We left the Ile de Re on Sunday 19th June 2016 and headed over to Secondigny, a small town near Parthenay in the Deux-Sevres region of Poitou-Charentes. We were due to start our next Helpx assignment on the Monday so we stopped overnight in the village of L’absie on an aire which was free and provided free electric and free water! Result! We didn’t know it at the time but the only hotel in the village was having a Karaoke night! Now, I think all French chart music sounds like a eurovision entry so imagine all those songs being murdered in French and you will get the idea of how dire it was! We battened down the hatches and put the blinds up to try to block it out but it still crept through assaulting our little ears (well, my little ears……………….Tims aren’t so little!).
A leisurely Monday morning followed with a brew of fresh coffee before we drove the 10km to Sue and Ralphs near Secondigny.
We were welcomed by Sue and shown around their smallholding and given an idea of the type of jobs they could do with some help with. They have about 10 acres of land and run a small kennels and cattery. They also have two dogs, two cats, a horse, three donkeys and two Tamworth pigs:) You’ll meet some of those characters in later posts!
There are lots of jobs that need doing so we cracked on with clearing and cutting back the edge of one of the fields so that Ralph can put up a second fence to keep horses in.
Sue is offering a couple of fields to a friend who needs somewhere to keep her horses but the fields need a secure fence first.
Tim spent an enjoyable afternoon with Ralph cutting and clearing the vegetation back to the original fence whilst I took the mother of all lawnmowers down to the bottom field to trim back the pathways in and around the pond.
On Tuesday we set to work clearing more of the field. On Wednesday we helped finish off Sues polytunnel. A quick gander at a Youtube video on how to erect a polytunnel and we were off!
The framework was already in but we needed to put tape on all the outside edge of the frame first before the plastic sheeting went on.
The tape is there to prolong the life of the plastic and protect it from the heat when the metal framework gets roasting hot in the sun. Ralph had roped a couple of friends in to help get the plastic sheeting on. Fortunately Tim and I had just finished the taping up as they arrived.
Surprisingly, despite its size, the plastic went on pretty easily which then led to a prolonged discussion on how to get the front and back ends secured.
After much ‘chat’, chewing of the fat, reading instructions and leaning on poles we finally got all the ends secured and battened down.
A quick whizz round with that mother of all lawnmowers again to tidy up and Voila, job done!
Sue was delighted to be able to start getting all her tomato plants and seedlings in.
Wednesday saw us clearing the pond of the weeds and reeds.
The easiest way to do it was to just bite the bullet and get in there and pull it all out. No messing! No thinking about what was under my sandals and potentially nibbling at me.
I did have a fleeting thought about leeches which freaked me out a bit so I did do a leech check when I got out. There are tonnes of noisy frogs in the pond though but Sue assured me that they would get out of my way and I wouldn’t step on them! We cleared about two thirds of the weed and left the rest for the frogs to perch on. After we’d finished we spent twenty minutes watching the frogs that had all come out to bask in the sunshine.
I took a video clip of them as they are really noisy but I can’t upload it on to the blog.
Now that the poly tunnel is up and running we helped move and clean out a large water butt to use for watering the plants.
That evening Sue and Ralph took us to a village about 10km away that do English fish and chips and have a quiz night.
Safe to say Tim and I weren’t much help with the quiz as we are completely rubbish at that kind of thing!
We came last but we did win a Mars bar! It gave us an insight into the rock ‘n’ roll life these British expats live here in France!
Yesterday we finished off clearing the rest of the field ready for the fence posts to go in to make the field ready for the horses.
We’re really enjoying the physical work and we are working pretty well together too! Tim just agrees to do everything my way and we’re all happy! Simples!
A toute a l’heure 🙂