Tag Archives: attic floor

Wednesday 13th January 2010 – It’s back up again.

Well, erichall.eu is, anyway. Lesguis.com is going to have to wait a while longer. So anyone who sent me a mail that bounced – you can resend it now and I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

Mind you, once more, my address book, research subfolder and the like have disappeared into the ether. That’s a real pain in the aspidistra and what’s worse, it’s not the first time that this has happened either. You’d think that I would learn.

In other news, that weatherman we have is still up to his tricks, having wild and unpredictable guesses that fall hopelessly short of the mark. He promised us overcast and cloudy conditions with rainfall, but yon golden object was in the sky for the whole day more-or-less and I’ve had another reasonable solar day. Still not earth-shatteringly marvellous but it’ll do for now. I’ve also been cracking on with the insulation but I’ve come to a stop, on the grounds that I’ve now run out of insulation. But at least I can move. I dug Caliburn out of a snowdrift and went for a run up the lane so I reckon that this weekend I’ll go and do a mega-shop in Montlucon and have a shower at Neris.

Talking of showers, I hear that the OUSA Executive committee are to go “on the road” and “visit the regions”. The East Midlands is the first port of call and the Derby/Nottingham area has been suggested for the location. Of course, someone has suggested that they stay in the town of Clowne – after all, it’s midway between the two and somehow quite appropriate.

This afternoon I cut my hair, had a wash and shave, and changed my clothes. Well, it was 8 degrees in the verandah. In fact it was quite a major operation and I hed to tell the water board that it was on its way. But I must admit – I am looking forward to a good swim and a good shower, and I’m not talki …. “you’ve done that” … ed.

I’ve also been in great demand today. Firstly, the girl who came round here with Francois the other day – she phoned me up to talk about this and that. There’s an eco-fair in Clermont Ferrand next weekend and she’s going with Francois. There’s a spare seat in the car and she asked me if I wanted to go. Most people who read this blog are of the opinion that I ought to get out more often and so I’ve decided to go. It’ll do me good.

Next it was the turn of Terry who wanted a chat about one of our long-term projects. It’s nice to hear from him and Liz and have a good natter.

Thirdly, the guy from SMADC (the Society for the Mutual Aid and Development of the Combrailles) called. We are supposed to be having a meeting with a producer from a French radio station, and it’s now been arranged for Monday afternoon. This is looking uncomfortably like it might happen, this idea of an English-language radio programme on French radio.

Finally (at least up to now) Antoine called. He has an idea for a business opportunity for himself now that he’s taken early retirement and wanted a chat about it.

Meanwhile, in other other news, the McCann Media Circus is back on the road, suing anyone and everyone who says naughty things about them. It’s becoming a right money-spinner for someone – this disappearing daughter – and it’s spawned countless imitations right across the globe with kids hidden in settees, kids being dragged away by weather balloons and the like. But the McCanns are really starting to take the mickey now. Over a million quid they want now for their hurt feelings. The money will of course be paid to the “Find Madeleine” campaign, which might well fund further trips to exotic corners of the globe to visit more law courts to sue more people to get more money to pay to the “Find Madeleine” campaign that might well fund further …. “that’s enough of that” – ed.

What the McCanns don’t realise is just how lucky they are. If Mrs McCann had been a single mother and black-skinned, leaving a baby home alone to face a tragedy would have got her 7 and a half years in prison without any trips to any exotic corners of the globe – let alone any charitable funds and any sympathy from a gullible public.

It’s high time someone put a stop to all of this.

Tuesday 12th January 2010 – Well, the weather man got it right today.

It was bound to happen sooner or later – the law of averages is bound to match a wild guess with an actuality sooner or later.

In fact I couldn’t believe it – at first I thought that he had mixed up today with yesterday as the morning was magnificent – a proper Alpine winter day and the solar controllers were ticking over the charge like nobody’s business. I carried on insulating the floor this morning. And it seems to be working too. The early morning average difference between in here and in the lean-to is usually about 7 degrees. Today it was almost 10 degrees. That can’t be coincidence.

I didn’t get much of a chance to do much work though – I had a phone call that involved me doing quite a few other things instead. And seeing as it was a nice morning I had the computer on and started to catch up with a whole pile of messages that have been outstanding. I must have sent out about 30 e-mails to people and they are all going to get a surprise when they try to reply to me, as my web site is down again.

It appears that my web host has closed its doors rather … errr …. suddenly. Not that I’m surprised about this as a phrase involving booze-ups and breweries springs to mind whenever I think of this organisation. What with crashed servers that they couldn’t fix, lost data in e-mail accounts, disappearing files due to fits of pique, a whole host of other things as well that regular readers of these pages will be well aware, I’m surprised that they managed to stagger on to this extent before finally rolling over. There’s a lot more to running a professional and ethical organisation involving hi-tec equipment than you will ever learn by studying an Open University course. But then again most normal people would realise that.

And there you are, trying to be loyal and supportive of people that you like and people who are making an effort to carve out a living for themselves against all the odds and all the rubbish that life has heaped upon them, and it all falls to pieces anyway. “There’s no sentiment in business” I keep on being told, and it’s high time I learnt the lesson. Trying to be nice to people and giving them a helping hand just causes me more problems than it’s worth. I should have been much more ruthless and kicked this shambles into touch the first time they let me down.

I’ve been approached by a “successor” who wants to have my business and we are trying to salvage what we can from the wreckage of dazzling incompetence.
I’ll match the terms and conditions that my predecessors offered” he announced. So I told him what the terms and conditions were – and his jaw hit the floor.
They told me you paid …(almost twice as much)” he stuttered
Well I have the invoice, the bank statement and the cancelled cheque here if you would like to see them
Someone is speaking with forked tongue, and I know that it isn’t me. And as for the motives – well, just lets say that “it’s fun to speculate”.

Meanwhile, if you want to mail me and the e-mail bounces, wait for a couple of days and resend it.

So after all of these shenanigans, the weather dramatically warmed up and we had a torrential downpour. And about 10 tonnes of snow slid of the roof just three or four feet above my head, and crashed to the ground with the roar of an express train. It put the wind up me for a minute. Rather like the man who gave his pitbull terrier a bicycle pump. “That’ll put the wind up the postman!”.

I was talking to Alexi on a chat program earlier. We were discussing cars and driving tests and she was telling me about hers – which she took in Zambia, where she was living at the time. She had to reverse between two bollards and then drive the examiner to the post office – and that was that. I told her about the Libyan driving test where you have to reverse between two palm trees -which are about 5 miles apart.

And I did hear about a driving test in the Spanish Sahara or the Central African Republic or somewhere like that. The pupil was involved in quite a serious collision in which the examiner was killed. As they pulled him from the wreckage the pupil shouted “did I pass? Did I pass?”
Wait a minute” shouted one of the policemen at the scene. “We haven’t found the examiner’s clipboard yet!”

Monday 11th January 2010 – I’m glad I didn’t hold my breath.

This weather forecaster around here is a bigger liar than Tony Blair. Totally clear sky, he said. He even posted an icon of a brilliant yellow sun with no clouds in the picture at all. But it goes without saying that we just had this blank wall of grey cloud all day, relentlessly, without anything to relieve the monotony.

Liz said that she saw for a brief moment a kind of pale yellowy haze behind the clouds – but that was the sum total of anyone’s view of our totally clear sky.

Having said that, by 10:30 this morning I’d had more solar energy than the last three days combined. But seeing as those figures amounted to a grand total of 2.1 amp-hours, it wasn’t difficult. In fact today, at 26 amp-hours, I’m positively spoilt. Last time I had this much was 6 days ago, and the sum total of the 5 intervening days doesn’t amount to 26 amp-hours. But we’re promised sunny days tomorrow Friday and Saturday – and once again, I’m not holding my breath.

Today I carried on with the insulating, and managed until the tools became too cold to hold. It’s no fun trying to work in conditions of mnus 2 – inside the house. Outside, it was a very pleasant minus 5. I lit another fire full of rubbish and threw a log or too on top, and then lit the fire in the room. it warmed up quite pleasantly too – but I’m going to have to abandon the project with the woodstove because after the fire went out downstairs, all of the smoke in the little woodstove decanted itself back into the attic and smoked me out.

I had a really nice tea today. I started off by throwing half a cup full of lentils into a pan of cold water with all kinds of different spices and bringing it to the boil. When it reached boiling point I heaved in half a cup of rice. That was followed by some frozen vegetables (they were really tinned vegetables but everything here is frozen right now) and left to simmer until most of the water had been absorbed (about 20 minutes). Then I stirred in a couple of teaspoons of Vegan gravy powder, and that was that! Delicious!

So tomorrow I’ll try to finish off the insulation. It’s supposed to warm up over the next few days but you know what the weatherman is like round here.

Sunday 10th January 2010 – And if you thought that yesterday was depressing …

… with 0.9 amp-hours of solar energy, well it was 0.9 amp-hours more than was generated today. Yes, for only the second time since I began to keep records I have had a day with nothing at all.

heavy snow les guis virlet auvergne puy de dome franceThis morning I shinned up on the roof again and instead of brushing the snow off the panels I had to shovel it off, there was so much of it. But like I said, I needn’t have bothered because we had a freezing hanging cloud all day over the mountain.

After doing a few housekeeping jobs around here I carried on with insulating underneath the floor but once again I was defeated by the freezing cold and had to knock off for a couple of hours. MInd you I found a few gaps that were letting in the cold and I’ve now sealed them up and it seems that my attic is holding the heat a little better than before.

I found a mouse scavenging in the rubbish today. There’s no possibility of taking it to the recycling in this weather so I decided I had better burn it. And that gave me an idea. I set a fire in the woodstove in the attic then lit a big fire in the fireplace downstairs – and then lit the fire in the attic. And the updraught from the main fire drew the fire from the stove and for a couple of hours it burnt nicely. But then it went out again and won’t relight – it’s definitely a flue issue. I took advantage of the fire downstairs though and baked some spuds. I had baked potatoes and beans for tea. And talking of lighting fires I’ve found that the butane lighters that I use for lighting the gas stoves and so on – they are frozen up. It’s a good job I have some matches lying around.

caliburn heavy snow les guis virlet auvergne puy de dome franceAnd talking of not getting out, seeing as the snow plough driver stopped about 20 yards short of Caliburn last time we were snowed in and I had to dig a trail to where the driver had stopped short, last Wednesday I parked Caliburn up right at the junction where the driver passes so I would have just inches to dig out. But badger me if he hasn’t stopped 20 yards short again. The idle so-and-so. Regular readers of my outpourings will recall from last year that he’s not exactly the most dedicated nor the most enthusiastic nor the most motivated of snowplough drivers.

So why am I blogging so early tonight? The truth is that I have an absolutely splitting headache and I’m going to bed. And we are promised a clear day tomorrow – nothing but glorious sunshine. I’m not going to hold my breath.

Friday 8th January 2010 – today was the day …

heavy snow les guis virlet puy de dome france…when my morale, which has been slowly ebbing away for this last couple of weeks, finally disappeared.

I didn’t wake up until the alarm went off (just for a change) and there was no way I was going to get out of bed early. And, as usual, despite the clear starry skies last night, today was clouded over – a heavy hanging cloud was clinging to the side of the mountain.

We’d had snow too, so that involved a shin up onto the roof and a clearing of the solar panels – not that I needed to bother because I’ve had the impressive total of 1.1 amp-hours today!

But none of that is what has done in my morale though. And I can cope with frozen tea towels and frozen ordinary towels and frozen washing-up water and frozen water butts and even frozen lettuce – what did it for me firstly was going into the fridge (that has been switched off for over a month) and finding that my lunchtine tomato was frozen solid. That was bad enough but then while making the coffee there must have been some ice under the seal in the coffee percolator because halfway through the coffee routine the steam pressure blew the coffee all over the verandah. With the ice melted I could tighten up the seal but of course with it being warm it went up too tight and as I tried to undo it later I broke the handle on the machine. One of the reasons that Napoleon’s onslaught on Russia failed was that the severe winter caused all of the items made of tin to become brittle – and I can see what they mean now.

But I also spilt some coffee while I was doing all of this and when I turned my attention back to the spill, it had frozen solid. Today is the first day since I have been keeping records that the temperature in the verandah has not risen above zero all day.

This morning I carried on doing a few odd jobs and then started to measure up another vertical for the first floor and cut the let in the floor beam. I dunno where the morning went but that was all I did. This afternoon with my heart no longer in anything I started to put some insulation under the floor of the attic to help keep in the warmth. But it was flaming freezing and everywhere had gone dark and there was stuff all over the floor and I didn’t feel like tidying up so at 16:30 I packed up and came in – and crashed out again for an hour.

 heavy snowfall les guis virlet auvergne puy de dome franceI rang the baker too – she comes to deliver to me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but she also has a round on Saturday so I wanted to order some bread as I’ve no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. “It depends if I can make it with this weather” she said – which totally puzzled me as the postie had been this morning. But when I went downstairs to make tea later (some tinned stuff – I wasn’t going to hang around down there in THAT weather) I saw what she meant. In the few hours that I had been upstairs it had snowed like hell and was still chucking it down. There’s about a foot of snow now, so I suppose I won’t get my bread tomorrow either.