I think, before I write this week’s blog, that it is worth taking a couple of minutes to mention the terrible events that took place in Paris on Friday night.
This blog is not intended to be political in any way, nor have I chosen to use it to express, what my friends would I’m sure concur, are my firmly held and forthright opinions! As such, I have refrained from making reference to the many events of the past 11 months that, had this been a ‘personal’ blog, I would have loved to air my thoughts … However, Friday night’s atrocities I think deserve a mention.
Regardless of people’s views and thoughts of the many complex and disturbing issues currently taking place in the Middle East, and the contribution made by France and other European countries, Friday night’s massacre on the streets of Paris can have no justification: religious, moral, political or personal – none. Having moved to France 24 hours after the previous murderous outrage at the offices of Charlie Hebdo we have experienced nothing but a warm welcome and support from our French neighbours and, while Finistère feels further away from Paris than our old home in London (in every sense) we stand in solidarity and offer our thoughts and sympathy to the people of Paris and France.
So to us … We are amazed at how spoiled we continue to be with the Brittany autumn. Point to note – come on holiday to Brittany any time between September and November for amazing autumnal weather, barmy temperatures and therefore fabulous colours. As such, we have continued to work almost exclusively outside all week. I promised you more photos this week so I have endeavoured to take more although they may not be the most exciting!
I mentioned last week that we wanted to improve the boundary of Kergudon mostly to give the properties a secure and attractive edge. This has been the focus this week. On the north side of the properties, the boundary was really the drop from our lawn level to the track. Being, in effect, an island surrounded by tracks, gives us an obvious ‘edge’ but doesn’t make it secure for animals or children. As Garratt has been, in many many ways, a dream puppy he has never shown any interest in running off so the lack of gates or fencing has never been an issue. However, we are conscious that our guests’ dogs and children may not be so obedient and we have always wanted to provide an attractive barrier to make us ‘secure’.
The boundary has, over the years, been overgrown with masses of brambles and, as identified by my readers in March, Japanese knot weed which was either unattractive (bramble) or very evasive (JKW) but also grew into 2 metres of the lawn. Where there previously were fences, these have mostly fallen over or been blown down and we wanted to replace with something more natural and softer.
We have focussed therefore on cutting the old down in preparation for the new as we want to plant lots of holly and yew in the winter to make a lovely hedge around the border. This week we have started on the east side behind (to the north) of Granary. These pictures show what it looked like 10 days ago and what it looks like now – still lots to do however the telegraph pole and drain cover, as static points, hopefully gives you some perspective.
Clearing the drain cover proved especially helpful as we have had drain problems this week and I have spent best part of an entire day clearing and cleaning. I haven’t taken pictures of this!! Equally, I haven’t taken pictures of another activity that took almost 2 days to complete which was clearing out the ditch on the east side of the garden. Traditionally a task undertaken by the commune, it evidently hadn’t been done for a number of years and, as I suspect we may have a few wet days in the winter, I thought it would be sensible to clear it out and assist the passage of the water to the lake. I also discovered a long(ish) lost manhole cover hiding an inspection hole to our drains. Timing being everything, this proved essential to my drain work (see above!) especially when my drain rods broke in the pipe and I couldn’t shift the blockage from the house end – it was Friday 13th! We are very grateful to our neighbour Bryan who assisted us with his own poles (chimney poles actually) to assist us remove our own broken pole and clear the blockage.
We are also very grateful to Bryan for giving us the cuttings from his griselinia plants that we have planted to start a hedge around the lawn. We are told that griselinia is a plant that roots very easily and is very difficult to kill (we’ll see!) so should, hopefully, make a lovely hedge between Granary and the garden.
The other project we are working on is to make a number of new flower beds between the buildings and the lawn. Last week I promised pictures so here is the before and current – still lots to do! As it progresses you’ll see what we are trying to achieve.
Stripping the turf from one area of the garden gives us the challenge of where to plant the grass. Earlier in the year David started work on the north boundary where the wall has collapsed and had been replaced by spoil earth which had grown the ubiquitous brambles and JKW. In spring he had cleared a small part and rebuilt a wall with some of the rubble however, the seeds he planted against it hadn’t taken so it allows us to turf the area before we think about what we want to do with it permanently, while we dig out the remainder. You will see from this picture the wall David has built (left), where we have turfed in front, and the pile of soil (to the right) that we are yet to dig out but what this week has offered up a couple of large stones, almost certainly from the original wall, that we have used to stop visitors driving on our immaculate lawn!!
David has also continued with his Christmas cooking – Delia’s Christmas chutney and Piccalilli this week.
As ever, progress next week depends on weather.