Tag Archives: claude

Wednesday 9th March 2022 – I HAD A STROKE …

… of luck this morning.

There I was going down the stairs towards the front door when out of the lift came one of my neighbours.

“Are you off to Belgium?” she asked
“Yes I am” I replied
“Come with me” she said.

She was on her way to work so she took me and threw me out about 200 metres from the station and you’ve no idea how much I appreciated it.

That’s because I’d had a really bad night. I hadn’t taken one of those pills before I went to bed and I don’t know whether that’s anything to do with it, but it took an age to go off to sleep and then I awoke again at 04:30 and that was that.

Despite trying my best, I couldn’t go back to sleep and so when the alarm went off at 06:00 I was up and about quite easily.

By 07:30 I was ready to leave so I loitered around until 08:00 and then went off out where I bumped into my neighbour.

concrete pad gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Just or a change, I was at the station at 08:10.

That gave me plenty of time to have a look around to see what has been going on here. And this concrete pad is certainly new

It’s taken over two or three spaces of the railway station car park and unless I’m mistaken, it’s the area where electric cars could be charged too. So if they have been removed, where will the electric cars be charged now?

That’s something that is causing me a little concern. There’s a commitment to phase out new fossil-fuelled cars over the next 15 years or so and so they need to think long and hard about the necessary infrastructure and to have it in place long before the cut-off date – not leave it until the last minute.

And to install a whole new system of wind and tidal power generation. The wind doesn’t stop blowing and the tides don’t stop changing at night when everyone is asleep in bed and not using power. There will be tons of energy available to charge up vehicles if they organise themselves.

mural gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we were here last at the railway station they had a pile of scaffolding up inside the building.

Now that they have removed it, we can see what they were doing. We now have a lovely mural of Granville as it was in the days when we had wind-powered “Newfoundlanders” sailing out of the port to the Grand banks of Newfoundland for the cod.

“The cod were in largeness and quantitie … that they stayed our ships” wrote Richard Hakluyt in the 16th Century when he was discussing voyages to “The New World” that went via Newfoundland.

But that was a long time ago.

84567 gec alstom regiolis gare de Granville railway station Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo March 2022For even more of a change, the train was already in the platform so I took my seat quite quickly.

You might be thinking that that means that the train started off bang on time, but in actual fact we were 5 minutes late leaving.

The train was packed and I had a rather irritable neighbour so while I was able to update the laptop, I wasn’t able to do any work. I read a few theses about medieval castles in Cheshire instead.

By the time that we arrived in Paris we had made up a couple of minutes so I had time to pop into the ticket office at the Metro to buy another set of 10 tickets. I’m running rather low right now

225 TGV Reseau Duplex Gare du Nord Paris France Eric Hall photo March 2022Travelling to the Gare du Nord on the Metro was quite painless – especially since I’ve found my short-cut in the open air.

My train to Lille – Flandres was already in. It is, as you might expect, one of the TGV “Reseau Duplex” double-deckers. Old and showing its age but quick and reasonably comfortable.

As usual we weren’t allowed to board it. There’s an 8-car trainset that comes in later and couples up to the rear of this trainset and then all 16 cars go back to Lille. We have to wait until it’s all coupled up and ready to go before we can board it.

210 TGV Reseau Duplex gare de lille flandres lille France Eric Hall photo March 2022This is the power car of the second trainset, photographed at Lille Flandres as I was leaving the station.

Our train was a few minutes late leaving, like the one from Granville, but that didn’t matter so much as there was plenty of time to walk across the city from Lille-Flandres to the Lille-Europe railway station.

There was even time to find a quiet corner at Lille-Europe and eat my lunchtime sandwiches before boarding my train. But I had to keep an eye out for the railway police who were cautioning people for not wearing a mask. And it’s difficult to eat your butties whilst wearing a mask.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4525 PBA gare du midi bruxelles belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022When I descended to the platform, the train was already in. It’s one of the PBA – Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam trainsets on which we travel quite frequently.

For reasons that I don’t quite understand, it waits here for about 20 minutes before departing. It’s more-than-likely due to the timing of the various connections that it makes with trains along its route.

And it was packed too and someone had taken my seat which was a shame, for I had rather looked forward to being out of my brain on the 5/15. I ended up sitting elsewhere, hemmed in and once more unable to do any work. I listened to “Colosseum Live” on the phone instead.

2730 class 27 electric locomotive gare de Leuven railway station Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022At Brussels-Midi there was a train to Leuven already so I didn’t have to hang around waiting.

Running (as best as I could) down the concourse I leapt aboard with no problems and settled down for the journey to Leuven.

When we arrived, I nipped down to the head of the train to see what was pulling us along. It’s one of the old Class 27 electric locomotives and we’ve had a few of these just recently.

Considering that they must be getting on for 40 years old, they are still clocking up the miles on mainline services with little sign of slowing down.

At the back of the station is the little supermarket so I went there and bought the bread, vegan margarine and stuff to drink. It saves on the weight that I have to carry back from the big supermarket later this evening.

martelarenplein Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022Now here’s a thing!

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that for the last however-many years we’ve seen (or not seen, as they case may be) the Martelarenplein, the Square of the Martyrs, all fenced off and covered while they have been renovating it.

Today though, apart from just one small area, all of the fencing has been removed and we can actually walk across the square if we choose to do so.

Not for me right now though. I’m tired and exhausted and and I can’t wait to find my way to my little room.

And once more I’m up a couple of flights of stairs and that’s killing me. Luckily the manager saw me struggling up the stairs so that might hopefully mean a change of room in the future.

Despite a nice hot coffee, I crashed out definitively, and for a good half-hour too.

electric three wheeled vehicle Leuven Belgium Eric Hall photo March 2022You’ve no idea just how much difficulty I had trying to rouse myself to go to the shops for food.

Nevertheless, I’m glad that I did because I encountered this strange machine. It’s a three-wheeler and it’s probably electric because it was quite silent. But whatever it is, it was quite interesting to say the least.

At the supermarket I don’t know what happened there but the shopping bill was much less than it usually is. I don’t reckon that I bought any less than I usually do.

At some point I managed to find the time to transcribe the dictaphone notes. Last night started with a family thing again with my sister and her first husband. It was probably 01:00 and they were thinking about going to bed and I had all of my paperwork to do which involved those two. I had to set the time on Big Ben and a few other things too but I kept on having trouble seeing because the lights on this big tower clock were so dim that I couldn’t actually see how I was setting it. Occasionally it would all light up bright and I’d see that I’d done in incorrectly and had to go back but to be very careful not to wipe off everything that I had done so far – just go back 1 or 2 steps and start on. By now of course it was daylight. I could easily see what was happening and there were all kinds of things going on on this clock face – people laughing and cheering at it. In the end I had to set it by some kind of analogue means moving the hands because I couldn’t make it go correctly by doing it digitally. In the end I managed it but by now it was 06:40 and broad daylight. I had to be up at 10:00 and they had to be up earlier than that. In the end I said that I was going to bed. My sister’s husband said that he was going to lie in in the morning because he was exhausted. I thought “how does he think that I feel?”. On the way back they were rationing out some things for issue and showing me some kind of drink made by a well-known pop manufacturer in a very distinctive bottle. They said that last tie they had issued this it was 17 shillings and so many pence but now it’s just 4.5 pence and they can’t understand what has happened. I asked if it was generic stuff. They replied that it was so I replied that maybe the patent has expired so now it’s being cloned or something but they couldn’t seem to understand. Neither could I but I didn’t really want to because I was so tired

Later, I was in backwoods Canada or backwoods USA sometime in the 50s or 60s judging by the cars that were driving around. I was writing up someone’s memoirs from a set of old war letters, something like that. I’d gone to this house ad he’d let me have all of this communication and I was going through it making notes etc. Gradually one of two other people had let me have their stuff as well. The first guy was concerned that this was going to slow me down doing other people’s stuff as well but I explained that it was all part of the same thing. They gave me a time and said that I had to be finished by something like 18:15. He thought that time was dragging on but I said that I’d be back tomorrow and that seemed to be OK. Various people came to see me and talk to me about everything while I was there making all of these notes and what had happened in the past. It gradually worked out that I was writing stuff about current events as well for a more immediate publication. This was something that concerned all of the people in this area. But all of the cars were fantastic. Someone was driving a pickup where instead of having the pickup bed behind him it was something like an enormous American saloon convertible thing with just 1 seat for the person driving it and the pickup bed was at the side where the passenger would sit. There were all these kind of weird machines that looked like something out of the 50s and 60s

And then I was with Claude and Françoise last night in the Auvergne. They owed me some money and I had a few IOUs and we were settling up. While I was there I showed them how many US dollars I had. I explained about the time that I had to use the toilet in a cafe and I didn’t have any money to go in so I had to write out an IOU. I told them about a trip that I’d made to the USA with 2 girls. We’d roamed around the Midwest in a big American car which was a small Opel saloon from the late 60s, a type 1. On one occasion I’m not quite sure what had happened but these girls must have been in their night clothes in this diner. They had gone to the toilet to have a wash and brush-up but they came out in their night clothes as well. I asked what was going on so they said that they were going back to the car to change. I asked why they hadn’t taken their clothes into the ladies toilets and changed in there instead of doing it on the car park of this diner

Now that I’ve had tea I’m off to bed. I know that it’s early but I’m exhausted and I’ve almost fallen asleep twice. Hospital tomorrow so I’m lying in with no alarm.

After last night’s disaster, I need all the beauty sleep that I can get.

Wednesday 6th October 2021 – I NOTICED …

repairing medieval city walls place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021… something very interesting this afternoon when I went out for my afternoon walk.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we are keeping a lose eye on the repairing of the medieval city walls round by the Place du Marché aux Chevaux, but I don’t think that I would have missed this.

Either they are intending to do a very throrough job of it or else they have had a calamity, because part of the wall down at the base looks as if it has collapsed and has left a gaping hole.

This is going to cause someone some rather difficult problems.

children's amusements Square Maurice Marland Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021What else is going to be causeing someone else some severe problems is whatever is going on in the Square Maurice Marland.

When we had the previous Maire there was an anonymous blog (not one of mine, I hasten to add) doing the rounds criticising her for the state of the Square here

She wasn’t re-elected, which was probably the aim of the blog, but since we have had the new incumbent, not only has the Square deteriorated further, most of the kiddies’ amusements that were fenced off from use a few weeks ago have now been removed completely.

So there have certainly been several changes under the new Maire, but I wonder what our anonymous blogger is making of them all.

Last night I went to bed early with the intention of having a really decent sleep right the way through until 07:30, but as you might expect, that never happened.

I was tossing and turning for much of the night and having a couple of these severe night sweats that I need to record. And there were nocturnal voyages a-plenty too.

I started off by going on holiday with Nerina. We were going somewhere down to the south coast and we boarded a plane, one of these small 24-seater things. It took off and we were there in the queue talking about preparing to leave etc. The planes in this queue were going out one by one. Then we took off and ended up flying north from Crewe doing a big circle round over where Wardle Airfield is. I pointed out where my grandparents used to live (and they did, too). I asked her if she had ever met them. She said not, that Wardle didn’t ring any bells with her at all. She asked about a couple of buildings that were there, weren’t they something to do with the Women’s Institute? I replied that they were the original buildings from the airfield.

Later on, I can’t remember how it went but Nerina was living with someone else in squalid circumstances worse than ever I lived in the Auvergne. She had a few people round and was bottling some kind of milky drink so I gave her a hand and ended up bottling a banana smoothie for someone. I had to fill it with water. In the meantime she was inside the house talking to Claude and his wife, whatever her name was. I didn’t really want to go in to see them so I kept outside but I could hear the conversation. In the end something drew me in so I went in. They were both still in bed. They were also living in poor circumstances, not as poor as Nerina. She was getting on really well with them and I was just exchanging pleasantries, if you like, trying not to get too involved.

There was also something about me and a brand-new house that I’d owned somewhere, a 2-bedroomed house. The bedrooms were really small but I can’t remember anything particular about that.

Finally, I’d been out somewhere and not come back until late. I had to go into work so I’d gone to bed. It was my house in Winsford but that new house that I mentioned. Then I had to go out again to see Hans. He was talking about something. I explained that I’d only got in at 06:00 but I had to go to work so I wasn’t doing anything. I drove back home thinking that I was going to have another day off but then I thought that my time records were in such a state that I couldn’t do that kind of thing. It was another one of these “thinking about retiring from work” dreams that occur regularly.

On the way back from Hans’s house I was walking down the road at the back of Wardle Airfield towards my house. For some reason I couldn’t keep my feet and kept on falling over. A guy came out of a side road in a car, the guy who had the farm at the back of me at Les Guis, He asked me If I’d received his package but I couldn’t understand what he meant so I saif that I would check. I ended up back at my house and Claude and his wife were there. he handed me a package and I opened it. It was full of old tools so I had to think what these were. He said “that’s a good deal that you got for that battery”. I suddenly realised that Claude had given me a battery and I’d given it to that farmer, so I’ll go through these tools later and give a few of them to Claude that he might need.

This is a total of four or five different voyages, and not only were they so real that I was totally convinced that they were happening, I seemed to have been stepping in and out of dreams at various points and stepping right back into them round about where I left off, not once, but several times.

And then, of course, we have the recurring dream about me being in a mess at work and so planning to resign.

It’s all very eerie, this.

So after the medication, checking my messages and mails and the like, much of the day has been spent dealing with the radio project that I have in hand.

There is a huge pile of notes that I’ve written for distribution, I’ve spent some time on the phone with the co-ordinator and I’ve also been sending mails and making telephone calls to contacts.

What happens from here on is anyone’s guess but several people at the radio seem to be quite enthusiastic, and quite well-placed to push things forward.

We had the usual breaks – coffee, breakfast, lunch, and then the afternoon walk of course.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021You’re probably wondering why the photo of the beach looks different today from how it has been over the last few weeks.

You’ve probably guessed from the photos at the beginning that I haven’t gone around the headland this afternoon. Instead, I’m walking around the walls.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that on Monday we saw several things that seemed to be going on within the walls that piqued our interest and I mentioned that I would go round one day and check up.

peche a pied beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021In fact there were quite a few people down there on the beach this afternoon

The weather was quite nice and we’re getting to the stage of having some really low tides right now, so most of the people down there in this photo and in the previous one seemed to be engaged in the pêche à pied, scavenging about amongst the rocks for shellfish.

And it looks as if the two people in this photo have made quite a substantial haul. There are limits to what one can take away from the beach, and I bet that they can’t be far off it.

a href=”https://www.erichall.eu/images/2110/21100044.html”>fishing boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021There’s other fishing going on down there too.

As usual I was having a good look around out at sea and although there were none of the trawlers (or any other type of boat) out there in the bay this afternoon, there were two fishing boats way out off the headland.

Luckily the sea is quite a lot calmer than it was yesterday so they can have a better working day today. I really felt sorry for those in peril on the sea yesterday in that storm.

repairing medieval city walls place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The most interesting (from my point of vies) part of the walk around the walls is the repair work that’s going on here in the Place du Marché aux Chevaux.

They’ve had this scaffolding – this magnificent work of art – up here for a few weeks now and they are slowly advancing up the hill, making good progress with the pointing as they do so.

But having seen the wind that we had yesterday, you can understand why they have it weighted down with 5 tonnes of water. It wouldn’t mast very long in the winds that we have without something to hold it down, and 5 pallet tanks fulll of water is a good place to start.

repairing medieval city walls place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The last time that we looked over the wall, we saw them working about 6 or 8 feet below the top of the wall.

Today, we can see that they have practically worked their way up to the top at this end, and doubtlessly they’ll be working their way downhill to the end as time goes on.

It was round here that I was overwhelmed by a horde of brats.

There’s no school on Wednesday afternoons but there are plenty of activities for children whose parents have to work.

A bunch of 4 girls aged about 9-11 came swarming around me asking me if I’d noticed something. It turns out that they are one team of orienteers who were having a competition this afternoon around the old town, and were looking for a marker.

It’s a little-known fact that when I was 16 or 17, I competed in the North-West Schools orienteering championships, so I had a little chat with the kids for a minute or two.

Believe it or not, I actually like children round about that age. I think that they get a very raw deal from adults and have a lot to say for themselves, if only someone would listen to them.

There was also someone from the tourist board taking photos, and we had a little chat as well.

peche a pied medieval fish trap plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021From the Place du Marché aux Chevaus I went along the path underneath the walls.

Once more, plenty of people on the beach, including all those round by the Plat Gouseet in the medieval fish trap hunting for shellfish buried in the sand.

That’s not really the purpose of the fish trap. In medieval times, and even today if someone were to bother to maintain it correctly, it would retain water after the tide has done out, and which would slowly filter out between the gaps in the rocks.

This would leave a supply of fish behind, trapped by the stone walls, and the average medieval fishwife would wade in there and pull them out with her bare hands.

repair work plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021The Plat Gousset has now been cleared of beach huts, as I mentioned last time.

And that’s probably just as well after the storms that we’ve just had. Instead of lifting them up with a crane, they could have moved them with a brush and shovel.

But there’s some kind of repair work going on down there at that blue and white building. I wonder if that’s anything to do with the storms that we have just had.

It actually looks quite peaceful and pleasant down there this afternoon. I bet that it wasn’t like that just now.

Anyway, I cleared off down the Square Maurice Marland, looking at the state (or otherwise) of the kiddies’ amusements as I passed.

tubes and pipes port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Down at the viewpoint overlooking the harbour, I had a good peer to see what was going on.

Regular readers of this rubbish will remember that yesterday, they hard started to put into the water the tubes that had been on the quayside for a week or two.

Today, by the looks of things, they seem to have put in all of them that I could see. It’s all looking very interesting and so I wonder what the next step is going to be.

And, furthermore, is the dredger that is in the chantier naval going to be playing any part in it all?

freight on quayside port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021While I was there, I had a look at the quayside underneath the crane to see what was happening there.

Those galvanised sheets are still on the quayside, and they have now been joined by a few of these sacks of builders’ materials.

This would seem to indicate that we are going to be having one of the Jersey freighters in very soon.

And I’ll be surprised if it’s Normandy Trader because at the last update that I had, the skipper and his mate were somewhere between Lands End and John O’Groats on their bikes.

That reminds me of the famous record-breaking woman cyclist Br Barbara Moore who would either walk or cycle between Lands End and John O’Groats as the fancy took her.

On one occasion, having completed one of her rides, she was asked by a commentator what she planned to do next. She replied, in her thick Eastern European accent I vill strip – and overhaul my bicycle.

digging a trench rue cambernon Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021What has actually brought us to this neck of the woods is the sign that we saw on Monday telling us that the Rue Cambernon is closed to traffic.

That’s the kind of thing that needs to be checked so I wandered round that way, and sure enough, they are digging a trench down the side of the street.

That’s something that is totally bewildering me because only about a year or so ago, or maybe even less, they dug it up to do something else. That’s pretty bad planning if they are now having to dig it up for something else so soon afterwards.

rue st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021And that’s not the best of it either.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that over the winter (or what passes for winter around here) they’d dug up the Rue St Michel and replaced a pile of pipework, then relayed the street – in asphalt rather than cobbles, to my eternal dismay.

But now it seems that they will be coming back, as all of the hieroglyphics are back on the road surface.

Blue is for water, of course, but I’ve no idea which other colour represents anything else.

They aren’t doing too well with their planning, are they?

abandoned american car place du parvis notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo October 2021Round by the Eglise Notre Dame du Cap Lihou, the American car from Connecticut is still here.

We first came across it on our return from North America 2 years ago, and it’s still here now, not having moved an inch since then.

Someone has liberated the front number-plate over time but the rear is still there.

Around the corner I was swept up in a swarm of people coming out of the church after a funeral and I had to fight my way through the mob in order to reach home.

After my coffee I carried on with my notes for my radio project, and even found time to update a couple of entries from the end of August by inserting the details of my nocturnal voyages in them.

And then I went for tea.

There was a couple of mushrooms looking sorry for themselves and 2 small potatoes that had seen better days so I heaved a small tin of chick peas in and made myself a quick curry. And it was delicious too.

So now I’m hoping for another early night, hopefully on through which I can sleep undisturbed. It’s high time I had a really good night’s sleep.

But at least – lying-in until 07:30 instead of rising at 06:00 means that crashing out during the day is only happening rarely these days. I’ve been wondering whether I should set the alarm to 07:00. What would happen then?

Saturday 26 November 2016 – IT’S NOT BEEN MY LUCKY DAY TODAY!

I went out for my bag of chips tonight as usual, only to find that the chip shop is closed for its annual holidays this weekend.

But no matter – I went off to Bohan. I’d heard that there was a football match on tonight at 20:00.

I arrived there at 19:30 and found a signpost to the football ground – exactly where I had expected it to be from a quick view of an aerial photograph. I could even see the floodlights too, which confirmed that a night match was eminently possible. But when I arrived, the place was in total darkness. and that’s how it stayed.

I went for a drive up along the river into France and toured around for half an hour, but on the way back I passed by the ground again and – still in darkness.

bohan belgique belgium october octobre 2016I went back to the centre of the town of Bohan and parked up Caliburn in order to go for a wander around and see what was going on. And I was surprised to find that, for such a small town, it was a thriving hive of industry.

There is a small Delhaize supermarket for a start, and then one or two other shops including a boulangerie, and more than half a dozen restaurants, including a pizzeria which was interesting to discover.

I made a good note of all of these. The supermarket is enough to entice me back on Monday to do some shopping instead of going to Alle – it’s about the same distance. And I’ll be able to see the town in the daylight too.

bohan belgique belgium october octobre 2016But my walk did take me to a cafe-type of place stuck in a corner of the square. This was a fast-food restaurant too and they served up some of the nicest chips that I have ever had – and that’s saying something. And so I had my chips after all.

A shame about the football but at least it brought me out of my cocoon and into a new situation and a new town with some good facilities. And as I said – I’ll be back in the daylight to have a better look. Just you wait to find out that Monday is its official day of closing. That’s what usually happens, isn’t it?

Once I had managed to drop off to sleep, I had a really good night. Well away in fact without a single disturbance.

I’d been on my travels too – off visiting my brother of all people and then I had to return because I was taking an exam which consisted of three subjects, for which I was not prepared at all. There were half a dozen of us and as we were glancing through the question paper I suddenly realised that I had left the notes that I needed, along with my house keys, in my jacket which I had left at my brother’s. I had to telephone him to arrange for him to bring them up, but it meant that I would have to leave the room in which case I would be disqualified and have to resit it. But if I didn’t have my notes I would fail, in which case I would have to resit it anyway.
Sometime later I was driving Claude and Françoise somewhere and dropped them off where they had to walk about 100 yards to wherever they were going. They told me how I could work my way back through the village to return to where I had come from, but I wondered why I couldn’t simply do a U-turn and go back the way that I came.

First down to breakfast, and before the staff yet again, and by the time I’d finished I was still alone. But at least the old man who waits on had a little chat to me, which made a change.

And apart from talking to Liz, I cracked well on with my web pages. I’ve arrived in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Central Labrador and I reckon that I’ll be there for a good few days now. There’s tons of stuff to write about, including how two countries walked in to a third country and built a wharf and an airfield, without even a word to the country concerned.

Later on, I had a shower, washed my clothes for the last couple of days and put on some clean ones. And then seeing as the noxious brat had been let loose in the lounge, I hit the road for my appointment with destiny.

But well-fed and watered, I’m back here now. Another early night, I hope, Then we’ll see if I can have a really good night’s sleep again. I feel much better when I’ve had a decent sleep and I’ve already had a little crash out just now.

Monday 24th February 2014 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!

Yes, here I am – another year older and deeper in debt. And having reached a ripe old age, getting riper as I get older, I suppose that I ought to think about growing up.

So having had another late night last night, I woke up and hung around in bed for ages until I reckoned that “if I don’t get up now then I never will”, only to find that it was 08:45. So much for my body clock!

But last night I was in Crewe with my taxi business and I was round at the house of one of my regular passengers up on Bradfield Road, a woman who always had a cab to go to one of the pubs down West Street. She had a friend around, a woman who was a widow whose husband had died 9 years ago in a pub in West Street, having been sloshed about the head with a house brick. This woman had fallen victim to a scam whereby some mad had come from either Alfreton or Ilkeston to seel joints of mmeat “like this one here” – taking the money on the promise of delivery the next day but of course no-one would ever see again. Another adventure had befallen this woman at the hands of this meat salesman, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss it.

So after breakfast, it was to work, even though it is my birthday and thus usually a day off.

I have many requests from my friends, some of which are phyxically impossible of course, but others which require an element of work. This one today was “for God’s sake, have a shower”. But if anyone thinks that I was going to stand outside in this wind in nothing but my birthday suit they are mistaken but it was 23°C in the verandah and that called for positive thought.

I threw out the old woodstove that Claude gave me – and it went out in several pieces and a pile of dust in fact. Then a load of other bits and pieces followed, many of which went straight in the bin. And by the time that I had finished sweeping up and tidying up, there was a space about 2mx1m at the far end of the verandah that was clear. I ran up a rope and then hung a shower curtain to it.

After lunch I found the wooden rails that I stand on when I have a shower outside and put them in the verandah, mixed up a bucket of warm water from the home-made 12-volt immersion heater (which was on 66°C) and cold water out of the water butt, and … I had a shower.

Nice and warm it was too, especially as it was in the verandah and it would have been perfect had I had a low-debit 12-volt pump in working order. I ended up using a jug to pour the water over me, but nevertheless a shower it was, the first of the year at home, and I feel so much better for it too.

Cécile sent me a present of sweeties (thanks very much) and an envelope to send her any post that she has received, so I went round to her house to see if there was anything (and I made use of the washing machine too – so clean bedding tonight as well!)

puy de sancy snow mont dore puy de dome franceI’d been invited round to Liz and Terry’s for tea (thank you very much) but stopped off at the site ornithologique as there was a magnificent view of the Puy de Sancy and the Mont Dore covered in snow and with clouds reflecting the profile of the skyline.

Liz had cooked a curry with trimmings, followed by chocolate and avocado mousse which was delicious.

And then back home via picking up the washing, which is now hanging up outside as we are having another day of no rain so far (i’m the eternal optimist of course). But Sunday was the first day without rain since, would you believe, 9th January – 6 weeks ago!

Qo now I’m off to bed after my exertions of today. I wonder where I’ll end up tonight!

Wednesday 18th July 2012 – WHAT A NICE …

… surprise!

Yes, sounds of friendly voices and laughter down the road at Lieneke’s – good to hear her having fun.

And then silence, followed by a couple of voices out here. “Hmmm – I recognise those voices” I thought to myself;

And, yes, Claude and Françoise came to say hello. It’s been over 2 years since they were here, my neighbours from up the road who moved back to the Midi. And they’ve come back for a week’s holiday and to tell me all their news.

Firstly, they are no longer in the Midi.One thing that we forget, living out here in the wilds, that there is no stress at all except the stress that you make for yourself. Being in an urban environment you are involved with everyone else’s stresses. 10 years out of all that, and Claude couldn’t re-adapt.

Now they’ve found a quiet rural place in the Haute Loire.

All kinds of other changes too, and so we had quite a chat today about all of it. It’s nice to see them again.

Today was easily the best day of the year so far – totally glorious and 36°C outside. so why only 83.2 amp-hours of surplus energy?

holesaw bathroom wall les guis virlet puy de dome franceFirstly, I’ve had the core drill going for about an hour and I’ve made another 5cms of depth – now up to 42 centimetres.

The problem with this is that the drill is so heavy and the motor is so powerful and I’m working up a ladder, and so I can’t do more than a couple of minutes at a time without stopping for a rest and trying to stop my arms vibrating and my ears buzzing.

But at one point, being completely fed up, I used a long drill to break up the granite that’s in the wall and you can see that that has broken through in a few places.

From now on it should become easier and easier. But that sounds like famous last words, doesn’t it?

The second reason is that I had the electric vegetable steamer working again (just as well that I had some electric vegetables, isn’t it?).

I cooked the remainder of the potatoes to add to the mega-curry that was on the menu for tonight, and seeing as it did such a good job, I let it have a go at some rice as well.

And I’ll tell you what – I have never had rice that was cooked so well or tasted so nice. If this vegetable steamer holds the pace, it’s going to be an excellent little machine.

If that wasn’t enough to be going on with, I carried on building my wall today.

I didn’t actually build too much of it though. I didn’t think that I had enough stones to do it all (all those breeze blocks in view will eventually be ripped out and replaced by stones) and so I had a good scavenge around to see what stones I could find.

I’ve managed to unearth quite a pile – I hope that there will be enough by the time that I finish, whenever that may be.

lean to rebuilding stone wall les guis virlet puy de dome franceYou can see that I’ve hung a window frame up there. It will be pretty dark, especially as I forgot to install the roof-light that I had to hand, and so I need to be able to let the light in.

A glass door will go on the front, but a window in the side will do the rest.

I’ll build up underneath the sill with stones and then put brick pillars down the side. It should look quite nice when it’s done, whenever that might be.

With it being such a nice day, I finished off with a solar shower – the water was certainly warm enough. But I’m not sure what happened because at a certain moment the whole assembly dropped on my head. I’ll have to fix that tomorrow.

I also had a chat with Percy Penguin this evening. It’s her birthday today!

Wednesday 4th May 2011 – I hope that you all …

… had a Happy Star Wars Day. Yes, May the Fourth be with you.

For me, it started early and I’ve no idea why but I was awake long before the alarm clock, and after a bad night as well where I didn’t sleep too much (teach me to crash out in the early evening). And after breakfast I spent some more time on the computer and my Newfoundland web pages.

Following that I went to move all of the stuff that’s on the edge of the public highway. The ancient rotavator and the Honda Melody scooter, those I moved with no trouble. The old cement mixer – the wheels on that were seized thanks to Claude tipping a load of cement all over them and not cleaning it off. And so in the end I had both wheels off, cleaned them up, greased the spindles and reassembled everything. And now it moves around quite easily.

After lunch I went to move the ride-on lawnmower but that was stuck in drive and there was no way to free it all off. In the end I dismantled all of the drive train and now that moves freely as well.

So with all of that out of the way it was time to move the Ford Cortina 2000E estate. After many trials and tribulations I managed to start it, but this blasted clutch won’t free off. In the end I chained the car to a tree and started it in gear to see if the sudden jolt would free the clutch. I considered two possibilities – that the subframe would rip out of the chassis mounts, or that the sudden jolt would pull down the tree.

Of course, I didn’t count upon the chain snapping, did I?

In the end I moved the car by hand-winching it about 50 yards and at 4 feet per pull it took forever – it was just before 19:00 when I knocked off.

Tomorrow I need to go to the bank in Pionsat and so when that is done I’ll be in a position to winch the old caravan body out of the barn. If I can get it round the corner and down the hill on my own I shall burn it and then I can get the Cortina inside and put the Ford Escort van across the doorway where I can dismantle it at my leisure.

Friday 14th January 2011 – Ouch!

It’s been an expensive day today – and I didn’t go shopping either. GRRRR What did happen was that the postie came by today bearing some major bad news.

Firstly, when the solicitor charged with handling the sale of Reyers was asked to settle all of the outstanding Brussels taxation issues, well, indeed he did. But he did that on the 29th of September, the day that the cheque for the sale was cleared, and of course the property taxes on Expo were due on October 1st. And so I had a red reminder today for €1200 that I had not taken into account in my budget.

Secondly, a couple of years ago I went into the taxation office here and asked that the taxes that I am to pay on Les Guis and on Montaigut should be paid by direct debit instead of by demand. I told the tax office that I travel around a great deal and was afraid of missing a payment or two, and the tax office very kindly helped me to complete the forms.

And when I went into the tax office that time, I was brandishing around a tax d’habitation form. And so you can guess what has happened. Just how many brain cells do you need to have, to work out that if someone tells you that he travels around a great deal and is afraid of missing a payment or two, he means ALL HIS TAXES? And so that was another €733 that bit the dust.

While I was out, I reckoned that I may as well go and buy the plank that I need for making my false beam, the one that the electric cables will be running behind. So to St Gervais and the sawmill. And he will cut me a plank of the required width and thickness, but to a maximum of 4.15 metres. That’s no good. The room is 4.47 metres and the plank of course needs to be in one piece – it will look silly as a beam if it is in two pieces.

And so I shot off through the wilds to Montel-de-Gelat and the huge sawmill there. And I arrived about half an hour before closing time. They have planks in stock – 4.50 metres long by 18mm thick. Absolutely ideal for what I want. But the width – 150mm whereas I want 120mm ideally.
“Can you trim one down for me?”
“No”
“No? Why not?”
“Because this is the week when the cutting mill is closed for machine maintenance.We can do it for you next Friday”.

I’m clearly having no luck at all today.

wood pile lean to les guis virlet puy de dome franceI said the other day that I would take a photo of the lean-to with all of the wood. It looked like this in November last year, and all through the following 12 months the pile increased in size as I flung more and more bits of wood in there.At one stage in the summer I couldn’t even get into the place. But anyway, you can see that it’s emptying out quite nicely.

The wall on the left is the eastern wall of the house and the kitchen will be built against this wall. The dark grey cylinder is the large gas bottle that will power the gas cooker. I’ll anchor it to the wall and drill through the wall in order to pass a gas pipe through. The other cylindrical object is an old immersion heater that Claude gave me to play with.

In the bedroom I did some more of the tongue-and-grooving but that came to a dead stop too as I ran out of 20mm insulation. I’ll have to go to Brico Depot tomorrow and buy a load of that so that I can carry on next week. There’s not much else I can be doing until I buy my plank.

Saturday 18th September 2010 – Winter is acumen in …

… Lhude sing Rudolph and all of that. The temperature has been slowly dropping for the last few days and last night it reached a low of 5.6 degrees. You might think that that is cold, but on checking my stats I find that apart from last year when we had to wait until mid-October, the other years that I have been here (2007 and 2008) have been the same. So there!

But today was an interesting day, to say the least. It was the mobile phone ringing that woke me up. Who the h*ll was ringing me at that ungodly hour? So the phone stopped – and five minutes later it rang again. And then stopped. And five minutes later …….
“Arrrggghhhhhhh”.
Yes’ I’d slept right through the normal alarm and it was the alarm on the phone going off – at … errrr ….. 10:40 am. What happened there?

puy de dome franceSo with the morning knackered, first thing that I did was to go outside and check on how the pointing from yesterday was looking now that the cement has dried. There’s definitely some progress, although it’s not as quick as I would like.

Once I’d done that, I had breakfast and then went shopping. They had a few exciting things at LIDL such as a hammer-action stapler which will really come in useful, and then I came back here for lunch

le relais des elephants colores rob nicolette art gallery les guis virlet puy de dome franceOnce I had had my lunch, I went round to Rob and Nicolette’s. They are the people who bought Claude’s old place. Now Nicolette (on the right in the photo) is an artist of no mean repute and they have turned Claude’s barn into a studio for her where she can display her paintings. 

It was the official opening of her studio today and the whole village as well as everyone else was invited. We even had the mayor doing the formal unveiling too

le relais des elephants colores rob nicolette art gallery les guis virlet puy de dome france>But upstairs in the barn, the transformation is magnificent. You wouldn’t believe how much work that has taken place up there in just 6 months since they bought the place from Claude.

And you can see by the paintings on the wall just how much of an artist that Nicolette is. I have to admit that I’m not a big art fan, especially not of surrealist images, but even I can see the quality in these paintings.

Monday 30th August 2010 – No photo tonight people.

That’s because I forgot to take one, and probably there wasn’t anything worth photographing anyway. But what a day it was!

This morning started with the website. I’m trying to bring August 2010 right up to date and then that will be all the arrears sorted out and I can move on to doing some new stuff. I’ve not had the opportunity to do anything to it properly for over a year.

So when the battery went flat I went outside to try to sort myself out a wheelbarrow. The Caliburn-coloured one won’t be going anywhere for a bit. It was okay until a huge pile of slates from the house roof landed in it from a great height last year and that blew the tubeless tyre off the beading and try as I might I can’t get it to go back. So into the barn to look for the B&Q wheelbarrow that is in pieces and I eventually tracked all of the pieces down, despite doing a good deal of tidying up … “Aren’t you feeling well?” – ed … and discovering more things I never even knew that I had.

That inner tube is perished and the two tubes that Claude gave me – so are they and so that was that. I’ll have to bite the bullet and get some wheels or tubes the next time the lorry comes round, or see what there is on ebay.

This afternoon I played a round of the French national sport of “here we go round the mulberry bush” trying to get a Social Security number. Seven different numbers I was given, and seven different people I spoke to until I finally found someone who could help me with this. Apparently I need to produce a birth certificate giving not only the details about myself but also the details about my parents.

Now many people reading this blog, especially Turdi de Hatred and everyone else from OUSA, will be wondering how I will be able to find out the details of my father, and they would be surprised at how close they might be to the truth.

But having said all of this I can understand why it is that so many people in France work on the Black Economy. It’s not that they have any lack of goodwill, it’s just that they get totally fed up of this absurd and relentless paper chase and I can’t say I blame them as I was pretty fed up by this time too and ready to renounce my registration and do it all stumeling, as they say in Flanders.

And the best is yet to come. I need to change my driving licence over to a French one so I rang the sous-prefecture. They told me that I can’t do it there but at the prefecture in Clermont Ferrand. They gave me the number but told me not to ring as apparently the guy doesn’t answer his phone in the afternoon. And do you know what? They were dead right too.

It’s not surprising that no-one ever does any business around here.

I mentioned Turdi de Hatred just now, and that reminded me. When I was at the brocante yesterday I came across a video entitled Return Of The Living Dead. You know, I had no idea that anyone had filmed her reading out the Open University Students Association election results.

So after my marathon session on the phone I went into the garden and sorted out the veg for tea – a veggie burger with onions and garlic, and with spuds, carrots, beans, spinach, sage, rosemary and mint from my garden. Beautiful it was too.

But the meal is in the future. While the veg was soaking itself I mixed a bucket of mortar and started on the pointing of the house wall in the lean-to. High time I did that so I can put the lean-to roof on again. But it’s going to take me forever I reckon. It doesn’t go as quick as you like it and you might remember what happens if you take the cheating way out and just crepi it to hide the gaps. There’s a pic of the results of that on this blog from a few weeks ago.

When the bucket was empty and it was 17:40 – not worth mixing another – I went to chop some wood. An after a little while I rediscovered the branch cutter that had seized up and stopped working. Now that I have a workbench and a place to work I stripped it down to look at it and sure enough there was a bolt that was badly worn that was distorting the cutting angle. So I swapped it round with a less-important bolt from another part of the machine, cleaned and greased it, and now that’s that fixed.

My day isn’t finished yet either! Bernard from the footy club rang up. Apparently my name is now on the referees’ list for the forthcoming season and so he gave me the telephone number of the sports outfitters who supply the club, and told me to order what I need in the way of referee’s clobber.

No wonder I’m knackered after all of this!

Monday 28th June 2010 – Today’s pic …

new carpentry woodwork roofing sheets barn roof les guis virlet  puy de dome france… features the work that we have managed to do today. All of the horizontal laths are on and we have done about one quarter of the roof covering.

We could have done so much more too but we were beset by a whole series of interruptions.

Firstly I had to go to Pionsat just before lunchtime to have a document signed. “Come at about 11:45 and the notaire will fit you in between two clients”. So there I was at 11:45 and I was seen at 12:30! And the notaire took his time to witness my signature – clearly going for his money’s worth.

Back at the ranch Lieneke came round for a chat and a gossip. She brought us some fruit too. She needs some work doing on her house but her husband is getting to the age where he feels unsafe on a roof – hence Terry’s involvement.

Then we needed to sort out the sheets. They are in two sizes – one for each side – and of course the ones that we wanted were on the bottom as you might expect so we had to move all of the others.

Once we had got the sheets round to this side of the barn then they were not strong enough to support their own weight when hauling them up the scaffolding. After giving it much consideration, talking about making cradles and the like, I hit upon the idea of sliding them up a ladder (one of us can walk up in front pulling and the other walk up behind pushing as the sheet slides up the stringers), Terry added the idea of a sling and then we were in business.

The sheet sit quite nicely on the framework and the special screws with silicon washers do a good job. All in all it’s a good fitting but you struggle with the weight and height when there are just two of you.

It was 17:00 when we knocked off. The sky had greyed over and we were exhausted. And not long after Terry had left, Claude and Francoise came round!! They have indeed moved down south. Apparently their daughter had found a small house for them and so they rang up a furniture removal firm in that area. And it just so happened that there was an empty lorry in the region travelling light back home. A good deal was arranged and that was that.

I also had a quick flashback to yesterday evening when I was leaving Terry’s – he accompanied me to the door.

“are you being polite or are you making sure that I’ve gone?” I queried
“Well actually” said Terry “I’m making sure that you don’t nick anything on your way out”.

Tuesday 11th May 2010 – Not that it will be of any surprise to anyone, but …

hanging cloud les guis virlet puy de dome france
… the good weather didn’t hold. The weather front that was slowly drifting across here last night seemed to have settled down for the day.

It was just like November here again. Patches of sunshine interspersed with torrential rain – another 12mm today – and not much point in doing anything outside. And it was like that even into the evening. As it was getting dark tonight at about 21:20 I looked out of the window to see another cloud rolling slowly up the mountain as you can see.

So it goes without saying – the torrential downpour that I heard when I woke up this morning prompted me to stick my head back under the covers and that was that until … errrrr … later. And after breakfast and a couple of hours on the computer I was a long way from doing anything. Lieneke came round for a chat and she stayed for ages. Not that I am complaining of course – it’s good to see her. We had a long chat and we looked at a couple of websites where she is featured. She also told me that my suspicions are true – Claude and Francoise have … errrr … left the area.

After Lieneke left I had lunch (well, more like an early tea) and then while I was trying to carry on working in the bedroom I had a whole series of phone calls, including a couple from Tracy which was very nice.

So I took the hint and knocked off at 19:00. No point in working if people won’t let you. I’ll try to have a better day tomorrow. But I know that the weather won’t be helping me.

Saturday 8th May 2010 – Something exciting …

… happened at the footy this evening.

rising ground dew pionsat puy de dome franceIn fact many exciting things happened at the footy – more of which anon – but the most unusual of them all was at about 5 minutes to half time when I turned around and noticed a cloud of water vapour rising from off the disused railway embankment at the back of the ground. It was quite astonishing.

The second half was played through the banks of the cloud that was being slowly blown across the Overflow End of the pitch by a light but steady breeze. All in all it made for quite a surreal .atmosphere for this … errrr … tense game.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire lapeyrouse puy de domeligue de football league franceI say “tense” because that’s exactly what it was. With a Lapeyrouse linesman giving goal kicks against Pionsat when the ball hadn’t crossed the line, throw-ins against Pionsat when the ball hadn’t gone out of play, offsides against Pionsat that were nothing like offsides (I was right level with play – much more than the linesman was), and the linesman coming onto the pitch to threaten (yes, to threaten) Gregory after he had put in a heavy but legal challenge on the Lapeyrouse winger.

And with Lapeyrouse players collapsing like ninepins every time a Pionsat player got near to them and with a Lapeyrouse keeper hurling abuse at the Pionsat attackers all throughout the match, how the referee allowed this game to continue I don’t know. But Pionsat lost 1-0 and it’s the result that counts.

Back home (up here is above the cloud level experienced in the valley down at Pionsat) I discovered why the water vapour suddenly rose like that. All the clouds have gone and there is a clear sky with millions of stars again. We were obviously experiencing the effects of the change of the weather – some sudden temperature inversion and a pile of heat radiation into the atmosphere. It may well be hot tomorrow.

I went into St Eloy les Mines to do my shopping earlier and to my surprise almost everywhere was closed yet again. Of course, it’s May 8th – VE Day – and so most places were celebrating the end of World War II in Europe.

But I made an astonishing discovery. I popped round to Claude and Francoise and ….

  1. the bell push has gone from the front door (there’s a long story about this bell-push)
  2. their letter box has been removed
  3. the European Cardboard Box Mountain appears to have disappeared
  4. their car has gone.

All the indications seem to suggest that they have badgered off into the sunset. How bizarre!

Wednesday 7th April 2010 – Think of a phrase that contains …

… the words “booze-up” and “brewery” – and we aren’t talking about the Open University Students’ Association either!

Yes, I thought that incompetence at its most stunning inefficiency could only be reached in the hands of that august body but I am fast changing my opinion. I have been reliably informed by one of my “moles on various committees” that this week’s radio programme was the one for the 1st week of March – the radio station appears to have thrown the wrong version onto the cutting room floor and gone with the one we discarded which is now 5 weeks out of date.

And that isn’t all either. I’ve been given a task to undertake by the footy club which requires them to send in a form. So I’ve been waiting 3 weeks and it’s not made it there yet. I obtained a duplicate and I rang up the President of the club about completing it – the deadline is Friday – but I got the answerphone so I left a message.

No callback by the time I went to training, so never mind – I’ll see the President’s son down at the ground. But down at the ground there were just 4 of us, and we were locked out of the stadium. It appears that the trainer has given the players the night off so that they can watch the footy on the box.

Unbelievable, isn’t it? Last Wednesday they were rained off; last Friday was someone’s birthday; today there’s something better on the box. And all the teams are struggling right now and need a change of fortune. Fitness is a big issue with the teams – watch them drop off the pace in the last 15 minutes – but the trainer cancels the training session. Stand by for a right spannering on Saturday and Sunday.

I did a couple of laps around the field and then came home. The President eventually rang me back at 21:00 and I explained the situation. “I’ll ring up the secretary right now and call you straight back”. It’s now 02:30 and guess what?

But it’s not all doom and gloom. You remember my action photo from the footy 10 days ago? Well the local rag has published it. It might only be La Montagne but it’s still nice to see my name in lights and it’s another addition to the portfolio. And Claude came back from his holiday in the Midi so we had coffee on the terrasse. We could do that because there was a moment when the rain stopped. After me crowing about the good weather yesterday it p155ed down for most of the day. But in between the showers I dug out a few more treestumps.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be starting to build the new megacloche. The afternoon will be spent at a talk on the history of the area of La Cellette. Marianne wants me to meet the organiser.

And 02:30 in the morning? This 3D program has taken hold of me. My two characters have now made it to the beach with a herd of wild rhinocerous hot on their heels. I shall be scanning the world-wide web tomorrow evening to see if I can find a freeware boat otherwise my little animation will come to a premature end.

Saturday 20th March 2010 – One thing about the warm weather that we are having…

fcpsh football club de foot pionsat st hilaire neuf eglise les guis virlet puy de dome france… is that the footy can recommence. And in the balmy spring weather we had two matches tonight. The 2nd XI played Neuf-Eglise and ground out a 0-0 draw. The second half particularly seemed to go on on for ever and I think that most of the supporters had fallen asleep by the final whistle – I know that I had

The second match was against Artonne and keen followers of my blog may recall the away match back in November which was controversial in the extreme, to say the least. It was refereed by the ref who had the attack of the hysterics against the Miners back in October so fireworks would be guaranteed, one would have thought.

fcpsh football club de foot pionsat st hilaire as artonne les guis virlet puy de dome franceBut instead we had a lamb-like performance from everyone(except the Pionsat no14 who was sent off for two yellow cards) and Pionsat ran out 2-0 winners. I don’t think anyone was expecting that.

For the rest of today, nothing much happened. I did my shopping in St Eloy and didn’t get anything out of the ordinary, except for the seeds I was missing. I went round to see Claude and Francoise but they weren’t there. According to the neighbour they’d gone down to the South of France for a week to see Sandrine, their daughter. Hmmmm.

I did encounter Bob from Montaigut. He’s a Brit and managed to get a job with a French company as an employee. I managed to persuade him to come onto our radio programme some time and talk to us about the French working environment.

And that was that, really.

Tuesday 16th March 2010 – Well, I moved the greenhouse!

old frod cortina greenhouse les guis virlet puy de dome franceThis is where it will be staying for the foreseeable future, gale-force winds permitting.

I had to dig out six tree stumps and that tookabsolutely ages. I broke the handle on my pickaxe but luckily Claude (Laurence’s father that is) many years ago gave me a kind of digging axe and I put a shaft into it, and that came in really handy. There was a whole warren of tree roots under there and they took some moving.

This afternoon I had to dig over the patch a few times ( and that wore me out) and then dig out the greenhouse from where it used to be, in front of the verandah. In fact the empty space there makes a nice place to put my outdoor table and chairs. I rounded off the day by chopping wood but I really didn’t need it as it was an absolutely beautiful day today. The  warmest so far this year an I had 270amp-hours (over 3KwH) of electricity – enough to run the electric heater in here for 5 hours and the temperature up here reached 18.6 degrees.

Tomorrow if the weather keeps on going I’ll be moving the cloche and making the first of the raised beds – you can see one of the shuttering planks leaning up against the Cortina.