La Belle Vie en France

Our journey into purchasing and rennovating our fermette in the South West of France

Since our last blog, we have been extremely busy in the garden and surrounding woodland. It’s amazing how fast the last two weeks have gone, but so much has been done. The most important thing for us at the moment is that the weather seems to have changed for the better and Spring appears to be on its way. The weather has generally been above 14℃ in the day with a peak at 20℃ at one stage; clear blue beautiful sunny skies that one could quite easily forget that it’s only February!

Wood cutting in the farmers field and behind the Well continues and with the help of an extra pair of hands (tree surgeon lent me one of his guys for the day), this task is now finally coming to an end. Last Friday our local cheerful farmer finally started moving the cut-up trees from behind our Well, allowing me to further process it over the coming months. It looks like we will have enough chippings for our allotment, and some……. given the size of the mound of branches moved from the field to our land that now needs chipping, which is in addition to our already huge pile of chippings we already have. What was planned to be only a couple of weeks has turned into a month and still is not finished. Fingers crossed, the last of the trees will be brought down from the farmers field by the end of next week.

Our friend Pete wanted to put his hands to wood making, and wants to make a wooden table or two for his back garden and as our trees were rather large in diameter and circumference, he asked if he could have a round or two.  So, I have cut him two from the base of one of our felled oak trees and at the same time have promised not to copy his design……. it’s rather a nice design too. It will be interesting to see what comes out of his workshop in a couple of years once the rounds have dried out so he can use them.

After the farmer helped to dig out the drainage channel at the side of our road last month, work has continued on maintaining the channel by the road again as it refilled with silt after the rain and run off from his field.

Now that the back garden is clear of trees, we have started to clear the gully to the side of our land which adjoins the garden. We cleared years of fallen, rotten branches, acorns and leaves, brambles and goodness know what else, of which, most went through the chipper, hence more chippings.

There is still a lot to do in the back garden.  There are piles of larger rounds and the stumps left to grind and clear away, but we are getting there slowly, in between doing other jobs.

Mandy has bought some lovely Laurel and Photinia hedging shrubs for the gully, and once planted will grow into a wonderful colourful well-manicured hedge which will run down the entire side of the gardne where there is currently an empty space where the huge trees have been felled.

The main event for last week has been the installation of the Fosse Septic for all our waste water as we are not on the mains drainage system, being so rural here in France. Nathan along with his digger and dumper truck arrived early last Monday morning to start the work in earnest.  The day did not get off to a great start as the digger decided not to start and he ended up calling a friend Clive who happened to live 10 mins away from us. After getting the digger started and a good old natter work commenced, at the same time it turned out that Clive and his wife Jo viewed our house a couple of months before we did, but weren’t keen on the cellar as it was flooded when they saw the house.  Instead, they bought a complete renovation project about two miles away.

During the week I became Nathan’s labourer to help him out as he was on his own, and by close of play on Monday our old fosse had been removed and the new one fitted and connected to the house.  We only had to cross our legs for 6 hours, but then all our facilities were back up and running. The remainder of the week involved the installation of the 60 square metre filtration system called an epandage (spreading) in France which Mr SPANC insisted we had due to our surrounding trees and the layout of the land. It was one seriously large hole, which at one point Mandy asked if we could change our minds and have a swimming pool instead ha! ha! So, this was not the multiple traditional trenches but one huge trench with multiple pipes running through. The up side to this is that we get somewhere level to pitch a tent on for any guests that wish to visit us and more importantly Mandy gets a level area for here swimming pool to go on and stay out all summer!

This week has been a mixed week with regard to outdoor equipment. On Monday I managed to break the stump grinder as two bolts sheared in half whilst grinding a stump, after rummaging around in the dirt I managed to find the tungsten carbide tooth and the remainder of the bolts.  Wednesday I got the pouring mechanism for the chain oil bottle replaced after it sheared off whilst refiling a chainsaw.

Towards the end of the week, I then managed to break my built-in ear protection on my Stihl chainsaw helmet. With Nathan’s dumper truck and my stuff going belly up, I think it must have been a week for breaking things. To add to the sorry, Nathan’s car broke down on his way home on Friday evening as well. After searching the internet for a replacement part and not finding what was needed, I was not looking forward to spending lots of money on a new helmet. But on a good note, I managed to fix the pole pruner after the mice had chewed their way through the chain oil tank on the end of the pruner, and am so glad they invented epoxy resin, as this has saved us potentially a few hundred euros for a new head.

On Saturday which was again a glorious day, we went out armed with the sheared bolts from the stump grinder and a list of Sthil spares and headed down to Uzerche, and our local Doussards for replacement Sthil parts, and we couldn’t believe how cheap they were, only in France. We then ventured out to a little town called Seilhac which is about 30 minutes away, and found a farming shop which was recommended us, where it was believed we could get replacement bolts for the stump grinder.  After much debate and dithering/deliberating on my part, we finally purchased the bolts and some spare in case others sheared off.  It turned out the bolts were the correct size and fitted perfectly. I went around all the bolts and tightened them all back up as they were loose. Now the stump grinder was up and running again, I decided to finish off the job I’d started on Monday.

By the end of the week the right-hand side of the garden was looking very different prior to the week before. We have one more day of carnage left, I say carnage but in reality, it’s putting everything back as it should be.  Filling in the humungous hole, levelling the surrounding land, using the left-over soil to bank the rear of the garden and make it slightly longer, this of course can only happen once the obligatory authority (SPANC) inspection goes according to plan at 08.00 hours on Monday morning.

The crafting elf is still busy crafting in her spare time, crafting away. When she’s not in the garden or out shopping here in South West of France hunting that elusive bargain for the house/garden, she working hard on stocking up her Etsy shop. Her wonderful creations can be on her Etsy store!! The store is taking shape and I am sure that soon enough it will be filled with further crafting goodies for you to buy. Whilst you are there get your friends to have a look too and spread the love! Next on the agenda for Correzienne Crafts will be a Facebook Shop, which I am sure will make its debut sometime in March.

This busy fortnight was topped off with a visit to a local lake (Sunday) which has a manmade beach and swimming area.  It’s predominantly a fishing lake and has a campsite on the perimeter.  The lake has a lovely path that one can walk around and lots of picnic benches to stop and take in the views. Due to the current restrictions these facilities are closed but the walk around the lake was still open. It was a clear beautiful day and the dogs had a lovely time jumping in and out of the lake and exploring around the 3 kms walk. On our return to the van, the camping chairs and picnic were brought out, and a fitting end to a lovely walk……… sat by the lake having some food and watching the world go by. It reminded us of why we moved to France and reaffirmed that it was the best thing we had ever done together, apart from get married of course!!

As is customary in our blog, for now it’s time to hang up the keyboard, sit back, relax and have another cup of tea, as “Dry January” has now merged into February.

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