Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Sunshine, blossom and concrete floors

these last two weeks have seen the family back in France chipping away at the mammoth sized task we set ourselves when we bought a house in Normandie.
We have concrete floors.
It doesn't sound like much of an acheivment unless it's something you have experience of.
The first step along the way was sourcing, ordering and the delivery of twelve tonnes of gravel, all of which was dumped outside the house.
Let the barrowing begin.
The enthusiasm soon waned as we realised just what hard work it was going to be. The good old British shovel with it's square end proved less than useless, the French navvies knew what they were at when they made the sheild shaped shovel.
The barrow was loaded and the series of ramps leading to the inside of the house was the next challenge. Alison the next door neighbour was a godsend, she helped through each stage, shovelling, barrowing or entertaining the children with jam making. Every house should have an Alison!!
The barrowing lasted a couple of days and as a treat to celebrate, we ordered three tonnes of sand and a roll of DPM.
We finished all the preparations with a full three hours to spare before the arrival of the readymix concrete.
Now if you've ever heard of the expression 'pouring a concrete floor' it makes it sound as though you just have to encourage it to flow into the corners. Not so.
The lorry arrives with a chute about two feet long, with a lot of persuasion the driver consents to using the longer one which will actually bring the stuff into the house! Then one of the kindly neighbours who offered to help us with this task fabricates his own chute which brings the concrete into the right place. The pouring begins.
The next hour is a blur of sweat and shovelling as five of us attack it with rakes and a leveller.
Without Stephane the builder who helped out of the kindness of his heart, I'm not sure what kind of a floor we would have ended up with, he raked, levelled and orchestrated the lorry driver. Invaluable.
We have made some good friends in France. Alison, Guy, Stephane- thanks for being there.

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