After my sister and brother-in-law returned to England, we had a week before our next visitors, Edward’s brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Deb, flying over from the midlands for a few days.  While we knew there wasn’t enough time to start any new jobs inside the house, we worked hard to get more done out in the garden, especially as the weather was dry….

Some ‘hard’ landscaping

As work has started on the roof, Kev and Dave have been saving the old slates for me.

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I’ve had in mind various uses for them, mainly as hard landscaping in and around the garden and have already made use of them for the boarder in front of the small barn.

It wasn’t long before I was smashing some more to fill an area I’d marked out at the top of the bank.  I’d originally planned to plant this out with various herbaceous plants, until I realised the cows could actually reach right over the top of the barbed wire and would eat them all!  So, I marked out an area with stones, covered it with matting and started the smashing process….

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The wooden bench, which has been in various locations around the house and garden since we moved here, is now in its final position, overlooking the field at the back and the view beyond…

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Having moved the wooden bench from behind the small barn, we’d replaced it with the larger garden furniture set, which is more comfortable for lounging and can seat more people.  However, Edward has to move it all each time he mows the lawn, so I thought some more smashed slates would come in handy here too!  The day before Tim and Deb arrived, I set to clearing the area of turf, laying more sheeting and yes, smashing more slates….

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Annoyingly, I ran out of sheeting to complete the task but it won’t take long to finish off as soon as I can get my hands on something suitable..

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So, there was just one morning left before we went to collect Tim and Deb from Dinard airport.  We were clean and tidy inside, then Kev and Dave arrived ready and prepared to cut off the cherry tree branches that were causing damage to the big barn’s roof….

This called for more photos, although have to say, I would rather not watch! Firstly, chainsaws terrify me and secondly, stupidly, I had just planted up the woodland area, just underneath where the branches needed to come down…..  Kev and Dave assured me they would miss all my plants…..

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So, with Kev up the ladder cutting the branch, Dave pulled on the rope that was tied around it, to prevent it from swinging back at Kev….  As soon as the branch started to go, Kev made a hasty retreat down the ladder and we watched as the branch landed… on my plants!

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Still, it was hard to be upset – it was such a relief to have it taken down, especially as the slates being knocked off the roof were a real hazard for anyone walking underneath.  Kev and Dave did a great job and cleared up all the branches that were taken down, even cutting up the good sized logs for us, what stars!

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And as for my plants?  A few broken fronds on some ferns but remarkably very little damage considering the size of the branches that were cut down – once we’ve cleared the debris, no-one would be any the wiser 🙂

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And so to Dinard

Our gardening ‘frenzy’ had come to an end – Edward had mown the lawns and spent 2 days strimming the courtyard to try to ‘de-weed’ it.  Hard landscaping had started and more headway made with planting out the woodland.  By the afternoon, we were making the two and a half hour drive to Dinard to collect Tim and Deb.

We’ve never been there before, but it was quite a treat.  Such a small airport, we weren’t sure we were in the right place to start with.  I imagine this was how many of the huge international airports perhaps started, it had a real ‘vintage’ feel about it.  We were able to watch their plane land and even spotted them alighting!!

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It was so exciting to see them again, must have been over a year ago that we last met up, so lots to talk about in car on the way home 🙂

Staying local

It was only a short stay, just a couple of days, but we managed to fit in a few local visits.  Jublains, the nearby Roman town is now a regular port of call and one we enjoy going to.  This time there seemed to be lots of school parties in the museum and around the Roman ruins – Edward entertained one group at the amphitheatre with a mock tap dance…

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He was rewarded with cheers and clapping from students and teacher!!

After a large lunch at our favourite restaurant in the village, we made our way over to St Suzanne and the medieval chateau.  The views were still to die for and we all enjoyed wandering around the castle grounds and through the little streets…

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The next day we walked around Sillé le Guillaume, one of our nearby towns…

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Before heading over to Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, taking in the lake and man-made beach on the way…

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After enjoying a coffee in the town, we headed back home, stopping at the brocante on the way.  It was lovely to see Silvie and Gils again and Gils very kindly took us around the back of the shop to see his vintage car.  It was very black and shiny and the boys seemed very excited about it 🙂

The Commune Fête

After being invited by M Ory, we bought tickets to the commune fête for all four of us, which we thought would be an interesting and a particularly ‘French’ experience for Tim and Deb’s last night with us.  We also thought it would be a good opportunity for us to meet more of the locals and perhaps meet again some of those M Ory has recently introduced us to….

Tim and Deb were game, even though we told them there would be very few, if any, English speakers.  ‘What happens at the fete?’, they asked.  Well, going on past experience of these things, we told them there would most likely be a roast of some sort – usually a hog, frites, starters, cheeses and a small desert, all eaten at long trestle tables outside/ under a marquee in a field.  Then there is usually a band playing traditional music, often on an accordion and the locals all dance in a very French, traditional style.  Great to watch!….The reality couldn’t have been more different!!!

We’d arranged to meet at M Ory’s at 7.15 pm and follow him down to the village.  Just as we were getting ready, the phone rang – it was M Ory – could we get to him for 7pm??  We rushed to get ourselves presentable and managed to arrive a little earlier to find more people had arrived at M Ory’s place!  As is now the custom, after introductions, we were herded inside where we were offered drinks and nibbles – politely refusing either is never an option!  We discovered Jean and Niz have recently moved to the area and live about a kilometre away from us.  Margot and Raoul were staying with Jean and Niz but live just outside Paris.  As predicted, no English was spoken, so Edward did some translating for Tim and Deb at one end of the table, while I did my best to get the gist of the conversation at the other!

Just before 8pm we headed off, in convoy, after M Ory, who, for some reason, drove like a bat out of hell down to the village (normally he crawls along at a snails pace!).  When mentioned, he said he didn’t want to arrive too late as the event started at 7.30pm…. Well, he needn’t have worried.  We were some of the first to arrive and we soon realised that instead of an event in a field, it was taking place in the Salle de Fêtes, the village hall.  Long tables were set out nicely for dinner and we made our way over to ours.  We made conversation with our neighbours and other people came over to say hello…. By about 9pm, someone brought us the starter – duck paté and bread.

It was a long time before anything else happened, other than announcements by the chief organiser, naming everyone on the committee – we gave a huge cheer when M Ory was mentioned!  Sadly, that was the highlight of the evening…. there was no hog roast.  Instead, we were served grated carrot and salad in mayonnaise at around 10pm…  Conversation at the table was difficult, especially as we were at the far end but we did our best to join in.  People were still arriving after 10pm and we had to wait for them to have their starters and next course before anything else was offered.  It must have been after 11pm before the cold meats were served… Still, at least the wine that was offered was good….

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It was a shame that it was not the fun evening we had been expecting and to cap it all, instead of traditional music and dancing, they started up the 80’s disco, which was advertised on our tickets but which we’d missed!!!  Several courses were still to come, but by midnight we’d had enough and as we were taking Tim and Deb back to the airport the next day, we said our good-byes and headed home.  We were grateful to Tim and Deb for their good humour but we were disappointed, to say the least, that all our predictions for the evening were so wrong!!

Homeward bound

We had the morning to relax and have a last photo call before driving back to Dinard…

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It was sad to say goodbye but we’d had a lovely time with them both and we hope they’ll come back again soon – we probably won’t be buying tickets for the village party next time! ♥

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