December 2019: The years are whizzing by with Christmas coming around faster and faster
I drove back from Italy yesterday with Maurice and our two dogs, we left at 6.00am and arrived home at Waters End Farm at 5.30pm last night. Instead of climbing up over the Simplon Pass we snuck through on the extroadinary ghost trail that runs through from Viselle in Italy to Brig In Switzerland. Open carriages made out of meccano with corrugated sheeting bent over as patchy roofing and rattles like hell, an experience not to be missed. Suggest if you are that way and according to weather you drive over The Simplon Pass one way and Train back under the mountains, reminds me of the ghost trains at fairs when I was a child.
I say I drove as shortly after departing Brig Maurice came down with 'Italian Stallion Man Flue' and the rest of the drive was up to me ( I've notched it up as one owed).Switzerland was dusted with yesterdays snow but clear and onto The Jura,a bit like Alsace, just doesn't seem like France, open rolling grassland, cow sheds and cheese, a few 'sunday drivers' and on to the Autoroute, autostops, rest stops and Calais. That's the down side of motorway driving, it's heartless, like flying, you travel at great speed but with no flavour of where you are. On the plus side, excellent road surface, plenty of well run clean service stations convieniently placed along the way and as it was the equivalent of a sunday- barely a lorry to be seen.
We had gone down on the 19th December with the intent to crack on with the second bedroom, it needs an en-suite bathroom, every bedroom at Waters End has an en-suite and we see no reason to drop standards now. The bedroom could be big enough if we removed built in wardrobes servicing both bedrooms on one side, therefore widening the room to allow for a vi-spring superking double bed at one end and the room becomes long enough to steel space at the other end, enough to fit in a generous shower, basin and toilet. Underestimated the ammount of work from the start (as usual), it quickly became apparent that to get the services in (water / electricity) we needed to pull apart the wood panelling lining the stairwell, the outerwall of the stairwell needed insulating anyway, so we had to start the stairs first, carefully removing the panelling so that we can put it back afterwards. The other way we loose time is that although we can have materials delivered, that only means to the gate at the bottom of the hairpin garden path which is also close to the restaurant, so we try to time such deliveries, i.e. plasterboard, timber, sheets of ply, to not be using ' The Hoist' when the restaurant is open, this occasionally means Maurice and I are ferrying products up by hand, not recommended if it's tiles or a ton of firewood, I speak from experience.
By now Christmas is looming, two of the reasons for buying Chalet Boden was to enjoy the lakes and surroundings in the summer and the mountains and skiing in the winter. So we downed tools and sneak off for three glorious days skiing in Courmayeur, not the closest to us but a wonderful old Italian ski resort with a promenarding old high street that takes christmas to heart and a delightful ski area above with two good cable cars to whisk you up to great skiing and delightful restaurant chalets and bars dotted about all ready to tempt you in, an absolute heaven for Maurice whose planning the days 'runs' according to his palete, I just follow with my own 'technique' never going to achieve any style but haven't missed a vin chaud or a good lunch yet. This time we returned to an old favourite that we first took the children when they were 4 and 5, and even though more than 30 years has whizzed by - the same patron is still there, a legend then he is now still more than larger than life and 'Jako' even still remembered us (so he said) and introduced us to his far more salubrious guest Heston Blumenthal another big fan of Courmayeur. We had three lovely days skiing, snow was brilliant, ate far too much, met some nice people and had a lovely Christmas. On the 26th the whole resort fills up so we made are way back to Chalet Boden refreshed and revived and to get on with that second bathroom.
Both wardrobes are dismantled and plans drawn up on the floor, minor hiccup of needing a corner toilet so as allowing more generous leg room but that is easy to remedy. We steel half the window for the bathroom but still leaves another window and French doors to balcony in the bedroom. Maurice re erects the wardrobe to form part of the bathroom dividing wall to bedroom and give support for the bathroom door while I get on with insulating the stairwell. We make good progress but need the plumber and electrician to go further as we can’t close anything with plasterboard, also we have work to do in UK as one of our drill rigs is being shipped to the Netherlands on the 6th January for Geothermal drilling.Work required on both Rig and Rod Carrier means all hands on deck at Waters End so no more work on Chalet Boden but a good start to the year for Geotech Developments!
COVID 19 HAS STOPPED ALL WORK
COMMENCING JANUARY 2021 WE HOPE
Great News, JAN 13th 2021
In spite of Covid ravaging much of Italy, awful flooding and the Mayor arranging for a penalty camera at the traffic lights in the town that was accidentally set up to give indisputable fixed penalty fines to all the law abiding citizens of Ornavasso, in spite of all that Franco and his team are back!!
Having finally got planning permission, scaffolding is up all round the chalet, they have already stripped off the tiles, cleared them away and made good anything needing attention. Even though the tiles were well past their use by date they have found underneath in a very good state, new roofing felt is on and battening going down. We need to increase insulation so have chosen to exchange tiles for metal insulated panels, due to high position of the standing of the chalet this will be little seen but warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
Dare I hope to get this project completed this year and ready for letting 2022!!