The Garden is tidied

A few months ago Whale received a letter from  the French  government stating that as he is handicapped he would receive 200 euros worth of  ‘cheques emploi  services’  to employ additional help.

This sounded like wonderful news  but when they arrived they bore no ressemblance to the normal  ‘cheques emploi service’ which are used to pay legally for any work done by someone not employed by a business.

After asking one or two French people if they could make sense of the directions on how to to use them I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t being totally thick and, maybe, the government wanted to put people off using their gift. Which, naturally, made me even more determined to find out how the system worked. 

So I asked at the Mairie  and a very friendly member of the council came round and studied the instructions. She scratched her head, read through the notes again and then decided to phone  for assistance.

After a long conversation she told me that my ’employee’ must sign up with cheques emploi service and  then the ‘borderaux’ (slips which enable you to cash the cheques) woud be sent directly to him or her.

After asking around I found Thierry, who was willing to do 20 hours of gardening in return for this strange method of payment -but he didn’t know what to do either.

He said his aunt had used them so he took all the papers with him last weekend to ask her. It seemed you had to do it online, she said and she wrote down a list of instructions which he brought with him on Tuesday.

Going online resulted in me signing up to fill in the monthly forms by internet – something I’ve resisted doing up till now  but will have to get to grips with it  at last.

When it came to Thierry’s part it clearly stated that he culdn’t sign in without a valid email address. Thierry doesn’t even have a computer so we were back t square one.

“I’ll send the form by post” he finally decided.

I hope we do get this sorted because he’s already done a good few hours and here are the results so far:                                                                          


The vegetable patch has been dug over and sown with mustard seed. Apparently if you dig in the mustard before the Spring it will fertilise the soil and help prevent the weeds from growing. The ‘bush’  in the far corner is horseradish and you may just be able to make out one lone sweetcorn just in front of it. I used two packets of seeds and  of the 3 (yes THREE)  that germinated this is the only one that has survived. I’m thinking of preservng it somehow!

The hedges that our friend planted last year had been sadly neglected but Thierry cleared away the grass and weeds and put cocoa  hedge3shells down to keep it tidy, and hopefully weedfree.

These cocoa shells smell strongly of chocolate and CC and I used them in the bed by the garden shed where the weeds come through from next door.


Yummy, they made our mouths water but there was no chocolate in the house to eat.



There’s a buddleia and two other shrubs planted in the earth and we’ve part buried some boxes to grow herbs . The plastic sheets are meant to stop some of the weeds from invading and the hosepipe takes well-water up to the vegetable garden.

In addition Thierry has weeded the borders by the path and planted some pansies to fill the gaps where the perennials have died.

There isn’t much colour left but here is the last rose of Summer, looking a bit of a sorry sight.

last rose

Next stage is to tackle the front of the house.

9 Responses to “The Garden is tidied”

  1. Sara Hopkins Says:

    Exciting to be getting this all done, even if the bureaucracy is not making it any easier! Sounds like it will be worth the struggle however. I’ve never even thought of growing horseradish but I love it!
    We like horseradish too, Sara, but have only dug up a bit of root twice in four years!

  2. tillylil Says:

    What a lovley garden and a great scheme to get it done.
    Hopefully Tierry will get his government money other wise you will be out of pocket.
    Pete Funnell obviously didn’t return for his ‘gardening’ holiday this year.
    You’re right, Tracey, it won’t be easy if we have to find 200 euros to pay him from our account! No, Pete didn’t come back this year as he and Penny are pretty busy – but they have an open invitation to come with or without the gardening equipment!

  3. Keith Says:

    Certainly looks nice. My garden is a bit of a mess at the moment because I have been harvesting the runner beans, peas, beetroot and potatoes so everwhere is just untidy. The carrots aren’t ready yet, but they should be by next weekend then I can get the veggie plot dug over ready for the Spring! I hope.

    Well, at least your garden is productive, Keith. Ours was a complete disaster this year.

  4. Z Says:

    Thierry could always get a free email address, such as with googlemail, if he really must have one. You could check it with him when you fill in the monthly form.

    I mostly ignore weeds in my garden and say that they are good for wildlife.

    I think Thierry would rather avoid computers at all costs and it should be possible to do it by snailmail. I’ve ignored the weeds in the garden for most of the year, Z, which is why I needed help!

  5. Pat Says:

    I think the government must save thousands of euros simply by making it virtually impossible to complete the requirements. Crafty devils!
    Sadly I think it’s rather typical, Pat.

  6. Little old me Says:

    Looking good.

    A lot of things now require an email address, I have just applied for a job and had to give my email, but up to now all contact as been done by post and phone!

  7. zuleme Says:

    The cocoa shell mulch is poisonous to dogs, who I guess are attracted to the smell and can be tempted to eat it. I don’t think cats have that problem. But if you have visiting dogs you might want to watch them. I think the smell goes away in a bit. I did use it once but no more.

    Thanks for the warning, Zuleme. Fortunately we’re not likely to have dogs in the garden and the cats haven’t been tempted to eat it. They did try playing with it though and I’m not sure whether to blame them or squirrels for spreading hazelnuts all over the vegetable patch.

  8. Susie Vereker Says:

    That’s a brilliant effort. The paperwork sounds very French.

    You’re right there, Susie. It’s not surprising that there is someone at the mairie whose job it is to help people sort through their paperwork.

  9. canisfamiliaris Says:

    That ‘cheques emploi service’ sounds like something our Government would invent – costs more to administer than any benefit it would bring!!!!!

    Normal Cheques emploi service ae useful to keep you legal – both as employer and employee – and they ensure that someone pays the equivalent of National Insurance. Also, the details go to fill in your tax form so that if you work officially in France all your earnings are put onto a ready filled in tax form. All you have to do is sign it and send it back. However, if you’re self-employed – or retired with pensions from abroad like we are – life is more complicated when the tax forms come round.

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