PROGRESS OR NOT
I have to admit that working on Boden is easier than documenting progress, for one it's simpler to break in to the property than open up a new page on this website. Hammers , screwdrivers, saws and paintbrushes are far more my kind of tool than a laptop, but we do have much better wifi in the mountains than at home so I have very much appreciated my laptop for being able to have BBC radio 4 on in the background, would't want to miss an actual decision on Brexit!
Like most renovation projects each job undertaken makes things worse before it gets better, its unbeleavable how many tools and equipment you can use in a day and everything is covered in dust.
Our second visit we came better prepared for the cold, two thermal vests is a whole lot better than one. We had naively assumed the plumbing would have been connected in our absence,now have a "flusher" but no shower and only 1kw of electricity. Enzo (with a couple of bedrooms) at the restaurant at the bottom of the garden, came to our rescue offering to let us rent a bathroom monday to friday as was out of season and he only had weekend bookings through the winter, never have we appreciated the rejuvenation qualities of a hot shower so much.This trip we managed to insulate and plasterboard bathroom and toilet all ready for a tiler to do before our next return.Plans were now formulated for the ground floor and we needed help. Franco and his building team joined the project and his first task was very impressive, up to this point everything - plasterboard, timber, insulation had to be carried up our hairpin garden path!, but in one day this all changed.
Part one of three scaffoling towers put up in a day by Franco and his team, all three interlinked and a lifting arm at one end, enabling us to lift materials from road level to house level and visa-versa and all built in one day, brilliant!
This is probably the moment to mention Franco is 80 years young and puts all of us to shame.
Until now all had to be hand lifted up the rockery path on the right, so thank you Franco XX
To us its as beautiful as the Eiffel Tower but perhaps not to our neighbours as we sit in a little hamlet of four houses, a restaurant and a beautiful church, we are definately the rough diamond for the moment, but locals are being good hearted about it and very helpful, it seems that everybody is keen to see the house restored and loved again.
Before we leave we also commision a local carpenter to make a new front door, french door and a replacement window, the house needs more light and openness.
We ask Franco to dig up the concrete floor in what was the 'kitchen' and also the room in the right of the front door, improve the house foundations and re-concrete to the level of the wooden floor that is currently down in the lounge area and include underfloor heating. Could he also knock down and RSJ a couple of load bearing walls while he's there! 'Optimistic' aren't we! Oh and allow in the levels for new not yet chosen floor surface too!
You are probably assuming that we are learning italian, wrong,embarrassingly I am as bad as ever and after a few days on my own I stumbled across Google Translate ( only the first app I've actually added to my phone, I am such a Dinosaur). Suddenly 10 sheets of plasterboard is transformed into 'dieci fogli di cartongesso', I'm fluent! Maurice is even handycapped by Franco happy to practise his French from previous years working in Switzerland and Enzo is keen for him and his children to learn English.
Add all this into the mix and what state will we find on our next return?
We pack the van with our belongings, the dogs and our rubbish (can't quite get the handle on the refuse system, what is the correct colour bag with the correct content for the correct day?) and head for home via the Simplon Pass on a lovely sunny day feeling pleased with what we had achieved in three weeks but fear of the ammount still to do crept in as we drove towards Calais.
Our younger son Nicholas, wife Lisa and 2 year old son Archie have moved into our farmhouse at Waters End as they have bought a house in Cranbrook that needed major groundwork. This has enabled Maurice and I to come back to Boden earlier than expected as we are able to leave the farm in capable hands, but this does mean that Franco has not had as much time to do all the work we left him with.
However we arrive with another van load of materials into a hubub of activity, walls had gone (Geometra consulted) Acrow's all over the place and rubble and mess everywhere.
Upstairs, through the red curtain the tiler had been and we now have a tiled shower and floors, we re-hang the doors and courtesy of the generator we now have hot water and a luxurious shower. I've also remembered the glass sheves for the fridge, so at the end of the day, after a hot shower, there is also the luxury of a cold beer, progress is definately being made, we now have really opened up the space on the ground floor and are beginning to see our plans unfold.