The Working Bee was AWESOME!
So, the first Working Bee is complete! Thanks to everyone who's helped and who's interested to see what we've done.
We arrived on Saturday morning with Alexia from London, and Corinne had travelled the night before so we met her at the airport. Magali's dad, Jean-Guy, came to pick us up and took us back to Magali's parents’ house. There, we loaded up the car with supplies and set off to Le Boulay. We went to the supermarket to pick up food and travelled back to the house where Medhi and Anthony had already arrived and had set to work. They cut weeds and tall grass around the property so we could access places more easily and so things looked a little tidier. We got them to stop for lunch and all enjoyed the sunshine before starting work.
We then decided that our main focus would be one of the buildings. It still had part of a roof but it had recently collapsed and it was full of weeds, rubbish and old tools. The first task was to remove the roof, Anthony and Medhi used their chainsaws to cut the supporting beams and push it down. It was then up to Corinne, Alexia, Magali and I to start clearing everything out while Anthony and Medhi continued clearing weeds and grass around the property.
Sunday started early, with the four of us continuing to clear up the building. By Lunchtime, Magali and Corinne left to go pick up Mark from Angers while Alexia and I did some more work awaiting the arrival of her family. Once everyone had arrived, we all took a trip to the Blue Mine, the local tourist attraction where you go 132m under the earth to the slate mines. I have to admit, I was terrified. I hate not being able to get to the surface (one reason I didn't continue with Scuba Diving when I tried it at 16). It was really interesting and great to see the history of the area. Had it not been for a particular piece of machinery that scared the bejesus out of me (I jumped very high and hid behind Magali), I would've really enjoyed it.
We then returned to the house where Magali's Uncle, Aunt and Godfather were visiting and inspecting our work so far. We all sat down around the table and enjoyed a nice apero with friends and family. The house was starting to feel like a home.
On Monday, we got ready and all jumped in the car as sadly it was already time for Alexia and Corinne to leave. Mark, Magali and I took them to Nantes, we then went to the supermarket to buy supplies for the rest of the week. By the time we got home, there was still plenty of time to carry on our work in the building.
Tuesday saw the arrival of Carole and Maxence who had come to visit Carole's parents for holidays and were kind enough to spend the day with us working on the garden. We weeded, cut trees, cleared out rubbish and old farming tools, as well as digging up some interesting things! Maxence and Mark also almost finished the complete destruction of the roof of the building. By the evening, Carole's mum (Francoise) and dad (Philippe) stopped by and even started helping us. Francoise had even brought the yummiest cake for us to indulge in after a hard day's work.
Magali and I got up early on Wednesday as Anna from Aquatiris was coming to look at the land to decide where we could put our plant filtration system. She was very lovely and helpful and we're looking forward to working with them on our project. Mark, Magali and I then continued another day of clearing out the building. Magali’s dad came in the evening and helped us cut down some dying trees which we then cleared away.
On Thursday, we decided that we would have a shorter day. We started in the morning on doing what we could to finish the building and in the afternoon left to go see Magali’s parents. Her Aunt and cousins were also at the house so it was very nice to see them all. Magali, Mark and I then left to visit Chateubriant, the town where Magali grew up. We walked around the old Chateau and visited the church. It’s a beautiful old town and lovely to visit. We then went to Le Bilig to have an amazing dinner of galette, the traditional food of Brittany. We took the short drive back to the house and settled in for the evening.
We got up early on Friday to go to the supermarket to buy some French treats to go home with. We also stopped in Bourg d'Ire so we could buy bread from our local boulangerie and check out our local store. We then returned to the house and started working on tidying up our massive wood pile to make way for more wood that Magali’s dad had started cutting. By lunchtime, we had to stop to take Mark to Angers as sadly it was time for him to leave us. We were really sad as Mark helped us so much and really wanted to stay as well. After saying farewell to Mark, Magali and I returned to the house to continue working on the wood pile and the last bits in the building.
Saturday was the only day that Magali and I were alone. We worked hard to finish clearing out the building and tried to cover the garden we had weeded to stop them growing back in our absence. We then went to visit friends in Renaze for a fun evening of chatting and catch up (mainly on Magali’s part as my French still lacks the speed required).
Sunday was unfortunately our last day. We had a quick breakfast and cleaned the house, hoping we could return as soon as possible to continue working.
Below highlights just how much we accomplished. Being able to put the before and after shots next to each other gives me such pride and cannot thank everyone who helped us enough.
The property before... And after...
The building before... And after...
The garden and stones before... And after...
The garden before... And after...
The pond before... And after...
We had so much help and we just want to thank everyone for all their support, from Magali's Mum providing all the air beds and bed clothes to Corinne coming all the way from Switzerland to lend a hand. We feel very loved and grateful to all of you. So Corinne, Alexia, Mark, Jean-Guy, Catherine, Maxence, Carole, Francoise, Philippe, Hubert, Medhi and Anthony, thank you all very much. Everything you did and gave is so appreciated, and we couldn't have done it without you.