Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The joys of a holiday home

At half term we went to our house in Normandy, where we had not been since the autumn. After the usual stop-over in Amiens we arrived in the afternoon on Saturday, in time to air the house and go shopping at Super U. And boy did we need to air it. Old stone houses have a tendency to soak up the rain water through the floor tiles and also pull it up inside the walls, which we know all too well. But we were astonished to find the new upstairs bedroom in a slightly sad state. Despite the fact that we had had the chimney capped and fitted with a ‘Chinaman’s hat’, because of the wood-burning stove, and cracks in the pointing also repaired, the chimney, which runs up at the end of the bedroom ( ex-attic), was ominously dark. Since we keep that room locked when we are away due to the risk of field-mice roaming round the whole house, the heavy rain in the winter that had forced its way in, had not been dealt with. There was even mould in places. Our neighbours said later that it had rained for long sustained periods, worst winter in six years. So the ground was absolutely saturated and the house acted as blotting paper as well as letting rain in from above. I am only happy it did not join in the middle, so to speak. Luckily it was decent weather, so we could take stuff out and leave to air outside with all doors and windows open.

All week we had a good fire going in the stove, which, with the help of the electric heaters, soon raised the temperature and dried it all out. We ran out of logs and had to borrow some from our friendly neighbours. Then we just pottered about, read books and papers and were lazy in general. But the following Saturday we had new firewood delivered by a farmer, four m3, which turned out to be a full horse box which he had pulled with his old, nearly clapped-out car. It took an eternity to shift it all and stack it in the shed. My body protested even two days later. But when we go there next time we will have firewood to burn, literally. I bet it will be a sunny and warm Easter just because of that, Sod’s Law, you know.

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