The abbey was certainly not as important as "l'Abbaye du Val Dieu" which is not far from here, near Aubel.
This abbey is situated in the heart of the "Pays de Herve" and the monks brewed wonderful beer and made delicious "fromage de Herve". Some years ago, the last monk has moved out of the abbey. The recipe for the 'Val Dieu' beer had been taken over by a small brewery. The big mill can still be visited and a restaurant is attached to it. Worthwhile a visit at any moment of the year! http://www.val-dieu.net/
EG's grotto project started due to the fact that we had a wee mount of soil left from digging activities -he searched hard but strangely he never found the foundations of 'our' ancient abbeye ;-). The wee hill is just left to the Grill Kota.For to better show me his grotto vision, he made me a sketch: that was more than 2 years ago. The sketch has since embellished our fridge door but the grotto would not grow...
A first start was to dig into the ground. Or it had been too wet and the soil would be so heavy to dig out or it would have been too dry and would have needed a good load of dynamite to break it up. Summer last year:
In between there were always other priorities which had to be given: mowing, pruning, emptying the pit off all the horse menure (for project number 384: the greenhouse), reparing various broken things on the farm, planting vegetables, re-designing front garden, wedding preparations, getting married, partying, more mowing and on top of that spending loads of time for paid work, sometimes in the office, some other times outside the country for longer travels.
Then, after some weeks, the gate was placed. I believe, that was the trigger. It was to enhance his vision and for to encourage progress.
This lad by then started to tapping his foot.... he had successfully applied for the job of grotto guard last year in Tournai.
Measuring out and placing the liner was the next step. The hole got wet and the soil collapsed again into it.In the meantime, whilst it was drying, old bricks from the old toilet in the shed had to be knocked down, cleaned and selected. Once the start of brick building was done, the grotto had its structure.
Then my wonderful EG was in the swing! He built and built and built.This pile of stones in the front of the winter picture on the right hand side had to be carried down to the building place.
Again tons of heavy wheelbarrows moved.
Then the old oak had to be cut - by hand. It had to be treated and oiled. It definitely takes shape here:
Final inspection from everybody and approval. The Bayous have now a real grotto!
It has to be mentioned, that the whole feature is entirely recycled: the old iron gate came from the front, the stones from Soumagne, the concrete roof is made out of old fence posts, the metal sheet which covers the top was found in the garage, the liner is a piece of left over from the swim pond building, as is the gravel, the bricks came from the old toilet, the timber is oak from the stable roof ...
On top of that, our place is a wee bit more tidy----oh I should miss all those items which were laying around and who have now found a good home ;-)