Sunday 13 June – The Repair Shop

It was never my intention to only blog fortnightly although it has fallen that way in the last month or so.

The previous reason was that I had perhaps not made so much progress, this time it was more that, as confinement is being eased, last Sunday we had a large social event to remind ourselves what it is like to have friends around again after 8 months!

My previous blog highlighted how I had a number of ongoing projects that were repairing things which needed a little TLC.  This has continued to be the case for some of the last 2 weeks hence this week’s title.  This is not the same as the UK programme where people buy potentially valuable items cheaply because they are broken, invent some bogus story that it is a treasured family heirloom and get it repaired by talented craftsmen(!)  This is me doing my best to bring some items that have seen better days back to life so we don’t have t throw them away and buy new.

The last blog showed the state that we had let a small outdoor table get into that was one of the projects I had begun.  I said that, having broken the rivets holding it together, I needed to get a couple of things to complete the job.  As confinement is slowly easing, Dave’s gym was also preparing to reopen which meant Dave had to spend a few hours in Brest with the team preparing.  This allowed me to get the bits that I needed to complete a couple of tasks.

The table came from Ikea a few years ago now and, surprisingly, they still sell the same style.  Having popped in, I saw that I was able to buy new chairs for less than it cost me to refurbish (assuming I factor in my time at minimum wage level).  However, so as not to add to unnecessary landfill, and knowing that my time is the one commodity we have free, I chose to refurb them anyway (as well as buying 2 more to make a set of 4!)  I think they look great and we should get a few more years out of them now – more as we will be able to overwinter them in the dry. You can compare how they looked in the last blog (and admire my lawn stripes!)

Stable table refurbished and looking good

Another project that I had started was refurbishing our old gas BBQ that we bought when we lived in London.  It had sat in the garage for a couple of years and was looking very sad with paint flaking off and bits damaged.  The gas connection also needed changing so we could use it with a French bottle.

An old coffee table had come across with us in 2015 which we had bought on eBay thinking it would look great in a gîte.  In the end it was surplus to requirement and had sat under a cover infront of Dairy since summer 2015.  Evidently the wood was pretty solid (it was one of the Indian / Thai style of tables which were very popular 10 years ago or so) and had lasted pretty well under its cover although he metal elements were pretty rusty.  With some sanding, staining and painting it looks great now – and certainly good enough for us to use as a terrace table.

Both were brought into use for our social event last Sunday which was the first big BBQ we had here since COVID came on the scene.  This meant that most of Saturday last week was spent cleaning, weeding and preparing our own terrace – although it now looks great and should last the summer season for us.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures when people were actually here and I don’t think our friends did – hopefully a sign they were enjoying themselves.

Another repair that we had done, rather than did ourselves, was to change the ridge tiles on Hayloft.  There were always a couple that had been patched and evidently over the winter another had broken allowing water to leak in and cause a large unsightly stain on the ceiling directly above the bed.  We have a friend who is an excellent roofer who came to do the job for us so, when the ceiling is completely dry we can repaint – another to add to the list!

Hayloft roof repair

You can see from the picture that they were able to do the roof repair on a beautiful day, and we have had a number of those recently.  This has allowed me to work in the garden at times and ‘repair’ the grass bank that I seeded 6 weeks ago.  I knew the seed I had used was a little old so I didn’t expect all of it to germinate.  What I had expected was that some of it would grow – no.  Evidently it was older than I’d thought and the only plants that took hold were weeds.  Lots of weeds.  I have started to remove these to reseed when we are next forecast rain.

Weed bank

The good weather allowed us last Monday to have a long dog walk with some friends through the Monts D’Arrée and picnic overlooking Lac du Drennec.

It was a lovely day and tired the dogs but also gave David a good day out before he went back to work properly at the gym, it having opened for the first time since November.  Life is slowly coming back to normal such that the restaurant, Au Lac, was able to open for diners to be inside last Friday and we took advantage of that and enjoyed a couple of Mercedes’ amazing dishes.

Of course, another day off meant slow progress on some of the projects, but they continue.  The central garage bays are, finally, almost empty and certainly empty enough to stain the wood (half done) and, next week, to paint the render.  All in preparation of actually getting gravel in and using them – as garage bays!

The large space has proven valuable, and will continue to do so, for my projects and repairs.  The garden furniture we bought in our first year is starting to fall apart.  Again, our bad in not giving it proper protection in the winters, so we have replaced the tables and chairs and the space will allow me to eventually have a go at repairing the old so we have spares.

We have learned that there is a world shortage of garden furniture!  Possibly as people can’t go anywhere they are all staying at home and upgrading their terraces, so having ordered new for Priory, Granary and Hayloft some weeks ago, we only have Priory’s new set.  But that looks great.  These will be cared for!

Priory’s new terrace table. An amazing table that befits the amazing gite.

Today was also a day ‘off’ as we were helping out our friends in the village.  They are very keen gardeners and open their lovely garden a few times a year.  Today was the day when lots of gardens are open throughout Brittany so they were hoping for lots and lots of visitors. In previous years they have had upwards of 200 and we assist with crowd control (meet and greet!)  Today, as in the UK, was a beautiful day, 30 degrees plus heat and wall-to-wall sunshine and perhaps too beautiful.  It seems that most people had taken the chance to go to the beach, or possibly stay inside away from the heat as there weren’t the same number of visitors as previous years.  However, all those who visited commented on how lovely the garden is and we did our part to assist!

Jardins de Guidelou

Next week is a significant one as David and I have appointments for our first COVID jab which we are looking forward to.  Work wise, continue progress with the garage bays which will allow us to clear the drive (finally!) and perhaps make a start on these which were delivered a couple of weeks ago.  I’ll explain more when I start!

Project in kit form