On many a trip to France we have spent anxious moments looking at the sky waiting for clouds to pass so we could continue baking besides the pool. However on this trip it was different. The anxious moments this time were spent looking up waiting for clouds to give us a break from the high twenties temperatures and burningly strong sun.
This has never been a problem on previous trips as all the renovation work has been on the cool interior of the house. Now this is all but complete, this visit was to create a new raised dining area, entrance steps and paving outside the front and side of the house. This side actually happens to be the south facing side, good for dining in the spring and autumn but not so good for building work in the summer.
Having taken the levels on our family Easter visit, I had modelled the area and created a drawing as if this were a paying project.
On the first day the theoretical proposed levels from the drawing were transferred to a timber staff and checked against interior floor level, the only existing level to remain after the works.
On day one the footings were set out and cast (trenches were dug for these in November 2013 while we had a digger on site). Day two the blockwork went in. All fine so far 24 degrees maximum is OK when standing building walls. It was only on day three and four when the paving to create the step and terrace was being laid. Temperatures rose to 28 plus and bending over or on hands and knees exposes more flesh to the sun. By Wednesday lunch with us both feeling like rotisserie chickens at the Friday market, Gary went home to fetch a huge umbrella, which we moved around to create an area of shade. Fine, this reduced our sun exposure but this did not lower the ambient temperature!
By the end of Thursday 95% of the paving was laid leaving six flagstones, the pointing and the chalk block wall facings to be completed on Friday, my last day and working alone as Gary had other customers gardens to tend . By 7.30pm this was done, by 8.30pm a huge steak and sausages were sizzling on the BBQ.
This time last year the bedrooms were not even complete. At the end of this visit, just over two years in, the house interior is virtually complete and the outside landscape around the courtyard is 80% done.
Hard work, but nearly there!