As predicted I wasn’t able to post a blog last week as it was just such an exciting (and busy) day but we have had a very busy, productive (and expensive!) couple of weeks.
At the start of the first week we decided to honour the UK public holiday, and enjoy the amazingly hot weather, by taking a day off our projects and exploring a little more of our area. (Another beauty of living abroad is that we can choose which public holidays we take, French or British, or both!)
Since David has been working in Moraix if I have travelled with him, and had time to kill while he works, I had been taking Garratt for short walks north of Morlaix in fabulous countryside. I found a number of lovely strolls but wanted to explore a little more so we devised a route on the map, packed a picnic and headed out.
I have always enjoyed the variety of walks within easy reach of us. Walking in Saint Cadou takes you through forest and farmland but, very short drives away, there are wild moorland walks through the uplands of the Monts D’Arrée; wonderful woodland and geological walks; stunning coastal paths around the Finistère coastline; and our walk last Monday was more equine, agricultural and rolling countryside which gave us lots of opportunity to find a perfect spot with sweeping views to enjoy Dave’s amazing picnic and famous homemade pork pie.
The remainder of the week I continued to divide my time between making (slow) progress in the boot room, general painting and maintenance in the gites, including replacing a fence panel that had blown down outside Hayloft, and weeding parts of the garden. David continued to dig the new flower bed in the orchard which got increasingly hard as the dry weather continued and made the ground rock hard.
All of which was valuable and beneficial but none of which generated any worthwhile photos (especially as we foolishly forgot the camera on our walk!) or not as worthwhile as what we did last Sunday when we collected our puppy – Monsieur Brandon.
Brandon’s breeder was about 2½ hours south of us, just beyond Vannes in the Loire-Atlantic department, and it would have been lovely to be able to take a couple of days to travel there and back and see some of the country however, due to time constraints we decided to travel there and back in a single day – and come home via the Morlaix kermesse which was inconveniently arranged for the same day but where we bought this year’s selection of plants the majority of which will go in the new orchard bed.
Brandon seemed to take it all in his, very small, stride and seemed relaxed when we got him home and introduced him to Garratt who had been having his own away day playing with a new friend, Jenga, as our friends Penny and Frank had been kind enough to dog-sit for the day.
It has been amazing to see the differences in character between Brandon and how we remember Garratt to be in the first few days that we had him home. Brandon is certainly much more confident and vocal than Garratt was, indeed he has ‘said’ almost more in a week than Garratt has in the year we have had him. He also makes the cutest of noises when he yawns which sounds like a cartoon sound effect used for when a big old door creaks open! He does however have the same razor sharp puppy teeth!
Can you tell which is which at this stage of their life?
For the first few days Garratt seemed to pretend that Brandon wasn’t here and would avoid all contact, walking away when the puppy wanted to play. We knew that it would be a massive change to Garratt’s life as well as he was no longer the sole recipient of our attention and that he may resent the new arrival, so we have been extremely careful to give him almost more attention than he had before and plenty of time on his own – including me having my first run around Lac du Drennec since we moved here taking him for his own exercise.
However, at the end of the first week Garratt is much more back to his old self and they are now good friends playing together – Brandon even seems to prefer Garratt’s bed to his own whether Garratt is in it or not.
While Brandon has shown some interest in her, Mouse has watched the new arrival with the usual detached indifference of a cat!
The week has once again proven that puppies are an amazing time-wasting opportunity as it is almost impossible not to play with them. Thankfully, they are also a good reason to get up a little earlier than we had become used to and they do spend a lot of time asleep after their (relatively) short periods of manic activity which means we have been able to progress other things – which has led to the expensive bit I mentioned!
This year has not been a great one for washing machine survival. The old but reasonable machine we inherited with the house broke down in May so we had to recommission the machine we bought from Balham which then broke down last Tuesday. Having found an excellent repairman who came quickly, free of charge, and identified the problem, once again there was little difference in cost between repairing the old and buying a new one. As we had replaced the very old machine in one of the gites last summer, and last week we bought the washing machine and tumble dryer which will go in the boot room, with replacing our own I have bought more washing machines in the past 12 months than I have in my entire life previously!
Last week’s other major purchases were all the wood needed to replace the fence behind Priory which divided their terrace from ours, the old fence had got rotted and weakened over the years and eventually blew down a few months ago; and 120 buxus plants which we will use to hedge the flower beds we have created behind Priory (we thought it would be quicker and more impactful to bite the bullet and buy bigger plants here rather than take cuttings and wait the number of years they would require to grow).
We are pleased with how the garden is taking shape, although there is LOTS more to do, and that it has become a home to birds and wildlife (other than the moles!) We had confirmation this week that the birdboxes, which I made last year, had been used again when Garratt found a couple of fledging tits which hadn’t made it far from the box and were sat on the lawn. Thankfully had Mouse found them first they may not have lasted too long but, as Garratt was just confused as to what they were, it meant I could pick them up and place them somewhere safer and hope they manage to fly away.
We have had some lovely clients again over the last couple of weeks including a couple in Hayloft with their Jack Russell who left last Thursday, and we welcomed another couple and their black lab yesterday – all very beneficial to start Brandon’s socialisation.
We have also welcomed some guests who live in Balham and were PT clients of David. They have taken the opportunity to do a couple of sessions with Dave in his on-site gym. It is a big week for Dave next week as he takes on a number of new classes at the Morlaix gym as the trainer he is replacing left last Friday and Dave has been asked to do many new sessions. All very exciting for him. For me, hopefully complete the boot room, build the Priory fence, plant a lot of buxus – and play with the puppy a bit!