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Week 3

This week we've been taking off the layers of soil from the forecourt and exposing the stone underneath: as promised last week. As we suspected the stone paving isn't really ideal as a useable surface but it would make a great underlayer for the gravel. What we discovered about the stone court was pretty much what we suspected last week, which is that it's laid out to catch water both from the cleaning out of feed stalls and rain generally, and to channel it down the hill. Unfortunately I doubt our neighbour would be too happy about us doing that now so we have to reduce the amount of flowing water, i.e. gutter downspouts into the mains drainage, and catch any accumulations with soil and plants at the bottom of the garden. The hole in the wall channelled water from one side of the forecourt and the central bit and sent it through a conduit down hill. There's a conduit running alongside the house which channels any other water and joins the other conduit at the bottom of the garden. All this stuff is going to be left and just covered over with gravel. Future archaeologists can marvel at the ingenuity of long dead French famers.

Job two was filling up the garden conduit with gravel/hardcore and covering it with a layer of soil. I'll plant water loving plants down there to soak up excess water.

Third job has been the continuation of knocking down the stone wall which divides the forecourt and front garden. This is now complete and the end will need to be rebuilt to make a nice finish. We've removed the cement capping on the wall and plonked turf on the top. It's a technique that's used on historic walls. It keeps the wall dry and looks great too. I don't know how it's going to take but i'll put some grass and camomile seeds in there to give it a start. The footprint of the wall and conduit which run alongside on the garden side has now been filled with gravel and covered with soil, so it's approximating a continuous garden.

We continued removing the soil layer from the forecourt where it meets the bread oven at the back of the house. We had to remove the stump of the tree. Felt a bit mean doing that but it'll get replaced at another location.

The final feed trough has been removed. This is in the doorway which divides the first room (on the street side) from the second. After a closer inspection it looks like a former owner knocked out a section of this wall to install the trough. Before that there would have been a continuous wall and no connection between the rooms. The stonework just below the trough is continuous and the 'A' frame above the doorway has slightly sagged with the removal of a wall support. We're going to put that wall back and open a doorway mid wall so that there's no stress on the structure.

We had to buy a Panneau de Chantier, which is a notice that's attached to the house to let the commune know what we're doing and that we've received planning pernission to do it. We didn't know what they were called and had a frustrating half an hour in a D.I.Y. shop attempting to describe it. Finally when the staff cottoned on, it turned out they didn't know what they were called either and they had to refer to the label below the sales rack.

We've begun the process of enclosing the front and back gardens. It's a temp job. We'll wait for feedback from the neighbours before we permanently set the fencing up.

Finally, we're constantly finding amazing stones in walls and floors. Here's a few examples of stones in the forecourt and some fossil stones that have come out of demolished stall foundations.