Apologies for not posting a blog last week. While we had done a number of things none of them were really photogenic, so we didn’t take any pictures, and I thought I would combine all activities of the last 2 weeks in today’s, slightly longer, blog. Hope you’ll stick with it!
With my previous major task completed, rebuilding the stone wall at the front of the orchard which borders Hent Gorreker, I was able to return to the ongoing major task – the garage. It does remain my focus as, when done, will allow us to tidy up the area between it and the petanque pitch. This includes what was a 13-tonne pile of gravel we had delivered in 2018 for various jobs which has prevented us driving from the front to the back gate ever since. The area has always had to be my service yard with all the projects we have on and, as such, we have always been conscious it is not the most attractive with random piles of material which we want to remove.
I have mentioned that we want to concrete the southern end garage bay, having concreted the north during the May confinement last year, which meant that I needed to clear and prepare it. Having been relatively full in January, I needed to move the things into another bay which meant first clearing those!
I had used one of the central bays to store lots of wood in an effort to keep it relatively dry, so 2 days last week was spent cutting and splitting this (one of the not very photogenic tasks) and moving it to the serre. When I had enough space everything from one bay went into the other with another handy déchetterie trip to ditch some of the larger unwanted items (finally including Priory’s old poêle which had been sat outside Dairy since we removed it in 2016!)
The last time this end garage bay had been empty (July 2018) we hadn’t planned to concrete it (probably should have done) so had added a layer of spare gravel that we didn’t need for the pétanque pitch. This too needed to be removed and we have (now) added to the boule pitch!
We haven’t created a new game of crazy pétanque, I just took this photo before levelling out the piles, but also because one of the other tasks I did last week was to give the pétanque hedge a haircut and it looks great. I cut a number of other hedges too including the Priory ‘champignons’ which also look good but while now wide enough and joined up, aren’t yet at the height we ultimately want them.
Under the gravel I had put plastic sheeting to reduce the moisture coming into the bay which will eventually (this year) have garage doors. Now that we want to concrete, I then needed to lower the level of earth in the bay to give us a base sufficiently think that it won’t crack with a car parked on it. This has generated another pile of earth in the service area – albeit, I hope, temporarily as this will eventually be used to raise the level of the centre bays. You can see it is a bit of a juggling act.
Lowering the level proved harder than I’d hoped as I struck what was evidently an old hard standing and path. We had been told that a building used to stand on the exact same spot at some time and evidently there was lots of compacted stone used around it – just above the level I needed to dig out to. Of course! You can just see the large stones which were a path at the bottom of this photo taken way back in 2016 when we were building the garage.
Other piles have been created with the material I have had to buy to make the concrete, but these of course will be gone next week when used.
All that remains is to replace the plastic sheeting and we are good to go – probably next Tuesday as it is a job for 2 that is when David is able to assist. I have also taken the opportunity to stain the interior cladding which you can just see in this last pic.
As we will have the cement mixer out next week, and we have no guests, we are taking the opportunity to do another task which has been on our list for a while.
At the front of Priory and Granary, there is an old fence made of 2 panels dividing the Granary breakfast terrace and Priory’s entrance. We don’t know how old this is but we have always wanted to replace them and install a gate which we can use to get between the 2 gîtes without having to walk on Granary’s lawn. This will be especially useful in the winter when the lawn can get very wet and damaged if walked on.
The priority of the task was increased last summer when the central fence post finally rotted through at the base and I had to install a temporary fix to hold the fence upright, and it became clear that both panels had past their best! We have wanted to build a mini-wall and fence as we did behind Priory and Granary in 2017 to replace the fence blown down in Storm Zeus. The fence blown down was itself a replacement for an old and rotten fence that had blown down in 2016 and was when we decided that a wall and fence combination would be more robust – and also looks better and more permanent.
I have taken down the old fence panels and started the trench that we will fill with concrete when we have the mixer going next week.
The forecast for next week is starting to look a little better. While we have had some fabulous clear sunny days, it has been unseasonably cold – as I know it has in the UK. We have even had some late (for us) frosts which have sadly smacked a couple of plants, thankfully not our new acquisitions, and thankfully too, nothing fatally. This year is the latest we have had to have our own wood burner going some evenings which is an odd feeling having a fire while it remains bright and sunny outside at 8 pm!
It has also remained really dry. I can barely remember the last time it rained properly – must be because we have planted so many new plants! We desperately need those April showers but, looking back on when we concreted last year that too was a very hot and dry spell although it was May. Climate change – what climate change?!
Finally, you may be wondering about my title this week. A couple of years ago I heard of an geo-localisation app called what3words which is an aid to position location. Essentially, it has divided the planet up into 3 metre squares and allocated 3 random words to each. If you know the words, you can find the square.
It sounded like a good idea but I didn’t know how it would take off. Seeing that it is now advertising more heavily recently we thought we would add a what3word ‘address’ to our website to help people locate us as we are a but hidden.
As the grid is 3 metre squares, there are many we could use for us and we had hoped that there would be 3 appropriate words like ‘beautiful-holiday-accommodation’ or ‘charming-self-catering’ Of course, no such luck and the randomness is pretty random! We then had to find ones that we definitely didn’t want to be associated with, so we dismissed ‘loading-variably-pathetic’, ‘shots-loonies-countryside’, ‘freeing-ferrets-classy’ and ‘canine-skincare-spray’ among many others (I’m not joking these were all genuine squares on or near or drive!
We have settled for ‘waterfalls-stimulate-beautifully’ which seemed charming and is central to the main drive (although perhaps ‘perimeter-locating-ploy’ would have equally apt!)
Next week – concreting, and some other things.