May/June 2012

The installation of a water pump means that we can move on with the bathrooms and test the pipework. We now have fresh water in the kitchen tap which makes life much easier. Over the course of two months two of the bathrooms are completed, and the compost toilets connected using rainwater to flush them. A picnic table, chained securely to a tree, is installed on the terrace. Linda puts a coat of paint on all the window shutters. We are fast approaching the point at which the house can be used by visitors.

March/April 2012

Family commitments mean that progress on the house is fitful. Efforts are made to clear the area around the house, and collect the dead wood below the site, which is a fire risk and adds to our wood pile. There is some replanting of the water treatment beds, and a constant battle against brambles. Travel up to the house is interrupted several times by a flock of sheep grazing the roadside vegetation accompanied by a shepherd.

January/February 2012

The New Year begins with us on Collioure beach for the fireworks, this time with dalmatian puppies on our hats (nine of us plus Cruella de Ville) as the theme is cinema. The south wall is repointed and work begins on the final bedroom, a family room with two singles (or a double) and two built-in bunk beds. Walls go in during January, with stained flooring and beams, access to storage and individual lights for the beds. Again we have boxed in the downstairs windows, providing storage, and we have made use of shelving and hanging space we found in the house.


Five days of incessant rain in mid November cause chaos throughout the Pyrennees Orientales. There is serious erosion to river beds and footpaths, retaining walls collapse, and everyone complains of leaks and jammed doors etc We get off relatively lightly, although work is done to drain water from the terrace and keep the access roads from eroding too much. The South wall is most exposed and will need repointing in the near future. Linda also learns to tile in the main bathroom. We have joined the local walking group and have two group visits to the house for a welcoming glass of muscadet.


Summer weather continues at Madeloc through September and well into October. Work continues on constructing the bathroom walls and on the landscaping around the water purification pools. The serious walkers restart after the heat of August and we have business cards printed to start promotion of the house for next year, as well as a new front page for the web site.


Our daughter’s wedding takes priority in July, so progress on the building is limited. Five dead trees are felled, and the resulting firewood chopped and stacked – a three year supply! The area below the house is cleared to reduce the fire risk in future, and in August a system of small ponds to clean the waste water are installed. In the Autumn they will be planted with reeds. Inside the house the batteries are reinstalled, the generator is securely placed away from prying eyes, and a start is made on installing the first of the compost toilets.


As the tourist season began to get under way we are forced to accept that the house will probably not be ready until 2012 season. The priority is to make the area around the house safe and to install the utilities. Quotes are gathered and dates arranged to fell the dead trees, clear the land as a firebreak, rebuild the terrace wall, install security fencing and reinstall electric supplies. Waste water will be treated through reed beds on the terrace.


Work on the house was disrupted in March by several days of incessant rain from the South, which revealed all the weaknesses in the house’s defences. As the rain blasted into the exterior walls, the damp began to spread followed by puddles on the floor. On the fifth day, as we stood outside surveying the sodden scene, part of the terrace walling collapsed in front of our eyes. In the aftermath came some weeks of drying out, extensive repointing of the south end of the house, remedial work on the chimneys and windows to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

January/February 2011

The cold winter months, but work continues to create a third bedroom and a landing. The plans continue to change and we are now going for 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Plastering and decorating continue to the end of February. The compost toilet system is ordered from Canada, and sent to Toulouse, from where we collect our three loos! Without going into too much detail, the waste is collected in a central container behind the house to be turned into compost.


(picture 1 shows view from Port Vendres. Our house is on the hilltop furthest to the right.) Work on the house restricted to November since we return to UK early December. Strange how finishing all the details takes so long when the major works progress so fast. Finishing off woodwork, minor plastering, decoration etc At least the house is warmer to work in despite a cold spell, as the woodburners are in action.We get to the end of the year with the main room nearly done and the project 60% completed, having started work ourselves in March.

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