Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Stepping up without sliding down

I had to look it up, but it was back in August 2010 that we had a new set of railway sleeper steps built from the pool up to the garden and climbing frame.

For some reason I never took any photos of the construction of the steps, so at the bottom of this posting I’ll correct that and share what I do have.

But the topic in hand was improving those steps.  The steps were made of used railway sleepers so they were as tough as anything and certainly not going to rot anytime soon.

However what I had noticed was that they could collect grease, wet leaves and moss and become slippery, particularly in the winter or autumn times.

To fix the problem I bought a load of non-slip treads that could be simply screwed down onto the oak steps, and job done.

Unfortunately not quite job done as I didn’t buy enough of the non-slip treads for two on each of the steps,  so had to buy some more from the UK and fit them next time I went to the Gite. So here’s the final non-slip treads being screwed down.  

And here are some photos from August 2010 of the steps being built. Originally there were wooden steps set into the slope but they were badly decomposing and were sliding down the hill so we decided to have them rebuilt properly from scratch.

Alan proved to be better than Geoffrey and Liz at using the digger, and it was a good job we had a digger as all of the stones that now line the up the side steps were dug out of the small area of ground when the steps were built !

Photo taken in August 2009 from the roof with the old steps in the background behind Alan's van:

And from April 2010, a few of the completed steps (the bushes at the side are a lot smaller):


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tiling the downstairs bathroom (part two)

Following on from fitting the new shower cubicle, the next job in the downstairs bathroom was to tile the other walls to match those of the shower cubicle. Here’s how it looked at the start, on the opposite wall is the toilet, vanity unit and washing machine, with tiling part way up the wall beside the toilet and behind the basin.
First job was to cut the silicon sealant off from around the sink, disconnect the taps, and carefully remove the sink.  If I had of dropped it then I’d be in the do-do for sure:

In France, unlike in the UK, they don’t fit isolating valves underneath the sink.  So when I’d removed the vanity unit and wanted to turn the water back on, I had to then re-connect the tap to the pipework, tie the tap handle down to stop the water coming on, and work around it as I continued work in the bathroom.  What a pain.

Stripped all the old tiles off the wall using my SDS hammer drill, great fun and quite quick and easy to do:
And then on with tiling the wall, using the bottom of the existing mirror as the reference point and ensuring that the tiles line up horizontally with the others in the shower cubicle.

Its a bit fiddly but basically you count the number of whole tiles required down the wall, and allowing for the tile gaps and grouting, cut a part-tile to go in as the bottom row.   Lots of use of the spirit level and repeated measuring to make sure everything is square and true so that as you tile up the wall it all lines up with the required height.

Grouting, lots of grouting, and then I could put everything back into the bathroom.

Putting the sink vanity unit back in place proved to be troublesome because I moved the vanity unit a few cm to the left as I’d originally installed it too close to the washing machine which meant that it was really difficult to jiggle the washing machine out from the gap if you ever needed to get to the back of the machine.

Moving the vanity unit slightly to the side meant I had a bigger gap for the washing machine,  but then when I had fitted and silicone’d the sink in I found that the flexi tails on the taps weren’t long enough to reach the pipework.   Grr, another trip to Mr Bricolage to buy some longer tails for the taps ...
Although I’ve written this as one continual sequence of activities, it actually took me about 4 days of solid work over a week to do all this.  It does look a lot better though.


Thursday, April 05, 2018

Off to the Gite for late Easter

10pm Thursday night and I'm sitting on the fairly deserted DFDS Delft Seaways ferry, just about to leave Dover for Dunkirk. 

I'm off for a week's holiday at the Gite, bringing more things over,and doubtless my week will include repairing the broken fence that someone drove through.