Sunday 19 January – Trenchant Effort

At the end of last week’s blog, I mentioned that the forecast was looking particularly bad for the start of the week just gone, and so it turned out.

Storm Brendan arrived on Monday which, despite stronger winds than normal and lots of rain, didn’t prove too disruptive.  It was the storm which hit us on Tuesday that was considerably more damaging as the winds were stronger and the rain heavier.  This storm didn’t have a name.  I still can’t fathom what conditions need to be present so either the UK or the Irish Met Offices name a particular storm but it was so bad with us, it must have caused disruption to at least the south west of the UK and probably more widespread.

Sadly, the frame of the serre we bought last year didn’t cope and has completely collapsed so needs replacing – the perils of trying to buy something a bit cheaper as a ‘temporary’ shelter.  False economy again.  Thankfully however, despite many of the outlying hamlets around Sizun losing power we didn’t suffer a power cut at all, or lose the phone line, although we were expecting one or the other if not both!

Thankfully we were able to stay indoors and progress the Priory project.

Our electrician, Pascal, arrived on Monday and has set about the rewiring with gusto.  Being an old building with thick slate walls there are a number of challenges he faces with the wiring, especially in the living area, although he hasn’t started there yet, so we are looking at the most attractive ways to hide the new cables throughout the building.

As we are having a new power supply provided, before we can connect to the grid, we will have an inspection by the electricity company so Pascal is ensuring he follows all the rules to the letter, which, while obviously safe, means there a number of things that we perhaps wouldn’t have had otherwise and the house now has more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese!

While Pascal has been working, I have completed a couple of useful tasks.  The first was to finish breaking up and removing the slate step in the kitchen.  While we knew that the step wasn’t original, we weren’t sure how large the slates would be at the base, or whether they would be sat on a concrete base or straight on the ground.  Thankfully, there is a solid concrete base beneath that we can tile onto and incorporate that area back into the kitchen.

You can also see in the picture the new Granary door which I had painted in the autumn.  Our carpenter returned today to put the door ‘kit’ back together and he will return tomorrow to install it.  It will look so much better than the current one.

The second inside job I had to complete, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, was to remove the lights and cladding on the mezzanine level which will be replace by something much lighter and more attractive.  From this picture you can see a fraction of the new cables that Pascal is threading throughout the building and that many of them will be hidden behind the new facing we will create behind the bed.

The weather changed markedly yesterday as high pressure replaced the series of depressions we have experienced since last September and we have a couple of perfect crisp, cold, winter days.  Thankfully, we had preempted this and had wrapped and moved our banana plants so they are far better protected than they were last year.

It has also meant I could work outside over the weekend, although my work has sadly been in the parking space on the north side of Granary and out of the warmth of the sun.

We had a new electricity box installed last September which, once we have been inspected, will provide the power to Priory.  But, there are many metres between the new box and Priory and the cable will need to be buried underground so I had a lot of digging to be done.

Having dug a number of trenches around the gardens, not least the foundations of Grange, I knew that it is not easy to dig here with heavy clay sub-soil and lots of slate and quartz in the ground, and Pascal told me the trench needed to be a minimum of 45 cms.  I did know there would be one soil pipe crossing the parking area, I hadn’t expected to come across a number of other, redundant, pipes and I even found the old concrete septic tank (visible just by the closest pipes in the right hand picture) all of which made the job slower.

However, after 2 days digging while I haven’t quite got from the box to the Priory terrace, I should only have a day’s worth of digging left to complete the job.

The weather looks like it will hold for most of the coming week so I should be able to finish the trench and progress a number of outside tasks while Pascal continues the wiring.  Good weather always makes me feel we are making good progress!