top of page

Field Notes is a free weekly newsletter

Forty Miles South from Paris | Note 31

The spiral staircase between our ground-floor kitchen and first-floor landing is well over a hundred years old. We were told that, sometime around the 1950s, the grandfather of the house’s previous owner acquired it second-hand in Paris. According to our neighbour, it was saved from a metro station during its reconstruction.


The 16 wooden boards creak and moan underfoot, and the whole structure bends ominously with every step. A couple of weeks ago – four years after we moved in – one of the steps finally cracked in half, threatening a serious accident and the possible disintegration of the entire staircase.


It would probably make sense to tear the whole thing down and replace it with a modern equivalent, but we’ve grown used to it, becoming fond of the wood worn over many decades into soft curves. The ancient staircase, oddly placed in the kitchen and half-obstructing the dining room door, is a relatively recent addition to the 1786 stone house nested in a narrow gap between two barns. Originally, an external staircase led to the first floor through what now is our bathroom window.


The bathroom features heavily on my today’s to-do list. A small leak under the toilet – which I fitted myself three years ago, and, of course, made some mistakes – necessitated taking the toilet out. Today, I can put it back in, hopefully eliminating the leak. Then I’ll move on to the staircase and attempt to bolster the cracked step. I fear that my fixes are only temporary, and if we want to keep the original stairs standing, we’ll need to elicit the help of a good carpenter. For now, the goal is to... read more now→


"Beautifully written and well researched"

—   JOHNNY DAWES

BORN TO CLIMB

From Rock Climbing Pioneers
to Olympic Athletes

a new book by Zofia Reych

bottom of page