Yes, I think ‘Monsieur et Madame Stupide’ must have lived in my house before me and I’ll explain why later. First, a little background information. My front lawn isn’t really a lawn in the proper sense of the word. It’s more of a slightly tamed wild grass area and when I take Toddie for a walk on the open field opposite, the grass on there is probably of better quality than what’s on my lawn. But I’m not too worried for the time being. Making it into a neatly manicured and tended ‘lawn’ in the style of Wimbledon isn’t much of a priority for me at the moment and probably isn’t on anyway if last Summer is anything to go by. A few weeks of drought and it would be reduced to a dry dust-bowl the way it was then.
But that’s not to say that at some time I wouldn’t like to make some real improvements over what’s there at present. Apart from the poor quality of the grass, there are several things I’d like to deal with. There are lots of little trees that have been allowed to root themselves in the grass and if it’s not cut regularly, they sprout upwards and can become quite sharp underfoot if you tread on them in bare feet or flip-flops, so I’d like to get rid of them. Also, someone in the past laid down an area to vegetable beds, and although these are now long-gone, they are still apparent as an area of waves in the lawn that take up almost a quarter of the surface. So I’d like to flatten those as well. And the final thing that’s been nagging me is a hump which is sandy with bits of plastic sheeting coming out of it. Because of the sand, I thought that someone had dumped one of those large ‘builders’ bags’ with some sand in, there to dispose of it and the plastic was the bag beginning to be uncovered. As it happens, I was wrong, as I’ll explain later.
I had in my mind to deal with the old vegetable beds this Spring if I could, not because it’s urgent but because it would be nice to do so if the means came up. And by ‘means’, I mean a cheap rotavator, or ‘motobineuse’ in French. I’ve been keeping my eye on the small ads for a few days and last night a really good one came up, not some own-name made-in-China model of which there are always a few, but a Honda F300. And for only 100€, much less than a quarter of what you’d pay for an equivalent good quality new model. The other, slightly newer, F300 that I’d seen previously was 400€ ‘prix a debattre’ (price negotiable), and as I’ve learnt my lesson about umming and arring as ‘bargains’ are always snapped up before you know it, I phoned straight away and agreed to buy it. And it was only about thirty or so miles away for once, too, which made a nice change 🙂
So this morning Toddie and I headed off with my trailer for the village of Cressensac in the Lot for a meeting with Maurice, the motobineuse seller, at 10.00am. Despite there being a ‘route barree’ (road closed) in one of the villages that we came to, my trusty Satnav once more took me straight there, and a quick mobile phone call had us outside Maurice’s house just after the appointed hour. Now Maurice is an elderly retired gentleman, older than me but a wily old bird for all that. He showed me the machine and demonstrated it to me and when I was hooked, told me that there was ‘une probleme’. After me, he’d received dozens of phone calls and someone had offered him 130€, so he couldn’t let it go for the 100€ that he’d advertised it for. This was no time to be quoting the Law of Contract and all that stuff. At 100€, the motobineuse was a snip and at 120€, which I agreed to pay and he ‘reluctantly’ accepted, it was still a bargain. Take a look for yourself. When I’m finished with it, cleaned up, which he hadn’t done, I’m sure I’ll get at least 150€, and probably even more, for it 😀
So we loaded the machine onto my trailer and after declining ‘une tasse de cafe’, which Maurice graciously offered me, Toddie and I headed for home. The drive was glorious and as the Satnav was taking us direct cross-country (this still amazes me – it would be impossible with just a map), we passed through some of the most beautiful French villages and scenery imaginable. We got home in time for lunch and after one of my famous salads, which I’m back on again now the weather is warmer, I was wondering what to do with myself. It was too late to do anything on the X-Air so I had the idea of using my new motobineuse to dig the sandy hump out and find what was under there. What I found amazed me! Someone, probably M. Stupide, had dumped a tarpaulin containing sand in a dip in the lawn and then buried it to conceal it! The tarpaulin covered a circular area about 3 metres in diameter and was several inches under the surface, apart from where it was beginning to break through and getting it out was no mean job. Take a look for yourself.
To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement! I can think of no reason why anyone would do such a thing, as taking it to the tip would have required far less effort, I’d have thought. But anyway, after judicious use of the new machine involving keep having to stop in order to unwrap plastic and string from the blades, pulling out the tarpaulin, shovelling the sand-earth mixture and levelling it a bit, I eventually got the lawn surface back into some kind of shape.
Ideally, it could now do with treating with weed-killer and a bit of grass seed, so I’ll see what I can do. I was amazed at the amount of rubbish I removed from the ground, as the final pic shows.
But anyway, thank you M. et Mme. Stupide because I needed the exercise and it was nice working outside as well. It was so warm that I had my top off but I think I managed to avoid ‘navvies bum cheeks’ on this occasion. I’ve put the motobineuse under cover in the shelter at the end of my house and if the weather holds up, maybe tomorrow I’ll get some work done on the X-Air. Sadly, light showers are forecast for most of the day, but then again they were also for today, and it was glorious. So fingers crossed 😉