Emptying a compost bin

wallscraping‘So have you emptied the compost bin yet?’


‘Oh, did I forget to ask you to do that for us? We need access to the walls.

And that was the opening conversation with Bebère this week.  Our wonder builders have been repointing the house for weeks now.  They have clambered up steep scaffolding, blasted rotten mortar, slapped on the new stuff, scraped and cleaned and generally worked wonders.


And the poor things are often contorted into the most fascinating shapes trying to reach our stone walls.

I had this languid idea that they were doing to attack the south facade of the house over the next two weeks (while I’m away).

It is in sore need of repair.


You can see the house is in parts. To the far right is the 17th century, the central part is the 16th century; and I haven’t been able to get the left hand side into the shot. I have no idea which century it is; but ancient seems to about cover it; none of the walls are straight on the inside. It positively bows.

IMG_5250And someone in the past few hundred years did a shoddy job of plastering the gaps. More like applying a mud face pack to the façade of the house.



For the past few years I have done the gardener’s cheat trick of just letting the virginia creeper cover the bad bits. (Works wonders on the shutters too. They never need painting if you can’t see ’em.)

But now it’s time to get things sorted.

But Bebère threw my by announcing that they were going at the west side of the house first.

Ugh. This is the wall which has my huge (and very thorny) New Dawn rose all over it.  And in the corner my compost bins. And right in front of the roses is a bed of newly emerging narcissus, allium and tulip bulbs. All poised and ready to be accidentally trampled by a scaffolding tower and large work boots. Ugh indeed.


I like to think of this as the corner of shame. I fling all sorts of things here assuming they will never see the light of day. Broken bits of tomato stakes, dead pots, bits of wire I find in the compost. Hoses that have died but I can’t quite bring myself to send them to the tip.  (Fess up, you all have one of those areas in your gardens.)


And suddenly the huge bins were going to have to be shifted so the builders could reach the walls behind. And my shame would be exposed.

I shrieked with anxiety as Etienne threatened to just fling the year’s worth of garden weeds turning into rich compost out onto the lawn.

He knows how to get me moving.  So even though I was in my travel clothes and the clock was ticking, I raced over to the tarp pile and tried to calculate which bit of grass I wouldn’t mind killing for a few weeks. And also trying not to try poor Etienne’s patience. He didn’t want to have to travel far.

He drew the short straw and had to empty it as I really did a have a train to catch.


And what would have taken me half a day with numerous breaks for tea and grumbles about my sore back, he did in no time.

I now have a fabulous pile of compost ready to go on the vegetable beds. So good, I’ll post it twice.

Bebs then set to with a screwdriver to dismantle the contraption. While I made a mental note to repaint it and try harder next time.

And when I get back I will see the result.


Now I don’t want to alarm you all, but I might not see a certain someone when I return.

He is very poorly and it felt such a cruel act having to leave him.  Jean Daniel is nursing him, (minced steak and ministrations) but we shall have to see if he has used up that ninth life after so many years of scrapes and near misses.

I’ll keep you informed.