Sunday 23 June – Thank you for the Music

At the end of my last blog, 2 weeks ago, I said that the weather was going to revert to its more usual 2024 pattern of showers and below average temperatures.  So it turned out and the week before also reverted to an earlier pattern of not being the most productive of the year, but we have managed to do some cultural things!

For a number of years we have tried to set ourselves the challenge of doing something ‘cultural’ (which can be widely defined!) at least once a month. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, it was easier to achieve this when we were living in London although it is not difficult to be done here – we just don’t always achieve it.

Thankfully, we had lots of gîte preparation as we had guests arriving throughout the week and, very pleasingly, our 3 gîtes were all occupied by returning guests, all of them having stayed with us for the first time last year.

One of those guests were family of some friends we have in the neighbouring village of St. Rivoal.  Our friends are part of the team who arrange an annual piano / music festival in St. Rivoal, Claviers dans les Monts and their family have come out for the last 2 years to attend.

This year, we also went to the closing concert which was jaaazz (nice!) and a jam session in the salle des fêtes which had been converted into a mini Ronnie Scott’s.  It was very well attended and good fun.  We slipped away just before midnight as the jam session was getting going and we’re glad we did as we learned that the session carried on to 4 am!

Our friends were very pleased with how the festival had gone and how many people attended and we will certainly attend again if it is held next year.

Before the concert last Sunday we did one of our weekly walks and returned to the north coast, this time in the commune of Plouguerneau starting on the Pen Enez peninsular.

This is another interesting part of Finistère with pretty chapels such as Chappelle Saint Michel, and a dramatic stretch of coastline with some amazing white sand beaches such as la Grève Blanche and impressive lighthouses such as Phare de l’Île Vierge (apparently the tallest in Europe).

Over the last couple of weeks there has been some progress with the pool – not 2 weeks of progress but progress none the less(!) but, before they came I continued using some of the huge soil pile we have generated.  While I will wait until the digger is back with us to spread soil across the back lawn, I did spend most of a day barrowing some to the front of the orchard and our verges on Hent Gorreker.

Over the last year or so, we have had a number of cars park on the verges and, with the wet weather, had created large ruts that, while grassed over, made mowing the verge awkward.  With all this soil I was able to fill these and create a small bank beneath the hedge I cut and cleared a couple of weeks ago so I can mow and control weed growth.  I hope both will re-grass quickly.

There is still lots of soil remaining and, while we originally understood that most of it will be used to backfill the foundations.  However, this week, we learned that the builder who is constructing the concrete pad and pool house, doesn’t want to use that soil so our landscaper has had to being in trailer loads of different soil(!) and hardcore.  At least it is moving forward, we now need to decide exactly what to do with the remaining soil.

For project work, Granary has been getting most of our attention.  A quick and simple task was bracing the olive trees we have moved to the plinths I constructed in front of the lawn in February 2023.  They had taken a battering in Storm Ciarán last year and had adopted an obvious lean.  Being tall and spindly standards, I didn’t think a single stake would do the job, so I have engineered an alternative solution.  Let’s see if it works in the next storm.

Another task we completed was to address the issue of Granary’s sticky front door.  In 2020 we had a new front door made but, for the last couple of years, the door had expanded in the wetter months making it difficult to open as it scraped and stuck on the tile floor.

Our plan was to remove the door and shave a little off the bottom, as well as lifting some of the tiles immediately inside the door and replacing them with a door mat which would have the added advantage of giving guests somewhere to wipe their feet as they enter.

We had wanted to do this job for a couple of years but, being honest, I was apprehensive about it and fearful that it would be a major challenge, especially lifting the tiles as we have no replacements and I worried that others would get damaged.  I shouldn’t have worried.

We are very pleased with the finished job and don’t think it requires the additional trim we purchased – we will see if that is required in the future.

We were spoiled for choice with cultural activities.  June 21st is the annual Fête de la Musique when many pubs, towns and villages put on concerts and shows.  We have, unintentionally, created a tradition of going to the village of Irvillac for their concert.

Irvillac always organise a good event and this year was as good as ever – the bands probably better.  Previously it had been held in a large car park with hot dog / frites available for snacking as well as the obligatory crêpes.  This year it had moved to a playing field with straw bale and pallet seating and the food offering was a cochon grillé (vegetarians avert your eyes) although, sadly, we didn’t eat.

We were joined by friends, with their 2-month old baby in appropriate ear defenders, so for the first time we stayed until the fireworks which, for a free concert in a relatively small town, were quite impressive.

Sadly, Saturday was also Saint Cadou’s tantad (bonfire) at our own Salle des Fêtes, having stayed later in Irvillac sadly we weren’t able to get to this event as well which is always fun.  A couple of our guests did however and enjoyed themselves.  These pictures are of last year’s tantad we did attend.

We didn’t do a Sunday stroll today as Garratt has (again) managed to hurt himself and has walked with a limp for the last couple of days.  However, today was the annual triathlon in and around Lac du Drennec so we visited our friends Merc and Ludo at Au Lac and enjoyed lunch watching others exert themselves as they ran around the lake.

Lots of plans for the coming week – hopefully lots will be achieved too.