2013 started off with a lot of winter snow…
We also acquired a couple of miscreants Sophie and Jess, soon to lay waste to the local rodent population.
During the spring we cleared more ground and made up more raised beds and sowed and planted our first vegetables and fruit.
And summer and autumn brought all the hard work to fruition.
The year ended as it had begun with more snow and ice.
This was the year we finally moved over to France. I had taken voluntary redundancy in July – though it was slightly more complicated than that in reality – and we moved over in September.
The first job was to clear the area which would become the garden of the many trees established there. Including much acrobatic antics from Timothe the tree surgeon!
Only then could we think about planning out the garden. We planted up a new hedge at the end of the garden, planted a beech hedge to split the garden into an orchard and a vegetable garden and made up our first raised bed. One of three we had brought out with us from the UK.
The year ended with our first snowfall in November.
2011 was the first full year we owned our french house. We had arranged for a local builder to install a fosse septique, a bathroom and other improvements. Which he did during a very cold January through to March. So cold in fact that in February our neighbours contacted us to say the temperature was -18C at midday.
We came over for our first visit after the work had been completed in early April. For a very sunny week of gardening and cleaning.
This was also the visit of the giant hailstones.
On our next visit in September we tackled the overgrown terrace with its grindstone “table”.
Finally in 2011 we had our first Christmas at Grahy with a heavily improvised christmas tree.
This is the house as we first saw it in July 2010. It was all very overgrown!
The interior of the main house was used as a studio by the past owner and their many artworks.
We finally signed the Act de Vente just before Christmas and this time the area looked a bit different…
The interior looks a bit bare and featured the original open plan and open to the lounge bathroom and toilet. But we managed to get a good fire going.
We closed the house up and returned to the UK. Little knowing that the worst winter in many years was about to hit France.
For a variety of reasons we are leaving Grahy and our garden at 750 metres. Principally, for the last 18 months I have suffered from a muscle strain that developed into acute tendonitis and the amount of time I have been able to put into the garden has decreased dramatically. Life here is good, but hard physical work and you need two fully fit people to make it work. We are leaving in January, returning to the UK for a new adventure in Northumberland. This blog will remain as a record of our years here in the Auvergne.
I thought it would be good at the end of this year, to look back at our time here. So over the next few days I will be posting a blog entry for every year we have been at Grahy, including our two years before we moved over permanently.
Last week our beloved black and white cat Sophie died after a heart attack. She was just over four years old. She bravely struggled on for a few days and we had her back home from the vets for a couple of days, but she had to be returned as she was so weak. The vets tell us she had a congenital heart condition, as did it now appears certain, her sister Jess, who died two years ago.
She was the gentlest cat we had ever had and a real character. It’s hard to imagine I won’t see her chasing crickets and butterflies around the garden or staking out voles in the grass. The garden and the surrounding woods were a paradise for a cat and it’s comforting to know she had such a good, though short life.
She will be greatly missed, an integral part of our life here, as was her sister.
The garden is now being shut down for the winter, with only leeks and our tuscan kale left for picking. Last year the kale lasted us all through the winter into spring.
The blueberry bushes and our pear tree are putting on a fine display of autumn colours at the moment and in the flower garden we still have a few roses blooming and the cosmos never seems to give in, even after a couple of frosts.
It was a very dry September this year, with some record breaking temperatures. Combined with the dry summer it meant we had a very meagre potato crop this year. The earlies got blight and the main crop were very small. The courgettes and squash have been excellent again this month and we have apples on two of our trees.
The star flowers at the moment are the asters and the never ending morning glory.
I have been out walking since the beginning of September, but today was the first time that it felt properly autumnal. A little too autumnal, actually. I could have done with a slightly less of the mist, and more of the mellow fruitfulness and maturing sun. The wonderful colours made up for the weather though. The bracken is looking at its very best at the moment, and the first of the leaves are just starting to turn.
It’s been a long, hot summer, but we have had some cooler spells, with regular rain, which seems to have been ideal for berries. The hawthorns are all laden with fruit, and there are some very plump sloes in the hedgerows.
The brambles are also doing well – possibly too well in some cases. Lets hope this car won’t be needed in the near future.
I spotted this robin’s pin cushion on the stem…
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