Category Archives: Marcillat-en-Combraille

Friday 15th January 2016 – THE ROAD TO MONTLUCON …

… wasn’t too bad this morning. I was up bright and early … "well, maybe not so bright" – ed … at 07:00 and by 07:25 I was on the road with a nice thermal mug of hot coffee to keep me going.

I took it fairly easy and although Caliburn slipped around in a couple of places we didn’t have any big issues. Even going down the Font Nanaud wasn’t anything like the challenge that I expected it to be, and by the time that I reached whatever the name of the place is in between Marcillat and Villebret, the road was pretty clear. All in all, it only took me 10 or so minutes longer than usual and I was parked up at the hospital by 08:30 as usual.

Mind you, I’d beaten all of the staff of the day hospital into work so had to hang around 10 minutes before the doors opened up. And then, being first in, I could have my comfy spec in the armchair in the corner by the radiator and the power point.

It was the student nurse who came to fit my drain and that filled me full of foreboding. She was the one who had had three tries the other week before abandoning the job and calling for a friend. But today, to my surprise, not only did she do it in one, it was the least painful of all of them.

And here we had the confusion, much to my dismay. It was the young doctor who had telephoned yesterday to summon me to hospital, and although he had probably told the nurses that I was coming, there had been some confusion about the ordering of my blood. Consequently, I had to wait until about 11:15 for the blood to arrive. Then we had the new marvels of modern 21st-Century technology for warming up the blood – to wit – me stuffing it up my jumper.

At about 11:40, someone brought me a nice hot cup of coffee. I’d only been waiting since about 09:00 (the first time that I asked). But in the meantime I’d not been idle. I’d downloaded another whole pile of stuff from and now I reckon that I have a whole decent set of radio programmes to keep me company. I’ll have to check to see if I can find The Men From The Ministry because I forgot about that.

Running so late, I ordered lunch, and ended up with asparagus and tomato for starters, rice and boiled carrots with a bread roll for main course, and then apple purée and an orange for desert. Not the most exciting meal that I’ve ever had, by a long chalk, but it was quite filling and actually tasted quite nice.

It was 14:50 by the time that they had finished with me and I was really disappointed by this. But every cloud has a silver lining, for Ingrid was in the hospital and due to finish what she was doing at 15:00. So go down to the shops or have a coffee with Ingrid? No competition really, is there?

By 16:20 I was on the road and by then, the return journey was a very different story. There had been a flurry of snow in Montlucon at lunchtime and everyone had rushed to the window to see it. But by the time I reached Villebret there was much more than just a flurry and it gradually worsened the higher into the mountains that I climbed. The drag up to the Font Nanaud (height, 934 metres) was exciting, especially as there had been no snowplough or gritter south of Pionsat (I eventually met one, coming towards me from St Gervais) and I was right behind a Mercedes Vito towing a plant trailer with a mini-loader on the back.

He of course had no chance, but he did his best. Rear-wheel drive is useless in this weather when you are pulling something like that and he was sliding everywhere across the road, fighting for grip. He ought to have realised that it was pointless and should have turned round on the old railway track bed to go back down, but he pressed gamely on.

It wasn’t very long before the inevitable happened. He completely lost traction, slewed across the road and came to a shuddering stop. I couldn’t stop to help him because I would have lost traction too so I chugged on over the top and down the bank towards St Gervais.

snow january 2016 centre ornithologique st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceThe conditions round by St Gervais weren’t quite so bad as up on the Font, and the farther south that you travelled, the easier the route became.

By the time I got to Phoen … errr … the Centre Ornithologique, things had cleared quite considerably and the roads were much easier to move about, which was good news for me.

snow january 2016 centre ornithologique st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceI stopped here to take a few photographs of the snow, to record it for posterity. St Gervais, over there on the hill about 100 feet higher up than where I am, looks particularly covered and you can tell by the sky that there’s more to come.

Pulling away from here wasn’t easy either, with a couple of traction issues to get over the ridges made by the car tyres in the snow. But I was soon off and back down here to dig myself in for the foreseeable future.

I have no plans for going out anywhere else until my next hospital visit. And that’s a thought to depress just about anyone

Just in case you are wondering, we had none of the usual suspects, no family members and only one slight mention of a place of my previous existence during my nocturnal rambles of last night.

I’ve no idea where I was when I started off last night but it was a place that I certainly didn’t recognise, somewhere on the coast of the UK. It was a holiday resort, at a part of the town that was inland a little and high up with a view over the bay. There was quite a group of us and we’d heard that one of our rock heroes or bands was playing in this place at the carnival on the seafront. The word “Jubilee” was mentioned, and it turned out that Jubilee was a suburb of this particular town with access to the sea, so I was making a few enquiries to find out which trams we needed to catch to go there. There was a tram stop just outside the building where we were staying and I was trying to read the timetables and tram routes. But I was there for hours trying to find out which tram it was that went to Jubilee, with trams passing in front of me and all around me. In the end, I went back into the building, which was the hospital where I’d been a few days ago.
We then had an old woman putting in an appearance. I’ve no idea who she was but last night she was living next door to me and I had her doing quite a few of my affairs for me. I’d just turn up out of the blue and she’d do a few things for me and then I’d go off again. When I was there last time, and had her go along and do something for me, and as a reward I had paid for her haircut at the hairdressers. She said that she had only just been, so I told her to go again and have the same cut done, or something else, a second time. And so she ended up with almost no hair. She also said that next day she was going into hospital for an urgent operation but that cut no ice with me. I was supposedly in Crewe by this time, Alton Street or somewhere around there. I had wandered off somewhere and a couple of days later I was back, still looking for this Jubilee. I went into the local hospital and here I came across this woman. she’d had her surgery and I’d forgotten completely about it, so I had to pretend to be interested and to talk to her about it. I’d intended to go to see her later in the day in fact because this was really early in the morning when I arrived. But she was awake this early so we had the chat about her operation
From here I went off to work as a general handyman for some rich old lady. We were somewhere in an urban French environment and she took me with her, beckoned me to follow her around and through these old outbuildings into a large barn-type of place and through into a garage that fronted the street. I had to open the doors to let her friend in with a car. These buildings were full of what I thought were dead insects but she explained that they were immature crabs. She’d bought a huge pile of them but ended up with 100 too many but rather than take them back she’d just dumped them out of the car and they had all died. So we managed to bring the car in and then we went off, her beckoning me to follow once more up to a gallery place with a metal walkway. She’d erected a kind of metal fence around it that went around a kind of headland that she owned or had something to do with. It seemed that the neighbours had objected to the fence (it was merely strands of barbed wire) and so it had to be pulled up, so that was my job. Some guy who worked for some Civil Service body was watching me, telling me what a good job it was in the Civil Service and how I ought to apply to work there. But I was busy pulling up these stakes and coiling up this wire. He wanted to know what I was going to do with this wire so I replied that I was going to keep it – one of the perks of my job. He had quite a moan about that. meantime, I’d noticed that this wire was swinging around all over the road so I had to go down and coil it up properly. I’d also had to consult my telephone to see what was going on because someone else had started this job with me but had gone again, so I wanted to see where he was. However, I somehow managed to connect to a film on this telephone – a black-and-white film of the 30s with some film star appearing in it and I couldn’t stop it – each time that I tried to press “stop” or to switch it off, I had a “buy it now” screen. The volume was set quite loud – I couldn’t lower that and everyone in the area could hear it.

And so despite my trip to Montlucon today, I reckon that I’m still cracking up far more miles during the night. It’s hardly any surprise that I’m so exhausted these days.

But I do wonder what it is that they are putting in my food to make all of this happen.

Sunday 20th December 2015 – APART FROM A BRIEF …

sortie from my comfortable bed at about 02:00 in the morning, I had the sleep of the dead during the night. But one thing that I didn’t allow for in my calculations is that the immersion heater is in the attic behind a false wooded wall right by the head of the bed. Consequently, I was wide awake at 07:30 this morning.

Well, sort-of wide-awake anyway, or, at least, what passes for wide-awake these days. And the nurse didn’t take too long in coming either and so I had something like an early breakfast.

strawberry moose fishing sauret besserve puy de dome franceAnd we are not alone here in this house either.

I mean, you know that anyway, with Terry, Liz and her family. But even more importantly, Strawberry Moose is here. he’s come to stay for Christmas too. After all, Liz’s grandchildren are amongst his most faithful fans. This morning when we came downstairs, we found him busily trying to organise lunch for everyone, but he didn’t have a great deal of success unfortunately

He needs to work on his technique a little.

We spent much of the morning making templates of Christmassy items (and I do have to say that my Christmas tree looked superb) and then we used some of that snow spray stuff to spray the patterns all over the windows in the sun-lounge. And I do have to say that it all worked out rather well too.

strawberry moose liz terry messenger sauret besserve puy de dome franceAnyway, in the absence of fresh fish for lunch, we had a great big salad buffet. I had the rest of yesterday’s pizza and some sandwiches using some kind of vegan cheese and garlic spread that Liz had found in a health-food shop in Montlucon. That’s the kind of stuff that puts hairs in places I didn’t even realise that I had.

Everyone else had a wonderful time too for, as I have said before, the food that is served up in this house is the best that I have ever eaten anywhere.

After lunch, everyone went off to the Christmas market at Marcillat. I was invited but of course I’m not quite up to things like that right at the moment. There was some stuff that I wanted to finish, but I spent most of my free afternoon sitting on the sofa vegetating. However, I did finish my Christmas shopping by finding on-line something that I’d been looking for for quite a while.

I didn’t remain up and about very long this evening either. By about 20:00 I was done for, I reckon, and so I went to bed. An early night, and it’s getting earlier and earlier, but I don’t have the stamina these days. I managed to watch a film on the laptop, one of the Bulldog Drummond films that I’d tried to watch on several occasions that I’d downloaded from Tonight, I managed to watch all of it before dozing off to sleep.

I can do with an early night.

Monday 26th October 2015 – AND THERE I WAS …

… deep in the arms of Morpheus, when the alarm went off. And I sat bolt upright and as I did so, all memory of where I’d been and what I’d been doing was completely wiped away.

After an early breakfast I reviewed everything that I’d written, collected up some music and then shot off to Marcillat, dodging the tractors on the way.

Recording the programmes didn’t take long, but what did take a good while was to find the events for the next month. We hadn’t been sent the dates by the tourist information office and the office was closed today. But scrounging around produced enough events to make up a decent programme or two.

Back at Liz and Terry’s, we had lunch (I had what was left over from last night) and vegan ginger cake, and Terry and I made some plans for the rest of the week.

Recording the Radio Arverne sessions was straightforward too and then Liz and I went off to do some shopping. With grapes at just €2:49 a kilo I bought a supply, but it goes without saying that they didn’t make it home.

In exchange for a coffee, Liz showed me how to use my mobile phone as a modem to power my laptop and now I can use my laptop anywhere in France provided that there’s a mobile phone signal, even if there isn’t a wi-fi signal.

Back here I had some work to catch up on and I made a quick meal too. But what has caught me by surprise was that with not having used the inverter at all today, of the 200 amp-hours of solar energy that I received today, 168 amp-hours of it went into the 12-volt immersion heater and the temperature went off the scale. Consequently I went and had a really good washing-up session of plates and dishes.

Tomorrow, what I’ll be doing depends upon the weather. If it’s raining, I’m off to Terry’s. But if it’s dry, he’s coming around here.

Thursday 6th August 2015 – *@#&*@ç&!

Yes, tomorrow is my last day to work on this car as I’m now booked up before I go away.

And the client says that he can’t come down. Apparently he has a paying job that has come in, and my convenience is apparently so much lower than that. Well, it’s nice to know where I stand.

He says that he’ll come round on Saturday morning and finish it off, but I won’t be here. I’ll be in Montlucon. And the car had better be gone by the time that I come back as I’ll be putting Caliburn in my drive. I’m off for 9 weeks and I’m not leaving Caliburn in the lane under any circumstances. I haven’t paid all of this money for this concreting that we did last year to leave my van on the public highway.

And I also need to clean my drive, with the amount of oil that’s leaked out of this car. That has totally dismayed me.

This blasted Hyundai has totally messed up all of my plans. There’s no chance whatever now of me tiling my bathroom before I go and I wanted to have this long-done before I go.

I’ve had a major sense of humour failure over this car. And the worst of it all is that, having seen the photos that I posted on here a week or so ago, you know as well as anyone else that this vehicle won’t be going very far even if we do manage to get it going. I’ve wasted all of this time and done all of this effort for absolutely nothing and I’m sure that I won’t receive any thanks for it. I shan’t see the owner of this vehicle ever again until his next car goes wrong.

Apart from that, we were radioing today at Marcillat. Two months’ worth of programmes that we recorded for Radio Anglais
this morning and that will take us up to the end of October with the next recording sessions pencilled in for 26th October. Just one more session, at Gerzat on Tuesday, and that will be that.

Liz and I went for a long chat afterwards and then I came back here. On the way back, I noticed that the construction work on the edge of Marcillat on the bed of the old railway line has now developed into a small petrol station. It seems that we will be having some 24-hour petrol pumps there. The Auvergne is definitely dragging itself into the 21st Century.

Back here, I had a pile of stuff to do, most of which I managed to complete, and I even managed for once to make some food this evening. This is progress.

I should have been having a day out on Monday but I’ve cancelled that now. I have too much to do, and it’s a shame that the tiling isn’t going to figure in that. I’m really fed up now.

Tuesday 7th July 2015 – THIS IDEA …

flying shelf shower room les guis virlet puy de dome france… about a flying shelf in the bathroom seems to work okay.

You can see how it’s going to work. There’s a bracket in the false ceiling (the false ceiling will eventually go over it) and from there are two lengths of threaded rod hanging down. At the moment the threaded rod is passing right through the shelves and held up with nuts, but there will be some captive nuts fitted into the shelves and the threaded rod will be cut to size.

The threaded rod will be covered by some nice stainless steel tubing and it will all look quite nice.

This morning we braved the heat and made it to Marcillat to record the radio programmes. Things went according to plan, except that Violette fell asleep and one of our 15-minute shows ran on for almost 19 minutes. She’ll have fun editing that down.

We went for a coffee and a good chat afterwards, and then I came home. I installed myself in the bedroom as 34°C in the attic was rather too much, but that didn’t work as I crashed out for a good hour – and I mean “crashed out”. And seeing as how I was in bed last night for 22:30, that was rather astonishing.

fitting bolt shower room door les guis virlet puy de dome franceAfter lunch I’ve fitted the bolt on the bathroom door (not that we need it but still, you never know) and then I attacked the shelving. That’s all cut to shape and drilled out where necessary (it’s having a cable run through it to power things like shavers and hair clippers) and now varnished, as is the shelf that I made the other day.

And surprise surprise, I was actually working at 22:30 this evening. I put the first coat on before knocking off at 19:30, but when I went out to take the stats, the first coat was dry so I put a second coat on.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish the shelving (I hope), plasterboard everything in, and then carry on with the ceiling.


Our Hero – “is it tomorrow that we are recording at Marcillat?”
Liz – “that’s right – at 09:30”
Our Hero – “ohhh” … pause … “I suppose that I’d better go home then”

Yes, the Bane of Britain has done it again hasn’t he? Gone to Marcillat on the wrong day. Still, it could have been worse. It was a nice drive out and in any case, at least it was a day early and not a day late.

And I’d been on my travels in the night. I was in Glasgow, the funniest city in Europe (everyone who goes there comes back in stitches) organising some kind of football training, and then I’d taken the Metro with Strawberry Moose. The train was stuck in the station for a while and so, knowing that I would awaken as soon as the train set off, I allowed myself to go into a deep sleep. But before I did, I took my trousers off and hung them over the back of the seat in front. Sure enough, I awoke as soon as the train moved, and I prepared to alight at the next station. But I couldn’t find my trousers. There was a pair of shorts there but they were nothing to do with me. Of course I made a fuss and the lady driver told me that seeing as how we hadn’t reached the first stop, no-one could have alighted from the train with my trousers. However, a couple of people had boarded the train and alighted before it had set off. I carried on the argument and a couple of the passengers started to become agitated. But none of this was finding my trousers.
Ironically, I’d been reading a little about the Glasgow Underground yesterday evening and also something comnected with North-West Glasgow and the Underground, which was where all of this was going on.

My morning wasn’t wasted though, as I did two more radio programmes – or, at least, half-done them. These are the rock programmes for Radio Anglais and I’ve done the miscellaneous programmes for two more months. I just need to do the two live concerts and find a radio commentary for one of the programmes.

After lunch, I made the shelf that will fit between the door and the stud wall by the beichstuhl. And the new Bosch circular saw – nice and lightweight, it cut through a pine plank as if there was nothing there. A nice neat cut, no need to sand it down, no whining, no rattling, and the inverter showed no sign of distress. This was the best circular saw that I’ve ever used (and so it ought to be at the price that I paid for it) and if it lasts the pace (because one or two people are a little sceptical about it) it’ll be just the job.

I also cut down a 300mm plank into 2x150mm planks, and the circular saw hardly broke wind doing it. But do you remember ages ago when I told you that the 600mm pine planks were actually 605mm? Well, the 300mm planks are actually 295mm. So much for Brico Depot’s precise measuring.

I had yet another shower to cool me down afterwards (I’m having my money’s worth from the home-made solar shower) and made a mega-red-pepper-and-lentil curry for the next 4 days. I may as well start the week as I mean to go on.

Wednesday 1st July 2015 – NOW, HERE’S A THING

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have a solar shower. It’s an old enamel shower base with a wooden frame built around it and infilled with corrugated plastic roofing sheets. On top of it is a black plastic box filled with water and connected to a shower standpipe and covered with an old caravan window.

It all sits outside absorbing the heat from the sun and a couple of times a week I can have a shower. Some times though, I have to put a few litres of hot water into it to bring up the water to a comfortable temperature.

Today, though, this was the first time, so my records tell me, that I have EVER had to put cold water into it in order to cool it down to a comfortable temperature. It’s thoroughly crazy, this temperature. And even with the cold water in there, it was still flamin’ ‘ot.

Mind you, it wasn’t like that this morning. It was all overcast and cloudy. Not good weather at all, even though it was hot. And I’d left the electricity on all night and had the fan going in the bedroom to cool me down while I slept.

I was on my travels too. back at school, school uniform and all. Properly back at school although, strangely enough, I didn’t recognise any of my fellow pupils. One person who was there though was Zero whom I mentioned the other day. What’s she doing at my school?

This morning after breakfast I cracked on with the radio programmes – doing the additional notes for the Radio Arverne sessions. The first lot is half-done and I’ll finish off the rest tomorrow. Then I can start on the second show.

And ironically, by pure and utter coincidence, a major topic has appeared right out of nowhere and landed on my laptop as it were. Something very important and very topical. “A sign from the Gods” I said, and stashed it away ready for use in a week or so.

I was interrupted by the postie who brought me my circular saw. “What happened yesterday?” I asked her, and she gave me a blank look. It seems that although La Poste promises to deliver on a certain date, it receives the parcels at the central tri, in my case at St Eloy, but they don’t come out to the Post Office at Pionsat until the following day. Meantime, to cover their tracks with Amazon, they pretend to have delivered the products the previous day.

Thoroughly dishonest.

After lunch, I attacked the bathroom door. It’s now sanded down so that it fits, a washer stuck in between the top and bottom halves of the hinges so that it doesn’t scrape the floor, and the mortise latch for the door is now fitted and the handles are attached.

Even more so, the closer in the door frame has been chiseled out and the closer frame fitted, so we now have a door that opens and closes properly. This really is progress.

Tomorrow I have to drill out the bottom of the door for the air vent and cut down a floorboard or two to make all of the door jambs. When that’s all done, I can mask everywhere off and varnish all of the wood.

But it is so impressive, this door. I’m well-pleased with that.

Then I had my shower, and went off to Marcillat. It seems that I’ve been co-opted onto the management committee of Radio Tartasse and I’m not sure why. Clearly something’s afoot, and I’m not talking about that thing on the end of my leg either.

Monday 29th June 2015 – BLIMEY!

Wasn’t it hot today! At one point when we were in Gerzat in mid-afternoon, the temperature on Caliburn’s thermometer was showing 41.3°C outside and off the scale (ie more than 50°C) inside. And it felt like it too.

Yes, we’ve been radioing today, haven’t we?

And I had a dramatic change of plan too. At 08:45 – 20 minutes before I’m due to leave here to head off to Marcillat and Radio Tartasse, I was busy scanning the news – to discover that Chris Squire, the legendary bassist with Yes, had died.

So with just 20 minutes before I had to leave here to record the rock programmes, I was sitting down and totally re-writing the show.

I recorded the rock shows and then Liz came to join me for the normal sessions. That will take us up to the end of July so we could then head back to Liz’s. After lunch (and finishing off the gorgeous dessert that we started yesterday) it was off to the furnace that was Gerzat and Radio Arverne.

We recoded another 5 programmes there, which will take us nicely up to the beginning of September, and another couple of goes should see us well on our way towards the end of the year. But we need to be well in advance with holidays coming up. Liz is off to the UK to see family and then when she comes back, I’ll be off to Canada.

On the way back, I stopped for fuel and a little shopping, and a nice cold drink in view of the heat, and I was back here for 18:20, promptly crashing out for an hour or so as it was far too hot up here to be comfortable.

And talking of being comfortable, I was on my travels again last night, in my nice clean bed. I was with Trixi and a few other people and we were doing a yoga tour of Europe, ending up in the Ukraine and Belarus, before coming back to the Netherlands via Northern Europe. But to cut a long story short … "hooray" – ed … the group of people who had come with us had become fed up and left the tour to the two of us. They went home via the south of Europe and had become snowed in in Northern Italy while the two of us carried nonchalantly on in the north.

Friday 29th May 2015 – THIS BACKING-UP …

… of my new laptop wasn’t as straightforward as I had thought it might be. And when I finally did go to bed – at 03:45 in the morning, it was far from finished. Mind you, I was. Keeping my eyes open at this time of night was not as easy as it used to be.

And I was up early to – a good few minutes before the alarm clock went off, and I even had time to make myself some breakfast before setting off to Marcillat-en-Combraille and the radio recordings for Radio Anglais.

Everything went according to plan and we were away quite early too. And that was just as well as I had to go to the garage at St Gervais d’Auvergne with Caliburn. Liz ran me back to her house for lunch afterwards and then Terry and I went down to Riom to sort out the tax payments on his van.

THat was quite straightforward too and we even had time for a run out to Lempdes for Terry to buy a new ladder.

It really was a gorgeous day and we made the most of it, sitting outside having a coffee in the sunshine, and then Liz ran me round to the garage to pick up Caliburn.

All of the mechanism on the brakes is working fine, so the problem isn’t there. If I take Caliburn back on Monday they will strip it all down and check to see exactly what is going on, and why the rear brake isn’t doing what it is supposed to.

The good news is, however, that according to them, there is nothing wrong with Caliburn in the grand. I dida sk them to check it over and their opinion is that he is in good condition for his age with nothing to worry about. The conclusion that I have drawn from all of this is that Barrat Ford in Montlucon will not be able to rely on any more of my custom.

Back here, I carried on with the backing-up and the re-installation of my 3d Program. However, I didn’t get very far. It’s 22:00, I can’t keep my eyes open, I haven’t even done the stats and I don’t care. I’m off to bed before I ……. (zzzzzzzzz)

Monday 27th April 2015 – THE WEATHER …

… was much improved today. We only had 30.5mm of rain.

And after everything that I have said just recently about good nights’ sleeps, I was awake at 06:30 and I couldn’t go back to sleep. In the end I got up (before the alarm too) and vegetated on the sofa for a bit.

Mind you, I’d been on my travels again during the night. I can’t remember who I was with but she was tall and quite well-dressed in a flowing black skirt. We were watching the Grand National and had to cross the course in front of the horses (I had memories of suffragettes and being trampled to death by the King’s horse) and they obligingly split into two packs to have a better go at getting us.

After the horses passed, we climbed into the car to head around the course and into town but we must have missed the course and instead ended up straight in the town. Parking the car, we had to find a cafe so we walked through an old granite building, formerly a cinema but now let into little shop units, and as we passed down the stairs we commented that this would make a good little theatre area.

We were having a coffee on some tables at the side of the street and there in a cafe just a couple of doors down was someone who, in real life, I haven’t given any thought at all but who has appeared a few times just recently in my nocturnal voyages. So what is going on here then? This is the biggest mystery in all of this.

At Radio Tartasse, Violette forgot that we were coming so I had to phone her, and we ended up running quite late. But a coffee afterwards warmed us up and then I came home.

Back here, I’ve done nothing. The weather is cold and miserable and I ended up crashing out for a couple of hours. This led to a very late (like 17:00) lunch and so I’ve had no evening meal again.

I did manage to shin up the scaffolding in the middle of the torrential downpour in order to check on the guttering. Mind you, judging by the speed at which the water was cascading out of the overflow in the waterbutts, everything must have been working fine.

And indeed it was. Everything was nicely aligned and all of the water was flowing right where it ought to flow. I can glue it all together now whenever the weather allows.

Now I’m off to bed to see if I can summon up a better morale and more incentive for tomorrow.

Monday 23rd March 2015 – THAT STRANGE ROUND GOLDEN THING …

. .. that I glimpsed in the sky yesterday was there for all of the day today. It was the nicest day of the year so far, beautiful and warm, and down by Chatelguyon all of the trees are now in blossom. Spring is definitely on its way, and a couple of warm sunny days will see it here too.

Liz and I were radioing today, starting off at Marcillat and Radio Tartasse. I was there at 09:30 to record the rock programmes and then Liz joined me for the information programmes that we do. Violette was back in charge of the studio today, and you could tell that she’s not quite with it following the passing of Henri.

I had to go to Pionsat on the way back to drop of Simon’s superb floorboard machine (and I gave him a bottle of wine for his trouble) but the boulangère who I wanted to see – she’s back from holiday now but of course Monday is her closing day, so that was a waste of time.

Liz made a salad for lunch and then we went down to Gerzat and Radio Arverne for the next round of programmes there – and it was as we dropped out of the mountains at Chatelguyon that we noticed the trees and the blossom.

We did 5 programmes for Radio Arverne – I need to start to get ahead for the summer or I’ll be catching up with muself if I’m not careful.

Back here, I crashed out for an hour or two. This is becoming something of a habit now.

Monday 23rd February 2015 – I’M NOT SURE WHAT’S HAPPENING …

… but I’ve had a bit of a bad day today.

Despite having something of a decent night’s sleep last night, I almost crashed out recording the radio programmes this morning, and it was something of an effort to drive back from Gerzat this afternoon. Back here, I crashed out for 3 hours or so and now, at just 22:40, I’m dying to crawl into bed and forget about today completely.

Mind you, I had something of an exhausting night last night and that might explain a great deal. I was walking from Brussels back to here and in the traditions of the well-known Irish joke, I’d fund a boarding house with a typical boarding house landlady, and I was setting out there to walk the route. When I reached the end of the day and was tired out, I would walk back to the boarding house for the night, and then next morning, walk back to where i’d left off the previous evening, and start out along the route, walking back to the boarding house at the end of the day.

No wonder I was exhausted.

At Radio Tartasse, we learned the news that we had been dreading – that Henri had not recoverd from his illness. He was 90 years of age but looked probably no older than 70 and was full of vitality, but a short while before Christmas he went down as if he had been poleaxed, and aged 40 years overnight.

It’s something that catches up with all of us eventually, sooner or later, but I really enjoyed Henri’s company, his knowledge and his good humour and I shall miss him.

After lunch, during which I demolished the leftovers of Liz’s vegetable pie from yesterday, we went off to Gerzat. and although we had a half-hour wait for the studio, the recording sessions went perfectly and we’d done in an hour with no delay at all.

And then I had to come back here.

But now I’m off to bed, I’ve cancelled the alarms and I’m going to sleep for ever. I really must be sickening for something.

Thursday 29th January 2015 – THIS DOOR HINGE ISSUE …

… still isn’t resolved, despite my best efforts this morning.

This morning, I was up quite early and I’d finished my breakfast by 08:30. Se seeing as I had to be in Marcillat for 10:30, a sudden idea entered into my head given the time available, and I shot straight off to Commentry and Bricomarche.

There are indeed right-handed and left-handed hinges, and all of the hinges were totally muddled up. I very carefully sorted out three right-handed hinges (as well as a hosepipe connection for the overflow on the water tank). However, the boxes were more mixed up than I thought, and I’ve ended up with 2 x 110×55 and 1 x 90×45.

Ahh well.

But at least I have the shape to use to cut the lets into the door and the doorframe.

At the radio, we recorded our Radio Anglais programmes for Radio Tartasse and then went for a coffee and a chat.

varnished shelf stairwell attic les guis virlet puy de dome franceBack here, first job that I did even before I took off my coat was to put the third and final coat of varnish onto the shelves in the stairwell up to the attic.

These shelves are now finished and that is really the first completed task of this phase of the work. These shelves mean that I can now start to empty the attic of all of the cooking stuff, the pots and pans and so on, and put them on the shelves outside, as soon as the varnish had hardened off.

This is definitely progress.

suspended false ceiling recessed light plasterboard landing les guis virlet puy de dome franceSecond job that I did, likewise before taking off my coat, was to fit the crown onto the LED light bulb and recess it into the hole in the false ceiling on the landing.

You can see the varnished ceiling and the plasterboard on both the walls but the light hasn’t come out well enough. I’ll take another photo of the ceiling when we have some daylight, but that wasn’t going to be today as so far we’ve had 35mm of rain and it’s still teeming down.

I’ve also cut the three lets into the hinge side of the doorframe so that I can fit the recessed hinges in due course and I’ve also cut down a floorboard to make the latch side of the doorframe.

Tomorrow I’ll finish off cutting down the floorboards for the rest of the door frame and for the head of the stairs, and if I’m lucky, I might even be able to put the first coat of filler on the screwheads and joins in the plasterboard.

Monday 15th December 2014 – I’VE FINISHED …

solar energy control panel les guis virlet puy de dome france… the control panel in the barn. At least – it’s never ever going to be finished, as I know from bitter experience, but I’m happy with what I’ve done to date. Just one or two things missing – a timer and a charge controller for the wind turbine (although that’s not something that I’m planning on in the near future) and an electricity meter for the mains electricity, but I’ll have to wait until I go to the UK in order to find one of those as they are big, heavy things and cost a fortune to post.

Mind you, even the simplest thinhgs today were complicated. The hook and eye that I bought from Brico depot were the usual Brico Depot rubbish and I had to put the hook into the vice and compress it in order to stop it flying out of the eye. That was the top panel. The bottom panel is held up by a hasp and staple and the front panel is held up by a length of threaded rod through to the rear, and fastened by a wing nut.

Now I need to make the clock work, and to find the instruction book to find out how to configure the new data recorder.

I also made a start on tidying up, and found the Ryobi Plus One flourescent light that I had mislaid, and I’ve finally after much binding in the marsh managed to undo the giant hole cutter from the long spindle – that which jammed up when I was drilling that hole yhrough the wall 18 months ago.

I had a late night last night – about 03:45 and it was difficult to crawl out of bed at 08:00. I went to Marcillat and Radio Tartasse to record another series of rock programmes and then Liz and I did another month of the usual programmes.

And herein lies a problem. We had time to go for a coffee afterwards, but if you remember last time we were there when we heard that the hotel was closing down – well, it’s now closed. And there’s not another cafe open in the town. It seems that that which I had foretold last year, when Pionsat’s mayor announced his grand plans for that town, has truly come to pass and Marcillat is starting to wither on the vine.

This is sad.

Back here, I passed the rest of the morning working on another rock programme – trying to get myself well in advance, and being inerrupted by the postie who brought me the lights that I had ordered for the trailer. And then, after my butty, I went out and attacked the control panel.

Tonight I made myself another giant aubergine and kidney bean casserole thingy, with enough to keep me going for four days. I enjoy doing this as cooking for the next three days is simply a matter of warming things up. Much as I like cooking, I don’t want to spend too much time over it.

Monday 17th November 2014 – WE’VE BEEN RADIOING TODAY

Just at Marcillat though. Liz had to work this afternoon and so we recorded it as she drove past. And Henri doesn’t look too good at all. He’s aged 100 years this last few weeks and I am concerned.

Afterwards we went to the hotel up the road for a coffee and a chat seeing as how we had half an hour to spare. And here we learnt some more devastating news. The owner of the hotel is retiring at the end of the year and there is no successor. It is therefore closing down. The other cafe in the town went a while ago, and so the place will be left with no facilities.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we were discussing a year or so ago the Mayor of Pionsat’s plans for the town and his aim of expanding the commercial facilities available, I predicted that this will have a knock-on effect on the other small towns in the neighbourhood. I didn’t expect to be proved so right so quickly.

After that, I came back here and started on the next batch of radio programmes. I’ve fallen behind with the rock music ones and I can’t afford to do that. I need to put in a couple of decent shifts on these and build up an advance catalogue of programmes for the future. It’s teeming down with rain again and so I may as well do that as anything else

And it’s cold tonight. Hovering just above my magic limit of 13°C in my attic here. I try to hang on for as long as I can before the first fire, but once that limit is passed, I’ll light up the fire. Probably by the end of this week if it carries on dropping.