Category Archives: Marianne Contet

Saturday 18th October 2014 – GUESS WHAT …

… I’ve been doing this morning!

You’re right.

It was a bright, breezy morning with not a cloud in the sky and so straight after breakfast I went into Pionsat with the cover off the bed-settee. An hour later I was back, with the cleanest bed settee cover that I have ever had. That 18kg machine at the Intermarché works a treat, especially at €8:00 a time including soap.

Of course, you have to wait on the car park while the machine is working and you would be amazed at the number of people who go into the Intermarche in just that time. It’s quite a little goldmine there, especially as the woman who owns it has really done her research, with the amount of British and Dutch produce that’s on sale there.

I even ended up talking to Marianne, whom I haven’t seen since February. She was there doing her shopping too.

This afternoon I started work on the radio programmes for the next month and then later on tonight went back to Pionsat to watch FC Pionsat St Hilaire’s 2nd XI play Montfermy.

That was an exciting match too, with a couple of new players this season including a real goalkeeper who had a good game. Pionsat won 2-0 without really breaking sweat. Kevin scored the first following a good ball across the defence that beat the offside trap, and a short corner from Vincent to Matthieu caught the entire Montfermy team asleep and Matthieu had a simple volley into the net.

FC Pionsat St Hilaire’s 2nd XI are now top of the table for the moment, and well-worth it too because they really did look like it tonight, and about time too.

Tuesday 18th February 2014 – I HAD AN AFTERNOON OUT …

… this afternoon. This involved moving a pile of stuff with Caliburn and so first job this morning was to empty Caliburn and then to put away everything that I had been storing in him. And that took a while, I can tell you.

I then swept him out too, and repaired one or two electrical bits and pieces that needed fixing. So at least he’s now clean and tidy in the back.

Next on the list was hanging out the washing, and then to clear out a space at the side of the existing compost bin and put there the one that I bought last year in this Government composting scheme. ONce I had done that, I could empty the beichstuhl, such pleasant jobs that I have around here.

So I picked up Marianne and then we went round to Bill’s to load up Caliburn and then went off to Montlucon and the salerooms. On the way we called at LIDL as they were having another LED light sale. This time it was the 1-watt lights that I use, and at €2:99 each now. They had 6 in stock, and now they have none at all.

We went to Brico Depot too where I bought some more wood and some heavy duty varnish for the stairs. You can tell that this is now becoming really serious.

Anyway, we ended up in the cafe at Leclerc having a coffee and a chat and then it was back home via the fresh veg shop. And I had to take in the washing as by now it had started to rain.

Yes, it’s all happening here now.

Tuesday 28th January 2014 – I’VE PUT THE FIRST …

… piece of plaster board on the wall today. This is progress indeed.

Mind you,it took me long enough.

I had to go to the bank this morning braving the flurries of snow – they wanted some information off me – and then round to Bill’s house. It’s been a year since Bill left us and his estate needs to be finalised. Consequently it was the final call for people to buy anything that remains, before the house clearance people come.

Marianne’s son Pascal wanted a few things and there was some tidying up still to be done, so I helped Marianne do that and then gave Pascal a hand, and then took his stuff to a garage that he’s using to store stuff until he moves to his new apartment.

That took all of the morning but I wasn’t finished yet. When I was strapping something onto the roof I noticed that one of the brackets holding the solar panel to the underneath of the roofrack had sheared off. That needed fixing before I went too far and so there I was making a new bracket.

After lunch I fitted the two counter-battens and replaced one of the rails that I’ll be using to support a shelf. It seems that Brain of Britain has measured up for a 27mm rail but fitted a 40mm rail instead? No wonder it didn’t look level.

So having done that, I had to free all of the plasterboard from the stuff that had accumulated on top of it over the last year or so. And then, I could start on the plasterboarding.

And for tea tonight, I made a lentil and mushroom curry. There’s enough forthree more days which is just as well, because it was delicious.

Wednesday 15th January 2014 – I TURNED DOWN …

… a trip to Brico Depot this morning. You can see that I’m not feeling myself at all right now, which is just as well etc. etc.

Anyway last night I was playing bass with The Groundhogs on a revitalisation tour. Of course TS McPhee didn’t make it, and if that was me on bass, that only left the drummer as an original member.

A little later on, I was sent to work in Stockport and that cheered mr up because I could leave a whole pile of difficult post tobe dealt with by my successor, but on the other hand I was worried as I was bound to meet up with Nerina again.

Like I have said before … "and you’ll say again" – ed … I only with that my real life was half as exciting as my dreams

Meanwhile, back in the land of the living, by lunchtime absolutely everything that has no business being in the living room was elsewhere, and I had moved the old table to righht underneath the window.

This afternoon, I moved most of the tools downstairs and dismantled the temporary work bench. I also built a quick toilet room out of a piece of OSB and a piece of furniture out of an old caravan that I scrapped in 2007. There’s even light in there – of a sort.

I had Marianne on the phone too, but it’s soooo difficult trying to talk when I’m in this condition.

For tea I made a mega-lentil and mushroom curry – all cooked on the woodstove. It wasn’t half impressive

And there’s some left for tomorrow and Friday too.

Saturday 28th December 2013 – REGULAR READERS OF THIS RUBBISH …

… will recall that ages ago I commented on some bizarre weather conditions that we were experiencing here – to whit the phenomenon that at night we were having beautiful clear skies with millions of stars visible to the naked eye, and then as dawn broke, we would immediately cloud over and have buckets of rain all day until late evening, when the skies would miraculously clear again.

This is exactly the weather that we have been experiencing here over the last few days, and each morning I’ve been woken up by a torrential downpour despite the beauty of the night.

This morning it was 05:30 that we had the downpour but I wasn’t going to be fooled by that. i’m still on holiday so I stayed in bed until 10:30 and I don’t care.

I worked on the radio programme for a while and then just after midday I actually left the premises! Yes, shopping in St Eloy where I spent almost nothing at all, and quite right too seeing as I didn’t need much and there was nothing on sale to tempt me.

On the way back home I went via Cécile’s to see if she had received any post, but her box was empty and her house hadn’t been affected by the violent winds that we’ve had. But on the way back, I noticed that the abandoned railway line from Les Racauds up to the tunnel at Les Bouchards seemed to be clear of weeds. That’s one part of the old Paris-Orleans railway line that I want to walk so it seems that I’ll be doing that sooner rather than later, once the weather dries out.

I did another radio programme this afternoon and then Marianne phoned me up for a very long chat. It seems that there’s a disturbing development with regard to the situation at Bill’s old place at Les Crouzons, and all hands will be required at the pumps for a couple of days as a matter of urgency. It’s to my advantage to be there, but that’s another few days away from here that I can well do without.

But I took the opportunity of mentioning the old railway line to Marianne and she’s going to draw up a plan of action for the next three months. We have a lot to do and we need to make the most of any decent weather than we might get. So far, apart from those few days in November, winter has been holding off. I’ve a feeling that when it dfinally does come, it will come in spades.

Friday 20th December 2013 – DIDN’T WE HAVE A LUVVERLY TIME …

day out coach trip bus ride pionsat clermont ferrand puy de dome france… the day we went to Clermont?

Thanks, Marianne, for ringing me at 06:30 otherwise I would still be in bed now, but anyway off to a garage along the road between Pionsat and St Eloy where Marianne was to leave her car for a service, and then we headed into Pionsat to catch the bus.

33 of us, there were, on board heading for Pionsat’s annual shopping trip to Clermont. Many towns and villages in the rural Puy-de-Dome go there on the same day and the Conseil-General have a little welcoming celebration with coffee, orange juice and croissants – just as well seeing as how I didn’t have any breakfast. And we received a free tram ticket, shopping bag and little Christmas present too.

The queue for the tram was enormous and so we walked to the centre, which was quite nice seeing as we passed by the city’s cemetery. One thing about Marianne is that she’s just as interested in things like this as I am and an invitation for a stroll around the dead centre of any kind of urban settlement will not be sneezed at.

cemetery clermont ferrand monks puy de dome franceThere were formerly many religious establishments in Clermont Ferrand and we stumbled across many communal graves in which various groups of nuns had interred their departed members.

The communal graves of the monks were however much more interesting. Tucked away in a quiet little corner of the cemetery behind a few enormous tombs is their last resting place – one headstone for each establishment and a little plaque for each brother who is interred here. Things like that are quite poignant really.

And I wonder who is involved in the upkeep of this little plot because some of the communal graves of the nuns are, well, very sorry spectacles indeed.

commonwealth war graves cemetery des charmes dechaux clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThere’s also a Commonwealth War Grave here in the cemetery at Clermont Ferrand. 22 British, Canadians and New Zealanders are buried here. 21 are Air Force men and quite clearly three groups of 7. Pilot, Flight Engineer, Navigator, Wireless Operator, Bomb-Aimer and a couple of gunners.

One group died on 5th March 1944, another group on 10th March 1944 and the third group on 27th July 1944. Clearly three Lancasters shot down in the vicinity and with the proximity of the huge Michelin tyre factory – just a couple of hundred yards away from where I was standing taking this photograph, then no prizes for guessing what they were doing – or trying to do.

Or so I wrote at the time. Subsequent research revealed something rather different.

Only one of the aircraft was a Lancaster engaged in bombing the Michelin factory (with an alternative target of the marshalling yards at Aulnat).

These were the crew of Lancaster B III serial ND513 of Squadron 207 RAF, carrying identity EM-R. The crew led by Squadron Leader Dudley Pike had set off from Spilsby in Lincolnshire on 10th March at 19:42.

The aeroplane suffered a direct hit from flak and exploded in mid-air. The wreckage crashed close to the Anne-Marie-Menut roundabout between 23:00 and 23:30.

The earlier crash, on 5th March 1944, was actually a Stirling B III serial EF215 of 75 squadron RAF (although many of the crew were New Zealanders). She carried identity AA-M

She had taken off from Mepal in Cambridgeshire on 4th March 1944 at about 20:51. She had been loaned to SOE (the Special Operations Executive) and was on a training flight parachuting arms to the Resistance in the Auvergne.

Because of the foul weather (blinding, gusting snowstorms were reported) she couldn’t see the torch signals and so aborted the mission, but ran into the side of a Puy in the Le Cros – Douharesse area.

The upper middle machine-gunner luckily survived the crash and was arrested. The others perished and, according to a report issued at the time, the cause of death was as much exposure to the elements as the injuries received in the crash.

The third aeroplane Was another Lancaster B III, serial number ND527 (only 14 machines newer than that lost on 10th March). She carried identity LE-O and belonged to 630 suadron RAF, although some crew were Canadians.

She had taken off from East Kirkby in Lincolnshire at 21:17 on 26th July 1944 to bomb the marshalling yards at Givors, south of Lyon, but at 02:45 the following morning, in the middle of a violent storm, she was involved in a mid-air collision with Lancaster ND856 of 82 squadron.

The pilot of the plane attempted a crash-landing just south of St Ignat, 14kms north-east of Riom, but collided with trees. The plane burst into flames and the crew was immolated.

Incidentally, ND856 exploded in mid-air and its remains fell to earth four or five kilometres away. The crew was originally buried in the local cemetery close tot he crash site but were later exhumed and re-interred in the big military cemetery at Mazargues, near Marseille.

lieutenant W T L Short commonwealth war graves cemetery des charmes dechaux clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThe 22nd grave is that of Lieutenant WTL Short and his is an interesting story.

It doesn’t matter what your perception of the RAF Bomber Command is (mine is that they were a bunch of mass-murdering war criminals, but that is by the way), no-one will dispute that for the expense and effort involved and the number of casualties that they suffered, they were pretty much ineffective and much more could have been achieved at far, far less expense by quite simply parachuting into the target area a bunch of commandos armed to the teeth, with the aim of sabotaging the factories and their output on the ground. The rail campaign of Summer 1944 is a classic example of this, and who remembers the Heroes of Telemark?

But a close look at the headstone of Lieutenant Short will reveal that he was “attached to the FFI” – the Force Français de l’Interieur, which is the politically-correct way of describing the French Resistance. And I can’t help thinking that for what he cost the British Government, his efforts were probably far more cost-effective than those of his 21 neighbours. And what is even more sad about all of this is that if you go to The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

and carry out a search for the Des Charmes Dechaux cemetery in Clermont Ferrand, you’ll find entries for the 21 airmen but no entry for Lieutenant Short.

basilica notre dame du port clermont ferrand puy de dome franceFrom there we walked on into town, stopping halfway for another coffee of course. Crossing the road we went to the Basilica of Notre Dame du Port.

This church dates from the 6th Century and was founded, so the story goes, by St Avit who, as we all know, comes from down the road here at la Cellette where he had a spring and a hermitage. The church was destroyed by the Normans during one of their invasions of the 10th Century and subsequently rebuilt. Unusually, the crypt is open to the public and so we went down there to see what we could see but the short answer to that was “nothing”. It did not escape our notice, however, that the crypt only stretched so far underneath the church.

town hall clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMarianne then took me to see the Town Hall, which is just around the corner from the cathedral, the famous cathedral where Peter the Hermit summoned the First Crusade back at the end of the 11th Century.

The Town Hall was an interesting place to visit. It was formerly some kind of Abbey, as you can tell from the inner quadrangle and cloisters. But we couldn’t go inside for a nosey – it’s lunch time already.

And what do you notice here? Yes – a blue sky. It was depressing, wet and miserable this morning, just like me. But now it looks as if the sun might be coming out.

clermont ferrand puy de dome franceThe Christmas Market was next on the agenda. That was in the square at the back of the cathedral, the square that is dominated by the Puy de Dome, which you can see all bathed in snow and wun on the skyline in the background.

At the market I bought my final Christmas present, so I’m glad that I came here, and then we headed off to the Tourist Information and the Conseil General where I picked up an enormous pile of stuff for Radio Anglais. We won’t be complaining about lack of events and information now for quite a while with all of this stuff that I’ve collected, and I made a couple of useful contacts too.

big wheel ferris place de jaude clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMy main reason for being here though is to hold Marianne’s hand on the big ferris wheel in the Place de Jaude. In her capacity as hournalist she decided that it would be quite a plan to get to the top and take some decent photos, but she’s not very good at heights. Consequently I was roped in for moral support.

The wheel is quite high as you can see, and the views from the top, such as this one looking north-west, are absolutely splendid. Mind you, I was quite disappointed as it was the smoothest ride that i’ve ever had. It gave no real sensation of movement and it certainly didn’t seem as if we were anything like this high.

cathedral clermont ferrand puy de dome franceMind you, another lifetime’s ambition has been accomplished. Taking a photo of the cathedral at Clermont Ferrand is next-to-impossible as it is hemmed in by all kinds of other buildings and there’s no really good shot.

I’ve been experimenting with extreme-length telephoto lenses from the surrounding summits of the Faille de Limagne but they haven’t really worked out. But sod that for a game of soldiers now. Up here is the nicest view of the cathedral that anyone could hope to see.

So a visit to a bookshop, a quick coffee and then back to the bus and home to 2°C.The temperature has plummetted and we might well be back into winter at last.

Friday 13th December 2013 – DO YOU REMEMBER …

dry stone wall where wood shed was les guis virlet puy de dome france … yesterday when I was talking about the stone wall here?

The old woodshed was on those pallets just there and the wood was stacked up against the wall. The wall is honeycombed with all kinds of things growing in it but that part there, where the wood has been for about 3 years or more, nothing at all has been able to grow in that.

les guis virlet puy de dome franceConsequently, it’s perfectly clean and weed-free and I want to keep it like that. Hence my decision to mortar the joints, even though it’s supposed to be a dry stone wall.

Not only does it look much prettier like that, then nothing will grow in it either, I hope, and that will be one less thing to have to worry about.

It took me most of the day to do that as I had to clean off all of the moss and the like, and in a few places I had to build parts of it back up again. There were also a few weeds growing in the top and so I had to pull them out. But here we are anyway, one wall about a third done.

This evening I went round to Marianne’s as she was having computer issues. And after I had sorted those out, Marianne cooked some food which was really nice of her.

And it’s rained this evening. First time in well over a week.

Friday 29th November 2013 – I MADE IT OUT THIS MORNING …

… but it was rather touch and go as it as another one of those cold clammy mornings where I didn’t really feel too much like crawling out of my stinking pit.

But anyway after breakfast I had to unload Caliburn of all the wood that I had bought the other day and that’s all now in the barn. Then round to Marianne’s and then on to St Maurice.

laurent dumas pierrette ray jean yves gouttebel st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceFirst thing that was happening there was a meeting of the officials of the Canton of Pionsat and for the first time that I can ever recall, we had all 10 mayors present at the same time.

And not only that, we had Laurent Dumas, the canton’s delegate to the Departmental Conseil-General and also Jean-Yves Gouttebel, the President of the Conseil-General, in attendance. We were really honoured and it seems that I am once more moving in exalted circles.

new road opening st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceThe purpose of being at St Maurice was for the formal opening of a road. Not a new road, but a realignment of an existing highway that has just had a great deal of money spent on it.

Someone produced a tricolour ribbon and so we had Dumas and Gouttebel standing in the middle of the road cutting the ribbon – something that would have been quite exciting had there been a truck or something coming the other way.

Long-term followers of this rubbish know that St Maurice is famous for its exotic cars – there are a few crazy mechanics here and on one occasion they had an exhibition of their output.

la jonquille longest car in the world st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceOne such vehicle is “La Jonquille” – claimed by its builder to be the longest car in the world, and St Maurice is where it lives.

It’s rather loosely based on a Peugeot 403 estate as you can see – well, several Peugeot 403s in fact.

Later that afternoon I went to pick up Marianne again this time for Riom for the annual meeting of journalists of La Montagne – the local newspaper. Where the meeting was to be held was only a mile or so from the big LeClerc hypermarket at Mozac and so we went an hour or so early so that I could do my next week’s shopping. No sense in missing an opportunity for that and it saves me going to St Eloy tomorrow.

Back here later it was taters upstairs and so I had the biggest fire I’ve ever had. That increased the room temperature 15°C in an hour or so and that’s some going, and it cooked my tea in record time.

So now I’m off to bed – I’m doing “minding” duties tomorrow.

Now I

Wednesday 27th November 2013 – I’VE FINISHED …

… building the framework for the woodshed, and the two sides are assembled. It doesn’t half look serious too, as indeed it should – 2 metres high and 1.5 metres deep and it will be 4 metres wide when it’s properly assembled.

Next stage of course is to dig the holes in order to plant the legs of the sides, but I’m not sure that I’ll be doing that tomorrow. Right now, it’s -7°C outside and dropping rapidly, and with one of the clearest starry skies that I have seen for a while, there’s no limit as to how low it might go.

Mind you, we had a gorgeous day today as well. Hardly a cloud in the sky all day and 78 amp-hours in the electric water-heater. It was quite enjoyable working outside.

And I’ll tell you something else. If you remember back to September, I bought a Ryobi Plus One Impact bit driver, and I used it today. It gets through the batteries but it drove the 6×60 screws right into the wood without very much effort at all, without any pilot holes – and we are talking real wood too, not this resinous pine stuff. I was well-impressed with that.

I finished that about 15 minutes before it went dark so I had a wood-cutting session – some of the rotten beams that I’d pulled out. And then I had to go to Marianne’s – she’s upgraded her computer but half of the programs that she has wouldn’t install. Hardly surprising, as some were for W98, but others just needed a little tweak. And back home, I had Rosemary on the phone for 15 minutes.

Now I have the fire banked up and I’m going nowhere.

Tuesday 19th November 2013 – YEEUUUCCCHHH

It’s been one of “those” days again. When the alarm went off, it was dark outside, which it shouldn’t be at 07:30 in the morning. And as it wasn’t getting any lighter, I finally crawled out of my stinking pit to see what was going on and, sure enough, we had another hanging cloud. This one was right over the house, the barn and everywhere and you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face outside.

What a start to the day.

Consequently I was in no hurry to start work this morning which was just as well for at 10:00 I had a phone call from Marianne. One or two things with which she has been dealing seem to have gone tits-up in rather a spectacular fashion and so I told her I’d pop round for a coffee and a chat. That solved my problem about working anyway.

After a lengthy chat and a couple of coffees I came back here and started on the barn again. I’ve had a real go at that and a couple more bin-bags of rubbish, as well as a hibernating dormouse, were put outside ready to go to the tip. And as the day advanced, I ended up clearing quite a reasonable amount of floor space and that is good news for when I need to empty Caliburn. I might even have space to put the stuff now. And if the weather keeps on being thoroughly miserable, I might do even more good. You never know.

And the chances of that happening are very good, as it happens. For when I stuck my head outside just now, it was snowing. First snow of the winter.

Ahhh well …

Monday 21st October 2013 – HERE’S SOMEONE WITH A SORE HEAD

renault clio in ditch pionsat puy de dome franceThis was what greeted me this morning on my way round to Cécile’s house. Someone clearly not paying enough attention last night.

Its not the first time that Ive encountered a car in a ditch of course. Keen readers of this rubbish will recall that on my way to the footy at Combronde a few years ago I encountered another one in a ditch near Menat. On that occasion the driver would indeed have had a headache as there was a head-shaped dent in the windscreen just above the steering wheel, but in the case of this car there was no such evidence (I did look).

But just for a change I was up early, as I needed to be. First stop was fuel at the Intermarche at Piosat, and second was at Marianne’s to pick up Cécile’s keys. Then, passing by the car in the ditch I went on to her house.

font nanaud hanging cloud gorges de la sioule st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceAt the top of the Font Nanaud there was this spectacular site waiting to greet me. Usually, quite early in the morning, there’s a hanging cloud that sits in the Gorges de la Sioule and when you pass by the Birdwatching Centre beyond St Gervais, you can see it.

Today though, it had well-overflowed the Gorges and St Gervais, just down there in that valley, was totally overwhelmed. I hadn’t seen it that dramatically before.

Once I’d sorted out Cécile’s affairs I went off chaud-pied to St Gervais to pick up Liz who had taken the Punto for its controle technique, and we shot off to Gerzat to record the Arverne sessions of Radio Anglais.

That wasn’t as easy as it might have been eiter as Bernard had forgotten that we were coming, and then everything that could possibly go pear-shaped did go pear-shaped and if we had had the time I would have done it all over again.

I took Liz for lunch afterwards as she deserved it, and then I came home. I should have gone to Brussels this evening too but what with a very late night last night (I can’t believe how stressful it is these days dealing with other people’s problems when they don’t really want them dealt with) and I wasn’t up for a 750km drive through the night.

I went to bed instead.

Saturday 19th October 2013 – THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT …

… of changes around here – it’s amazing what cam happen when you’ve been away for as long as I have.

new road junction montaigut quarry puy de dome franceSteaming down the hill past the quarry at Montaigut on my way to the shops at St Eloy this afternoon and I came shuddering to a halt. That’s because a new road, and of course, a new road junction seem, to have miraculously appeared.

I’ve heard a great deal about this proposed new road – it’s something that’s been proposed for quite a while. For years, heavy lorries from the quarry have struggled through the medieval streets of Montaigut, snarling up the traffic and rattling the houses, and all of the local inhabitants are thoroughly fed up of it.

new road junction montaigut quarry puy de dome franceBut not any more. While I was away, a new road has been consrtructed that by-passes the village and goes off to the N144 on the outskirts.

There, the traffic is not obliged to enter into the village at all and that will please everyone.

It will please me greatly too. I often need to take the N144 and then turn off for Montmarault and in order to do that I have to go down some quite narrow windy roads with, more often than not, the sun full in my face at the most inopportune of moments. Now I can just steam on down to here and then hang a left on the new road, and I’m there in no time.

new road junction montaigut quarry puy de dome franceThere’s another part of the road that is in the throes of being built. That part will take you onto the road that leads to Pionsat, and that’s another piece of road that should have been built centuries ago to by-pass the village.

All the traffic on there, if it isn’t going to the village itself (which is highly unlikely as there is nothing in Montaigut tha Pionsat doesn’t have) is going to the motorway at Montmarault and so is being channelled through the village and as anyone will tell you, traffic in Montaigut can sometimes be impossible.

No, when they finish this, it should be a good thing.

However I am getting ahead of myself. This morning I was intending to go to Montlucon but I’d seen some interesting stuff that would do for the radio programme, so I wrote a couple of thousand words on the tax changes that took place in July.

After shopping, I went round to Marianne’s to catch up on all of the latest news, and then to Cecile’s to unload Caliburn of the stuff that Cecile had chosen from the other Marianne.

fcpsh football club de foot pionsat st hilaire nord combrailles puy de dome franceWe had footy this evening too. Pionsat’s 2nd XI were relegated to the fourth Division at the end of last season and are doing fairly well here. Tonight they were playing the Miners of St Eloy but they would only muster a team of 10 and which was not a particularly strong team either, with several faces missing from the squad.

They started off brightly, with the Pionsat n°9 ( a guy called Fred, a new signing) playing a total blinder up front and looking as if he could take on the entire Nord Combraille side on his own.

fcpsh football club de foot pionsat st hilaire nord combrailles puy de dome franceIt didn’t however work out like that as Pionsat couldn’t keep going, being short-handed like that.

The Miners gradually came back into the game and eventually the goal that they had been threatening to score for quite some time went into the back of the net, despite the best efforts of Christophe who seems to have taken over the goalkeeping jersey on a permanent basis, given the illness, injury and retirement of everyone else around the club. There have been quite a few changes over the last two seasons.

Nord Combrailles scored a second goal late in the game to put the issue beyond doubt.
fcpsh football club de foot pionsat st hilaire nord combrailles puy de dome franceBut that wasn’t quite the end of the story, because this guy Fred, who had quite impressed me throughout all of the match, was still going at the final whistle.

Here he is bursting through the Miners’ defence right on the final whistle, shrugging off a few strong tackles, and putting a shot across the face of the goal beating the keeper easily. But it hits the post and bounces to safety – about the third or fourth time that he had hit the woodwork. He would have been my man-of-the-match on any day of the week in any team, that’s for sure.

Even more astonishing was the weather. We were all standing on the terraces in shirt sleeves. This was one of the nicest October nights that I can remember.

Saturday 6th July 2013 – DAMN AND BLAST!

I went to Commentry today to do my shopping – the first time for I don’t know how many months. And we had two of what can best be described as disasters.

Firstly, there’s a shop there called “Les Bonnes Affaires” – one of these surplus shops that sells overstocks, bankrupt stock and so on. I’ve bought  … ohhh … tons of stuff from there and it’s all been useful too – something of a paradise for me.

But I won’t be buying anything from there ever again because there’s a notice on the door – “Fermeture Definitive 23 mars 2013” – yes, closed down for good over three months ago. That is definitely a disaster;

The second thing is not really a disaster – it’s more of a calamity.

Bricomarché has been selling a range of wood stoves and I’ve had my eye on one of them – it’s a wood-burner with oven and back boiler, exactly what I want for downstairs to heat, cook, and to boil the water for washing and heating.

Every time I’ve gone into the shop I’ve been eyeing this oven and thinking to myself “one day you will be mine”

But damn and blast!

Bricomarché has changed supplier and that type of model isn’t in the new range. Of course, Brain of Britain hasn’t made a note of the manufacturer and of course he asked the staff of the shop but none of them could (or would) remember who it was.

Now I’m well and truly snookered.

So after another exciting dream I was up and about in what was the most glorious morning of the year so far (and it held throughout the day too which was a complete surprise).

I didn’t do much in Commentry (there wasn’t much to do in all honesty) but I did go to Neris-les-Bains, the swimming pool was indeed open, and I had the best swim for absolutely ages.

I really felt the benefits of that too.

This evening I went round to Marianne’s. It’s been 6 months since Bill’s death and so a group of us had a little party and get-together in his memory.

She had found a bag with all of Bill’s drawings and paintings, and we were allowed to choose one each as a memory.

I have many paintings here, all painted by people who have flashed in and out of my life at one time or another, and I was pleased to add a small watercolour of a beach scene to my collection.

Now I’m nice and clean (for once) and so I’m going to treat myself to clean bedding tonight. That’s pushing the boat out rather far, isn’t it?

But I’ll be on my own tonight because Strawberry Moose has gone on a sleepover.

And the dream? Ohh yes, I forgot. I was working in a big office and I had a pile of folders on my desk with post in that needed to be dealt with. The post was put inside the files ready to be worked, but some of the cases were quite complicated and I had had a few sitting there for months and I hadn’t told anyone about them. I’d just learnt that I had been transferred to another office immediately, which meant that these cases had to be abandoned and would be inherited by another who would immediately identify my misdeeds and wouldn’t my name be mud? I was in something of an awful panic about this.

Friday 28th June 2013 – I’M BACK …

… in Pooh Corner right now and I’ll be staying the night here – the first time for months. And I can’t say that I’m sorry either. I’ve come to the conclusion that, such as it is (or isn’t), it’s my home and it’s where I really want to be.

But today has been something of a weird day all round and it carried on as it started off. A few years ago I had a really good friend, my best friend for I don’t know how many years. He always was a little weird (but that’s never been a problem because I like weird people anyway) but he had a very serious motorcycle accident in the mid 1990s and that did for him pretty much, I’m afraid. His condition deteriorated until a few years ago I could no longer cope with his unpredictable mood swings. He had two kids, a son who was totally bone-idle and a complete waste of time, and who yet was the apple of his eye, and a much younger daughter who he picked on incessantly and, quite often, gratuitously. Whenever she was alone and I was there, she used to tell me little things and we had some quite deep chats. I haven’t seen her for a number of years now and I’ve often wondered how she was getting along, yet last night, I was driving past their house and daddy opened the front door and there in the background was daughter. And I’m not quite sure why, but I found that little flash during last night’s dream to be extremely disturbing. It set the score for the rest of the day.

We had to go round to Bill’s old place at Le Quartier on our way to Montlucon to see Marianne and pick up a few things

But I was scratched to death by thistles, soaked by the long grass, bitten by fleas and walked on by a mouse, and all for next-to-nothing either.

And as the day drew on and on, the level of my humour and enthusiasm gradually ebbed away and I sank deeper and deeper into the pit. Not even seeing Terry at Brico Depot could cheer me up much.

I ended up being totally overwhelmed to the extent that I abandoned a trolley load of purchases (and my notebook with all of my notes, measurements and diagrams as I found out later) in the shop and came home.

I’m having a bad time right now, but there’s always tomorrow. It’ll start off all bright and sunshiney and we’ll all be happy.

And then watch some b@$t@rd come along and spoil it.

Friday 21st June – ADIEU, L’ILE D’YEU

At 10:30 am Cécile and I stepped onto the catamaran to take us back to the mainland – 30 minutes of high-speed sailing across the Bay of Biscay.

And I still can’t understand why they don’t have a coffee machine or something on board. Not only are they missing a major income-generating opportunity (which is not to be missed in these days of economic restraint), how am I supposed to go for 30 minutes without one.

ilr d'yeu france>With Cecile being here, I didn’t manage to re-read my A Night to Remember – the story of the sinking of the Titanic.

I did however manage to retake the photos that I took on the way out to the island when it was obscured by clouds or something such, because the weather on the way back across was so much better.

You wouldn’t have thought so, though, if you had seen this morning.

At 07:30 it was miserable, grey, depressing and drizzling – a typical summer day of course, but slowly it managed to brighten up as we packed.

By the time Cécile’s mother’s next-door neighbour Catherine dropped us off on the quayside it was turning into quite a pleasant morning and we were looking forward to the journey home.

pont de noirmoutier franceAs the catamaran (which I forgot to photograph yet again) pulled closer to th mainland, it gave me an opportunity to take a photograph of the Pont de Noirmoutier.

Noirmoutier is an island and before the bridge was built, there was a ferry that set out from Fromentine. The bridge put an end to the ferry when it was opened in 1971.

What the locals considered to be “excessive” tolls led to all kinds of demonstrations, one of which was suppressed by a famous baton-charge of the CRS in 1977.

The tolls were removed in 1994 following a series of accidents to travellers who knew of the existence of a sunken road between the mainland and the island, but not exactly WHERE it was

Having paid a fortune to a licensed bandit to retrieve Caliburn, we set out through the sun for the journey home, but caught up with the rain at La Roche sur Yon.

By the time we reached Chantonnay it was a howling gale and tropical rainstorm and I felt quite sorry for Cécile who I had packed off to buy the food for lunch while I fuelled up Caliburn underneath an overhead canopy.

At least we managed to avoid being hit by a falling meteorite, a fate that befell the town 200 years ago, but nothing would surprise me in this weather.

After Poitiers though we drove into the sun and the rest of the route was in quite nice weather, which made a welcome change.

In Pionsat, Marianne filled us in with the latest gossip and there was also a music concert going on in the square. Had I not been so whacked, I would have stayed on for the entertainment.

Anyway, I didn’t need much rocking last night, that’s for sure.