As last week, we feel like we are making really good progress on a number of tasks and charging (relatively!) through the list of jobs to do and are ticking them off. This has been helped in no small part by the AMAZING weather we have enjoyed for the last 3 weeks which, as long as I don’t jinx it, looks like it will continue well into this coming week.
We always believed that when Grange was structurally complete and I could focus on the finishing then it would be fairly simple to progress at a good pace. This has turned out to be the case and on Monday I managed to build the remainder of the sofas that we had bought. Having taken ages to put the first together because of the appalling assembly instructions, the remainder were much faster.
We did receive most parts of the ‘major addition’ that I spoke about last week but not all and so we haven’t managed to install it. As it isn’t installed I will keep that secret until next week’s blog …
But, furniture built, I was able to pick up on another job that I had started a couple of week’s ago – building a(nother) slate wall, this time between where the new man shed will be and the Grange. We have built a number of slate walls since living here (to create a flower bed in front of Hayloft; to make a smart gateway at the back driveway; rebuilding the tropical bed) for a number of reasons. This is partly because we believe they look good and should last a long time; partly because I quite enjoy doing it but mostly because we have so much slate that we need to use!
Much of this slate came from the small wood shed we demolished to build Grange but a lot has just come from digging around the garden – there is so much about and lots of it great for building. Having manually dug all around Grange so that I can get a wheelbarrow easily round, it meant that the new ground level was approximately a meter below the new concrete pad we laid where we are going to enlarge the man shed. As the soil was unattractive and not likely to be very solid, I thought I’d build a wall (again!)
While it has taken all week, on and off with other tasks and because it has been so hot, we think it looks great and really finishes off that area. I have used the concrete lintel we took out of the old jungle bed (waste not, want not!) and some railway sleepers to create the steps up to where the man shed door will be. Eventually, when we order the gravel for the drive, this too will all be gravelled and should be easy to maintain.
Another point of this work was also to make a tidy rubbish and recycling area under the games room stairs. However, now that we think it looks so good as you walk down the drive, we think the bins are really unsightly so will, eventually, put them on the other end of the garage – also means that they won’t smell out the games room on hot days.
While the wall was the major task complete we have managed to do various bits of tidying and clearing. This included finally storing some wood we had delivered probably a couple of years ago which had sat under black plastic near the back gate as I didn’t have the time or equipment to split it before. Now done and the area cleared.
The next big space to clear is what will be the petanque pitch which, because of where it is, immediately in front of Grange, really became my building yard for the construction. Looking at what is there it shouldn’t take too long. The weeding will be the hardest part, but it would be good to get that cleared and a petanque pitch created before we gravel the drive. Next week’s major task.
The amazing weather has meant that we have managed, at last, to have our first BBQ of the year – I love cooking outside and don’t know why we left it so long. Thankfully, it wasn’t the first time this year we have used our chiminea – what I think might be my absolute favourite possession – and enjoy the fantastically clear skies and starry nights. Beautiful. To make up for the late start we are doing the same again tonight – and maybe tomorrow as it is another public holiday in France so Dave doesn’t have to go to work.
Looking back on last week it has been busy, both in terms of guests in the gîtes and work, and we have benefitted from (whisper it quietly) decent spring weather. Even David made the comment today that this spring has been one when we have been able to tick off a number of projects.
I mentioned at the end of last week’s blog that a number of tasks were nearing completion and that there was a sensible order to complete them that allowed me to make progress on the next task. The first was to finish the wood store which I have built behind Grange as that would allow me to move the last of the winter wood out of the garage bay and progress that.
The wood store I have built comprises 5 compartments each able to hold a cord of wood (3 cubic metres) which is the unit it is generally sold in. Until last week those compartments were open to the elements with a soil floor. As we haven’t yet ordered the gravel that we will use to renew the drive I bought a trailer load to cover the ground.
Last week’s blog mentioned that there were 2 public holidays in the week so there was a chance that lots of people would be taking the remainder of the week off. Turns out this was true of the quarry which didn’t know until I had driven there to find it closed for 10 days! As such the gravel we have used is not what will be on the drive but, as it will generally be covered with wood I don’t think it matters.
Gravel laid, I repaired and resized a number of pallets for the wood to sit on and then made covers from UV stabilised waterproof fabric which I have attached marine fastenings to enabling me to easily seal the compartments and keep the wood completely dry. The finished result is exactly what I had envisioned when we started and should last for years.
The second task completed this week is the Grange games room which is a real bonus. The previous week I had managed to complete the floor other than the beading and final finishing. This week I managed to finish that as well as clear out the accumulated tools and wood offcuts which had built up – the latter now stored in one of the dry wood store compartments.
On Wednesday we also, despite my doubts expressed last week, received our new games room purchase – a babyfoot table. No French games room could be a games room without babyfoot. Despite having bought one of the less expensive tables (and you can pay a lot for them) we are really pleased with it. It appears pretty robust and was very easy to assemble – which is more that can be said for the sofas we have bought! The sofas came disassembled from a Dutch company and, while they are great when built, the assembly instructions are terrible. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the Swedes are world leaders in flat-pack and not the Dutch!
The room is looking great although I need to build the other sofas and we need to add a little more furniture, but, with everything in place it is evident how large the room is – 49 sqm. There is plenty of space for me to build the bar we want and still have the floor space for something else. Suggestions would be appreciate – a Twister play area?!
So, other than one other major addition which we hope to take delivery of in the week, the games room is done – the challenge will be for me not to use it as a distraction from all the other tasks that I need to work on!
I mentioned last week that we had David’s parents staying with us so we did have some time off and enjoyed some great meals out. We returned to our favourite local restaurants at Saint Rivoal and on the Lac du Drennec. Both were great again. I didn’t show any pictures of the new interiors of either when they both re-opened – this is the Auberge du Menez in Saint Rivoal. Similar to before but with some striking new artwork. The menu too is excellent, apologies for the odd angle but I hope you can make out some of the dishes. – David’s Dad and I had the special (not listed) which was a fabulous côte du boeuf cooked perfectly. We also returned to one of the many great restaurants in Morlaix – the Via Duc which is worth a visit.
The public holiday on Thursday was Ascension Day when there are a number of events held. We took David’s parents to the Fête du Nivot which is a small agricultural show held at the Nivot agricultural college in the neighbouring village of Loperec. However, we made the mistake of going at lunchtime forgetting that things would stop! So we missed the demonstrations and displays and only got to see the vintage cars and tractors – which were interesting enough but a lesson (re)learned for next time …
This coming week I will be able to work on clearing out the garage bays and progress, possibly finish, the wall between the Grange and what will be the new man-cave.
Work at the start of the week was focussed on starting to prepare all of our gîtes to accept guests yesterday. On Monday this meant I needed to clear the parking space in front of Stable.
Having chopped down the trees on the north end of the orchard bed a few weeks ago, we had decided to leave the branches and twigs in the parking space temporarily. There was too much of it to make taking it all to the déchèterie sensible so we decided that we would burn it at some point. However, that meat needing to drive it round to our back garden and across the lawn and it hadn’t been dry enough until now.
On the down side, this has meant that we now have a larger pile of garden waste at the end of the garden but, on the up side, it means we have to have a bonfire sometime soon ?.
In last week’s blog I mentioned that I hadn’t progressed the floor in the Grange games room for a couple of weeks but that it was our intention to make sure that it would be done for the start of the season.
So, on Tuesday, despite having amazing weather outside, I took the decision to go back into Grange and make the final push to the end. The choice of my timing was that we were due a downpour overnight Tuesday and Wednesday morning when I could remain in Grange and varnish the completed floor and repair the billiard light we have acquired.
The floor looks great and it means that we are within a few days of having a completed games room – for which we made another exciting purchase in the week. More next week if it gets delivered in the next few days although as there are 2 public holidays this week (Tuesday and Thursday) who knows when / if we will get a delivery! I just need to add some beading around the outer edge of the floor (and of course clear out all of the accumulated debris – although that is dependent on having somewhere to put it!) and we can officially open the Games Room – phase 1 complete.
Since varnishing the floor I have spent a couple of days with a paintbrush or spraycan in hand. Now that the room is almost ready I wanted to refurbish the pool table and billiard light we have to put in. Having bought them together on French Gumtree both needed a little TLC. The light needed to be rewired and have some holes filled which I did with a fibre glass kit (simple but very messy) and the table needed a panel which had been replaced with particleboard painted to match the rest.
I have almost finished both and we should have them in place next week. The other item I painted we added to the tropical bed – along with a (unpainted) variegated yucca which is harder to spot! We think it looks great. We were given it by some friends in the village who bought their house from a fisherman who left a few in their yard. It had always been the intention for it to go in the tropical bed as a bit of a feature but we then thought we paint it as close to Kergudon blue as we could so it will match all of the wood when that is (eventually) painted too.
Friday was back to preparing gîtes as this week we are completely full for the first time in 2018 which we are delighted about. As there are 2 public holidays many of the French ‘faire le pont’ (make the bridge) which is basically taking the day off between a weekend and holiday. As there are 2 holidays there are bridges to be had Monday, Wednesday and Friday so not a lot will happen in France this week!
We have a lovely French family in Granary who stayed with us last year; a large family reunion in Priory and Stable who have travelled from Canada, London and within France; and a Scottish couple and Westie staying with us in Hayloft. This has meant that Dave’s parents – who also arrived with us yesterday for a week – are with us in Kergudon and Dave and I have had to move to the top floor. It is thankfully convenient that the storeroom was completed recently so we could see the carpet on our top floor!
Today has been continuing to clear the boundary on our outer north talus, along Stréat al Louarn, and start the wall between Grange and what will be my new man-shed. As the dimensions of the new will be shorter than the existing cave I am building some steps at the far end to allow access to cut the hedge.
Only a few hours on that so far but hopefully I will be able to progress it next week as it is all part of getting the garage complete and having somewhere to put all of that detritus currently in the games room. You see how one job is so dependent on completing another – I should have been a project manager!
We have just enjoyed another decent week weather-wise, although considerably cooler than earlier in the month. It has meant that another week has passed when I have not continued with the floor in the games room! However, we fully intend to have the games room available for the main season so it will be completed.
This week has actually been a series of smaller, ‘bittier’ jobs that has taken up our time so no major milestones met or achieved. It has meant that a couple of things have been completed which have been outstanding for a while, none of which make good photos.
One of the most obvious is that we have managed to cover the newly planted jungle bed with some gravel mulch – helps with the amount of weeding that I was lamenting last week – and we have chosen to use a lighter colour gravel which will contrast with the grey gravel of the drive which we will replenish at some point in the coming months.
Having laid a gulley in front of Grange last week another of the bitty jobs was to remove the shuttering and cut the downpipes to the correct length. With the one heavy downpour we experienced last week the gully seems to be doing its job as the interior of the garage is drying out.
Another task done was to spray the front driveway of Kergudon which I have been meaning to do for some time. In last week’s blog I mentioned how long it has taken us to weed the flowerbeds but the driveway is also prone to weed growth and is much harder to weed manually.
Friday was a shopping day. It was partly in the world’s favourite Swedish furniture store (yay!) where we have bought, among other things, some new bar stools for Priory replacing the old ones which were in the gîte when we arrived – it of course meant a few hours building things but they will look far better.
We did have a lovely couple stay with us in Hayloft during the week who left a very nice review on Trip Advisor. Thanks to them. They seemed to enjoy David’s cooking too as they had 2 of his 3 course dinners while they were staying with us.
Next week hopefully more progress on some things that I can take pictures of!
Who said Mother Nature doesn’t have a sense of humour? Having planted so many of our new yews in the last couple of weeks, this week has been the first of the year when we have had absolutely no rain! In fact, for at least 4 days the temperatures have been soaring into the upper 20s – exceptionally hot for April – and it feels like we are approaching near drought conditions. This follows the other unseasonably cold, wet and snowy winter and spring. Climate change, what climate change!!
The dry weather has allowed me to complete one task that we have wanted to do for a while – and, as I mentioned in last week’s blog – I was able to use a new toy that David has allowed me to buy. The job was to create a gully along the front of Grange to reduce the amount of water which comes into the parking bays and channel the rain from one of the downpipes to the end of the building.
As the interior of the bays are slightly lower than the driveway outside, during rainy weather most of the water comes into the 2 central garage bays as I haven’t created a sill across them. This is aggravated as one downpipe, which takes ¼ of the water from the roof, currently adds to the water on the drive as it has nowhere else to go.
The gully is just a concrete trench with a groove running along its length (not quite as straight as I would have liked!) made with my new toy – a concrete mixer. However, as ever, the preparation took almost as long as the job itself as I needed to dig a trench in front of the garage and make some shuttering that I would pour the concrete into. Turned out that mixing and pouring the concrete was the quickest part of the job as making a decent finish to the groove along its length was much trickier than I had anticipated – perhaps my concrete was a little too wet.
However, job now done and should make a huge difference to the interior but, as with so many of our jobs has created another as we now need to raise the height of the ground inside and out so there isn’t a huge kerb to enter the parking bays!
The remainder of the week has been taken up with one task and, as the weather has been so good, not the games room floor this week but lots and lots and lots and lots, and lots, of weeding!
Having created a number of flower beds in the gardens the Breton combination of mild, wet, weather seems to be ideal for weed germination. Having cut down the scruffy trees from the north bed in the orchard at the end of March, I hadn’t been able to go back, expand the bed as we had wanted, weed it, and then plant a couple of shrubs. I did this week.
Then, as the new bed looked so good I thought it would be worthwhile paying some attention to the other beds in the orchard which has taken the rest of the week to get to the same state (and I’m not quite finished!) With David also putting in a couple of days in the champignon beds behind Priory there has been 7 man-days just clearing flower beds. We need to find a way of keeping on top of them now – but that is also something we have said before!
After all that effort though we are really pleased with how the gardens are starting to look and they will only improve as the shrubs we have planted grow, the cherries we bought this year are almost in blossom and should look fabulous and the spring colour on a couple of the small shrubs already look great. The difference it has made removing some of the apple trees and the hazel et al on the north end of the orchard is fantastic.
As the weather has been so good we did ‘reward’ ourselves with a picnic lunch at the side of Lac du Drennec yesterday – obviously only so the dogs could have a swim and cool down you understand! Even David went for a dip, although he did admit it was a little chilly still, but it fabulous that we can pop down to this amazing place whenever we want in a matter of minutes. Foolishly we haven’t had our first BBQ of the year yet. Hopefully we will make up for that soon although the dry weather looks to be lasting another couple of days it won’t be anywhere near as hot and, I don’t believe I am saying this after the winter we have just had, we really could do with some rain!
There is a risk that this week’s blog could sound very similar (exactly the same!) as last week’s, as, again, my focus has been the 2 tasks of continuing the Games Room floor in Grange and planting our yew hedging. To make sure it doesn’t, I will add a calendar of events coming up in and around Saint Cadou at the end to help you plan your holiday here!
With the Games Room, I have now completed and varnished approximately 2/3 of the floor so am making good progress. The last 1/3 should be relatively quick once I have relocated all of the DIY detritus that has been gathering in the corner – oh to have my man-shed rebuilt at some point …
We have laid a runway across the newly varnished floor while we continue to corral our things in the storeroom which David has continued to make good progress with.
With the yews I have now planted 89% of the plants (I’ll let you figure out how many that actually is of the original 100!) which, most importantly, is the entire length of the rear wall where a hedge is most needed. I have a home for the remainder which I hope to plant next week – and we are going to gift a couple to a neighbour who does bonsai for a hobby (which he is very good at) – should get something amazing in a decade or 2! Even with the planting I get the impression we are likely to be benefitting the next owners of Kergudon rather than us!
Planting these yews has been a larger job than I had anticipated (sound familiar!) as it took much longer to clear around the hollies which had survived from our initial planting in 2016 especially next to the rear entrance of Kergudon which had become especially overgrown. The clearing of this area expanded as I started to attack the exterior and the wall (talus) which borders Stréat al Louarn which borders us on the north side.
A talus is effectively a ‘dry’ stone wall but one which is generally held together with soil and dirt. The wall bordering Stréat al Louarn evidently used to be really attractive – and could still be along much of its length but needs much of the self-set bramble, nettle and various weeds removed which I will eventually get around to. Sadly however, closest to the rear entrance, which we understand was created many years ago by driving a tractor through the talus, the stones have collapsed where they have been pushed out by the roots of self-set trees.
At some point, when time allows, I want to rebuild a wall on this side to mirror what we have done opposite although that is unlikely to be this year.
Before that I will continue to clean the wall against the lane but be careful not to make it too pristine and ‘Disney’.
Having cleared out the bramble and weed which, while it looked unsightly did at least provide some sort of visual barrier on the boundary, we are a little more open. As a result, we have added another task to our ‘To Do’ list – build a new fence to protect our new plants and prevent inquisitive dogs making a break for freedom!
Another highlight of the week has been the re-opening of the restaurant at the side of the Lac du Drennec last night. After a year when, for a number of reasons, it remained closed we are delighted to have the restaurant back with Mercedes back as chef. After a complete re-vamp giving it a new feel and colour scheme, for Saturday at least the menu looked very familiar as Merc opened with her (and our) favourites and what was popular before.
No pictures of the interior as yet as there is a little more to be done to complete the décor but they will come. With Au Lac reopened as well as the Auberge du Menez in Saint Rivoal too, we are delighted to be able to have our 2 closest restaurants available.
That has been the principle focus of my work efforts this week so, as promised, I thought that I would take the opportunity to flag some of the activities happening in and around Saint Cadou in the summer.
28 – 29 April: Extreme Cowboy Racing at the riding school Randoloisirs near the barrage du Drennec. We haven’t been to this before so will report after the event.
18 – 19 May: Fête du Bourg, Saint Cadou. Following the success of last year’s festival held throughout the village, the Assomniak team are staging a second event which will see numerous bands and acts perform in a number of venues in Saint Cadou.
23 June: Saint Cadou Tantad. The annual Fête de la Saint Jean held at the Salle des Fêtes in Saint Cadou which is best described as Breton Guy Fawkes night with a huge bonfire and lots of Breton music and dancing. A similar fire is happening in the neighbouring village, Commana, who combines it with the French national Fête de la musique with lots of bands playing in the square.
30 June: Tribreizh. The annual triathlon held in and around the Lac du Drennec.
12 July: Tour de France comes to Sizun. This year the tour is passing through the centre of our local market town, Sizun and through the Monts D’Arrée. Kergudon would be the perfect base for watching this spectacle.
28 July: Annual Fireworks on the Lac du Drennec. Loosely connected to France’s Fête National, Commana hold a firework display off the beach at Stammadec on the Lac du Drennec.
Lots of fun to be had in the forthcoming months. In the forthcoming week, when the forecast looks to be the best we have had all year, I have one major challenge to achieve with a new toy that David has authorised – more in next week’s blog – and more flooring if I have to be inside!
This week has been focussed on 2 activities – when we have been working – progressing the floor in Grange’s games room and planting the yews that I showed in last week’s blog.
I say when we have been working as the week started slowly being Easter Monday and the Marché sur l’eau. However, before that, we managed to stage our own Easter Egg Hunt for the children of the 2 families we had staying with us for Easter. As I mentioned last week, Easter Sunday itself was too wet to hold the hunt but, thankfully we were able to do so on Monday.
I learned over the week that the French don’t have an Easter Bunny who hides the eggs but that it is the church bells which leave the eggs in people’s gardens. Their story goes that the church bells, which don’t ring between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, travel to Rome to be blessed returning on Easter Sunday laden with eggs that they leave in families gardens on their way back to the churches.
The four children we had staying with seemed to enjoy the event – and amazingly found all of the eggs we had left around the orchard. Perhaps it will get harder as the plants we have put in the ground over the last few months grow!
A decision had been made to move the Marché sur l’eau from the barrage by the lac du Drennec to the Salle des Fêtes in Saint Cadou owing to a poor weather forecast. However, while the market was as busy as it always is, the weather remained kind and the rain didn’t show!
Sadly it did on Tuesday which meant that I was able to continue with the floor in the Grange games room. As the room is still full of DIY equipment it has meant that we need to lay the floor in stages. I continued to lay floorboards almost up to the doors and started to add the varnish.
I have managed to lay 2 coats so far which will help protect the floor before the weather improved sufficiently for me to start planting the yews. Up to this point I have planted 40 of the 100 we have and are about 2/3rds of the way around the boundary that we want to focus on. The majority of the time is taken pulling out the bramble, couch grass and other weeds that have grown around the hollies and self-set yews which already exist with the planting itself being relatively quick.
We are really pleased with the plants we have bought as the roots seem very strong which, hopefully, will mean that they will establish themselves quickly and produce a strong, thick hedge in a relatively short time – although we appreciate this is still likely to be up to 10 years.
The weather has improved during the week sufficiently for me to be able to mow the lawn for only the second time this year – but it does make it look great.
Unfortunately I also had to spend a couple of mornings away from work. Thursday morning I had to drive to a DIY store in Quimper as they seemed to be the only one who had supplies of the volige planks we have been using for the Grange project. Just as I needed the final 50 planks (of the 760 total) for the whole project our usual DIY store has discontinued the planks we have used and have changed the dimensions! At least I have what I need and can finish the job.
A second morning I had to take the car to Sizun for a service and then travelled into Landivisiau to collect a tree fern that the supermarket had decided to give us. The reason for this is we were persuaded by the supermarket’s advertising to buy a tree fern for 8 euros whose photos showed a trunk of about 40 centimetres. However the 8 euro fern had no trunk at all but those in the picture were for sale for 69 euros! Prime misrepresentation.
David started a conversation with the supermarket on Twitter expressing our disappointment and, after a couple of weeks, they offered to give is a 69 euro tree fern as a goodwill gesture. The more expensive is in the foreground and the €8 fern is planted behind.
We are obviously really pleased but it frustrates me that it is only when a firm is ‘shamed’ on a public platform such as Twitter that they take any action. We have seen the same a couple of times when they just ignore a private conversation by email! Lesson learned – shame publicly early! Something to plant in the coming week if the weather remains as good as it has been in the last couple of days – if not more flooring to be laid and many other things …
We have now identified the issue that prevented me adding any images to last week’s blog. It seems that we had reached our storage limit on WordPress and so couldn’t add any more pics. Having spent a day during the week doing some cleaning up and archiving we are now able to add this week’s photos. However, I thought I’d start with some of the images that I wanted to share last Sunday.
These are the garage bays that I managed to complete with the volige cladding on the inside – no additional progress made this week on the last.
This is the 3rd of our cherry trees now planted We can’t wait to see them blossom as, we hope, we have bought a variety which should be especially floriferous:
And this is the ginkgo which we had put in the ground. No sign of life yet but with this weather we are not overly surprised!
This week actually began with more garden work as the weather was dry for the first couple of days. I managed to do something that we have wanted to do for weeks and have planted the jungle bed. We think it looks great, and hopefully will be even better when we add some capping stones on the front wall and a gravel mulch at some point, certainly we hope you’ll agree that it looks rather better now than it did a few weeks ago! We have chosen some plants that we hope will get quite large and dramatic, although a number do seem to have been knocked back by the really cold weather we had a few weeks ago but we hope they will recover – all their roots looked pretty healthy when we planted them.
Tuesday was a little wetter but we managed to do couple more outside things including removing another of the old apple tree stumps that were in the orchard lawn. This tree had fallen down before we arrived and the stump was a little taller but I cut it down in our first year. As the ground is so soft and wet now, thought it was a good time to remove it – makes the lawn mowing so much easier!
Our electrician came back on Wednesday and Grange is now fully wired in. For the first time there is no electrical umbilical between Grange and my man-shed. Another small but useful step!
Then from Thursday it has been much more what we are used to this year – wet, cold and breezy. Our focus shifted back inside Grange and we are now making really good progress to completion of the first floor at least.
It took a couple of days to finish the storeroom which, I am excited to say, is now actually starting to store stuff. We think this will be a revelation for us and make a significant to our lives. Since living here we have ‘stored’ things just about anywhere we could find space which was predominantly the top floor of our own house or above Dave’s gym. This meant that the former became a pretty chaotic dumping ground, and the latter a less accessible but equally disorganised state. Now we can at last put things in a proper place where we can find them when we need them, less is likely to get lost / damaged / forgotten and we get our own house back. It’s really appealing to my OCD side!
I have also started to lay the floor in the Games Room end which I wasn’t expecting to do. At present it does all seem like pine overload – a bit Swedish sauna chic – but when the floor is varnished it will be a darker colour and we have a plan to wash the walls and ceiling at some point but probably not until the end of the year.
We are very fortunate to have a couple of families staying with us for Easter in Priory and Granary. It has meant Dave had had a very busy day as he has cooked one of his 3-course meals for Granary at lunchtime and is cooking another for Priory this evening – as well as us having an Easter meal – busy day.
Sadly however, the weather has meant that we have had to postpone the Easter Egg hunt we had promised our guests and we hope that the weather may allow us to do it tomorrow. Worst case we will give the eggs to the parents and they can have a hunt within the gîtes!
Tomorrow is the annual Marché sur l’eau at the Lac du Drennec barrage. It is always a good event and an opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbours.
The forecast for the rest of the week, thankfully, looks like an improving picture with maybe some rarely seen (for 2018) sun on Wednesday. This will allow me to start to plant the yews that we ordered this week around the boundary of Kergudon.
Since we arrived we have wanted to establish a half-decent hedge on our perimeter as it is very open and exposed in places. In our first winter I ‘acquired’ a number of hollies and yews from the forest and planted them around the back lawn. Most seem to have survived but they are all still very small and very slow growing so, unless you look carefully, you can’t really see anything there. This proved the case when the commune cleared the ditch alongside Stréat al Louarn behind us and threw all of the debris onto our bank covering some of those slow growing plants. Thankfully none were snapped and I managed to clear them off in time so they seem to have survived the ordeal.
We decided that we would buy 100 small yews to add to the plants on the boundary which will not only make a thicker hedge (eventually) but, as they are slightly taller already, should be evident that we’re trying to grow things there other than bramble!
Lots to carry on with in the coming week!
Apologies that there are no photos with this blog – there seems to be a problem uploading them to WordPress (the platform I use to write the blogs). If anyone is a WordPress expert any advice would be greatly appreciated …
I can barely believe that when I was writing last week’s blog it was snowing heavily and last Monday we had 15 – 20 centimetres of snow on the ground. Thankfully, by Tuesday it had pretty much all melted away although that only added to the saturated ground!
Owing to the snow, I worked inside Grange on Monday and made a start at clearing out what will become the games room although I didn’t make much progress. In fact that was the pattern of the week and, while I there wasn’t any day when I wasn’t working on something, there haven’t been any major milestones met but a lot of ‘bitty’ things completed.
Some of those bitty things included finishing off the cladding inside 3 of the garage parking bays. Where I had started the internal walls previously I hadn’t completed them until the ceilings were done. Having finished those a couple of weeks ago, I was able to finish the internal walls until I ran out of volige planks. Unfortunately I couldn’t finish the entire job as having visited the DIY store on Thursday there were no planks available so it will have to roll over to another week.
I was able to spend a bit of time outside and cleared all of the wood I had recently cut but which I had to leave on the lawn as it had been too wet to clear it away. We managed to cut down another couple of trees on the boundary with our neighbours and I have planted the third of our 3 cherry trees that we had bought. Having felled a poorly apple tree a couple of weeks ago, yesterday we replaced it with a ginkgo biloba which we had acquired in 2015. Since then it had been sat in a pot never looked very happy. Hopefully it will like its new permanent home and thrive – if we ever get the spring.
On Friday we were delighted that the Auberge du Menez reopened for the season with a new owner and chef, Yann Le Grand. We were very lucky to get a reservation for Yann’s opening night all in the name of research of course(!) and while Yann is the third chef at the Auberge since we arrived, based on our experience on Friday he has more than maintained the quality of the restaurant (in fact it’s even better than last year). We wish him well and hope he has great success – we will certainly be going again and can confidently recommend him to our guests.
It’s always useful to attend these local events as it gives us some useful information for other things that are going on in the area. We learned that the Leclerc Foundation which housed a Picasso exhibition last year is hosting a Henry Moore exhibition between 10 June and 04 November this year. For fans of sculpture and Henry Moore this would be an excellent opportunity to view more than 100 of his sculptures and 80 drawings in an uncrowded environment. Kergudon would make an excellent base for your visit.
As ever work next week is very weather (and volige availability!) dependent but with the clocksgoing forward last night at least the evenings are now light until 9pm!
I mentioned at the end of last week’s blog that the weather would (again) determine what I did to a great extent which was true. Today we have seen the return of winter and, having waited until today to take pics of the garden work I have done, everything is under a few inches of snow so you will have to put up with pictures of that instead!
I forgot to mention last week though that we were also hosting a friend who had joined us from London for a few days so it was a relatively light week workwise. As our friend didn’t arrive until Wednesday, and the weather was reasonably good at the start of the week, I started in the garden with the annual hack back of the hydrangeas.
With our ground being very acidic plants like rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas grow really well – although the latter are also all blue for the same reason. One side of the orchard was almost completely hydrangea when we arrived and we have been fairly brutal with it since we got here to give them a better shape – this year we should see a great improvement.
As ever, the one task grew into another and, having reduced the size of the shrubs it became clear that the ‘hedge’ (and I use the term loosely at the minute) needed some TLC too as there was more bramble than hedge. That side of the garden borders onto a cottage that has been under renovation by its new owners for a couple of years during which they have moved into a mobile home in their garden. While the caravan is there we have been reluctant to hack the hedge back too much to make it too visible …
Having hacked some of the bramble back we found that some of the hedging we had transplanted in our first year was doing better than we hoped – especially as one of the plants we had initially dug up and left on the bonfire pile for 6 months! However, there were still some gaps that needed to be filled where we popped in some of the privet cuttings we took last year – if only there were some magic feed that could advance plants 5 years in one season!
I also spent a day cladding the inside of one of the garage bays and trying to locate the pipe I had pre-positioned under the foundation to pass the power cable. The cladding progressed well but finding the pipe less so! Having dug inside and outside the bay – where I had marked its location – I couldn’t find it at all. I think the ends may have become filled with the concrete when it was poured making it indistinguishable from the foundation itself. The work round was digging a little deeper under the foundation and making a new tunnel for the cable.
The cladding I had done got us to the point when our electrician could come back and progress. Expecting to have to wait a couple of weeks for him to arrive, we were really pleased that he was able to visit within a couple of days and now …. Grange has power (albeit via a plug-in extension cord for now!) Yay! And, having turned on our petanque pitch floods, they are perfect and don’t, thankfully illuminate the moon as we had feared when we put them up.
The remainder of the week was spent hosting and entertaining when we took our friend around the region and so not working too much which means it will be a busy week next week …!!