Friday, 20 June 2008

Waiting for devis ...

When I started this blog I swore that I wouldn't go on and on about renovation (you know the kind of thing: endless posts devoted to the trials and tribulations of trying to get French plaster on the walls ...). And I won't, because (a) it's quite enough doing it, without having to write about it as well, and (b) let's face it, you really don't want to know the gory details of my struggles with the U bend, do you? Plus, I have to be honest here and admit that just at the moment, not a lot (er - that's as in Nothing) is actually happening on the renovation front.

It's all a bit embarrassing, really. I have two friends who moved into houses needing at least as much tlc (or more) around the same time as we moved to Grillou, and in both cases their renovations are nearly finished. Whereas I'm still waiting for devis. To be fair, it's largely my own fault; although I fondly believed that Grillou's new configuration would magically reveal itself within a couple of months, the reality is that it's taken nearly ten. Grillou is a complicated house, and it comes with a complicated history; all I'll say here (and I say it at the risk of being branded a New Age flaky by some readers) is that it's taken a good while to clear the energy in the house and grounds sufficiently to feel what's needed. Yes, I could have imposed my original ideas on it, but one thing I've learned from many years of living in old houses is that that simply doesn't work for me, and I only end up re-doing stuff. There's nothing for it; I just have to wait, until the house itself tells me what's right.

A month or so ago I woke up at 3am - something I never do - with a whole set of building plans in my head, and somehow I knew that this one was it. So the previous set (yes, there have been many!) of plans and specifications went in the bin, and another one is in the process of emerging. It's probably just as well that none of the artisans - apart that is from a plumber who had a phobia about drains, not perhaps the most useful attribute for the trade - has so far turned up to 'study the project' and give me a devis.

Waiting for devis (a peculiarly French thing: a very precise, and legally binding, quotation of both the exact work to be done, and a statement of the cost of doing it based on a best estimate of materials) feels a bit like waiting for Godot. And so although we've almost finished the 'relooking' (as they call it here) of our own half of the house, and are valiantly ploughing on painting the windows and shutters and tackling the garden and a thousand other jobs, I do have to confess to you, dear potential guests of the future, that your accommodation is still but a twinkle in an as-yet-unchosen artisan's eye.

Mind you, it's not all that different from north Norfolk. Shortly before we moved to France, a local builder turned up one Wednesday afternoon to look at a job we'd wanted doing. So far so normal. Except that we'd actually contacted him some two years earlier, and having neither seen nor heard from him during that time had found someone else to do the work. When I pointed this out to him, he looked at me in amazement and said "But Oi said Oi'd be round Wensdie, din't Oi?"

You couldn't make it up, could you?

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