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The French Blatting Company


The Barn Conversion


October 2010

Friday 1st October

We were going to Ikea to get the 4 central lamps but Lynne isn't too well so I'm having a day of work anyway. I'll go to Brico Marche after lunch to get the rads and some other bits and pieces. Did just that and came back with the rads and other bits and pieces. The main rads are very heavy - took two of us to lift each one in. 

Saturday 2nd October

Finished soldering the pipes from the outside. What a nightmare. I had soldered all the joints leaving one side of a "T" at the top of the wall (floor of bathroom) to solder and the bottom of the rising pipe (that one's easy!). One side of the "T" already soldered is the cold feed that goes to the toilet, sink and bath. The pipes for the toilet and sink are already in place and rise at 90 degrees from the floor. I solder the opposite side of "T" to complete the 3 sides of the joint. Good job. Then look the other way and the toilet and sink pipes are at 45 degrees to the wall! The joint had gone soft whilst soldering the other end and moved. I said something like BOTHER and got all the stuff back up to the top of the ladder and proceeded to heat the joint so I could turn the offending pipe back to 90 degrees. Those who have done this sort of thing before will know what happened next. whilst turning the pipe back to 90 degrees the bottom of the T joint with the pipe rising from the bottom fell out! What a ***** to get it soldered back! But got there in the end. Guess what? The toilet and sink pipe are now at 75 degrees! I slept on it.

Sunday 3rd October

First thing is to heat up the joint that has the reducer (from 22 to 16) so as to get the 2 pipes back to 90 degrees. Done in a few minutes. Now why didn't I think of that yesterday. Then spent the rest of the day running the neutral wires to the overhead double switched lights. Finished this at about 16:00 so had an early day. Just as well really as it's been raining heavily all day and the barn is slowly filling with water. If it had been dry I could have carried on bring in sand to level the floor. As it is the North side is awash with water. If it stops raining overnight it will drain away. However the weather forecast is for rain all week.

Monday 4th October

Started laying sand to level the floor and to stop the rain water creating puddles.

You spend days laying and levelling sand and what happens? The cat uses it as a toilet. Oh well back to raking and levelling.

Tuesday 5th October

Carried on laying sand.

Wednesday 6th October

Getting good at laying sand

Thursday 7th October

Lynne and I spend the day trying to fit a radiator. She cannot hold it on her own so I abandon the job and figure out a way I can fit them without help. However it can wait for now. 

Friday 8th October

Do some wiring jobs. We have bought some LED lamps than hang down and provide small pools of light. We have 6 of these which will be fitted above the dining table at different lengths. We have also got 4 60 cm metal lamp shades. 2 are white, 1 red and 1 black. The black one will hang over the bed in the centre of the bedroom, the other 3 will hang over the lounge area which is open to the top. However we want to paint the 2 white ones red so I'll try an aerosol before taking them to a paint shop to be done properly. All 4 of these lamps will hang from a chain strung across the room from corner to corner.

Saturday 9th October

Having laid a strip of sand 2 meters wide I decide it may be best to get the sandblaster going and sand blast the oak timbers that will be visible. I get it towed into the garage driveway. I need to drain the 4 year old diesel. Get underneath it and there's a tank with a drain plug.  It will not come undone. It's rounded off and so tight that my large mole grips fail to turn it. I undo the pipe next to it but in order to so do I have to jack the compressor up. This is getting more and more complicated. Get the pipe off and oil runs out. I open the side panels and inspect. I'm draining the oil tank that feeds the compressor. Put the pipe back on. Now try and drain the diesel. I undo a pipe which feeds the pump (from the tank). Only problem, with the gloom inside the compressor, I get the wrong pipe so nothing comes out. I get my large suction pump and start sucking the diesel out of the tank through the filler cap. I then have a brainwave and using a long pipe siphon a few gallons out. I go to put the pipe back and see it's the wrong pipe. So refit the pipe I've removed and undo the correct pipe. I small trickle of fuel runs out. I get the last gallon or so out with the siphon. Off to the supermarket for oil and diesel. Get back refill the oil tank and pour 20 litres of new diesel  into the tank. Jack up the rear and remove the two axle stands. As I let the jack down and it rests on its wheels it rolls forward off the front axle stands. The tow bar hits the Pugs bumper and stops there. Easy way to get it off the front axle stands. Using lots of easystart I get the compressor running. Then tow it round to the barn and after a bit of to and fro get it by the barn door. I'm in a really bad mood. It's taken all day to do an hours job!

The compressor parked up in front of the barn door and ready to start pumping air.


Sunday 10th October

Sunday morning 6 am. Lynne wakes up coughing and having difficulty breathing. She's been slowly getting to this state over the week. Something tells me hospital. I get her up and dressed - takes an hour. By this time she thinks she's better and doesn't want to go as she says they'll keep her in again. I promise her I won't let them keep her in. I seem to have a sixth sense that says HOSPITAL. She has also been (mildly) complaining of being tired all week.

By 7 : 30 we are at the local hospital (20 minutes away) She has walked from the house to the car and from the car to the A&E reception. She's booked herself in and they've taken her in and put her on a nebulizer and given her 60 mg of cortisone. All normal stuff for an asthma attack.

At 9 : 00 she get gets noticeably worse and starts a panic attack. This is also normal with asthma sufferers - they can't breath so they have panic attacks which makes breathing more difficult so they panic more .....

The nurse throws me out I notice her blood pressure has collapsed to 70 over 36. She is wheeled down the corridor into a room around the corner. It turns out to be the resuscitation room. After about 15 minutes a doctor come into the waiting room and starts having a go at me. "You should have dialed 15 and got the medics out". I protest that she wasn't that bad and had walked in to the hospital. I tell him the attack started at 9 o'clock and we've been here since 7 : 30. "This doesn't happen in an hour" is his response and he storms out. A younger doctor comes in shortly after and explains that her carbon di-oxide levels in her blood are dangerously high. She is in extreme danger and they are moving her to Nantes intensive care - by helicopter. I can come round and see her. She is on a trolley, heavily sedated with wires and pipes everywhere. The helicopter crew are standing there getting her ready to wheel out. We decide I should go and start my way to Nantes which is about 50 miles away.

I cannot explain that journey. I was touching 200 kph at times. I arrived at the hospital which is in the centre of Nantes, parked the car in the staff underground car park and ran into the building. I came to a set of lifts and asked two ladies where the "soin intensif" department was. One of these angels took one look at me and led me right across this huge hospital to where I needed to be. My Merci Becoupe seemed so inadequate.

I was let in to the waiting room and told to sit there. After about 20 minutes a young doctor comes out and explains they are working on her and another doctor will be out shortly to explain. Another 10 minutes of this journey to hell and Cedric comes into the waiting room and explains she is very grave. They are working on her trying to get oxygen into her blood stream. Apparently this is not easy and takes a long time - time they do not have. I must wait here and he will call me through as soon as possible. Another time period passes - I have no idea how long it was it could have been 5 minutes or 2 hours -  I just don't know.

Eventually I am taken into the intensive care unit. Her room is full of people and equipment. Lynne is lying on the bed with pipes, tubes and wires everywhere. She is sedated. However her blood pressure is now up to 119 over 65 - a good sign. I am told what's happening and that she may be sedated for the next 48 hours and even then may take up to 2 days to wake after they stop the drug keeping her sedated. However the good news is that they have got her blood pressure up and she is responding.

It is now about 5 pm - I've no idea where the day went. I left Chateaubriant hospital about 9 : 30 in the morning. I decide they have enough to do and I'll get out of there way and go home. I get home around 7 pm and phone the hospital. She is still OK and her blood pressure is still improving.

I return next morning and she is still sedated but looks more relaxed and her blood pressure is now 126 over 73. They take the sedation drugs off at midday. In the evening she opens her eyes and I talk to her. She responds. She cannot talk - she has an oxygen pipe and a feeding tube in her mouth. She starts spelling out words. First she spells out C H O K. "No you're not choking you have a pipe down your throat" She seems to accept this and spells out T U R K " Ah, yes I ate the left over turkey" She then starts to spell out something else but I stop her and tell her everything is OK and she should go back to sleep now. She does. I am asked to leave about 7 pm. She is sleeping peacefully.

I'm told that visiting hours are 13 : 00 to 14 : 00 and 18 : 30 to 20 : 00 and these times are strictly enforced. I telephone at 8 : 00 on Tuesday and am told she is OK. I get there at 1 o'clock and, along with all the other relatives are allowed in after a good scrub up with special hand wash and anti-aseptic gel. She is now more awake. A young female doctor is with her. She explains to me (out of earshot from Lynne) that she has no idea what has happened and remembers nothing from yesterday. She goes on to tell me that she came round properly after 20 : 00 last night and wanted to know why I wasn't there. She also informs me that if Lynne had arrived half an hour later she would have died. I am asked to explain to her what has happened.

I start by asking her what day it is. "Sunday morning". OK and where are you? "Chateaubriant hospital". Right then full explanation required. I explain it's now Tuesday afternoon, she is in Nantes Hospital and she got here by helicopter on Sunday morning. It takes a while for this to sink in - about 2 days to be exact. She has no recollection of our "conversation" of Monday night.

On Wednesday afternoon she is taken off the oxygen machine and the pipe and feeding tube are removed. She is still on oxygen but through a pipe in her nose. She is taken by ambulance to another hospital in Nantes (in the North right next to Ikea). I follow in my car and eventually find the correct hospital Only the French can have 2 completely separate hospitals in the same grounds. I suspect the space age building I first went to is a private facility. Its signage was much bigger and better than the state hospitals!

Yesterday she was taken off the oxygen and is sitting up in a chair. She has been seen by a lung expert and they have worked out what they are going to do. Rather Lynne has told him she is not going to see yet another so called specialist. she likes him so she is now his problem. Apparently she told him what she thought of the specialist in Chateaubriant, which, with Lynnes normal blunt truthfulness wasn't flattering and they all seemed to agree and he's taken her on. The problem is that she appears to have a recurring infection in one lung which is stopping the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to her blood. Our doctor has been saying this for the last two years but neither of the specialists she has been referred to has taken any notice.

It's now 7:15 on Saturday morning and the world looks very good now.   :D

20th October

Lynne is allowed home today. She is still very weak and tired but is much better than she was a week ago. Every day she gets stronger. I will stay with her for the rest of the week and. if she's OK by the weekend I'll restart work on the barn.

29th October

We go out for the first time since Lynne came home. We went to Segre, had lunch at the Chinese restaurant then went to Brico. I had a real moan at Brico as I had been using a loyalty card which, unknown to me (and the staff at the Segre branch) was not recording the sales as the card has to be used at the issuing branch at least once a year. It was issued by the Reneze branch and I hadn't been there for over 3 years! So I got a new card and "lost" the points on about 3,000? of purchases. Whilst there we bought a spray tin of bright red paint (rouge feu - fire red) to paint the 2 white lamp shades bought at Ikea. These lamp shades are 60 cm wide (nearly 2 foot) and did come in black, red and white. However they are not being made anymore and the remaining stock is all that's left. So, having been to two stores we managed to get 1 red, 1 black and 2 white. I was going to take the white ones to a bodyshop for spraying to match the 1 red we had. However I decided, for the price of a tin of paint, to have a go myself. So I masked the inside with masking tape and newspaper and took the first shade outside to spray. First coat on and looking good but a bit patchy. Left it about an hour and went out to apply a second coat. As I start spraying it starts raining. You know that sort of .rain where it starts with huge raindrops and quickly develops into a very hard downpour. Of course you do - just the thing you need on a just painted lampshade! I ran indoors with a dripping wet shade only to be shouted at as the smell of the paint was very strong. ran out and put it on a cardboard box inside the old house. I could see that some serious repair work was going to be needed on this object. Tomorrow. 

30th October

After breakfast, when the overnight rain had stopped I retrieved the lamp shade. During the night it had fallen off the cardboard box so was now scratched and smudged as well as full of white spots. Place it on the 2 square concrete sections laid on the outside table to provide a stand and go search for some wet & dry. Come back with a piece of 600 grade. get a bowl of warm water and rub the lamp down. Then give it another coat. Not bad. Whilst it's drying I get the original red lamp from the garage and find they are very different in shade. So whilst the first of the new coats is drying I mask up the second lamp and give it its first coat. They look OK but still a bit patchy in the very bright sunlight. So, I'm off to Brico at 2 pm to get another tin of fire red paint and apply the second coat to the second shade and one (maybe two) coats to the original red shade.

This is the red lamp as supplied by Ikea before getting a coat of fire red....


....and this is the two white lamps after getting several coats. Kindly note the red table - do you think it'll catch on?

31st October