Tiles Down in The Kitchen

We had dug down from the packed earth original floor and prepared for the concrete pour

All; fine and dandy so far but that’s where it started to go wrong and the pour was too dry and the bloke didn’t stop quick enough and before you knew it we were struggling to get anything even remotely level and ended up with a floor that didn’t look much better than the rock below it. I think Mrs Bentleys exact words were “For fucks sake it looks like a ploughed field”

However on survey it was only about two inches out in the worst area and Derek who lives nearby used to be a flooring contractor told me not to worry as we could sort it out “old school” quite easily using a near dry mix cement screed.
First we had to nip off the rough edges of the concrete floor and here is MrsB doing exactly that

Mixed at 4 to one and quite dry possibly only 2 liters of water/pva 8 to 1 to a mixer full and then floated on and tapped down to level a meter square at a time. He is the best part of 70 years old and was only supposed to be showing me the technique but ended up doing it himself as he said it was easier for him to do it than show me how.
We found the highest area and started there getting a level from there and then working in about a square meter pads proceeded with a spirit level as he went to cover the floor.
He said that years ago if there was a gang of them laying big floor they would have two on the screeding and then behind them would come the tilers and they used to just sieve (using a kitchen flour sieve) cement dust onto the damp screed and lay the tile direct on, by morning they would be set solid
Anyway I digress this is how it looked when done

On the right you can see the start of the island in the kitchen

Now comes the second problem which was when we (Derek) had laid the screed the dog walked across it and left little pits and also that night and un-forecast the temperature plummeted to a frost.
The combination of the two meant that when I went to sweep the surface the next day gert big holes appeared where the dog had walked which I tried to patch with some of the same mix but I would have had more luck trying to shove poo back up my butt.
I was rapidly loosing patience with the floor and MrsB was also getting a bit impatient that we should have it tiled for the visit of the family at xmas. In short we were pushing on a bit too quickly and not applying our normal care and timely work ethic.
So the only way forward now is to put a thin cover of self levelling screed on and tile to that but I was getting worried about the height we were adding and we had already had to design in a “mat well”
After a bit of U tube tutorial and some advice from Derek my son Zak on the float we set about tidying what I was now referring to as “that fucking floor” once again.

You mix it as per instructions including wild hair and go go dancing as demonstrated here by Mrs Bentley

Then you pour on a load and just use the float to move it into the corners and sort of even it out.
When you pour out the next lot you overlap it a bit and sort of work towards yourself.
It is quick and easy to do as long as you don’t spend too long fannying about with it although in the photos it looks a bit odd

On this one above you can see some of the holes in the cement screed left by the sweeping after the frost and dog walk episode.
Anyway soon the whole floor had been screeded we knew it wasn’t going to freeze and so we left it for 48 hours to go off before starting tiling.
Two mistakes were made at this juncture in that due to the weather we should have left it another couple of days to totally dry out and I should never had bought the pre mixed tiling glue recommended by the chap where we bought the tiles.
What I should have done is gone to proper tile place and asked for their strong floor tile glue that was fast setting. (cant remember what it is in French now)
The difference is gobsmacking the proper stuff comes in 20 kilo sacks and you add water and mix about a quarter of a sack ata time and get it down and get the tiles on. Two hours later they are set and probably earthquake proof. The sh!te in the tubs doesn’t like the cold, takes forever to go off in the cold, and doesn’t stick very well after its gone off in the cold (can you see a theme here). Never again will I use the pre mixed stuff and when I told the person in the proper tile shop that I had used it she shook her head emphatically and said “non non non, pas pour sol” (Not for floors)
Ah well here is some pics of the process and soon I will be able to put up the time lapse video of the floor tiles going down. It took about 6 hours from start to finish.
Here is tile one going in

The grout when put in is grey and the area outside the borders will be done with a tile of the same colour either the red, grey, or cream of the tile, or it may even be done with the pattern tiles cut to fit wherever it needs to go.
The island will be tiled in a different but light shade and I will post up when we have moved that step closer.
We decided against trying to make the border go round inside the galley bit as it all looked a bit squashed Likewise around the main fire place it all looked to bitty so we ran the borders to their natural conclusion and did the one near the island as though the island is piece of furniture on it. That might sound a bit odd but when it’s all tiled in with the edges done as well as the island, with the range in place etc and you see the full result I am sure it will make sense.
The tiles came from Castorama in Vannes and were about 56 euros a square meter (averaging the border and corner tiles as well).
The tiles for the room cost approx. 1600 euros and cover about 28 square meters and it is fair to say that we are rather chuffed with them.

Love and Peace

Septic Tank (Or Fosse Septique which has a more oo la la sound to it)

Well Ahoy there again landlubbers here is the latest installment and is the septic tank going in.
Fosse Septic (as they say in belle France) with a Biorock filter.

Why not a sand filter because they are cheaper? I hear you ask.

Good question and the answer is:- When we bought the place (2006) we had the soil test and all that malarkey done and were told we couldn’t have a septic tank out the back as there were two wells (not ours) closer than 25 meters so it would have to be out the front and the sand filter would be in our patch of land (10 meters by about 35 meters).

When we saw the drawings there was some sort of holding tank at the front of the house, then a pump through a pipe under the lane to some other tank thing and then to the sand filter.

The filter appeared to take up a third of the land and stood a meter proud of it plus we were told we couldn’t plant anything on it.

As we were not in rush and knew the septic tank would be a few years into the future we just sidelined it (dug our dunny out the back) and started the project “HOWEVER” (nb) we did the design process with all the waste coming out the front of the house ie with toilets, baths sinks etc situated at the front of the house for ease of pipework. (something any new renovator should take note of as it will save you lots of compromise or angst and cutting up of floors at a later date.

The rule of thumb seems to be shorter the run of pipe the better at about 1.5 inches a meter drop) when it comes to shifting sh!te)

We did have to re-situate the main bathroom as my wife pointed out it might be a tad tricky getting out of the bath or shower with dignity intact (and in my case without scaring the neighbours) when stood naked in front of a two meter high window.

Here you can see the lane when looking out of the study (original site of proposed bathroom) and the land opposite (now with shed three on it) and the effect (loss of use) a 7.5 meter square 1 meter high sand trap would have had, as well as the expense of putting a pipeline under the lane.

A couple of years ago (5 years after the start of project) I was asked by my building guru when I was going to put in the Fosse and I said I was dragging my heels as we didn’t want to lose a big chunk of the land and I have been researching other options.
He steered us into a meeting with a man who soon had us thinking differently about what was possible with the siting of a filter and the size.

After spending 300 euros (bargain as it turns out) on a new soil test and with me explaining to the man who did that test that we wanted to use a micro filter (not to be confused with a micro treatment plant) at the front of the property without having to cross the road, we waited a week for the new plans to turn up which gave us just that.

The tank, filter and pump housing all on our side of the lane.
Happy days.

At first we had opted for a Zeolite filter, but we had to change our minds when we found out their new ones come with about 5 mushroom vents sticking up so we opted for the biorock system instead, that has received many good reviews not only from the man we were using but also from some members on this forum.

So the money was gathered, the forms and plans sent off with a nod of approval form the mayor and when they returned with a green light the fosse was and accompanying pipework pumps vents etc was ordered and a date set.

Here is the fosse tank, the filter tank and the pump housing, man hole covers and associated bits (we were setting up the storm water run offs as well while we had the digger in)

So here we go in pictures and words
“How to install a fosse with biorock micro filter”

Level the land off near enough where the site is.

Before you start digging the holes make sure you have somewhere to dump the spoil (and something to dump it with) as there will be lots and lots of it

Dig the holes approx 2.5 meters deep and a bit bigger than the tanks themselves.

Get the bottom as level as you can then use gravel to level it up completely

Place in Fosse tank then filter making sure they are level

Now put some gravel and spoil around the tanks and filter and pump housing and connect the pipes up as you go.

In this photo you can see the red gain which is the mains feed to the pump motor,
the pipe coming in from the right is the bathroom and utility room water,
the pipe coming in from the left is the kitchen sink water,
the lowest pipe from the center is the two toilets combined (the open bit is the rodding point)
the two highest pipes from the center are the vent stink pipes going up through the house and through the roof to ridge height. (we have (since approval has been granted) combined both those pipes into one as all they do is vent air in and out of the fosse and the filter)

With the stink pipes we combined them underground and now have only one roof vent (pic to follow).
Bit of a saga as the chap who came to fit the roof vents had a bout of the sweats and shakes after a heavy weekend and although they looked alright from the front, when you looked from the side it looked like a deformed giraffes ears.
There only needed to be two for the chap who approves these things to give the nod and that’s what happened. No sooner had he driven off than we were up there changing it. Unfortunately the roof still leaks where he bodged the fit and I am having to cough up for someone else to come and seal us up properly again.

Here are (right to left) the Fosse, the filter, the pump housing.
The concrete manhole is above the drain pipeline where the clean water is pumped after the fosse and filter and also where storm water is run to

I should say at this stage that once they were were in and the main bits connected we filled them with water as we were expecting rain and the installer said they would float up if we didn’t ballast them down.

And so there it was done, fosse septic, biorock filter, pump housing, spoil removed, 3 storm drains run to underground ditch, all the pipework, roof vents manhole covers etc for a grand total of 9,000 euros and letter of artisan guarantee insurance.
The zeolite would have been closer to 11K and the sand 7.5K+ due to the under the road malarkey so the extra couple of grand was small price to pay to keep our land intact.

I now realise that what I don’t have is a picture of the completed items now we have cut the lids down to size.
The whole front now is ready for landscaping in order to hide all trace of the tanks and their vents.

We have put in the zinc down pipes for the gutters and trimmed down the tank lids and will soon be leveling the land and creating paths, breakfast area, etc and only the very keenest of eyes will know the tank is there.

I will post photo of front in its changing stages as we go along this year.

I have jury rigged a temporary flushing bog which works a treat and has rendered the old faithful, self composting, super reliable, long drop dunny to a very distant second choice, especially this time of year.

Some may read about the fosse installation and wonder why a pump has been mentioned,and then get the “biorock filter system” confused with a micro station that needs an aeration pump (which this does not)
This is to do with the the topography of the land and I have to pump the clean water up a slope to the drain after the filtration has taken place.
The micro treatment systems need a pump running 24/7 to aerate the mixture to help the digestion process, and I would then have still needed another pump to take the clean water away.
Our pump only runs when there is clean water ready for the drain. I hope that clarifies the need for my pump.

Chin Chin

Resolution number 1 failed

Screaming Bollocks,
That’s right, great big sweaty screaming bollocks.
No mine just screaming bollocks in general.
I have failed at one of my resolutions for this year.
That was to stop wasting my time on obscure expat web sites arguing the toss, about garbage like the ghastly royal family, with anonymous people who, for some strange reason, seem to think they are a jolly good wheeze and rather top hole.

Life really is a bit short to be discussing these things that I would normally dismiss with a flick of the wrist, or raised eyebrow, and it makes it even worse that I am often discussing stuff with people, who although they have never spent time in my company, actually despise my forum persona and make it a point to take offence or affront at anything I write.

Those of you who know the more mischievous side of me will be grinning at that because it’s a bit like showing a red rag to a bull. It just spurs me on to stay engaged, knowing full well I am never going to help them see the folly of their ways, that they are never going to understand my rustic view of it, and I am likely to just enrage them by trying.

I will concentrate on not engaging, which is unnatural for me, however I will reduce my forum use which will afford me more time to engage on here if the opportunity arises.

Its not like giving up smoking, which personally I find as easy to do as starting smoking again, this is much more difficult to stop because of the social contact it affords me when I am away from Mrs Bentley. ( I know she will be raising her own eyebrow at that statement but it isn’t a cop out. What we couldn’t work out was how people find so much time when they are home to make loads of posts a day when for the 6 or 7 weeks I am home I doubt if I make more than one a week. I know full well how I get to spend time on the forums when I am at work but I am far to busy with life when home to be arguing with strangers and of course I have MrsB to be with )
When I am away time spent on a forum, even one where I am disliked by many purse lipped, tut tutters because of my outspokenness or feigned arrogance, can be enjoyable and its good fun to swap opinions (if for no other reason that to test my own) but writing just for oneself and possibly the handful of people who may read it on here is new to me. However it is a process I must go through if I am ever to get this book out of me.
Using my time engaging with strangers is not the most productive use of that time and time is the one resource that I realise I am now using more and more of, out of an ever shrinking reserve.

Note to self
Must spend more time on here organising my thoughts into new and coherent argument and less time using known and tested coherent argument on anonymous strangers.

Love and Peace

The website is launched

Aye Aye landlubbers
Amid no great interest at all to the wider world the long overdue website “www.myrusticview.com” is launched at last.

This website is designed to combine the three blogs (My ramblings and the two building renovation ones) as well as a new miscellaneous section, into one easy to use website that you are free to share with whoever you like.

As well as regular updates on the building progress I fully intend to make more postings in my general blog area and will be happy to engage on whatever subject takes your fancy, without having to conform to many of the more open public forums rules or netiquette, which seem to be designed with the aim of protecting the meek and easily offended.
I trust that regular users of this site will be a bit more robust in their argument/debating abilities and wont have an attack of the vapours and flounce of in a hissy fit if disagreed with at any stage.
It isn’t like a forum in the true sense of the word and is more a place where I will chuck my ideas and opinions out into the ether and you can either sit there read it and nod your head in agreement (or shake it in disagreement) or if you have the inclination you can take the time to type out your views on my views and how they differ or don’t as the case may be and perhaps we can argue them through.
Anyway I look forward to seeing you on here and as I have already said feel free to comment at any time or even just say hello if you like.
If you don’t want to comment or chat on open forum and don’t already have my email address it is

Love and Peace

Double Ended Slipper Bath

I have always preferred a good strong deluge of a shower as opposed to the gentle luxury of a bath however Mrs Bentley has always preferred a bath.
A deep, comfortable, well supplied with endless hot water, bath, this she assures me turns the washing experience into something more akin to a pampering and relaxation session.

So the scene was set many moons ago in the early stages of design that we would have a bathroom large enough to cope with a big “walk in” shower and one of those double ended slipper bath tubs (in cast iron as neither of us are taken with the acrylic)
The bathroom dimensions have ended up 3.5 meters by 3.5 meters which should be ample for our requirements as it is just a tub a shower a basin and towel cupboard. I cant stand the bog being in the same room as the bath and shower so that is in its own separate room as it should be.

I had searched the net and found the Cast Iron Bath company of the UK made the bath we were looking for but thought it would be easier to buy it in France. We set off in search of the double ended slipper cast iron bath in our region of France but could find none in the limited number of bathroom style showrooms available.

As much as we would like to support the local businesses in the area and do so whenever possible it becomes impossible on some occasions such as this. In one such showroom we were leaving, after having a look around and not finding anything suitable, and the salesman asked if he could help so with the aid of some drawings he consulted his brochures and came up with the exact model we were looking for and had sourced in the UK.
“Excellent news” says I and asked how much.
After a bit of jiggery pokery on the calculator “5,000 euros” (yes that FIVE THOUSAND euros) came the reply.
After I stopped laughing and clutching at my chest for theatrical effect he asked how much I was expecting to pay and I told him I had sourced the exact same model in the UK delivered to France for 1100 pounds (1,300 euros)
“Oh I didn’t factor in delivery” he said “that would be an extra 200 euros”

So the bath was bought in the UK and delivered to belle France in mid November arriving in a large wooden crate with a total weight of about 150 kilos.


I knew the dimensions of the bath would fit through the upstairs window at the front after we had removed the balcony but in its crate it was going to be bit tight.
The alternative was for me to employ some muscle and man handle the thing through two doorways up a set of stairs and around three 90 degree bends to get to the bathroom.
Or through the study window and round the corner to the bathroom.
To make matters a bit more difficult we had already started work on the installation of the fosse so it was a bit tricky getting close enough at the front to make it easy for the digger or for me to use the farmers manitu.

Anyway the digger driver was confident and so using a combination of heavy duty ratchet strap and a chain block I rigged up the slings to make them as short as possible to give the digger arm maximum jib height.

Here you can see the rigging arrangement I used

Here you can see that it was indeed a tight fit and that is with the windows off. We had about 3mm each side and the bottom left corner of the crate had been slightly damaged so needed the attention of a large flat screw driver to help it through the gap.

Also the digger bucket as at its absolute height maximum range so myself and the digger driver’s son needed to do a bit of the old “heave ho” (of the Norwegian steam variety) to help it tip over the balance fulcrum into the room.
It then just needed a couple of nudges from the digger and it was in.
Hoorah Hoorah Hoorah

Imagine our surprise when opening the crate to find that the bath body and legs were separate and even more of a surprise when I came to lift one of the legs out of the bath they must have weighed twenty kilos each

Once we had fitted the legs as per instruction and direction (each leg had its own set of washers and nuts pre-tried and balanced in the factory before shipping) you can see that Mrs Bentley was keen to get in and try it out for size

She nearly nodded off imagining scented candles, heady bath salts and oils made from the fruits of forbidden trees, warm fluffy towels and central heating, and I had to nudge her from the dreamy reverie and offer to put on a saucepan of water for a shower in YeeHaw shed.

I have been told that I am forbidden form the bathroom with any sort of camera equipment later in the year when the dream becomes a reality and the whole plumbing / heating system is connected and working and hot luxurious baths are no longer the stuff of my true love’s dreams.

Love and peace