I finished last week’s blog hoping that this week would be more productive than the preceding couple. Thankfully it was. The first thing to say is that the weather has been amazing – and looks as though it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Summer has arrived!
I also said that, if I did nothing else, I would have a pétanque pitch to show you. Thankfully I have. That took up most of the first half of the week continuing to clear the pitch of gravel and slate and laying the membrane down to prevent the sand from going down and the weeds from coming up.
The sand was delivered on Tuesday morning which gave us a good idea of how large a lorry we can request when we are able to order the gravel. We ordered 5 tonnes of sand which was delivered in their 13 tonne lorry which, just, got down Stréat al Louarn and into our back gate – although I am glad that I haven’t yet put up our actual gate yet!
The sand we have ordered, as recommended by the quarry, is called 0/10. Before, I assumed sand was sand and its all the same. But no. This, like the gravel, is graded so it has grains supposedly between 0 and 10 millimetres and apparently, when compacted, makes for a better pétanque pitch.
Having ordered 5 tonnes of sand we have only needed to use about 4 so I have a tonne lying in the drive and, once again, preventing us from driving all the way round. So my focus for the second half of the week was clearing out a garage bay where I can use the surplus. During the build the bays, like the space which is now pétanque, became a storage area (aka dumping ground) so the floor was not level and had stones, slate and other bits in the way. They were also not always level with the entrance sill which would have been a problem driving in and out.
This photo doesn’t show the different levels well as it was so sunny outside but you can see some of the larger pieces of slate.
We have started with the bay nearest Hayloft and completely cleared and levelled it. Again this was job which took longer than I’d anticipated as much of the ground was so compacted but it has made a huge difference.
Today we have been kindly loaned a garden roller to flatten the interior and compact the pétanque pitch – a process which apparently takes a lot of rolling when the sand is wet but will definitely be worthwhile.
During the week we have visited an open day for a wholesale nursery the other side of Carhaix, one recommended by our gardening neighbours.
You will recall that I complained about the amount of weeding we now need to do – which David has been doing again this week like a man possessed to the point that he has broken the hand fork! We visited the nursery in the hope of getting some good ground cover plants – which we have. We bought some vinca, delosperma and pachysandra (like I know what I’m talking about!) as well as some new red hot pokers for the tropical bed and succulents for a sink we want to plant up.
The nursery also has an amazing variety of hostas, which we love, but sadly so too do the slugs which we seem to have a large number of. We didn’t get any this year but, as the open day is annual, when we get around to extending the tropical bed and building the pond we will definitely get a large variety (in the hope that the pond attracts sufficient toads and frogs to eat the slugs!)
Village life continues to be fun with this weekend being the French Fête de la Musique, a nationwide event when most communes and villages hold concerts and musical activities. Yesterday was also Saint Cadou’s Tantad (bonfire) for the Fête de Saint Jean which was great fun. Next week is the annual Tribrezh triathlon on the lake too and on 12th July Le Tour passes through Sizun – more of that next week.
With so much on we need to take more time to relax although David has started a Sunday morning yoga group on the Stamadec beach of Lac du Drennec, a beautiful spot on a clear Sunday morning.
Next week more progress on the garage bays of Grange – and lots of rollering!
Firstly, my apologies for not posting a blog last week. Secondly, additional apologies as this blog is likely to be pretty short as well!
The reason for both is that the last 2 weeks have not seen as much progress as previous weeks, and not on things that make for good photos, and last Sunday night we had the first of our ‘Games Room Warming’ parties.
My last blog, on 3rd June, said that we had been into Morlaix to a fete and passed through a heavy downpour on our way home. Later than afternoon it became obvious that the deluge had some damaging effect in Morlaix as a month’s worth of run fell in 30 minutes. If you’re not familiar with the topography of Morlaix, it sits in the base of a valley where a river joins an estuary into the channel. Through the centre of town the river has been channelled underground and this evidently proved unable to contain all of the rain which fell so it naturally coursed through the centre of town flooding the shops and businesses in its way.
My blog also said that our neighbours were holding a garden open day that afternoon and, to show just how local these storms were, they didn’t experience any rain until a small shower in the last hour.
The weather for the last 2 weeks has been very variable but, thankfully for our guests, it has never been as bad as the forecasts seemed to predict. It meant that the day we spent in Brest was not one wasted from the garden. Inevitably we visited the Swedish furniture store to get a few more items for the games room so that we could set up the ‘library’ and we need to return to collect some blinds we have ordered for the cinema!
With the weather I have done a mix of indoor and outdoor tasks including spending some more time on the sewing machine to create dust covers for the pool and babyfoot tables as well as the inevitable lawn mowing and strimming as things continue to grow apace.
The one major task I have completed is preparing our petanque pitch to receive the sand which has been ordered for delivery on Tuesday by which time I hope to have removed the remainder of the gravel, and large pieces of slate, from the top. Plan is to be able to play our first game of petanque before this time next week.
We didn’t have a traditional topping out ceremony when we completed the roof of Grange so, to make amends, we had a Games Room Warming party last Sunday. Actually, because there were so many people who helped us while we were building Grange who we wanted to thank, we are having a second party tonight.
Last week, as we had David’s aunt and uncle, Chris and Clint, staying with us, we hosted mainly English speaking guests while tonight will be the French gang. Having Chris and Clint also gave us the opportunity to visit some of our favourite local eateries and introduce them to another we discovered in Morlaix last year, Le Bains Douches. Le Bains Douches is located in Morlaix’s old bath house and they have retained many of the interesting features. It is also immediately adjacent to the channelled river which flooded 2 weeks ago and, sadly, their basement was completely submerged and destroyed. They have evidently worked hard to get the first floor restaurant open again but they tell us all their stock in the cellar was lost.
This coming week will hopefully be a little more productive and I will have more to show in next week’s blog – there will at least be a new petanque pitch to show!
The title of this week’s blog was chosen for a number of reasons. One is that, as I mentioned at the end of the last blog, the weather has now broken from the fantastic period of sunshine and blue skies that we had been enjoying. In fact, the forecast has been very variable all week and while we had a couple of wet days, the predicted deluge and thunderstorms were delayed and delayed – until today!
As I write this, it is like winter with the sky covered in very threatening black clouds and I can hear the distant rumble of thunder. We have not yet had the downpour (although we drove through one earlier today coming back from Morlaix) but it is definitely coming which is very sad for our neighbours open garden day today.
Having had a wetter week that normal we haven’t made such great progress outside as we would have liked but I have at least started to clear the old parking space and create our petanque pitch.
Even on the wet days we haven’t been idle. I have managed to tick off a job that we have wanted to do for a while – sand down and re-stain the wooden stair treads in Priory which has made a big difference.
David has started to clear out some of the boxes that we have been storing above his gym and transferring them into the new storeroom. We have rediscovered a number of books and novels that will eventually form the Kergudon library in the games room when we buy a little more furniture.
The main reason however for the title is we spent a couple of hours clearing out some of the accumulated rubbish which had been gathering in the garage in an effort to progress clearing the bays. It seemed that everything we bought during the build, floorboards, plastic and wooden lambris (T&G), laminate flooring, all came wrapped in some form of plastic and we hadn’t thrown any of it away. Our plastic footprint this year has been huge and, with all the focus on the amount of the stuff that ends up in the oceans, we hope taking it to déchetterie means that it will be disposed of in a responsible manner.
We quickly and easily managed to fill the trailer completely as well as the boot of the car and yet it didn’t seem to make the huge difference to clearing the garage bays as we’d hoped! Even a second load of hardcore and rubble has barely dented the surface. It did highlight that, as we use the dog food sacks as rubbish bags, just how much we feed Garratt and Brandon. As there were so many bags, I’m amazed they’re not enormous!
I have however started to clear the petanque pitch. We have now decided to make the pitch slightly larger than we originally intended so, having carefully chosen the spot to temporarily leave the huge amounts of slate we dig up in the garden, I had to move it – a bit. The pile, Kergudon Cairn as it has been named, needed to shift about a metre and a half west which took best part of a day to achieve.
Initially I wanted to save all of this slate for a project that I had in mind in the orchard – creating an artificial stream. But, as that is going to be a number of years away, we have had to come up with an alternative use for it. The plan now is to use it to make some mini-gabions that we will use to provide a barrier between the dive and the lawn. As we haven’t yet bought the cages required I couldn’t do the sensible thing and move the stones into place I just had to throw them from one side of the cairn to the other!
That done, I was able to start clearing the weeds and rubbish from the area. I started on what I hoped will be the harder end to clear as it was where we had the concrete mixer sited for the Grange build and so had a large area where sand, cement and ballast that had not made it into the mixer had set solid. It also had the ‘cage’ I made out of the old trampoline base when we first had Garratt and Mouse. It wasn’t used very much as Garratt hated being in it and Mouse very quickly discovered she was a cat and could climb out! I also had to remove a cherry tree that we had got at the annual kermesse (fête) at the Down Syndrome school in Morlaix.
Those who have been reading the blog for a while may recall that the kermesse has a plant lottery where your ticket can win you anything from a petunia to a large tree. A couple of years ago we came home with this prunus but didn’t know where to plant it so it had sat on our drive and had firmly taken root. Sadly we still couldn’t decide where it should go so now it has gone – to the tip. Coincidentally today was kermesse day so we have a few more plants – and a better idea of where they are going!
Slow progress therefore on the petanque pitch but some progress and hopefully, weather dependent, I will be able to continue (and finish?) this week.
Yesterday too was also a plant related day (sort of) as we visited our near neighbours, Bryan and Jackie, who are very keen gardeners and open their garden a couple of times a year in aid of charity. They have been living in their house a couple of years longer than we have been here but, in that time, they have turned what was effectively a cow field into a fabulous garden. We are very jealous every time we visit and see it mature and grow. One day perhaps Kergudon will be close … They were very pleased with their turn out yesterday but we hope that the forecast hasn’t made today too quiet.
Last night we popped back to our local restaurant in St. Rivoal. Not to eat this time but because the new owner, Yann, has started to host concerts in the barn behind the restaurant. It was a fun night and hopefully he will do it again sometime soon.
Since starting to write the rain has also started to pour down – all good for our new plants!
Despite saying in my last blog that this week’s major task would be to start clearing the old car park to create the new petanque pitch, I haven’t yet made a start on it!
Having focussed previously on completing the wall alongside the man shed, this week meant that I had to focus on other areas of the garden that had continued to grow and needed a bit of TLC. It is no consequence that much of Finistère is very green but it does mean that everything grows quickly and constantly.
Many of these tasks, again, don’t make for great photos but really needed to be done. These included clearing around the base of Granary’s hedge where the couch grass had started to take control and choke a number of the smaller privet cuttings that we planted a couple of years ago.
Two of the most impactful changes took place on the north end of the garden. One was a start to try and control the huge amounts of Japanese knot weed we have on our boundary. We hadn’t known that Kergudon had Japanese knot weed when we bought as we had never seen it before so was unable to recognise it. We knew that in the UK it is a serious problem but it appears that the French have a different view as it is fairly widespread here.
Since moving in we have learnt that most of the garden on the north side of the buildings was a forest of knot weed. The previous owners managed to push this back to the boundary by creating a lawn and mowing regularly killing the weed in the centre. In the areas where we have tried to control it we have had some success but it takes time and needs consistent cutting out of any new growth and ideally the root.
We had never attacked the weed on the talus on the north boundary which had grown to an incredible size. This week we started by strimming this year’s growth – which is amazingly fast – and clearing the bank which has again gained us a few metres of garden. We have a plan to attack it properly in the next year or so by digging away at the talus and bank although this will be dependent on acquiring a new bit of kit (Paul Johnson, if you’re reading, we are still keen to collaborate!)
The second big task helped clear the strimmed weed as I had the big bonfire that was desperately needed. We hadn’t had a bonfire in over 2 years and we had continued to use what was the old chicken run (before our time) as a dumping ground for garden waste. In the last couple of years we have felled a number of trees – assisted too by Storm Zeus last year – and accumulated about 70 cubic metres of wood and branches.
This pile was never the most attractive outlook and, as we want to control the knot weed, we want to convert the area to lawn so that it too can be mown. Clearing the area meant a full day feeding the fire which was tiring and a little sad as the wood would have provided years and years of kindling for the fires but, even with our new garage, we couldn’t store that much! To give an impression of the volume this is the size of the ash pile at the end!
Having cleared the waste I can, eventually, start to clear the area completely and keep on top of it with mowing. Added to the list.
I also mentioned in last week’s blog that we had a final major addition to add to the games room but, as it wasn’t installed at this time last week, I kept it secret. Thankfully, yesterday, I have fully installed this new addition and we are really pleased with it – a projector and screen to create our own private cinema.
While we were building the games room, as it is such a good sized space David had the idea to create a cinema for guests to use. We tested it last night with our own screening of one our favourite films, the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair which, we know, has some fairly obvious flaws and clunky plot moves but it is good fun and had a great soundtrack to test the sound system. It is great and I hope something that our guests will enjoy too.
I will probably start clearing the petanque pitch in the coming week although the weather has, sadly, broken from the last 3 week’s amazing hot and dry spell – although the garden desperately needed the rain.
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!