Have you ever been lucky enough to visit Monet’s House in Giverny?
well I have, it was many years ago and I have one lasting memory, looking through the beautifully painted sage green windows and viewing an unfolding vista of the garden.
So when faced with a garden to design I carried this memory forward and planned that each of my windows should carry a view of something special.
Unfortunately before I could get to this point I really did need to sort out some windows to look out of.
As most of the apertures on our house where fitted with old, rotten, worm eaten wooden frames holding dusty panes of cracked glass. It did not take any genius more than a few seconds to realise we needed replacements.
So off I went on the hunt!!!!
A double glazed window is a window with two panes of glass ………. correct,
I soon realised that in Italy it is not quite that simple. They have numerous extra details like specifics of the glass , width of the wood, insulation, handles , locks etc etc and as you have probably guessed for all these there is a huge price tag.
I was advised to ask one of the specialists from Nizza and was told he had a good reputation. So I invited him to come and do some measuring. He very enthusiastically arrived and even brought me a lovely glossy folder containing pictures of all the other houses he had fitted out to other unsuspecting souls with deep pockets.
If you note, the picture of our house,
windows are certainly one thing we are not short of. I had actually never stopped to count but this guy did and in fact suggested opening up more areas to improve the overall appearance of the house.
and of course
“we really must not forget the shutters”
He left here with lots of measurements promising to contact me the very next day with a preventivo (estimate).
I waited a few days but heard nothing so rather foolishly went and visited the shop. I was immediately given the grand tour and subjected to hours of explaination about the building of the said windows. It was built up to such a crescendo that when he eventually produced the quote I was to be eternally grateful to him for giving me such a service.
For such a small sum of 22,000 euros I could fit the front of my house, with windows and shutters. ( that is just to provide the windows to the front not the fitting)
Pick me up off the ground I have had to graft hard for my cash and this guy was not going to get 22,000 euros from me for windows. So I baid him farewell and thought he can fund his luxury cruise from someone else.
Back to the drawing board
A joiner friend who owns a house nearby had done some renovations in France and had used a french company Lapeyre, he said that the windows were good quality and priced very competitively. I checked this information out and discovered that I could replace half the house for a quarter of the quoted cost .
Ok, they may not be all singing and dancing, top of the range but they were wooden double glazed windows. just the job. simple and effective we have to make savings on the budget somewhere and this was to be our compromise.
But as always there has to be a drawback ………. we could not order from Italy so we had to travel to France to make our order. Our nearest stores where either Nice or Chambery both being a three hour journey from here.
So we decided to leave the ordering until our next journey to Britain.
A couple of months later We made a small detour into Chambery . We easily found the store and were even luckier to find ourselves an English speaker. As I must confess my French goes no further than” Oui” or “merci”. We eagerly placed our order and all was going well until the guy asked our address, there was a moments silence and then he took a deep breath and shook his head.
” Italy Noooooooo”
“Why?” said I thinking is there a ban on taking windows to Italy?
He shook his head again and said “what route are you going to take?”
“through the Alps” I said thinking what business is it of his, what does it matter which road I take.
then to my amazement he said “They will explode at high altitudes”
explode!! exploding windows!!!!!! have we got a translation problem, it certainly wasnt April 1st in fact it was the middle of December and very cold
I looked on shocked as he proceeded to phone the customs patrol on the tunnel entrance to the Frejus, I listened patiently while he had a 10 minute debate about the altitude of the road and whether the windows would explode or rather implode,
He later explained that this was due to the gas pressure between the two panes.
Anyway, to cut to the chase they all agreed that it was too high a risk and we ended up paying an extra 30 euros per window to change the gas pressure within.
It seems that no other person has ever experienced this, if you have get back to me I would love to know.
We returned to Chambery for our order on a sunny March day after a beautiful journey through the Alps.
Following a nights stay and a delightful visit to a nearby garden centre where I purchased some golden bearded Iris for the grand sum of 2 euros a plant, (what a bargain) we returned to the warehouse to collect the windows.
They were loaded onto the van and we set out on our trek rather apprehensively climbing the Alps.
very little was said !
When we reached the tunnel entrance we looked at each other with concern OH said
“no explosion yet”.
I sat in silence considering our big old van which was only supposed to have remained with us for six months.
It has become the stalwart of our life here it has not just saved us vast amount of haulage costs, but is now the community van carrying bits and bobs for everyone. It has a tail lift so it enables us to collect heavy objects without a problem. Unfortunately it is slow and a bit noisy. Inside the cab we hear little else than the engine it would be most unlikely that we would hear any explosion from within.
As soon as we passed the Italian border we stopped at the nearest car park to check our precious cargo
OH peered over the tail lift terrified that he might find tiny pieces of glass but all was fine and we continued our journey with smug satisfaction.
A few months later the windows were reluctantly installed by our builders who repeatedly told us we would be better buying Italian.
To our disappointment the horrid orange wood colour did not enhance the house at all and I suppose our builders were correct.
By this time I had planted my golden iris and watched it grow but after a few weeks it flopped, struggling to make growth.
I said to myself ” just like the windows you get what you pay for.”
BUT By the following season the Iris had doubled in size and during the month of May the large golden blooms were shining brightly in the sunlight.
I was so delighted. I sighed happy with success but as I turned and surveyed the windows, I thought ……mmm! not much improvement here.
Then I remembered Monet and the colour of his windows. Crikey all We need is some paint. During the hot summer OH set about painting them Farrow and Balls Tarrow, a creamy white. By the beginning of July I had some rather handsome windows adorning the front of my house.
As the seasons pass the garden is starting to mature and each window has started to frame a perfect view.