Not another damn wall

I know, I know. Didn’t I pledge that my wall building days were behind me? And possibly beyond me?

I curse the urge to have a tidy.

I am back to my morning routine of a fast trot around the mountain straight after breakfast. One hour and I’m done.

The walk takes me down to the letterbox, up the road, round the back of the mountain on a fire trail. And then back through the forest on the path that links our farm to our neighbours at La Chareyre. I often pick up sticks for kindling and chipping on the way.

And the last, very last, part of the walk takes me up this difficult stony path and out onto what we call the parking area. It’s the eastern most part of our farm from the forest.

An extension of the Dry Garden area on that contour line.

I don’t have any decent shots of the area as I never really ‘garden’ up here. I just mow.

It is a large expanse of rough grass at the bend in the road where EDF trucks come to die. Or this week, where a delivery van got stuck on the steep curve trying to exit the farm. (He wasn’t even delivering to us. He got lost.). And people use it as a turning circle.

We only use it for parking when we have too many vehicles. And when we want to thwart the hunters who will insist on parking here and then chasing wild boar in the forest on the track.

But because I am popping out of this forest path onto the home stretch I have been noticing things.

Like what a mess it is up here.

Some fine oak trees yes. But brambles and self seeded prunelier, and little box tree seedlings and boulders are sprouting where they should not be.

The flat bits are fine. I can mow them. But it’s the slopes in between the stone walls that irk.

I have been putting it on the ‘please strim this area’ list since autumn.

And we only just got round to cutting the brambles with loppers because they had grown too thick for the strimmer. Plus all the self seeded broom plants.

And while David was wielding the loppers, I just knelt down to dig out a few brambles under the little oak tree. And lobbing rocks behind me as I worked.

And lobbing, and clearing and ….

I had a bloody pile of them.

Too late I realised that these must be the rocks that we had shoved here way back when we installed a drain and levelled the surface years ago.

(Cue a delve back into 2018 when Bebs got hold of a mini digger and even let me have a play.)

There’s the pile. Six years of lurking. Waiting for me to get around to doing something.

And this week seemed to be the moment when I finally got round to it.


Step one, assemble the ingredients for the wall. In size order. On a tarpaulin so you are forced to work fast so as not to kill the grass underneath.

Step two, recover. Change clothes.

Step three, pace it out, mark it up and rake all the excess soil out of the way.

I try my best not to lard this blog with exclamation marks…. but bloody hell, it’s nine metres long!

I dug out the stones and rocks back to what looks like an original terrace well. And decided to make that my starting point.

And yes I am ignoring the fallen stone wall just a few metres further up the terrace. I’m not an idiot.

And here is where I got to when storms stopped play.

I’ve done the first row of the heavy boulders (rolled into place and yes, I can feel all my core muscles in my tummy protesting).

And I need to go back to sort out the second row. Which I realise I have placed the wrong way.

I walked back to the wall that Agnes and I built last year. Yep. The second row needs to be vertical, not horizontal. Grrrr.

But luckily the storm was brewing and I couldn’t continue as I had forgotten to secure all the shutters in the guest house.

A truly biblical one is coming our way. Two days of gale force winds. Rain and snow.

With luck I can get back to the wall again, once the snow clears and we don’t have to spend our time removing fallen trees.

And then I can take a snazzy picture of the finished product. … except you might find that I can’t resist the urge to clear the weeds from the terrace above.

And maybe consider planting….

Because, yes. I am an idiot.