we will get a diagnosis and take the DIY route. I like your voice too, of course!

      Like

      January 15, 2016
  6. Your house is obviously a great love for you. I don’t think I could have coped with everything you have gone through to have it. Congratulations on your latest adversity being overcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • My great love is my husband who was obsessed on sight with the place. I liked it and have grown to love it (and occasionally hate it too which is healthy) … I just know it will be beautiful and keep reminding myself of that fact when the going get’s tough 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      January 15, 2016
      • I too have had periods of hating , not so much the house, more the issues it has brought us. I do love it now but I didn’t at first, so can’t say it was coup de coeur really. Now I would not part with it even if we win the lottery

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2016
      • I did fall in love at first sight with the house – on a train on my iPhone. What I was actually confronted with, which was not what had been pedalled on the internet absolutely appalled me but my husband-to-be as he was then was smitten and so I decided to try and love it wholeheartedly and in trying and repeating that I love it I now genuinely do. This house that I am in now not so far from you, now that is entirely a different matter. And one that I will write about a little too, I think when I have un-knotted my feelings a little 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2016
      • Isn’t it funny how things our loves love we end up loving too (mostly, but not tomatoes!).

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2016
      • Mostly but not English Mustard and Rice Pudding in my case and you are so right!

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2016
  7. We found woodworm , not active and fossilised and treated it ourselves. Ergo, we have no tubes, and I’m still not sure what advantage they will have?

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • I think the tubes enable injection into the beam rather than spraying the surface is the answer. These were clearly very active little beasties as you can see. However, I have learned much from this thread and when we eventually find the maison familiale, we will simply get a diagnosis and if it’s vrillettes (I can’t help thinking rillettes every time I type that word) we’ll treat them ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      January 15, 2016
      • You have given me the lovely image of opening a tub of woodworm for lunch….much giggling at this end…

        Liked by 1 person

        January 17, 2016
      • Better than tripe 😉

        Like

        January 17, 2016
  8. Not quite accurate.There was a plank in the salon that they took some eviction from!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • Hateful wee beasties they are! Actually these had really got the bit between their tiny teeth as you can see and we didn’t want to take any chances. We have progressed since and a future installment will document further wood-related incidents 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      January 15, 2016
      • Yup, too much wood in these French houses. Our wormiest beam is the one that holds up one side of the house!
        Vrillettes sound so cute don’t they?

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2016
      • They do sound cute – it’s the ette on the end I think if they were vrilles it would sound like eels and they are just wrong!

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        January 15, 2016
  9. Oh sweet heart I may not have bought an old French watch tower however I have the beautiful little plastic tubes adorning our property…mine culprits would be termites…as they say if you have a house in the desert than you have termites….after our inspection before we agreed to buy this tin can….the small insects that build a little mud tube up the side of your house so they don’t bake in the hot sun had only made it up 6 inches or so…so we were safe, our steps however were not….seems no one around here gets excited over them, they just simply call the pest control men and replace the wood eaten rot….nice…..love the roof you have going one,,,,hopefully this will take care of your worm problem…we have to have out tubes refilled annually….nice to live on a frigin termite nest….LOL more pictures please…. xx.kat

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • Turmites! I actually love that word though I know I would not love the beasts themselves. I love that where you are people just casually call pest control and get the wood replaced. Here you have to get the house certified clear of turmites before you can buy it (and yes, the onus is on the buyer not the seller) … very paranoid they are about them. My roof is rather gorgeous …. that room will be fabulous one day but it does feel like one step forwards, two steps back at the moment. Hey ho – down in your turmite nest I think you understand that pretty well! xx

      Like

      January 15, 2016
      • well in this country termites are just part of the culture, if they had been bad we would of insisted on a full tent spray, but as it was the sellers paid for the initial cost of 800 dollars to get the little buggers at bay..of course being the frigin nice people we are, we offered to pay for half…..but generally….in the USA you wouldn’t buy a home if it was infested without negotiations…..and yes your home is going to be beautiful….it already is….k.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2016
      • I have this image of a circus ringmaster disciplining rows and rows of termites in a big top tent now! Thank you – mine will and so will yours 🙂

        Like

        January 15, 2016
      • holding a long white tube as his baton…LOL

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2016
      • Love it 🙂

        Like

        January 15, 2016
  10. Fiona! I absolutely loved this post. I giggled all of the way through even though it was a serious subject that could have led to the severe emptying of ones pockets as you bade farewell to the Vrillettes….
    You have such a fun way of writing and I so so miss it terribly now that you are on the other side of the pond.
    Please get back to your blogging ways!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • I have written a stern note to self to have a real blogging structure each week or month depending on the particular appropriate cadence of the subject (Marcoles house is monthly for instance). I’m very flattered by your kind comment and my ego is big enough to be spurred on by it 😉 By the way, I have written one other post since arriving which I think you missed in the mayhem of cavorting with dear old Auntie Beeb …. It was last Friday 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      January 15, 2016
      • I shall definitely address this minute and feedback accordingly….
        I must confess that my cavorting with our Auntie has somewhat taken my eye off of the ball…..;-)

        Liked by 1 person

        January 15, 2016
      • It’s a reason excuse and you are fully pardoned 🙂

        Like

        January 15, 2016
  11. Jenny Adams #

    Stripped of all the accumulated rubbish La Maison Carré exudes charm, even if some of the woodwork also exuded worms! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    January 15, 2016
    • The charm is beginning to reveal Jenny! It’s hard work but I promise you will enjoy staying when she’s done 🙂

      Like

      January 15, 2016
  12. Ah, the joys of little friends in the woodwork. Over the years we have had woodworm, wet rot, dry rot and most recently termites who tried to eat my new house. My lovely bug guy reminded me that termites are very important in the ecosystem, eating up dead trees that fall on the forest floor.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 16, 2016
    • Well done that bugman for defending the termites but perhaps the termites might be better placed eating dead trees rather than houses …. just a thought. A very selfish human thought 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      January 16, 2016
      • Well, we did place our house in his little forest… The termites don’t care what wood it is. Probably thought he was doing us a favor as the door was leaking and the wood got rotten. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        January 16, 2016
      • I’m sure they did – after all if you are hardwired to do a job in life, you just do it …. My ultimate nemesis is not the bugs but the blasted nutter who had the place before … there is a further installment on the woodwork which will shed light on my need to give him a stiff talking too. I’m English and ‘well bred’ (laughable) and as you know that is about as violent as we get LOL! x

        Liked by 1 person

        January 16, 2016
      • You should have your DNA checked. You might have some feisty genetics in there which will give you an excuse to say Merde or whatever!

        Liked by 1 person

        January 16, 2016
      • I’ve got a dollop of Guyanan Slave blood which is my excuse for pretty much everything 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        January 16, 2016
  13. Oh what a great read as I recuperate, and Spike Milligan to boot. As a die hard Goon show fan who could do all the voices you’ve made my day. As Grip pipe thin said to Eccles “you’re wearing a Cambridge tie. You, you were at Cambridge? What were YOU doing there? (Answer in the voice of Eccles) “Buying a tie”

    Liked by 1 person

    January 16, 2016
    • I’m so glad to have given you a good read whilst you are recovering. Thank you for the kind words. And why am I not even a teeny smidge surprised that you are a Goon Show fan …. immeasurable they were, immortal they are.

      Liked by 1 person

      January 17, 2016
  14. We had the dreaded capricorn beetle in our wood. All the wood has now been injected and hopefully they will not return. But we do have a guarantee so if they re appear we can call the firm back in.You could actually hear them munching in the bedroom….

    Liked by 1 person

    January 18, 2016
    • Little blighters – I think the answer is to get it done properly. Friends of ours in Cantal did it themselves – this was not a success and yes, they here them munching all over the house – or what is left of it (it also has an underground river running straight underneath it). They are a Breton and a Normande and the locals just laugh and say ‘what do you expect of foreigners’!

      Like

      January 18, 2016
  15. Pan #

    I tried to leave a comment with a link and it didn’t post, so I’m trying again..
    I’m glad you had this professionally handled and am equally glad you’re going diy for future prevention.. I found a site that covers all what I’d suggest that I know works well plus a few points I didn’t know, like don’t use white lighting outside and why..
    And there’s lots of other info online about diy staining for wood.. It’s much cheaper, faster and you can pretty much control the results.. the reason I bring this up is because of the injection holes.. Staining the wood, then painting a close match around those holes should make them much less noticable and some invisible..
    After staining and painting, a good soaking spray of RV antifreeze on the wood and in every nook and cranny (even between the stone) makes excellent termite prevention and wood preservative..
    Done with the proper safety gear and a good pump sprayer, its human/pet/eco friendly and works..
    The most important safety gear would be a full mask respirator with filters for mist.. Latex gloves and long sleeves and of course pants and work shoes.. Sneakers are not a good idea.. A full mask respirator isn’t terribly expensive and for the work you’re doing there, it might be a good idea to wear in other projects that could release tiny airborne organisms you wouldn’t want to inhale.. Hope this helps you or gives you ideas for your awesome adventure..

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • Thank you SO much for this which I will share with Two Brains tomorrow …. honestly I’m so grateful to you for taking the time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 30, 2016
  16. Pan #

    Ahha ! It won’t let me post the comment with the link.. just do a google search for termite101

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
  17. Pan #

    You and Two Brains just do it all safely 👍
    Even though the treatments I’ve written about are essentially harmless under normal conditions, you will be enveloped in mist while you’re working.. The work can go fast once you get a bead on it, but that’s still a lot of area to cover..
    It has such incredible potential.. I can’t wait to see how you and Two Brains transform it !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
    • Safety first, always 🙂 I love your enthusiasm for our madness …. It’s amazing how your support and excited interest is spurring me on!

      Liked by 1 person

      January 31, 2016
  18. Pan #

    I must hang my head in shame 😳
    My enthusiasm, in part, grows for selfish reasons.. I want to be there doing the work, restoring it to its former grandeur and blending in modern conveniences for comfort.. But I can’t, so I’m living it vicariously thru you and Two Brains.. You two HAVE to be safe or my virtual adventure might not be completed 😨

    Ok, I’ll admit it.. I can’t help but cheer you two on as my heroes in this exciring adventure too.. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
    • Do NOT hang your head in shame … I love it! My husband is mercifully cautious when it comes to me and does understand that finding one another late in life, I would like to think we will get a decent chunk of time together! And of course, we need to be safe to satisfy your ring-side virtual seats at the grand reveal (not Two Brains in the shower, incidentally but the mayor cutting the ribbon to declare the house restored). And ALL your advice and ideas are being noted and explored so please please keep em coming 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 31, 2016
  19. Pan #

    I usually wait til someone asks but I couldn’t restrain myself after looking at the photos..

    Poor Two Brains, he’s never going to live that down 😂
    What a day that will be, a ribbon cutting ceremony is perfect for this..
    I really like your mayor 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
    • The mayor plays a major role in my novel which concerns the journey to buying the house (fictionalised to protect certain party’s dignity) … I hope I can do him justice because he is a REALLY amazing fellow 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 31, 2016
  20. Pan #

    I have no doubt that you’ll bring him to the world with your words.. You have a gift and he’s quite a character 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    February 1, 2016
    • Hes’ a twinkler and a half … good for an old girl’s ego 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      February 1, 2016
  21. Woodworms! How horrible! I have nightmares about things like that! (Maybe I have seen too many documentaries about termites? 😉 ) Anyway, I´m so glad Monsieur Bug could help you save the roof and I´m sure you´ve already thought of something to disguise the plastic tubes. And I´m so sorry for your doll´s house! I had one too, it was really huge, not antique though, but made with love from one of my uncles. When I got older and entered grammar school it had to leave though in order to get a writing desk for me… It was not an easy separation! But the next owner, a cousin of mine, was so delighted, so it didn’t hurt too much 🙂 xxx

    Like

    March 23, 2017
  22. Luckily our barn had been treated. Christian marched in with a long knife and plunged it sporadically into various beams and nodded approvingly that they were indeed solid – phew. However being untrusting of bugs, we still sprayed all the timber with Xylowhateveritsnameis and so far no woodust on the floor to be seen.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 13, 2017
    • Xylophone. This was written nearly two years ago and about events that had occurred well over a year before that. These days I would advise anyone to paint exposed wood once a year (or spray if you will) and to treat anything you bring into the house. Our problem came from the previous menace of an owner who had the charpente replaced and (being a cheapskate) used untreated pine against the advice of the timber yard. Even when wood is injected, sprayed and painted the vrillettes are resilient enough to make future assaults. But as bad as they are, they are not deadly like the Capricorne. It’s good to know you have Christian on hand.

      Like

      December 13, 2017
  23. Reblogged this on Half Baked In Paradise and commented:

    And now join me as we segue seemingly seamlessly from grim to grimmer in episode five of the quest for salvation of la Maison Catastrophe

    Like

    December 16, 2017
  24. Fiona, Us people who like to tinker around with the keyboard do have over active imaginations, don’t we? All week I have been getting notices from FedEx that a package from New Delhi had cleared customs and was winging its way to my door. Problems was I had no idea why I was receiving a package from New Delhi. By the time it arrived I had built up so many horrid scenarios about its content I was afraid to touch it. Turns out it was an out of print book I had ordered for my husband. So, my friend, don’t feel bad about the gun. I would have been right there with you.

    Like

    December 16, 2017
    • Oh that DID make me laugh …. I can see you eying the offending article with fear and suspicion, your mind doing cartwheels and making you sick and socket with worry!

      Like

      December 16, 2017
  25. Oh what an amazing house you have, I’m so happy that it wasn’t the worst scenario as the old wood jut looks gorgeous! I’m sure you’ll figure something out to hide the plastic circle things, but it could’ve been worse. You are brilliant at describing the scene and SO funny! Love your saga’s 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • Thank you SOOOOO much. If I can’t make it funny I don’t want to share it …. it feels so much better that way. We are actually 2 1/2 years on and although not done we know what we will do with the wood to hide the implants. There’s always a way with a will and more than anything this house has taught me to listen to her…. when I do the answers are blazingly obvious 😊x

      Liked by 1 person

      December 16, 2017
      • I bet it’s an amazing house 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        December 16, 2017
      • Will be will be will be. The history is fabulous …. one possibly two of the stories will form a novel but I need to research further. Thank you so much for your interest and enthusiasm. It makes it all worth it 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        December 16, 2017
      • Oh to write a novel about this? I’m a definite reader for you 👍 well I love it when people step out of their comfort zones & take risks, I love France, I love history especially medieval history & I love projects on old properties so I guess you’ve got me hooked 😃👍

        Liked by 1 person

        December 17, 2017
      • That is SO flattering. Thank you. Just need to put my bird-brain in gear. We share band-width on all those things 😃

        Liked by 1 person

        December 17, 2017
  26. Pan #

    Did I not know what the like button was back then ? Remedied now.. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • I knew you liked them anyway so no worries but I must say it is nice seeing all those faces lined up saying they do!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      December 16, 2017
  27. I just love your writing😁

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • Nadia you have no idea how delighted that comment makes me – thank you! 😊

      Like

      December 16, 2017
  28. It was only vrillettes? They’re more or less inoffensive. We have masses, have had in every house we’ve lived in. There were capricornes too in Bordeaux, but they seemed very sanguine about them, just keep an eye on the buggers was what the men from the mairie said. There were even some of the garden variety termites which I found in a plant pot that had had a rescue plant in it. Once disturbed they buggered off. They do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • Oh believe me vrillette are not harmless if left to nibble unchecked. Just as a sandwich will eventually disappear however decorous your bites so too wood. Capricorne? Jolly good show Bordeaux but I have many friends who will tell a different tale. I actually detest harming any creature but sadly I am selfish enough to be unwilling to take the risk of a roofless house. And in the end …. what I write is heavily manicured for entertainment value. Call me a philistine but honestly these pieces are not intended to be taken too seriously 😊

      Like

      December 16, 2017
      • Husband is an expert on vrillettes. We have gone through buckets of that Xylophene stuff and been to pharmacies all over Aquitaine buying syringes. They get suspicious if you keep going into the same one. If you have a colony of capricornes, you have to zap em obviously. We’ve only had the solitary kind.

        Liked by 1 person

        December 16, 2017
      • We knew nothi g, know much more now. We paint with Xylophene gel at the beginning of each summer and this year we did it all again in early September. Friends here syringe, we haven’t. Who knows- I might suggest your husband and mine having a tete a tete on vrillette whilst we talk poems and publishing 😊

        Like

        December 16, 2017
      • There are few things less fascinating than watching someone painstakingly going over a vast expanse of wormholes with a syringe full of gunk. I’d rather gasbag about words 🙂

        Like

        December 16, 2017
  29. If only you’d found that gun earlier and had summoned up the courage to pick it up, you could have shot all the woodworm. Or maybe not. Presumably it was left there in case you needed it to persuade workmen to stick to their task? Very thoughtful of the previous owner 😂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • It’s the previous owner who was most likely to take the bullet if I’d mustered that courage, Clive! xx

      Liked by 1 person

      December 16, 2017
  30. Oh goodness – before I began reading – I was oooogling the beautiful photos…… I can totally see how you fell in love with this place. Then more yuk…… Then a gun!!! Oh dear – thank goodness a toy! Oh F – you write this with such charm and humor, it is hard not to smile even through the tragedies! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • When we stop smiling we are lost! It’s a lovely place and it will be beautiful …. I guess no one said it would be easy 😉💛

      Liked by 1 person

      December 16, 2017
  31. So sorry you had to go through this…as always, so well written, your version of “A Year In Provence”

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • Thank you …. I channel Peter Mayall unconsciously I’m sure. It’s all good… I play this for laughs and whilst it does have it’s knack of bringing me down from time to time in the end I’m stubborn and bloody minded and I enjoy a good battle… even with pesky worms 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

      December 16, 2017
  32. Gaaah! The horrors of woodworm and dry rot bring back nostalgic horror. We lived in an old bank in Scotland with a two story roof. The main beam had rotted through with wet rot. The undertaker/carpenter removed the rotten piece and put in an old wooden railway sleeper. Da da! Hundreds instead of thousands of pounds.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
  33. Great tale. Our timber beach house stands in a forest of termites. It ‘hangs off’ poles (actually tree trunks) that have been sunk deep in the ground and encased in concrete. Above ground, the poles have been treated with arsenic to repel termites. When the house was completed, the ever-vigilant Poor John solemnly advised our daughters, then aged 8 and 10, never to lick the poles.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • I am going to have that emblazoned on a shirt … ‘never lick the poles’ – wisdom!

      Liked by 1 person

      December 16, 2017
  34. I dislike worms and critters that I can hear but not see. They make my skin crawl and my imagination runs wild. I have seen these holes numerous times before. Just like us humans, old buildings have their scars as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2017
    • It’s for us to try and protect the buildings as best we can ….

      Like

      December 16, 2017
  35. Arby #

    What a mess – sounds like you managed to get a good guy to rid you of the pesky beasts – even if he took a while.
    Love the store, keep it going.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 17, 2017
    • He certainly was …. we are happy to treat the wood ourselves now, and do, but at the time we would have been foolish not to use professionals and he was very professional (and recommended by the Maire 😉)

      Like

      December 17, 2017
  36. Despite the aggro you are working wonders. I understand that the French don’t renovate, but just build afresh. Maybe this is why. It is your predecessor who should be burnt – on a pyre of rotten planks.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 17, 2017
    • Thank you … so far my faith that it WILL be beautiful again remains relatively untarnished. The French do, indeed generally prefer new builds and think it eccentric to take on a restoration – certainly people like our predecessors fuel that notion. If I ever catch up with him he may well find himself going the same way as Jeanne d’Arc 🔥

      Like

      December 17, 2017
  37. Tell me, do you ever catch a break? Or perhaps the infestation and toy gun WERE the breaks?
    I’m thinking this should not only be a novelization but a movie as well. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    December 17, 2017
    • The truth is that this has all been done in snatches. Hence, in part the fact that we are now looking at our fourth year of ownership and know there’s another couple of years to go before we can say ‘job done’. I imagine at that point I will either sigh or cry ….

      Of course I dream of it as a movie – the mere thought makes me breathless with excitement but I expect it is only a daydream. You are kind for humoring me 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      December 18, 2017
  38. Well, we all have heard or read about termites at one time or another. I think in ALL old houses with lots of wood you are bound to have some buggers or others. We have one part of a built-in kitchen ‘buffet’ with very slight ‘dust’ layers, not much, just a tad so that you know there IS something about…. I cleaned and cleaned, I sprayed a special product and then I restarted cleaning, and cleaning, because the whole cupboard smelt of the product. In the end I decided to let them beasts gnaw their way through the drawer above and wait until in some 150 years or so, a new drawer needed to be made. I’m sure the cupboard will survive on the whole. But it’s not a great thought to have woodworms, wherever they are lodging!
    I once saw, during a visit in Paris, a specialty shop dealing with all sorts of flying/crawling buggers. It took me forever to find out WHAT it was they were doing. It had such funny and to me foreigner totally incomprehensible names…..

    I’m just SO glad for you that your husband is the one and only Capricorn! And I understand your terrible disappointment when your doll house disappeared. My dad was a carpenter/roofer/all-rounder who could do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. He had blessed hands, golden hands and a brilliant mind. He made all our toys as children and one of his ‘hits’ were dolls’ beds with a device to lift or sink the mattress-plane as per the ‘age of the baby’ in it, so that we kids (mothers!) didn’t have to lean over too much when we put our children to bed. He also made ONE dollhouse for the 3 girls we were. You could move everything in it, it was genius. Both, the beds (painted in a pink colour he probably got for free from somebody) and the doll-house disappeared, not because it got burned but simply because ‘you were big enough to let them go and other children had nothing so we gave it to them’….. I could have tortured my parents for this, for years…. I was SO disappointed. I still hear myself screaming: IT WAS MY DOLL’S BED!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    December 18, 2017
    • Your father sounds adorable. One day I shall track down a similar Dolls House and take joy in getting craftsmen such as him to make the furniture. The issue for us with the vrillette (not termite which are much more devastating) was that they were attacking the charpente. We really could not risk the roof caving in and in a future episode you will see how damn close they have come to gnawing through entire struts. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on every episode so far, it is hugely appreciated. I am just tidying up part eight but don’t feel you have to read it – it is such a busy time of year for everyone, after all 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      December 18, 2017
      • Just you try to stop me….. 🙂 It has become my own personal Herzanliegen (une affaire qui me tient au coeur) to know how YOU and your very own heartthrob were/are doing with this house of yours!

        Liked by 1 person

        December 19, 2017
      • 😊💛

        Like

        December 19, 2017
  39. Oh my goodness and PHEW – what a relief that the Capricorn were nowhere to be seen! I hope you had a lovely Xmas xx

    Liked by 1 person

    December 26, 2017
  40. Wendy – it’s been lovely and I will be writing an article about what I got up to. Woodworms need regular treatment and anything wood brought into the house given a coat of the xylophone or whatever the Brit equivalent is. Capricorne on the other hand would have been a capitol D for Disaster, darling xx

    Like

    December 26, 2017
  41. I am slowly catching up on your series. Thank goodness your beautiful roof beams were saved in time.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 12, 2018
    • Caught in the nick of time …. phew! And speaking of time – take yours 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 12, 2018
      • I have just completed the catch up. I could not wait to finish the story of your renovation project. I look forward to seeing it completed. x

        Liked by 1 person

        January 12, 2018
      • Don’t hold your breath – you might turn blue! Mondays will be devoted to catching up to where we are now for a few more weeks. Where we are now is in a little pause (of about 18 months) whilst we get to the point of funding the remainder. I have to remind myself that we honestly have made progress in leaps but sometimes it really doesn’t feel like it. The pieces though are meant to entertain (I’m not sure if you saw Part 7 …. it was quite important as an expectation setter) rather than be expert guidance ☺🌸

        Like

        January 12, 2018
      • I could not see part seven. It did not show on your blog feed. It is great to see you in full flow again. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        January 12, 2018
      • You have to go to the side bar on the actual site rather than use the reader, but not to worry … I’m sure you understand my method and madness quite well without instruction!

        Liked by 1 person

        January 12, 2018
  42. I shall have another look. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    January 12, 2018

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