As hoped at the end of my last blog, the weather for the last 7 days has been a very welcome break to the previous 3 months of generally wet and windy conditions.
This has allowed me to complete some outside work as, while we are obviously far from complete in Priory, there is a very limited amount for me to do while Pascal, our sparky, continues to rip things apart to string miles of cabling through.
I did manage to complete the trench I’d begun last week which will eventually be used to lay the main power cable to Priory. I think Pascal had hoped to have done this on Friday while the weather remained good. However, only having hired the drill to cut through Priory’s thick slate walls on Friday morning, with the inevitable delay in being delivered by the hire company; and the fact that Pascal found it difficult to cut 2 large holes through an 80 cm thick slate and rock wall(?!) meant that he hasn’t been able to achieve this.
My outdoor work has been focussed more on cutting back the brambles and weeds on the opposite side of Hent Gorreker to our main entrance. Again, not that there isn’t enough for me to do in our own garden, the area opposite us is not tended by anyone so the weeds grown tall and block the light, and would block the view when I, eventually, cut the laurel at the end of Granary garden. We have an agreement with the farmer who owns the field, that we would control the weeds but I hadn’t cut them back for a few years. We think it was 2016 the first, and last, time I did it when the trees were even larger. This time we plan to plant a few shrubs on the bank which should, in time, assist keep the weeds under control and be more colourful and attractive than bramble!
As a couple of weeks ago, we had another day in Brest on Friday (one of the days Dave isn’t at work), buying more material for the Priory project. I can’t wait until the spending is complete but it will look AMAZING when finished.
The other major leap forward this week, albeit not one I can take any credit for, was our carpenter came back to hang the new Granary door – and it has made such a big difference both to the look of the building on the outside, and the amount of light getting to the inside. It does need another coat of paint on the outside, and our carpenter thinks he will add a sill to the bottom on the outside, but even now we are very happy with it.
As we have for many years, we marked Burns’ Night last night with a fabulous meal of haggis, neaps and tatties that David prepared. While not being Scottish in any way, it is a good excuse for having haggis, which we love, and a ‘wee dram’. However, another ‘tradition’ we have kept this year is a dry January, and we didn’t even break it last night. However, with the start of the Six Nations next weekend we will certainly be having a drink, and it’s February by then anyway so we are allowed!
While we didn’t take a photo of our Burns supper, we had some B&B guests stay last night who were the first to Instagram the Kergudon breakfast! They really enjoyed themselves and loved Hayloft – let’s hope an Instagram’d breakfast is seen far and wide!
With the rugby next weekend may not be the most productive but there will hopefully be more to share. Both our electrician and builder are back so, I hope, the re-wiring will be nearing completion and we may be in a position to start building things again and not just ripping them out or cutting holes in them! Sadly, the dry weather has already come to an end and we seem to be back to the wet, windy winter patterns. Let’s hope this one doesn’t last 3 months!
At the end of last week’s blog, I mentioned that the forecast was looking particularly bad for the start of the week just gone, and so it turned out.
Storm Brendan arrived on Monday which, despite stronger winds than normal and lots of rain, didn’t prove too disruptive. It was the storm which hit us on Tuesday that was considerably more damaging as the winds were stronger and the rain heavier. This storm didn’t have a name. I still can’t fathom what conditions need to be present so either the UK or the Irish Met Offices name a particular storm but it was so bad with us, it must have caused disruption to at least the south west of the UK and probably more widespread.
Sadly, the frame of the serre we bought last year didn’t cope and has completely collapsed so needs replacing – the perils of trying to buy something a bit cheaper as a ‘temporary’ shelter. False economy again. Thankfully however, despite many of the outlying hamlets around Sizun losing power we didn’t suffer a power cut at all, or lose the phone line, although we were expecting one or the other if not both!
Thankfully we were able to stay indoors and progress the Priory project.
Our electrician, Pascal, arrived on Monday and has set about the rewiring with gusto. Being an old building with thick slate walls there are a number of challenges he faces with the wiring, especially in the living area, although he hasn’t started there yet, so we are looking at the most attractive ways to hide the new cables throughout the building.
As we are having a new power supply provided, before we can connect to the grid, we will have an inspection by the electricity company so Pascal is ensuring he follows all the rules to the letter, which, while obviously safe, means there a number of things that we perhaps wouldn’t have had otherwise and the house now has more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese!
While Pascal has been working, I have completed a couple of useful tasks. The first was to finish breaking up and removing the slate step in the kitchen. While we knew that the step wasn’t original, we weren’t sure how large the slates would be at the base, or whether they would be sat on a concrete base or straight on the ground. Thankfully, there is a solid concrete base beneath that we can tile onto and incorporate that area back into the kitchen.
You can also see in the picture the new Granary door which I had painted in the autumn. Our carpenter returned today to put the door ‘kit’ back together and he will return tomorrow to install it. It will look so much better than the current one.
The second inside job I had to complete, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, was to remove the lights and cladding on the mezzanine level which will be replace by something much lighter and more attractive. From this picture you can see a fraction of the new cables that Pascal is threading throughout the building and that many of them will be hidden behind the new facing we will create behind the bed.
The weather changed markedly yesterday as high pressure replaced the series of depressions we have experienced since last September and we have a couple of perfect crisp, cold, winter days. Thankfully, we had preempted this and had wrapped and moved our banana plants so they are far better protected than they were last year.
It has also meant I could work outside over the weekend, although my work has sadly been in the parking space on the north side of Granary and out of the warmth of the sun.
We had a new electricity box installed last September which, once we have been inspected, will provide the power to Priory. But, there are many metres between the new box and Priory and the cable will need to be buried underground so I had a lot of digging to be done.
Having dug a number of trenches around the gardens, not least the foundations of Grange, I knew that it is not easy to dig here with heavy clay sub-soil and lots of slate and quartz in the ground, and Pascal told me the trench needed to be a minimum of 45 cms. I did know there would be one soil pipe crossing the parking area, I hadn’t expected to come across a number of other, redundant, pipes and I even found the old concrete septic tank (visible just by the closest pipes in the right hand picture) all of which made the job slower.
However, after 2 days digging while I haven’t quite got from the box to the Priory terrace, I should only have a day’s worth of digging left to complete the job.
The weather looks like it will hold for most of the coming week so I should be able to finish the trench and progress a number of outside tasks while Pascal continues the wiring. Good weather always makes me feel we are making good progress!
I mentioned at the end of last week’s blog that once we had completed taking down all of the Christmas decorations we would start emptying Priory of all its furniture and furnishings in preparation for its refurbishment. And this is exactly what we have been doing this week.
We did manage to pack away all of the decorations on Monday and stack them in the corner of the store room. I am convinced they are taking up more space but we didn’t buy many more this year. I was even organised enough to have left some of the things that I want to repair at the top of the pile although whether I am organised enough to get round to doing the repair in the course of the year remains to be seen!
The remainder of the week has all been about our Priory project – in some form and, you may wat to have a look at the pictures on our webpage to see what it used to look like. Initially we spent a day just emptying out anything which could be carried and have stored it in various places although principally Granary. We have managed to sell the lovely Breton beds we bought about 10 months ago for the first floor twin as that room will have a king-sized bed when we have finished. They are not going very far as our friends who run the campsite at the Lac du Drennec have bought them for one of their glamping tents and they will look as good there as they did for us.
The plan for the refurbishment is to replace the fittings which have become a little tired and dated, principally the kitchen and bathroom; to install a new, much more efficient heating system; rewire the entire property and provide it with a power supply independent of the other properties; and create an en-suite bathroom from the first floor king-to-be bedroom. The division of the current family bathroom will make 2, admittedly compact, bathrooms but we believe having an additional shower room will be much more attractive.
To achieve our plans we needed to rip out the kitchen and bathroom and effectively take them both back to bare walls. Our builder, Lee, arrived on Wednesday and the real demolition began; we even managed to cut the new access from the bedroom into the new en-suite bathroom and, as it matches the style of the bedroom door, we will recycle the door from the old downstairs loo to use here.
Both David and I had our favourite moments when the pieces we least likes were ripped out or dismantled. For David it was dumping the old sink in the déchetterie yesterday as it was an odd material that marked very easily and took ages to clean. For me, it was breaking up the kitchen island which, while providing worktop room, was otherwise a complete waste of space as it had no storage incorporated (had we not decided to refurb the whole gîte we would have added some cupboards underneath).
Another of my least favourite parts of the kitchen was the seat in the old fireplace which again served limited practical purpose. That has now gone and I have started smashing up the slate step below which will take a little time. Our new kitchen plans will make better use of this space – indeed the whole room we believe!
As we are re-wring Priory we have dismantled the four-poster bed on the mezzanine as we plan to replace the dark wood and lighting behind it with something much more attractive. It will also allow our electrician to hide the wires behind and should allow us to move the bed a few centimetres closer to the wall – every millimetre helps as we know it is a little tight to walk along the end of the bed.
One thing we have asked Lee to do is construct some cabinet doors so we have access to the electric water heater in Priory as, at present, it is blocked in and very in accessible. Sadly, as he started this, we discovered that the heater wasn’t working properly and needs replacing. Thankfully it had still been providing hot water so our last guests were able to shower, but it had developed a slow leak that would have got worse over time. We don’t know how old the heater is although we assume about 15 years so was probably nearing shelf life anyway.
This was added to our shopping list for Friday, which was always planned to be spent in Brest choosing a number of things for the project so it made what was always going to be a painfully expensive day into an even more painful one. At least now we have lots of things on order to allow us to progress and refurbish – including having bought a new dishwasher for us finally ours having packed up before Christmas.
We are really excited about how Priory is going to look when finished although that feels like an awfully long way off at the minute. Tomorrow our electrician arrives and, we hope, begins work in earnest. He is fitting the new heating system which will use an air-source heat pump so should be very economic as well as doing the rewiring. We are now reliant on him making rapid progress before we can start rebuilding things – that and waiting for delivery of everything we ordered on Friday.
Thankfully there are lots of things I can progress inside next week as, looking at the forecast, the next few days are going to be particularly wet and windy – no fun.
Happy New Year to everyone. We hope that you all marked the arrival of 2020 as you would wish and the New Year has begun well.
We have had a gentle week and saw the New Year in with our guests in Priory who invited us for a few drinks which, inevitably, led to us staying for midnight! Thanks to them.
Things have calmed down here, guest-wise, with the last leaving yesterday morning and we are back to just the 2 of us. That has meant that the work has started in earnest but more of that later.
I mentioned last week that the last blog of the year has traditionally been a summary of all we have achieved I the previous 12 months but that I hadn’t been back through my blogs to remind myself (we find it so easy to get confused about what we have done when!) I hope you don’t mind but I thought I’d do so today.
Before I re-read the blogs I thought it would be obvious we have had a work-year of 2 halves. I knew that the autumn had been a lot less productive than we’d have liked, and previous years, as the weather had been so wet. What I had forgotten was that the first half of the year was the complete opposite with exceptionally dry weather and we were concerned for the garden as our water butts ran dry.
The year started with completing my new man shed which, on New Year’s Day 2019 was really only a wooden frame open to the skies. Finishing the building was a relatively quick task and allowed me to try new skills, including rendering the walls, but fitting it out and filling it with my things took a bit longer …
The finished result has proven a real benefit throughout the year providing me with a larger and much more organised space to work. It has also provided Mouse with a drier and warmer space to live and have a permanent home.
One of the projects I was able to complete in the shed was building a new bar for the games room. You may recall we bought an old kitchen island off the internet and had to drive all the way to St. Malo to collect it. Having done so we initially thought it had been a complete waste of money although, having been able to adapt and use certain parts of it, it was the right thing to do. It has also seen a lot of use since its completion and, we think, makes the games room even more fun to spend time in.
In the late spring we had the opportunity to do something that we had wanted to complete for a couple of years – refurbish our chambre d’hôte, Stable.
Stable was the last of our accommodation we completed in 2015. While we had greatly improved things, we still had thoughts of making it better yet which we managed to realise this year.
A, well many, coats of white paint to the ceiling; a painted bed frame and new headboard; new shelving to house the fridge, microwave and various deco items; and a new lambris wall with better lighting has made a huge difference and we are even happier with the space. Most pleasingly we have had many more guests stay in Stable including 9 nights over Christmas and New Year.
Outside, we have achieved some major tasks the largest of which was to clear the old chicken run and grade the bank at the rear. This was made far easier with our part-acquisition of a mini-digger which was good fun to operate and will get a lot more use in the coming years.
One task which has made the greatest difference is felling the large sycamores on our south west talus. While we didn’t do the felling itself, safer to leave it to a professional, it has created a lot of wood to clear and split to season as firewood. With our new serre where the old chicken run used to be at least we now have somewhere dry to stack it.
Smaller, but no less useful, tasks included making a gate to secure the back lawn from the Granary parking space; re-staining the exterior of the Granary windows to protect them for the next 5 years; boxing in the vulnerable pipework in the bike room; and scarifying the orchard as an experiment before we do all of the lawns.
One of the more significant things we have ‘achieved’ which took a reasonable amount of administrative time even if we have nothing obvious to show for it, was getting our Carte de Sejour, or residency permit, which puts us formally into the French system prior to the UK’s departure from the EU.
While we are pleased with what we have achieved in 2019, despite having a slower autumn, the list of what we want to do in 2020 is no less daunting (or shorter!) and again is a mix of interior and exterior with some major projects on the list.
This week has principally been taking down the Christmas decorations in all of our gîtes – always a little depressing as the house looks so bare for a few days. As, for the first time all 4 gîtes had to be decorated, it has taken a little longer to take the decorations down.
We did our traditional New Year’s Day walk and, again, chose somewhere new for us to walk. On a recommendation from a guest some months ago, we headed to the delightfully named hamlet of Kerancuru in the Forêt Domaniale du Cranou. It was a lovely walk, again a but muddy underfoot, but it is always interesting walking somewhere new and this forest had a different feel to our own as there are more deciduous trees. Kerancuru too was a very pretty little hamlet – Dave has his eye on a new house!
Our other tradition that we maintained was a New Year’s Day ‘high tea’. I’m not sure how we started this but it is a great excuse to drink champagne and finish, or indeed start, some of the things that we hadn’t eaten over the festive period.
Once the decorations are all down – tomorrow – we start emptying Priory of everything in preparation for the major refurbishment we have planned. That is the first project of 2020 which we plan to complete for Easter – especially as both of our family gîtes are unavailable until the work is done as Granary will become a storage space and lay apart store.
Priory is only the first of the many projects on the ‘to do’ list for this year. Others, in no particular order, are clearing all the wood created by felling the sycamores; clearing the laurels at the front of Granary’s garden; clearing the wood in the old veg patch and grading the talus in the same way as we have behind the old chicken run; building a pond and waterfall; staining the exterior of Grange; and, oh yes, finish emptying the garage bays and clearing the pile of gravel delivered some time ago …
Hopefully, this time next year my summary will be able to look back on all (well some) of these having been completed.
Finally, today is a special day for Dave and me, as it marks our 5th anniversary of arriving at Kergudon as its new owners. Things have changed considerably since then – but there is still so much left to do.
Normally in this last blog post of the year, I would do a quick summary of the work and projects we have completed in the last 12 months. With such a damp autumn I am worried that the list maybe a shorter one this year than previously but, not having had the chance to go back and read through my previous blogs of 2019 I will defer our annual summary until next Sunday.
This week has for us been enjoying Christmas and decorating the remaining gîtes for New Year guests.
For all of the ‘special’ days in the week we took the doggies on a special walk – it’s their Christmas too! For Christmas Eve this was around the Lac du Drennec which, for the first time since we have lived here, is completely full at Christmas. Just goes to show how wet it has been this autumn.
While walking around Lac du Drennec may not sound so special, in the past year the Gendarmes have, infuriatingly, been enforcing a new by-law that mandates dogs being kept on leads around the lake. Even if we weren’t dog-owners we would think this is a really silly law as the lake is the perfect spot for taking dogs for a stroll and, we always believe, that any responsible dog-owner who knows their pet may be a bit boisterous with people should self-police and keep them on a lead. It shouldn’t apply to everyone.
While we have heard of a number of people being fined, we risked that on a slightly cloudy Tuesday in winter there wouldn’t be too many gendarmes around. Thankfully we were correct.
On Christmas Day we were blessed with the most fabulous clear blue skies – the best day in weeks here – so we did a long circuit to and from Kergudon via Saint Rivoal.
Very muddy underfoot but gave us 2 very tired dogs who slept while we enjoyed a fabulous Christmas dinner. No room left for pud or Dave’s amazing cake (again!)
Boxing Day remained clear so, after 1 ½ hours washing up (you may recall the dishwasher has chosen this time to go duff) we went to Huelgoat for a walk in the enchanted forest. It also meant we could pop into one of favourite pubs around which serves excellent beer brewed locally but in a more English style.
Since then it has been decorating Granary and Hayloft for new arrivals. It feels slightly off putting up decorations when Christmas Day has passed! Our Priory guests are still with us and will be through New Year, while our Stable guest has departed to be replaced by another couple. Amazingly Stable has filled up with 3 couples staying between now and January 1st – the first time we have had this, it must be the new décor!
Hayloft is now occupied by a couple who arrived today and we have a group coming to Granary tomorrow so we are fully booked, which is a great way to end the year. Let’s hope it continues into 2020.
Next week’s plans are to be decided. Hopefully more walking with the hounds somewhere and a quiet night to welcome in the New Year.
Whatever you are planning we hope that you have an excellent evening and wish you all the best for 2020 – we hope to see some of you here.
We’re back. I mentioned in my last, misdated, blog that there wouldn’t be much progress at Kergudon for a couple of weeks and indeed there hasn’t. The reason is that David and I have taken a short break (I won’t use the term holiday!) back in the UK on a pre-Christmas tour of friends and family.
We had a great time catching up with as many people as we could and want to thank everyone who were kind enough to host us on our trip. Sorry to those we weren’t able to catch up with this time – hopefully sometime soon. We enjoy visiting just before Christmas as we can maintain a tradition we began when we lived in London which is to attend the Varsity rugby with David’s Dad who has been going for many years. This year’s match was pretty good to watch (they aren’t always!) and the result went the right way, for us at least!
Thanks too to our neighbours who keep an eye on Kergudon for us while we’re away and, more importantly, keep an eye out for, and feed, Mouse. They tell us that while we enjoyed some pretty good weather in the UK, which allowed us to enjoy lots of outdoor things, the weather in Brittany remained as wet and windy as it was when we left. Having had a very unproductive autumn I would have been a bit miffed if there was a warm, dry snap while we couldn’t do anything about it!
That said, our tree surgeon who had been cutting down the sycamore weeds on our boundary had managed to spend a couple of days completing the felling. It has made a huge difference to the boundary and the amount of light getting into our garden and so should help some of the plants grow a little better – and straighter!
From: To (although not a great pic):
It has of course generated a huge pile of branches and wood that needs cutting up and dealing with – something for later, probably much later as the ground right now is completely saturated just when the lawn had started to recover well from its scarifying in September.
Unfortunately we also came back to find the dishwasher repair wasn’t as effective as we’d hoped so it looks like a new one is required (grrrr). Perhaps not the best time of year to be without a dishwasher – it’s not as though there is likely to be much washing up generated in the next couple of weeks!
Having got back to Kergudon on Monday our focus has been getting the place decorated for Christmas. Yesterday we welcomed back a couple who originally stayed with us for a week in Hayloft in summer 2018. We are really pleased they have chosen to spend Christmas and New Year with us in Priory and we are delighted to welcome them back.
David has prepared lots of lovely treats for the Christmas Welcome pack. Along with the usual Quimper cider and local Moguérou rillettes are an amazing Christmas cake, homemade piccalilli and fig chutney and a mini panettone – admittedly not very French but traditionally Christmas.
We are also delighted that we have a lady arriving tomorrow and staying with us in Stable for Christmas with their family in the village. It has meant that we have decorated Stable for the first time.
While we don’t have guests in the other gîtes for Christmas we are very pleased that all are occupied for New Year so we will be decorating those during the week.
In the week since returning we have also prepared and decorated Kergudon for Christmas. With lots of wood stacked next to the burner and our tree up we are ready for the festivities and think it all looks very festive.
We hope you are all prepared for the festive period too and have a wonderful week ahead. David and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
A very brief blog this week as we have not completed too many tasks at Kergudon and the autumn has continued to be as unproductive at the end as it was at the start!
I mentioned last week that a repair I had tried to make with a dishwasher – our own – hadn’t proved successful despite it going through a wash cycle completely before I reassembled it. The new parts we had ordered were delivered late last week so I once again disassembled the machine to replace the pump – YouTube is a brilliant resource for things like this.
The new pump proved really difficult to install but I eventually managed to get it attached only to find that it didn’t resolve the problem. I tried a number of things, none of which seemed to be effective, so I decided to take the new pump out and put the old pump back in and, for no apparent reason it now seems to work! Although for how long we have no idea.
Our dishwasher frustrations however pale into insignificance compared to our friendly carpenter who had a proper disaster recently. We were very pleased with the new back door to Kergudon which was made by John we asked him to make the replacement door we need for Granary following its latch failure.
Having painted the frame a couple of weeks ago, we hoped this week would be dry enough for him to come and fit it. However, as I was messaging to see when he would be free he, and all of his local pompiers, were busy tackling a fire in one of his workshops.
We send him our best wishes to get back on his feet as soon as possible.
David has been busy too with more Christmas baking and this week was cake icing. We have 2 large cakes, one for Christmas and another for my birthday, and David makes between 2 and 5 smaller cakes depending on how many of our gîtes are occupied over Christmas. This week was icing for the smaller cakes – and they look amazing. We hope our guests will enjoy them as part of their Christmas welcome basket.
Otherwise – no news. I said it has been a slow autumn. It will continue to be slow at Kergudon over the next couple of weeks and so I won’t blog again until Sunday 22nd December when we should at least have some very festive gîtes to show you.
Last week’s blog started with our frustration that the weather this autumn has been wet, really wet, and ended with the slight hope that there would be a short break in the near-continuous deluge.
Thankfully, it turned out that the start of the week remained dry for 3 whole days! This meant that, while the photos may not show it(!), I was able to make more progress outside than I’d managed in weeks – and our tree surgeon returned for a day!
The first thing I managed was to make a dent in was the large pile of wood that had been sat outside the Dairy building for a few years. The wood is the remnants of the apple trees which once stood in the orchard the first of which was blown down in Storm Zeus in March 2017 and the others that we have intentionally felled to create a large flower bed.
We have always been conscious that the pile of wood immediately inside the entrance isn’t ‘the look’ that we want to maintain, although we are in the countryside! Having bought our serre in July we had created some space to store this wood just as soon as we had an opportunity to cut it! Last week was the first opportunity.
It may not look like I have managed to make a large dent into the pile but the amount I have managed to stock in the serre should keep us in wood for many weeks – although it will take quite some time to dry out so won’t be being used this winter! As it is the larger sections of trunk that I have been focussed on, splitting them with my merlin (what the French call a type of large splitting axe), not only has it given me a good workout it has provided me with lots of practice for all the sycamore that has been felled.
Hopefully the remainder of the pile won’t take as long to clear although it is more of a 2-man job as it is mostly cutting with a chainsaw so will be quick but will need David’s assistance. It will also uncover a few treats that have remained hidden under the wood for a while such as the small old poêle that we removed from Priory just visible in the picture above – we’ll have to see what state they are in now!
It remained dry until Wednesday night which gave the lawns 3 days to dry out sufficiently to attempt to cut it. While it hadn’t rained, as it had got soooo long and thick in places it never really dried completely so proved very difficult to cut especially as we needed to collect the cuttings so they didn’t lay on the ground. Because it clogged often in the machine it took much longer than usual to do and I finished under the floodlights after dark! But it looks so much better now it is done.
Unfortunately, while cutting I found that the repair I had taken it to a local motoculture shop to complete hadn’t been done, or wasn’t effective, so it had to be taken back so no chance of cutting the lawn again for a number of weeks – although the chances of the weather letting me do so are pretty slim but it won’t stop growing.
Sadly, another repair that wasn’t effective, despite it appearing to be so having tested, was the dishwasher fault that I tried to resolve last week. We have ordered a new pump and hose to fit so I will have to dismantle it again when they arrive.
I have mentioned in my last couple of blogs that we are really pleased that, this year, despite the rain, we have welcomed more guests to Kergudon during the autumn months. Last week we had a Belgian couple stay with us in Priory and took advantage of Dave’s cooking for 2 evenings which they loved. Hopefully the word of Kergudon is spreading far and wide as we have welcomed more Belgian guests in 2019 as we had for the preceding 4 years.
This weekend we have hosted a couple who David first met as one used to attend the gym in Morlaix where David worked. As they became friends, they were also kind enough to have become our official ‘translators’ for our French website, information packs and any other important material and as payment-in-kind we offered them Hayloft for a weekend which they took advantage this week. It also meant we could take them to Au Lac and enjoy one of Mercedes’ annual Far Eastern ‘discovery’ menus – Malaysia this week.
It was delicious, and almost as delicious as the Indian discovery we enjoyed last week!
My last blog, 2 weeks ago, said that I was officially bored with the weather. Unfortunately that boredom has become a deep despondency as we have had no let up since – hence no blog last week and no photos this week.
While we haven’t had Fishlake levels of ground water, and we feel deeply sympathetic to those people who have actually suffered losses in the floods, there has not been a single day in the last 2 weeks when it hasn’t rained at some point. We know this is Brittany, and so heavily impacted by the Atlantic lows, but there comes a point when you have to hope for a break. The last week has been so damp that even our tree surgeon hasn’t been back.
As a result these weeks have been amongst the least productive since we arrived here and the outside jobs which I want to do remain undone!
We are achieving a number of smaller jobs that are useful to get done, or are reacting to problems that come up! For example I spent most of this morning dismantling a dishwasher that had decided to stop working to try and persuade it to function. Fingers crossed I have fixed it. We have added a few things to the decoration in Priory and done a lot of planning and preparation for the spring work.
One significant thing we have achieved is choosing (easy) and buying (painful) the new kitchen that we will have installed. We decided to use the same kitchen that we installed in Granary and Hayloft in our first few months as we like its style and it has proved to be fairly resilient.
We visited the shop where we bought it in February 2015, which has kept the display that Dave posed in 4½ years ago ever since, to see that the range is going to be discontinued in 2 weeks! It must have been fate. So we have now bought all the new units and the work is starting to feel very real – and very exciting. We will of course update in my blogs each week as we do it.
Dave has continued to do a lot of good work on our website so you may have seen lots of change there – including, hopefully, in the speed that it loads onto your tablets and phones. And he continues to make Christmas treats and chutneys which makes the house smell good too.
There does, finally, appear to be a break in the daily rainfall next week (depending on which of the myriad of weather websites we obsessively look at is to be believed) which may mean we can actually get things done outside – including possibly cutting the jungle which our lawns have become. We’ll let you know!
I am now officially bored with the autumnal weather this year. Ever since we moved to Brittany in 2015, the autumns have been periods of beautifully crisp, clear, sometimes sunny days with minimal rainfall. This year it seems to be making up for the last 4 and has continued to be wet, windy and generally unpleasant for outdoor work of which we have lots of plans and ideas.
That said, as I alluded to in last week’s blog, despite the weather we are welcoming more autumnal guests than we ever have and so, with the gîtes occupied, there isn’t so many large inside jobs that I can get on with either. Not that there is so much to do internally until we start our Priory project in the New Year.
One external job that we have had started, as opposed to starting ourselves, is the tree work on the large sycamores on our SW boundary. These trees have grown pretty large and consequently block out a lot of light to our neighbours garden in the morning and our garden in the afternoon. Being sycamores they seed very readily and every year there are thousands of new small trees in the beds. Our biggest fear is that in a good SW’ly wind they may come down, in the worst scenario, right on top of Stable!
Our tree surgeon has made some good progress in the couple of days he has been with us and there is already a lot more light coming into the orchard.
It has generated a lot of wood that we will be able to burn in a couple of years when it is seasoned but also a lot of smaller branch waste that I will need to clear up. Thankfully, I have been allowed a new ‘toy’ to do this that I shall show you when we start! We hope that another couple of days and the woodsman will have cut all he can and just the tidying up will remain.
While our tree surgeon has been able to work outside for a couple of days in the rain his motivation is different from mine and the jobs I want to do are likely to cause more damage to the ground and be muddier so I’ve not stated. I have however finished clearing above Dave’s gym that we started last week and I have done all I can to the new door for Granary in preparation for it being fitted.
David has continued to do some of his Christmas cooking. This week has been fig chutney and his amazing piccalilli so there has been some amazing smells in the house again.
Looking ahead to the coming week there doesn’t seem to be much of a break in the changeable weather – I’m going to have to take up a hobby at this rate because I can’t progress too much else until it does and there’s no more rugby to use as an excuse!