Sunday 23 July – Nuclear Decommissioning

The ‘dramatic improvement’ in the weather I had predicted in last week’s blog, mostly as Wimbledon has concluded, hasn’t really materialised!  While last week wasn’t as bad as actually forecast, and not as bad as next week is forecast to be(!) I can’t say that summer is here with wall-to-wall sunshine.

Thankfully, having spoken to a number of our guests recently, there is a common theme that many have re-discovered Brittany having wanted to avoid extreme heat in southern Europe, but acknowledge there is a greater risk of showers.  There is a reason Brittany tends to stay greener for longer.

My work efforts have therefore been a little curtailed but I have managed to achieve something that we have wanted to do for quite some time and it has made a big visual difference to the garden.  This was to empty and dismantle the wood store we put together as a temporary structure in 2016!

One of the first things we built in our time here was the garage to the west of our house.  The space previously had been a rough piece of grass which acted as our sort-of ‘service area’ where we could store building materials and other things.  Part of it was a store built from slate where we, and the previous owners, kept firewood.

Prior to building the garage we needed to clear this area so move all the useful things somewhere else.  At the time we had not installed the heat pumps in the gîtes or our house so firewood was a valuable commodity (still is!) so I didn’t want to throw it away.  Amongst the extremely unhelpful things the previous owners left behind were many sheets of fibre cement so I used some of these to build a new wood store to keep the wood dry.

While it served a purpose, and we had built it at the back of the garden, it wasn’t the most attractive thing to look at and had a nuclear bunker / air raid shelter look to it. The pictures above also show our best efforts to hide it and, in the right hand image, how over the years it existed, it got increasingly unstable.  Over time, as we used the wood originally in there, as it was a mostly-dry space and the only one we had prior to buying the serre, when we generated more wood we put that in to store.

Emptying the store this week I have found wood we placed there as a result of the other projects we have had to do over the years and so, awkwardly, reminded me how long the structure has been in place!

There were old floorboards I removed when I had to repair the floor in Priory in 2017 as some of the boards had become rotten.

There was all the cladding previously on the exterior of the old man shed I dismantled and rebuilt in late 2018 and early 2019.

As a lot of this wood was old planks, when I originally removed them I had cut them into shorter lengths with the intention of chopping them into kindling before storing them but had then never got round to that bit.

This week I spent the hours required to split it all before moving it to store in the serre.  I managed to use the vast majority of the wood in there other than a small amount which had obviously been underneath a leak in the roof and had gone quite rotten.

When empty, I dismantled it, or more accurately I moved a pallet which was part of the base and it collapsed on me, but the end result is the same!  As I mentioned last week we now have the problem of the sheets themselves which we hope to be able to resolve in a few months.

The cleared space looks so much better from any angle and should grass over fairly quickly.  It just leaves the larger piles of bigger bits of wood, unfortunately now getting wet again in this weather but will be the focus of any dry days we have in the coming weeks, before I can finally demolish the veg patch completely.

If the weather allows there will more next week …

À bientôt.