We’ve been in The House now for over a year and a half, and whilst we have made some massive progress, renovation wise, we are still getting to know the house. It’s an old house, like many houses back in England are – but, and it’s a very big but – has been built in a very different way to what even we, as complete DIY amateurs, have come to understand. Old houses here weren’t built by a team of qualified builders, roofers, plumbers, electricians. One guy, and his mates, (unless very wealthy), would have cobbled together a dwelling, adding to it, as and when, finances would have allowed. So, that means that nothing quite fits. Although houses like ours look like Istrian houses – beautiful grey stones, cream Istrian stone window surrounds, shutters, red roofs, tall chimneys – they all have different individual identities. Our house, in a small village of no more than twenty dwellings (some renovated, some not, some completely abandoned), is different to them all. And they are all different to ours, and each other. And we guarantee that all, like ours, have wonky windows, walls which are definitely not straight and linear and floors which sometimes fall away to a bit of a slope.

And this has meant that our renovation project has been – and continues to be – a ride! Each room we tackle, throws up new challenges. We have become very resourceful, and adept at solving some of the issues we encounter. We are also so, so fortunate that we have forged a fantastic relationship with someone who can turn his hand to everything we have so far requested. And, although we are reluctant to admit this, because it’s a bit of a cop-out on our part, the fact he speaks near-perfect English, has made thing so much easier. He can work out the technicalities that need to be done, that we can’t work out, and can then go and source what we need to resolve things. This is a real top tip if you are ever considering doing what we’ve done and embarking on a renovation project – find someone who speaks your language well. You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to practise your language skills, but don’t make things harder for yourself by appointing someone who doesn’t speak your lingo. Seriously. It’s just too hard. And if you don’t believe us, try asking someone in your local DIY store (which also sells bread) for silicone and caulk and masking tape and white spirit. Go on, try it…

Our latest “Getting To Know The House” has involved sealing all windows with rubber strips. This obviously should have been done at various points prior to now:

  • when windows were originally fitted
  • at the onset of last winter when howling gales were blowing through the gaps in the windows
  • prior to us undercoating & painting the frames, last spring

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if all we had to do previously was fix these rubber seals, I bet we would have done it. But small jobs like these tend to get forgotten when you have more pressing things to attend to. However today, we tackled the seals. All of the downstairs windows have now been done, so that means they are sealed, we have blinds up and big, velvet curtains. And that, when coupled with roaring woodburners, equals no heat loss equals a much warmer winter house.

Tomorrow, the upstairs windows will be sealed. Which will be fantastic, because, as the title of this blog says, we are still getting to know the house. And today, we got to know the ladybirds who are finding it quite a warm place at the moment. They sure love our bedroom windows, as they have obviously been getting in through the gaping gaps and snuggling up on our frames.

But, sorry ladybirds. Now that I’m getting to know the house better, I’m not prepared to share it, inside, with you. I’m more than happy for you to pootle about in the garden and do what you do, but NOT in our bedroom. If ladybirds were the only creatures we had to share our space with, we’d probably be OK with them. But, as we get to know the house, there are far too many gaps, crevices, holes, ways-in, that encourage nature to join us.

So, those gaps, crevices, holes and ways-in are being dealt with. And whilst we know, that as we get to know The House better and better, we’ll find more things to deal with, we’re confident that we are becoming so much better at the dealing with scenarios that present themselves. It’s what you need to do, if you do what we’re doing and want to remain sane and solvent 😉

PS : No ladybirds were harmed in the removal. All (as far as we could) were safely removed & rehoused in the outdoor cellar...

PS : No ladybirds were harmed in the removal. All (as far as we could) were safely removed & rehoused in the outdoor cellar…