Sunday 18 February – No Time Like the Presents

I am pleased to say the last 7 days have been much more productive and also more fun than the previous few.

Perhaps more fun, isn’t quite accurate, but it has been a week of gift giving.  Last Monday (12th) was David and my anniversary.  We’ve made it to 14 years in our relationship (somehow!) but, as Mondays are one of David’s work days in the gym, we didn’t mark the event that night.

On Tuesday we had, depending on how you look at things, either our first Christmas of 2024 or our 3rd of 2023!  We had decorated Priory with its large tree in early December for our friends who were staying with and we had taken some photos but we hadn’t been able to take any publicity pictures with the fire lit and with presents under the tree.

You may recall from my blog at the time that we had a good Christmas, indeed we had 2, a European Christmas on 24th December and a British one on the 25th.  We were very spoiled and managed to open gifts from friends and family at the time but we had chosen not to open the gifts we had bought each other.

We had decided to leave our own gifts and place them under the Priory tree when convenient so we could get some good publicity shots.  We tend to do more stocking-filler type gifts between ourselves so when they are placed under the tree it looks quite generous – and we hope will enable prospective guests to visualise just what an amazing place it is to come and spend a family Christmas.

On Tuesday night we combined an anniversary, faux-Christmas and Valentine’s Day dinner and used one of the amazing presents we received, and opened, on our European Christmas – a beautiful Swiss fondue which ensured we had proper cheese sweats and weird dreams on Tuesday night!

Work-wise we have enjoyed a number of drier days so have been able to get out and do some garden work, some of which was required as a result of Storm Ciáran last November – although there is still a lot of that left to be done.

Ciáran felled a number of trunks of the box tree at our main entrance.  We had to clear them the morning after the storm just to get out of the drive, but the branches had been piled on the drive ever since.  On Monday I was able to strip them ready to log and to cut out other trunks that looked vulnerable to the next big blow.

Our front drive has always been scruffier than we’d like and will be the location of one of the projects I am most looking forward to doing but which has never made it to the top of the list.  As such, we have used it to store slates we unearth in the garden and it has been over grown by bramble.

During the lunch periods, when I try not to make noise with chainsaws or garden equipment, I started clearing through this area of the drive and made some progress but the ground is absolutely sodden after such a damp winter.  Hopefully, when complete, I will be able to keep on top of it better until I am able to realise my project plan, and it will be a slightly better first impression to guests arriving to Kergudon.

While it stayed dry, and before the birds start nesting, I was also able to make some progress cutting hedges.  As I was so occupied in preparing the back garden for the start of the swimming pool build, I didn’t have the time to cut any of the hedges and they started to look rather scruffy.  The laurel hedge that borders Hent Gorreker hadn’t been cut for a couple of years and really needed a tame.  It looks much better having been done.

I also managed to cut the privet in front of Hayloft although sadly, at the end of last year I thought I saw this hedge was starting to show the signs of honey fungus attack as the privet around Granary has. If it continues to suffer as it grows this year we will need to think about replacing it with something else – probably more griselinia.

The lonicera hedge in front of Stable also received a haircut and we are really pleased with how the new hedge is growing that we planted in 2021.

Something else that also looks better are the orchard and Granary lawns that I managed to mow for the first time since last October.  In that time the grass had continued to grow with the wet and mild weather and it started to resemble a field.  We had reached that point when it was so long it never really dried sufficiently to mow so I just had to do it.  If dry, it would normally take me about 90 minutes to cut both lawns, yesterday it took almost 4 hours to cut and clear the grass.

Unfortunately, while Granary looks better cut, a mole, or moles, have gone wild over the last couple of months and utterly destroyed most of it.  That lawn has never suffered from moles in the past so something has changed and I will have to find a way of deterring the critter.

Today we braved the mizzly weather for one of our weekly walks.  This week we started our walk in the small town of Locquénolé which is on the west side of the Morlaix estuary.  Locquénolé is somewhere we have driven through frequently as it is on the route to Carantec, the location of one of our favourite summer restaurants, but we have never stopped, although having visited today, it is a very pretty little place.

Our walk was interesting too.  While one of the soggiest and squishiest underfoot we have done for a while, it included some lovely views of the Morlaix estuary, the Chateau de Pennelé, an inland lighthouse and a remote fontaine that became a convenient spaniel bath!

It looks like the start of next week remains dry so I will continue to cut hedges.  When it gets wet later in the week I can now take down the Christmas decorations in Priory – I think we’ve had enough Christmases for a few months!