Demolition day

Yesterday we removed the floor from our living room. Now when we enter our cave (basement) we have a seemingly vast cathedral-like interior with a ceiling stretching up nearly 5metres. The décor leaves a little to be desired and the ground floor entry is a little disturbing with its 1.5 metre straight drop.

We were adamant that this time (we treated 3 years ago) the woodworm will not be returning. We had our doubts, thinking totally removal might be overkill, but removing every piece of wood seemed best, including the wood panelling on the wall. As it turned out, some beams we had thought solid were anything but once we hacked them out. We had already cleared out most of the valuables (junk) – though I am still unsure what to do with the UK headlight units for my Fiesta and the crates of electronica. An unfortunate younger friend had casually offered to help when I met him at the dechetterie (dump) a few weeks back.  He arrived bright and early with his chain saw and the demolition commenced. Crowbars, hammers and cups of tea preceded the distinctive roar of the chain saw as it hacked through the first few beams. The original (probably 19th century) chestnut beams looked especially riddled but had a hard, steel-like core that is probably what had saved us from descending into the basement, sofa and all, whilst watching Gardener’s World one evening. The old beams saved us because the newer pine ones crumbled like meringue in places.

One of my initial concerns was that I knew we were supposed to burn the infected wood. Our neighbour, Benoit, had volunteered a patch on the edge of one of his chestnut groves that he uses himself for bonfires. Our other neighbour helpfully pointed out that it would, in fact, have been illegal to have any bonfire between March and September.  All concern was, in the end, unnecessary because our friend needs as much wood as he can get for his heating, the riddled pieces serve as good kindling and the solid chestnut hearts burn slowly and efficiently. His wife, at home to help unloading on each of his three return trailer trips, was unreasonably gleeful because in the cold snaps we have been having and lacking other heating, she gets very cold. When Delia met her for a morning coffee last weekend, her hands were blue! Not only the wood, but they also took our old (21st Century, non-chestnut J ) bookcases for their now vacated ground floor currently being converted into rental apartments.

So now our bedroom is somewhat chilly, underlain as it is by a cathedral space ventilated by open grills. Oh and we’re going to need a ladder to lock our shutters shut!

As to Delia’s health, she is feeling somewhat relieved at the moment, the specialist didn’t consider her swollen thyroid to be serious. Though there is still more investigation, and she has a CT scan booked for the end of May, it is a weight off our minds.

Look out for Delia’s blog next week (

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