25 October 2010

We've finally got a new worktop in the kitchen !

Now I know for some people this is no big deal but for me it's one the most exciting things that's happened for ages. (Apart from the roof but I'll talk about that another time.)

Anyone's who's ever visited here will have noticed that there's never ever anywhere to put things in our kitchen. Everything that arrives gets dumped on the table and before we eat, we've taken to simply pushing the mess over a bit to make the space to put a few plates. In the summer, space isn't a problem because we have three huge tables outside on the terrace but in the winter everything has to come inside.

I've been meaning to make a work top and somewhere to store pots and pans for ages but I've always got something else more important to do. Well-meaning friends try to persuade me to go out and bu something but I just can't do that. It's not even the money, we'd just  never dream of just buying something - unless it's for the computers or something that neither Fabrice nor I can make  ourselves.

I really do prefer things that have been home-made from recycled materials and we're fortunate to live in a rural area where people share our frugal ethics. Since we started building the house our neighbours have been wonderful - helping us to source materials and bringing anything they've got or they can get that they think we might be able to use.

Our tribal dumping ground in the photo here is an area where we stock materials. It now looks pretty organised but when we first started building it was piled high with masses of reclaimed materials which have now found pride of place in the house. Now we're looking for fittings for finishing the extension and this summer has been absolutely frenetic with 'phone calls and lorries arriving with old baths, wood, tiles, bottles, windows, sinks, stone, chicken-wire and anything else you can imagine. Some of it gets passed on to other people who we know are looking for things but a lot of it gets arranged in lots to be used for building or for making things for the garden.

We  ask people to try not to bring  polystyrene or plastic or broken bottles  and over the years they're getting better at knowing what we need  and what we  might find useful and it's incredible how they often go out of their way to help us.

The conversations go something  like this. "My son knows a place where they're pulling out a load of double glazed windows, there's nothing wrong with them, it's just that the electric shutters don't work any more. The guy said they'd be skipped on Friday, if we get there fast he'll let us have the lot for a fiver each." The logistics of how to get there fast with a van or someone's borrowed trailer are sorted out and off we go to collect the windows.(Merci Guy !)

To be honest if it weren't for all the things that people give us, our house would have been a lot more expensive to build and we'd have spent an awful lot of time in DIY shops - not to mention the fact that it would be boring to have to choose what we wanted all the time instead of just doing what we can with what we've got. Sometimes things do look a bit weird to begin with but the finished result  is quirky and interesting and totally unique.

We've use almost all our old windows now for covering firewood, making cold frames, covering straw bales as temporary shelter for tender plants and we've used   them for making our greenhouse and even as windows when they're good enough.

The new veranda is just second-hand windows we've been given and wood Fabrice cut from our land, topped by incredibly expensive hail-stone proof double layer plastic. We've   got seven second-hand double-glazed PVC French windows which we'll use at the back   of the  house just to  the right of these windows and on the east side   of the  extension. I don't really like plastic or PVC but we get a lot of storms here and I don't intend replacing anything in my lifetime. We'll paint the windows or do something to make them look OK and the fact that everything is recycled assuages my green conscience.

We've used all the stone that was easily accessible on our land, (Peak stone !) so we've asked neighbours to help us find more. They have come up trumps and sometimes even deliver it to us (Merci Christophe !) or  we go and get it ourselves.

We dump all the stones and rubble in front  of the house and when we've  taken the  best  bits out of it, (Including some roots and bulbs which have become beautiful plants !) what's left  makes a solid base for the  roads we've  been  making for the past few  years.

Anyway, getting back to the kitchen worktop. A few weeks ago I bit the bullet and bought a worktop in a shop. (I bought three because I'll need two more for the extension.) They've sat inside the front door doing nothing because we've been so busy.

We had a visitor here and after a week or so, he started to appreciate why we never had time to do anything about storage space in the kitchen, so he offered to make us something. On his next visit, he brought with him a couple of beautiful pieces of boxwood Buxus sempervirens which he used for the front legs of the table and of course, the rest of the bits he needed came from the dumping ground !

After he spent the day making it he had to go back to work at L'Ecocentre du Périgord, so I finished sanding it down and over the past week I've given it five coats of varnish and it's now dry and ready for use. Thanks Yohan, you really are a star !

11 comments:

dND said...

The worktop looks beautiful.

Looking at the windows and things, it's amazing what you can do with things other people throw out. When I lived in Germany many years ago they had 'Sperrmuell' - which was when the council would remove bulky items for free. But it was also accepted that people put the items out the day before and everyone could take what they wanted with the council only having to pick up what was left. There were people who completely fitted out their homes this way. It's a pity it's not more widespread.

Frugal Life UK said...

I love your home, it's REAL xxx

Darren (Green Change) said...

I subscribe to your feed and read everything you write, but don't comment here much.

Today I'm moved to speak up and say how beautiful your home and land are. I love the design and structure of your garden, and you take amazing photographs that really show its true beauty.

Keep up the fantastic work!

helenw said...

Count me as one who is moved to speak up today too - wonderful! I have begun to embrace a similar philosophy and am so inspired.

Chris said...

I really enjoyed reading that story. We had a new house built for us, but we are determined to make everything else ourselves. We probably do see a bit more of DIY shops than we'd probably like to though, LOL.

Either way, it's still nice to hear about somone else's dumping ground and unfinished driveway. Talk about the last four years of our life or what!

We want to start using the wood on our property, but we also have termites as an issue. Do you find your wooden structures need replacing after a few years - those bits that are buried in the ground or come in contact with it?

Lovely bench by the way too. I love the knobbly natural wooden legs. :)

Alan said...

Inspiring! Thanks for sharing the journey with us. We've a long way to go too, but it's nice to know that there are others on the path.

michelle said...

It is all gorgeous and as inspiring as ever....i was wondering if you would direct me to photos of the construction of the food cave and gloriette i'm hatching a plan to construct something similar using yours as inspiration as it so beautiful.

contadina said...

Beautiful, functional and, more importantly, not made by IKEA.

Heiko said...

I've just come over from Contadina's blog and I'm really enjoying myself here. We come home with gems from the skips around us on an almost daily basis, the only restriction being a usual lack of petrol, so most things get carried by hand for several miles up our mountain. We'd do more to our house in tis way, but unflortunately we inhabit a small part of a large 17th century palazzo, which is a listed building, and we are extremely restricted as to what we can do. So as an alternative we have now started an (illegal...) Earthship on our land from old tyres, as our land is not near our house. But I'm rambling. Great blog, I'll be back. :)

jack said...
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