Sunday 10 March – More-tensia

Having said in last week’s blog that the ratio between wet and dry days was beginning to improve the start of this week began a little damp again.

It forced me to remain indoors and, finally, complete the major project of taking down all the Christmas decorations and pack them away in the store room.  It means that for the first time since New Year the games room is clear of decoration boxes, but also highlights that, disappointingly, we have not welcomed as many guests in the early months of the year as we have previously.  On the up side, there are only 8 months before I have to put the decorations back up again!

Derigging the decorations was one of the annual, or biannual, tasks that I undertook in the week.

The biannual one was the winter pruning of our wisteria on the front of Priory.  When we planted it shortly after arriving, I was a little intimidated by the pruning required as I understood that, to maximise its flowering, it was quite particular about when and how to train it.

Thankfully, with guidance from a neighbour and a bit of trial and error, I seem to have it cracked.  It also seems happy in its position as it is growing rapidly and has almost reached the front of Granary – although we don’t intend to let it grow on that gîte – and is covered in buds.  Hopefully that means it will be a magnificent display of flower in a few weeks rather than it being difficult to make out on grey slate of this picture.

I have also started the annual prune of the many hortensias (hydrangeas) we have in the orchard.  Hydrangeas thrive in this region and grow to great sizes so benefit from an annual prune. These are nowhere near as complex as the wisteria!

Most of the hydrangeas we have are of the same variety (large blue mop head flowers) so we have tried to break up the large bank of them with other plants, principally camelia and rhododendron, but as the hydrangeas grow so large in one summer, they swamp the other plants.  This annual prune gives the hydrangeas a better shape and allows the other plants an opportunity to grow a little larger.

These hydrangeas are along the west side of the garden which borders our neighbours’ field.  On the boundary was a medium sized hawthorn tree which had been choked by ivy and was something we have wanted to remove for a while.  Thankfully this hawthorn was a victim of Storm Ciáran and had been blown down onto the shrubs so I had to cut this up at the same time.

That boundary was also where, in 2019, we had 7 large sycamore trees cut down so everything now has more light and grows better.  Despite this, I have never managed to control the hedge, such as it is, there although I did plant a large number of loniceras a few years ago in an effort to actually create a hedge.  Thankfully, many of these seem to have survived although haven’t really grown, but with the hydrangeas cut I can now trim what is there and make the area generally look tidier.

Today was again almost spring-like so allowed us to have one of our Sunday outings.  This time we went to a Sunday market in the town of Plestin-les-Grèves on the recommendation of some guests last summer.  It is a nice little market with an excellent fish and cheese stalls plus others we haven’t seen at other markets.  It is also an attractive little town which we have not visited before.

Plestin is very close to somewhere we have visited and like, the town of Locquirec.  Last April we did one of our Sunday walks and saw, from a distance, the ruins of the Roman baths of Hogolo on the estuary.  Today we thought we’d visit it properly and it is small but interesting.

This week is going to be the largest tidal range of the year.  We were there at low tide and saw huge numbers of people on the vast sandy beaches which we believe were foraging for razor clams and other shell fish in parts of the beach that aren’t usually accessible. Although in and around Locquirec there are always many amazing rock pools to explore and discover sealife.

One victory of the week is that we managed to catch up with the roofer who we have contracted to replace Hayloft’s roof (the team who did Stable last spring).  He has been very difficult to communicate with so we went to visit and ask when he has us in his diary as we initially agreed February.  On the positive side he has committed to come and do the work, on the negative, it won’t be until … October.

This is mostly because we have guests from the end of March until the end of September so, as he has not been able to do the work yet, he now can’t do it until the autumn.  This is frustrating as we’d hoped (and expected) to have the roof changed before this season and we would have used the opportunity to do some other tasks in Hayloft.  We will do some of these but others will have to wait.

Certainly Storm Ciáran has meant there is far more work to be done than there are roofers in the area, and the wet winter has led to delays.  We also know another roofing company in Commana no longer exists as the roofer himself has regrettably had to retire so our guy is in great demand and it appears he has lost most of his workforce too so I guess it is no surprise Hayloft hasn’t been done.  Ho hum ..!!

More next week – whatever the weather.