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Moving 10 Tons of Gravel Using 3 Pails, 2 Shovels, 1 Dude and 1 Dudette

I’ve found another favorite place to go besides the dump! It’s the quarry.  This is where Dude and I went about a week ago to order gravel for our garden and drive way. It’s located about 20 minutes from us and has the most beautiful, red, marble rock.

I was completely fascinated the minute we drove into the quarry. They had all sorts of machinery and earth moving vehicles and it was all surrounded by red rocks and stones of all shapes and sizes and also giant mounds of red dirt. I was amazed that just anyone could wander around the area, no hard hat required.

Dude and I found some nice red and white marble rocks to put in the garden area. We aren’t going to be driving in that part of the garden so we wanted something a bit more “chic” than just the average gravel. When it came to the driveway we purchased something less expensive, but with a beautiful reddish tint to it.

The guy in the office set us up straight away for 10 tons to be delivered to our house on Wednesday. That day was also going to be known as “the day of pain”.

Wednesday came around and we were ready for the delivery. The truck showed up around noon but since it was too big to pass through our gate, the driver had to leave the 3 tons of the garden stones in large bags just inside our gate and the 7 tons of gravel he had to dump just outside our gate and onto the street.

Dude and I immediately got to work. We first laid down a barrier in the garden area to help keep the weeds from coming through the rock.

Then it was time to start “the day of pain”. We wanted to finish as much as possible and we only had 3 pails and 2 shovels and just the two of us to get the work done. We didn’t have a wheelbarrow. We went back and forth about buying one, but in the end we decided not to since it would only be used for this one day. We really didn’t want to waste the money on it.

We started with the garden rocks. I shoveled the rocks into the buckets and then handed them off to Dude to throw down in the garden.

We kept this assembly line going and after 3 hours we were finished with the garden! It turned out to be not as bad as we thought! The red color in the rock will show up quite nicely once the powder on them is washed away.

Then it was time for the gravel in the driveway. We proceeded with the same idea as with the stones only this time both Dude and I were filling the buckets and then throwing the gravel down. We began in the very back of the property and worked our way up to the gate. It looked at one point that we might not have ordered enough gravel, but in the end we had plenty. The goal was to not only cover the drive way but also make sure that the coverage was 3 inches thick.

Around 5pm, our neighbor on the left peeked his head over his balcony to see how things were going. He couldn’t believe how far we had gotten with a couple of pails and shovels! After our few minutes of discussion we went in for a break. We hadn’t realized that we had worked for 5 hours straight moving rocks and never stopped for a break or a snack.

At 6pm we were back out there and cracking the whip on ourselves to finish. And guess what??!! We actually did it! By 10pm we were done.  Just me and Dude with our 2 shovels and 3 pails and now we have 10 tons of gravel in our garden and drive way.

The house looks so much better now. I can’t believe what a little stone and gravel can do to spruce up the place and yippey for another job on the house done 🙂

Oh! We were able to get the rest of the delicious cherries off the tree, too. This time we didn’t even need to wait until they ripened up before we could enjoy them!

Still Diggin’ Trenches and Laying Pipe

Sunday and Monday was spent finishing the trenches. We needed to dig them a bit deeper so that when the pipe was in the ground and covered, it would be deep enough to go over with the car on a daily basis without risking the pipe cracking.

The trenching wouldn’t have been so bad except that our entire yard (and pretty much all of Provence) is entirely made of rock. We ran into rocks continuously and it really slowed our process. Both Dude and I couldn’t believe the size of rocks that were coming out of the ground. By the time we were done digging, we found enough rock to build a whole new house!

The good rocks were transported to the back of our lot and we now have a rock garden. We also found asphalt, dishes, roof tiles, a fossil and some bones. Man, the crazy stuff you find in your yard when you’re digging around!

Once the trench was to the depth that Dude thought was good, 25 centimeters on the down side by the gate, we put the pipe together and checked to see if it was level. We had to check, trench, check, trench and check and trench some more before we finally got the pipe to lie correctly so the water would flow properly. Then we wrapped the pipe is some weed barrier to stop the dirt from getting into the holes and only allow the water in.

Then we proceeded to start covering everything back up.

On Monday, Dude connected the pipes together at the entrance of the gate. Since we have two pipes running parallel the length of the drive way, we needed some way to connect them so that they would eventually hook up in one spot with the pipe the city would put in.

After spending some time on that, and a few runs to the material store, the connection was complete and we proceeded to cover the remaining pipe and start to level out the terrain.

Around 3pm, two men from the building department arrived at our house. I had gone to the building department last week to have someone come out to the house from the service technique so they could see the street leading to our house. I mentioned in my last post that one of our problems was that the water can’t exit our property. There was never any drainage put into the street by the city when they made the street and also, the street is now so old and bad that all the water runs into our property instead of away from it.

We showed all of our pictures to the city workers. The ones of the flooding and the ones of the work we had done. They were very nice and surprisingly said that someone would be out to survey the street and to evaluate what needs to be done for proper drainage and water runoff. They made no promises of when the work would be done, but at least we got the ball rolling with them (that’s what Dude said).

Once they left it was back to fixing the terrain so the water would flow properly (as much as possible) in the correct directions and down the drain pipes. Dude also cemented in the drive over drain box that we put in next to where the rain gutter ends.

Now it looks like we were ready for the 10 tons of gravel to arrive!

Diggin’ Ditches and Pickin’ Cherries

Today was the day we really got down to business digging the trenches in the yard.

First stop was to the local material store to pick up some drainage pipe. Benoit had to tough it out and help us along with getting the stuff home. Our poor car has been through the ringer since we moved to this house. He’s had to do more than Renault ever expected him to do.  As always he was a trooper and we made it home, materials and all and didn’t even get a ticket for illegal use of a car :). Good thing we only needed 4 tubes or we would have had to go back for another pickup.

Once home, Dude and I got to work digging the trenches. We are running two of them down the sides of the yard and they are going to tie into each other and then tie into the drainage pipe that the city comes to put in.

Who knew you could do so much with these three little tools.

Dude’s job was to use the pick to break up the top layer of the drive way, turn the dirt up and get the rocks out. Then my job was taking the trenching shovel and getting all the dirt out.

While Dude was busy doing his part of the job, I went to work picking the delicious cherries off of our tree. We have so many that there is no way I will be able to get them all. Lately the birds have been stopping by to feast so I figured that we should try to get our fair share before they’re gone. I ended up picking almost half of a bucket today and that was only off of 4 branches!

Then it was back to scooping dirt for me.

We were able to get all the trenching done today and tomorrow we just have to fine tune it and then level the driveway out. I’d say we were pretty successful. Let’s hope tomorrow our luck holds out.

Oh, and by the end of the day, Dude was done in.

Gettin’ Back to Work

Dude and I have been taking a bit of a break when it comes to the renovation of our house. We wanted to enjoy the spring weather, save a bit of money and plus, we were just plain sick of working on the house!

It’s been a nice couple of months and we would have taken a few more weeks off but this past weekend we were forced by nature to start up the work again.

Last weekend it decided to rain every evening in our village for four evenings straight. I’m not talking a few raindrops here and there, I’m talking a torrential downpour for about 45 minutes and then it would clear out like it never happened. Then the next morning we would wake to a beautiful blue sky and sunny day. Come 7pm though, look out, the storm would show up again. It was crazy! There would be thunder, lightning and we even had hail one evening!

After the third day of this, guess what??! Our brand new roof that we just had done in February started to leak around the roof window and the leak was running down to the far edge of the house and water was seeping through one of the bedroom walls! We called out the company who did the roof and they came out on Tuesday morning to assess the damage. They are suppose to come back sometime in June to fix the leak. Good thing we didn’t paint the top floor, yet!

Another big surprise was this.


Now, I didn’t buy a house with a pool, but voila, I now had one in my yard over the weekend. Dude and I took the photos to the Maire and they are sending someone out to the house because even though part of the problem is that our lot is flat with no proper drainage, the other problem we encountered is that even if we did have proper drainage, all the water would pool high at the front gate because the city never put in a brow ditch or drainage system in the street.

So, sometime next week the service technique of our town is going to show up so they can survey the street and put in a drainage system and fix the street since it is at a higher level than our terrain. This is also a contributing factor in the water pooling. In the meantime, Dude and I are digging some trenches in the yard to put in proper drainage. That’s a job! Confession time-he is doing most of the work, I am only the helper.

Tomorrow we are off to the store to go buy drainage pipe to lie in the trenches and at least start getting the drainage system in place before the service technique shows up. The Maire said we had to show that we were in the process of fixing the area within our property line before the city will do their part.

The other thing we did on Wednesday morning was to go and visit a rock query that is near our village. Once the drainage system is in place we are going to re-gravel the garden and entire entry way to our property. We found some red marble rock and ordered 3 tons of that for the garden area and then ordered some cheaper gravel for the entry way. In all we have 10 tons of gravel coming to our house next Wednesday!

So between trench digging, laying drainage pipe and re-graveling our terrain, it’s going to be a busy week.

This evening we met our new neighbor who bought the house to us on the right. She happened to drive up as we were trench digging and I wanted to let her know that a truck was coming next week to drop the 10 tons of gravel and it was going to block her gate for a day or two. It turns out she speaks English! Apparently she was married to an Englishman so she speaks it very well. Dude and I ended up chatting with her for about an hour. She just got the keys to her house yesterday and came by to drop stuff off. She gave us the tour of the house and guess what??!! She has a crumbling fixer-upper like us! Big surprise!!! We will both be crying on each other’s shoulders throughout all the work 🙂

She also happens to be an artist and showed us a few of her paintings. She has some gorgeous ones of the region with villages off in the distance and surrounded by lavender fields. Dude and I were very impressed.

After show and tell of her house, we showed and telled ours and guess what??!! She said she almost bought our house when it was for sale! Yup! Can you believe it!! Her kids told her it was too big for one person so she declined, but she did say that she had loved it when she first saw it. 🙂

Seeing that she got her own fixer upper (one half the size) with a large garden, she made out and she can see our garden from some of her windows so she seemed happy. We told her she could come and visit any time.

Dude was super happy cuz he kept thinking that some developer would buy that house and make a huge ugly group of apartments and then we would up and die. Seems that our lives have been spared and we now have a nice neighbor, which is always a plus.

Well, time to hit the hay. I have to get to some ditch digging manana!


Ile de Porquerolles – Le Jardin Emmanuel Lopez and La Plage

Taking our leave of the Gorge du Loup, we headed back towards the village. I was interested in seeing le Jardin Emmanuel Lopez. Entry is free and the gardens are open every day from 9:30am-12:30pm and then from 14:00pm-18:00pm.

The garden is enclosed and contains lovely trees and flowers. There are many benches along the trail on which to sit and have a rest. It would be a wonderful place to bring a book to read. While we were visiting, there was only a few other people so, like the gorge, we pretty much had the garden all to ourselves.

I pointed out the things I would love to have in my garden at home, like this beautiful iron trellis. I had visions of blooming Wisteria and grape vines overflowing at my house. Oh, how the mind starts dreaming of all the lovely things to have in a garden when you’re visiting someone else’s  garden!

I really wished the sun would have made another appearance so that I could have captured some of the colors of the flowers. I had no luck in that department. As a matter of fact, the overcast had gotten a bit thicker.

As we made our way around the trails of the garden, I noticed all the beautiful houses that bordered it on all sides. How nice for the owners to have this place as their backyard.

After visiting the garden, it was time to head for the beach. This would be our last stop of the day on the island before catching the ferry back to the mainland.

By the time we arrive, the clouds had really rolled in so the color of the water, though still a beautiful blue, was not as captivating as it had been earlier that day. There were a few boats anchored in the harbor and the beach was scarce of people. Nearly everyone was gone so once again we were able to have part of the island all to ourselves.

The island has a real, sandy beach that stretched for miles. I say ‘real’ since I don’t consider rocky beaches to be a ‘real beach’. I’m not a fan of rocky beaches. I want to feel the soft, warm sand between my toes as I stroll along. I don’t want to be in pain and watching my every step as I hobble along next to the water!

I made a mental note to come back next time just to stroll along this beach and to see where it would take me. As far as I could see, it rounded a bend. Hmm, what was on the other side? Another adventure I presumed and something to look forward to.

The water was calm, but surprisingly cold for this time of year. They day had been warm so I assumed the water would have been warmer than what it was.

There was one enormous yacht anchored not far from where we were.

We decided to have some fun with picture taking.

Believe it or not, this is harder than it looks and I didn’t get the photo exactly perfect like I had wanted, but it turned out okay. I was my first attempt at trying something I had seen others do with the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, etc. I must try and perfect this technique as it is fun to do and when done right, the pictures end up coming out terrifically.

It was finally time to head back to the ferry. On our way, we spotted a restaurant whose many, different, colored tables lined the edge of the water. Now that would be a nice place to have lunch!

My list of things to do on my next visit was growing ever larger. I had now planned to do a biking tour, visit the other forts on the island, take a stroll along the beach to see what was around the bend and dine at a restaurant near the water’s edge.

Yup, I’d say all of those were the best reasons to come back for a visit.

If you’ve been to the Ile de Porquerolles, I’d love to hear what you found interesting to do. There is always room on my list to add a few more things 🙂


Views From The Remnants of Le Chateau de Giens

In the VAR department of Provence there is a little village called Giens or Presqu’ile de Giens. At one time a chateau stood atop the village, but barely anything is left now. The villagers have turned the area into a beautiful little garden and what still remains offers the most spectacular views.

To one side are the Mediterranean and the iles-de-Porquerolles.

Directly on the other side are an inlet, where kite surfing and parasailing reign supreme, and a view of the surrounding hills of Provence.

The little garden is quaint and lovely, and this time of year the flowers are all in bloom.

It is neatly manicured and also houses an artist’ shop. The artist happened to be holding an exposition on this day. His does beautiful artwork, by the way. If his shop is open, feel free to browse. He allows pictures to be taken, as well.

Just above his art work that was hanging on the stone wall, you will find a plaque giving details of what transpired during history to this chateau.

To see the views you must access some steps to a balcony (which I assume was probably the ground floor of the chateau). On a clear day, the views are exceptional and this day happened to be fairly good weather wise. From this point you can also see the entire garden.

It such a peaceful place and I always enjoy seeing people out and about appreciating the beauty that these little villages have to offer. I also appreciate it when these little villages value their history enough to keep it alive for others to share and enjoy.

Flowers Have Appeared

Last Wednesday I post a picture of the tree in my garden that had just started to show little buds. It looked like this.

Well, now my little tree has flowers on it! I can’t believe how many buds have opened up into lovely little pink flowers and today, just one week later, it looks like this.

The birds have started to come back and sit on the branches and sing their lovely songs. It reminds me of the scene in Mary Poppins (my favorite Disney movie with real people) when Ms. Poppins opens the window in the nursery of Jane and Michael and the little bird jumps on her finger so they can sing together. I don’t think my little birds will go for that so I won’t even try. They’d automatically fly away if I started singing to them! Believe me no one wants to hear that awful sound. So, I’m content to just watch them chatter and sing to each other.

The cats have come lurking back, as well. If only I could keep them from climbing the trees and trying to eat my little bird friends! I have a good view of them while they are prowling about so I can give them an evil eye before they pounce.

The bees and wasps have also made their way back to my garden. I am okay with bees since they make honey and all (as long as they stay on the flowers), but I absolutely hate wasps and we’ve had a few in our house.

I’ve been known to run and scream, call for Dude, and then when he comes to save me I hide behind him. Yes, I am a self-proclaimed chicken when it comes to these bugs. This spring we are getting screens so I can actually open the windows and enjoy the fresh air without those pesky creatures coming in.  Screens seem to be a novel idea in France and I have no idea why. I guess the French don’t mind flying insects as much as I do.

We are able to actually move back into our living room since the temperature has gone up. I’m totally thrilled since it is my favorite room in the house and it’s been closed off for 3 months now. This is the room that gives me the wonderful view of my entire garden and gorgeous trees.

Ahh-happy is the heart during springtime in Provence.

Starting to Bloom

Today was the first day I saw little buds on one my garden trees! I was so excited that I just had to snap a couple of shots. It’s not much, but it was enough to really get me all smiley about the fact that spring is coming!

I love spring. Out of the four seasons, it is my absolute favorite one. The days become longer, the temperature is perfect (most of the time), windows are open, and all the world comes alive with blooming flowers and the leaves back on the naked trees!

The air seems fresher and people just generally seem to be in a better mood.

When we first saw our house, it was on 4 April 2011 and the garden trees were already in full bloom. I hope this year it will be the same. If so, the month of March will be a rapid change to my garden that I adore so much. I simply can’t wait.

Spring is also the time to get out and explore. I plan on doing just that since I am so found of hiking and sight-seeing.

I have such a happy heart today all because I saw my little buds. Oh spring, how I love thee 🙂


Musical Branches

A few weekends back Dude and I cleaned up the garden. In doing so we kind of created a big mess that we had to leave for the trash men. Most of that trash we were able to put into trash bags and set out on the curb, but some of it was a bunch of leaves and branches from when Dude gave our fir trees their haircuts. Those we tied up into bundles and left them on the side of the yard.

That night we set one of the bundles out as an experiment to see if the trash man would pick it up. To our surprise, the next morning we checked and guess what?? The trash man actually picked it up! This was great news for us cuz we had 4 more large bundles to put out there.

So the next night we set the rest of the bundles out there with the trash. Guess what?? The trash man didn’t bother with picking them up so we still had 4 bundles sitting out front. Now the best part is that our house sits back from the main road so we actually put them in front of our neighbor’s house. Boy were we surprised when we left for an outing the next day and those huge bundles were still sitting there. I felt so bad cuz I can just imagine our neighbors leaving the next morning going “What the heck is all this crap at my front door?” It happened to be a Saturday morning, too, when everyone and their mother came to town due to the open market. I told Dude that he had better bring them in cuz the next day was Sunday and the trash man for sure wouldn’t be picking them up.

Well, Dude forgot. So the next day when leaving the house what did we see?? Those 4 bundles sitting in front of our neighbor’s house! Boy was I embarrassed!

Dude said he was just going to leave them there cuz the next day was trash pick-up and the trash men would collect them this time. Do you know what?? They didn’t.

Now we were running a record for leaving trash in front of our neighbor’s house. The bundles were pretty noticeable, too!  That night Dude and I looked around the neighborhood to see where the trash cans were to put your garden trash. There had to be something. We weren’t the only ones who had a garden. In fact, there are other people in town who have even bigger yards than us. What the heck do they do with their stuff??

So we were destined to leave it out there again in hopes that the trash man would “have room” in his truck this time.

Tuesday morning rolled around and you got it, the big 4 bundles were still there! I can’t believe that these guys would just leave it lying around especially after they took the first bundle! I also can’t believe we didn’t get a nasty letter from our neighbors! They just let that stuff stay there like it was a Christmas decoration or something.

Dude had the bright idea that maybe Thursday was the day that the trash man picked up garden trash since it was a Thursday that they happened to pick up our one bundle. So he said, “Let’s just leave it out there for the Thursday pick-up. That should do it.”

Well I guess our neighbors would have to live with their side walk decoration for a couple of more days.

Well today, Friday morning, that dang stuff was still littering the streets! Those dumb trash men just can’t get their act together. I’m surprised that all the birds in town hadn’t made nest out of it! So tonight Dude said to me, “Come on. There is a large city trash can on the other side of town. We’re gonna go put it in there.” So there we were, Dude walking down the street with two large bundles and I with a sack of recycle stuff.

The trash cans happen to be by some apartments and Dude didn’t want anyone to see us so he decides to walk around the back of the building. The problem is that there is a small path back there and on one side there is a metal fence and on the other there is a stairwell. Dude, in his “let’s be real quiet like” mode, gets himself hooked up between the fence and the stairwell and he is making all kinds of racket. He’s pretty much playing music all down the side of the fence with those bundles of branches. I, meanwhile, start busting up. I simply couldn’t contain myself and I just starting giggling which in turn, becomes full on laughing. It’s really late and here we are trying to be quiet and not draw attention to ourselves and Dude is playing music with two large tree bundles and I am cracking up and trying not to drop my bag of recycled material (which would only create more noise).

We finally made it to the trash cans and got rid of two of our bundles. Back we went to retrieve our last two bundles and back we went through the small path behind the apartments. This time it was me that decided to play music on the fence! Good grief, no one hire us to be thieves cuz it just won’t happen!

Then right at the edge of the apartment complex, just before we could make the mad dash to the trash cans, there were all these people coming around the corner in the parking lot. Dude just drops the stuff in the bushes and takes off! I’m like, “What the heck! What are we doing?” Dude’s all, “People are coming! Leave it here and I will go back for it!”

There I go again, cracking up. We are such goof offs that it is ridiculous. Happy to say, all worked out and all the bundles are now in a trash can ready to be picked-up. Thank goodness! I can’t believe what we had to go through just to get rid of some branches. I will remember this for next time.

Then going back to our house guess who we saw?? Our neighbors coming out of their front door. We just walked on by and pretended not to notice that their Christmas decoration wasn’t there anymore. I think it worked!



Love Thy Neighbor

When you enter our property through the front gate, the first thing you see is the garden to the right. In order to get to the front door of the main house one needs to pass by the garden, the apartment, the garage door and then the main front door is after that on the right. It is located all the way at the back of the property next to the stone wall that surrounds us.

Now be patient, there is a reason for all this description. You need to be able to visualize the situation here.

When one stands by the front door, looking at the stone wall, the door is on the right, the shed is on the left and we have neighbors who have a balcony just over the stone wall. It is elevated to about our second story level and they are able to see into our yard (we are going to be taking care of that one as soon as we can).

Anyway, these guys are out on their balcony for breakfast, lunch and dinner and all the snacks in between. They are seriously eating all the dang time! One constantly hears their conversations and the clanging of dishes. I’m not even sure they work.

I don’t have a real problem with them enjoying their little balcony. Heck, it’s super nice outside at the moment and we are surrounded by such lovely trees. What I do mind, however, is that every morning after they finish breakfast they throw their leftover food (bread, cheese, pieces of sandwiches) onto the roof of our shed and in our yard by the front door! Yes, you read right! Can you believe it?!  What a bunch of inconsiderate jerks!!

Now, I understand that in the past (for a long time) no one lived here and they wanted to feed their cats or the birds or whatever, but now they know that we have moved in and they have continued on with the tradition. It’s driving me absolutely batty especially since it was just a little while ago that Dude and I worked for a couple of days to make our garden nice. They saw us out there working, too.

I don’t want to cause any issues with these guys, but what they’re doing is just plain rude! I can’t believe anyone would throw crap in their neighbor’s yard! They can just leave that crap on their own balcony for the cats and birds, dang it.

I’m not even sure if it’s the adults or the kids or grandkids or what, but I wish I had a camera to catch them in the act so I could confront them. The thing is, when I look out my kitchen window every day I see the roof of the shed and all this food on it and then I walk out my front door and there’s food right in front of me and on the ground.

Good grief this really pisses me off! One of these days I am gonna get so mad that I’ll pick up some of their left over crap laying in my yard and I’m gonna chuck it right back up onto their balcony. I’m just waiting for the right moment and “bam” there it goes. I guess I’m just waiting to catch them in the act first so I know exactly who it is.

It would be different if it were a few crumbs and the birds ate it right away, but it’s not and they don’t. If Dude didn’t go around and pick it up all the time, that stuff would stay there for days! That’s so gross and it causes flies to come around and everything.

Can you guys tell that I’m totally pissed off about this? What would you do in my shoes? Like I said, we just moved in and I have to live next to these people for a long time. I don’t want to create any issues and then we have an ongoing feud forever and then I find whole meals and throw up in my yard.

I also don’t want to deal with this day after day after day. I have a feeling that this is just going to be a continuous thing and it needs to stop. If anyone has any suggestions on how to get them to stop and to keep the peace, as well, I’m all for it.

I plan on paving the area between the shed and the front door and putting a little fountain and a nice table and chairs there by next spring. I don’t want it to be all dirty with my neighbor’s food!

Ahhh! I’m really frustrated….

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