EEC 24, 10th September

So Thursday I went back to Auch for the little rubber bush for the headlamp mount. At the car breakers they broke both of the ones from the car they had while trying to remove them from the car, so I called at the Opel dealer on the way back. I bought a new one for 0.47 Euros. Not often you get a bargain in car spare parts. With that part, the replacement headlight fitted fine.

When you start building work In France you have to put up a sign with details, such as planning approval reference number. It's big, I propped it in front of the door to give you an idea of the size. Gedimat is the name of my building materials supplier, they gave me the sign, I filled in the details.

Friday morning the man with the digger came to dig the foundations.

Unfortunately we had an oops. Actually a treble oops, with the main water supply to the house. It was broken twice here, once on the other side. I knew where the pipe started and finished and incorrectly assumed it would go in a straight line between these two points.

He put the dug earth in front of the house, there has been a sort of drive there, below the level of the rest of the garden, I'm planning on parking cars round the back when the garage is done. He said someone would be round in the afternoon to level the piles of earth in front of the house. I didn't realise the pile of earth would be so big.

I then collected 50 building blocks and some boards from the building supply company. The van seemed to be grating at the back when I drove so I stopped and redistributed the blocks. I weighed one when I got home, 20 Kg. 50 x 20 Kg is 1000 Kg, that's a ton. And I had 40 of them on a pallet right at the back of the van no wonder it was weighing down a bit.

Most days it's pretty hot but the swallows seem to be gathering to plan a move south for the winter.

The line continues a long way on the other side of the house. I would guess almost 1000 swallows in total, quite a little city.

Saturday and Sunday I moved earth away from the front of the house. Right around the house there is a drainage channel filled with stones, and inadvertently some of the earth piles had fallen over these stones. I put some boards up so that when the earth is levelled it won't go over this drainage channel. Later I'll fill in the space with more stones.

Monday the man didn't come to level the piles of earth in front of the house.

Tuesday the man didn't come to level the piles of earth in front of the house.

Wednesday the man didn't come to level the piles of earth in front of the house.

Meanwhile I had been working on putting shuttering around the foundation. By Wednesday I didn't seem to be getting anywhere so consulted Andre for his advice. He suggested just filling in up to the top of the hole, the idea I had been coming around to. I pulled down the shuttering I had been working on for so long and ordered concrete for the foundation, 4.5 m3, that's around 5 cu yds, rather more than 10 tons.

I'd also been filling in, working on the car, I got the new wing fitted, eventually. Four times I almost finished then realised I had forgotten something, and had to take it apart and start again. I'm not very happy with my painting work, I only had a touch up spray, but I think I can improve that when the paint has hardened. The dent in the wing, just in front of the mirror was already there when I bought it. Well, it was a used wing, not brand new.

I also repaired the parcel shelf. They cost an unbelievable 200 Euros new, and unfortunately the one at the scrapyard did not fit my car. So, with a new hub embellisher fitted, the car is now almost back to the state it was in before my daughter borrowed it..................

Thursday the concrete came, Michel, my other neighbour, gave me a hand.

It was raining. It doesn't rain here. However it stopped, just as soon as we had finished.

I thought I might have ordered too much so arranged the shuttering to extend the path in front of the new door.

It turned out my calculation, plus small margin for error, had been exactly right so I didn't get the path done. The man still didn't come to level the piles of earth in front of the house.

Friday I phoned Jean Pierre. Oops he said. I completely forgot about levelling the earth. Next Tuesday or Wednesday he said, I've put it in my book, we'll come as soon as the next job is finished with the machine. I then ordered 500 building blocks, called parpaings, and 2 garage doors, for delivery next Tuesday, maybe Monday if they can make it. A touch less than 1000 Euros. I phoned Jean Paul, he called round in the evening, I've arranged to borrow some things from him, we had a drink, he thinks he knows a young man who might be interested to give a hand when I start building.

Saturday was a quick trip to the vet for a typhoid vaccination for Little Cat, while in town I bought another 5 litres of wine from the hardware shop, yes, the hardware shop sells wine, they sell it in bulk, you fill your own container using what looks like a fuel hose at a petrol filling station. It's really good, and at 1 Euro/litre eminently affordable, cheaper than petrol and not much more expensive than bottled mineral water. I bottle the wine of course but my bottling is not quite on the same scale as previously........

Best regards

David Barker
Mirande, France

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