Hammer Time! Let the games commence! What have we let ourselves in for?
Most of the work to the property initially took place outside, or in the alpendre (barn) attached to the house. So, life was fairly easy-going, if untidy; all through August and September were able to continue life pretty much as normal, with no serious disruptions to our newly established routines.
All that changed one ominous morning in October, when the hard yakka required to transform our tired, neglected house into a beautiful home and recreation business began in earnest.
The team: father and son, Frank and Lee; two strapping Englishmen, whose talents extended to everything from splendid hand-made furniture to decorative iron-wear, fencing and concreting. Anjel, the local blacksmith, also a mad-keen AC/DC fan. He made fencing and gates.
He also brought us amazing free-range eggs. Irishman, Eddie, a builder, carpenter, writer, travelling minstrel and general roustabout, worked alongside everyone else, and covered other projects to boot, including tree-felling. He also kindly took us on day-trips sometimes.
Local lad, and all-round Wunder-Mensch “Tony Taps”, a genius plumber and electrician, who trained in Germany, worked faster than any individual I have ever seen. His job? A total re-wire of the whole house, a new septic tank, water heaters and plumbing, in record time, please! A cast of labourers, volunteers, painters and plasterers were the chorus line to these stars. On this, Day One, we got the kettle boiling as usual, still blissfully unaware of what was to come over the following months.
Minutes after their first brew, the boys unleashed Hell on us!
They ripped out our entire downstairs bathroom, and cut a new doorway through a metre-thick stone wall that day; the mess and noise were apocalyptic. I thought I had seen dust…
We escaped to a village cafe, but the dog and cat had to spend that day, and the following six weeks, locked in upstairs bedrooms, (with all their creature comforts, of course) to keep them safely out of the way of big men in big boots, and power tools. I dusted after they all left…what was I thinking? I didn’t dust again until the following June!
Dog continued to enjoy his daily walks though; getting to know the local pooches. When the mist (or was it granite dust?) cleared and the sun came out to warm the air, we sat on the terrace with him. Cat was not so happy. Cats rarely are. She was evicted from her favourite spot in the sun-room/library/study (we re-named rooms as they were renovated)
Her feline death-rays cremated the eyes of anyone who ventured near her.
Raphael developed little man-crushes: he would winsomely flirt with Eddie, who built us a new concrete woodshed outdoors while Lee destroyed the bathrooms, and Geoff, who painted the upstairs rooms, tore all the ivy and wisteria off exterior walls, and put the new roof on the old pergola.
We felt a bit left out; we became mere “girls” who fed him and picked up his poo. We were no longer fascinating. Our feminist principles took a thrashing. But when the stone-cutter screeched, and the rubble flew, it was to his “mamas”, that he ran!
Stout-hearted Minnie remained fast asleep on her blanket, on a sunny windowsill, far from the madding crowd. As long as her bowl was kept full, and her litter-box emptied, she was serene. Atta girl! One-nil to the ladies!Oh, to be a cat.