We restored a huge old house in France. Part 9.
The ceiling of this first bedroom, which became our own bedroom, was utterly black. Most of it was soot, which was odd because the fireplace surround had been moved from the wall where the chimney is, over to the other side of the room where there is no chimney, and left there simply as a decoration – which in itself was odd in an era where ancient features like this were usually not considered of any value.
The ceilings are very high and we had to erect scaffolding in the room in order to sweep off the soot. I did this with one other man to help. I did have a photo of me with my face all black, but I cannot find it now. Luckily under the soot was a clean white ceiling, which although a bit cracked in a few places, was fine. The little twin room next door was for many years our dressing room, and through that we installed a shower room.
The master bedroom at the other side of the landing was left for many years and various members of the family slept in there with sheets pinned up over the windows at night and bare floor boards through which you could see the lights in the kitchen at night – and hear everything that was said, I learnt to my consternation!
We put carpet on the upper staircase, which is a shame because the old stone is wonderful. But we felt that if somebody slipped – the staircase is very steep – it would be a pretty hard landing on the stone. In fact nobody has ever slipped there, so we were worrying about nothing, as one does when the children are little.
The landing on the middle floor became the library – it is a large room big enough for plenty of furniture. I have always been a book-worm! Off there is a balcony facing south, far too hot in the summer, but in the winter it was a wonderful sun spot on sunny days. I wrote about this, and other aspects of the property, in my book “A Call from France”.
Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites. Her sketches are on her web site http://turquoisemoon.co.uk . Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.