When the builders come and make two enormous holes in the side of your house, covered only with plastic sheeting to make it water tight, and you don’t even notice the draught or the drop in temperature, you know how badly insulated your house is!
The masonry work has finally started on the south side of the house, to prepare the openings for two large patio doors in our living room, and some French doors in my parents’ living room. It’s an exciting time for us, seeing the physical transformation of the facade, which will be complimented with a long wooden terrace later next year. The lintel is having to be reinforced with a metal girder, so it seemed more sensible to get the professionals in, than for Pete to have a go himself.
Not that he can do much at the moment, having dislocated his collar bone recently at work. My dad has been out to stay and has helped with some DIY jobs around the house, such as resealing the fireplace, installing a new radiator in the kitchen and building an interior wall in our living room.
We decided that our 34m² living room was in fact too large for our requirements, so in dividing it up, we have created an extra room for my parents, which will serve as their bedroom. This bedroom will have double sliding doors that will lead into their own lounge, creating a larger living space for them.
The windows are due to be fitted in November, and once they’re in place, Pete will be able to start insulating the interior walls.
Speaking of insulation, this month also saw the delivery of our cork panels. After much research, we decided that cork was the most suitable material to use, despite it costing us a bit more. Not only is it 100% natural and ecological, but expanded corkboard offers low thermal conductivity, providing us with both thermal and acoustic insulation. With nearly half of our heat escaping through the concrete walls of the house, we are hoping that insulating the interiors with cork will make all the difference. If you are considering using cork insulation, the Amorim website outlines its advantages in more detail: http://www.amorimisolamentos.com/en/advantages/what-are-the-advantages/
So far, the cork boards have proved easy to work with. They are simple to put up, and can be cut easily with a craft knife. On top of the corkboard, will be a lime plaster finish, hopefully giving the walls a more country cottage feel. This is what it looks like so far:
Our new wood burner has been delivered and Pete has started work on the fireplace, inspired by this photo I came across on the internet: We’ve already installed a double-skinned flue liner in the chimney, we just need to buy the rest of the flue pipes, but they will have to wait until pay day.
Elsewhere, in the garden, we’ve discovered that the extremely odd fruit trees we were wondering about are actually Tunisian quince trees, which is why nobody seemed to recognize them. The previous owner recently told me they were imported from Tunisia years ago and will provide us with some incredibly tasty quinces during the colder months, with which we can make jams, compotes and jellies. They might look a bit odd, but they smell delicious and exotic!
We have got cases and cases of walnuts, and quite a few chestnuts set aside for the Christmas period. We are still digging up carrots as and when we need them, the leeks are doing well, and the Swiss chard just won’t stop growing!
Unfortunately we weren’t prepared for the first frost of the season which killed off all of our lovely basil, but it doesn’t matter as long as we learn from our mistakes.
It’s exactly a year since we signed for the house and we feel we have made great progress. It is incredible to think that we bought the house not even knowing that there were already a dozen well established fruit trees growing on the land. The quantity of fruit we’ve harvested just this year, is what we would have expected to get in maybe ten years’ time…needless to say, we have well and truly landed on our feet and Chez TêteBlanche just keeps getting better!