Sunday 28 November – We’re Back

Having said, in my last blog, that I wasn’t going to admit writing fortnightly was a better routine for me, I have made sure that it hasn’t been 2 weeks since my last blog – but 4!

This time, I am more than prepared to acknowledge that we have been very lazy for some of those weeks as we have been away.  Since moving to France almost 7 years ago, we have spent time away from Kergudon but, at least up until the arrival of COVID, this was generally 2 visits a year to the UK.  These trips were always really enjoyable but, as we generally tried to catch up with as many friends and family as we could, they were busy breaks with lots of travelling and not always the best opportunity to relax.

This year, as a gift from me to David for his ‘significant’ birthday, and because we really (really) needed it, we had a ‘proper’ do-nothing other than relax, eat and drink holiday for 2 weeks.

Nantes, about 3 ½ hours drive from us, has a busy little regional airport with lots of destinations year-round. While we would, of course, recommend a holiday in a fabulously appointed self-catering gîte in Finistère, being November, we wanted to go somewhere we could guarantee warmth and sunshine, so we treated ourselves to a great hotel we stayed in 9 years ago in the Canaries.  It was perfect and just what we needed.

It also meant the dogs had their second holiday away from us in within a month and we have to say a HUGE thank you to our friends Jackie and Bryan for looking after them while we were away.  We think they enjoyed having the dogs with them (they have previously had 3, and more, dogs of their own but currently have just one) more so than their cats who had their home and routines rather disrupted!

Two weeks of pretty consistent 25 degree daytime heat was just what we needed, but didn’t necessarily prepare us for returning to autumnal northwest France!  When we left we had been enjoying a damp but pretty mild autumn.  When we came back the temperature had dropped, a lot, and we have lit our woodburner for the first time this season.

However, despite being away, the work continued at Kergudon, sort of!  On our first day away the electricity company cut the power off so they could trim the hedges and trees encroaching near the power lines.  As you’d expect, they were better at cutting than clearing away so I have a lot of branches to add to my shredding. 

Unfortunately, the cutting also makes for some unbalanced trees so, at some point in the winter, we will go back and trim on our side too.

Oak trees shaved along Hent Gorreker

It has also made us move the task of cutting all of the laurel at the end of Granary’s garden further up the priority list – although that is still unlikely to happen in the next 18 months with all we have planned!

We also received some very sad news while we were away.  In the same week that David’s Mum died so suddenly, we learnt that a friend, Pierre-Jean, had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment.  We managed to get to see him in hospital before we went on holiday and, very sadly, they too died while we were away.

We met Pierre-Jean, and his husband, Cyril, about a year after we moved here when they were running a creperie in Commana.  Since then, they had both become good friends who had helped us out frequently in the gîtes.  Last year, they were instrumental in getting the Priory finished after its refurbishment.  As ever, we had cut things fine and Pierre-Jean and Cyril assisted us for a day to clean and furnish the gîte so it was ready for its first guests.

Most recently, they had helped us lay the heavy and awkward rubber floor in Dave’s gym when I refurbished it earlier this year.

We will miss Pierre-Jean’s friendship very much and pass all our thoughts and best wishes to Cyril and family.

Since we have been back, we are delighted that the season has continued to be busy.  The first couple of days were spent preparing gîtes for guests who arrived on Tuesday in Hayloft and Wednesday in Priory.

When we drove back from Nantes airport it was evident that this year had been a great one for autumn colour.  Sadly, we hadn’t been any of our regular walks before travelling so weren’t able to see the change, but we took the dogs back to the Forest of Cranou this afternoon and could just see that it would have been fabulous about a week ago!  Thankfully, we were on the back of Storm Arwen so didn’t experience the extremely high winds of places further northeast, but there weren’t many leaves left on the trees.

Last of the autumn colours in the Forest of Cranou

Before our forest walk we went to the first of what could be many Christmas / Artisan fairs this year.  Like lots of rural areas, there are many craftspeople, makers and artists in Finistère and, unsurprisingly, there are lots of fairs at this time of year to show off their wares.  We enjoyed today’s in Pleyben, and bought a couple of Christmas gifts, but also plan to visit a couple next weekend and potentially the weekend after that!

Now, having come back from hols, relaxed, recharged and refreshed, there is no excuse for us not to make great progress at Kergudon in the next few weeks so there will be more to say when I DO blog next Sunday! Of course, I would be able to do more if it were sunny and 25 degrees all day … or would I!