After much deliberation and consultations with Mike McCoy, our fearless renovation consultant, we concluded we needed more land. The obvious property was the ruin with which we shared a stone wall. It was a tiny triangle of land worthless to anyone but us.
After a bit of sleuthing we learned that the family who owned the triangle had an exagerrated opinion of its worth. The previous cottage owners had made offers for it and been turned down. We decided to approach the owners in person and set up a meeting at their farm. Typical Bretagne farmers, they knew what they had and that we wanted it. No fools these folks! Their price for a worthless piece of land was absurd. So on to Plan B: find who owned the lot behind us and approach them.
Helen Keravis, a neighbor, owned the lot behind us as well as the lot just across the road from it. We visited with her and learned she would not sell one without the other, but she gave us a reasonable price for the two. Reg, the Wise One, said he thought it was the best deal we could make and we would regret not accepting the offer. I agreed. That left the ruin lot hanging. After further deliberation we accepted the farm family’s offer, however ridiculous it was. Same logic: we needed the land for the renovation. Next step, have Mike draw up the plans and secure the permits.
I had only one caveat, the shared stone wall was strong and ancient and I wanted it to be a feature in my new big kitchen/diningroom. Mike agreed after cautioning us that the wall was about 3 feet thick. It would take a master stone mason to pull it off.
The ruin is down and the stone wall survived (with ivy still growing on it). Paul Hemmett(white T-shirt left) and helper lay foundation for extention(as seen from an adjacent property), MY BIG KITCHEN/DINING ROOM!
Enter Master Stone Mason Paul Hemmett from Cornwall. He came with excellent recommendations from several friends. He and Mike suggested that Reg and I be the project managers with the expectation of devoting a major part of the next year to that job. So began an unforgettable episode in our French Adventure.
The ruin demolished, we informed the previous owners who had strong feelings about some of the “special” stones. We had no idea of their value. More consultations. More stone walling by previous owners. Call us an easy mark, but we gave in. One Saturday morning, the farmer, his three sons and a bevy of hound dogs showed up on tracters to remove the lentil stones. We would have to purchase new lentils.
Paul, the stone mason, was appalled, asking us if we knew what those ancient stones were worth? No, of course we didn’t until it was too late. No more stones were to leave the premises.
So, as the walls came down, where to put the stones? On the tiny triangle outside the footprint of the project. It was duly named Mount Crowder.
Now it was FULL SPEED AHEAD! Did I say SPEED? Not when the stones had to be sorted by size. Paul knew just the person for that task, another Mike joined our motley crew. Mike, a gardener by trade, was also a fine stone wall builder. We may have been pushovers for the farm family but we were very lucky to have found such a fine crew.
The new septic system would extend into the former Keravis property and be covered by a fine garden. I sketched out the garden I wanted and Mike the Gardener (Bless him!) made it work. Our travel trailer would occupy the other lot (dubbed Apple Tree Park for the one ancient apple tree on it). The Grandkids would love camping in the trailer when they visited.
Meanwhile, Reg continued to do a little freelance work between running trips to buy supplies for the renovation. I was chief cook and bottle washer.
But something was missing…