We have finally got around to sorting out building the 'walkway' structure that will lead from the pergola back to the 'nook' by the house. We have decided to continue 'building' in solid oak, because we want to match the pergola wood, and also because the local sawmill's price remains so good and that it is a totally sustainable local product. So, we measured everything up (gulp!), placed the order and on Tuesday hired our good friend Nigel's trailer to collect the wood:
Then it was a question of digging all the holes, running from the pergola back to the house .... the earth, heavy clay, has been very dry and like digging into oak itself ... but last week we had a couple of days of rain, and - hoorah! - we had a visit from Theo who was immediately hired to help with the digging!
Then it has been the same discipline as the pergola - so, ensuring the posts were correctly aligned down the line of the pathway and the posts are exactly opposite one another, so that the cross-pieces are parallel:
The one difficulty has been that down half of one side we have the stone slope up to the upper barn - and this slightly 'interrupts' the line of the walkway. So, on the last part of one side we could not dig holes and concrete the posts in, but had to place steel fixings into the bricks of the walkway and then the posts are mounted on these:
So, once we had all the tools and fixings in place it has taken only a full day to complete all the uprights. The next stage will be to fix the horizontals - that will take a bit more time!
And this Sunday we are off to a big plant fair, where there are (we hope!) some experts on climbing plants (grimpantes) so we can plant out all along the walkway by mid-October, so that by next Spring the overall shape will be taking off!
... bit of the old Keats, as Autumn has arrived and we've got lots of mellow fruitfulness.
The very warm summer, punctuated by the occasional day or two of heavy rain, has resulted in lots of very tasty and plumptious fruit. The blackberries are everywhere, very large and often hanging like bunches of grapes. Nollie has made batches of blackberry jam and we will be making syrup for putting on ice cream and yoghurty type things; and we will be making some blackberry vodka.
Traditionally, one gathers the rose-hips (for syrup and jellies) and the sloes (we'll be making sloe vodka) after the first frost - so, we don't know when that might be, but there are certainly enough fruits to make a larder full of preserves.
As for tomatoes, there continues to be a huge crop:
- so, there has been lots of passata made, and chutneys, including tomato and courgette and, extra yummy, tomato and peach:
And in the flowerbeds we still have a lot in bloom, but also many of the flowers have dried out into seed heads - so we are lightly digging the soil and rubbing off all the seeds into the turned soil .... takes a long time, but the results from doing this last year have been quite spectacular:
As for the wild flower pasture ... as we said, the results of the annual seeds have not been exactly impressive - it is because we planted quite late and then ran into the two month drought. But in the last couple of weeks there have been more cornflowers and daisies showing and we are now in the process of taking lots of seed heads from other wild flower areas in the garden and piling them on to the pasture ... and in a few weeks we will strim the whole area, spreading as many of the seeds as possible. Then, we hope that next year the perennial wild flower seeds will germinate fully, backed up with other annuals. That's the theory!
Simon lives at Nichoir, Le Bruel, with his wife Noella. They moved here in May 2013, with their Newfoundland dog, Oska, and their cat, Snufkin. Together they have set out on an adventure to create what they hope will be home from home for family and a rather special Chambres D'Hotes for guests.
Simon & Noella Mauger, 'Nichoir', Le Bruel, 81340 Lacapelle Pinet, TARN, France