Shut up Bees

At 4.00pm to today normal service was resumed in south Western France.

As if someone was drawing the curtains, the sheet of cloud blocking the sun and dumping tens of millimetres of rain, suddenly drew back revealing a blue sky and a smiling sun.


Concreting done

The timing is almost perfect as all the heavy work on the steps, walls and foundations was completed almost simultaneously. Today has been overcast, humid, warm and still. So still, the loudest sounds were the bees on the lavender and roses!


Blockwork going up

As it dried out a bit today, I started to cut the grass. When I say grass you may think of mowing the lawn, but as anyone who owns a French property will know, grass grows very quickly here, the grass is chest high! It was mowed at Easter but is now like a vast hay meadow.


Making hay


All works are on schedule but with one slight set back, the chalk blocks for the piers are too heavy for me to lift alone, probably because they are saturated. I did suspect they might be, when I was drawing them but things always seem easier in the comfort of the office. The piers will have to wait until next time.

Anyway two days to go, never long enough! So much to be done!


Too heavy!


Shuttering off



Limestone set, spaces are for the chalk piers

Diesel and Tyres

Off to France again this week.

This trip last year I was baking in 30+ degree heat, to be prepared I bought a new sunhat and safety sunglasses. Perhaps I should have checked the forecast as a big low pressure system is centred over France and the UK making it feel more like a wet March than flaming June! I am writing this sitting in front of the woodburner in the kitchen, last year I was barbequing and wondering how I was going to sleep in this heat!


The laser level with its tin foil hat against the rain

One thing I did check before leaving was the industrial action in France. French workers are not happy at having their retirement age changed amongst other things and are striking and blockading fuel terminals, leading to a shortage at the pumps. Not wanting to get stranded I filled several jerry cans with diesel just in case. On my journey I had no problems with diesel but did encounter French industrial action in its bluntest form.

Driving through Rouen, (the journey to Frelon Cottage is entirely motorway except when you get to Rouen. You then have to drive though the city on a dual carriage way before rejoining the motorway so it is a bottle neck anyway), the traffic came to a sudden stop.


In the distance plumes of black smoke were rising into the air. After about one and half hours of creeping forward I turned the corner to see both sides of the road blocked with a barricade of burning tyres and people in Hi-viz vests and placards standing behind. Not a police car to be seen. Drivers had even made their own way of negotiating the road block, squeezing past across a gravel traffic island. You could feel the heat of the burning tyres through the car window it was so close! Astonishingly, the police were present, standing arms folded about 400 metres the other side. One can only assume they sympathised with the protest and were not prepared to take action!



Anyway, this trip I be will building some steps, some walls and some limestone gate piers!


Shuttering complete ready for concrete tomorrow