Sunday 24 September – Rotten. Luck. Then Rotten Luck

I didn’t post a blog last week as I was working on the single project of clearing the old veg patch that I had started a few weeks ago.  While it felt like I was working full time, when I looked back on what I had achieved, all I had to show for it was an empty space within the breeze block walls.  Which in itself I was pleased with when you remember how it looked a couple of months ago.

This may sound simple, OK – it wasn’t difficult per se, but it took best part of my project time in the week to do.  This involved removing all of the slate and rubble from the site and storing in an alternative suitable location.  Admittedly, this meant that some of the material was just moved from this site to another to be stored, principally the sheets of fibre cement with asbestos (another poison chalice left by our predecessors!)  This is horrible stuff and is not accepted in any of the déchetteries near us despite there being countless thousand of sheets of the stuff in old buildings around.  We do have a plan that we hope to accomplish in the spring – when we have lots of soil although I’m not sure where we’ll get that from …

The slate I have added to the pile we already have and that will help with spring wall-building projects, and the smaller rocks and natural ‘rubble’ have been added to the pile of other rocks and ‘rubble’ we have that we also have a plan for soon!

Once all that was done I could strip off the old plastic and covers that had been laid on the soil as a weed suppressant and take it to the tip.

During the week I also cleared the talus at the back of the garden (for about the 4th time since living here!) of the bramble, nettle and knotweed that had taken over.

At this point last week I had a cleared veg patch that was ready to have the breeze block walls removed.

During the week, as I mentioned in my last blog, we had someone come and assist with our old mini-digger to see if they could get that started.  After a few hours of effort, and the inevitable new battery, she fired into life.  What she didn’t do, as previously, was run such that the electrical system recharged the battery while I was using it.  This isn’t the first time we have had this problem with this digger.

The advantage of having such an old digger is that the engineering is simple and those with the know-how (not me) can generally fathom things out.  Once we were able to get it running I was able to take it to the veg patch and use it to assist with demolishing the breeze block surrounding wall.

At least that was the idea …

The digger made it to the beg patch but when there, it was evident that it just didn’t have the power to lift the breeze blocks and foundations that it had been built on.  I mentioned in a previous blog that whoever built the wall built them to last and so it has proved!

Thankfully the digger also managed to make it back to the garage and so at 10 minutes to noon (start of French lunchtime) I telephoned a terrassier (landscaper) who we had asked to quote for the ground works for the pool to see if he could assist.

Shortly after 2pm (end of French lunchtime) the terrassier arrived with his own, somewhat larger mini-digger on the back of his tractor and in 20 minutes demolished the wall and did the work that would have taken me days.  A great job that now means all I have to do is take the rubble to the tip (and keep bits that I can use for hardcore).

The following day, as it was dry and in the morning when I could make some noise, I decided to start cutting some of the trees that we need (want) to clear on the back boundary.  Among those are a couple of horse chestnuts that have grown with multiple trunks making a less that ideal tree.

One particular limb was growing in such way that it leant exactly where I wanted to fell it so I figured I could cut it down on my own with no additional assistance despite the blustery conditions, and so I did without incident.

However, as I was logging this particular branch I heard a loud creaking sound and looked up to see the 2 major central trunks come crashing down of their own accord due to the wind.  Luckily, they fell in an absolutely perfect location and saved me a lot of effort but having looked, the reason they fell was that, despite them looking healthy and leafy, they were utterly rotten at the base and it appears the only thing that was holding them up was the branch I had just cut off.

With the centre of the tree gone it left a few more vulnerable trunks, a couple of which were sufficiently large that they could have caused some damage to our neighbour’s house had they come down in an equally uncontrolled manner.  As such, my priority changed from logging and clearing breeze blocks to felling these risky branches in which I was helped my our neighbour.

Thankfully, after a few hours of trimming and cutting we had felled the riskiest of the limbs and I had cut them up and cleared them away to make sure the track wasn’t blocked.  It should make a massive difference to the amount of light our neighbours now enjoy in their house.

There are still a number of trees we need to fell but on Wednesday the weather turned rotten with the remnants of Hurricane Lee passing by the UK so I have not been able to go back and chop up what I felled and what just fell down!  A job for tomorrow.

Yesterday, we welcomed David’s uncle and aunt back to Kergudon for their second visit of the year and, as often before, they stayed in Granary.  After a lovely dinner and fun evening together we said good night about midnight only to be woken up by Dave’s aunt banging on our front door shortly after 5 am to say that they had a flood in the house!!

We ran across and it was evident that the hot water tank had suffered a failure that meant that water was dripping (not quite pouring but not far off) from the top floor through the en-suite shower room to the family bathroom on the ground floor.

I managed to isolate the water to the tank and David did the mopping up before we all went back to bed to resolve the problem this morning.

Thankfully, our Priory guests had an early Roscoff ferry this morning so left about 6.30 and we could move Dave’s uncle and aunt into Priory where they have hot water.  Never having had a the number of an emergency plumber in our little black book we called on our electrician (who does a bit of plumbing) in the next village who was kind enough to come and have a look.

He confirmed my belief that the tank itself has failed and needs to be replaced.  Another major job for the coming weeks.

While this is exceptionally frustrating we are taking comfort that it happened when someone was in the gîte so we found the problem quickly; and that it is now late September and we can block the accommodation off for a number of weeks without cancelling guests to get the tank replaced and do the repainting and making-good that will be required when everything dries out.

Really irritating.

However, despite the interrupted sleep last night, we all went to, and enjoyed, the village’s annual cochon grillé (pig roast).  St. Cadou hold a cochon grillé as the village pardon (celebrating the Saint’s Day of St. Cadou) and, as previous years it was very good. Sadly, I didn’t take any photos other than of the band and Breton dancing that it inevitably provoked!

Lots to do next week.  Clearing fallen trees; felling more trees; taking broken breeze blocks to the tip; replacing a hot water tank in Granary all while having a fun time with Dave’s uncle and aunt as well as my uncle and aunt who also arrive on Tuesday 😉

Hopefully more next Sunday if I have the energy!!