Sunday 4 November – Block Head

Last week has pretty much been focussed on one task – the blockwork for the new man shed.  Having put it off (not intentionally) for a few days I started laying the blocks on Wednesday just as the forecast was changing but I have managed to finish.

At the start of the week I did the very final prep to the man shed concrete base which was mostly clearing away the soil and detritus I had generated reducing the height of the slate wall the week before.  Once again this led to creating another job for me or, more accurately, increased the priority of a job that was already on the list.

I had left the excess soil on the concrete base for a couple of days as we weren’t sure initially where we could use it and we already have a number of piles of soil / slate  / stuff opposite the garage and were reluctant to create another or enlarge an existing one.  Eventually we decided to deposit it in a corner of the orchard where we will, eventually, create another raised flower bed to continue to use up the slate blocks not required for the back gate wall.

Before I deposited it there, I wanted to clear some of the brambles that had taken root which made me think I should also tackle the other trees and weeds which had self-set.  The area is between the jungle-bed we created in the spring and the bike shed.  It bounded part of the carpark before we arrived, is where we will eventually create a raised pond but where we haven’t done anything since we got here (too many other priorities).  As such a small copse of trees have grown up (oak, beech, really vicious hawthorn and the ubiquitous sycamore among others) and was certainly not the most attractive part of the estate!


Copse from the drive before








As with so many other parts of the garden, we have plans for that entire area although we’re not sure when it will make it to the top of the to-do list.  In the short term at least a clear out and tidy up will benefit the front and improve the entrance further.  All of the trees will eventually go which will make a large impact but we will replace with other, more interesting, planting.

Copse cutting

Copse being cut








Once the concrete pad was cleared I made a start to the blockwork.  I have laid bricks before but never breeze blocks (our builder, Lee, did all of the walling for Grange and the replacement fences behind Priory) but thought it couldn’t be too different.  I was probably considerably slower than a professional and only managed one course per day, but I am pleased with the result.  It is certainly sturdy enough for a man shed and is a much more practical area than previously as we have extended the parking space for Hayloft and left a walkway between the shed and boundary hedge.

Brickie Ben

My biggest challenge was getting the final course level when the foundation was anything but.  We extended the concrete pad in stages as we had various bits of concrete left over after other jobs and hadn’t put anything in place to ensure it was level with the old space.  With up to 10 centimetres difference in the levels and only 3 course of blocks to level it out, meant I had to use some thicker mortar courses in places with a bit of padding where required.

I have laid all the courses we need (3) and, following the way Lee showed me when building Grange, have inserted threaded bar to secure the wooden planking to the top of the wall when I start to build the frame which I will do after I’ve added the damp-proof course.

Man shed blockwork done

On Friday evening we had a lovely night at Au Lac and enjoyed the first of Mercedes’ Asian tasting nights.  In a previous life, Merc spent a long time in the Far East and, now in the low season, has had the great idea of having a different country’s cuisine at the weekends.  Last Friday was India, so lovely curry, with Thai this week and Indonesia and Malaysia to follow.

Today, for the third year, David represented New York Gym and led the warm-up for a local 10K run north of Morlaix.  It was very well received and hopefully I will be able to share pictures and video next week.

The focus for me next week is very much dependent on the weather – which looks very mixed.   I hope to be able to progress the shed but, if not, I will continue to clear the copse.