Thursday, 1 December 2011

Building the yellow brick road

I noticed today that the vines are suddenly bare; almost overnight the yellow leaves fell to the ground. Winter is approaching. It gets light at about 8.00 and is dark by 5.45 in the evening, so less than 12 hours of daylight. However, the temperatures have still been mild enough to sit on the terrace in a T-shirt during the day. As dawn breaks, if it has been clear, a morning mist emerges, edging up the land from the river. Most mornings it clears up, but some days it lingers almost all day, making it feel cold.

We have been focussing on finishing the driveway. It sounds like a luxury but the downside of having an unfinished drive is that as soon as it rains the ground turns to muck and sludge and we tread it all into the house. Worse still, it sticks to all our shoes and if you don't remove it whilst wet, attempts to chip it off when dry usually end up removing the sole of the shoe as well. The other problem is that if we need to have anything delivered, without a solid driveway it can only be delivered to the edge of the land.

before

So last week Ian marked out the drive and we put down some geotextile. Monday morning a large lorry arrived full of yellow gravel, hence the yellow brick road. Yellow gravel is important because the white stuff disintegrates and gets sticky, whereas the yellow stuff packs down nicely.

We eventually needed 4 lorry loads as the drive is about 100 metres in total; and rather than the two days Ian had estimated it took more than a week to finally get it all down and spread out. This was mostly due to the fact that the lorry couldn't drive down there without getting stuck and so we had to have it delivered to the car park and then Ian had to transport it down to where it was needed in a dumper truck. The result was very pleasing and I now feel a little more ready to brave the winter knowing I might be able to keep at least one pair of shoes free from mud.
stuck lorry being towed out by tractor

After

The other job we have been doing is planting some fruit trees in the front garden. 24th November is the day they should be planted, so on Saturday we to a tree show in the Lot et Garonne, where we were spoilt for choice with varieties of apples, pears, apricots etc. In the end we bought 6 tress and 6 fruit bushes. Planting them required the digger and buckets of horse manure and lots of hard work, but we eventually managed.

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