April 5, 2017

What we have to contend with

The work I’d planned on my house has had to be deferred, at least for the time being, until the Brexit situation resolves itself. It’s not that I think that my situation and that of other UK citizens in France will be threatened – it would surely be totally illogical for even the French to kill the goose laying the (pension) golden eggs that are shoring up both their economy and their housing market – but with the £ Sterling having fallen to a level of around 1.17€ to the £, I don’t think that the work would be economic.

I read a report from Barclays the other day that with the £ now being seen as undervalued and with clear threats emerging to the € in the coming months, they think that the rate could recover to around 1.30€ to the £ by around the end of the year and could even rise further. If that happened, all bets would be back on again, but for now I’m resigned to leaving my planned work on the back-burner.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t pressing matters to do with it to attend to. When the contractor removed the large lime tree that was just a few feet from the front of my house and afterwards ‘terrassed’ the terrain to give a gentle slope up from the front of the property they left behind a nightmare that continues to haunt me. The ground here is packed with stone, not to mention bits of builder’s debris like broken tile etc from when the place was first built, and as soon as it’s disturbed it all comes to the surface.

And that’s what happened when the above work was done, as the following shot of the slope that was created, shows.

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My front grass is pretty poor because of it but I can’t just leave the bare earth because (a) it looks awful and (b) it soon gets taken over by massive weeds that can grow up to waist height. So I have to get some seed down, but how is that possible with this amount of stone on the surface?

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And those aren’t just little bits of rock – some of them are pretty hefty.

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The answer, of course, is that it’s not. Before I can even think about grass seed I have to get rid of all of the surface stone and level the ground. I started on the job the best part of a year ago after buying a good strong rake and a garden roller. The area I chose was at the northern end of the house and I found that it was back-breaking work.

I managed to get a bit done, though, but pretty soon the weather became hotter and the ground became too hard to rake, so that was it. I had to call a halt and the small heaps of stone lay where I’d left them until a few days ago, at which time I decided that I’d better get my finger out before the same happened all over again and things would have to be left for yet another year.

So I started yesterday by collecting all the stone that I’d already raked up and loading it into my small trailer to go to the ‘déchetterie’. Then I got cracking again on raking. It was tough work but I managed to make a bit of a dent in it by the end of the day as the following shot shows.

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But with the weather forecast to become warmer and dryer over the coming days there was no chance of any respite and I was resolved to break the back of the work by the end of today or break mine in the process. And luckily I succeeded in the former.

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So now the worst of the stone has been raked up into heaps ready to be collected and taken to the ‘déchetterie’ and the place looks a lot better for it. But that is far from the end of the story. There’s still a bit more to come and then the ground will have to be made more level, plus there are also quite a few holes to be filled in. The contractor left me with some topsoil for that purpose and hopefully I’ll be able to get that done before the weather becomes too dry.

I doubt that I’ll get the area seeded this side of the summer, though, and experience has shown that if I try to, the summer sun will just kill the seed and prevent it growing. So I’ll have to think about seeding in the autumn before it starts to get too cool and that will probably mean that I’ll have to re-treat the area with weedkiller to stop the damn things taking it over again. That may not be a bad thing, though as then I’ll know that the new grass will have the best chance of getting its roots established without having to fight against weeds that would otherwise be trying to strangle it.