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30 Oct 23

Le Fenil awarded 3 stars

We are pleased to announce that our third gîte, Le Fenil, has received 3 stars from Sarlat Tourisme.


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03 Aug 23

The Hayloft is finished

Le Fenil, our third gite, is now complete and can be booked from August 8th. It has a spacious living/kitchen/dining room, two bedrooms and a bathroom. It is equipped with a dishwasher, air conditioning, a washing machine, a private covered terrace and access to a large communal swimming pool.


03 May 23

Mini-excavators, septic tanks and straw.

We've been really busy this month getting into the renovations and as a result my blog is a little behind schedule. As I write I am currently back in the UK. Our visas finally arrived, allowing us to reside in France, so we had to return to the French consulate in London to collect them. As it's almost Christmas, we'll be staying until the new year.

In our last blog, Graham had started knocking on a door between the two rooms of our little barn and I was still pointing at the front wall of the house. Both works are now complete. Graham was ready to dig the floor of the little barn. It meant he could finally get his hands on a mini digger. Therefore, we hired the mini excavator and a tipper. As he dug the dirt floor, he filled my dump bed and I then dropped it off in front of our large shed barn. I was unhappy with this arrangement as there were old shoes and all sorts of trash among the dirt. It seemed like we were just moving the trash around rather than getting rid of it. Graham ignored my protests and said everything would be fine. Another job we started doing while we had the mini digger was trying to clean up the mountain of straw left in the wooden shed. It was difficult because the slope from the barn into the field was too steep for the tipper. We ended up adding straw to the trash heap.

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The newly pointed front wall. The contrast to the floor upper that wasn't pointed shows how much the pointing has improved the wall.

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Graham on the mini digger.

Now that the ground had been dug, Graham had to build walls. One was to support the beams where the stairs were going to be. The other was at the front of the barn where he had removed the wooden wall. The first wall was relatively simple and soon completed. However, the second wall had some obstacles in the way; a wine press with a large concrete base, a rainwater drain and a support beam supporting the roof. After some consideration, we decided to move the wall back a little further, which meant the beam was in front of the wall. The juicer was not so easy to solve. First, he removed the press, setting it aside as we intend to use it as a feature. The concrete base was the biggest challenge Graham had faced so far. We were hoping it was hollow, but it turned out solid. Luckily, we were having the septic tanks installed that week and one of the workers lent him a jig pick. It was still extremely hard work and created dust that got into the house. He was unable to remove the entire base as it contained large pieces of metal. The remaining piece isn't in the way of the wall, so we'll make a bench out of it later.

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Graham with the jigger pick removing the wine press.

The rainwater drain also became a challenge. As Graham was digging for the foundations of the wall, he discovered the clay pipe that removed rainwater from the roof of the house and the yard. As it was raining at the time, we realized it was broken and water was leaking out. He decided the best thing to do was to replace the hose. However, local DIY stores have been closed. He found a pipe in one of the barns so he could make a temporary repair. He built a dam to keep water from reaching the broken pipe while he was fixing it. He had just finished cementing the smaller pipe when suddenly his dam broke, water surged towards him and whoosh! The pipe had disappeared. He had no choice but to leave it until the DIY stores opened the next day.

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The dam before it was broken and washed away by the pipe.

While Graham was dealing with these challenges, I also started working in the little barn.This was a relief as the weather was much colder and wetter than it had been. I sanded down the beams that would support the bedroom floor because we're going to keep them exposed. Many of them have already been infested with the Capricorn beetle and the wood was soft in places. We intend to spray them with a woodworm treatment before oiling them. Another job that I started was the pointing of the central wall that will divide the living room and the kitchen. As this is an interior wall, it does not require insulation so we can keep the stone exposed.