Tag Archives: terrace

Thursday 10th June 2021 – IT SEEMS THAT …

century 21 electric bicycle place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… the phrase “The Office Bike” has a completely different meaning here in France than it does in the UK.

There was an estate agent in the building dealing with an apartment that’s for sale in the building (it’s way overpriced so don’t worry) and sticking visiting cards in everyone’s letter box. And instead of a company car, he has a company electric bicycle on which he can get about the town.

How times are changing. I suppose that it’s better than going on a private jet.

As for me, I’ve had a better day today. And it’s high time that I had one of those, isn’t it?

In bed slightly earlier than usual just recently but it was a disturbed, tossing and turning and cold sweat night. That’s a few of these sweaty nights that I’ve had just recently, and the reason why I comment on them is because they ask me about them at hospital. It’s a possible side-effect of one of my medication, but I can’t remember which one.

Tons of stuff on the dictaphone to whet my appetite.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson had won an adventure and thewere seeing this out of the way when suddenly something even more new and terrible came along from somewhere in the Indian Ocean which had nee, inspired by Moriarty, which was when I awoke in a cold damp sweat again

There was something in this dream as well about me having an old Vauxhall, old car, a big old Ford type of thing – I can’t remember now. I’d been at work and taken very ill again. I’d ended up spending most of the morning fast asleep in a bed. In the afternoon I decided to go home. The illness was far too much for me to cope with now. There was some firewood to put on the fire and I wondered if I was actually going to leave it or whether I ought to take it. I thought that if I take it then I could use it and they won’t miss it here. I picked up and went outside. It was Clifton Avenue and my car was outside covered in snow. It had been pouring down with rain and my car was covered in snow, damp snow. I went down and got in and started the engine. Then some kind of Hillman Minx came up behind me followed by a Vauxhall Cresta. The Hillman Minx did a U-turn at the end and drove back down the hill again totally followed by this Vauxhall Cresta. Then about 3 minutes later this Hillman came back and did the same thing again only this time it went onto the pavement to do its U turn down the far side of my van – car and then back off. It came back a 3rd time with this car pursuing it and there was an awful row, these people shouting. I was wondering what was happening so I was interested in following them so I could see. So I got to turn the corner with some tight manoeuvres to get round and end up behind them without making it public what I was trying to do with the third vehicle, third parking space. I had to go into Jubilee Avenue to turn round and ended up on Wistaston Road (actually Stewart Street) at one time so I had to turn round again to get behind these cars
At a car park where the cattle market used to be and there were cars being stripped down there. They would just come and dump them and Shearings used to pick up there and we’d always find a few cars dumped. One day I went down there and there was another one dumped. Well there were 4 or 5 but this one was encroaching onto our field and I had to move it out of the way. Then I noticed that all of my tools were there. Someone had broken into my car and pinched all my tools and had been using them to work on one of the abandoned vehicles and had scattered my tools and equipment and everything all over the place everywhere and I wasn’t very well but I had to spend all this time picking them up. It really annoyed me, not just the fact that people had stolen them but they couldn’t be bothered to put them back or even in any kind of resemblance of being tidy after all the effort that I’d made to sort them out and tidy them up in the past

There had been a reorganisation of electoral boundaries in Crewe. Where I lived had been moved into another constituency area for the town but this was an area that was heavily dominated by the Conservatives and my area was a marginal seat held by the opposition. I felt that this was a way of trying to win that particular seat for the Conservatives by moving the boundary to move out some of the people who would be voting against them at the election and I was trying to write a letter of complaint to the CSEB about this but I couldn’t find the address and no-one there seemed to be able to find it either but I wanted to complain about this gerrymandering

Did I say anything about a group of us? Four of us were together and we had some kind pf hire car from somewhere. We’d all ended up staying in a room in a hotel. A couple of people had the itch and decided that they wanted to move on so I’d awoken and started to assemble a fishing rod with the idea that I was going to go out and fish for things as a way of doing something different. But gradually one by one 2 other people awoke and the 3 of us decided that we would all move away and leave that person behind. The guy assembled all of his stuff and went off to the bathroom to have a bath while the girl started to prepare a ton of make-up. I thought to myself that the idea of makeup was not what I had in mind. We were going to be footloose and fancy-free and all to do with nature, getting back to basics and going back to our roots. Putting on a ton of makeup and foundation cream and all that kind of thing had nothing to do with what I was intending

After the medication I had to sort out all of the paperwork that I’m taking to the doctor. There’s so much of that now that it’s difficult to know where to turn. After that I had a shower and in the few minutes that remained I edited some of my photos from August 2019 in Wyoming.

When it was time to go out I hit the streets.

scaffolders college malraux place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd as you might expect, my attention was distracted the moment that I stepped out of my front door here.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the scaffolding that has covered the building here since late summer last year. That’s the company that installed it, and they are here with a large pick-up and a pretty big lorry armed with a crane.

All of this can only mean one thing, and that is that they have come to collect the scaffolding. It’s taken them long enough to complete the job and as you saw in the photo a week or so ago, the job looks as if it’s finished. So with a bit of luck the scaffolding will be gone by the time that you read this. I can check when I go out this afternoon, if I remember.

skip lorry place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hallthat wasn’t all that was going on right outside my door either. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we saw the skip lorry here yesterday. Well here he is again.

It’s not clear at all if he’s been bringing an empty skip or going to take away a full one. He was parked up in this position when I came out, and didn’t move for the whole time that I was outside here, so I’ve no idea what he was up to.

And as it happens, I was out there for a while too. One of my neighbours was also outside waiting for someone who was coming to pick her up. We had quite a little chat, and then she climbed into her friend’s car and I cleared off down the road towards the doctor’s for my appointment.

pointing rampe du monte a regret Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall seeing is the pointing work that’s being undertaken on the wall by the Rampe du Monte à Regret by one of these Job Creation Schemes.

The progress was slow as you might expect from one of these Organisations and its puplis, not that there was much supervision, but now it seems that the work has ground to a halt. Not only have all of the students departed, leaving the wall unfinished, but they have taken away all of the scaffolding too.

Wasn’t that something of a flash in the pan? Unless of course it’s to do with the summer tourist season and they will be back once the tourists have cleared off home again.

At the doctor’s, he and I had a good chat. He had a report from the hospital and he was greatly concerned about the amount of blood that they took from me during my operation. Apparently it’s no surprise that I’m tired and exhausted with all of that.

He reckons that it will be a long hard road before I’m feeling myself again, and I can’t even do that right now. They say that a man has a brain and … errr … something else, and only enough blood to work one at a time. I don’t even have that at the moment.

He gave me some information that I requested and wrote out a prescription for my medication. I know that I usually pick it up in Belgium and I still shall, but I want to be a couple of months ahead in case I go off on a ramble some time and need to build up a stock.

Interestingly, he had a stock of Lyrica in this office and he gave it to me. I forget now how many times I’ve been given this from different people now. I suppose they can’t dispose of it, except to people like me. But I suppose that it’s safe for me to take it because I had all of the side effects before I started to take it. “impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless” – I was all of that even before I was ill, never mind all of the rest.

So after having gone through all of that, the doctor threw me out and I headed off for LIDL.

workmen preparing base of terrace rue couraye Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHere in the Rue Couraye we have some excitement going on this morning.

The mayor has passed some kind of rule or regulation that cafés and the like can occupy one car parking space in the street outside their premises, or as near as they can get, to make some kind of outside terrace, if they don’t already have one, in order to welcome the tourists in the nice weather.

It looks as if we are having another one installed here, although I can’t see who would be occupying it as there doesn’t seem to be a café or restaurant just here. I suppose I’ll have to wait and see who moves in to occupy it once it’s finished.

At LIDL I didn’t buy all that much. mainly because I couldn’t carry it. You’ve no idea how difficult it was just to bring me up the hill. The hill at the other end of town in the Rue des Juifs is just as steep and just as long and to go up there with a load of shopping is not my idea of fun.

One thing that I did buy was a litre of drink, which I demolished quite quickly. My raging thirst has come back again, and in spades too.

After leaving LIDL I headed for home via the Rue St Paul.

portacabin rue st paul Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that several months ago we witnessed them demolish the old café on the corner of the Rue St Paul and the Rue Victor Hugo.

Very shortly afterwards, a planning notice for several apartments went up on the site, and it looks as if it’s been granted because we now have a portacabin office and another temporary building on site. Who knows? They might even be starting work sometime soon if we aren’t careful.

But the answer to the scaffolding question that I posed earlier has now been resolved, jusding by a notice that I saw stuck on the building. The mayor has banned the erection of all scaffoldings and the like for the period until September this year, in order to keep the town pretty for tourists.

So now we know.

home made bread rice pudding place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallSo now that I’m ready to have my lunch, let me show you my culinary delights for today.

Not much in the way of excitement. Just a beautiful, soft loaf of bread and a rice pudding for dessert for the next few days. The rice pudding is quite nice, because I had a little sample when it was cooked. As for the bread, I think that I have that sussed now because it really was nice and tasty. I’ll go with that.

After lunch I had a few things to do –

  1. ring up for a Covid test. But that was a waste of time because they are only open in the morning. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.
  2. try to change an appointment in Leuven next month. This new app thing has a facility to send messages, so I did. Whether it works or not is another question.
  3. Book my accommodation in Belgium. And he’s given me a nice discount, for which I’m always grateful. They do look after me there.
  4. Book my rail trip to Leuven. The bit from here to Brussels was fine but on the SNCB for some reason every time that I tried to pay for my ticket, it was refused, no matter which card I used. However, on the app it worked fine first time and I don’t understand that at all.

As a result, all of that took far longer than it should have done.

The rest of the day apart from desperately fighting off waves of fatigue, I’ve been splitting LPS that I digitalised into their individual tracks. Due to an error in the admin side at the radio where the broadcast of a programme was missed, I’ve ended up with a vacant week and I don’t really know what to do with it.

Several suggestions have come to my mind, but the one that I’ve decided on is that I have piles of stuff that hasn’t yet been allocated into their parent groupings, and some of them are new artists with no previous example of their work anywhere in my broadcasts. And so I’m going to do a programme of completely new, unique and individual stuff.

beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallYou’ve already seen the photo of the bike that I took on my way out of the building, so here’s one of the beach that I took next.

With nothing on the car park right now to distract me I wandered off to look over the wall down onto the beach and blimey! Where has the water gone? The tide is well out to sea today. And to my surprise, despite the nice day, there were probably no more than half a dozen people on the beach that I could see.

But there’s an interesting phenomenon over there on the horizon, something about which I’ve talked … “AT GREAT LENGTH” – ed … elsewhere ON ANOTHER OCCASION.

Yes, the bank of cloud in the background. There’s a clear blue sky and hardly any cloud today but the prevailing winds that are coming from the west from over the sea have picked up an amount of water vapour water vapour. The air has to rise up to clear the cliffs and the hills over there on its way into the interior and this causes the air to cool down and so the water vapour condenses and forms clouds.

That’s one of the ways in which ancient mariners could tell if they were near land, by seeing the cloud formations.

fishing boat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOut there at sea again today is the yellow inshore fishing boat that we’ve seen on several occasions just recently.

And I’m slowly coming round to the conclusion that maybe it isn’t the same yellow boat that we saw up on blocks in the chantier navale earlier in the year. If you look very carefully, down the side of the hull you’ll see a wide black stripe edged in white. I don’t recall seeing that on the boat that was in there.

There wasn’t anyone else out there close enough for me to photograph – they were all too far away – so I left them to it and I set off along the path to do my lap around the headland with the madding crowds that were thronging around this afternoon

aeroplane 50 nj pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAt some point or other, as I wended my weary way along the clifftop, I was bound to be overflown by an aeroplane this afternoon.

And it’s another one about which I know very little, if nothing at all. I can’t even see its registration number properly. It might be 50-NJ in which case it’s definitely a new one on me. But whatever it is, it’s another one of these strange series of numbers that crop up quite regularly in one manner of another.

No point in looking for a flight plan because it won’t have filed one. And it won’t have flown high enough to have been picked up on radar, so basically we can forget all about this one. I really must make an effort and go out to the airport to make further enquiries..

le loup baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallLe Loup, the light on the rock at the entrance to the harbour, was looking very nice today.

What were even nicer was the large black dog and the girl who was looking after him. At one point there was a photo crying out to be taken but just as I was about to take it, they both moved and the moment was gone. I had to take one of Le Loup instead.

And from this photo you can tell how far the tide is out today. The rock on which the light sits is actually exposed, but when the tide is right in, it’s almost up to the lower of the two red bands. I suppose that the red bands are there so as to give any ancient mariner an idea of what the tide is doing.

yacht rebelle trawler chantier navale port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd we’ve had yet another change of occupier today in the chantier navale. It’s all happening in there.

My walk along the clifftop on the other side of the headland took me to the viewpoint overlooking the port where I could see what happening.

And there’s been a tactical substitution of trawlers today. Hera, the trawler that has been there for a while has now gone back into the water and another trawler has come in to join the yacht Rebelle.

I can’t see who she is but I can see that she’s having some electric arc welding being done on the bottom of her hull, and there’s an angle grinder working around the other side so it’s all systems go down there with that boat.

microlight aircraft baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallWith nothing else of note happening down there I headed for home, on the way to which I was overflown yet again.

This time it was a microlight or U.L.M on its way out for a lap around the bay. It’s certainly been a very busy day with so much going on.

Back at the apartment I carried on splitting LPs until it was time for guitar practice, which for some reason tonight was pretty gruesome. I’ve no idea why I’ve lost my touch and my co-ordination. I was glad when I could knock off and go for my tea tonight.

And having bought or made the necessary, I had stuffed peppers and rice for tea followed by rice pudding, which was delicious.

But I’m totally exhausted now and I’m off to bed. And I need it, and I deserve it. It’s been a hard day and I shall be glad of some rest.

Saturday 12th March 2011 – I’ve had the raging toothache all day

And I’m probably going to have it all night too, which is a shame. But never mind, at least it’s Sunday so when I do eventually go to sleep I don’t have to wake up so early.

But today for just a change we worked a full day. The bedroom ceiling that we painted looked really good and it has come out well. And so then I did the back wall of the rear terrace and that’s good too. Terry busied himself by starting to move the furniture out, and that’s a good sign.

After Liz and I had painted the bedroom walls and let it dry, we did a quick inspection. And that’s pretty good too and ordinarily we would have knocked off then and there. But with the bedroom looking so good we took an executive decision and decided to paint the woodwork in there too. And that was where the time went.

Tonight the staff clamoured for a pizza and so we went to La Carrettera in Jette. I could only manage a pasta in home-made garlic sauce as I’m having a bit of difficulty chewing things right now. I hope I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Tomorrow should be a day of rest but I have a sneaky feeling that Liz will want to put the second coat of gloss onto the woodwork in the bedroom.

Ahhh well.

Friday 11th March 2011 – I’m going to be having an early night this evening.

And I’m not the only one either. Terry and Liz are quite exhausted too, and I’m not surprised as we’ve been working really hard again.

I emptied out my bedroom and then Terry and I tidied the garage downstairs so that we could move all of the stuff down there. We also loaded Caliburn with some stuff for the dechetterie, whenever it will be that we will go there. But that’s not going to be for a few days yet as most of the furniture that remains will be going with it.

I came back upstairs and put the second coat of paint on the door frame and the first coat of paint on the wall of the back terrace while Terry finished the walls in the hall. During all of this, Liz was cleaning the bedroom.

While Terry redid the walls in the hall, Liz and I set about the bedroom. What with Liz on the paintbrush and me on the roller we had two coats on the ceiling and one on the wall in no time flat. We even took the radiator off (that’s all of the radiators that have been off now) to do behind it.

We then went out onto the front terrace and scrubbed down the guard rails and the new tiles, and that is looking quite pretty now. And while I went off to buy more paint (we are getting through that rather quickly) Terry and Liz finished off cleaning and waxing the floor in the living room.

No wonder we are all exhausted.

So the plan now is –

  • tomorrow the second coats of paint on the back terrace wall and in the bedroom, and cleaning and waxing the floor in the hall.
  • Monday will be doing everything else that we have forgotten.
  • Tuesday morning will be emptying the apartment of absolutely everything and me going to the dechetterie. But I have to be back at 11:00 as that is when the estate agent is coming.
  • Once he has gone we will be taking up residence in a hotel for two nights and using Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday to clean the place from top to bottom, and then loading up the two vans.
  • Thursday morning will see the Cortina on the trailer and then it’s off back home. I’ve decided to take the Cortina regardless and come back for the Minerva. It’s easier to do it that way round.

But back home on Thursday?

Can I remember the way?

Thursday 10th March 2011 – I have to go to rescue my Minerva.

If you are fairly new to these pages I bet you don’t know that I own a Minerva. It’s something I bought years ago while I was on the lookout for an old Land Rover for hauling logs around the farm. Ever since then it’s been in storage near Antwerp but I received an e-mail today to say that the storage facilities are closing down and I need to move it.

Luckily we are here with Terry’s big trailer, and I reckon that the Minerva will fit on it. It’s rather a shame in a way because I was hoping to be able to move the Cortina 2000E estate and get that down to the farm, but it will still be nice to recover the Minerva after all  these years. Ahhh well.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’ve painted the door frame to the apartment and I’ve also prepared the wall at the back of the terrace. But when I went out to paint that, the wind blew me back inside again. It was rough out there, and so that will have to wait until another day.

This afternoon I cleaned all of the paintwork in the hall and then painted the ceiling in there.

Terry carried on with the odd jobs such as repapering part of the kitchen and fixing a few electrical items while Liz carried on with her marathon floor-waxing, with the help of Terry once the little jobs were finished. Once the floor was something like, we moved the living room back into where it ought to be and I’ve moved my bed and computer into this room while Terry and Liz started to paint the walls in the hallway.

Tomorrow I have to empty out my room of what is left there and then give it a good clean, put the second coat of paint on the door frame and paint the terrace wall if the wind will let me. Terry and Liz will finish the walls in the hallway and then paint my bedroom. The second coat for the hall and bedroom is planned for Saturday morning, and then all that will remain will be touching up in the blue bedroom where Terry and Liz are sleeping.

And that, dear reader, will be that. We’ll empty the place on Monday morning, have an estate agent round on Monday afternoon and then adjourn to a hotel for a couple of days so that the place will be completely empty so that we can do the touching up.

Such is the plan. And so you just watch something happen to upset it all.

Wednesday 9th March 2011 – The situation here now is …

 that Terry and I have started on the odd jobs. It seems that major tasks for the two of us have finished.

I didn’t paint my doors today for the simple reason that the paint that I bought is nothing like the correct colour and so we decided that just the one coat (that which I put on yesterday) would be enough. And so I spent all morning scrubbing the floor in the cupboard and then mopping it out.

This afternoon I scrubbed the wall at the back of the terrace at the back of the apartment. It’s come up really clean and ready for a nice coat of white stone paint. Just the thing to set off the black tiles that we put on the floor. To finish off the day, I sanded down the doorframe of the front door – outside in the hallway. That will have a coat of gleaming white gloss first thing tomorrow – it’ll be the first thing that prospective purchasers will see so it needs to look good.

Terry was busy too, doing all kinds of things around and about. He’s also hung the curtains in the living room, taken another huge pile of stuff down to the garage, and been moving stuff around in the living room.

Liz though has been extremely busy. She’s been scrubbing the parquet floor in the living room, sanding it down with an electric sander, spreading about some liquid wax that I found in the garage, and then polishing it up with Terry’s electric car polisher. And do you know what? The results are quite impressive. It’s flaming hard work though and she was exhausted afterwards and so to save everyone’s energy I took everyone to the fritkot for tea. The food there is really quite good and I thoroughly recommend it.

In other news, I’ve posted on the internet a trial page of my Trans-Labrador Highway tour from last autumn. It’s the page where I visit Red Bay, the site of the 16th Century Basque whaling station. Have a read of it and let me know what you think as I have a cunning plan involving this page and so it needs to be good.

Tuesday 8th March 2011 – I’m going to have another early night this evening as well.

It’s hard work at the moment doing all of this. Terry has been grouting the tiles on the terraces and then sealing all of the concrete, followed by painting the metal guard rails out there. Liz has been painting the ceiling and the woodwork in the living room, and I have been rubbing down the rest of the doors in the hall and then putting on the first coat of paint.

But I’ve run out of paint and so that called for a shopping expedition to Brico, only to discover that the paint that I’ve been using and which I bought in about 2004, has been discontinued. I’ve found some that looks near enough but I hope it’s going to be okay. I don’t want to repaint all of the woodwork in the hall. There are seven doors for a start.

We had some excitement coming back from Brico this evening. I pulled past a parking space, put Caliburn into reverse, the reversing lights came on brightly (as it was pitch dark outside) and as I set off backwards, some kid on a pushbike decided to cycle behind the van. I almost got him as well, and if he tries a stupid stunt like that next time, I’ll flaming well get him too and shan’t spare a moment of regret about it either.

What with crazy kids on pushbikes, old women with dogs tearing down our safety barrier to take the short cut to the grass while we are manoeuvring large, thick and heavy tiles six stories directly above their heads, I’m convinced that everyone here is totally off their heads. I’m not going to be sorry to get back home

Monday 7th March 2011 – I’m going to have an early night just now.

I didn’t sleep very well last night and so I’m hopefully going to make up for it. And I deserve it as well as we’ve had yet another day of hard work. What is even more exciting is that we seem to be on the downhill slope.

While Liz carried on painting the woodwork in the living room and I carried on painting the cupboard, Terry started to empty the place of all of the tiling gear and the tools and material that we won’t be using again. Now that is major progress without a doubt, beginning to empty the place.

And when the cupboard was finished I dismantled all of the shelving in my office. Terry took it downstairs while I joined Liz in the living room and put the second coat of paint on the wall. And once that was done we tidied up the plastic sheets protecting the floor and had a good sweep up.

Liz carried on with the woodwork afterwards and Terry grouted the main terrace but I’ve made a start in the hall sticking down the loose wallpaper and scrubbing the outside of the front door to clean it. Yes, cleaning and tidying – these are all positive signs.

Tomorrow I have to sand down the outside of the bathroom door and the outside of the living room door and then I can paint those along with the outside of the cupboard door. Liz will have finished the woodwork by then and Terry the grouting on the back terrace, and then we can get on with the cleaning and tidying and touching up.

It’s all looking a lot more positive here now.

Saturday 5th March 2011 – We went for a Mexican this evening

But before that, we went to Chi-Chi’s for some food. It was Terry’s idea – as soon as I mentioned going out, he volunteered the Mexican restaurant. And as soon as we got there it was “oooh look, there’s deep-fried ice cream on the menu this evening”. So now we know.

We all had a good meal and the dining was accompanied by Manuel Labour and his mate on the guitars. It makes quite a nice change to have a musical evening.

And Terry and Liz deserved their meal. Terry has finished tiling both balconies and there is only the grouting to do on there, as well as a small amount of cementing. Liz finished emulsioning the walls and has started on the woodwork. I scrubbed the floor in the cupboard again and painted the woodwork in there too. We’ve been working hard just now so it’s nice to go out and relax.

And I’m off to bed in a minute. I had a bad night last night and I’m thoroughly tired out. I’m getting old and I can’t last the pace.

Friday 4th March 2011 – We had a lovely lunch too.

There’s more than enough food in an Indian meal, even for a gannet like me, and so we had a tapas-kind of affair with a table groaning under the weight of Indian leftovers and so on. Absolutely gorgeous.

But the highlight of the day was Terry’s new toy. It really is superb and cut the terrace tiles with no effort at all. Terry also had a play with it and found that he could even cut strips of tile just 5mm wide. That is impressive. And if you work out how much you lose on broken tiles and how much you lose because you can’t cut slivers of tile, then this machine will pay for itself in a matter of months in the hands of a regular tile fitter, simply on the grounds of reduced wastage.

So while Terry was tiling the balcony (with an occasional hand from youts truly) Liz carried on wallpapering the living room and I got stuck into the cupboard under the stairs. The aforementioned living room is now wallpapered and has had the first coat of paint, and the cupboard has been repainted and the filthy paint-stained floor has been scrubbed.

The two  most time-consuming parts of the work are the living room and the terraces and they should be finished early next week. All that then remains is to tidy up and touch up the rest.

MInd you, I’ve said things like this before.

Monday 28th February 2011 – I’m back at home ;-)

Well, for less than 24 hours as it happens. I’m speaking at this doodah thingy tomorrow evening at 20:30.

And so this morning I loaded up Caliburn with all of the wood and shelving that I’ve had lying around in the garages for years. It’s all quite good stuff and suitable for various products. Also in Caliburn is a pile of vegetable oil for running the diesel Escort on, some leftover construction material (some of which needs to go back as it happens), a few bits and pieces, and my motorbike.

I bet you didn’t know that I have a motorbike. Most people would say that it isn’t very exciting but it’s certainly special. It’s a CZ125 of early 1980s vintage – the first of the “post-angular” series – but was one of six unassembled ones in crates that was “overlooked” in a CZ dealership that closed down. When the premises were cleared in 2000, they were discovered, built up and sold on eBay. I paid £395 for it. It’s done just about 150 miles since I’ve had it – the journey from Dover to Brussels and then a lap around the town.

Back in the flat we’ve hit a major problem. There’s water infiltration in the wall next to the front balcony and when we took off the radiator, half the plaster fell off as well. So we chiselled off the rest and we plan to plasterboard it with the hydrofuge stuff, having first sealed in the balcony and weatherproofed the walls.

And so I set off down here at 15:30, and was in my room at 00:15 and that includes stopping for tea in Auxerre. Caliburn seems to be in good form right now after his stay at the garage, although he’s more thirsty than before.

Tomorrow I’ll unload him, go to this meeting, and then head back to Brussels to see how the troops are doing. It’s over 5 weeks since we went there and everyone is quite fed up of the place but soon we will be back home permanently. And I shan’t be sorry.

Friday 25th February 2011 – It’s been another day …

 where we have made huge strides. We’ve also done a fair bit of work too.

This morning while Liz put the second coat of paint on the first half of the living room, Terry and I concreted the terrace outside the front and the side of the apartment. We cracked on at it at quite a pace, fixing some simple shuttering and then me mixing while Terry spread and tamped. It was all done by lunchtime and for an encore I filled in the spaces on the back terrace where the shuttering had been.

After lunch, while Liz and Terry sorted out what needed moving from up here, I went downstairs into the garage and began getting the stuff ready to throw away. Terry came down to help me later on and now Caliburn is chock-full to the roof of rubbish for the tip. I really can’t imagine just what I was doing with half of the stuff in there – I really can’t.

Anyway, by tomorrow lunchtime it will all be history.

Once it’s all away I can load up Caliburn with more stuff to move to the Auvergne. There’s a meeting of CREFAD – the organisation in the Auvergne that helps people set up small businesses – on Tuesday evening. They are discussing self-employment and how to register for this new minimalist self-employment scheme, and I have been invited to speak at it. Shameless self publicist that I am, I’m not going to miss out on some free publicity and so I’ll be there, hopefully. It means I have a good reason to go there with a van full of stuff.

Saturday 19th February 2011 – It was Saturday today…

…and so, just for a change, we worked.

Terry started the day by fixing the sink in the toilet with the bits that we bought yesterday and now we have a working sink. While he was doing that, Liz and I put the first coat of paint on the wall of the part of thee living room that we papered yesterday, as well as a fair amount of paint on the floor as well. Liz may have a steady hand and a keen eye when it comes to painting but she’s working with me and a line of masking tape across the edge of the floor is never going to be sufficient. Mind you, it’s looking quite good in there and a second coat will work wonders for the wall.

Back in the toilet, Terry finished off the grouting of the little mosaic tiles that he fitted and once he was out of the way  Liz painted the woodwork in there too. Now it’s almost completely finished in there. Just the shelf and the towel ring, the second coat of paint and a bit of touching up, and that will be that.

After lunch while Liz was painting the toilet woodwork, Terry put the damp-proof membrane down on the terrace at the back of the apartment and I rubbed down the door to the cupboard under the stairs. That door was filthy – I don’t think that it had ever been cleaned at all, ever since the apartment had been built.

As an aside, if you don’t know the story of the apartment, it was built in 1969 and the first occupant was an old blind man who was unable to clean up after himself. He died in 1997 and the apartment stood empty and untouched for three years with no takers until I bought it as a ruin at a knock-down price.

Anyway, after all of that it was 16:00 and we were exhausted. We should have been out shopping and then going for our Saturday night meal but no-one was in the mood. Domino’s special Saturday offer of large pizzas at just €7:99 each take-away swung the decision for us. My vegetarian with no cheese was absolutely delicious and there is enough left over for Sunday lunch.

So that was that – we are all worn out again and so in a moment I’ll be off to bed. The others crashed out a while ago.

Friday 18th February 2011 – There’s some light …

 now at the end of the tunnel – and we aren’t talking about roaring express trains heading our way.

Terry has made a start on the big terrace, and that’s his last major project (but there are a couple of smaller ones). He’s poured some waterproof sealing all over the old waterproof covering and then stuck some new waterproof covering over the top. That’s kept him out of mischief all day, except that he lost his Stanley knife. We are now expecting to hear a news report of a local Belgian wandering around with a Stanley knife firmly embedded in his head. After all, we are 6 storeys up.

Liz and I started to wallpaper the first half of the living room and despite me having to nip out for an hour for various errands, that part is now finished. Tomorrow morning we’ll be putting the first coat of emulsion on the wall in there while Terry seals the small terrace at the back.

We had to nip out to Brico for a few things too and we were looking at the paint on offer. We need to overpaint the wallpaper in the hallway and some 10 litres or so of emulsion would do the job. Having some properly mixed the colour that we like would be perfect, burt at … gulp … €140 for 10 litres we can forget that and it’s going to have basic magnolia and like it. Mind you, at €50-odd for 10 litres that’s not cheap either. I’m going to start importing and reselling job lots of paint. I’ll make a fortune at these prices.

Friday 11th February 2011 – We have one room finished!

third bedroom expo avenue de l'exposition jette brussels belgiumThe third bedroom is now done, well, give or take the odd bit of touching up. And if there is any touching up to be done, I’ve had my face slapped more times than enough so in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”.

Terry and I finished off the skirting board this morning and then filled and sealed all around it while Liz put the second coat of paint on the woodwork in the bathroom. After that, we cleaned and vacuumed and scrubbed the place a little and another load of stuff went outside for the tip.

Once lunch was out of the way Liz cleaned some of the furniture and we installed that in the third bedroom. There’s one of the sofas, the table and chairs, a standard lamp and two occasional tables (whatever they are for the rest of the time is no concern of ours) and now we have a clean and tidy living room. The other sofa, the carpet and a few other bits and pieces then went into the back of Caliburn ready to be abandoned in a needy area of the city tomorrow night and all the tiles I bought yesterday came upstairs. All of the stuff such as tools, construction material, paint and so on that was stored on the inner side of the living room was then moved over to the outside and then I started on washing down the walls on the inner part ready to wallpaper it (Marianne and I painted the ceiling a few years ago and it’s still the best part that I did of the house).

I was going to help Liz wallpaper the bathroom but it’s pretty small in there and two people working in there would be difficult and so she managed on her own. Half of that is done now and the rest should be finished this weekend (we’ve abandoned our weekends off now as we all want to go home).

Terry has been grinding out the grouting in the toilet ready to redo it and while he is waiting for the dust to clear he’s taking the old tiles off the terrace and putting them downstairs. But I’ve had a brainwave about this – the President of the Residents’ Council says that no-one can find the tiles to replace any broken ones that they might have as they aren’t made any more. So instead of me weighing them in (at €36 per tonne!), why not ask around if anyone wants them? That should save me quite a few bob I reckon.

But there are some weird things going on here. Liz told me at lunchtime that she was “going to put the soup on and then clear the table”. The mind boggles. What exciting times we are having right now.

Thursday 10th February 2011 – I was going to have an early night …

… seeing as how everyone else has retired, but I wrote up my blog and then the computer crashed before it could be published. But never mind – it can’t be helped.

So we are (or were) off to bed early because we have been busy little beavers today. While Terry was sorting out the electrics in the third bedroom I was filling in holes in the bathroom for Liz (who reminded me a short while ago that I have missed one). And while Liz started off the painting in there I cleaned up the half of the terrace that we stripped of tiles. It’s now ready for tiling when I buy the bitumen underseal.

However there is a change of plans there. So many of the tiles are damaged that it’s not really feasible to reuse them and so I approached the President of the Residents’ Council with the idea that we replace them all with some more of the black tiles that we bought to do the edging. He’s in agreement and so I rang up the tile place to order some more. We must have a half-share in that shop now.

So after I had done that, Terry and I started on the floor-laying in the third bedroom and that took ages. Would you believe that it is the same patented system that I found when I bought the flooring to fit in the attic back at home, and how much anguish did I have with that?

Liz finished the first coat of her painting early and so she took over helping Terry while I piddled off for the tiles and a visit to Brico. I ended up at the Brico at the Place Bockstael where I found everything I needed but there was no place to park and there was no-one to cut the glass.

“Glass?” I hear you say. But yes. We decided that the shower screen that we will be fitting looks so nice that we will fit one on the window side. But as they don’t do one the correct size, we will have to make one out of glass and channelling.

But at Brico I encountered a situation that would have delighted Terry had he been there. An old lady was looking for light bulbs and the server there told her that they were in aisle 21 and she should p155 off and look for herself. Terry is continually being astonished by what passes for customer service here in Belgium. I did warn him about it.

Back home Liz and Terry had finished the flooring and so we started on the skirting board but ran out of time. Now we have 2 finished bedrooms (that I did a few years ago), an almost-finished third bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and toilet ( and they may well be done tomorrow) and which leaves us just the huge living room and the two balconies to do, as well as rewire the main fuse board.

No wonder that we are tired!