Sunday 06 February – Watt to do?

This week’s blog is similar in content to last in that our electrician has spent most of the week pressing on with the Granary re-wiring, and I have been working on various other projects as I can’t get into the gîte to start redecorating.  It is also similar in that the photos aren’t wildly inspiring(!) and I haven’t been any good at taking ‘before’ pictures but have some ‘after’ ones.

Pascal (the electrician) does seem to be making good progress although unfortunately, the carpenter we have asked to do some restorative woodwork has been unwell so has been unable to start.  I knew that we would reach a point when Pascal gets as far as he can before needing me to construct a couple of plasterboard walls but, with the carpenter a little delayed, he may get to a break point sooner than we’d hoped.  All good project management challenges!

Again, I won’t share pictures as all they’d be is an empty gîte with lots of cable laying about!

For me, the week has been spent doing lots of little things that are making progress in various areas but no big wins.

Thankfully, the weather continues, for the most part, to allow me to work outside and progress some garden tasks.  One of these was the annual hack through the weed and undergrowth opposite our main entrance on Hent Gorreker.

When we arrived, the bank opposite was massively overgrown, the farmer who owned it not having done any sort of cutting or clearing for years.  The problem this caused us is that, because it is to the south of us, it meant that for much of the day the garden, and especially Stable, were in shade and gloom.

In 2017 we got permission from the farmer to look after the small strip of land and it took me days to hack things back and cut the self-set sycamores and hazel trees back to give us a lot more light.  In 2020 we had the idea to plant some rhododendrons on the bank to both make it more attractive but also, as they grew larger, to suppress the weeds and therefore minimise the amount of clearing I had to do each spring.

A friend was kind enough to gift us about 12 young rhododendron plants that had self-set in their garden which Dave planted in the cleared bank.  During the year they got smothered by the bramble, bracken and hazel that regrew, which, being woodland plants that appreciate the shade, wasn’t a problem.  However, the very dry spring and summer that year was an issue and, although we watered frequently, we feared we would lose most of them.

Thankfully, when I cleared last spring, we found most had made it through and again, this week, I located 10 plants still growing, albeit they were still very small (a bit too small to make out in these pictures).  Hopefully they have spent their time putting down good root growth so they can now roar away!

When David was at home and able to assist, I had a chainsaw day and again spent some time on the boundary with Hent Gorreker – although our eastern side this time.  We felled a number of ash and an oak tree in November 2020 but we, and our tree surgeon, had cut the trees at a height that was safe and easy which meant we had a number of tall stumps which re-sprouted throughout last year.

I had always wanted to cut these lower down so that I can keep on top of the re-growth, hopefully hasten their death and also allow the hedging next to them grow into a better shape.  It looks better now they have been done.

While the chainsaw was out, we started cutting the wood which had been stored on the old veg patch.  Having spent hours cutting and then moving what we’d cut into the serre, it is becoming clear just how much wood there is there to clear as it looks like we’ve barely scratched the surface.  I think there is at least another 3 days’ worth of cutting and clearing.

Slow progress clearing the old veg patch – but progress

When Dave’s not available I don’t use the chainsaw, so I have started clearing the weed and bramble to the side of the veg patch.  This is effectively all part of the same project as it will ultimately all be shaped and made into lawn but it is another area that hasn’t been given the attention it needs.  When left the bramble and knot weed takes over very quickly and we lose about 4 metres of garden and the hedging we have planted doesn’t get the light it needs to grow.

Clearing it is relatively easy, although slow, but once done I will ensure I stay more on top of it with the mower or strimmer.

Another minor task was also preparation for future jobs.  Over the last year we have acquired the ends of 2 garden benches and a set of entrance gates.  All of these are metal and currently look a little sorry for themselves.

One of the friends David made at the gym he worked at in Morlaix is able to sandblast and paint them for us so we took them to his house yesterday.  Before that however, I had to grind off some old bolts that held the wooden seat parts of the benches.  I hoped it would make for some more dramatic pictures of sparks flying – it didn’t!

Preparing the bench ends for sandblasting and painting

More of the same next week and, hopefully, I will be able to make some sort of a start in Granary for the work I need to do.  If not, and if the weather allows, more of the same …