Sunday, 11 December 2011


My heart sank as I lifted the second layer of lino. It was clear that the floor underneath was comprised of terra cotta tiles and, as in the bedroom downstairs, these had been screeded over. And this room was almost half as big again as the downstairs bedroom. What's more, this screeding was anything up to an inch and a half thick. In fact it proved much easier to clear than the downstairs screeding. It seemed to be a different composition and it was a matter of digging it off with a shovel in same places and merely prising it off others. All the same, there were a few stubborn spots that needed scraping. Mrs S and I filled thirteen rubbish sacks, all of which had to be carried downstairs and dumped in the so-called garage along with the lino, the carpet and the wallpaper I had already scraped off the living room wall.

By this time the garage was getting quite full and I had not yet managed to locate a tip. While driving around I had deliberately taken a variety of routes, partly to see a bit more of the local area and partly in an effort to track down a décharge publique. Once I had bought a decent dictionary I discovered that I had been looking for the wrong thing all along. What I needed was a déchetterie, and I had seen three of those sign-posted!

This, however, was a minor problem compared to the floor of the upstairs bedroom. This was distinctly uneven with ridges and valleys up to three inches deep running from the front of the house to the back. That was not what concerned us – it added a bit of character, we told ourselves. Far more worrying was the hole right where people getting out of bed would put their feet. I must confess to a little exaggeration there. It was not really a hole, just three or four badly broken tiles, but the sand on which they were laid had mysteriously disappeared leaving the broken pieces considerably below the level of the whole tiles around them. A little thinking time was called for so I sat on the doorstep in the weak sunshine and smoked a cigarette. Two cups of coffee later, I was still without inspiration. I wandered back upstairs and gazed disconsolately at the hole. I think I might have been hoping that it was not really as bad as I had previously thought. I sighed and looked round the room. It was then I realised that the surface area of each tile was not much different from that of two house bricks laid side by side. All I had to do was bring over a sack of sand and a few bricks and my problem would be solved. By now my brain had shifted into overdrive and I quickly dug out some whole tiles from the corner of the room nearest the attic stairs, scooped out some sand with my mouse-removal trowel, and set to work to relay the damaged section of floor. Needless to say, it took me several attempts to get the level of sand right, but eventually I had effected a passable repair.

A few bricks in the corner did the trick nicely on a later trip, and we placed a chest of drawers over of the patch of bricks to obscure them from view.


Stephen Hayes said...

Brains and ingenuity once again save the day. You should feel proud of yourself.

Buck said...

My mind is wandering off, muddling over the various and sundry difficulties of old-house restoration (mainly coz I've done something like it in my past). I'm thinkin' I most certainly wouldn't be up to the task nowadays, and in another language, too!

Good on ya for takin' this on, BP.

#1Nana said...

I enjoy reading about the process of renovating your house. It really took courage to take on this task in another language and culture. As I thought about your problem with finding where to dispose of your trash I realized that new arrivals to my town probably have the same problem. Our dump is very difficult to find, even to those of us who have lived here for a long time.