Last week’s blog said that we were due to have some good weather which would allow me to progress the man-shed. Thankfully that has proven to be accurate and I have managed to put in a few days continuing the man-shed build.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to work on the shed every day, although would have liked to, and while the weather would have allowed, once again there were other things to do.
The week started with the last bit of dirty work, for now, when I need to mix more mortar to put in a damp-proof layer at the top of the 3 courses of brick. I am not sure why but damp proof membrane does not seem to be as readily available in French DIY stores as in the UK and, where it was stocked, it was considerably more expensive. Irritatingly, having bought some at Castorama I then found some at much better value online – lesson re-re-relearned!
However, at least having it done allowed me to make a start to the frame. I am using exactly the same techniques that our builder used and taught me when we were building Grange (but much slower!) so, being only single story, it should be absolutely solid.
Unlike the old shed that I am replacing I want this one to have natural light – at least through windows rather than the massive gaps in the cladding than before! We found a couple of windows on Facebook marketplace (a resource I am very new too but now quite like) and we saved the glass panels from the old shower in Stable when we were refurbishing in our first year. I said I didn’t throw anything away that maybe useful, well now they have found a purpose!
I started on the front wall as it would be the easiest to do and have managed to complete it. This has allowed me to calculate the angle I need for the roof so I can start the back wall and cut the uprights at the correct angle. So far its looking like it is working out!
As it will be in the same style as Grange, we are going to have large douglas fir corner posts. Initially I thought it would be easier to get these from the same sawmill as those for Grange however, having tried to contact the mill, the operator has had an industrial accident and the mill is closed for the rest of the year. Knowing how large their saw blades are I hate to think what sort of accident he has had but, as he is confident he will be open next year whatever it is will evidently have grown back!
It did mean that I needed to find another mill and, having done a bit of research I was amazed at how many there are around us. It has meant that I have been able to choose one at a reasonable cost and who can have them ready fairly quickly as I will likely get to a point when they will be the things that hold me up.
I had to stop work on the shed on Thursday as a local farmer arrived with a trailer load of firewood we had ordered that then needed to be split, cut and stacked away while it stayed dry. All good stuff for keeping us toasty warm in the winter and, more importantly, our gîte guests!
Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get back to the shed since then as we decided on Friday to go shopping for some other bits required, mostly the roofing sheets, based on the principle that, if I have everything here, there is no excuse not to make good progress when the weather allows.
Saturday was another ‘shopping’ trip for a couple of beds we also found online. We weren’t actively seeking new beds but on our, very long, list of things that we want, was to replace the last 2 single beds which were here when we arrived and were in Granary. The beds we had were functional but weren’t very attractive and didn’t fit in with our refurbished décor so, when we saw an advert for 2 traditional Breton beds and mattresses at a great price we though the long journey to collect them was worth it.
I have spent most of today putting them up. It wasn’t supposed to take that long but, having initially decided that they would look best in Priory’s eaves twin bedroom, when I had built them it looked a tiny but too cramped – these being wider than the beds we were replacing – so we chose to move them to the first floor twin where we think they look great – traditional yet not old-fashioned and not too ‘Grandma’s house’. We hope you agree.
This has allowed us to shuffle the remaining beds so now the Granary twin has the beds previously in Priory, which look far better, and the legacy beds are in storage – told you I don’t throw anything away!
Next week again looks good weather-wise albeit very cold at points, but I should be able to continue with the shed and hopefully get the whole of the frame erected – assuming we get our douglas posts!
Today has been a beautiful day outside. It is very different from the very mixed weather of the last 7 days and absolutely perfect for Armistice Day and this significant centenary.
Watching the pictures from the Cenotaph in London it appeared to be the same bright, crisp, optimistic autumn day as here. David and I went to memorial in Saint Cadou but, sadly, we were the only people there and had our own period of reflection and remembrance. A new, official looking, wreath had been laid suggesting there had been a ceremony there recently so possibly the commemorations were taking place in Sizun rather than our own village but foolishly we hadn’t done our research.
The memorial does show however the impact of the 2 wars even on our small village. There were considerably more casualties during The Great War than WW2 and a number lived in Kergudon itself (marked), although we understand this refers to the hamlet rather than our buildings. As everywhere else the frequency of the same family name on the memorial shows just how devastating the war was to entire families. There are also a number of family names which are very familiar and still in the village – our neighbours are Pouliquens.
During the Second World War we know that Germans were billeted in the house called The Old Presbytery, opposite Saint Cadou’s church, and the old weathercock is in the Sizun museum with the bullet holes where it was used as unofficial target practice.
Work for me has been dictated by the very changeable weather and I have not been able to progress the new man shed. When it was dry I continued to clear the copse of trees that I had started the week before which has made a huge difference to that small area of garden. It always looks more impactful if you compare to the pictures before on previous blogs. With the decheterrie (tip) having more limited opening hours in the winter months, most of which seem to coincide with when David takes the car to work, I change between jobs if I can’t empty the trailer.
As such, this week I started clearing another unkempt area of the garden which was becoming more and more overgrown – the old chicken run. We have never cleared the old run or removed the broken down fence so, over the last 4 years it too has become overgrown with bramble, knot weed and sycamore saplings. We do use it occasionally to deposit garden rubbish prior to having a bonfire.
Our last big fire was earlier in the year in May after which I optimistically, and probably naïvely, thought that I could strim through the rest of the area and then keep it under control with mowing. However, on closer look, I needed to manually clear the large amounts of waste that we had dumped there which had never made it onto a fire; remove the fairly sizable trees which have started to grow and make an effort to remove the old chicken wire.
This has proven so far to be a very slow job although I suspect I am doing it probably more thoroughly than is absolutely necessary as I am removing as much root of the weed as I can. Of course all that is doing is making another large pile of garden waste that I will have to burn when we have another dry spell – which, if the forecast is right might be in the next 10 days after Tuesday.
Foolishly I didn’t take a before photo, other than this one which was after we had the last bonfire in May, but you get the idea. The current state was taken today.
I mentioned in last week’s blog that David had again led the warm-up to the annual Taulé to Morlaix 10K and I promised pictures. Please see the attached video:
All other activities have been inside when it has been particularly wet and windy, as it was especially on Friday although, oddly, despite the large and deep depression which passed to the west of Ireland it was not a named storm. I’ve never really thought naming a depression was really necessary but if the Met Office is going to do it they need to be consistent about it!
Some of those indoor activities, for David at least, have been more Christmas cooking so the house has smelt amazing. He has now cooked 7 Christmas cakes in total to my Mum’s old recipe (which is so good it is framed and hanging in our kitchen!) as well as made lots of chutney and piccalilli for us to enjoy and gift to guests staying with us over Christmas.
Next week, again if the, very positive, forecast is right, I will be able to progress the man shed and get the frame built – exciting stuff.
Last week has pretty much been focussed on one task – the blockwork for the new man shed. Having put it off (not intentionally) for a few days I started laying the blocks on Wednesday just as the forecast was changing but I have managed to finish.
At the start of the week I did the very final prep to the man shed concrete base which was mostly clearing away the soil and detritus I had generated reducing the height of the slate wall the week before. Once again this led to creating another job for me or, more accurately, increased the priority of a job that was already on the list.
I had left the excess soil on the concrete base for a couple of days as we weren’t sure initially where we could use it and we already have a number of piles of soil / slate / stuff opposite the garage and were reluctant to create another or enlarge an existing one. Eventually we decided to deposit it in a corner of the orchard where we will, eventually, create another raised flower bed to continue to use up the slate blocks not required for the back gate wall.
Before I deposited it there, I wanted to clear some of the brambles that had taken root which made me think I should also tackle the other trees and weeds which had self-set. The area is between the jungle-bed we created in the spring and the bike shed. It bounded part of the carpark before we arrived, is where we will eventually create a raised pond but where we haven’t done anything since we got here (too many other priorities). As such a small copse of trees have grown up (oak, beech, really vicious hawthorn and the ubiquitous sycamore among others) and was certainly not the most attractive part of the estate!
As with so many other parts of the garden, we have plans for that entire area although we’re not sure when it will make it to the top of the to-do list. In the short term at least a clear out and tidy up will benefit the front and improve the entrance further. All of the trees will eventually go which will make a large impact but we will replace with other, more interesting, planting.
Once the concrete pad was cleared I made a start to the blockwork. I have laid bricks before but never breeze blocks (our builder, Lee, did all of the walling for Grange and the replacement fences behind Priory) but thought it couldn’t be too different. I was probably considerably slower than a professional and only managed one course per day, but I am pleased with the result. It is certainly sturdy enough for a man shed and is a much more practical area than previously as we have extended the parking space for Hayloft and left a walkway between the shed and boundary hedge.
My biggest challenge was getting the final course level when the foundation was anything but. We extended the concrete pad in stages as we had various bits of concrete left over after other jobs and hadn’t put anything in place to ensure it was level with the old space. With up to 10 centimetres difference in the levels and only 3 course of blocks to level it out, meant I had to use some thicker mortar courses in places with a bit of padding where required.
I have laid all the courses we need (3) and, following the way Lee showed me when building Grange, have inserted threaded bar to secure the wooden planking to the top of the wall when I start to build the frame which I will do after I’ve added the damp-proof course.
On Friday evening we had a lovely night at Au Lac and enjoyed the first of Mercedes’ Asian tasting nights. In a previous life, Merc spent a long time in the Far East and, now in the low season, has had the great idea of having a different country’s cuisine at the weekends. Last Friday was India, so lovely curry, with Thai this week and Indonesia and Malaysia to follow.
Today, for the third year, David represented New York Gym and led the warm-up for a local 10K run north of Morlaix. It was very well received and hopefully I will be able to share pictures and video next week.
The focus for me next week is very much dependent on the weather – which looks very mixed. I hope to be able to progress the shed but, if not, I will continue to clear the copse.
In last week’s blog I foolishly said that there should be ‘no excuse’ not to make a start with the construction of the new man shed this week. Once again, that was a statement too far and, while I could come up with a number of excuses, I haven’t yet laid any blocks.
If I’m being honest, last week was probably not the most productive week I have had since we moved here, so this won’t be a long blog and there won’t be too many photos.
One of the reasons it wasn’t so productive, was that we had some very good friends stay with us with their children as it was their half-term holiday. While this didn’t mean that I was too distracted during the days, it did mean we enjoyed a number of late nights and the subsequent late mornings!
The weather was, again, fabulous and especially so for late October. This was great for our friends who could do all the usual summer holiday things such as go to the beach and relax on sun-loungers, and would have been ideal for me to build walls too.
However, while I mentioned last week that I had the ‘bulk’ of the materials to start the build I was missing a couple of essential items. One was a large disc cutter, to cut the breeze blocks when required, which required a trip to Brest in the week to acquire (another ‘toy’ of mine as David would say); and the other was the sand required for the mortar. When I visited our closest sand supplier – only in Sizun, their digger was out of action so they couldn’t load the trailer and I wasn’t keen on shovelling it by hand. With David using the car for work during the week, I couldn’t then go back until Friday and it has been raining pretty much since then! However, I now really do have everything I need to start and the forecast suggests I should be able to make a start in the coming week.
It hasn’t been a completely idle week however. The large stone wall behind the old shed which I mentioned we would keep but reduce in height is now lower and where we want it to be. The advantage of having done this is that the 2 scruffy trees which had grown have been removed, where possible, otherwise killed so removing any risk of damage to Hayloft; the lower wall will also minimise Hayloft’s walls getting wet; and, when I build the new shed, I will do so such that I can access the hedge and keep it under control.
I have also continued to reduce the size of the gravel pile by laying it between the garage and where the man shed will be built but, other than that, it has been a fairly slow week.
We have seen a significant change in the weather in the last 48 hours, and from lovely warm autumn, we have very much arrived at the start of winter with a cold and wet weekend. With the clocks going back last night the evenings will be darker but all the more excuse to light the fire, which we did yesterday in our own house for the first time since last spring, and enjoy the season.
See – I said it would it be short. More, I promise, in the next 7 days!
We have been extremely blessed with the autumn weather so far which has been dry and warm for days. Today is no exception and our guests are even outside this afternoon using the sun loungers – not bad for 21st October.
The dry weather has also allowed me to continue with the work I started last week and finish the demolition of the manshed. At the time of last week’s blog I had managed to remove the exterior cladding leaving only a frame and the roof.
My main achievement last Monday was to remove the roof. It was amazing how much rubbish had accumulated in the ridges of the corrugated sheeting over the years although it would have been great to add to a compost heap – something that we don’t yet have either. It’s on the list!
Monday afternoon also saw the first delivery of gravel
that we will need to tidy up around Grange and refresh large parts of the driveway. This delivery is of stones classified as 0/20 which is basically dust (0 mm) up to 20 mm. This was recommended for using on areas which are dirt and haven’t been gravelled before as the dust and small stones work their way to the bottom and form a compacted layer – at least that’s the theory! Our next deliveries will be larger stones but, having seen the damage the lorry made to my new drive I’m not going to order until either the ground is completely frozen in the winter or baked dry again next summer.
With the roof removed from the old man shed I was able to attack the, very rotten in places, frame. I mentioned last week that 4 of the 8 uprights were rotted through at the base. Having dismantled the frame it was evident that 7 of the posts were actually rotten and only one was attached to the floor by a metal bracket that it had been bolted to.
With the frame down it just left the end breeze block wall that, we assume, was part of a previous, more solid, building on the site. It would have been good to keep this wall but it had been built centimetres inside the boundary talus and meant that I had no access to the hedge. My plan is to leave a narrow access between the new shed and the talus so I can get up and cut the hedge. It has also exposed am attractive, and large, stone wall which we will keep but reduce in height.
With the demolition progressing on Tuesday I ordered the bulk of the materials for the new build which were delivered on Friday so no excuse not to make a start next week.
Towards the end of the week I made a start in moving and using some of the gravel. Starting behind Grange, next to the wood-stores, I moved around to the end and the bin area. Where I had to dig down a little to allow the new gate to swing we hadn’t decided what the best thing would be to reinforce the step up to the bins. However, as there is so much slate around what else but another small wall would be the obvious choice!
The access looked immaculate for about 18 hours between Friday night, when I finished laying the gravel, and Saturday morning. On Saturday we had a farmer deliver a cord (3 cubic metres) of firewood which we had to have dumped on the drive. This gave me my activity for yesterday and this morning – splitting the larger logs, and tomorrow, when I can make noise with the chainsaw, I will cut the longer ones. It has given us some full wood-stores although we still haven’t yet felt the need to light the fire – although will probably do so soon.
M plan next week is to actually start the blockwork for the new man shed and see how quickly we can get that built – hopefully fairly swiftly if the weather continues to be kind to us.
Last week’s blog said that I hoped to be able to progress and, potentially even, empty the man shed. I am delighted to say that I have managed to do that and a little bit more, as we have even started the demolition.
This project will make a huge difference to us in a number of ways. We found that when I finished the storeroom above Grange the ability to store all of our ‘stuff’ in one place, especially everything which was required when we change the gîtes around, made life so much easier and more efficient. Having a larger, better arranged shed will do the same for all of my DIY equipment and mean that we can conduct maintenance and redecoration much more easily.
The plan is to rebuild the shed in exactly the same style as we have built Grange so making that whole part of the garden look more organised and planned. The rebuild will give us a much larger shed but also a larger parking area for Hayloft as cars are getting bigger and bigger it will allow our guests to park without protruding onto the drive.
The new shed will also give Mouse a more permanent, secure, home. While she is an outdoor cat she is incredibly affectionate and, for whatever reason, has been more so in the last few days. She likes being around us if we are working outside but really doesn’t like sleeping anywhere her mother has been. Her mother is owned by our neighbours but, as Mouse, lives outside. We don’t however think her mother is fed or has a place to sleep so she has become a bit of a nuisance and can be quite aggressive towards Mouse. Because Mouse can only sleep where any other cat can access, it does mean that all her comfy ‘beds’ have been visited by her mother so she won’t go back to them. Recently she has taken to sunbathing in an old granite sink – can’t be very comfy!
However, all that is a few weeks off. This week has been focussed on clearing out the inside and trying to be disciplined over what I keep and what I dispose of. Generally my approach is to keep anything ‘just in case’ but it does mean that we have a lot of things which need storing. As such it took until Friday to empty the shed completely. Oddly, the emptied shed appeared a lot smaller than it did when very cluttered. To think that I have about 3 garage bays of stuff to put back in when re-built is daunting!
Having emptied it, it became evident just what a poor state it was in. Of the 8 posts holding the roof up, 4 had rotted through at the base completely and were providing absolutely no support and many of the cladding planks were completely rotten. I wondered if a good gust from Storm Callum passing might help me finish the job but, to its credit, as I was removing all the old screws and nails as I went, in a couple of places the shed put up a good fight.
On the positive side, the cladding was made of the offcuts from a local saw mill so are mostly oak. They will make some great kindling although will take me days to cut up. With all the wood offcuts we have generated with the garage build, and will do with the shed, there is probably a week’s worth of work chopping but months’ worth of kindling when done.
The roof is the last thing to come off which I hope to do this week and I am looking for the best way of disposing it – sadly it is all the old roofing asbestos sheets so may prove problematic. I also need to find a way to temporarily waterproof a blocked up door to Hayloft as we don’t want damp to get in. More pressingly I should probably now go and buy some new material with which to start the rebuild. Famous last words I know but it shouldn’t take too long once I make a start!
I did manage to do a couple of other tasks in the week. As I thought, I got the grass cut or, more accurately, flattened out the many molehills and cut the small amount of lawn between them. A ‘project’ for next year trying to eradicate moles from the garden – it’s not as though there aren’t enough fields around us for them to burrow under.
I also visited our local quarry for a trailer of gravel and to order our first lorry load which arrives tomorrow morning to start gravelling around Grange. One lorry is 13 tonnes, it will be interesting to see how much we ultimately need for the whole drive but I think in the region of 50. Thankfully that probably won’t be until next year when I can empty all the garage bays – I just need a new man shed!
Finally, this weekend is also a lovely one as the kitchen is full of amazing smells as David has started his Christmas cooking. Chutneys and piccalilli today and cakes and mincemeat to come. We love the smells almost as much as the finished produce and our Christmas guests have a real treat to look forward to.
More shed work next week!
I posted last week’s blog a little early as I mentioned that we had a fun event arranged and, for a similar reason, I am posting this week’s blog a little late!
Last Sunday night David and Belinda had arranged an end-of season BBQ and party to mark the conclusion of a busy and successful summer period. Belinda, and her husband Andrew, have been running the campsite on the shore of the Lac du Drennec for a similar length of time as we have owned Kergudon but, unlike us, they close over the winter and return to the UK.
Mercedes was kind enough to allow us to use her restaurant, Au Lac, for the event and we had invited a number of other business owners involved in the tourist industry with other friends. It was a fantastic evening and, if I say it myself, one of the better BBQs I have cooked, helped by some fabulous foods brought along by the attendees. A massive thank you to everyone who made it, and to Mercedes for providing the location and her usual generosity.
Having said ‘good bye’ to David’s aunt and uncle on the Thursday before, last Sunday we welcomed my own aunt and uncle for their very first visit to Kergudon and the BBQ was a great way to welcome them.
With my uncle and aunt here it may not have been the most productive week as we enjoyed some very leisurely breakfasts together and some super dinners both courtesy of David and our local eateries.
The weather all week has been exceptionally kind, with the exception of a wet and windy Saturday, and I did manage to cut the grass for the first time in a while, and if the forecast is to be believed I will be able to do so again next week.
With the dry weather I have been able to split another load of our stacked wood and added it to the temporary store – although we have not yet lit our own wood burner this year I suspect it will be soon.
The other major task I have started was (fanfare please) starting to clear out the existing man shed. This picture shows the state that it has become – on one end! I have only managed to do about a day and a half’s worth of work and, unsurprisingly, that hasn’t made a huge dent in the clearance! I should however be able to progress fairly rapidly this week.
Yesterday’s weather was pretty awful so I had to concentrate on some online work and update a number of the websites that we advertise through – seems a bit scary already looking at August 2019!
Today was another fabulous autumnal day, although again not very constructive. We joined one of David’s good friends who attends many of his classes in the gym, to celebrate his birthday with a dog walk – ours and his – around the Lac du Drennec and lunch at Au Lac (our 3rd visit this week!)
As previous years, they started using the water in the lake towards the end of the summer and, as it has been such a dry summer, the level has dropped incredibly. These images show the lake either side of the, normally, floating bridge. During our walk we saw our friend, Philippe Dolivet, fishing with some of his clients who actually caught a huge fish while we were watching – perhaps the level was so low there isn’t much room for the fish to hide!
Sadly, we said goodbye to my aunt and uncle on Thursday and we are now relative-free, although very pleasingly, both Granary and Hayloft welcomed new guests yesterday. Being on our own should mean that I have a more productive week next week and may just get the man shed emptied.
At the end of last week’s blog I said, again, that I hoped this week I would have started cutting and clearing some of the wood that we have cut and is lying around the ‘estate’. Now is a good time as we continue to enjoy some fantastic weather in the daytime, clear dry and occasionally warm. However, in the evening and overnight it is increasingly obvious that autumn is nearly with us as the temperature falls away quickly.
I am pleased to say that I have started, but I haven’t got anywhere near as far as I’d have hoped!
The first thing I thought it would be sensible to do was make a small amend to the wood store that I constructed earlier in the year. When I put the roof on, I had hoped that butting the metal sheeting as close to the back wall and under the cladding plank above it, would be sufficient to prevent the rain getting in. However, it hadn’t proved as effective as I had hoped. After a heavy rain shower, especially from the south west where it is facing, the rain that hits and falls down the rear of the building continues into the wood bays getting the back wall and firewood damp.
To address this I have now added a strip of damp proof membrane to cover the gap. This was more challenging than I had anticipated as I wanted to slide it between the cladding planks to make sure it held in place, and the cladding planks didn’t want me to! Thankfully, I eventually won the battle, and it is place although, as it hasn’t rained since I don’t know if it will work! No reason why not, but equally, I am not sure how UV tolerant the membrane is so it may be only a short-term fix.
When this was done I started splitting some of the wood we generated when we felled the large trees on our boundary to allow us to build Grange. The branches had been cut into large logs by the tree surgeon but, as we hadn’t anywhere to store them properly in the dry they have been lying outside since they were felled in December 2015. The pictures on the link show just how much that area has changed in the last 3 years.
Having been outside all this time, and some of it directly on the ground, it has, unsurprisingly, started to rot. On the upside this has made splitting it easier than I had anticipated but, has also meant that it doesn’t have the same heat potential as firewood as it used to. The other dilemma it as given me is … where to store it.
I am probably being super cautious, or just paranoid, but I am very reluctant to store wood which has started to rot in my wooden woodstore behind our wooden garage. While all the cladding and structural timbers are treated I really don’t want to risk introducing rot or gnawing insects if I can help it. As such, and very reluctantly, we have had to extend the life of the ‘temporary’ woodstore where I have stored what I have split so far. We will look for a more permanent temporary solution in the spring!
If anyone has any advice or reassurance on the above I would be very interested to hear.
The other jobs we have done this week have tended to be smaller but no less important. Having cleared one of the garage bays earlier, principally so Dave’s uncle and aunt could use it for their open top car when they visited us last week, it has also allowed us to protect some of our garden items over the winter. For the first time ever our large BBQ and chiminea have been put into ‘storage’ so will be protected for the winter and, next year when the remainder of the bays will be empty (promise!) all of the garden furniture will also be afforded better protection.
As you can also see, I have built some new shelving units. These are not a permanent feature, there at least, but this week one of the brico stores have an amazing offer on them. Again, now that the garage bay is free I can start (finally) to empty the old ramshackle manshed, put all of the items on these shelves, and when done start its demolition and rebuild. This will be a huge step forward and will be my major autumn / winter (/ spring?) project. The shelves will then be used in the finished shed – perfect!
Having put our BBQ into storage for the winter it gave us the ideal opportunity to clear our own back terrace completely. While we have been using the terrace for the last couple of years, not the first as it was an absolute state, it was still a dumping ground for a number of items that we hadn’t got around to dealing with.
Unfortunately, we haven’t taken a ‘before’ picture of the terrace but the walls were covered in ivy; there was a large self-set ash tree growing next to the building; there was a pile of large slates which the previous owner had cut from the wall; and numerous pieces of old, increasingly rotten, garden furniture that we had inherited.
The old garden furniture is now in the wood store waiting to be burned; the slate is on the slate pile for the next wall which will inevitably be built; and with our own furniture under its tarpaulin the cleared space looks HUGE. It is certainly in the best state it has ever been in – at least since we moved in and probably before!
Finally, I have planted the last of my lonicera cuttings in the new bed we have created on the back entrance. Initially, I wanted to buy some more well established plants which would have given us a greater impact immediately. However, I was persuaded to use the remaining cuttings we took in 2016. They are not in a great state as have used all the stronger ones elsewhere and these have been a little neglected in the drought this year but lonicera is a tough old plant and, most importantly, they are free! They have 2 chances, and if they die we can replace them in the spring.
I am posting this early as we have a fun engagement tonight which I will tell you about next week – with all the work that I will be up to in, what looks to be another dry week.
As hoped in last week’s blog, I have now finished building the wall to the east side of the back entrance. We are really pleased with how it’s turned out and, so far, it hasn’t settled anywhere near as much as the west side did. One of the lessons I learned from building the wall opposite is that I needed to compact the soil much more to minimise the amount that it would settle, and having done so, after a couple of days rain, it hasn’t collapsed in as much as previously.
The only task I have left to finish this completely is to install the light to mirror the opposite side. We were planning on giving this a couple of weeks to see what sort of settling would happen so that it would go on a more stable platform. After that it is just a case of gravelling the drive and allowing the grass to grow on the exterior side.
The second, and only other task, I completed was one that I had hoped to do for a couple of years. Since we had moved here there was a large water butt behind Granary collecting the runoff from one area of the roof. We had repositioned another butt, of the same size (500L) next to the first but had neither connected the 2 together nor moved them slightly away from the wall to prevent it soaking the back of Granary.
Granary, and our own house, doesn’t (yet) have a gutter on the rear roof, so when it rains, as it has been known to here in Brittany, it cascades down the back of the building. When the water butt was positioned next to the wall the cascade of water splashed back onto the wall soaking into the slate and lime mortar. I had always wanted to both attach a gutter but, more quickly and easily, simply move the water butt away from the wall. It has taken this long to get around to doing so and to connect the second butt to the first so they fill at the same time.
Generally this would have been a very rapid job but, water being a precious commodity this summer, I didn’t want to just tip away what we had managed to store so it took almost a day to use the water in the butts to revive the yew plants we have added to the boundary before I could start changing the pipes.
Now, with the 3 butts we have plumbed in to collect water off the roof of Grange, we have very nearly 3500 litres of storage – would have been great for the garden this summer!
We welcomed David’s aunt and uncle back to Kergudon at the end of the week and made the most of the social side of Breton life. On Saturday we visited the annual Commana Horse Fair, and today was the Saint Cadou Cochon Grillé (Pig Roast). Unfortunately, and almost predictably, having taken ages to water the yews on Wednesday, the last couple of days have been the wettest we have had for weeks which pretty much wrote off the horse fair.
Friday, before the storm passed through, we travelled to Primel Trégastel, on the north coast, to have lunch at a restaurant recommended to Dave by a couple of people at his gym. The restaurant, La Cameline, was excellent and very traditional. For a Friday lunchtime the 4 of us made us 36% of the clientele which, although it didn’t lead to rapid service, the food was very good and, with the view over the bay we would recommend it.
The horse fair on Saturday would have been excellent other than the driving rain. Commana is one of the highest villages in Brittany and very exposed so when it is the slightest bit wet and windy Commana gets it. Sadly, this meant that the market stalls were closing up just after lunch and it wasn’t so pleasant to eat from the food stands. On the up-side it meant that having looked at the horses, cows and fancifully coloured ducks (which we don’t remember from before) we had to go to Au Lac for lunch!
One year we will be in a position to buy some chickens and ducks for our own menagerie but not for a while.
Thankfully today’s Pig Roast wasn’t as badly affected as everyone could eat in the Salle des Fêtes and it was another great afternoon of Breton music and entertainment.
As I write this the weather has vastly improved and it is now a lovely evening. The forecast is good for the remainder of the week so I will be able to do a number of tasks outside. Having ordered 2 new chains for the chainsaw I hope to, eventually, start cutting the wood we have lying around but I remember saying that for the last couple of weeks …
This week’s blog will be fairly short as it has been focussed entirely on one task, building the wall on the east side of the north gate. The photos will look more impressive if compared to last week’s images.
It has proven to be a slow task for a number of reasons but, other than a day off for poor weather and another changing gîtes around, I have managed to make a little progress every day. Our neighbour was kind enough to allow is to collect a trailer-load of soil on Monday which allowed me to start. I had hoped that a single trailer of soil would be sufficient but evidently wildly underestimated the volume needed because, this morning I finished a second trailer full and we still need a little more to finish the job.
Another reason that it is taking a little longer is that, amazingly, it is getting harder to find the right pieces of slate needed to build a strong and stable wall. Up to now, I have principally been using pieces which were previously an ‘L’ shaped dry wall built to form a wood shed that I demolished to build Grange. We understand that before these stones were used to build a wood store they were part of an old stable which was behind Granary. The advantage of these is that had been cut to provide at least 1 smooth face and were generally a fairly regular shape so stacked easily.
Unfortunately, with all the walls that I have been building, I have now nearly exhausted my supply of these convenient shapes. As a result I am having to use more irregular shapes and need to be more imaginative in how to stack them.
However, while it is being quite slow we are very pleased with how it is turning out and should, hopefully, only need another day’s effort to complete.
We are delighted that again, all of our gîtes are occupied. This weekend we have been hosting a group of guests, including the bride and groom, of a large wedding that took place in the village yesterday. Will make for a busy day tomorrow when they depart and we welcome new guests in 2 of our gîtes but as we are enjoying some lovely late summer sun, hopefully our new guests will also have a great time.
Next week for me is finishing the wall, finally, and hopefully cutting some wood and starting to clear the large piles we have been accumulating in time for when the cold comes!