Apologies again for not posting a blog last week. I was recovering from a particularly nasty stomach bug which laid me low for a number of days and meant I was unable to make any significant progress for the best part of a week. Thankfully, that week the weather was pretty damp and unpleasant so I would have been very limited in what I would have been able to achieve. Thank you to all the people who sent me their best wishes for a speedy recovery.
By last Monday I was thankfully back to full strength which meant we were able to honour our appointment at the prefecture and submit our dossiers in support of our Carte de Séjour (Residency Permit) application. We had applied for our appointment in early August last year and hadn’t had any further contact with the prefecture since so I was half expecting them to claim no knowledge of us!
Our meeting didn’t start so well as the address we were given in our appointment letter had evidently closed as an office some time before with no signage stating where to go and we had the first appointment of the day at 0830. Thankfully there aren’t many alternative options so we quickly found where we needed to be – was actually what used to be the driver and vehicle office where we had to register our car in 2015.
Our appointment was with a really helpful fonctionnaire who had evidently seen a lot of Brits come through the system and was very sympathetic our position. The Carte de Séjour process, while theoretically being controlled by central government, is administered at a departmental level and, if lots of social media posts are to be believed, each department is handling things very differently. We found Finistère’s approach very straightforward and a lot less paperwork-heavy than other departments.
Having submitted all that was required we were told that our cards would be ready for collection in 4 to 5 weeks. We are delighted to now be in the French system which should make the next step, whatever and whenever that will be with the Brexit process, much more straightforward.
Since our appointment I have had a very productive week. With my man shed nearing completion I am now able to locate things which previously may have been inaccessible. As such, I have completed a number of repairs and fixes on things which have been waiting for some time. All fairly minor stuff but very satisfying when done and things which haven’t worked for a long time come back to life!
There are so many projects which we want to progress, and some again dependent on the completion of others, but I have started to tick a number off and have taken the view to work on some of the bigger ones for a few hours a time to break them down into more manageable bits.
One task I have started, as much to use up material we have about as to get the project done, is to make a gate for the entrance to the back garden behind Granary. This will help make the rear garden more secure (more so as the yews we planted last year grow) to keep guests’ dogs in and our neighbours’ dogs out! Next week, these planks should be a finished gate.
I have created a concrete plinth on the east side of our main rear gate on which I will attach a gate lamp to mirror the one we wired in on the west side last year. Again, this should be finished next week. With mowing the lawn a couple of times and weeding the pétanque pitch to remove the winter growth the garden is starting to look great as it comes back to life as too is our mole although we have taken some early action to prevent the damage he caused last year to the lawn.
One of the tasks I have decided to do in stages is continuing to clear the old chicken run in the back garden. We have left this space to go wild since we moved here but I started clearing last November and now want to renew my focus on clearing it of the bramble, netting and chicken shed itself. This will give us a slightly larger lawn but, more importantly, will give us a space where we want to erect a serre (small poly tunnel) where we can move all of the wood which we have piled around the garden in various places. Slowly I am getting there.
One task that we have had done, rather than do ourselves, is to replace the back door of our own house. The previous door and frame was already in a poor state when we arrived. We didn’t assist by not maintaining it at all so the frame had practically rotted through at the bottom on both sides and it never stopped anything more than a stiff breeze coming into the kitchen.
We found an excellent artisan chippy who has made us a lovely stable door which we always wanted although we suspect the dogs are less impressed as the old door had glass almost down to the base. We like our chippy’s work so much we have commissioned him to replace the rear door and a window in Priory although they won’t be complete until the end of this year’s high season.
One of the events that we sadly missed while I was unwell, was the first Fest Noz at the Auberge du Menez, the excellent restaurant in the neighbouring village of St. Rivoal. Apparently it was excellent and there are lots of photos on their Facebook page showing the party.
However, this week has been fairly social too as we dined at our other excellent local restaurant, Au Lac, with some good friends. Mercedes, the owner / chef, had spent a number of weeks in Thailand at the start of the year and attended a couple of Thai cooking schools and has incorporated her new skills into this season’s menu and was interviewed on a regional radio programme about her experience. It was, as it always is, an excellent evening with some fabulous food.
Today, we were invited to our first BBQ of the year. This must be some sort of record, for us certainly, to have a BBQ in March and today was amazing weather so it was good to make the most of it, especially as the forecast shows something considerably cooler and wetter next week.
Lots more progress next week and potentially some news on a big step in Garratt’s life.