Sunday 12 April – Joyeuses Pâques

Happy Easter to everyone.  It has been an odd weekend in that, being the first holiday of the year we would normally have guests in the gîtes but, with the travel restrictions in place, we are obviously empty but it has felt even quieter than previously.

The movement limitations have seen a cancelation of all the fun Easter activities here.  There is generally an Easter egg hunt for the village children and a market by the lake on Easter Monday – both off.  We have however, enjoyed a day off today and David’s 2020 simnel cake.

The current restrictions in France last until next Wednesday but President Macron is due to address the nation tomorrow and we fully expect the lock down to be extended until the beginning of May.  As such, we cannot expect any guests for a while and our artisans have not been, and will not be, joining us so Priory has not progressed very much.

I did spend a couple of days in there at the beginning of the week to convince myself that things are moving forward, and began to prepare the bathrooms (yes, plural now!) for decorating.  This mostly involved lots of sanding and filling with more to come.

As the weather has remained exceptional (and we still haven’t had any, now desperately needed, rain) we were back in the garden.  Despite things being so dry, as it is so warm things have sprung into life and is noticeably greener – even the lawn is beginning to recover.

We are really pleased with how the gardens are starting to look.  Almost more than the buildings, when we arrived, the outside was a blank canvas with lots of potential.  We were always very conscious that we can make the interiors as beautiful as we can but the garden also needed to be a space that people want to sit in, relax, and enjoy the sunshine and peace and quiet of this rural space.

As such we have added colour by creating and planted lots of flower beds; are making the perimeter more attractive and secure by planted huge numbers of hedging plants; trying to tidy by clearing areas which were previously weedy and overgrown and, tried, to create the ‘English’ lawn.  We are conscious that there is a lot left to do, but at this time of year we can see things really taking shape.  The other advantage of developing the gardens is that the number of wild birds visiting has increased and so too the amount of bird song.

The wisteria that we planted a few years ago is now starting to look really good.  This spring is the first time it has so many flower buds.  Whether this is after my pruning masterclass last year and so we are starting to look after it properly and / or it is just happier and more settled in its spot. The buds are perhaps not so visible on this picture but we will take photos when the flowers are in bloom.

The same is true of the cherry trees we have planted in the orchard which have more blossom this spring than before.

The crab apple tree in one of the champignon is always amazing at this time of year, although sadly, its blossom is always at its best just after the pear tree’s blossom has faded so you can’t see them together.  With the box hedge growing so well the beds look great – better now they’re mulched – and we love the variety of greens (sadly not so obvious in the pic) between old box, new box and the griselina next to the pétanque pitch.

We did complete one significant task which has been on our ‘to-do’ list for 4 years, which was to install internet access to Dave’s gym.

With the Brest gym being closed due to the coronavirus restrictions Dave is giving more and more classes online.  For one of them, you can assist him – more of that later.  He also has a number of personal training clients that he coached from our living room.  He always believed this didn’t look too professional, aside from the fact that it showed a fitness session was perfectly possible from the lounge – where most of his clients were training, and we had always intended to get wifi in his gym.

Despite, having the kit to do it, the delay was we thought it better to hard wire his access rather than rely on a broadcast link – although this was a personal view rather than anything scientific!  To do this we needed to dig a trench along our, very compacted drive, of about 35 metres to get a cable from our lounge to his gym so, on the hottest day of the year so far, we did just that.  Honestly, the second photo is after the work, we haven’t just moved the cable!

The catalyst for getting internet to his gym is a new class David is giving starting tomorrow and where you can help.  His gym, Fitness Plus, has joined other gyms throughout France to give online classes which anyone can join via Facebook.

Dave is one of 30 trainers (3 from Fitness Plus) giving classes and they will all be judged and ranked by the class participants by means of the number of interactions, thumbs-up and hearts; comments and especially participants tagging 3 others in their comments.  Can you assist please?  You don’t actually need to do the physical bit – just watch the class and give Dave lots of thumbs-up.

The timetable is on the Facebook page.  Dave is the only Dave on the timetable and he has the Fitness Plus logo next to his name.  His first class is 1615 (UK time) tomorrow (Monday 13th April).  Thanks.

Next week, depending on M. Macron’s Monday missive, I plan to focus again in Priory and move that forward further.

In the meantime, we hope you have a good Easter, enjoy the public holidays – at home – and stay healthy and safe.