Thursday, 30 January 2014

Re-building a broken Armoire

I have just about resolved the remaining furniture issues in France.  The main issue is the back bedroom upstairs where it isn't possible to get a wardrobe through the narrow entrance at the top of the stairs.  Gradually I have come to the realisation that the best plan might be to take apart one of our existing wardrobes and take it upstairs in pieces

The scene below is the downstairs bedroom.  This particular armoire was E40 from a local charity shop so it can be safely sacrificed in the hope of getting this to work.

It would be safe to say that it did not come apart easily.  At some point in its history, someone had decided that all its main joints needed to be glued.  So it didn't come apart by just undoing the bolts.  But the damage wasn't too bad in forcing (or gently encouraging) the joints to open

So now it is the problem of getting it back together in such a perfectly plumb-square shape that the doors will attach and it won't fall apart.

This is far easier said than done - first some new bracing needs to be fastened in.

Then the original front piece need to be secured well - this is critical to the question of whether the doors will attach at the end.

It takes perhaps 3 hours of work, but in the end the armoire is re-assembled and seems to be reasonably square.  However, the doors don't yet go back in ok and some adjustment will be necessary.

History suggests that this adjustment process might also take several hours


Three months later, and after many hours more work, the doors finally fitted and worked ok.  More bracing and it would seem that the armoire has enough structural integrity to not fall apart with use.

And it has been re-painted

Looks pretty good we think

Monday, 27 January 2014

Various versions of "Maggot Brain"

Listening to some recent downloads from, I came across Bardo Pond's 21 minute version of Funkadelic's Maggot Brain, arranged for guitar and flute.  What a great version this is of a truly great track!

This prompted me to have a look for some other versions.  There is Govt Mule's bluesy version, which is pretty good, and several clips featuring Eddie Hazel, who wrote the track.  But my current new favorites are the Michael Hampton / George Clinton / Lily Haydn version from the Montreux festival in 2004

and the Praxis version (also featuring Lily Haydn) also from 2004

Which reminds me - I have about a dozen Buckethead cds that I haven't really listened to properly yet

France trip - Part 2


More work on floors this morning - filling in gaps with carefully cut pieces and fitting skirting boards.  This is now just about finished.  Also painted the landing and the back bedroom walls.

Finally the rain has stopped and the sun is out - everything instantly looks better.  But the far end of the garden is just mud at the moment.

Back home, Wife is feeling lonely, but there is only a few days to go now.

Oscar's field has a stream running through it


No Steve again - I am just beginning to hit a bottleneck due to his continual absence.

A brief trip to St Jean this morning for a copy of the international edition of the Sunday Times - one of my favourite papers.  And to Leclerc for a restock of food

The new armoire that I acquired on Saturday has been moved from the van into the downstairs bedroom of Petits Chats.  E150, the most I have ever paid for one - and it needs some work doing on it.

But it does look good already


I have set up the main bedroom ready for my trip down with Wife in a few week's time - and to take some new photos for the various websites.  I'm pretty happy with how it has come out and it is a big improvement on the old green-and-red strippy wallpaper!

I have also decided to do more cladding in the downstairs bathroom than the original plan, so I will include the area round the toilet as well.  Some test cuts for this work, along with test cuts for the rather complex scheme necessary to put up shelves in the new cleaner's cupboard.

Watched the Great Interior Design Competition on TV, where they were doing a dockland lounge.  This gave me some more ideas for the lounge in PC.

More back bedroom issues - the planned bed is slightly too big and messes up the flow of the room (and I can't fit any other furniture in)


Grant and Simon are here with the intention of doing the ceiling of the kitchen.  So down in the morning and a new frame put up in the afternoon - the plasterboard will be attached next week.

Cold again today - enough to justify wearing thermal hats inside!

Moved the smaller armoire up into the back bedroom.  This had to be broken apart in order to move it and took three hours to put back together again.  But it is up and looks ok, even if I have destroyed what little structural integrity it previously had


Bright and sunny this morning, so I walked to the bakers.  Half a dozen people said "Bonjour monsieur".  I am almost a local!

Grant and Simon have been cleaning the plaster off the fireplace to reveal the underlying stone.  The tool used is called a pig scraper, both because it was used to clean the hairs off the skin of a pig, but also because the sound it makes is like a pig squealing.

Went round to Grant and Karen's tonight for dinner.  Spent five hours there and drank too much.  A beautiful clear starry night - so much lower light pollution here and so many more stars visible than back in the UK.


Lots of small jobs this morning before an afternoon departure for Caen.  We had a run through the spec for the remaining work.  Still no Steve though, so the job is now well behind.  Hopefully he will be back before Wife and return in a couple of weeks

The chaos that remains in the garden of Petits Chats

France trip - Part 1


Thick fog all the way down to St Jean - visibility often just 100m.  But the journey time was not too affected and after a food shop at Leclerc, I was at the house by 1:30.  Not much work has been done since I was last here, rather disappointingly.  Steve the electrician has been in and done some things but he currently has a bad back and it is not clear when he will be in next.

As usual, unpacking the car creates chaos in the main lounge - so much to sort out and allocate to the correct places

This area, now largely debris, will eventually be Petits Chats terrace and outside dining area!

I cooked enough chilli for 3 nights this evening - so I'm not distracted by having to cook each night.


Grant and Simon were round this morning so I was able to unpack the cooker from the van and get it into the kitchen.  Instantly, the room begins to look like an actual kitchen!  While they work downstairs, I have started on the back bedroom next work - painting mainly.

Steve might be back later in the week - they are not sure exactly how he is

This afternoon I bought a dishwasher from Gitem in St Jean and we did a quick test of the sink arrangement.  At the moment, we are rather confused by this and have obviously misunderstood something in the unit assembly.  We will sleep on it and hopefully it will become clearer


Some post, other than junk mail, has arrived - a book on French Kitchen design sent from Amazon UK

Grant and Steve mainly do odd jobs, but we did decide today that the kitchen ceiling can't be saved and so will have to be replaced - another really messy job.

More work on the floor upstairs - lots of odd bits still need to be cut and fitted

The armoire that I started painting on the last trip has been moved upstairs and re-assembled in Petits Chats double bedroom.  Still some painting to do on this, but it does look good in its new home.

The lounge downstairs is still rather a mess though - I won't be able to work on this until late March

Visited the Depot Vente in St Jean and the local Emmaus but no nice armoires - though the depot vente did have a rather stunning cupboard but it was E480 - way too much.

Ate chilli tonight for the third day in a row - perhaps it is time for a change


A morning out with estate agent Dave.  The first property is not featured here as it is a very possible one to buy and I don't want to risk publicising it as this stage

Property 2 has been infested with termites and all the floors have been taken out and the ground treated.

And property 3 had a good location but a huge crack down the front (caused by mis-tying the extension to the main house resulting in the extension pulling too much on the main house)

The rooms were universally awful, but there were a lot of working fireplaces

And it did have 2 acres of land with it - the best bit of it

Spent the afternoon fitting together the armoire and adjusting the doors with the help and Simon and some glued in match sticks.  That finishes Grant and Simon's current visit and they won't be back till late next week

It was warm enough to sit outside and have lunch today - low 20s


Spent the morning tiling the downstairs bathroom in Petits chats.  No Steve again

I have decided that I don't like the cladding's current colour and will be re-doing it in a darker red - perhaps "red earth" by Farrow and Ball.

The cat is back - Wife will be pleased he is ok

Cooked 3 portions of spaghetti bolognese this evening


Visited St Jean market this morning for delicious duck moose and booked the Annexe restaurant for Valentine's day when I am here with Wife.

Lots of wood work on floors and skirting boards today.  The top floor is progressing well - just a shame I can't do anything in the kitchen

I did repair the bed in the double bedroom so there is no longer the tendency to roll slightly towards the centre

The armoire looks lovely now the doors fit and the painting is nearly done.

I have put a couple of pictures up which look very nice.  The one in the double bedroom was bought for £15 at an antique fair.  The one in the landing is an original oil painting that cost E20 from a brocante

The tiling is just about finished in the downstairs bathroom and painting of the upper level has started - the same colour as we painting the main lounge as we have loads left.

As usual, the downstairs bedroom is a store room and workroom