Sunday 13 December (Sort of!) – Winter Wonderland

Apologies for not posting a blog last night.  I was a bit behind my ‘wanted to have completed by now’ list (I have lots of lists!) and wanted to wait until we had finished decorating our own home.

The last blog, 2 weeks ago, said that I would have more splitting and shredding to be done before the rain arrived.  I managed to split everything from the last ash trees we felled on our eastern boundary with Hent Gorreker but didn’t get around to the shredding part.  The rains did arrive when forecast and, with the exception of a few periods, has pretty much remained ever since!

In one brief dry period I planted 2 new trees to replace the ash we have felled.  In previous blogs I have said that, despite cutting down lots of trees it was always our intention to replant with others which provide more interest in various seasons.  We have already planted 3 flowering cherries and a Gingko in the orchard for spring and autumn colour, and to replace the ash, we have planted 2 liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’.  While it is difficult to see the 2 trees now, as they are effectively thin twigs, they are known to provide amazing autumnal colours so they should be very beautiful in years to come.

Our new Liquidambar planted to replace the ash trees felled

Amazingly, one of the few dry days in the last 2 weeks was Sunday 6th.  Being a Sunday, I couldn’t make noise and do the shredding but it was a blessing for the Christmas market (marché de Noël) arranged in Le Relecq which is the site of an ancient abbey about 15 minutes from us.  Despite still being in confinement, the market was well organised with COVID precautions taken and had lots of local artisans selling some fantastic things.

Le Relecq Marché de Noël 2020

The forest around Le Relecq has lots of lovely walks for the dogs and we took the opportunity to explore them a little more.  However, this time we didn’t make the mistake of joining a marked route we were unfamiliar with as we had done at the end of August and ended up walking miles for 2 ½ hours!   It really is a beautiful place and there is a bar in Le Relecq to enjoy a drink at the end of the walk too.

Dog walks in the Le Relecq forest
Dog walks in the Le Relecq forest

During the wet weather I was able to stay indoors and start the Christmas decorations.  Having fully refurbished Priory earlier in the year we were very excited to decorate it as it is such a characterful building it is perfect for a Christmas break.

Priory kitchen decorated for Christmas
Priory kitchen decorated for Christmas
Priory mezzanine decorated for Christmas with a new garland

We are delighted with the results and especially with the new mezzanine garland. Our guests we welcomed last Friday were also very happy as they weren’t expecting the gîte to be decorated.

Priory lounge decorated for Christmas

With Priory done, I was able to focus on our own house where we have also changed some furniture during the year including removing the large aquarium that used to be in our lounge. We are delighted how the decorations look with the new units – however, although the photos don’t show it, there is still a tumble dryer in the lounge waiting for the utility room to be completed!

Kergudon lounge decorated for Christmas 2020
Kergudon lounge decorated for Christmas 2020

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

Finally, during the last 2 weeks we have upgraded the heating in Granary, or at least have had someone do that for us.  Having been very impressed with the air-source heat pump we had installed in Priory during its spring refurbishment we have decided to have one put into Granary. 

Granary’s new heating system in the lounge
Granary’s new air-source heat pump

Previously, the heating had been provided by wall mounted electric radiators which, while they were effective at heating the gîte, they were not the most cost-efficient and needed to be switched on days before guests arrived.  The heat pump can now heat the house faster, to a higher temperature and at less cost to us and the environment.

Still lots to do in the coming week before we wind down for Christmas and, now travel is easier in France, we hope to be able complete the utility room finally!  I will post a blog next Sunday – promise!