Sunday, April 17, 2011

The barn is gone!

Since we moved into our house here in France, the lovely view has been partially obscured by a really ugly old barn. It was built many years ago when the house was a working farm. Made from oak and pine timbers and sheets of corrugated iron, it was huge and slowly falling into disrepair. One third of it contained bales of very  old straw, and there were also lots of other bits of scrap that the previous owners should have taken with them when they sold the house.  We used to it store our trailer, the cars when the weather was bad, and our neighbours' caravan, so it had some uses but nothing could take away from the fact that it was just so ugly!  It also blocked the light to one side of a willow tree.

You may remember me posting about the willow tree last year - it had cracked in heavy winds and half of it had come down. We called in a tree surgeon who said that we could have it removed completely, or that it could be saved but would not look too pretty while it was recovering, but that it would soon start sprouting again. We opted to keep it - well, I've always wanted my very own willow! I'm so glad we did. It may still not look as handsome as it should, but the potential is there and, now that it is not being over-shadowed by the barn, it will have every chance to become a fully-fledged grown-up willow!

This was the barn; the tree next to it is the willow - you can see just how close it was to the barn.

Although it doesn't look too good here, the timbers were very good. A tree surgeon bought the barn because he knew he could make good use of them. It took three days to demolish because he and his helper could only work weekends. This picture was taken at the end of the first day - all the corrugated iron sheets had been removed, apart from the roof, and it was down to the bare bones. We could already see what a difference it would make to the space once it had gone, and the tree surgeon, despite the hard work demolishing it, was delighted with the timbers.  He will use some of them to make a woodstore and a tractor shed, and his helper would have the rest for the house he is restoring, so we know they will all be put to very good use.

The willow tree! Doesn't it look sad?  You can see that it is resprouting from the side that was over-shadowed by the barn. It is healthy and this year's new growth looks very good, so I'm glad we saved it, although it will be a while before it looks as good as it should!  I'm sure now that has light all around it, it will start to grow well. I shall try and remember to take a photo at the same time each month to chart its progress.

The straw that was inside the barn has been taken by two local farmers to be used for animal bedding. I was worried that it would be mouldy and rotten but, because it's been kept dry all these years, it was perfect for animals.  Our neighbours' caravan is in another part of the garden; he will be using it shortly, after which it can be stored in an old stone barn we have, alongside the trailer.  There was also another pile of timber in the barn that was no good for building but ideal for burning, so our friendly local pig farm took it away in their horsebox to be used in a woodburner. On Friday morning it was busier in this little hamlet than it has been for years - two tractors and a 4x4 with a horsebox all busy emptying what was left of the barn!

Well, that's the saga of the barn - we still have to make good the area that it was standing on, which means finding five tons of topsoil and planting with grass seed but that will be an ongoing project. The worst is over!

I will post again soon - I have been crocheting so I have photos to post of the things I have made so far this year; not many because there aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week!

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a lovely day!  Me? I've just looked up at the ceiling here in my office - now where did all those cobwebs come from?  I'd better go and deal with them!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's been a while!

This is my first post since the start of the year!  I have no idea where the time goes but go it certainly does! Life is more challenging now than it's ever been, and we've been so busy working on the house (which is very nearly finished), dealing with the world-famous French red tape (which will never be finished), and  work. Squeezing in time for the things I REALLY want to do, like crocheting, photography, reading, writing for leisure and pleasure, and so on, is very difficult because there will always be the essentials such as cooking and cleaning - not the most interesting of occupations but it would soon become noticeable if they didn't get done!

I have lots of photos to sort through - of the house, things I have just about found the time to make, and places and people that matter to me.

My very best news is the arrival of my fourth grandchild, a beautiful little girl called Megan, who weighed in at a very bonny 8lbs 12ozs three weeks ago today; her big sister, Summer, is bewitched by her, and her cousins Sam and Lucy now have a new baby to get to know.  I can't wait to get back to the UK to see them all, but the French red tape has put a hold on plans. We have nearly overcome that particular problem, and will soon be on our way.  Meanwhile, via the wonders of Skype, I can at least see them all.

Oh, and some more news -  we've been invited to our very first French wedding! Our lovely neighbours will get married in July and it looks like it will be an eventful day, with the first ceremony conducted by the local Mairie, followed by the Benedictine Nuptiale in the commune's church (which is gorgeous and situated right next door to our beautiful local chateau), then there will be a vin d'honneur at one village hall, and a further reception at another village hall, with dancing which could run long into the night - I wonder if they'll be putting on a mini-bus?!

For now, here are some recent photos

The blossom on this old plum tree in the garden, set against a lovely blue sky, looks like a big fluffy cloud.

Some gorgeous daffs that had naturalised themselves in the garden - aren't daffs the most cheerful flowers, especially after a long cold winter?

Yesterday's beautiful sunrise which developed into a lovely warm and sunny summer's day.

Well, that's my post for today.  I really do hope that I will be able to post more frequently from now on!

Thank you for reading and have a great day!