It's extraordinary how much work six men can achieve in a couple of weeks. Consolidation of the chateau is in full swing. A real building site: hard hats, wheelbarrows, strong GQ magazine cover Spanish men. The internal implosion of destruction and debris is now rapidly making its way outside. Everyday the rubble pile escalates as well as fueling an 'open fire.' Today one of the workers patiently plied 300 year old hand forged nails from rotting wood and placed them in a metal bucket for safe keeping. Maybe one day they will sit in a glass jar on an open shelf, admired.
Our desire to retain and upcycle is proving more difficult than anticipated. Installing concrete, steel reinforced flooring has meant that all tiles must be removed and 'hopefully' reinstalled where possible. This component of the reconstruction is disappointing. However the enormous weight currently in existence on the first floor has to be addressed from a safety aspect. At the moment 3cm solid handmade tiles sit on a layer of lime/talc, then two layers of timber and finally another timber floor. The original construction was engineered to last and if the roof/water damage hadn't occurred perhaps it would have remained intact for another 300 years. I can understand why brocantes ( french secondhand stores) always have crates of tiles at giveaway prices.
The front facade cleanout is almost complete. The builder is now concentrating on the back section. Lengthy metal ramps provide a helping hand in the removal of backbreaking, hefty tiles and debris from upstairs to the ground floor. Safety harnesse's separate the men from plunging below. And once crisp white, but now grubby grey face masks are don. Dust fills each room like a pea-souper fog: thick, dense, finally settling on every surface and in every crevise.
And the workers toil from dawn to dark, few words are spoken. Just 'Hola'. It's just too cold. Minus 9 hurts. And wearying, working, laden with layers and layer and layers of woolens.