Since writing my last blog, which generated lots of kind comments from people following my short stint in hospital (thank you to everyone for their thoughts) another 3 weeks have flown past and I STILL haven’t started my Boot Room project!! The reasons for the delay in putting finger to button are varied but it does mean that there is a lot to catch up on …
When I last blogged we had just welcomed David’s parents back to Kergudon and one of his uncles for their first visit here. This meant that, while we were able to socialise and spend some more time with them, we did not complete as much work as we had anticipated – although we were not completely idle!
In previous blogs I have spoken about the amount of gardening we were doing and the number of plants we had bought so far to beautify the grounds – some of which needing planting in beds that we hadn’t yet created. However, a couple of weeks ago I had started stripping off ivy which had been growing at the back of the building we are calling
‘Dairy’ which houses David’s gym and the (yet to be converted) boot room(!) We thought that the west-facing wall would be an ideal site for a new flower bed once it had been dug over (as well as making it a more attractive outlook from Stable and Hayloft.) While David’s family was with us I resumed stripping the wall and digging the bed over and, even unplanted it looks a lot better and the lovely slate wall will make an excellent backdrop for the new shrubs.
Despite my first paragraph, I did also make a sort of start on the boot room. The side of Dairy which we are about to convert has 2 separate rooms, what will become the Boot / Drying Room and another where we keep the bikes that we have bought for our clients to use. You may not be surprised to learn(!) that both spaces had become dumping grounds as every other space was converted or filled up.
Before starting the ‘main event’ of the Boot Room I thought it would be sensible to clear the Bike Room in case I needed to use it during the work and hang the bikes on the wall clearing the floor. Unfortunately, as an old slate building, none of the walls are flat or suitable to screw the brackets directly onto so I had to erect a board for them before hanging the bikes. A much more useful space now.
Shortly after David’s family returned home, we left Kergudon for a short break ourselves principally to travel to Ireland for a cousin’s wedding. However, we left home a day early to visit Vannes in the south of Brittany a little because we were told it was a lovely city but much more because we went to meet our next new arrival – a playmate for Garratt and another liver and white puppy we are going to call Brandon (or, to meet the French LOF (Kennel Club equivalent) requirements of having a name beginning with ‘M’ as all puppies born in 2016 require, he will officially be called ‘Monsieur Brandon’. You may recall that Garratt is officially ‘LeGarratt’ as ‘L’ was 2015’s letter.)
The owner of Garratt’s Mum (where we bought Garratt last year) gave us the details of the breeder near Vannes as he is the owner of Garratt’s Dad, Dixie. Had we had a puppy a few months earlier we would have been able to have one of Garratt’s half-brothers however, the current litter has a different Dad so they won’t be genetically linked although we hope will become great friends. Garratt was at least able to meet Dixie – although neither seemed to recognise the familial ties!
Vannes was also a very pretty city and one we will return to – although at just over 2 hours from us we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a day trip for our guests.
Our trip to Ireland was great fun – although I am not sure if Garratt really enjoyed the 18 hour ferry trip each way. The wedding was excellent; the house we stayed in was lovely (almost as lovely as our gîtes) and in a superb location overlooking the sea near the village of Ballycotton and we managed to catch up with some of my family.
We got back to Kergudon late last Thursday to prepare for the arrival of 2 sets of guests yesterday, staying in Hayloft and Granary, and the start of what we hope will be a busy summer season. It was evident that since we had been away, mostly avoiding any hot weather in Ireland, it has been scorchio in Saint Cadou.
It was a pretty dry period for the 2 weeks before we left for Ireland and it had evidently continued while we were away as a number of our new plants had suffered. Sadly this included most of the small hollies we had planted on the northern boundary earlier in the year. It seems my Dad was right in his advice that transplanting hollies is notoriously difficult. A number of the griselinia cuttings that we had been given had also turned their toes up too (although we thought that a number were on their way out before we left). Thankfully all can be easily, and cheaply, replaced later in the year so all we have really lost is time (slightly delaying our beautiful new hedges) and the effort involved in planting.
What was also obvious was that, despite the plants you spend money, time and effort on and therefore want to survive suffering the most in the heat and drought, those that you spend significant effort and time to remove and kill seem to thrive in any conditions as the Japanese knot weed, bramble, self-seeding sycamores and, a new problem plant this year, ground elder all appear to be making a comeback in all of the beds we have dug and started to plant! It seems that the disadvantage of creating more flower beds, at least until our plants establish themselves, is the associated weeding that will be required. Our solution to 2 of our problems is that we have ordered 2 backpack sprayers (which will hopefully be delivered later this week) one for weed killing the other for efficient watering, especially the hanging baskets which we have replanted this year – want to run a sweepstake on how long it will take to get the 2 mixed up?!
With my illness a few weeks back, David’s parents’ visit and our own trip to Ireland I feel we haven’t achieved anywhere near as much as we have wanted for a while. As we now have no plans to travel from Kergudon for months, and the weather should be improving dramatically (although this week looks decidedly mixed – as we have returned the sun has left) we should be able to make significant progress in the forthcoming weeks. The only thing that I can see causing us frustration is that we have to give our car to Audi for a couple of weeks for them to carry out a pretty major repair to the engine (apparently a known issue with this power plant that at least means Audi pick up the bill) but I don’t see their courtesy car having a tow bar so we won’t have access to the trailer which may limit a few things – but we have many others that will keep us occupied!
Fewer distractions also means I see no reason why I can’t post a blog next week – but I have said that before ….