Posted in Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, HOUSE & GARDEN, Inspirations

Inside Outside Room

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Do you have an “Inside/Outside” room?

We have three in our house. Not sure what else to call them – OK two are on the first floor, so I guess one could say “Balcony”, or “Logia” as a friend of mine suggested – sounds so romantic!

The third “Inside/Outside room is on the ground floor leading out to the courtyard one-side and the terrace and swimming pool the other side. Do you call this a “Porch”?

Not sure.

But what is so special about these places is you can sit in the shade out of the sun but still feel you are getting some fresh air. A perfect place to sit and read, or eat or play with the ipad – The cats seem to think it’s pretty cool too!

This is the Big Balcony Upstairs Inside/Outside Room

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Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, House Renovation

OSB Decorated Art Wall

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I’ve noticed that there is not much inspiration out there as to decorating OSB walls, so I thought I would show you what I have done with one of my OSB walls.

PAINTED of coarse!

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I used layers of good quality household paint – mat acrylic that dries quickly.

REMEMBER – Layers create depth!

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Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, House Renovation, The Garden

Recycling Old Oak Beams

It’s 2007 — and we’re stripping out the floor joists from what will be our new lounge area.

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Move on to 2012 — November. Decide to use some of these old oak floor joists to construct two raised plant beds for some yew hedging plants.

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The worst part was dragging and man-handling them the 50 metres up to the house from their pile in the garden.

I leveled the lower beams, chocking them up with pieces of flat paving, and cutting to length with the chainsaw.

Then selected other lengths to lay on top, turning them around and flipping them over, to try and get the best contact so that they sat snug and stable.

Their heavy weight was enough to keep them in place.

The porous garden sheeting was cut to size and draped over each side of the ‘bed’ which would keep the soil in place when infilling.

When I’d filled each trough (bed) with soil, compost and a bag of horse manure, the rest of the sheeting was turned back over the top, then cut through every 50cm to take each of the ten yew saplings.

Then I finished off with a gravel mulch.

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Posted in Blog, DIY Hints & Tips, House Renovation, Tools & Materials, TUTORIALS

Our Old Flagstones get a New Home

…. from a pile of slabs……. to a classy stone floor ….here’s how…

opus romain patternslabs laid out in the courtyard
We laid these flagstones in an “Opus Romain” pattern — laying the flags in regular rows,  but varying the row-width across adjacent rows.

You need to decide beforehand on which widths you are going to use. Commercially available flooring in this pattern usually come in 3 widths; for example, 60cm, 45cm and 30cm. The lengths of the individual slabs will vary so that each width will have say a couple of rectangular sizes and maybe a square size.

“Sounds complicated?” “Not really, once you see a picture or two of how the pattern works, it all pretty obvious.”

Opus Romain stone flooring

…….so onto a few ‘Tips & Tricks’…….

  • Sizing  the Flagstones : This is perhaps the trickiest part of the job! There are no hard and fast rules—you need to assess what you have to work with and try and work out the best width options to choose—to achieve a pleasing pattern without undue waste.
  • Essential Tools — Angle Grinder (preferably with a diamond/carbide disc), club hammer and bolster cold chisel, eye protectors, ear protectors and face mask, tape measure, T-square and marking chalk or pencil.
  • Cutting stone with the grinder – make the straight cuts with the grinder steadily and evenly, letting the machine cut gradually to its maximum depth, around a few cms or so. It isn’t necessary to cut a stone “all-the-way-through.” Then with the bolster chisel inserted around the middle of the cut, give it a few sharp blows with the club hammer—and it should split away cleanly and easily.
  • As you can see in one of the images above, I’ve angled the grinder slightly “off-vertical” — undercutting the edge. This is a little trick to make it easier to lay the cut edges of the flags closer to each other, avoiding the chances of odd lumpy bits left after breaking stopping the close fitting of two adjacent flags.
  • Then carefully and gently tap along the top of the cut edges with the club hammer, chipping little fragments away to leave a more natural looking stone
  • Finally, should it be necessary to remove some stone from the underside of a particularly thick slab, make a series of close parallel cuts, and repeat again at 90°, and then chip these away carefully with the hammer and chisel. (A great way, incidentally, to make your own stone dice!).

"Opus Romain" style of laying paving
You may then decide whether to grout the spaces between the stone with a lime mortar — or simply brush in some sand or fine gravel. Depends on what look you’re after.

And if the floor is exposed to light and rain, then you’ll need to weed the cracks from time to time if they haven’t been grouted.

So give it a try and “Bonne Chance!”

Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, OUT & ABOUT

Early Morning in South West France Sky On Fire

How often do you see this?

It was last Thursday, about 7 o’clock in the morning.

And the sky was on fire.

Just for 5 minutes or so.

Then the sky went back to normal.

Did it really happen?!

Taken with my ipad3, Thursday, 25th October 2012.

Fabre de Lagrange, 81140 Penne, France

Posted in Blog, Inspirations, The Garden

Our Courtyard Hearth — Warm Evenings After the Sun Goes Down

Fire lit, ready for the evening
Fire just lit, early evening

Forget what’s on the tele, or those emails that need sending — just fill your glass with a full bodied bordeaux, or your pint mug of fresh mint tea, pull up your lounger, kick off your shoes,  and let the conversation take you wherever you wish.

Staring into the flames of a well built wood-fire is time well spent. It may seems idle at first, but I reckon it can be the spawning ground for many of your future plans — ideas form as the fire flickers — your imagination leaps and soars as each new zephyr in the night-time air fans the embers into life for one more time…………

Courtyard hearth

“Simple to Make — Simply Wonderful to Sit Around”

“This Is Truly What Evenings Were Made For!”

Old Dry Wood Burns Well

Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, OUT & ABOUT, The Garden

Summer Thunderstorms in SW France

Last Sunday was hot and sunny, then suddenly everything changed.

The sky went dark. The clouds moved in at remarkable speed. All went deathly quiet……….

Summer thunderstorm SW France

Martin took this photo just before all hell let loose….

Thunder, Lightening and Hail Stones the Size of Golf  Balls!

I’ve heard of hailstorms where ice the size of golf balls fall from the sky, but never seen the like before last Sunday afternoon. Quite a spectacular affair seen from our balcony.

Unfortunately, it meant no electric for the next 2 hours. A bit annoying when you are trying to watch the Olympics – London 2012. Still, all lights and TV connection were restored in time to watch Usain Bolt win the 100 meters dash, so I was happy!

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, HOUSE & GARDEN, Inspirations, The Garden

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth Tomatoes in SW France

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Why can’t I grow tomatoes like this!

Now you won’t find tomatoes like these in the supermarket! My neighbor Maurice, a spritely 82-year-old,  grew these in his vegetable garden across the road from our house deep in the heart of the countryside here in South West France.

One of the advantages of living in South West France with hot sunny summers, and having a very generous neighbor with ‘green fingers’ and many years experience of living off the land.

As you see, they are not perfect tomatoes – they are irregular shapes, have patches of green amongst the bright orange and reds, little imperfections here and there.

But who cares – they taste absolutely delicious!