Alistair and Yvonne

Alistair and Yvonne are frequent visitors to the Reclamation Yard and we asked them to share some of their projects:

Not long after we bought our house in 2002, my husband’s brother decided to come & pay us a visit, bringing his 2 small children (both aged under 5) with him. We very quickly realised that we needed to do something about the upstairs windows – the low sills presented a real risk of an accidental fall, either to the children or to my brother-in-law after a glass or two of wine! We had always admired the decorative iron window grills which are very common in France and, as well as adorning the window in a most attractive way, they also prevent a person from inadvertantly falling to the ground!

As our house is quite old, we didn’t want to buy new grills. We knew that the best place to find some antique ones would be the Reclamation Yard &, sure enough, we found exactly what we were looking for: 2 longish lengths of really attractive iron window grills. The 2 designs were completely different but we didn’t mind as we needed 2 grills for the front of the house & 2 for the back so it really didn’t matter that they didn’t match. We were even more delighted with the offer to have them cut to size at no extra cost – that was a real bonus!

When we got them home, all they needed was a brush down & a coat of paint & they were ready to install. My husband had to drill 12 holes in total into the wall in order to securely attach the grills, which was no mean feat but, as he said, I’ll only have to do it the once! The addition of a bit of lime mortar to seal them into place completed the job. 15 years later, they are still doing their job of, not only looking attractive, but stopping unsuspecting visitors from tumbling out of the window!

We needed a pair of shutters for the kitchen & rather than spend a lot of money having them made or buying them brand new from Bricomarche, we found just what we wanted at the Reclamation Yard – a pair of wooden shutters of almost the right dimensions & in excellent condition. My husband is a dab hand with a saw & a screwdriver &, with a bit of fettling & a fresh coat of paint – voila! We have a super pair of shutters for our kitchen window!

My husband bought me a black, cast iron Armillary Sphere for an anniversary present. All we needed was a tall plinth for it to sit on in order to display it in our garden. We didn’t really know what we wanted exactly but we knew that we would know it when we saw it! We trawled around a few Vide Greniers & Depot Ventes but couldn’t find anything suitable.

We do like to have a nose around the Reclamation Yard so we decided to see if there was anything that took our fancy. Terry was extremely helpful & suggested that maybe a chunk of old roofing timber might fit the bill. He found exactly what we were looking for – a characterful piece of an ‘A’ post & very kindly trimmed the timber to size.

All it needed was a good scrub with a wire brush & a few coats of old engine oil to act as a preservative before installing in the garden. My husband drilled out the base in order to insert an iron rod which was then inserted into the ground to support the plinth. The Armillary Sphere sat perfectly on the top & has been much admired by our friends & it gives us both a lot of pleasure to look at it! Very pleased with the result!

One day, whilst browsing around the Reclamation Yard, we spotted a rather unusual garden bench. It was unusual in the fact that it only had 2 back legs & no front ones at all. On inspecting it in more detail, there was no evidence that it had ever had any front legs – most bizarre! In order to stop it from falling over, a concrete block had been put underneath it. Clearly this was not a practical permanent solution &, as it was quite an attractive bench, we decided that it was definitely worth restoring & so we swapped it for an old sideboard! We were still living in the UK at that time & so we took it back to Leicestershire as we knew of a good blacksmith. He did a great job in fabricating some front legs that matched the existing rear ones almost exactly & he only charged us £35! We now live in France full-time & the bench has become a favourite spot in the garden for an evening apero in the summer!