Sunday 29 March – Shredding the Gnar – den

We hope you are all well, staying active and making the most of the requirement to stay at home.

We have received lots of lovely messages of support and peoples’ best wishes – thank you for them all.  Thanks especially to a lovely couple who stayed with us for a month last year, Judith and Vern, when they were travelling from the US.  They arrived as guests but most definitely left as friends and who made a very lovely gesture for us during the week.

As I mentioned in my blog last week, the French authorities have now officially extended the period of travel restriction to at least April 15th and have not ruled out extending it further again if the medical situation dictates.  We have adjusted to life under the changes, although it impacts David’s day-to-day living more than me as his gym remains closed so he does not have to travel to Brest.  He, and his colleagues, have put together a series of online classes for their members which he gives and participates in as well as recording videos in his gym and posting them online.

David has continued to do the food shopping and, in an effort to minimise contact, he has been trying to use the online system for our local supermarket.  While home-delivery does not seem to exist in France, or here at least, they do have the equivalent of a click-&-collect service.  There are many lovely things about life in France but customer service generally isn’t one and it could easily be concluded that French-run businesses aren’t set up to provide any sort of service to their clients.

The click-&-collect David uses is in Morlaix, co-located with the supermarket itself.  While the French don’t seem to be panic buying in the way that appears to be happening in the UK, many basic items weren’t available online.  Having picked up the online order early, David chose to join the queue to get in the store as well – and everything was there, in significant quantities!  Why????

Last week’s blog mentioned that, with the travel restrictions in place, the Priory refurbishment wouldn’t be completed on time and that, as we weren’t likely to get any guests for a while, we could focus on a couple of other things. It actually said that I would split my time between Priory and the garden but, in reality, the majority of our time has been spent outdoors.

With the weather being dry and warming (with the exception of this weekend’s arctic blast) things are starting to spring to life in the garden not least the lawn.  Having had a number of sycamores felled last autumn and left on the lawn, we needed to clear them up to allow the grass to recover and have a fighting chance of being a lawn when we can welcome guests again.

What we didn’t appreciate is how much mess 4 very large sycamores create!  Rather than burn the waste material, which we would have done in the past, we are taking the greener option and are shredding it to use as mulch around the garden.  This takes a fair amount of time, especially as we need to spend some time preparing some of the branches so they can easily be fed into the shredder’s hopper.

With the smaller branches shredded we have managed to mulch our 2 ‘champignon’ flower beds behind Priory, and are now piling the remainder for other areas.  The larger branches we are stacking ready to cut and split in the future  – eventually we should be self-sufficient for wood for a couple of winters.

Having worked on it together for 3 days there is probably another 3 days of work until the grass can be cut and allowed to grow.  Ironically, having had the wettest autumn and winter, since our first cut of the season a couple of weeks ago it hasn’t rained since and the grass looks like it could be August!

I have managed to do some work in Priory.  Lots of little things that are needed before progressing, and I have started to construct the kitchen units and install.  We are aiming for a real country-cottage style when complete.

Another task I have managed is to fill the trench I had to dig for the new power cable to Priory.  It always amazes me the difference in volume of the less compacted soil.  As you can see, the trench is full although I still have an entire sheet of soil that came out of the trench when I dug it.  As it settles I will be able to use some of this to top it up before we replace the gravel.

Next week, dry weather will allow us to complete the shredding outside and I should be able to pick up Priory and there may be more to show of that next week.

Stay home.  Stay safe.  Stay healthy.