Two days hence, we will have been in this house for nine months. Renovations on the interior did not begin until 8th October, so we enjoyed a fairly relaxed summer, tidying up the gardens and watching Eddie fell trees and shrubs, cutting logs for winter, and trimming the long grass. Like the crickets in Aesop’s fable, we frittered away the warm days, ill-prepared for what the cooler weather would bring!
When Lee and Frank began demolishing a 2ft-thick stone wall in our bedroom, to create an en suite bathroom, we realized what we were in for. Seven months on, the finish line is in sight. Seven months of dust, drilling, hammering, sudden alarming thuds on the ceiling, conversations that began with: “we might have a problem…” and a new hobby: hurling money into a bottomless pit! We undertook far more renovation work than we intended, because it became clear, as we improved parts of the house, that the juxtaposition of original and new was not going to work. The additional financial cost has been worth it. The house is beginning to look beautiful.
Yesterday the electrician declared his work done. A huge moment, as the start of his work was delayed by nearly three months. He will return to connect the alpendre to electricity and water, once the other workmen have removed all their equipment and we have pressure-cleaned the space once more. Then we will have our washing machine back, and there will be no more trips to the laundry 15kms away.
On Monday a man in a digger arrived, and buried all the garden waste and builders’ rubble. He dug the trench for the retaining wall in the garden, so the “rockery” (snakery, more like!) can be concreted over and an additional parking space created. He also stripped off the old, useless, raised beds, and levelled a space for new beds. Yesterday, eight pallets of concrete blocks were delivered. Once the rain stops, work will begin on this project, and I can plan the hard landscaping that will transform a field into two separate spaces: one a working garden, with poultry run, small pond and orchard. One a more formal, gravelled space with flower beds, a fire pit, and picnic area, divided by a hedgerow of native Cypress trees or English holly – undecided. I can see this in my mind’s eye. It will be a while before I see it from the terrace garden! The project plan was time-lined for completion at the end of May. An extension until the second week of June is realistic. The 12th July will be our first anniversary in Casa Girasol. Party time!