Sunday 10 September – Scorchio!

At the end of last week’s blog, I mentioned that the forecast was looking pretty good. As things turned out it has proven to be the hottest week of the year – and exceptionally, even unpleasantly, humid at times.

That said we have managed to get some things done and progress a couple of useful jobs.

Having hacked back our wisteria last week our trailer was half full of green waste that needed to go to the déchetterie as I needed the trailer for another task.  However, I dislike driving to the tip with anything less than a full load so my week started off generating other green waste to fill it up.  I did this by cutting our first large hedge of the season and started with the one around the pétanque pitch – although as you can see there are more projects required in the surrounding area!

We planted this hedge in January 2016 using some cuttings that our neighbour gifted us when they hacked back some of their shrubs.  The plan is called griselinia and seems to be the most robust hedging plant we’ve come across.  We basically just pushed the cuttings into the soil in 2016 and the vast majority rooted and roared away to create this hedge in a relatively short period of time.

The other advantage of the plant is that it is not susceptible to honey fungus, the fungi which is currently decimating the privet hedge around Granary’s garden and so we will plant more of this to replace the privet as it dies off.

Trailer full, I was able to take it to the tip, bring it back and refill it again!  As you will know, THE major project is clearing the old veg patch in preparation for a major build which involves cutting and stacking lots of wood that we had stored there.

For the most part this has proven simple other than a few large logs that I was unable to split with my merlin (effectively, a large axe) or my, admittedly ‘DIY’, hydraulic log splitter.  These had been put to one side waiting an alternative means to split for a while.

That alternative means was offered by a friend who has access to a serious, tractor mounted, wood splitter and he offered his time to clear through my logs.  Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of the splitting in action but it was an impressive bit of kit.  Rather than a hydraulic split, which I’m more familiar with, this was a large, threaded, metal cone which rotates at high speed using the tractor’s PTO which forces its way into the log and splits it quickly and easily.  It generated a full trailer of split logs which should give us a few week’s of heat over the winter and which otherwise may have been wasted.

Also last week’s blog mentioned that I had started storing the final bits of wood we had cut from the old veg patch and this week, I have completed that task and everything we want to keep is stacked in the serre.  All that remains is rubble (which I will likely take to the tip) and slate, which I will store for other projects.  Then I can start to demolish the wall.

I am hoping to be able to use our mini-digger for this task, as I am sure it will be far more efficient than just me and a sledge hammer.  However, the digger has not been started for about 18 months so I am hoping that a friend of a friend will come and give it a bit of TLC (probably drain the old diesel and clean the pipes and filters etc) so it starts and operates.

I have alluded to this project in a few previous blogs and this week we have made another major step by signing all the estimates and committing to the work.  Spade in the ground is booked for Monday 16th October which gives me a firm deadline!  So now we can share what the project actually is and – as some of you have potentially already guessed – it is a swimming pool.

But not just any swimming pool.  The intention is to have a pool house alongside the pool and a telescopic shelter over the pool so we can use it either in the open air or, on the rare occasions it is inclement in Brittany(!), it can be covered and still used.  It is hoped that the cover will also assist with the heating and mean that we can use the pool for 9 or 10 months a year.

These are a couple of the CAD-generated images that we submitted as part of the planning application to give you an idea of what it should look like when completed.  Exciting, and daunting(!), times.

Next week the excessively hot weather is due to moderate so I should be able to make more progress – hopefully with mechanical help!  Although will need to deconflict with a rather exciting rugby tournament that has just kicked off … Probably a good idea we now have a deadline, although of course the more important deadline is having it finished for the summer season 2024!