Some things make this château life of endless physical labour all worthwhile.
When you’ve restored the bread oven. When you fire it up for the first time and feel the odd frisson of self-suffiency. When you share freshly made pizza with friends. And when your first rustic bread is dense as a brick, near impossible to cut, but tastes heavenly good. Yes. Finally.
I sometimes wonder at the insanity of trying to keep this outsized project on track. But here we are. After more than a year of delays and postponements we have concluded the restoration of Lescure’s stone lined oven. We discovered it years ago when we knocked out an ugly wall in a decrepit horse stable. The bricks inside the oven were intact and we decided there and then that we would restore it. A team of local artisan fumistes or chimney specialists, father and son Lopes, did a wonderful job on the interior of what once must have been the estate’s baking house. We love how the oven façade, now finished with a local stucco, contrasts with the ravaged walls.
ON THE OUTSIDE
As to the dome-shaped exterior part of the oven, we thought restoring it would be a complicated and massive job. This was based on the high quotes we received and we weren’t much looking forward to getting started. Until we found a large and affordable pile of lauzes, a type of local flagstone. Thomas decided to buy these and then just figure the task out himself. Armed with enthusiasm and with the help of a couple of friends who were staying with us for a photoshoot, he got the job done. No mean feat! We have since had the crumbling wall of the baking house cleaned and repaired too.
Next up? We are thinking of turning the baking house into a rugged outdoor kitchen that doubles as an artist studio. The kind of space where you could be making jams and baking bread, but that also boasts an old sink where you can clean your paint brushes after use.
Now, excuse me, I’m off daydreaming. While the paint dries on a canvas, I check the bread in the oven, I stir a pot on the stove…