Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Skiing in Saint-Lary, Pyrenees

We are having a welcome break from the DIY by spending a week in the Pyrenees. We nearly didn’t go skiing this year as the snow hasn’t been good. A serious lack of it in many resorts. So we kept an eye on the forecast and decided to go for it, after many resorts reported good dumps of snow. Roger has always fancied skiing in the Pyrenees, so we choose the pretty village of Saint-Lary because it’s one of largest ski areas in the Pyrenees and traditional. As a plus it’s only 5 hours drive from our house. We’ve had very mixed weather, from glorious days of sunshine to not being able to see a thing. On Tuesday we only managed one run as you just couldn’t see where you were going. Snow is forecast for Thursday and Friday which will help top-up the slopes. I’ve only included a few photos as the internet is very slow in the apartment.

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Lounge and Hall Progress - Day 3 – Rendering and Scratching

Day 3 of our work continues. The hall wall has been “scratched” and it looks fantastic, just needs to dry out. The rendering has stayed put, so a second coat has been applied to the lounge walls. So they need to dry overnight before they get scratched. The bottom photo shows the stones drying out. Looking good.
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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Lounge and Hall Progress - Day 2 – Rendering

The rendering was done using the same mix as the pointing, but this time it was sprayed on. 1 coat is sprayed onto the walls, left to dry for a while and then another coat sprayed over the top. This coat has to be left overnight ready for finishing. Way back, 2 windows were added to the north side of the lounge. Unfortunately the edges were not done with corner stones but concrete which had been painted. Even though Roger had given them a key, they were worried that the render would not stick. So, a second coat will be added tomorrow if they feel it will hold. While the rendering was being done, we also had an oak lintel put in over an existing hole. They found a lovely piece of old, oak complete with nails, that was used for the lintel. Once it’s dried, the lovely colour will come through. We’ve not found out what the hole was for, but I’m sure it served a purpose over 150 years ago. The hole had only been supported by some thin concrete which was not ideal, especially as it was supporting part of upstairs. Tomorrow, the wall in the hall will be “scratched” to reveal the final finish. We are so pleased with the progress so far.
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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Lounge and Hall Progress - Day 1 - Pointing

Yippee, our pointing has been done. It was amazing to see how the pointing has transformed the rooms and it’s not finished yet. It was all done by hand in the traditional French way using Chaux Blanche and sand, left to dry slightly, then brushed off. In the 4th photo down, you can see the stones coming through after they were brushed. Now we leave it to dry out thoroughly, and then we will be able to see the full beauty of the stones. Another mucky job as you can see, but it’s not us making the mess this time. Thursday is rendering day.

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Leek, Pepper and Goats Cheese Flan

I tend to throw anything I have into a flan and this was no exception. We are off on holiday on Saturday so I needed to use up what’s in the fridge. So into the flan went leek, green pepper, mushrooms, goats cheese and tomato. Use whatever you have for your flan, change the veg, use fresh herbs or use a variety of cheeses. I tend to stick to this pastry recipe as it turns out nice and crispy.

Leek and Goats Cheese Flan

Ingredients Method
240g plain flour
Pinch of salt
120g vegetable fat
2-3 tbsp cold water

Splash olive oil
1 leek
1 pepper, any colour
Handful of mushrooms
Small goats cheese (approx 100g)
6 small or 2 large tomatoes

2 eggs
Splash of milk
Pinch of mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
For the pastry – mix together the flour and salt. Add the fat in small pieces and rub in until it looks like crumble mix. Add the cold water, then mix to form a ball. Add more water if required. Chill for 30 minutes.

For the filling, heat the oil, lightly fry the leeks and peppers. Once softened add the mushrooms until just cooked. Remove from the heat.

Roll out the pastry and use it line a flan dish. Pop in the filling. Slice goats cheese into rounds and lay on the top of the filling along with the sliced tomatoes.

Mix the eggs, a splash of milk, mixed herbs, salt and pepper together then pour over the filling. Bake on Gas 5/190C or 375F for approx 40 minutes. Enjoy.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Another Mucky Job

Our hall is quite dark, just the front door and a bulls eye window for light. So we decided to sand down the beams to get rid of the dark stain. As you can see from our heads and faces, it was another mucky job, but well worth doing. The beams are a lovely colour now, much softer than the dark stain. The horrible fan light has gone and we’ve bought a beautiful frosted glass shade to go in it’s place, which we’ll put up when the pointing is done. We’ve also decided to paint in-between the beams to add more brightness. We had toyed with painting the beams as well, but it seemed a shame to cover up something so old, plus if we didn’t like it we’d have to sandblast them and we’re definitely not doing that again.

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Monday, 5 January 2015

Dust and Dirt

Just before Christmas I had an urge to sand the stairs. As if we didn’t have enough dust making jobs. They were stained dark brown and as the hall is a bit dark, I felt they needed lightening up. Very pleased with the result even though I managed to break the sander. Thankfully we had a spare, lots of sandpaper and elbow grease. You can really see the lovely grain on the wood now. We have one tread to replace as it was rotten. Here’s a before and after. Plus as you can see, I know how to wear my dust mask correctly :)
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Into the New Year and work continues on the hall and lounge. Roger had completed the wiring for the wall lights and plugs before Christmas, but now the mud had to be removed between the stones to a depth of 1inch ready for the pointing. Another mucky job, but the lounge is done and we’ve nearly finished the hall. Just one wall to do in the hall that needs keying for the rendering.
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Saturday, 3 January 2015

Making Pizza

Just after Christmas we were invited by friends to a Pizza making party. We were told to wrap up warm as we would be outside, which was a good thing as the temperature had dropped to –6. The event took place in their barn which held an old bread oven, well over 200 years old. We suddenly had grandiose ideas of building one ourselves, until we were told it had taken 3 days to get up to temperature plus loads of wood to keep it going. Perhaps not! Our hosts had made pizza dough, provided loads of different toppings, mulled wine, homemade beer, cheeses and a chocolate fountain. It was great fun making your own pizzas and choosing your favourite toppings. They tasted delicious. Darrel's pizza took on the shape of a heart. We loved the party idea, it was a very social event as everyone helped each other, especially when the pizza had been overloaded with toppings. People had forgotten you then needed to get them onto a tray to get them into the oven!!

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Pizza