It’s all been a bit busy, since Andy arrived back, and it’s hard to believe that nearly 12 weeks have passed already. Of course we’ve been back out on the bikes…
And enjoying some wonderful long walks too, watching spring start to take hold…..
But in between times, we’ve been busy doing lots on the house, and it has changed so much in the short time that we’ve been pottering here.
The biggest difference is that we now have a really comfortable terrace, and even a little garden, with sitting areas on different sides of the house, that allow us to follow the sun, or hide from it, if we want to.
We also have our long-dreamed of terrace, just outside the new kitchen doors, with our lovely table, and stunning views up to Caseneuve, where we sit with our coffee and breakfast, whilst Pusscat waits patiently for me to move, so she can jump onto my nicely warmed chair. It really is everything that we had hoped it would be.
Our main terrace runs alongside the road through the hamlet…. when I say road, it is hardly a busy thoroughfare, but a steep strip of tarmac that leads to the 5 other houses above us, so it’s hardly choked with traffic.
It does mean though, that we have had to make some efforts to add some privacy, but without adding a huge wall or hedge that will totally block us from our neighbours. We have permission to add a 2 metre high stone wall, but the more we have thought about it, the more it felt like the wrong thing to do, so once again our plans changed and we looked for alternatives.
One thing is certain and that is that in transforming the terraces, Andy has become very adept at wall-building, using the old stone that has come from walls that we have been taken down, and from where the new doorway was opened, creating new walls and steps, that look like they have always been here.
So after a bit of thought, he built a low wall, to replace the old fence-line and topped it with the rather unattractive metal fence that had been there before. Once painted, this gave us an excellent structure to grow plants through, so off we popped to the local garden centre to buy the biggest climbers we could find, planting a selection of Jasmines that will weave their way through the posts to give us a pretty, green and scented barrier.
On the inside of the wall, we have the lower terrace, now with our ‘conversation corner’ of old iron cots, that I have re-covered with fabric that used to act as the wall between our bed space and the family bathroom …. oh how the house has changed!
In previous years, we’ve relied on parasols to block the sun, but have now covered it with a little iron pergola, painted to match the fence, and topped it with a bamboo roof, with a rose growing through it, to give us some summer shade.
And on the upper terrace, the patch of earth that had previously been a weed-filled, scrubby patch of grass and lavender, has finally become a small garden.
We’re slowly filling it with plants, including some beautiful roses that we are training through the fence, to add colour and scent to the jasmines as they all grow together to form our little green, living wall.
The problem that still faced us though, was what to do with the terrace where we sit to eat, how could we add some privacy there?
We had initially thought of a pergola, but the more we looked at it and watched where the sun goes, the more we realised that it wasn’t the right thing to do. Andy had built a low wall, but we really were rather flummoxed about what we should do to add height, until we popped to the local recyclerie and saw a lovely old iron bedstead.
Now when I saw it, I was all for buying it for the spare room, but one of its castors was missing and the leg was slightly broken, so we walked away from it. Then Andy had the wonderful idea of using the bed ends to create the fence on the terrace wall. So we had an afternoon dash back to the recyclerie, in the hope that someone else hadn’t bought it. Happily it was still there and after a good 20 mins of shifting it and shunting it to get it into the car, helped by the staff there, we had a rather hairy drive back home, with the boot held down by Andy’s belt.
The following morning, Andy cut off the bottom of the damaged legs, and with the aid of some long metal rods, the bed ends were pushed into place on the wall.
We imagined we would need all sorts of ‘Heath Robinson’ fixings to hold them, but amazingly, once pushed down on the rods, they were absolutely solid, so there was no point in taking them off again at all.
Then we moved a selection of plants into the border just in front, and we had a wonderfully quirky, delightfully different fence, which is already covered with new growth, and scented, striped roses, giving us a lovely green screen from the road.
With the brocante markets currently closed, we’ve been getting our fix of hunting out new bits for the house and garden on Le Bon Coin, which is a rather superb French classifieds website, where you can find everything from boxes of rusty old screws (bizarre) through to houses, and everything in between.
The joy of finding bits here and also on Facebook Marketplace means that we have been on some rather magical, mystery tours around the area, finding the houses to collect our purchases.
A friend said that you don’t really get to know the area until you start buying bits on Le Bon Coin, and now we know what she means. We have driven up rough tracks and through fields, beyond Grambois to find a house at the end, just to collect a mirror…
We’ve found ourselves in the midst of a one way system, to find a house in the heart of Carpentras, to collect a wonderful, huge zinc bassin to use as a planter on the terrace…
And we’ve driven through the back roads to a village just outside Orange, with an angle grinder in the boot, so that we could cut a heavy, and very long, iron handrail, to a size that would allow us to get it into the car. I’m not sure what the seller thought as Andy plugged in his cutter and the sparks started to fly….
But it was worth the effort as it fits the steps up to the new kitchen door perfectly… in fact so perfectly that it looks like it was made for it, and has always been there.
Over the last 6 months the work we have done has totally transformed the house, the way we use it, and as a result our enjoyment of it. It feels like a home, rather than a second home and we are loving shifting our attention to the garden, so that we can enjoy the outside even more this summer.
We still have plenty to finish inside, but that can all wait until the autumn now. The new kitchen is yet to have units fitted, but incredibly the rusty old oven and hob are still going, so we have used the old units and a sheet of chipboard, resting on a workbench to give us a temporary fix, until we decide what we actually want. As always, it’s not exactly chic or elegant, but for the time-being we are happy with our makeshift, ‘loft-style’ look, which will tide us over.
For now though we will just enjoy our time here, relax a little and get back to doing what we love most ……..