Sunday 03 December – Home Again

It has been almost a month since I wrote my last blog which is no reflection of a lack of activity but that in that time David and I have spent a couple of weeks back in the UK catching up with family and friends.

We had a great time and are very grateful to everyone who hosted and entertained us while we were there – especially as we travel with the dogs.

You may recall from my last blog that we had just experienced the worst storm for a generation (Storm Ciarán) and the house was without power and phone lines and there was a lot of clearing up to be done.

The week after my last blog continued to be wet, blustery and not the sort of weather you would want to be outside in, unless what you had to do was essential or your professional activity!  As such, while the pool builder came back on the Wednesday and filled the polystyrene walls of the pool with concrete, I didn’t get any of the clearing up done that we needed and the large oak that had fallen onto the power lines behind Granary remained.

This is how the pool looks as of today, which is a little forlorn but, in this weather, I’d challenge anything to look at its best!  You can at least see the steps and ‘beach’ that are part of the structure.

We had been told that, because the tree was over the power line, albeit they were obviously dead, the electricity company discouraged people from clearing the trees themselves and they take responsibility.

This meant that when we left for our trip on Friday 10th, we were still without power and had been for 9 days.  Indeed, some of the preparation for our departure was emptying our chest freezer and throwing away lots of lovely things that we had bought or David had made, as they were defrosting rapidly and some were already bad.

We learned that the power had been restored to most of Saint Cadou on Sunday 12th and to Kergudon on Monday 13th – a full 11 days after the storm had hit which showed the extent of the damage caused throughout Finistère.  Thankfully, we have a neighbour who kindly pops in to feed Mouse who was able to ensure we were on power and no further problems had been caused.

Amazingly, as soon as we had electricity and could power-up our internet box we had phone and internet.  This amazed us because the damage we had seen to the phone lines and telegraph poles, including the last pole before our own house which had been snapped in 2, we were sure the cables themselves would have been broken.

We also learnt that while the electricity company had reconnected the house, they had not infact cut up our large oak which remained blocking Hent Gorreker, which we felt guilty about.  Again, another neighbour came to the rescue and recommended someone who was able to come and cut it up and clear the road which, we are expecting, the insurance company to cover.

It did mean that when we returned home last Sunday afternoon, the tree was in ‘kit form’ in the Granary car parking space and so moving / clearing / cutting that has been added to the long list of things that we need to do before we have guests arrive over the Christmas and New Year period.

While we returned to a house with power as its heating had been off for over 3 weeks it was cold and, with no freezers before we left, we had no food.  Thankfully, some good friends had anticipated this and invited us to their house for dinner last Sunday evening, hence no blog then either.  Thank you to them for a fun, and warm, night!

The last week we have made a start on some of those things – although not as much as we’d have liked!

Last Monday, we had a technician arrive for a long-planned, at least prior to Ciarán, rendezvous to connect us to fibre for phone and internet.  We had feared that, with the telegraph pole still broken and the tree now preventing easy access to the back of Granary, where we assumed they would need to attach cables, we feared that they would turn up and, almost as quickly, leave again not having connected us.

If this were the case we were even more fearful that, as the fibre contract is with a different company to our old ADSL service, we would be without any sort of phone or internet as the old contract ended and the new one couldn’t begin.  While not the end of the world for me, David has a number of personal training clients he coaches online so would be much more difficult for him to work round.

Thankfully, the engineers were brilliant and got both our own house and Granary changed over which just left us with the usual challenge of getting computers and printers etc. talking to each other on the new network!

What I have managed to complete during the week, on the couple of dry days we enjoyed, was to put up our external Christmas lights.  These were a new investment last year, which we loved, but, as it was the first time I was putting them up, it took me over 3 days.  This year it was much faster and I was able to do it within a single day although these photos were probably taken a bit too early so you can’t see the full impact (but you can see that I haven’t had a chance to cut the hedges – too busy cutting down trees in preparation for the pool!)  Next week we will get the deer out too.

David has been creative since we have been back and has got the sewing machine out to create some new curtains for Hayloft, the old having got a bit tired.

This weekend, we have tried to continue our (recent) tradition of visiting a number of Christmas Fayres in the area and went to 4 of varying quality!  The best was in Carantec today which, although small, had some interesting crafts people with more unusual items for sale.  It was also in a series of old outbuildings on a remote farm that had been well restored.  We also love the drive to Carantec as the road closely follows the west side of the Riviere de Morlaix which has spectacular views.

Morlaix Estuary

The busiest by far, inexplicably, was also on a remote farm, this time just outside of Pleyber-Christ.  It had been going on both Saturday and Sunday but didn’t have that many stalls to buy gifts.  There were as many crêpe, waffle and hot drink stalls including a Champagne-chaud stall (we didn’t try it) and its focus was selling Christmas trees.  We think its appeal was one of the stalls was owned, and manned, by a minor French food celebrity although we had no idea who he was!

I am hoping to make great progress next week in preparing Kergudon for Christmas, we have all the accommodation to be decorated, and making a start on clearing Granary’s parking space and re-installing the hot water heater following it’s leak in September!

More of that next Sunday.