Tag Archives: Brico Depot

Sunday 6th June 2021 – JUST IN CASE …

food place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… you are wondering why it’s taken so long for this post to come on line, the fact is that I’ve had rather a busy day as you can see.

All of this here is the contents of the shelf unit that is in the kitchen area. That has been totally emptied later on in the afternoon and it isn’t going to go back on the shelves until it’s all had a really good sort-out and I’ve decided what is what. There has been so much confusion and so much has been misplaced and lost at the back of the unit.

Quite frankly, I never really realised that there was so much on there. The pile of stuff goes right around to the left in front of the sofa and has filled the living room area completely.

lino in kitchen place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut this is the real reason why I’ve done this.

Ever since I’ve started cooking and baking seriously I’ve been dropping bits of dough and pastry all over the floor and with it being a nice wooden floor, I don’t want to spoil it and mark it with what I drop. Back at the end of last year when I was at Brico Cash I bought some linoleum and it was living in the back of Caliburn.

Today Liz and Terry came round and they asked if they could do anything while they were there. So we stripped out the kitchen completely and laid it on the floor. And with what was left, Terry cut it to make covers for the shelves.

You have to admit that it looks really good and I’m very pleased with all of this.

But with Liz and Terry coming round to visit me today, I had done something that I rarely, if ever, do on a Sunday and that was to set an alarm. But that was something of a wasted effort because at 05:20 this morning all of the church bells in the town started to ring – presumably celebrating the D-Day landings.

Although I went back to sleep it wasn’t for long and by 08:30 I was up and about having my medication.

There was a little bit of tidying up that I could carry on doing so that by the time that they arrived the place was looking something rather respectable, which makes a change.

We had a coffee and they sampled some of my fruit bread. Liz made a few suggestions as to how it can be improved. And so my next batch of fruit bread will hopefully be better – not that it is actually bad of course, but I’m always open to suggestions. In the past many people have made all kinds of suggestions, but most of them were physically impossible.

Later on we went out for a walk in the sun.

commodore clipper ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallFirst thing that I noticed was that out there in the distance there was something moving behind the Ile de Chausey and so I took a photograph of it for later examination.

Back at the apartment later on, I cropped and enlarged the photograph to see what it might have been. It has all of the silhouette of one of the Channel Islands ferries that sail out of St Malo and so I went and had a look at today’s departures from the port of St Malo.

My photo is timed at 11:07 which is actually 12:07 right now and at 10:30 or thereabouts Commodore Goodwill, one of the two ferries that run out of St Malo and around the Channel Islands, set out from St Malo.

But what we had really come to see was what was going on at the bunker that I’d noticed yesterday. It cost €2:00 to go in so we had to have a scavenge around for a handful of cash so that we could go in.

german doctors equipment bunker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd this was the star attraction in the bunker this year. A complete wartime medical kit belonging to a German doctor.

It seems that a couple of years ago an old woman left her home and was placed in an old people’s home. Her house began to be emptied and when they searched her cellar they discovered this complete kit down there, where it had been since 1944. It’s been donated to the people running the bunker as an exhibit for the proposed museum that they intend to set up here.

The other room of the bunker was empty because of water infiltration through the roof. And regular readers of this rubbish will recall that A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO I was given a guided tour of the bunkers so I didn’t take any more photographs of it.

zodiac fishermen baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back to the apartment we walked along they clifftop so we could watch the sea.

And while we were admiring the view and watching the people relaxing on board the little cabin cruiser down there, a large zodiac or some other kind of rapid boat roared past them. And I bet that the people in there wouldn’t be very popular when the wake of the zodiac hits the little cabin cruiser.

We went back to the apartment and Liz made a big salad out of all of the stuff that I had in the apartment, with my home-made bread and home-made hummus and it was delicious.

Once we’d digested our meal we attacked the kitchen. Terry reckoned that it would take 30 seconds to empty the shelves but his estimate was somewhat optimistic. It took much longer than that. And then I had to go and fetch the lino up from Caliburn.

By the time that we had finished it was quite late but nevertheless I took Liz and Terry down to La Rafale to treat them to a drink. I do have to say that they had earned it.

autogyro pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallOn the way back we were overflown by one of our regular aerial pals who we haven’t seen for quite a while.

It’s the yellow autogyro that we first saw several years ago AT THE CABANON VAUBAN when I was here with Hans. I’d seen it quite regularly at one time but for the last few months there hasn’t been a sight of it, despite all of the other aircraft that we’ve seen just recently.

Liz and Terry didn’t come back to the apartment. It was time for them to go home. I went with them to their car and sent them off on their way with my grateful thanks for all of their help.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAfter Liz and Terry had gone off home I went across the car park to look over the wall to see what was going on down on the beach.

Today there were crowds of people down there lounging around on the rocks. By the looks of things there were even a few people who had been in the water.

That’s hardly any surprise for when I awoke this morning and looked at the thermometer, the temperature outside was already 23°C. If that’s not enough to being out the crowds today then I really don’t know what is.

But there were crowds of people around everywhere today, not just on the beach either. The hordes were swarming around the car park and the paths as well.

35ma aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd not just on dery land or out at sea either. The air was pretty busy too as we have already seen with the yellow autogyro.

And here, overflying me as I was watching to goings-on down on the beach is another one of the aeroplanes that fly around here. Its registration number is 35MA and she is definitely one that we’ve seen before, and on several occasions too.

It’s a shame that I don’t have access to the database where this number is referenced, and so unfortunately I can’t tell you vert much about it. One of these days I’ll have to go out to the airport to have a good look around and see if I can find more about this aeroplane and the other one, 55-OJ for which I can’t find any information either.

paragliding pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNow over the last few days I’ve been lamenting the fact that we haven’t been seeing any Birdmen of Alcatraz for quite a while.

And so not content with seeing crowds of people on the beach and low-flying aeroplanes, I’m overflown by one of the birdmen who take off from the field by the cemetery so that they don’t have far to go if they make a mistake.

But I left the birdman alone and went inside to see how things were looking. And it’s going to be a long job to sort out all of this mess. And as I was contemplating it, Rosemary rang me and we had a really good chat for half an hour before, emulating the old news reporters from the old News of the Screws I “made my excuses and left”.

According to the guys who had talked to us at the bunker, there was to be a fly-past of an American bomber between 18:30 and 18:45 this evening and I was determined not to miss it so I arranged to clear off outside to watch.

yacht baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe first thing that I had noticed was a yacht sailing right out there in the Baie de Granville so I wandered over to have a better look and to take a photograph.

It’s not one of the big charter boats that we see sailing around here every so often, unfortunately. It’s quite a small yacht, presumably out of the pleasure harbour or even brought here on a trailer from elsewhere.

There are three or four people sitting down there so it’s probably a small family or a group of close friends out for a breath of wind on a pleasant afternoon. But I wasn’t going to hang around and watch them for I had things to do down at the end of the headland.

people fishing from boat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnother thing that I noticed out there in the Baie de Granville.

There was a strange little boat out here that I hadn’t seen before. There were four guys on board and while one of them was at the controls of the boat two of the others were busy fishing while the fourth guy was busy watching the proceeding. I wonder if he had any more luck that me in seeing one of the fishermen pull a fish out of the water.

But I left them to it and wandered off down to the end of the headland to find a good position to watch the American bomber fly past.

f-bvmc Robin Apex DR-400/140 B aeroplane pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt wasn’t long before I heard the sound of an aeroplane approaching so I prepared the camera.

But it didn’t sound like a four-engined Pratt and Whitley to me, and as it came over the headland behind me, I saw that I was right. It’s F-BVMC, which is a Robin Apex DR-400/140 B that had just taken off from the airport here. She was on her way back to somewhere in the Paris area from where she had set off earlier.

And I can tell you that because I had a look at the radar when I eventually returned home. She disappeared off the radar somewhere to the south of Paris so I imagine that she must have come down to land somewhere in the vicinity. And how I wish that these aircraft would file flight plans.

canoe baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallStill no sign of the aeroplane but I was quite comfortable sitting on my nice, big and comfortable rock so I could have a good look around.

Underneath me a canoeist was paddling past in the water down there, heading towards the harbour at the end of the day. He had a good pair of oars with him down there, and we know all about that. When I mentioned to STRAWBERRY MOOSE when I was on board a boat that I needed a pair of oars, he completely misunderstood the situation and brought a couple of ladies, heavily made-up and wearing fishnet tights.

But I had to admire him being out there and shirtless in his canoe at this time of the evening. The evening was coming on and the weather was starting to cool down.

trawler speedboat men in fishing boat baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallBut suddenly, things started to liven up down there in the water. The harbour gates must have just opened because a load of traffic suddenly started to swarm out into the bay.

This was developing into an exciting scenario, because the smallest boat that we’d just seen with the four men in it was heading back to port. And a speedboat was speeding around out there too heading into port. The trawler had to do something of a dodging manoeuvre that brought him rather closer to the little boat than I thought was prudent.

For a while I watched them and their activities, but there was no collision and no “shipwreck and nobody drownding – in fact nothing to laugh at at all” which was rather disappointing.

thais leo st brieuc trawler baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThis trawler was followed out of port by another trawler, the Thais Leo

And what caught my interest about this trawler was its registration number, which begins with SB. That indicates that it’s a boat that’s registered at the port of Saint Brieuc down the Brittany coast and so I was wondering what on earth it was doing here.

But by now it was about 19:15 and still no aeroplane so I went back up to the bunker to check the time of the aeroplane. But they had all packed up and gone home so I decided to do the same. I must have missed the aeroplane somehow.

Not long after I returned home there was a knock on my door. One of my neighbours who owns a red car who has parked next to Caliburn once or twice told me that she’d inspected her car closely and found no trace of any damage on it. We had a little chat and then she left.

Once she’d gone, I rang Rosemary back and we had a good chat that went on for about three hours, by which time it was far too late for me to think about food and even to think about writing my notes. I was totally exhausted after my long day so I went to bed and I’ll write up my notes in the morning.

Monday 25th June 2018 – ONE OF THE THINGS …

… that I have to avoid is stress. I’ve been told that many times. That’s going to finish me off quicker than anything else. All stressful thoughts need to be banished immediately from my mind.

And so after yesterday afternoon’s issues, there I was lying on my palliasse watching the clock tick round. And I definitely remember 03:44 at one point in the morning.

But I must have gone to sleep at one point because the alarm at 06:20 dragged me out of my slumber.

And out of a nocturnal ramble too. I was back in Canada picking up Strider who had been parked by the side of the road since I left him last year. And people had been using him as a rubbish skip. so he needed to be emptied. I also put my hand inside the rear door behind the rear seats (which he doesn’t have of course) and started to pullout loads of rubbish – dirt, paper, leaves and so on. And I wondered how it had come to be there. The answer was that the rear part of the cab roof that folded over down to the rear window was made of plastic (which it isn’t of course) and the plastic had rotted, allowing the weather to get in. This needed to be replaced but I wasn’t sure of the best way to do it. Meanwhile Darren was there calling his friends over to have a look at the rubbish in it. When I said something to him about that he excused himself saying that he meant come and look at how old it is. But, as I reminded him, he himself is much older than Strider.

b&b hotel moulins franceA shower didn’t do much to revive me and my spirits, and neither did breakfast, seeing as I had chosen decaffeinated coffee by mistake.

So I came up here to pack instead and headed downstairs to load up Caliburn.

First stop was the Brico Depot just across the way, where the automatic sliding door knocked the free coffee right out of my hand.

With not being able to get into my house, I wasn’t able to pick up my hole saws so I bought a cheap set from there. And “cheap” is certainly the word. They might get through the hardboard but not very much else.

From here, the next part of my route should have been pretty much straightforward, but an accident on the N79 had closed off a section of that road and we ended up being diverted through a delightful rustic rural route that meandered for miles behind a whole series of heavy lorries. To cover what must have been a 5-mile stretch of road took us 45 minutes and added 25 kilometres to the route.

There’s a LeClerc just down the road from here and so I stopped to stock up the supplies for the next week or so, as well as to buy a few things that I had forgotten to bring (and to forget a few more things that I wanted too).

Dodging the roadworks, because the whole place is being dug up right now, I pressed on.But running rather early and feeling rather tired after last night, I found a little place to stop and rest for 10 minutes.

And 10 minutes, did I say? When I awoke it was 13:52. I’d been flat out for almost 2 hours and as a result I’d missed my lunch.

But I hadn’t missed going on a travel though. In some kind of university where some kind of official woman – might even have been the Dean – informed the students that because of some kind of irregularity in their conduct, a certain order for their new hats had been cancelled. I recounted this (with a few embellishments) to a group of other people there, one of whom noticed that her order of hats for her students had been cancelled too. So at the following meeting, the lady concerned raised the issue, stating that the order had been cancelled by a majority vote of just one. Her friend hastily corrected her, so the first lady returned to the original story, and asked why her order had been cancelled too. The Dean or whoever she was replied “well, I don’t know” in one of these stage remarks where the tone of voice conveyed more than the message. “I bet I do” was the tart reply from the lady raising the complaint. Of course, I exploded into laughter – a stage laughter too – which left no-one in any doubt that I was fully aware of what was going on.

Having been startled into awakening myself, I hit the road immediately. Due to my running a day or so early, Jean-Marc and Jacqueline had changed all of their plans to fit in with mine (which was nice of them) so I didn’t want to disappoint them.

maconnais franceThey live in the mountains at the back of Macon in some of the most beautiful countryside that I have ever seen, where Jean-Marc had his own vinyard and made his own wine before he retired.

We’d met on a student exchange programme almost 50 years ago but lost touch with each other afterwards until 4 years ago when I bumped quite by accident into his aunt in a village where his grandmother owned a café, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall.

It just goes to show you exactly how small the world is these days.

maconnais franceThreading my way through the hills and the vinyards of the Maconnais, I ended up chez them where I duly presented the newlyweds with a bottle of champagne.

We had such a lot to talk about, seeing as the last time that Jean-Marc and I had seen each other, I was stretched out in a hospital bed having just been brought out of an operating theatre in the hospital in Montlucon.

On eisn’t at one’s best under the circumstances

roche de solutre franceJacqueline had to go out later so Jean-Marc took me on a drive out to the countryside to revisit some of the places where we had been in 1970.

The obvious place to visit at first was the Roche de Solutre, the most prominent hill in the landscape for miles around. We’d climbed to the top of it (there’s a path) back in 1970 but that was a long time ago and I’ve slept since then so I don’t remember much about it.

He remembers that we cycled here all the way from Macon, but again I don’t remember a thing about the journey.

Jean-Marc told me that we had met all of the other exchange students at the foot of the rock and had a picnic but I don’t recall anything of that. Old age is definitely creeping on.

roche de vergisson macon franceThe next rock is the Roche de Vergisson and so we walked a little way along the track towards it.

Not all the way, of course. I might have done that in 1970 but I’ve no intention of doing it now, thank you.

The track is called La Voie Romaine by the locals and there’s no reason to suppose that it isn’t a Roman Road, although I do know of a Pont Romain – the Roman bridge – in the Auvergne which wasn’t built until the 13th Century, as do listeners of our former radio programmes.

roche de solutre macon franceThere are several good views all over the Saone valley and up in the hills.

There are only so many of them that you can see when you are on a pushbike or an old Mobylette, so Jean-Marc took me all around the hilltops to see the things that I had missed all those years ago.

And it certainly made a great difference being able to get about in a car.

macon franceMind you, I’m not as young as I used to be so I couldn’t go galloping up to the top for a better view like I might have done at one time.

And so you’ll have to make do with a photo of Macon taken from half-way up a hill at the side of the road.

And I don’t think that it loses anything in the view. It’s still quite impressive.

While we were waiting for Jacqueline to come back, Moonn the long-haired cat was sitting on my knee. And when she returned, Moonn leapt off me, leaving behind most of her fur. I ended up looking like a snowman.

ambroisie restaurant macon franceJacqueline and Jean-Marc offered me a bed for the night which was very kind of them, so in return I took them out for a meal in Macon.

There wasn’t a great deal of choice for a vegan meal with it being Monday and everywhere being closed, but we did find somewhere.

My vegan soup and couscous with vegetables followed by raspberry purée was totally delicious and I’ll be going back there again some time in the future.

Jacqueline drove back and when we arrived, I declined a coffee went straight to bed.

It’s been a long day and I’m thoroughly exhausted. I’m not used to all this effort.

Monday 7th March 2016 – I WENT TO RESCUE …

… Caliburn today. And it’s a good job that I did too.

When I arrived around back at my place during mid-afternoon, it was just another grey, cold day with nothing particular to say about it. And I went inside to look for some stuff that I needed – some clothes, a small rolling suitcase, my missing Paint Shop Pro CD, my passport, the post, all kinds of stuff. And while I was up in the attic I remember thinking “blimmin’ ‘eck – it’s going dark early!”

caliburn ford transit snow les guis virlet puy de dome franceBut looking up, I could see that the skylights were completely snowed over and flakes the size of dinner plates were falling down. No wonder it was dark up there.

This wasn’t the time to be hanging about in my opinion. I grabbed what I could and headed for Caliburn and then headed for the hills before I could be snowed in.Luckily, after about 6 weeks of standing around, Caliburn started up easily so that was no problem.

And I’m glad in some respects that I didn’t have to hang around too much. It was taters in my attic – all of 5.9°C although it did warm up to 6.4°C after I had been there for an hour or so. Such are the advantages of having the place bung-full of insulation. I keep telling people – money spent on good insulation is never wasted.

But never mind that for a moment – let’s go back to this morning and the blasted nurse because he flaming well forgot me YET AGAIN! And it’s blood test day too so that has put the tin hat on it, hasn’t it?

I had made a special effort to get up early too, even though I was well away with the fairies.

It was an evening at weekend and, as was my custom, I’d gone out to a nearby town (and I can’t remember now which one it was) for a good prowl around. It was something that I did every weekend, and it was always to the same town, and I knew by heart everywhere to go here. It suddenly occurred to me that I was bored with it? Why didn’t I go to somewhere different? After all, the Potteries weren’t too far away. There, I had six towns to choose from and there was plenty to do, much of which would be totally new to me. But the downside of that was that where I was visiting, there was a kind of hotel where you could go for just a couple of hours and crash out. That was something that I did every time that I was there and I reckoned that it was quite important to me. There wasn’t anywhere to do that in Stoke on Trent, as far as I was aware. But on one of my walks around the town I was looking in the window of a motorcycle shop. There was a Honda 350cc in there – something totally modern that I had never seen before. It had no seat on it and the engine was missing, and the frame was really low-slung like a racing bike. My brother (him again???) came to stand next to me and we were looking at the bike. I told him that I couldn’t make out whether it was beautiful or totally hideous. There was also an old British 2-stroke twin in the window and that was much more like my kind of motorbike. He asked me about Hondas, and especially the Honda 250. Which was the best – the CB or the CD? I told him that the CB was more highly-tuned so it would respond better when being used under normal circumstances around town and on the road (ironically, whenever I had been asked this question in the 1970s, I had always recommended the CD).
From here, via a long convoluted trail I ended up back at my house with a crowd of people there, including my brother (yet again!) and the debut appearance on these pages of his wife. While we were talking, she suddenly produced a modern single-bore shotgun. This enraged me completely and right on the spur of the moment I started to sing a song that I made up on the spot as I was going along. Sung to the tune of “I don’t want to join the army” from “Oh! What A Lovely War!”, it started off –
“Don’t bring guns into my kitchen”
“Don’t bring guns into my hall”
And it concluded
“I may not want to kill”
“but I’m not so very ill”
“to let myself be shot inside my home”
and the astonishing thing about this is not only do I remember myself singing it, but the fact that I could come up with the lyrics, all of which scanned perfectly, as I was going along – and in a dream as well.
My technique must be improving!

Being fed up of waiting once 09:15 had arrived, I had my breakfast and then carried on with a few little things that I had to do, and seeing as how I was going to see my surgeon, I thought that I would make myself pretty.
“You’d better get a move on” said Terry. “We have to be off in four hours!”

So having done that and come back downstairs to another barrage of abuse – “well?” asked Terry. “When are you starting?” – we eventually had lunch and then off on the road to Montlucon.

Now I don’t know what they are spending the money on at the hospital but it’s not on the archives department, I’ll tell you that. It was like something out of Charles Dickens. Anyway, they can give me a complete copy of my file but not straight away as they need to photocopy it – at … gulp … €0:18 per page. This is going to run out to be very expensive. I can pick it up on Friday.

Back in the hospital, I’ve changed the appointment for the scanner. As you know, it should have been the day after my appointment in Leuven but that’s clearly not going to happen. But down at the secretariat of the X-ray department, they managed to find a little gap for me – they had a cancellation for 10:30 on Friday 18th of March and so I’m fitted in there.

I finally got round to seeing the surgeon, having bumped into my little student nurse on the way up and we had quite a chat. My surgeon didn’t say anything but the look on her face was enough when I told her that my blood count was going down quicker than the lifts in the hospital. Her response was “well, we’ll see what the scanner has to say and then we’ll see what else we can do for you”.

It was those last few words that filled me with foreboding.

But everything that I asked, and all of the problems that I discussed, everything was “we’ll see what the scanner has to say”. I really do believe that they have run out of ideas and are groping a little in the dark. But my stitches have indeed disappeared – they were indeed soluble – and now I can at last have a shower, which I shall be taking tomorrow.

I only had to wait two minutes for Terry, who had been to Brico Depot for an earthing rod – and then we were off back to my place.

And after everything back there, it was nice to be back behind the wheel of Caliburn even if there was a load of snow on the road as far as the Font Nanaud. I’ve missed driving, and I’m now toying with the idea of maybe going by road to Leuven.

That’s not as silly as it sounds, actually. I was in no difficulty at all with the driving, and I have four trips to make to Montlucon before I need to leave for Leuven so that will ease me back into it. And not only that, it will save on having to walk and drag a suitcase around with me while I change from train to train.

But even that might not be an issue because with all of the walking that I needed to do today, as well as all of the stair-climbing, I was moving quite a good deal easier than I was even yesterday, never mind last week when I first started on my exercise.

If only I could do something about this continual loss of blood – but if the nurse doesn’t come to give me the tests, what can I do about controlling it?

Saturday 9th January 2016 – WE HAD SOMETHING …

… of a minor crisis here today – like waking up and finding a puddle on the floor of the kitchen. First job therefore was to dismantle … "disPERSONtle" – ed … the kitchen unit where the sink was. Sure enough, one of the water pipes was soaking wet.

This meant turning off the water and checking all of the joints. One or two rubber washers inside were rather perished so Terry replaced them all, and then switched the water back on. And sure enough, five minutes later, more water!

After lunch, further inspection revealed that one of the braided tap-hoses seemed to be distorted. It’s not that it ever is so cold in the kitchen that the water would freeze and burst the hose but it didn’t look right at all, and after an exhaustive search, Terry couldn’t find a spare one. So off to Montlucon and Brico Depot (a round trip of 110 kms).

He was back after 40 minutes. Passing by St Eloy, he noticed that the plumber’s was open. It costs twice as much in there as it would in Brico Depot, but it saves on time and on fuel. So crawling back underneath the cupboard, he wielded his spanner and … CRACKKKKK … the bottom of the tap broke off. There was a hairline fracture in it and it was this that was causing all of the problems right from the beginning.

So it was off to Brico Depot anyway, and all that I can say was that it was a good job that Terry didn’t go there before to fetch the hose. That would have been the end.

So now we have a nice new tap which works perfectly.It’s the same design as the ones that I bought for my shower and my sink in the shower room back home, and probably the one that I will buy for my kitchen, whenever that might be ready to need one.

But we needed one to do all of the washing-up after Liz’s glorious meal last night. A basil-flavoured tofu stir-fry with noodles and it was gorgeous too. And I had ice-cream for pudding – after all, I can’t have any more until that is finished.

Talking of finished, I certainly was! When the alarm went off, I switched it off and went back to sleep. It was only a car pulling up outside that woke me bolt-upright. The neighbour’s car, not the nurse’s as it happened, but I didn’t know that at the time and shot down the stairs, missing my footing and falling most of the way to the bottom. And after the nurse went, I crashed out again on the sofa until Liz and Terry came down.

There is a reason for this however, and that is that once again, I’d been off on a couple of mega-rambles. And these were so enthralling that I woke up twice during the night and dictated them immediately into my little machine. And it was only on typing them out that I noticed the first couple of them – I had no recollection of it at all and it does make me wonder what else that I’ve missed.

The first part of all of this concerned a young boy – aged about 11 but looking about 7 or 8. We were back in mid-Victorian times and in a court room. He was charged with stealing a barrel of beer that he and a friend had sat down and drank. While the hearing was taking place, he was in the dock being violently ill everywhere, crawling on his hands and knees on the floor. In the end, the bailiff of the court, someone like John Wayne, sitting on a chair, took this boy onto his lap but the boy carried on being violently ill. In the end, the judge said something like “this is totally insupportable. We can’t possibly continue with the case like this!” This was quite true as it was clear that the boy wasn’t capable of understanding anything whatever of the procedure in his current state.

I then had something going on, involving me and someone else being chased by a dragon. This was something to do with where I was working and although I recall nothing of this and it was a surprise when it appeared on the dictaphone, I did hear myself say, when it had us trapped in a corner, that I wish that this dragon would clear off and let us get on with some real work.

From there, I went on to dealing with some issues of Marianne, who had miraculously come back to life. Nerina and I were looking after her (in the same way that Cecile and I did) and she was living in a duplex apartment, part of which were premises where I was working, on the floor below. I was down there trying to work and trying to do loads of other things too. but to cut a long story short … "hooray" – ed … Marianne passed on once more, and her body was still in the apartment – it not being possible to find someone who could come and take her away. It was Monday and no-one could come before Thursday. Nerina came back from where she had been and we had a chat, and I wasn’t sure whether I should allow her to share my bed or even stay the night, with all of this confusion going on right now. It was quite late by now and I was ready for bed at this moment, in my jammies and dressing gown. We were having a little cosy chat around the table in my room and suddenly, the door burst open and my boss from a job years ago, an absolute swine, stuck his head around the door, and cleared off again. And Nerina had to clear off as well. I escorted her to her car. Now earlier on in the day, I’d been having trouble with a TV camera – it would show TV programmes if you pressed the correct sequence of buttons but this was such a complicated sequence that I had managed to do it once but never again. ever since, every time that I pressed a button it made the boom arm collapse onto my head or something like that; So after Nerina left, I was out on this car park having yet another play with this camera. And then HE appeared again, brandishing a pink brochure of some kind. “Mr Hall, how DARE you tell the tea-lady that I was going to be here for the St Something-or-other (which implied that he was going to be at a dance that was taking place on that day)?” but my response was that I had said nothing of the kind. “I said that you were going to be here ON that day – a completely different thing altogether!”. He burst out laughing (for a reason only known to him) and said that he would see me about it in the morning. “Be afraid – be very afraid!”. Naturally, I thought that this was totally ridiculous.
We’re a long way from finishing yet. After a trip down the corridor at about 03:40 (having a timer on my dictaphone comes in quite useful) I was back in the arms of Morpheus and this was yet another really bizarre voyage. I could only recall some of it and I wish that I could remember all of the rest. For a start, I wish that I could remember who I was with. It was another young girl, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the much-maligned Percy Penguin (who doesn’t appear in these pages anything like as often as she deserves) but it wasn’t her, however it’s someone else that I’m sure that I know too. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we were in New York and after a major ramble (I couldn’t remember a thing about this ramble when I awoke) but we found ourselves at the tip of Manhattan, in Battery Park (although it’s nothing at all like the real Battery Park) and the park was quite high up, but surrounded by tall buildings, which meant that there was no view of East River, except in one particular place where the building was quite low. We were waiting for a certain ship that was going to dock at a certain quay – Quay 34 if my memory serves me well (as Julie Driscoll once said). This ship displaced 26,000 and a few tonnes which was quite small (such is the logic of these night-time rambles). We had no idea where Quay 34 was but in another astounding fit of nocturnal logic, a small ship would go into a small quay and that would be where this small building would be. Seeing it is one thing – being able to arrive at it was quite another, so we set off in the direction that we thought would bring us there. The idea was to walk all around the edge of Manhattan and hopefully we should arrive at it. A short while into our walk we came to the Deutschlander Tör – the gate that leads into a small Park in Manhattan that had been given in perpetuity to Germany by the USA Government for some act or other – it was not part of the USA but part of Germany. The gates were wrought iron, black and gold, about 4 metres tall and with impressive emblems. Crowds of people were milling around, photographing them, and just as I went to take a photo, a woman directly opposite me went to photograph them from the opposite direction. We would each have included the other in our photos. So we had a smile and a laugh, and I called out “one, two, three” and we took our photos simultaneously. Once we had sorted ourselves out, the girl and I continued our walk into the park. Here, we met up with a coach party, ours of which we were part, in fact, that we had somehow managed to miss during our ramble around the city. They were preparing to leave, but we weren’t. And in any case we weren’t going back with them an the day that they were flying back but staying on and going to Canada. I was looking for the toilet because both of us needed to go. A park guard pointed us in the right direction, indicating a girl in the distance with an orange “Home Depot” plastic bag. The entrance was right by there and he would walk up with us. One of the women from the party offered to come with us as well, and while we were chatting to the guard, this woman was talking over the top of our conversation, saying how inconsiderate some people were, talking loudly while others were trying to have a conversation, the irony of what she was doing having gone completely over her head. And everyone on this coach was urging us to come back as the coach was leaving at 19:30 as they were flying out at 21:00, despite my explanation that we weren’t coming back with them anyway but going on to Montreal (although our proposed route would take us nowhere near Montreal, not that this has ever bothered me in a nocturnal ramble). We eventually arrived where the guard had indicated, and what there was was merely a window sill that everyone was using. I let the girl go first and I went second. But – once again – who on earth was this girl who was so familiar?
Strangely enough, some of the scenery and background, particularly of the bit about the route to Canada, has appeared in a nocturnal voyage a while ago when I had flown to New York and hired a car to take me out into the rural area to the south-west across the Hudson River where I could see the surreal urban landscape of the city and the enormously high elevated highway that would bring me back to the city.
And this isn’t all, either. In the 15 minutes that I dozed back off to sleep after the alarm, I was gone yet again. I was in France, back at my house (although it’s nothing like my house at all) and I decided to go for a bicycle ride along the trails in the woods. I went on the blue and silver racing bike (I really have this, rescued from a house clearance a couple of years ago) which had no brakes and no gears. On a particularly steep bit across the ravine I could see the neighbour’s children having a great deal of fun amusing themselves and looking over at them, I stalled and I just couldn’t get the bike going again no matter how I tried. I pushed the bicycle up the steep hill towards the houses and the shops and there at the top of the steep bit, coming down the hill on a bicycle was a girl aged about 11 or 12 in a tube top kind of outfit, cycling past the houses and the shops. It was at this point that the car pulled up and slammed its door – the real car outside – and I was off downstairs.

And that’s your lot for today – all 2237 words, another new record, and most of which is total rubbish. No wonder it took me so long to type it. I really ought to be charging you to read this rubbish. Don’t forget about the Amazon links aside.

Wednesday 4th November 2015 – WELL I DIDN’T …

… cut up any wood today either.

Awake once again after the alarm went off, then after breakfast I cracked on with my studies and I’m making progress. So much so that I’m actually enjoying this course. It’s certainly making me think, which is what is the aim of it all, after all.

I had a phone call too. “Your order is now at the transport warehouse. To arrange an appointment for delivery, please call 0899 …..” But what kind of tree do these people think that I have fallen out of? For a start, I don’t have any orders outstanding. But secondly, I know all about these 0899 phone numbers. They are not free-phone numbers but uncontrolled premium rate lines and telephone companies should be censured for lumping them along with the other “08” numbers because a call to a 0899 number will cost you about €130 a time. It’s not free like you might be thinking, and telephone companies should identify them properly.

Beautiful and bright it was, this morning but by the time I went downstairs the sun had gone in and we were all overcast. Not enough power to run the chopsaw so that will have to wait for another time. Instead, I attacked the 12-volt immersion heater.

It’s all assembled now and there are no leaks as far as I can tell, and so I went to make uo the cables. And first off, I can’t find any 10mm cable despite turning the house and the lean-to upside down. In the end, I’ve had to use 6mm cable and that’s not doing to be enough.

I crimped the ring terminals onto the cables and then cut off the insulation because I’m going to solder them on. And so that meant hunting around for the solder and the little gas pistol. I eventually found them but the gas pistol wouldn’t work, no matter how much gas I put into it. In the end I dismantled it, only to find that the jet was blocked with a piece of solder. Pushing that out damaged the jet and so the subsequent flame was pretty much uncontrollable and took ages to solder up all of the cables.

So even though it was 18:55 when I knocked off, I felt as if I’d done nothing at all today what with all of this nonsense.

Tonight I’ve had a tea too – pasta with vegetables, boulghour and tomato sauce. I felt like it too, for the first time for ages.

Saturday 18 July 2015 – THIS IS NOT SMOKE FROM A FIRE

hanging cloud forest valley les guis virlet puy de dome franceOf course it isn’t. This is one of the typical Auvergnat weather phenomena that one encounters around here – a hanging cloud. And it’s blowing up the valley through the trees in my forest.

That’s right. We’ve had a storm here today. And much to my (and everyone else’s) surprise, the weathermen had it right too because they forecast it for today. The first time since I don’t know how long – at least 25 days – that we have had rain apart from two small showers. 12.5mm of rain fell during the hour that the storm raged late ths afternoon.

This morning, I crawled out of bed with some difficulty and hit the road straight away. I Was at Brico Depot by 08:45, in time to have a couple of mugs of coffee. And buying the tongue-and-grooving (and a bag of 8mm nuts bolts and washers that I can’t find around here) didn’t take long.

So why did it take until 10:00 am to leave the car park?

There was a white Ford Ranger, just like Strider, on the car park. British plates too, and while I was admiring it, the owner and his wife appeared. He’s from Devon, a new arrival and a footballer. His wife is from Belarus and knows Minsk, which was one of my old stamping grounds behind the Iron Curtain in my Salopia Saloon Coaches days. Consequently, we had an enormous amount to talk about.

Off then to LeClerc and shopping. And that was supposed to be a quick visit where I was going to buy everything regardless of price in the interests of speed. But as it happened, while I was being dealt with by the cashier, I realised that I had forgotten to weigh my fresh veg. Dashing back to the scales, there was only one working and the queue was a mile long. I was obliged to abandon it all and ended up going to LIDL which was disappointing, because I could have saved a pile had I bought half of the rest of the stuff in LIDL anyway.

Back home here for midday and bumped straight into Lieneke who is now here. And then I came back and watched the weather change, doing a pile of tidying up in the attic too.

And today was the first day in I don’t know how many weeks that I had to heat up the water in order to do the washing up. That tells you how bad the weather was today

So tomorrow, I’m having a lie in and a day off. Recharge the batteries before I start back to work on Monday. It’s going to be a hectic week.

Saturday 4th July 2015 – NOW THAT WAS A REALLY NICE …

swimming baths piscine commentry allier france… afternoon at the swimming baths in Commentry. Glorious hot weather, I was all sweaty, what more could I say?

The sides of the pool were open and people were disporting themselves on the terrace and on the lawn (picnicking allowed) and the pool was packed out. So much so that I was going up and down the pool in one of the swimming lanes.

I was there for well over two hours too which is something of a record. But then again, there was so much to see. Ohh yes – I can still chase after the women at my age. I just wish that I could remember why.

tiles for shower room les guis virlet puy de dome franceAnd why was I all hot and sweaty? That was because I’d been mauling about half a tonne of tiles and cement about.

Caliburn is now loaded up with tiles for the shower room. You can see in the photo what I’m having. I’m not having those joining pieces though. I’ve bought some “different shades of grey” mosaic tiles, the type where you can cut the string with scissors. That way, if I start from the bottom with the darker tiles and start from the top with the lighter tiles, the gap in the middle can be filled quite easily without the aid of a tile cutter.

Quite astonishingly, I’d been around all of the usual places, done two laps around Brico Depot and loaded up Caliburn by just 11:45. Having the Dawn Chorus wake me up in the morning is an excellent idea. I even had time to go and buy the glass for the window above the shower room door before they closed for lunch.

A trip around LeClerc (where I remembered to change the empty gas cylinder for a new one) and round the Auchan, and I was away from there by 13:45 and in the pool at Commentry by 14:30.

old cars unic pick up montlucon allier franceI’d seen a few old cars on my travels too. This is a Unic pick-up that I saw at a tyre-fitting place in Montlucon on my way around.

Unic was a popular French car-maker before World War II, and many of the taxis that took the French troops to fight at the Marne were Unics. After the war, the company was taken over by Simca, for whom it was the commercial vehicle arm.

old cars unic pick up montlucon allier franceIn 1968 the marque was sold to FIAT and in 1975 was incorporated into the IVECO mark.

You can tell by the FIAT- like badge that This pick-up is from the period 1968-75 and so it’s doing really well to be still on the road and working. and I do have to say that I was impressed by the bodywork repairs on the cab corners, but you have to resort to tricks like this with such a vehicle, as I imagine that body panels are almost non-existent.

Chenard et Walcker peugeot D4 durdat larequille allier franceThe second interesting vehicle that I saw today is almost certainly older. This is one of the Chenard et Walcker vans that were sold by Peugeot as the D3 and D4 series from 1950 to 1965 when the model was replaced by the J7.

This os one of the later ones, as you can tell by the snout at the front. The very first models were powered by a 2-cylinder flat-twin two-stroke motor but that quickly gave was to the 4-cylinder four-stroke engine out of the Peugeot 203 and later the Peugeot 403. The 4-cylinder engines were too long to fit in the body, hence the snout.

It is possible to tell whether this is a D3A, a D3B, a D4A or a D4B, but not by me at this distance. Still, it’s pretty old and quite an interesting curio.

market hall commentry allier franceAll of the roads around Commentry were closed for repair and so I had to come back through the town. This took me past the Market Hall, the first time for ages.

I remember the market hall as being a dreary, dingy place when I first came past here years ago, but they seem to have done it proud with a programme of modernisation. It looks so much better now that ever it did before.

So that was my day – another expensive one, but loads of interesting vehicles and a lovely day at the baths. i’m off for an early night now to make the most of it.

Tuesday 2nd June 2015 – IT WAS HARD …

… to get out of bed this morning. The early start yesterday plus a very late night last night didn’t do much good for my rest, and I was as lethargic as the guy yesterday in the garage.

I was in the middle of doing something last night when I finally went to bed and so after a leisurely start to the day I had to carry on. It took far, far longer that I intended to do it – in fact it took me almost to lunchtime and that was rather a waste of a morning.

And Terry rang up. Did I fancy a trip to Brico Depot? I can’t go anywhere right now as I’m awaiting a phone call from the garage to tell me that Caliburn is ready. But Brico Depot does have something special in the arrivages this week. I only have one decent ladder, and it’s not very long. But this week Brico Depot is selling three-plan 8-metre aluminium ladders at just €99 and so I asked Terry if he wouldn’t mind picking one up.

And now, I have a nice new big ladder (or I will do the next time I go round to Sauret-Besserve).

After lunch, seeing how beautiful it was and there was water at 64°C in the home-made 12 volt immersion heater, so I did a huge load of washing. It needs to be done, of course, and it gave me an opportunity to have another little relax this afternoon.

But I really ought to be working – I can’t keep wasting time like this. And so I’m going to have an early night and a decent sleep and I’ll hopefully get a good start in the morning.

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)

Thursday 22nd May 2015 – OUCH!

Yes, just picked Caliburn up from the Ford garage in Montlucon. He’s had his service but anything needed for the Controle Technique has not been done because, according to the garage, there’s “so much that needs to be done” and they’ve given me the kind of written estimate that has noughts all across the page.

And for a start, four of the things that they mention don’t need doing at all and I know that for definite. And as for Caliburn being rusted right through underneath, I’ve never seen so much rubbish in all my life. There’s a small spot on the nearside sill, but that’s not gone through at all and the rest of it is just stone-chip damage, and I did the worst (such as it was) the other day as I’m sure that you remember.

And there’s a lump out of the passenger door that certainly wasn’t there when I left him.

Consequently I’m going to take him for the controle technique “as is”, get a failure slip and then go to chat to someone else. I shall certainly eat Humble Pie if it is as bad as the Ford Garage suggests, and even if it is, I shan’t be paying anything like what the Ford garage wants.

But it will be a cold day in Hell before I ever go to the Ford garage in Montlucon again.

So that’s them off the list. And the Ford garage at Riom came off the list ages ago, and the one at Brussels came off the list after the dismal attempt at fixing the brakes last year as you remember.

There isn’t anyone left now.

Liz kindly took me into Montlucon this afternoon and we had several coffees and a chat, and then after I had rescued Caliburn I went off to do my shopping in the Auchan and in Brico Depot where I bought my bathroom sink and taps.

This morning though, with the new improved workstation, I mixed and engineered the live concert for the next month, and its come out quite well. Just two joints that aren’t quite right and having studied the waveforms, I can say that that’s a fault of the original mixing and there’s not much I can do about that.

As for the rest of it, it either merges in or overlaps perfectly and that was what I was hoping to do. You certainly can’t hear the joins there.

So tomorrow I’ll do the text for the rock programmes, and then start on the rest.

And last night’s temperature? A mere 2°C

Saturday 2nd May 2015 – I WON’T HAVE MUCH …

… of my mind yet at this rate, the amount that I have been giving out to other people just recently. And today was the day that capped it all and they will remember me in the Orange telecom boutique in Montlucon for quite a long time.

For in there today, I have had customer service of the kind that makes Belgium look impressive.

It all started when I arrived at the place and there were two assistants on duty (on a Saturday morning!), of which one of them sat there all morning just tapping numbers into a telephone, making no attempt whatever to deal with the huge crowd of people in there.

I’ve never seen anything like this at all.

I had to wait there for a good hour before I was finally seen, and we started off as we meant to go on when the assistant refused to take back the television decoder that I have mysteriously been sent.
“You can do that at the other shop” she said.
“So why not here?”
“Because you do it at the other shop”.

And then we finally had to deal with the issue of the contract for the new service. Despite my asking for hard copy stuff because I don’t have a printer, Orange still managed to send it to me by e-mail. So I needed them to print it out.

She could manage that fine, and so I suggested that I can fill in the papers then and there and that would be fine, but …

Ohhhhh Noooooo –
“you did this by internet”
“yes I did”
“so you need to post this off”
“Because you sis it on line”
“But this is an Orange shop?”
“So why can’t i just do it and hand it in here?”
“Because you did it on line”.

It was at that point that I exploded and, as I said, they won’t forget me in a hurry in there. It’s a long time since I’ve reacted like that. And even though it won’t solve anything, I felt so much better afterwards.

And I haven’t finished yet, by any means.

Apart from that, I’ve done the rounds of the usual shops in Montlucon and bought a pile of DVDs and also some new cotton bedding in the sale at Auchan – some nice dark brown cotton pillow cases and a quilt cover and a light brown cotton sheet.

I’ve bought the stuff in Brico Depot that I need to finish off the beichstuhl and the lights in the bedroom, and probably a few other things besides. There was a nice wooden toilet seat that will fit nicely on the beichstuhl too. But not the worktop – I’ve seen something that might provide a solution for this.

It was also a day for meeting people too. I had a coffee with Liz and Terry, whom I had met at the Orange boutique, and then bumped into Pascal, Marianne’s son, at leClerc. In the Auchan it was the turn of Michel, who used to be associated with the football club at Pionsat and he told me few things that answered several but by no means all) of what has been going on at the football club.

But no football this weekend, so tomorrow I might even have a blast at the radio programmes.

Thursday 16th April 2015 – WE HAVE HAD A CALAMITY.

Yes, and you have no idea just how miserable and fed up I am.

worktop fitted in shower roomles guis virlet puy de dome franceMind you, at about 11:00 things were going pretty well, as you can see.

Here is the worktop in the bathroom. It’s been cut to size and shaped to fit. And now I’ve put it into position just to make sure that it’s fine.

It is in fact milimetre-perfect, except that it’s going under the rails, not over them. But that’s not a problem

star pattern for cutting out inset for sink shower room les guis virlet puy de dome franceNext plan is to cut out the inset for the sink.

It’s not as complicated as you might think. First, you draw around the perimeter of the sink, to give you a maximum area. Then using a straight edge and a pencil, you draw straight lines from the perimeter – these correspond with the outline of the inset that you need so that you can drop the sink into the hole that you’ll be cutting.

Then you remove the sink, and continue the lines into the inside of the perimeter and they will all join up and you’ll have an internal perimeter. If you enlarge the photo, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

And then you cut away the internal perimeter. Drilling out the corners with a 10mm drill, you can use a jigsaw then to cut out along the lines.

sink set in worktop fixed into position shower room les guis virlet puy de dome franceAnd here we have the sink, inset into the worktop, and the worktop screwed in place.

Well, in fact the sink is just set into the hole. What you need to do of course is to smear mastic everywhere and then drop the sink in, and that will make a permanent fixture.

So it’s looking good, isn’t it?

worktop collapsed shower room les guis virlet puy de dome franceWell, actually, no it isn’t.

If you look at my thunb, you’ll see that the worktop has collapsed – and collapsed under its own weight too (I put the sink in afterwards for a demonstation).

That’s right – more rubbish from Brico Depot. Cheap, nasty worktops that aren’t fit to be used as firelighters. This went into the bin. And there will be another pile of Brico Depot stuff following it too.

I’ve been complaining for ages about the quality of Brico Depot stuff being worse and worse, and it’s hit rock bottom today. I’ve wasted 5 hours on this piece of Brico Depot garbage

Anyway, I went and had a coffee and called it a morning. I also had a listen to Neil Young singing about Brico Depot products

And if that’s not bad enough, then this afternoon I made a start on another job that I had intended to do now that I’ve dismantled the shower room. And that was to rebuild one of the stud walls, only with the shelf rails in the correct place.

dry rot demi chevrons les guis virlet puy de dome franceI sorted out he two demi-chevrons left over from when I bought a pile of stuff years ago to repair the downhill lean-to that had collapsed, and then marked them off and started to cut the lets.

That was when I noticed that both the demi-chevrons had somehow acquired a dose of dry-rot. Consequently, they’ve followed the shower room worktop into the pile of firewood.

Believe me – I’m totally p155ed off by all of this. On Monday, after the radio, I’m going to go and have a look at the real worktops in IKEA and I don’t care how much I have to pay. I’m totally fed up with this Brico Depot rubbish.

The good news is that we had a storm tonight and 8mm of rain fell in 90 minutes. That’s filled the water butts back up and no mistake. If the good weather comes back, I can carry on with the washing.

And I was on my travels last night – around the pubs in the East End of London. and I had to go and change my clothes and disguise myself, and the best place to do this is in the toilet of course. So there I was in the ladies’, of all places, in a cubicle with a woman banging on the door. But I was too busy checking through the stuff in there to make sure that some stuff that I had left a previous time was still there. And when I came out, the woman had gone and the toilet was empty. From here I went on the Holmes Chapel and Shearings depot, wandering around carrying a huge pile of plates. People were telling me that there was a load of new faces for the new season that was starting, but of course that was nothing new as coach-tour driving is something of an itinerant job. Still, there I was, wandering around all of the rooms, and it suddenly occurred to me – why don’t I put the plates down? Why do I need to carry them about?

Friday 27th March 2016 – WE NOW HAVE …

varnished floor skirting board les guis virlet puy de dome france… a fully-varnished floor – three coats of varnish on there and I hope that that will do the trick and seal it all properly.

It does look nice, I do have to say. And at 90 minutes per coat, so it ought to. It’s much better than my first idea of putting laminate over the old floorboards and I do wish now that I had done this in the attic.

You’ll also notice the skirting board. That’s fitted all of the way round now. Glued and nailed on two sides, and just nailed on the third side whzre it’s packed out from the wall. I had some long nails and they went through the packing and right into the battens up against the wall, so the tack nails will hold the skirting board to that. Which is just as well, because this glue is rubbish. More Brico Depot garbage.

glass pane in frame above door bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome franceWe also have a glass pane in the frame above the door.You can see the transit sticker on there, which I left on for the purpose of the photo.

What astonished me was that I managed to bring it home the other day, carry it upstairs via the obstacle course downstairs and then fit it into position, without dropping it or otherwise breaking it. That has to be somethig of a first.

clothes rail wardrobe bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome franceAnd this is certainly progress.

We have some clothes rails now in the wardrobe/ I’ve emptied one of the wardrobes in the attic and hung the clothes in the wardrobe. This is a sure sign that the work has practically come to an end in the bedroom.

I’ve started to dismantle the big wzrdrobe in the attic, and I’ll finish that off, empty the other one and dismantle that, and them move the rest of the clothes and the chests of drawers downstairs too. I can’t believe how much room I’m going to have in the attic when I’ve done that.

It was however astonishing to see how much dust had accumulatred under the wardrobe. It was a case of shovelling it out rather than brushing it out.

Last thing was the shower. The verandah was a warm 24°C and the water was a hot 59°C so a heated shower was absolutely gorgeous. Now I’m nice and clean, with nice clean clothes and nice clean hair.

How long can I keep this up?

Wednesday 25th March 2015 – I DID WELL …

… to light a little fire up here last night. I awoke to a relatively balmy 16.2°C and yet outside we had 5cms of snow. So much for Spring, hey?

And I’d been on my travels during the night too. I had aroused the antipathy of the factory bully who ended up chasing me around the factory brandishing an enormous club. He was intercepted by a few of his colleagues who persuaded him to use a slightly smaller club. But it all ended happily ever after as I ended up walking across the park towards some buildings in the distance, hand in hand (and later, arm round the waist) of a girl who, over the past two or three weeks, has appeared out of nowhere to accompany me on several of my nocturnal adventures. I’ve absolutely no idea at all what has prompted the strange inclusion of this unexpected companion, no matter how sweet many of the people in the park described the pair of us last night.

After breakfast I used up the rest of the cheap varnish on the window and the shelves in the wardrobe, and then I varnished the floor with the first coat. After that, I went off to Montlucon as I predicted.

First stop was Pionsat to sort out the boulangère. Sophie, the regular Friday livreuse, is off sick and so they’ve been taking on anyone that they can get. That explains all of the confusion about the delivery of Friday’s bread, and I hope that we’ve managed to sort it out.

At the LIDL I witnessed a very disagreeable incident of a young guy verbally abusing the young female cashier over the price of an article (but he cleared off before I could have a word in his shell-like) and then at the Auchan I stocked up with the next month’s major supply of food.

At Brico-Depot I managed to forget the floor-join and the brush for the bedroom door but I managed to fix myself up with some tackle to make a couple of Heath-Robinson hanging rails for the wardrobe, as well as a couple more 4-watt LED light bulbs. I also bumped into Pete Marsh and his friend, who were stocking up on supplies for their next contract.

I was disappointed though – the cheap but good varnish is no longer carried. It seems that the supplier has closed down. So to be on the safe side, I bought another large tin of the expensive stuff just in case. If I don’t use it, it’ll come in handy for the ground floor.

Problem solved though over the road at mr Bricolage. They had big tins of cheap clear varnish on offer so I bought one,as well as the glass that I need to do the window over the door. I’ve managed to bring that home in one piece – it’ll be interesting to see if I can manage to get it into the doorframe without dropping it.

NOZ came up with nothing so I came home, crashed out for an hour and then made myself a Heath-Robinson meal of a handful of pasta, sone peas, carrots and green beans, and some olive oil and mustard sauce. Cooked on the oven because I’ve had the fire on again tonight. The left-over wood from last night-s fire and a floorboard offcut and that was sufficient. It’s amazing what you can do with a good fire.

Tuesday 17th February 2015 – I’VE BEEN ON MY TRAVELS …

… during the night and was having such an exciting time that I was determined to remember every second of it when I awoke.

Of course, you can guess what happened. I awoke and … paff … it was gone.

Ahhh well.

So this morning after something of a slow start (I’m not quite sure why I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm) I cracked on. And much to my surprise, by the time that I had knocked off for lunch, I had really accomplished something.

home made chest of drawers bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome franceand here you are – my first ever home-made chest of drawers.

Don’t worry about the front panels by the way, they will be replaced eventually with pine planks when I have finished the wardrobe and know what offcuts that I might have left over. And they will pass in front of the wardrobe frame too, in order to hide the framework which isn’t quite straight.

Making the sides was exciting though. I had to make the first one and fit the runners in position by trial and error. And to my surprise, I only ended up 14mm out in height. And that was soon remedied with an offcut and from the outside, you would never notice.

The second side was of course so much easier, having already made the first and having taken copious notes.

The gap in between the two sides needed to be 549mm and to my total astonishment, having assembled the framework back in 2010 or 2011 or whenever, and doing it by guesswork, I had left a gap of 548mm. And what is 1mm betweem friends?

After lunch I fitted the top to the chest of drawers, fitted one of the sides of the wardrobe above the chest of drawers, and cut and shaped the piece for the back where the mirror will be. It’s all becoming quite exciting here as I progress.

But two things stick in my mind and one of them is annoying me intensely. I’ve designed the wardrobe so that the internal fitting is 500mm, meaning that I can use 500mm pine boards without having to cut them. However, the flaming, blasted, perishing 500mm pine boards are actually 505mm, meaning that I have to trim 5mm off each board.

This is a total shambles, I’ll tell you that. If there were anywhere else to go other than Brico Depot, I’d be there.

But the second thing that I have to say is based on the first thing, and this is definitely positive. That is that despite the hanging cloud that has covered us for all of the day, I’ve used the 650-watt circular saw intermittently today and you would never ever notice from the state of the batteries. Installing these new, big heavy-duty batteries back at the end of autumn was an excellent move. those old second-hand batteries would never have coped with this.

For tea tonight, I made an exciting vegan aubergine and kidney-bean whatsit. I’ve lost a load of supplies, including the macedoine vegetables and the kidney beans. I’ve no idea where these might have gone but its bewildering. I’ve had to use subsititutes and it doesn’t taste the same.

But where have these supplies gone to then? This is bizarre.