Sunday 29 September – Rakish behaviour

Apologies again for not posting a blog last Sunday.  Not within my control this time but a result of being cut off from the internet (again) for a few days.

Looking back, it has been a period of slow progress on a number of things with a number of smaller jobs tackled and, this week at least, no major outside work as autumn seems to have arrived early.

The week before last we certainly enjoyed the better of the weather which allowed me to continue various small tasks in the garden.  The most major of these was to scarify one of the lawns.  The French don’t seem to understand what they see the English attachment to a well maintained lawn, and they often comment on the frequency we cut the grass.  This frequent cutting has certainly improved the grass at Kergudon hugely since we arrived but we think it could be better!

In previous years we have applied weed and feed to the lawns, generally in the spring, but we have never removed the old thatch and moss which grows through most of it.  To do this manually would be impossible so, earlier this year, we treated ourselves to a petrol driven scarifier.  The one thing we had been told, and read, about scarifying lawns is that they make them look terrible for a few weeks so we were keen to do it when we didn’t have many guests but when the weather was warm, and wet, enough to allow the grass to recover.

We have only managed to do one area of lawn, and not the largest one at that.  Following my Google research I started cutting the lawn and clearing away the clippings and then scarified at the machine’s shallowest setting.  They weren’t wrong it would make a mess!  Despite the scarifier having a collection box, it is so ridiculously small I decided to leave it off and clear the debris away manually – perhaps not the best idea!  The scarifying took about 40 minutes, the clearing away a couple of hours and filled our trailer with moss.

Having raked it up I thought I would scarify it again in another direction but at the same depth.  Thinking that, doing it at the same depth, it would generate only a fraction of the waste than the first pass.  Nope – almost exactly the same amount although this time I chose to use the lawn mower as a vacuum to remove the moss but, as there was so much, it meant having to empty the mower bag after every 15 metres or so and filled a second trailer.  I didn’t then try and scarify it at a deeper setting this time thinking there wouldn’t be anything left.

Having completed it, it doesn’t look completely bare so hopefully what remains will recover quickly.  The weather should help having been a mix of rain and sunshine to encourage it to grow – although we have also had a lot of wind which has covered the grass with the falling sycamore leaves which probably won’t help.

I hope we will see the full results next spring when I intend to scarify it again (and the other lawn areas) as well as add some more top soil in some of the hollows, and re-seed where the lawn has got most patchy.

It wasn’t only us who was doing some ‘industrial’ gardening.  Last Thursday the commune, who are planning to re-surface Hent Gorreker in the next couple of weeks, sent a team to cut the edges more brutally than they had ever done.  We understand this is because the re-surfacing machine they will be using is quite large and wouldn’t get through with any overhanging branches.  You can see from these pictures that the cut was quite brutal on our neighbour’s hedge to the right.  We have been cutting our hedge, on the left, since we got here to give it a better shape and fill it out.

The cutting has assisted in some areas especially where it has cut the trees to increase the distance to the power cables so reducing the risk of the branches breaking our power supply.  They have also much reduced the height of the hedge next to Granary, which isn’t looked after by its owner, and so increased the amount of light into Granary’s garden.  However, they didn’t assist anyone when their cutting efforts included cutting the telephone cable for our half of the village – hence us being offline last Sunday.

Being in a ‘zone blanche’, one where there is very limited mobile connectivity, we weren’t able to call our phone provider (SFR) and let them know.  We decided to go to Sizun as we knew we could both call SFR and complain to the Marie at the same time.  SFR seemed to be fairly efficient this time and told us they would send an engineer on Saturday afternoon (of course no one turned up) and, while the Marie told us they had contacted the phone company, they didn’t seem too motivated to assist any of us get back online.

I was back to visiting a neighbour twice a day to download mails over the weekend and, thankfully, we were reconnected on Monday.

In that week we also had the first piece of work done in preparation for the revamp of Priory next year.  At present, Priory’s electricity supply is the same as our own house, Hayloft and Stable.  We want to provide it with an independent supply so, in a piece of joined-up work that was probably more coincidence that planned, Enedis (the power company) did the digging required to install a new box behind Granary last week before the road gets resurfaced.  They will be back to make the relevant connections next week.

It has gone behind Granary as this is the closest point within our boundary. We will then have to dig the trench and install the cable to Priory as part of the work we will be doing next year.

This week the weather has been very autumnal at times and meant that I have had to focus internally.  One day was spent almost entirely online updating the agency websites we use to advertise the cottages.  Some are very straightforward to amend, others a complete nightmare, and of course, there isn’t some clever piece of software that allows me to make one set of changes that then gets fed to all of these commercial sites.  Having spent a day doing this we received a booking through an agency we have used for a couple of years, without much success, for a weekend in November.  Maybe a coincidence or perhaps I will need to spend more time in these sites – joy!

I had another constructive day cleaning out our fish tank.  When we lived in London, I had a fish tank built for a specific position in our kitchen.  As it was made to measure, and quite large, it wasn’t very cheap.  I did make an effort to sell it before we came to France but, as we didn’t want to give it away we weren’t successful so it came with us and has stood in our lounge ever since – but not cleaned.

Regrettably it doesn’t, and won’t, match the décor in Kergudon so, I have reluctantly agreed to try and sell it again.  To advertise it I have had to clean it out and it looks great again.  Hopefully we will be able to sell it but at least we have something more attractive to look at in the meantime.  If you know anyone who would like a 500 litre fish tank do let us know …

David’s parents arrived with us this morning after a bumpy crossing and we have been to one of the village’s annual social events – the cochon grillé.  The event is to mark the feast of Saint Cadou which is 21st September.  In true Saint Cadou style, rather than a religious ceremony and parade as other villages have, we hold a hog-roast so we can eat and drink and socialise.  Much better.

Next week’s efforts will very much depend on the weather again and the rugby world cup(!) – although we do hope our local roofer is coming tomorrow as Stable has sprung a leak and all of the lovely work I did in the spring is at risk of getting damaged.  Looking at the forecast it doesn’t look great but, in previous year’s, autumn has always been very productive and I do get the feeling that it was about time we started making major changes again!