The Cave

Since my last post, life at Frelon Cottage had fallen into a nice routine.

Half term visits for maintenance and improvement, usually on my own, Easter with the family and dogs and summer for relaxation and as base for exploring farther afield.

Then two things broke that comfort. In late winter of 2019, I had a call on my phone from a French number, never a good thing as it usually brings bad news. The last two times being potential intruders as one set of shutters had been opened (it turned out to be the wind and me forgetting to latch them before leaving) and the second, a catastrophic leak with the new plumbing in the piggery bathroom (see earlier post).

This time it was not good news either.

We have three out buildings. The Big Barn, big and dry with a corrugated cement board roof, the Ping Pong Barn, a smaller barn named after its potential use and the Cave. The Cave is a smaller building attached to the Ping Pong Barn but cut into the bank with a timber a first floor above. It has been used a store for rubbish and wine bottles since we bought the house and has ben ignored, mainly because a portion of the roof fell in after a few months of ownership.

IMG_8527The call this time was my neighbour relaying the news that due to the extremely wet November and large hole in the roof, water had started to degrade the wall above his logstore and it was beginning to collapse.

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In February I went down and removed what I could of the wall but the entire roof was in danger of collapse.

IMG_8518Then second event to disrupt the comfort……..a global pandemic!

With European travel restricted and the French ‘Déconfinement’ preventing my friend and builder Sam from travelling from his house nearby to work on the roof, it stayed in this precarious state until our summer holiday in August.

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Prior to our visit Sam had disassembled the crumbling wall and section of roof above and rebuilt the wall. On this visit, working with him we removed the rest of the roof and started to reconstruct.

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The biggest challenge being lifting a 5.2m oak ridge beam into place 6m up. Bit by bit, inch by inch and by lifting one end at a time, all in 36 degrees, we managed to get it in place.

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The new ridge beam

When we left Sam was installing the new rafters ready to take the new volige boards and finally the reused old tiles. When and if I’m able to visit in October the roof will be complete.

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