Sunday 30 June – A Stain on our Reputation!

At the end of my blog last Sunday I said that we had lots of plans for the coming week but we’ll have to see what would be achieved.

In the end I have been busy but, as is often the case, the job I started which I hoped would take 3 days, ended up taking almost 5. We therefore haven’t achieved as much as we’d hoped but what we have done we’re pleased with.

The focus was again with Granary as, having tidied up the front last week, it showed the windows were in need of some TLC and re-staining as they were starting to look tired.

I looked back at my previous blogs and saw that I last did this task 5 years ago almost to the day.  Incredibly, the stain I used stated that, if used correctly with 3 coats, the finish was guaranteed to last for … 5 years!  Perhaps I could say that it was a little ambitious as the stain had certainly gone in a number of areas especially where it is exposed to the direct sunlight and UV as the front of Granary faces directly south.

What I didn’t do 5 years ago, and I’m not sure why, is remove the windows from their frames and sanded and painted them in place.  This time, I removed all the opening windows as sanded and stained them on the terrace which was much easier.

Monday was spent sanding the frames thoroughly to remove as much of the old stain as possible.  It wasn’t a full day as Mercedes had kindly invited us and others to her restaurant for dinner to celebrate her birthday.  It was a lovely evening and our thanks again to Mercedes and Ludo.

Tuesday I was occupied by a couple of other tasks but on Wednesday I was able to begin applying the new coats of stain.  According to the blog I wrote in 2019 when I last stained the windows, we were experiencing an uncomfortable heatwave and, while we aren’t this year, it was extremely hot and I needed to use a parasol to stop the stain drying too quickly.  Thursday it was back to drizzle and normal temperatures!

The reason the job took longer than I’d hoped is that, when removing one of the windows on the first floor, it was very evident that the wood of the sill and stool had rotted away to almost dust.

We have always known that the windows of Granary, while quite good quality themselves, were not made to measure for the house.  Rather than, as is normal, buying a window built to fit the hole in the wall, a previous owner had evidently bought some windows and then amended the aperture to try and fit the frames.  This has meant that they often allow water in during very heavy or windy storms.

Evidently, since the last time I stained the windows, that sill had been sufficiently wet to rot and now was in a terrible state and needed repairing.  Cleaning out the old rotten wood, treating what was left and creating something  to replace it took the best part of a day to do but I am pleased with the result and you wouldn’t be able to tell there was an issue.

Hopefully, it has bought us a few more years for that window as it is our medium to long-term plan to replace them all with aluminium windows to address a number of issues including this propensity to leak and the need to sand and stain them every 5 years!

Having rehung the windows, with the trimmed yews, straightened olives on our plinths and cleaned paintwork, Granary is looking as good now as it has ever been.  We have taken the opportunity of blue skies to take some publicity pictures which you’ll see on our website before guests arrived yesterday and the gîte will be occupied until the middle of September.

There has been another couple of days progress too on the pool – although we had anticipated a fuller week with the concrete pad being laid as we have an agreement with the builder not to do any work in July and August, and I am alarmed that we will already be in July tomorrow!!

What the landscaper has been able to do, as well as fill and compact the terrace area in preparation for the concrete, is redistribute much of the soil we have generated with the massive hole in the ground we have created so the mountain does not look so high!

The picture on the left is the best I have of the pile, I tended to stand on it and take pictures looking down rather than photograph the pile itself, but the 2 on the right are what it looks like today.

To use as much of it as we can, while they had their diggers and dumper here I asked them to deposit a number of piles in the orchard, near Stable, so I am able to continue to repair that part of the lawn which was damaged when the roofers drove their lorry onto it last spring while re-roofing Stable.  I had managed to get a few trailer loads from a friend, who had a large pile of top soil last year, but it was still not as level as I’d like.

While it currently looks like we have a humongous mole burrowing under the lawn, hopefully when I am able to spread these out we will finally have a flatter lawn.

We haven’t spread any of the soil over the now equally rutted rear lawn, but we understand that the landscaper will be back before the job is finished and will do so then. I suspect that we will be able to use pretty much all of the soil and won’t need the yet additional expense of having to have it trailered away.

No Sunday stroll today as we are planning a Wednesday walk next week with our friends and we don’t want to risk over-exerting Garratt or him injuring himself again!

The forecast for the coming week isn’t looking too bad – dryish at least – so we should be able to continue making some good progress.  More next week.