Thursday, April 23, 2015

How to recycle a road

French Village Diaries recycling a road France village life
The digging begins
We have been living on a building site for the last few weeks. Our house is situated halfway down a road in the village and unfortunately for us is at the lowest part of that road. When it rains we often find the car splashing around in a small lake and during a downpour we sit patiently with rolled up towels wondering if this will be the time it begins to flow into the house. Watching the sewers turning into a bubbling fountain is not much fun either.


French Village Diaries recycling a road France village life
Adding drainage stones to the soak-away
It has taken many years of planning, surveying and clever use of the village budget, but finally the work to manage the rainwater flow has now been carried out. The square of grass between our house and the road was removed and a 100m3 soak-away has been dug out and filled with drainage stones. Pipes and drains have been dug into the sides of the road and curb gutters laid. The road surface was then removed to ensure it is now level, but with the correct camber to encourage the water to flow in the right direction.


French Village Diaries recycling a road France village life
The soak-away
It was fascinating to watch and I really couldn’t fault the work team. They put in long days where they barely took a break, except for their lunch, which was a real French lunch. The first thing on site was their caravan/staff room, complete with a rather large busted beauty hanging on the wall inside, and every lunchtime a generator was fired up and lunch was cooked on site. There was no loud music, no raised voices, it was all very civilised, just the clatter of cutlery and crockery and the chatter of happy colleagues.


French Village Diaries recycling a road France village life
Rainwater drainage system
The topsoil that has replaced the grass patch initially looked like it would make a superb overflow potager and I was about to suggest to the Maire I would happily fill it with courgettes (zucchini). However as it is only a very thin layer, I don't think the courgettes would have been very happy, but my second suggestion of a wild flower meadow seems to have been accepted, so fingers crossed. Whatever is decided by the council in the long term needs to be a low cost project that is also low maintenance, but looks better than the bare earth.


French Village Diaries recycling a road France village life
Ready to become a wildflower meadow

French Village Diaries recycling a road France village life
The road surface eating machine and red tipper lorry
The day the old road was eaten, we escaped out the back door with the dog and wandered out of the village for a few kilometres before heading up a white farm track. The peace and quiet of a warm spring day was shattered as around a bend in the track came a huge red tipper lorry that we recognised from the road works. A little further up we discovered carefully tipped piles of our road. With a bit of spreading out and tamping down the farm track will have a fresh new surface, cleverly recycled from our old road, all except the very small piece we took home as a souvenir. Waste not want not, as the saying goes, no matter how big the project.


French Village Diaries recycling a road France village life
The old road recycled

French Village Diaries recycling a road France village life
A fab bit of kit lays the new road surface


Peace and quiet has again replaced the hum and clank of machinery, the caravan has moved on to the next project and although it is great to be able to get the car back to the front door again I am kind of missing the daily buzz of activity that was going on outside.