I finished last week’s blog saying that we were expecting a busy week as it is the start of the Toussaint holiday in France. It turned out to be so and we were delighted to be completely full last night with 16 people, our maximum capacity, across the 4 gîtes. Today Stable B&B is changing occupants and we welcome new guests in Hayloft et Priory tomorrow which is brilliant for us.
With the high summer season being over we had been calm in the gîtes for a couple of weeks so we took the opportunity to give them a deep end-of-season clean before our guests arrived. As a consequence I haven’t made the progress on a number of projects that I’d have liked although we have got a few things done.
In last week’s blog I said we had done a long walk on the Crozon peninsular and that we had done it on Saturday rather than the Sunday which we would normally choose. The main reason for this was that we were told there was a pépinière (nursery) in the town of Le Faou which we drive through on the way and it may have a particular plant that we wanted – and they did.
Since we have lived here we have begun to develop the gardens as much as the gîtes themselves. This is partly because Kergudon is our home and we want it to be attractive for us, partly because we want the gardens to be attractive for our guests and partly because we enjoy doing it.
In our plans we want to have as many plants that produce amazing spring and / or autumn colour and a couple of years ago we planted a Ginkgo Biloba which is amazing in the autumn. Sadly, that plant was snapped when we had the sycamores felled last autumn and, while it is recovering and re-growing slowly, we wanted to replace it but with a particular variety. Most Gingkos grow to about 30 metres which we think is a little large for where we wanted to plant it in the orchard, so we have bought a variety called ‘Compacta’ as it should only grow to about 5 of 6 metres.
I planted it on Monday and it looks stunning, as too the orchard lawn – the scarifying is obviously making a big difference (as too the rain we’ve had in the last couple of weeks!) When the cherries gain their autumn colour and we have added a couple of other things that we are planning, we think it will be fabulous.
During the week, I managed to get round to repairing the drainage from the boot room laundry which had become blocked in September. I never managed to find the cause of the blockage, despite chasing through into the bike shed, which was frustrating but I have rejigged the pipework which, hopefully, will prevent it happening again. With the boot room and bike shed rebuilt the guests have full use of all our facilities again.
One thing I haven’t progressed as much as I’d like was rebuilding our own laundry room. We are really enjoying this concept (new to us in our own home!) of having heat and hot water on demand but we are still living with the contents of our laundry room in our lounge – now including a tumble dryer which we had stored initially in Hayloft but thought it best to move when we had guests arrive!
I have started to plasterboard the ceiling which was going well until the lights stopped working. To sort it out I had to cut through the ceiling planks to access the void space above where I found why there were quite so many drafts coming into the room. There was insulation there but it had basically been dumped in a pile rather than used to insulate! I also found the mystery ventilation system that was the cause of infrequent but irritating power cut-outs in our first couple of years.
We will keep the access as the space could be good storage in the future – you can never have enough storage! Hopefully I will be able to progress more in the coming week.
One major task we both completed earlier in the week, which had the potential to be problematic, was to register on the French online system to exchange our current residency permits (Cartes de Sejour) for the cards we need when the UK leaves the EU.
The French had been promising a new online system for over a year and its launch date had been delayed twice but went live last Monday. We thought we’d wait to apply as we have months to do it and we thought day 1 had the potential to be when everyone attempts to access it and it would crash or have all its glitches exposed.
However, curiosity got the better of us and we logged on Monday evening. I could not have been more impressed. The process was simple, quick (it took us less than 10 minutes each) and amazingly for France, paperwork-lite. It certainly assisted us having applied for the previous permits last year and all we needed to provide this time were copies of our passports and a utility bill to prove we were still resident.
Every congratulation needs to go to the French government for their system – I get the impression the UK government hasn’t done anything so simple for Europeans citizens living in the UK – and all we need do now is wait for our new cards to be issued.
Next week the focus is our laundry room and then back to the garage and manshed. Always lots to do!