Thursday, May 28, 2009

The end of May sees the cherry season , and our tree at Les Cypres produces the best cherries ever. As our clients left today and the new ones arrive Saturday we have two days to pick and eat as many as we can!

Our latest client, from Vancouver (take note Steve!) wanted breakfast on the terrace so I was off to the Boulangerie at 7.30 to buy the appropriate croissant (none for me - only at weekends!). This is my first effort - plus coffee and juice of course.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Well I wondered if this day would ever come - the builders have left - no more early wake ups! Thijs, in the red/Orange top has led the dynamic four! And just when we thought it was safe to step outside the paying guests are there - but we love them!
Off to Les Cypres tomorrow to check out the 4 German guys!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A week has past since the last blog and today is the first day where I can sit down and update you on all the weeks activity.

Karen and I spent much of last week preparing Le Chene for the first clients, a family from Vancouver staying for 3 weeks. As ever, everything was finished just in the nick of time! the gardener has done a great job, the pool is spotless and the house inside looks great.

Our first clients staying in the Gites were a couple from Nova Scotia and were very happy with everything. Also last Friday a South African couple arrived staying for a long weekend in the second Gite.
So on Saturday the Canadians left, then yesterday a couple from Houston arrived. And on Wednesday another Canadian from Vancouver comes just for 3 nights. So the changeovers are coming through thick and fast!

One slight interuption to the calm was this snake which the cats were fascinated by! Whilst they were desperate to get it they seemed to know it was potentially dangerous!The weather over the last week has been abt 30 degrees and the heat has brought the creatures out the woods in search of water. We used the pool net to trap it and I tossed into the Olive Grove in front of us.Lets hope he does not come back!

An enterprising cafe offering great value in light of the recession!
The weekend was also the Luberon Jazz festival, the event is a casual evening of musicians wandering around the streets playing to all the outside diners and bars.

We ate out in the courtyard of the Platane in Apt, one of our favourite restaurants.

Before being swept over the edge of the infinity I get to take a dip in our pool at last!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Well , it looks like we made it!After a very stressfull week some how it seems to have come good. We filled the pool 10cm at a time through the weekend finally stopping right on the top edge. That was going to be the test. We left it over Saturday night and I was out with my torch in the early hours seeing if it had gone down, it had not and the releif was immense. Our guest arrived late afternoon and although I am sure a little perplexed by the array of cement mixers and building materials littering the garden, they seemed content.

This picture reflects the vision that we had when we first designed the house and gites 3 years ago - and it is exactly as we both imagined.

I could not beleive it yesterday, the picture of the green pool was taken about 12 noon. When I met the 4 clients at 6pm the pool was blue! I could not beleive my luck.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This picture was yesterday morning, the storm has cleared and the clouds are moving on (apart from these lazy ones hanging around) It could have been more of a contrast with clear skies and 28 degrees.The gites are ready, the gardens look great, just the pool will not be usable until it is clean warm and we know it is definitely not leaking.

Sunday morning, just grabbing a quick caffeine injection. Trying to clean our pool for our guests who arrive at 4pm. Just been up to Les Cypres to give the pool a final clean and **** its bloody green! the hot weather, lack of chlore, oh bugger. Time to shock it. Think I might need an early beer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yesterday certainly was probably the lowest point we had experienced, certainly since living here, if not in all the time Karen and I have been together. It was a mixture of utter disappointment for our clients due to arrive this weekend and also genuine fear of what might happen with the pool - all sorts of situations go through your head.

During the night I e mailed Thijs noting my fears and thoughts - his response ended with the comment he would move mountains to find a solution today.
Indeed he was on sight at 6am, and right on cue it was raining, and when it rains here it really rains, and it was set in for the day.

Our team of gardeners were aware of todays deadline and despite the rain turned up to lay the lawn - albeit by the side of an empty pool.
Despite the weather and with many kind wishes of support we woke feeling more positive and trusting Thijs would find a solution.

The grass has been laid, I am told supplied by the same company, and to the same quality as Stade de France in Paris! Meanwhile the enquiries into the leak continue.........

Sebastion puts his job and life on the line with Thijs hammer in hand investigating the leak which they think they have found under the concrete beam.

A solution of very quick drying cement is injected into the hole.

The rain is relentless as everyone rallies round to sort out the problem.

By this evening, we have monitored the leak and water and it seems we have at last stemmed the flow.We will now wait until the morning before adding any more water then we will top up a few inches at a time.

Unfortunately the water is now cloudy due to the cement and as yet is untreated so it will take several days to sort this out. Then we have to have the cover fitted and direct the water through the heating system to warm it up.

Thank fully this weather front is moving on, tonight you could see the clear front coming hence the rainbow, as it was raining over us yet clear in the West. The forecast for the next fortnight is sun, warm and dry so hopefully in a week or so we will be sorted!I took these pictures tonight from the Lounge.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No pictures today - just tears- we woke to find the pool has lost water over night. We have plugged all pipe inlets and still the water level has fallen. We have literally lost about 25 cubic metres into the ground which in it self is scary. Not sure where we go next.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Well things are gradually coming together! The pool is not leaking and as of tonight it is full and the haeting process has started.
We have completed the covering of our road and the driveway into Le Chene. We have used 320 tons of tout venant. The pool side deck is now being laid. The turf will be laid Friday afternoon. We just have a huge clean up to do as everywhere is covered in dust.We also have to prepare our villa 'Les Cypres' getting the garden and pool ready as we have guests arriving there this weekend.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Today the constant focus was on the leaking pool! Everyone on sight was looking in the pool house every 15 minutes. It is uncanny that just days before our first guest arrives everything is moving at such a pace - it would have made great TV! _ I applied to go on one of those programmes but at the beginning we seemed so organised and I guess dull ! but how the pressure has changed. Today we have 4 gardeners, 4 plumbers (dealing with the arrosage and pool heating), 2 Electricians, Thijs's team of four, the pool equipment specialist, Ludo the earth mover and Karen and I! I have now done something like 80 runs from our house, through a field to pick up the gravel and return. We have laid 230 tons in two days. In fact we are working at such a pace that we have swapped delivery companies so that we a are getting 17 ton deliveries at a time.
Our gardeners have been fantastic, the terraces are being gravelled showing the plants to their best.

We think (and pray) that we have found the cause of the leak and so we re fill again. It will take another 24 hours.

Part of the garden overlooking the pool, as yet not full!

The pool, filling up and not leaking! the decking will be laid tomorrow.

Monday, May 11, 2009

We have drained the pool to investigate just wear the water is penetrating. Not an easy task. Of course the point of entry is very difficult to access.

Today though we start laying the top surface to the road in to our house and parking areas. 'Tout Venant' is quarried locally. We have 300 cubic tons being delivered at the top of our road which I and one of the other guys will ferry backwards and forwards. We start at 8am.

My second delivery and we have a good routine going doing the circuit in 15 minutes including loading and drop off.

The front of our house as it has never looked before - like it has new carpet! no scaffolding, no big holes full of water - lovely.

Thijs and Ali continue to investigate the leak!

Friends have rallied round which has been great, David & Jane have come to sort our pots!

Karen, in between painting organises the all important lunch.

Ludo flattens our driveway !

Lunch , no matter how much we are up against it, remains the most important part of the day. Thijs , in under pants! holds court around the site microwave which despite being run over and left out in all weathers still works!

And the team of gardeners , exhausted by there mornings work, take a late lunch, keeping cool under the Olive trees.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thijs finished installing all the pool filteration equipment yesterday, Saturday. We can start the process of filling the pool which takes 90 cubic metres of water. We expect it to take abt 36 hours.

Having left the pool filling overnight - this morning - we have our worst nightmare! we have a leak, water is escaping through the walls , somewhere, so as I type this the guys are chipping away at the blocks trying to find the cause.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

It is manic on site, Thursday there were about a dozen people working , despite this there is still so much to do. Our working days seems to be getting longer, starting soon after 6am, a quiet time to get finances and booking enquiries up to date. Thijs has been on site equally early.
There are major landscaping changes going on, Ludo has started to compress the road before it receives its top coat. This we will be doing next week. We have 300 tons of surace covering being delivered which Thijs and I will ferry from a drop off point nearby (because we cannot get the large lorries on site)

Dominique has done a great job on the garden and land at le Chene.

It is now ready for being planted the week after next.

This is a picture I have imagined since we started construction, the pool is just missing the water rolling over the edge which is just days away.

In front of our house, the scaffolding that we have lived with for 6 months has finally gone and the courtyard is being levelled and prepared.We even have gutters.

Again this surface will be covered with tout venant. I am painting the garage doors today.

Dominique and Roland prepare the 'plage' this is where the sun beds will be! It will be turfed next week. He is preparing the soil and putting in the irrigation.

The long awaited pool cover arrives. It is 5.5 metres long in a 3 metre long truck!

Resembling a scene from a well known TV show! this is the calm relaxing place to holiday-9 days before the guests arrive!

The telescopic beam that holds the pool cover is in place!