During the week i’d asked dad if when he returns from Scotland he could clear some space in the shed so that we could empty the greenhouse of non greenhouse items. Well, as you may know dad loves a project and as the sun was shining he began the massive task. Well it should be a massive task however for now he just shoved everything in his workshop so it cleared the space.
Whilst he was busy pottering, hoovering spiders and moving boxes, I decided to lay the slabs properly that we had placed on the grass earlier in Autumn to stop Suzy churning all the mud. It was bright sunshine and quite warm so I got to work. A while later, the slabs are set down in the grass and it looks much better.
It will look more settled once the lawn is mowed better around them.
Part B of this plan was to place pots all along the edge of the patio to stop Suzy doing a mad dash along the same route down the garden to try and give the grass a bit of time to recuperate. Here’s hopeing it works.
Sunday’s plan changed last minute. But so as not to miss out on a day I decided to plant up the begonias and Lilly bulbs that Rich bought me for Valentine’s Day.
The greenhouse is a hive of activity at the moment. Even Rich has green fingers and is nursing some seeds of his own. We have shelves of mini propagators and various pots. Sweet peas are sprouting in toilet rolls, cherry tomatoes and aubergines are springing into life and even the cosmos are started to poke through the soil.
Each morning and night we take a trip to the greenhouse to open and close the vents and we are amazed at how these little seeds are coming into life. The cucumber plants on the kitchen window sill are doing exceptional well being that bit warmer.
Gardening is my favourite form of therapy especially at this time of year. Even today In the strong gusty wind it was warm and relaxing.
Spring is waking up all around us.
Rich had purchased a Venus fly trip when we went to the gardeners world show last year. He is over the moon that not only does it go from strength to strength but it has two flower stems which today sees the buds starting to open
During the afternoon the rain set in and the wind increased. So the best thing to do is relax, cook and enjoy a roast dinner with home made Yorkshire’s which we are pleased to say were all nice and even in our second new oven ( don’t ask, long story😂)
A while back we discovered that our raised bed at the end of the garden had wrotten through. We looked at many ways to rebuild it, slabs, brick raised blocks but in the end we decided to replace the sleepers with new sleepers.
Partly due it being less complicated and partly it being less work as we are all struggling with aches and pains so it seems the easiest solution.
Once I told dad he was like a man on a mission. The sleepers were researched and ordered online and delivered Thursday morning. A very kind neighbour helped lift them through to the garden as they are very heavy.
That afternoon we cracked on. Well actually the old sleepers cracked as easy as anything. So they were out in no time at all.
Now I thought it would be quite straight forward. Oh how wrong 😂The old sleepers had been leaning forward for a few years so the Earth was not far behind. This meant that we had to scrap quite a layer away to realign the new sleepers into an upright position.
We battled away and finally got one sleeper in position. Boy they are heavy. After this we called it a night as tummy’s have started to rumble and quite frankly we were pooped.
Friday morning greeted us with a hard frost but bright blue skies. We wrapped ourselves up and got to work. The second sleeper was to be a little more trying. However after a lesson in how to use a power saw we had the next lined up and spotted into position. A metal post was also cut up and hammered into place behind the sleepers and screwed into place to hold them steady.
Next was to be shown how to work out how to cut an angle. Oh and a new blade on the saw made easier going. I’m sure dad was wishing he had a boy at this point but he didn’t lose his temper so I must have been a good student.
After some fixings and tidying oh and not forgetting using the power saw again to cut up the old sleepers it was time to call it a day. Bones aching but lots of lessons learnt. It’s looking good already. We have another stage to go and the new sleepers need to be painted but with bad weather due over the weekend that can wait till next time.
Sadly was the day we have to return home. We have really enjoyed our stay in France and have been so fortunate with the weather. I stood for a while watching the fast flowing river race over the weir and it was mild enough not to need a jumper.
It was decided that we would not take the toll roads on the first part of our journey home. We wanted to see some of the villages rather than just motorway. It didn’t disappoint. Oh and a rather delicious patisserie to stock up on route.
Our lunch stop was a pretty little picnic area about 2.5 hours into our journey where enjoyed a fresh baguette from the baguette machine in Sacé this morning. ( that was a funny experience. You put €1.10 in and out pops the baguette)
Desert was Rum Baba for Rich, a traditional French cake with a small pip-pet sticking in it. Of which when he squeezed it, it soaked the cake in rum. Mine was an almond Galette. Now I though it odd that it came with a paper golden crown. But I now know it is also referred to as a king cake and traditionally eaten on the first day of Epiphany. Fortunately I had cut a piece with the surprise in as I can’t imagine hitting into it. A trip to the dentist May have been required. It has a small china object inside which resembles a cat.
If I’m right in thinking whoever was to have that piece would then wear the crown.
Time to head of for the next leg of our journey. Here we used a few toll roads to catch up some time but all the roads today were so empty. This saved us an hour so it only took us another 3 hours to reach the eurotunnel.
Once we arrived we brewed up a quick cup of tea before being loaded on to the train then enjoyed the tea with some yummy French biscuits.
A while back my wonderful, thoughtful husband surprised me by booking us a day out. It was to be no ordinary day out! Rich didn’t mind a little gardening but this was to be a whole day of gardening with 50 other like minded folk. I was over the moon to receive this gift and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
So with our tickets booked and our accommodation found we spent a few days nearby to this stunning Chateau. In fact we were only 10 minutes away. We didn’t tell you but the previous day we swung by to have a sneak peek and it stoked our excitement even more. How can anyone not fall in love with Chateau De La Motte Husson. Home for the last five years to Dick Strawbridge, Angel Adoree, Arthur and Dorothy.
As we pulled up the drive we had huge smiles. To the left the gorgeous orangery, to our right some very chatty geese and ahead of us the 45 meter high towering Chateau. Completed in 1874 this Neo- renaissance chateau is located in the Loire valley and was previously owned by the Baglion de la Dufferie family, and purchased by Dick and Angel In 2015. They have managed to renovate a huge majority of the Chateau which can be seen on ITV’s Escape to the Chateau.
Now it may seem odd paying to go and work in someone else’s garden for the day but this was no ordinary day.
We were greeted as soon as we arrived by a team of 10 full time staff that now work for Dick and Angel.
Walking into this gorgeous Chateau we were greeted by Dick and Angel and invited to enjoy cups of tea out of vintage fine china and the freshest French pastries. There was no rushing so we spent some time taking in the dining room and lounge area. You really need days here to be able to take everything in.
Whilst we explored we could here a familiar booming young voice. It was Arthur and we had the great honour of being shown his toy room with his sister Dorothy. That is the room for the best games and fantasy play. There was helter skelter, huge empty boxes made in to a fort and so many toys. Not a pc insight. How refreshing. This two children are so polite and fun to be with.
It was Arthur’s 7th birthday this week and he showed great delight in showing us his new tool kit which he assured us was real.
Nearly time for our briefing on how the day was to go but not until we had our photo taken with a warm welcoming Angel.
The briefing took place in front of the Chateau on the newly laid patio. It was a fun briefing and we were split into teams to head to the walled garden.
Our job was to work in the quirky greenhouse and plant some seeds. We started with the sweet peas of which their was hundreds of seeds. This was a great place to work as the sun was shining and being behind glass was lovely and warm.
Time fly by and after potting up and labelling many seeds and having a short break with tea and more French pastries in the boot room it was time for lunch in the Orangery.
This is a room that Angel didn’t want to do to much to when the moved in as it has lots of its own charm. Plants are planted around the walls in raised beds and hundreds of fairy lights and decorations hang from the ceiling.
The long dining tables were decorated beautifully with floral display and fine china dinner plates. Also on the tables was a selection of French breads, homemade flavoured butters and smoked mackerel pate. Cider was served in cups and saucers.
The next course to arrive was home made beet soup which again was served in vintage tea cups. It was delicious, warming a little spicy and so full of fresh flavours.
Thinking that the main course was to be next we were treated to baked local Camembert with toasted pine nuts and sun flower seeds. All of the ingredients used in the meal are from local farms and suppliers. You could taste the difference.
Next to arrive was platters full of roast duck drizzled in sweet plum sauce, buttered French Charlotte potatoes and a selection of vegetables.
Feeling very full it was time to continue our work in the garden. Well we say work, it’s time spent with some very lovely people from all over the world in the sunniest walled garden, full of soft fruit trees, and new beds. Thoughtout the day more beds were constructed and dug over, ivy chopped down that has been climbing over the huge walls. Our next task was to plant up tiger nuts and then plant out the first batch of peas. the garden received a huge transformation. Dick was regularly popping round to check everyone was ok and that everything was running to task.
The day was coming to its close but before it did we changed out of our muddy boots and enjoyed a tour of the chateau with the delightful Angel. She really is the loveliest warmest lady and takes time for everyone. She showed us in so many of the rooms we had seen on escape to the chateau and recognised many of the projects they have been working on. Some things look so different when they are close up. Take the lift. It looks quite big on the tv but really you can only just about squeeze two slim people in. It really does remind you of the lift in Charlie and The Chocolate factory and sounds just like you have something stuck in the hose of the vacuum cleaner when it moves up and down the pepper pot turret.
You could spend many hours looking at all the history in the rooms. The photos don’t do them justice but the attention to detail is exquisite.
After our tour it was time to unwind and relax some more and enjoy our well earned dessert.
Vintage cake stands were full of pretty little light desserts. We were encouraged to keep eating cake! Who’s going to say no to that??
Then as it was Arthur’s and his Grandads birthday this week we all joined in and sang them happy birthday with a very large chocolate cake covered in bright orange icing and cartoon characters. This made Arthur’s day.
After chatting at some length with Angels dad it was time to leave.
We have had the best day. Totally spoilt by the most attentive hosts that have an amazing eye for detail.
Thank you also Rich for the best day out. Love you lots. 🥰🥰