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Coup de Coeur – Part Six: Do you see what I see?

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

The previous owner of the house was a photographer of some talent.  He could make the silkiest purse out of a lady pigs ear, I am certain.  When we looked at his wonderful images on the numerous websites that carried Maison Carrée to her adoring public eager to stay for a few days and sample the delights of his culinary skill as well as the comfortable and welcoming interior she offered we never once worried about wall coverings.  Downstairs was pristine white and upstairs had some sort of nice neutrally wallpaper.  When we arrived to view what turned out to be the Wreck of the Hesperus, one of the stand-out moments was the realisation of what that nice neutrally  wallpaper actually was.  Not wallpaper in fact.  Not fabric.  Nothing so outré for our Monsieur.  Nay, nay and thrice I say nay … he’d gone a whole new road – a positive Route Nationale, a Motorway, an Interstate Highway.  I can imagine the sprightly conversation he had with himself inside his head.  ‘What shall I cover the upstairs walls with?’  ‘How about floor ..?’ ‘You genius!  Floor!  Of course – floor is the way forward for these walls.  And shall we perchance wallpaper the floor?’ ‘Obviously not.  That is an absurd notion’.  And so it was.  Laminate clip together floor.  But not just any laminate clip-together floor.  Oh no!  This was laminate clip-together bargain basement, below economy starter range floor.  The floor that the salesman guides you too first before pointing out that absolutely anything at all that you choose from here will be better, even spending tuppence halfpenny more and thus securing himself an extra portion of fries on the commission he earns.  That sort of laminate clip-together floor.  And it had been slathered all over the walls.  Look closely at the top picture …. do you see what I see?

Having done as bidden by the kind M. Terminateur so that his crew could busy themselves ridding our roof of those pesky vrillettes we occupied ourselves as best we could, whenever we could (remember it’s a four hour round trip from North West to South West tip of le Cantal on winding backroads descending and scaling deep gorges and negotiating tight épingles (épingles de cheveux are hairpins) and though I am presently living in the land of mahusive distances and ludicrously cheap fuel, I honestly think it’s a stretch  for a daily commute that you aren’t getting paid for.  I was polishing the staircase for entertainment one day when there was a thunderous crack followed by a thud, and a whisper later, a riotous crash.  I dropped my bottle of special wood oil and rushed up the stairs (killing the chances of the oil drying to a gratifying sheen in the process) to find HB² looking frankly irritatingly smug.  He had taken a crowbar and jemmied a generous sliver of the offending floor from the wall and underneath looked rather  interesting.

He proceeded to slice his way through both the front bedrooms and the back one – the one with it’s cleverly placed shower delivering front row seats for the ladies of the village should he decide to give of his famed full frontal peep show once more.  I’m considering selling tickets should we need extra funds.  By lunchtime the walls were fully delaminated and revealing the secrets of their pre-veneered days.  My nerves were in shreds because this stuff was razor sharp and entirely rigid.  Two Brains clearly should have been wearing a helmet but instead favoured an interesting series of movements that echoed St Vitus Dance to avoid being brained or scalped by the merest slither of a second.  We had a car full of laminate to take to the lovely man at the dechetterie with the enviable view.   After two p.m.  Obviously.  This is rural France and everything stops for lunch.  For two hours.  It took multiple trips in Franck our trusty unalluring but reasonably priced car and a deep and meaningful conversation to ascertain whether this vile material computes as wood.  It doesn’t.  It is to be viewed in the same way as a carnivore regards nut cutlets.  It simply is not meat.  Nor indeed wood.

DSCF3384

Do you see what I see ….? It’s Franck skulking sneakily waiting for his next load of laminated booty

Meanwhile back at the ranch The Brains was eulogising over what had been uncovered.  Previously we had paid scant attention to the one unplastered wall on the stairwell merely having a cursory discussion over whether we should give it too a smooth finish.  But in  that deluge of lethal laminate everything changed.  It was akin to the moment in Carl Sagan’s Contact when Jodie Foster sees the universe with fresh eyes from a beach somewhere out ‘there’ that she has landed on after being lunged through space at a squillion miles an hour.   In the comedy shower-closet bedroom are exposed the same  glorious planks, cut by someone with an eye for straight lines that rivals my mother’s.  By way of explanation – my mother is a wonderful letter writer but has always shunned the slip of lined paper popped under the page to guide the pen evenly approach and consequently, although she commences elegantly (even now in her mid-eighties) she rapidly starts to wander at an angle so that by the time she reaches the bottom of the page she is writing at a 45° slope.  It’s a  foible that no-one ever mentions but all notice.  These walls were clearly made by a kindred charpentiere.  They are of tongue-in-groove construction, about 9″-10″ wide and slender.   They slot together very well sporting the odd large flat headed nail to complete the perfectly rustic and rather naïve effect.

 

And still the excitement continued.  The layout of the house, and we had assumed the original layout, was a small landing with doors at right angles to one another.  One into a bedroom with a square double doorframe through to a further room and the other into Peeping Tom’s Joy – the room with the freestanding shower in front of the window.  But taking the cladding off the walls had revealed a door from PTJ into the back bedroom.    This poses new questions about how we lay out the upstairs.  Our thought process is fluid and a teeny bit erratic so this revalation just adds a zesty new spritz to the operation.

On the other side of the wall were further, piquant delights – loose hessian overlaid with several layers of historic wallpaper.  A couple of florals, a groovy grey linear embossed which immediately took me back to the dull horrors of my childhood and my favourite, a sort of squarial pattern each square containing a picture – a flowerhead here, a windmill there, there again a boat, and even the makings of a medieval town.  I wonder about the person lying in bed looking at the pictures – I wonder if they had ever travelled from Marcolès and whether they dreamed of getting on that boat and searching for treasures in far-off lands.  In fact we know that a very tall Russian lady lived in the house for decades last century – maybe she was put in a boat to cross the sea or maybe her journey escaping White Russia as a small child was overland.  Either way it must have been arduous, gruelling and not a little frightening.

I am reminded of another house long ago and far away in England.  The girls and I lived in the grounds of the, by then closed, only Jewish Public School in the country (US readers Public School obscurely means Private School in  England).  Carmel College.  There was a house called ‘Wall House’ which was perfectly invisible except for a front door with a letter box.  In it lived a very very grand Russian lady of advancing years who wore amazing velvet and tweed ensembles which cascaded to her ankles.  She invited me to take tea.  I was seated on a glamorous and very upright silk upholstered  chair.  She called out in Russian and  in the corner of the room a tatty pile of textiles moved and out emerged a remarkably aged and faintly moth-eaten man.  He bowed and moved into the kitchen from whence he returned after a pause during which she and I continued a rather formal and resolutely non-probing conversation, bearing a silver tray complete with very ornate fine porcelain teapot and guilded teacups with their dainty matching plates on which were slices of terrifically inebriated fruit cake.  He served us sombrely and then went back to his corner, disappearing like the Psamead into his quicksand of sheets.  I suppose he had been with her all his life.  The world is full of surprises and some of them are quite uncomfortable.  Anyhow, there was a statuesque Russian lady for many years in Marcolès.   Hold that thought.  Particularly the height.  Because the other curiosity hidden behind the disgusting veneer is a series of oval holes.  You might remember there is one that casts down on the stairwell from the privy giving it an air of anything but privacy.  But there are more.  Some have been boarded over and some stuffed with newspaper.  But why?  They are reminiscent of those holes you stick your head through on an English Pier and have your photo taken as a pin-up girl in an eye popping bikini or a muscle-bound man in striped bathers.  The odd thing is the height of them.  If you wanted to stick your head through them you would have to be a VERY lanky lady indeed.  I imagine they were crude internal portholes to let some light into the middle of the house but I rather like the image of a Frenchman on stilts, complete with compulsary moustache peering through various cut-out holes just for laughs.

PS:  When I arrived back after taking the very last load of the offending clip-together laminate flooring to the dump (and we have kept a plank as a grim reminder of the way it was) the elderly couple opposite were arriving back from a toddle out.  They meandered across the street and asked me how it was going.  Oh, really good I regailed them.  We’re progressing well with the clear out of all the dreadful things – can you imagine, he had cheap laminate flooring on the walls.  Lunacy – he was clearly mad.  They nodded in that slightly absent way that polite people have and took their leave.  As they opened their front door, I swear I could see laminate flooring on …. the walls.  Just another oh bugger moment and a further reminder to self to keep thy big mouth shut.

If you enjoyed this you might like to catch up on previous installments by typing Coup de Coeur into the search box in the side bar.  The more the merrier at this party – so much more fun that way. 

95 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh. now I have stopped laughing; one really must be careful as to where one jokingly levels one’s aspersions re previous owners to the neighbours. Check their decorative predilections first. And also their family tree… whoops…too damn late……………….!

    Liked by 2 people

    February 17, 2016
    • Big ouch moment, that one! Mind you they all say we english talk with a mouth full of hot potatoes so perhaps that, coupled with my hope that they may be deaf may mean I got away with it. No? No. Probably not. Never mind – I’m keeping a low profile at the moment and may don a wig and moustache when I next visit 😀

      Liked by 3 people

      February 17, 2016
      • Moi aussi.
        Fortunately, at least, thus far, my neighbours are giving me the “well, she’s English, take what she says with a gracious pinch of foreigner salt” leeway.
        I’ve probably stretched their laudable indulgance a little, but.. heyho……

        Liked by 1 person

        February 17, 2016
  2. Pan #

    Oh I absolutely let out a very loud laugh and am still laughing, when you to the , nodding absently like polite people sometimes do, I knew, just knew they had the same walls 😂
    The oddball you bought this “projwreck” from is quite a cad.. He’s a snake oil salesman with a camera and I’m thinking he gave them a version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, so they’d jump on the idea.. He may have even sold them the floor planks as a new trending product called “Walloor” 😂
    But please don’t inquire if he did, it may have been them with the idea they sold him 😨

    Liked by 1 person

    February 17, 2016
    • Pan #

      Btw, the cut out holes seem to be an attempt at ventilation.. Considering the orginal floor plan was altered, it would make sense, just not very practical or attractive.. Renovation is like peeling layers of an onion.. But you never know what’s under the next layer..

      Liked by 1 person

      February 17, 2016
      • Lightbulb moment! Thank you! Of course that must have been it – eureka you ARE a genius 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
    • He is quite hated in the village and this may be one of the reasons – perhaps all the houses have a floor-walls!!!! Glad you enjoyed it … By the way, the snake-oil salesman as you have him plays a big part in my novel …. he’s pretty easy to draw – don’t need any cartooning skills because he is a total caricature in his own right!!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        It just wouldn’t fit if he had the body of Adonis and the voice of Enrico Caruso.. I imagine him to be bell shaped, with an irritating tone that swaps between superficial and condescending..
        Am I close to being correct ?

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Do you know him?!!? 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        I’ve met many of him, in car dealerships, furniture stores and yes, even while property hunting.. Usually getting the impression of OCD, narcissism and greed, Most are rolled together in an unhealthy mass, from years of bodily neglect and indulgence..

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • The worst sort of archetype in fact 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        Well that’s the mold that should’ve been broken into a million pieces long ago..
        You can’t hardly walk into a place where sales persons lurk, waiting for prey to pounce on.. My favorite type of sales pitch is none at all.. Be close enough for me to see, but at least at arm’s length away and let me ask you to help me.. If I’m looking for property or a vehicle, let me decide where I want to look and ask my own questions.. respond with a straight and honest answer.. If I’m interested enough to look, then I’m liable to overlook what bad news might be attached.. But piss me off in the sales pitch, I’ll walk away without even a goodbye..

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Now THAT should be published and sold as a guide to salespeople. It says exactly what I feel and I’m pretty sure most others too. I absolutely hate being approached by a salesman until I want to ask a question.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
  3. I love these crazy tales! Laminate flooring on the walls? Never in my wildest, cheapest dreams ….

    Liked by 3 people

    February 17, 2016
    • By mouth was on the floor when I first saw it … I remember advancing slowly with a tentative hand outstretched to touch it because I actually could not believe what I was seeing! So glad you enjoy the stories 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
  4. Pan #

    When you got to… I was typing too fast, again

    Liked by 1 person

    February 17, 2016
  5. Pan #

    Hey if anyone wants to redecorate, I can get truckloads of Walloor 😂

    Like

    February 17, 2016
  6. What a great story, and reading about the process of the renovation is very interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • I’m glad you are enjoying it … I find it very interesting as the place reveals itself and almost tells us what direction to take. Patience is a virtue in this case because we want to take one pass at it and get it right – I don’t think my ageing bones could take any more!!

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
      • I find it fascinating the story it tells as you proceed. Yes, I understand about the patience – I wait in anticipation for what occurs next. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        February 18, 2016
      • More in a month …. I have to feed the instalments out slowly for fear of catching up to where we actually are. End of March will be interesting when I go back to France for a week and see what has been occurring in absentia!

        Liked by 2 people

        February 18, 2016
      • Exciting, I look forward to the next installment! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
  7. I enjoyed every moment of this! Yes…the hessian supporting layers of wallpaper…in the words of the great collaborator..’I remember it well’ and the dust that went with dismantling it.
    And as for the encounter with the neighbours…you wouldn’t have any Australian blood, would you? In my youth the definition of an Australian was a person who only opened his mouth to change feet…

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • So glad you enjoyed it – I love your responses which are laced with so much experience. I’m not any part Australian though my favourite Uncle has lived in Hervey Bay for years and is entirely native … this could have something to do with total disregard for diplomacy! Fortunately the entire village dispised our predecessor – we wonder if it is because he sold them all laminate flooring for their walls 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
      • I have to own up to an Australian grandfather….diplomacy wasn’t his strong suit either…
        Isn’t it great to take over from someone loathed by the neighbours…you start off with Brownie points just by buying the place!
        I’ve seen pics of my first house in France which is now up for sale….and just guess what is covering the damp patch on the sitting room wall…

        Liked by 2 people

        February 18, 2016
      • Noooooo!!!!! That is too funny. And vive les Australiens …. PC is SO over-rated!!!

        Liked by 2 people

        February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        😂 I should then be Australian too !

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • You are a natural Oz! Actually I have two cousins who were raised there – both girls. One was in the Australian Navy for several years before being invalided out with a catastrophic back injury (now recovered) and the other was a Jillaroo (cowgirl) before taking a really bad fall (she used to announce that she knackered bulls for a living) – she now drives a big-boy truck at a mine in Northern Territories. You’d fit 🙂

        Like

        February 18, 2016
  8. What a tiring and crazy process! I always love reading these adventures while I am sitting here relaxing and not having to be involved! You are a tough women dear Fiona! xx

    Liked by 3 people

    February 18, 2016
    • Tough or insane or a touch of both, I think dearest Lyn! xx

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
      • hahaha I love the pictures! Are you still over on our side of the ocean?

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Yes, I’m here till the end of next month then in France and the UK for three weeks and back for another few months after that – I’ll be back and forth til the Autumn I think which is really lovely.

        Liked by 2 people

        February 18, 2016
      • Oh yes! Sounds like fun and at least you get to stay for several months in one place. Email me if you want, maybe we can talk some day! wow exciting!

        Liked by 2 people

        February 18, 2016
      • Oh I will email and it would be great to talk 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • yes xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
  9. I love all the layers you are removing…flooring on the wall…hummm kinda out there but whatever rocked there boat LOl and no I don’t have flooring on my walls…LOL I just wish the walls could talk, and the round holes…crazy…..to be honest, when you said can you see it, all I saw was a baby cradle…LOL I thought you were dropping a hint of a new addition and it wasn’t flooring on the walls…LOL I thought oh my the rides going to get interesting…LOL great post…and glad the rabbit didn’t die….LOL kat

    Liked by 3 people

    February 18, 2016
    • That cradle is an authentic Auvergne crib from the late 18th Century – they are quite rare and as you can imagine I had designs on it but sadly it was not to be. If I were to be podding it would be a miracle of the highest order given my age and the fact that I had the nursery removed 13 years ago LOLOLOL!!!! He’s a funny old cumudgeon the previous owner – he really had remarkable taste in antiques and ‘things’ but he cut corners like an Indie 500 driver when it came to actually getting the fabric of the house right. And possibly sold floor walls to all the village given the neighbour opposite. Which may be why they all hate him so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      February 18, 2016
      • LOL I love the floor on the wall effect…but not in my house…LOL and yes it was a beautiful cradle….and miracles do happen….but not without an oven….kat

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • When they removed my oven they gave me councilling because I was relatively young – I told them to use their resources for those that need it … I have four girls and even if there was a dreadful catastrophe and I lost them all I knew then and I know now that I would not want any more. Now grandchildren – that’s where my wishes lie …. I’m like a clucky old broiler on the quiet 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • lOL I didn’t get any counseling but I was trying to beat out cancer….I had bad endometrial issues and put of the removal for 3 years….but like you…at my age…I was 57 I certainly wouldn’t want to have more babies…only hold granbabies if that ever happens…my daughter is passing on having children her husband can’t have any and they have thought about adopting but they are both travel hounds and love their freedom….my son…another entire story…LOL

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • I think I probably put all mine off having children – I’m a single mother and their cross to bear 😀

        Like

        February 18, 2016
  10. Love it and the way you tell it!
    Reminds me of my place where ceilings and floors are covered in a bilious orange “lambris” (tongue and groove) which resists every attempt to paint or otherwise conceal. And talking of foot and mouth in too close proximity – I did a similar thing when I asked my macon to re-point an interior stone wall. He suggested a faux stone tile effect and I blathered on about how I hated that sort of cheap and nasty stuff only to discover that his house is a testament to it.

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • Now you have made me burst out laughing …. the faux stone tile moment – ouch! We had our share of lambris ceilings too …. more of that in a later episode. It keeps me sane writing about it …. and you have to laugh or it would engulf one in the wrong way entirely 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
    • Pan #

      😂 oh I love true confessions ! Anyone who’d dare to say “oh not me, never foot in mouth” I would accuse as a liar..

      I sometimes still find my foot in my mouth.. But when I was younger, it seemed I was flossing my toes daily 😄

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
      • Love that – flossing my toes … that’s a stealable phrase 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        You should see my mind’s eye, I truly envisioned that which as I was reading all the foot in mouth comments, so I typed it in 😂
        My mind is a wonderful and scary place 😮

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        For cryin out loud, which should’ve been when.. Now I’m typing words I’m not intending 😒

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
  11. PS I forgot to ask – are you OK with me listing your blog within an article I’m doing for a US magazine about moving to and living in France?

    Liked by 3 people

    February 18, 2016
  12. That was brilliant – pure comedy gold!. So many strange things in one place. The peepholes are my favourite, though, even above the beautifully crafted obliques of the walloor. It looks like one of the holes was covered by a picture – very Hammer Horror. And why are they oval?
    Soon you may be pitied locally as ‘that house with no laminate left on the walls’

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • So glad you enjoyed it …. I know you are in a kindred place! The holes are extremely odd and it is a serious point of discussion as to whether we keep them 😉 I’m now genuinely concerned that the locals DO all have the laminate and that we will be drummed out of town for being such philistines!

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
  13. @”Do you see what I see?” – oh, I do… 🙂 and I recall Anaïs Nin’s famous & realistic statement:
    “nous ne voyons pas les choses comme elles sont, mais comme NOUS sommes…”

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • Anaïs Nin has it absolutely nailed!

      Like

      February 18, 2016
  14. lindywhitton #

    I love the photos of the wall layers. A very interesting and artistic collection!

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • If I can rescue some of the wallpapers with a steamer I might cover a concertina book with one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        That would be a perfect book cover 👍

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
  15. It’s true that people have some funny ideas about wall coverings. A lovely house (from the outside) we googled at a couple of months ago actually gave me nightmares. The bedrooms were covered floor to ceiling in flock wallpaper. The floor and ceilings were covered in it, the fireplaces, wardrobes and doors were covered in it. The only feature that wasn’t covered in flock wallpaper was the windows. They had imitation flock wallpaper curtains.

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • Pan #

      They probably found a really good in bulk 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      February 18, 2016
      • ‘Good’ as in I really love flock wallpaper, beige with a gold fleur de lys motif. Oh, my lucky day! They have 500 rolls of it in the local Bricorama. I can even do the bathroom.

        Liked by 2 people

        February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        😂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
      • Pan #

        I hate when I type while laughing, almost always absentmindedly omitting a word or two.. “a good deal..”

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2016
    • A flock of flocks – with my bird paranoia that would be disastrous!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 18, 2016
  16. Hysterical! Renovating a house in rural France is fun, non? Those holes are crazy!

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • You have to laugh, you have to laugh, you have to laugh – I repeat this daily as a mantra 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
  17. You are right, the original ” buy my house” photos look so appealing.

    I don’t know what’s worse, thinking everything looks great then discovering the traumatic reality later, or being under no illusions as to how bad it was from the gitgo.
    Our hovel was so awful, even through rose-tinted dodgy French ” à rafraîchir” glasses that the seller & Immobilier didn’t even bother with internal photos!

    Liked by 2 people

    February 18, 2016
    • That really was telling your something, I think! The previous owner here ran it as a Chambre d’Hôtes and you can still find the lovely pictures on the web if you dig hard enough and search accurately. They were not reflective of the place and the village despise him for it because so many people came in good faith to stay in it and found something akin to the dechetterie to greet them! I think overall you just need to have a strong core and a mighty bonkers streak for this game – that’s a compliment by the way 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      February 18, 2016
  18. Great Scott! There was me thinking that our sweet and long-deceased neighbour’s interior decor couldn’t be worsened. Hideous pink cabbage rose wallpaper that covered not only the walls but also doors, cupboards (exterior and interior) and ceilings between the beams in the main part of the house, and thundering coach-and-horses wallpaper similarly on every square inch of the bedroom. Plus the enormous elephant-trunk heating conduits that dangled down in the rooms from the loft space above. And the interior ‘walls’ that were in fact single sheets of plasterboard only held up by the wallpaper ………

    Friends from England invited us to stay at the seaside second home they had just purchased on the Atlantic coast in the late 80s. The building itself was a distressing concoction of naked breeze-block and cheap aluminium windows, backing on to the car park of a supermarket on a busy commercial estate. As I gulped and tried to find something positive to say, my eye fell upon the hideous furniture – a melamine kitchen table and matching chairs with tubular legs ending in small black rubber feet. Lime green with black striped sagging sofa and chairs. Like something from a 1950’s low-budget film set.

    Eeek, I said, what ghastly stuff! How on earth could anybody live with it? Are you going to bring furniture out from England, or buy new things here?

    There was a pained silence, and my friend replied rather stiffly: “Actually, we brought all this with us.”

    Liked by 2 people

    February 19, 2016
    • Oh Susie – you are such a reliable tonic! I’m trying not to snort (unladylike and rather horse-like in my case) but I am rocking with laughter. I had a book when I was a child that involved two dogs who decided to be decorators and they wallpapered themselves into the room …. it turns out reading about your late neighbour that this was in fact en vogue in the human world and the dogs were just aping it! As for the furniture … what a gaff! And in English … not even the trusty language barrier to hide behind. Priceless and thank you thank you thank you for lightening my day 🙂

      Like

      February 19, 2016
  19. Jenny Adams #

    A labour of love or a ménage of madness! I am so looking forward to seeing the finished project.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 19, 2016
    • The latter certainly! And you will, of course – the work continues in absentia 😉 xx

      Like

      February 19, 2016
  20. A wonderful morning read Osyth. The first of the hessian/wallpaper images looks like a Braque or Picasso collage during their cubist period. You never know, it might be worth a fortune. And as to the “inebriated fruitcake”, I’ve known a few of those over the years as I’m sure you have too. Happy Friday 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    February 19, 2016
    • Andrew I always love your input — for me the story of the Russian lady was the most important bit and guess who was the only person to get it? YOU WERE, YOU WERE? The wallcoverings are interesting … I thank any Lord at all that I can make my own mind up that I shan’t use any 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      February 19, 2016
      • I think you should reconsider; the stripped wallpaper and hessian is very retro and has a certain abstract, surprising quality to it. Perhaps you can add some exposed bricks and graffiti and be truly avant-garde 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 19, 2016
      • It’s sorely tempting …. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 22, 2016
  21. You’re good at seeing the possibilities. Looking beyond that thing staring you in the face. I need to rip everything apart before I can even venture a guess at what it’s going to become.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 21, 2016
    • I have my moments when I can’t even see what’s in front of my face. My husband and I are both experimentalists which probably helps 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      February 22, 2016
  22. The laminated flooring story puts me in mind of a book by Nick Hornby – Fever Pitch when the character Miss Hughes sleeps with Paul (the main character) forcing her to admit to her flatmate that she has lost her bet and therefore must re carpet the flat by saying you can carpet the floor, the walls, you can even carpet the bloody ceiling of you like…!

    Liked by 2 people

    February 22, 2016
  23. Osyth, the Russian lady and tea time was a great story inserted into the post. The man who was elderly fading into the background would make such a lovely short story. In fact, this quality of using interesting details amazes me in your writing.
    In our country, the flooring on wall can be almost like wall paneling. In one tiny house I rented they had put a primer on the paneling and had painted it a sour cream or tan cream color. It really eliminated any ugliness to it and I adapted well to it. The kitchen had the same cream over plaster walls and a meandering, hand-painted green vine along the top of the walls which went well with green checked calico curtains.
    Moving from rental to rental, I learned to adapt but when I married in 1993, we saved to build a house. I found myself, out of “comfort” seeking, to inject my favorite part of every house I had lived in, into the new house. I hand painted violets on a meandering cream ribbon border and created the barn siding wooden look with lavender paint and dark combing lines. When I read you are here in America, I wondered who you are visiting snd where you are staying? (Which states will you visit?) Have a lovely time! 🙂 R.

    Liked by 2 people

    February 28, 2016
    • Robin, it took a twin spirit to see what I felt was the most crucial part of the story. You are the only one who has pointed to the story of the old man in England. I will think about giving him more space sometime. He has stayed in my consciousness now for nearly 20 years. The problem with the stuff on the walls in Marcolès is that it is effectively like plastic so impossible to paint. But I am a huge fan of wood panelling, I love it painted especially. IN fact I love painted wood. It is one of the things I am most in love with her in New England. In answer to your question I am in Massachusetts about 20 miles West of Boston just far enough into the country to satisfy my craving for space but close enough to drive to Cambridge and Boston easily. I am here because my husband lives here. In fact he was born in Liverpool (England), lived 9 years in France and then moved here 26 years ago, taking citizenship along the way. Green Cards are hard to get so although we were married (in France) nearly 3 years ago I am here by grace of the kindness of the USCIS who have allowed me a year (up to mid October) with multiple entries so that I can cross back to Europe periodically to check on my mum (nearly 84) and daughters (much wiser than I). We have a planned 6 months in France from mid-Oct whilst my husband takes a sabbatical in Grenoble and then hope upon hope that I might be free to join him permanently here. It is a bittersweet time for me. I want to see as much of this country as I can. The ups the downs, the riches and the poverty. You are, I must say it again a true kindred spirit … I read of your moving time and again and remember that time which stretched for decades for me so well and that learned skill of making a home in an instant so the children could root and snuggle for a while til the next upheaval. Thank you for being you x

      Liked by 1 person

      February 28, 2016
      • Thank you for being you!
        I hope you like Massachusetts and see the different sights. I have second cousins in Rockport and Gloucester. There is a nice commenter on my blog whose name is Dan Antion who has a wife and 30 year old daughter, Faith, who lives outside Boston. There is a woman named Judy, who also joins Dan and myself on Thursday’s Doors posts, both live in New England.
        Thank you for saying you feel connected with me, like kindred spirits. I feel this may be true! ♡ I also appreciate your explaining why this plastic-coated flooring used on walls, cannot retain paint. Also, how you expressed liking the painted wooden paneling where we lived.
        The best part of each move in our lives was they led us to becoming a closer knit family. It sounds this way with your “girls,” too. Although I “lost” the pretty home and gave up on the controlling last husband, the kids stayed in this adopted city that make 30 years this Fall of one place, 5 different rental houses (then a gorgeous house almost repossessed due to ex losing job and sitting on chair for nearly 4 years.) The son and his wife have a combination family of 3 of theirs and 2 shared with her past husband, all are special to me, of course. My artistic and creative daughter who was so “girly” has ironically 2 boys, 7 and 11. It takes me 5 minutes to get to my son’s home and he has the holidays with delicious cooking by himself all saving my need to do much but play with grandies. It is 12 minutes to my oldest daughter’s house. My youngest lives in the bigger city half hour away in Columbus, Ohio. Single and always calling to invite me to parties or events. Life is good. Hope you may stay as your heart sounds like it wishes this to happen. Take care and have a wonderful week, as it begins.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 28, 2016
      • Controlling former husband is a connection too. My second. I got lucky with the third having said never again 🙂 I am very hapy that your children are close by. It’s the one thing I find extremely tough – that mine are three in England and one in Malaysia. We are already planning Christmas to make sure we are together and with my mum who I also miss incandescently. Moving and moving does make you closer knit I am certain. I will check out your posts and see if I can find Dan and Judy. It’s so nice connecting with people here. In France friendship takes a long time to develop. There is a strict unwritten code to which one adheres and you find that people are shy of intimacy for a long stretch. Here people are very welcoming very quickly which I like. I hope I will get to stay here for a good while longer 🙂 Happy week to you ….

        Liked by 1 person

        February 29, 2016
    • I have hope to find my last partner or companion in life but I don’t feel so pressed. Sixty makes me mellow but believe me, I have a passionate side, too.
      I do hope that you will get to see everyone for the holidays.
      I am so happy you found a soul mate who is like a steady rock, one you may put anchor to and hold on to for the rest of your life, dear. You deserve less stress, more fun and enjoyment.
      Glad you feel our country is friendly towards you, since I cannot possibly not want to be connected to you or others I have met here. I would need to have email address should you every leave blogging…. smiles and hugs, Robin

      Like

      March 6, 2016
  24. Oh My God – house of horrors! (good job you liked my last post, coz this one seems to have slipped through my net…..)
    The thing is if anything other than plain old ‘papier peint’ is put on the walls, then it is there for one reason – to hide nasties lurking beneath – but how thrilling to find a secret door…….
    The mad woman that monsieur le frog was married to once tiled the cooker ‘splash back’ area with polystyrene tiles (not so mad, as she was trying to delay the sale of the house e- and succeeded!)
    We could have a tv program pretending to be potential buyers and uncovering al these delights of France………after saying that, we do have a full size tapestry rug nailed to the external wall in the bedroom to insulate it (obviously not my idea!) So I feel like I am sleeping in a medieval chateau. I came home from work one day and there it was – M le F thought it was completely normal – ah the joys of a multi cultural relationship…..

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2016
    • I’m currently wrestling with the horror left by my hubs ex-wife …. he’s done his best poor chap but some of his solutions are akin to your tapestry rug!! I see myself as a house warrior, defending the lovely home this place deserves to be and revealing it like a Princess released from the tower (no surprises there then!) …. As for Marcolès – I will see it at the end of the month and can only hope that instructions have been followed. Language barriers notwithstanding!!! I actually loved your last post but am running hither and thither hence a) lack of activity on my own blog and b) lack of commentary on yours xx

      Liked by 1 person

      March 2, 2016
      • Good job we have a sense of humour…..
        Yes, I know how you feel, I am still playing ‘catch-up’ on reading – hence I only just seen this, I will search for any others tomorrow.
        Give me your e-mail ad again so t at I can send you some hen-do photos xx

        Liked by 1 person

        March 2, 2016
      • fiona.o.blundell@gmail.com – hen pics will certainly be welcome! xx

        Like

        March 2, 2016
  25. Oh my! You made me giggle all the time! And laugh out in the end! We call situations like this “in ein Fettnäpfchen treten” in German (to step into a sticky, greasy spot) – and it´s a preferred past-time for me! 😉 Whenever I see one (that´s a “Fettnäpfchen”) I throw myself unto it 😉 Very many such embarrassing moments for me… 🙂
    I liked the story in the story about that tall Russian lady inviting you for tea – somehow it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland and the writings of Neil Gaiman who´s one of my very favorite authors.
    This renovation truly seems to be more an adventure and an odyssey into history than anything else! So glad you pointed me out to this little series, and hope to read more of it soon! xxxxxx

    Like

    March 23, 2017

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