Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Our new neighbough

We had an unexpected arrival in the form of a  new neighbough arrive today, a lovely baby boy,
 say hello to Colombo.

This gorgeous foal is only a few hours old in this photo and is still a little unsteady on it's long gangly legs at times and certainly doesn't want to be more than a few feet from his mum.

I was in the garden when Robert, our farmer neighbough took them into the field next to us for half an hour to get some fresh air and sunshine. I spent a very nice hour chatting to him in my very inadequate French and him in his slightly better English followed by a few glasses of wine back at his farm after they were taken back to the stables.

Apparently another one of his mare's is due to  have a foal in the next couple of days and a third in a couple of weeks time, I am looking forward to all the new additions.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Decisions Decisions

Previous to our moving to Brittany last year we have, for at least the last 30 years had a wood burner. The house that we bought had/has electric panel heaters throughout so although we would have preferred it if there had been a wood burner we decided that we would give it a go and see how we got on with the electric heating through our first winter here.

Well, the decision has been made, although the electric will provide enough heat and is clean and easy to use it seems crazy not to use all the wood we have readily available on our own grounds and as far as costs are concerned, although not cheap to install the wood burner will probably pay for itself in about 5 years.

The main reason though is that there is nothing like sitting in front of a real log fire.

So yesterday was our day for hunting down wood burners, It didn't actually start to well, I planned the day so that we could visit showrooms in the morning ( before the normal French 2 hour lunch-break ) and the afternoon. Our first visit was to Carhaix-Plouguer which is about 20 mins from us. After tracking the shop down, a bit of a feat in itself we arrived with a good half hour to spare before lunchtime and in the opening time shown on the door, however there was also a written note on the door saying that there was no one the but If we really wanted to see someone to give a call on the telephone number.
Not a good start and not something that inspires confidence!

So time for some lunch, we headed off to Morlaix about an hours drive and had a very nice lunch in a pizzeria along with some local Breton "Cidre" we finished nicely just after 2 pm to get to the first of the showrooms we planned to visit only to find in the first yet another note saying they wouldn't be open until 3pm and here was me thinking everywhere was in a recession and struggling!

Off to the 3rd showroom of the day and success, they were open!

They did have a very large range of different wood burners set off with a fully working one of quite striking design in the middle of the showroom that looked really inviting, lots of heat coming out from just a couple of logs and perfectly clear glass with no sooting up at all. A quick look at the prices of similar models soon put a stop to looking at anything like that as they ranged from about 4-6000 euro's without installation.

I did take a bit of a fancy to a retro looking model but decided against it. It is much more difficult than it would first appear to sort out the type that suits you best. There are lots of things to weigh up not least of which is cost but that also has to be put against quality ( cast iron is certainly preferable to pressed steel in my mind ) and other things , like has it a side door ( for easier loading ) as well as a front door plus we do like to have room on the top for heating a coffee pot so a large flat surface is another consideration along with the position of the flue. Then of course some have different airflows that can help the glass be kept clean. In addition to all of this the output in KW is very important.

We saw a very nice looking traditional style wood burner that seemed to tick all the boxes with the exception of the output being a bit on the low side so off we went back to the shop that was shut to 3pm.

A different selection of makes and models here but with the same sort of problems in getting all the features we wanted along with an affordable price. We eventually settled on one that we thought was very good value even though not all the features stacked up and arranged for someone to come and give us a quote for installation next week.

Back home with armfuls of brochures, specifications and prices and we realised that there was a larger version with increased KW output of the one we had liked in the previous showroom and this is the one we are going to settle on. It is a Dovre 760CB.

Now all we have to do is to get quotes to install it, that should be easy shouldn't it??????????????

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Slow progress in the "Potager"

This is our first real planting season in the vegetable garden since we arrived last August and we are a little disappointed in that we seem to have what I call a cold garden. There are some tall trees in our neighbough's rear garden that restrict the sunshine for a few hours each day so consequently the frost that we have been having lately hangs around longer.
Of course this will change as we get further into Spring with the sun higher in the sky.

However, I have been busy and have put in loads of potatoes, onions, shallots, beetroot, turnip, parsnips, cabbage, carrots, asparagus, garlic and broad beans. At least the broad beans are starting to look OK

I have probably put in too many at one time ( 5 rows ) and will be putting more in later spaced out by a few weeks but I am sure if we have too many I can find some friends who would enjoy them.

I did get a head start with the fruit garden in the Autumn and the raspberries most of which were just sticks! are now coming on quite well and the rhubarb has got going at last.
It is also encouraging to see that all of the fruit trees we put in are starting to blossom.

I also got round to mowing the rear lawn for the first time this year, like everyone else in Brittany it seems we have a lot of moss in it! 

One job I have had to put on the "back burner" for a while is the cutting of my trees. There has been a pigeon building a nest in them for weeks and after watching it carefully selecting sticks and flying in and out hundreds of times I haven't the heart to disturb it . There will be plenty of time later on although I do what to get it all done this year as the difference in light and sunshine to the decking area is incredible.