Sunday 01 January – Quick as a flash, it was gone

We hope you have all had a very pleasant Christmas doing whatever it is you like doing with people you enjoy doing it with!  We had a good Christmas here at Kergudon, David’s Dad joined us which made up for last year’s travel interruptions, and we have had some lovely guests in all of our gîtes.

Unfortunately, what hasn’t been the same as 2021, has been the weather which has been decidedly ‘Breton’ – mild but damp to very wet and, for the last few days, extremely windy.  Thankfully no damage (that we can see yet) but we have had so much rain in a relatively short period of time, all the roadside ditches are full of fast-running water and the Lac du Drennec, which has been very low for many weeks, is now totally full.  Even for here these have been extreme and the ground can’t absorb it all.

This has meant that we have been unable to do as much of what we generally enjoy doing over Christmas and New Year – getting out and about with the dogs.  It does mean that we can stay inside and focus on the other festive highlight – food and drink!

We did manage a visit to a local Château with some friends the Wednesday before Christmas. The Château de Trévarez near Chateauneuf du Faou is well known for its Christmas displays and lights.  We last visited the chateau, our only other time, for their Christmas lights in 2017 when the theme was Alice in Wonderland and geometric shapes and patterns were projected onto the front of the château.

This year’s theme was based on the, apparently true, story of when James de Kerjégu met Jules Verne at Trévarez and travelled around the world with him in 51 days to get ideas to build the château.  Sound a bit, familiar?!  This year’s exposition was considerably smaller than 2017 and the light trails far fewer – potentially due to the ongoing energy challenges – but the front of the château was an animation of James and Jules’ trip that was quite fun (even if we did get soaked watching it!)

Last night, we saw in the New Year in Priory.  A couple of weeks ago we decided to block it off from any New Year reservations as we have been very fortunate to have had a busy Christmas.  We had some other friends arrive yesterday for a week’s break so we thought it would be fun to entertain them in Priory.  We don’t get to enjoy our own wonderful gîtes often enough – especially when they look so festive.

In my last blog, I said that I would do my annual summary of what we have achieved in the preceding 12 months.  Even when I wrote that I feared I may be embarrassed by the progress we have, or more realistically, haven’t made!

2022 seems to have passed far quicker than any other year I can remember and, re-reading all the blogs I wrote (also far fewer than in previous years) things which happened in the spring only seem like a few weeks ago.

I’m not entirely sure why this has been the case.  Perhaps because we have been very fortunate and welcomed more people to Kergudon in the last 12 months than any previous year so we have spent lots more time just preparing and running the gîtes; possibly because we’d booked my ‘significant birthday’ holiday in January and I had spent all year looking forward to it happening (we travelled in November); or possibly because as we age it just happens like that …

Certainly looking back on what I’d hoped to achieve in 2022 much remains outstanding, some hasn’t progressed at all and, arguably, some has gone backwards!  One of the resolutions I remember making was not to start a new project until I’d completed the one I was working on.  That didn’t go so well – although, occasionally circumstance dictated what had to be done!

The year started with the biggest project we were to achieve.  As we had done to Priory in 2020 (then, although not knowing it at the time, ‘assisted’ by COVID and 4 months of confinement), we wanted to refurbish our second family gîte, Granary.

While we had made significant improvements when we arrived in 2015 (we had to before we were prepared to let guests stay!), we didn’t have the time then to do some of the bigger tasks that were required.  This year we could change that.

January started with stripping the gîte out.  It was a little sad as we had only installed the kitchen in 2015 and we liked it, but as we wanted to re-wire completely it was agreed that removing it completely would be easier for the electrician than trying to work around it.  Thankfully, we managed to sell it and the new owners sent us some pictures in its new home where it will be used and loved for years to come.

As with all of these projects it was subject to ‘mission creep’ as we either decided to do a little more or we found additional problems that needed to be addressed – re-rendering most of the ground floor and reinforcing ceiling joists were 2 examples.  As such, the 4 months we’d hoped to take became closer to 5 but we are really pleased with the finished result and, more importantly, so too were our guests.

One project that I wanted to do, and indeed made good progress on early in the year, was clearing the old vegetable patch.  I had managed to clear a lot of it but then I wasn’t able to focus on it for most of the summer so the bramble and knotweed grew back rapidly and I had to start afresh in the autumn.

Equally, clearing the garage bay was something to be done – and something I made good progress with but again, when I have created a large clear space it becomes so useful for other things.  Now it looks as though I hadn’t touched it.

One feature of 2022 that I will remember has been the extremes of weather.  While it was windy in the spring thankfully we didn’t have the impact that Storms Arwen, Dudley and Eunice had on the UK.  What we did have later were the record summer temperatures which here led to a major heathland fire in the Monts D’Arrée, and many others which were deliberately started.

Thankfully we remained, just, outside any evacuation area but there were many road closures and restrictions on where we, and our guests, could go in the natural park for a while.  Most importantly, property damage was minimal and there were no fatalities in the fire.

Kergudon’s barrel tables completed

I did manage a number of small renovation projects and one ‘construction’ when I created some barrel tables which we are really pleased with.  These will go alongside the pétanque pitch when that area is complete.

Otherwise it has been lots of trying to keep on top of normal things.  Some more successfully (hedge cutting; planting new hedging to replace plants that have been lost, mostly to honey fungus rather than the drought) than others (weeding).

We continue to make investments in the accommodation, not just the material aspects but with fun things that we hope make a holiday here special.  We have shared pictures of the Halloween pumpkins and Christmas lights and there are others we have bought but haven’t yet shown on my blogs.

We have lots of projects planned for 2023 – many of which were projects planned for 2020, 21 and 22 …  One of the major ones is to re-roof our chambre d’hôte, Stable, as we found it was in need of lots of TLC when I was repairing a leak that arrived in one of the record downpours of the year in June.

We will start the year, as we always do, with lots of plans and good intentions.  We will see how we do.

I will resolve (again!) to write a blog on a more regular basis and hope to be better than 2022 and share with you lots of things completed and ticked off the, never shrinking, to-do list – or we’d love you to come and see for yourselves.

We hope that whatever you resolve for the New Year, you have a happy, healthy and prosperous time and hope to see you at Kergudon sometime in the future.

Bonne année.