This story begins on a dark. very cold January day when Marcus and Jim began marking out our new pool area with bits of string and digging the first hole in the ground for our new pool with a shovel!
What followed was a February of cold, wet, noisy excavation as we made an 11 metre by 5 metre hole in the ground. Big diggers, small diggers, dumper trucks*, all arrived on site, with ton after ton of solid Stonehenge sized rock moved from one place to another.
Hole complete, then came March, a mountain of polystyrene, several tons of gravel dumped on site, four lorries full of concrete poured into the ground, some torrential rain (as you'd expect when you need it to be dry!) and a moment of mild panic when we thought we might not get planning permission!**
Next up was April, our great cavity in the ground sat dormant waiting for some attention whilst we ran cycling holidays*** and saved noisy work for days when there were no guests on site. Unfortunately for Jim's back, this served as the ideal time for the quieter pursuit (but probably the hardest) of moving more rocks, by hand and wheelbarrow, from one place to the next to rebuild the dry stone walls, along with laying out decking and creating a pump room.
Fast up behind April came May, which did wonders to hot up the already warm pool area with summer temperatures and really put the pressure on. Most of this month was spent in a back breaking tiling position for Marcus, with Jim providing a constant supply of concrete. Day after day lay of tile laying, mixing concrete and cutting tiles turned into week after week and then month after month....
There was some light in the tiling darkness though - the liner arrived! With the help of the professionals, the satisfying transformation from concrete hole to anthracite, grey lined pool was complete. Within minutes of completion in went the hose and the mammoth task of filling up the pool began. It took four and half days and once it was full we couldn't resist a dip...even though nothing else was finished!
And then it was June...almost Summer, almost guest time, and still SO MUCH TO DO! Tiling complete now came the grouting and the sealing and the cleaning, followed by scouring the grout from every tile in 40 degrees, on hands and knees - a challenge that Mel would not let break her! At the same time, several hundred metres of soil were weeded, de-stoned and raked. Then weed matting and gravel were applied and hundreds of plants were purchased from every nursery in the Tarn et Garonne! After five gruelling, physical months the last thing anyone needed was 'gardening by pickaxe' but unfortunately that's what we got - each new hole lovingly pick axed, prepared and then planted.
And so June continues on and we still have three gates to build, a pergola to put in, hammocks to hang, pool alarms to install, lights to wire, hundreds of plants to water, furniture to buy...and so it goes on. And what have we learned from this never ending experience? That a DIY pool is not for the faint hearted. It is hard work and nowhere near as cheap as you think BUT the end result is pretty fantastic if we do say so ourselves!
P.S Pool update - today the water temperature reached 32 degrees celsius - that's almost as warm as the air!
*We must say thanks to local farmer Kevin Scragg who saved us from a year of pick-axing the pool by being equipped with all of the machinery we could have possibly needed to get a pool sized hole in the ground!
**We must also say thanks to our wonderful French neighbours who got on the phone to the town planners on our behalf and gave them what for!
***And more words of thanks to our very tolerant guests - we hope to see you all here again in the future for a dip.