Tag Archives: gardening

Thursday 7th September 2017 – A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO …

shipwreck ss ethie reids alphabet fleet newfoundland canada september septembre 2017… we went to visit the SS Kyle, the last of Reid’s famous “Alphabet ships” still in existence.

Today, we are going to visit another one of Reid’s Alphabet ships.

And if you are wondering how that might be possible seeing as I said that there’s only the SS Kyle left, then that’s the SS Ethie just there

Or, at least, all that remains of her, poor thing.

shipwreck ss ethie reids alphabet fleet newfoundland canada september septembre 2017One bad night in 1919 she was running her usual route up and down the Strait of Belle Isle when she found herself in serious difficulty due to hurricane-force winds and ice build-up on the decks.

The weather was far too bad for launching lifeboats so the captain took a calculated risk of running her aground so that at least the passengers and crew might have a chance of saving themselves.

The captain’s decision doubtless saved the lives of many of the people on board, but it spelt the end of the SS Ethie

shipwreck ss ethie reids alphabet fleet newfoundland canada september septembre 2017And here she sits, or rather, what’s left of her does.

98 years she’s been there, being looted and pillaged, tossed about on the waves and smashed to pieces on the rocks by the storms.

It won’t be long before there’s nothing left of her at all.

shipwreck ss ethie reids alphabet fleet newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Part of the Newfoundland folklore has it that a brave dog risked his life to save several passengers from the ship, but that’s never ever been substantiated.

In fact it was not mentioned as part of the story at the time and no eyewitnesses to the rescue remember the dog. It seems to have been something that was tacked on several years later.

Consequently, historians tend to discount it as being nothing more than a journalistic embellishment.

Meanwhile, last night I went to bed fairly early and slept the Sleep Of The Dead.

Not quite so dead that I didn’t go off on one of my nocturnal rambles, but I don’t remember very much at all about it.

I was with some girl and we were waiting in a van in a street that was very narrow but which broadened out quite considerable further down. We were actually outside a dingy hotel which was displaying its price in some kind of illuminated scroll sign like an old bus route display. The price was 29 of whatever the currency was and we knew that it changed to 39 every so often but on this occasion the scroll broke and there was just the light. We knew what happened of course, and we decided to go in for some reason. The bar was crowded and we fought our way to a table but almost immediately decided not to stay so we fought our way out. I was carrying a few bags and knocking people with them and this led to some very sharp words. Outside, I’d lost my partner so I thought that I had better hurry back to the van, but I needed to visit the bathroom. But did I have time? Was it better to go to meet my companion first? Should we get in the van and drive away first?

Of course it was then that I awoke. And no surprises as to where I went.

surprisingly, I actually managed to beat the alarm by 30 seconds too, which was good news. I’m becoming quite lax in my old age.

While porridge was cooking I finished off a few things that needed attention and after breakfast went out to attack the long-promised tidying-up session that I had been promising myself.

But no such luck today. We were engulfed in a torrential downpour the like of which I haven’t seen for quite a while. And to add insult to injury, I left the slow cooker out on the porch last night and the box was just a soggy mass of cardboard.

That’s upset me.

lush's cabins cormack newfoundland canada september septembre 2017In a brief dry spell, while the clouds had gone back to fetch more supplies, I nipped over to hand back the key.

The verdict on the Lush’s Cabins was that it was pretty expensive for one person, but a family of four, if they could have the same deal, would do well.

It’s old and tired, but everything works like it’s supposed to and that makes a change in a place like this.

You’d need to enjoy each other’s company though, because you aren’t actually spoiled for entertainment in the vicinity.

gros morne national park newfoundland canada september septembre 2017W’ve travelled down this road on several occasions so there aren’t going to be many photographs.

You’ll need to look for the entries for October 2010, September 2014 and September 2015 to see more of them.

But I didn manage to stop and take one or two, despite the lousy weather.

newfoundland canada september septembre 2017My route takes me northwards through the Gros Morne National Park, which is certainly one of the most spectacular places on the planet.

In the clouds and mist thought it looks quite unreal and mysterious like something out of one of these Gothic adventure films.

Hinging clouds are not a phenomenon that is unique to the Auvergne after all.

newfoundland canada september septembre 2017It was here though that I fellin with a yooungcouple whose footsteps were to dog me for most of the day.

I’d stopped here to take a photograph of the view up over the hill in the distance and so had they. And our paths crossed subsequently on several occasions.

But that didn’t explain the overwhelming smell of fish when I stepped out of Strider just here.

rocky harbour newfoundland canada september septembre 2017The road north hits the coast near the town of Rocky Harbour.

It’s quite a large town – or what passes for a large town around here, And it’s so surprising therefore that I’ve never actually visited it.

One day in the future I’ll have to spend a couple of weeks having a good explore all around the island.

newfoundland mountains st pauls canada september septembre 2017As I was driving by St Paul’s, the beautiful scenery grabbed me … whole attention.

We’ve stopped here once before where I tok a couple of photos of the river and the bridge, but I can’t remember if I took anything of the mountains in the background.

So just in case, I poked the camera into the gloom of the torrential downpour that was still going on.

daniel's harbour waterfall newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Just a few miles north at Daniel’s Harbour there are a couple of waterfalls that come cascading out of the mountains into the glaciated valley.

Having a play around with the depth-of-field on the new camera, now that I’ve found out how it works, I’ve managed to produce this photograph.

It’s come out just as I wanted it to and I’m quite pleased with this.

daniel's harbour gardening allotments newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But what struck memore than anything else is the amount of gardening taking place.

When we’ve been around here before, we’ve seen the odd plot or two growing some sad speciments of plant life, but today, there are plots everywhere.

A great deal of fertiliser has been used by the looks of things, and the plant growth is certainly luxuriant

bellburn newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Just down there is the small town or village of Bellburns.

This was where I stopped forlunch – did a small amount of tidying up inside the cab of Strider and threw away my tomatoes by mistake so I had to go and rescue them.

It’s the kind of thing that I do when I’m not paying enough attention.

coastal drift bellburn newfoundland canada september septembre 2017You probably noticed in the previous photograph the small river that ran through the edge of town.

Just here, there’s an excellent example of coastal drift in miniature.

The shingle beach is being carried northwards by the currents and winds and this has diverted the mouth of the river towards the north from its original course

port saunders newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Back on the road, I turn off the main road and head into Port Saunders.

First thing that I see is a ship repair yard so I call by to see if there is anything exciting happening.

There are a few people loitering around in the vicinity but nothing of any great importance seems to be happening today.

port saunders newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But from the previous photograph you can tell exactly what kind of town it is.

That’s right. You can’t move for fishing boats around here.

Like most places, fishing is the be-all and end-all of life on the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. And how these places were hit by the 1992 cod moratorium.

lobster pots port saunders newfoundland canada september septembre 2017And so like most places, the fishermen who used to visit the Grand Banks have had to diversify.

What we have here are rowsand rows of lobster pots. And everywhere, in everyone’s garden in the vicinity, there were lobster pots far too numberous to count.

And that’s one thing that puzzles me. It must take loads of patience to train a lobster to go on one of those.

beach port saunders newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Outside the town on the way to Port-au-Choix (we’re looking back to Port Saunders right now) there were some really nice beaches if only the sun would shine.

And much to my surprise, considering that we have the Labrador Current flowing down here direct from the Arctic, the water was … errr … not too unpleasantly cold.

Too cold for me to go swimming, but then I’m nesh as we all know. Other people might be pleasantly surprised.

port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But Port-au-Choix is the place to be in this part of the world.

There’s a big “Foodland” supermarket on the edge of town, bigger than I’ve seen in many places

And not only that, there’s a Chinese restaurant here too, and isn’t that a novelty for North-East Newfoundland?

port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But then, maybe it isn’t so surprising.

In the controversial resettlement programmes under which people were “encouraged” to leave the outlying settlements and settle in approved “points of growth”, Port-au-Choix was one of the places that was approved.

Quite obviously, if you are selling the idea of “resetlement” to people on the grounds that there will be better facilities in these “points of growth”, then you need to make sure that the facilities are there.

port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017One of the things that Port-au-Choix had going for it was a big natural, sheltered harbour.

That kind of thing is very important in a maritime community and so naturally there’s a busy port here and even a modern fish-processing plant.

No sense in encouraging “resettlement” if the people still have to travel a distance to take their fish to the processing plant. They may as well go to live there.

port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017There was a rumour at one time that the MV Apollo – the ship that works the ferry between Newfoundland and Southern Labrador – would be replaced by a more modern ship (she is about 50 years old now) and that the new ferry service might sail out of here.

I duly went to the local Government Marine Patrol offices to find out what they knew, but they were … err … rather dismissive of my enquiry.

Wasting my time in fact.

burnt out barge port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But I can’t leave Port-au-Choix without drawing your attention to this oblect.

It’s some kind of barge or passenger ferry of some description, and by the looks of it, it’s been burnt out. And quite a while ago too, so it seems.

But I wonder what it was andhow it came to be here. And there was no-one around to ask.

I did think about asking the guy in the Marine Patrol office, but he had the air of having far more important things to attend to than to talk to me.

Going at full steam down the highway I overshot my motel and had to turn around. I upset everyone by going in the private entrance, which is always a good start.

My room looks like something out of the 1950s but the bathroom is modern and tidy. But first things first – before the shower I chuck some pasta, vegetable soup and tomato sauce in the slow cooker.

As for the internet – another night without it. You can’t expect too much here which is just as well, because that’s what I’m getting – not too much.

As long as the bed is comfortable, that’s all that I care about tonight.

Friday 1st April 2016 – I’M BACK …

… on the road again today. I was awake early enough but when I switched on the laptop, there was someone on line with whom I wanted to have a chat. Consequently it was about 09:30 when I went downstairs and I hit the road straight away.

My first stop was at the town of Ramillies, the site in 1706 of one of the major, if not decisive battles of the War of the Spanish Succession. And it was here that I realised that I had forgotten my mobile phone and camera. Still, start as you mean to go on, I suppose.

Instead, I went shopping at the Delhaize at Inhout so as to stock up with food for my couple of days, and here I received a lovely smile from a young girl. I suppose that I’ll have to add it to the list of places to revisit. After all, it’s not every day that I have such a nice smile like that and I need to remember these places.

I called at a nursery on the outskirts of Namur. Alison is a very keen gardener and I want to thank her for being so kind to me, so I managed to pick up a young almond tree that will look really nice when it starts to blossom. I hope that she’ll like it.

Fuel at Namur was a mere €0:97 per litre, which is the cheapest that I’ve seen it for about 15 years. Caliburn was running quite low and so I profited by fuelling him right up, as I’m sure you would have done too at that price.

I missed the turning that I wanted at Namur and ended up on the wrong side of the Meuse – the eastern bank which is quite industrialised. It took me ages to find a crossing over onto the western bank, by which time I reckon that I had missed all of the picturesque hotels. but not to be outdone, I carried on southwards to Dinant, where the streets were undergoing a total renovation. There was nowhere to park, nowhere to move around, and walking around the town didn’t look very easy at all.

As a result, I pressed on towards the frontier, stopping for my butty somewhere where there was a lovely view across the river. Having no answer at a couple of bed-and-breakfasts, and at yet another, being told that it was full and I should refer myself to the other two in the town.And so I eventually found myself across the French border, in Givet. The first hotel that I found had transformed its rooms into apartments.The prices at the next few that I found frightened me to death and so as a last resort I found myself at the Ibis Budget on the outskirts of the town. I had no luck here either as the computerised registration system was down.

From here, I decided to cut across country to Rocroi where I knew that there were a few cheap hotels, but instead, negotiating the narrow one-way streets of Givet I found another hotel, the “Reflets Jaunes”. They were busy too and all of the cheap rooms had gone, but when I moaned about the price they allowed me a 20% discount which made it much more like my kind of place. There was secure vehicle parking too round the corner which was very handy because the streets weren’t half narrow.

Once I’d installed myself, I crashed out for an hour or so and then had a shower and washed my clothes. And I do have to say that I wasn’t disappointed with my hotel. I’ve been obliged to decline breakfast because it’s so expensive, although had I been a meat-and-dairy eater, I wouldn’t have complained for a moment because it really did look excellent, the way the receptionist described it. But the room is nice, warm and comfortable, and the towels are so fluffy that I’ve no idea how I’m going to close my suitcase when I leave here. The shower is lovely too and the internet connection is superb.

Later on in the evening, I went to see what there was to eat. There are several fritkots in the town but none of them sell falafel from what I was able to see. One was however next to a Carrefour “City” so while my chips were frying, I went next door and bought a cucumber salad to have with the chips.

After tea, I started to watch an Inspector Hornleigh film but my heart wasn’t in it and I’d gone in about 15 minutes. I’m definitely noticing how much I’m struggling now so I hope that the next few days will start to see a slight improvement in my health. It’ll be three weeks since I will have had a blood transfusion.

Wednesday 17th June 2015 – I’VE BEEN DRILLING ….

holse chasing drilling for water pipes les guis virlet puy de dome france… for most of the afternoon.

I need to route all of the water pies – the cold water in, the hot water in, the hot and cold out and the hot and cold central heating – around the house, and where the water tanks will be going is in the attic right above the shower. The shower room and the kitchen where the sink will be are right in a vertical row one under the other, and so I’m planning to route all of the pipework down the inside of the stud wall.

The central heating is a later addition to the plan, and as well as that, I’d only made provision for the other water pipes in the top rails of the stud wall. Hence, there were 22 holes to cut and I’ve done 18 of them this afternoon.

As we’ve actually had some good weather today, I’ve resurrected the little 330-watt mains drill and that has made rather short and effortless work of the drilling.

Or it would have done, but I soon discovered why I hadn’t used it for years. The on-off switch is broken and so the drill is permanently “on”. That makes for some interesting moments when I’m starting off with the drilling.

I’ll finish all of this tomorrow and then I can finish off with the plan to fit the worktop. I might even have finished it off today but I crashed out for an hour – and I mean crashed out too. I was well-done.

This morning I started on my website, trying to resurrect all of the notes that I have lost, and that’s not easy. It’s going to be a lot of work and I’m not looking forward to doing it all again.

After that, I’ve been working in the garden. Yes, even though I said I wouldn’t this year.

But this was urgent as I had a load of stuff, including the beichstuhl, to take down to the compost heap. But I couldn’t get down there, seeing as the weeds, brambles and everything else have totally overwhelmed it. And so for a good hour and a half I was hacking my way down there.

But in a change, I’ve put the smaller container, the 15-litre one – in the beichstuhl. This will mean that it will have to be emptied more often, as it will fill up quicker, and that suits me fine. It’ll keep the compost bin turning over and keep the shower room healthier.

As it’s sitting low in the box, I’ve propped it up by taking the telephone directories upstairs and put them underneath the container. That raises it up and that’s much better. I’ve also put the bin bags and the shredder upstairs too so it’s all to hand.

And so I’ve had an easy night tonight. Day 2 of the aubergine and kidney bean casserole that I made yesterday and forgot to mention.

I was on my travels during the night – or, rather I wasn’t for I was here. Someone with whom I used to be very friendly back a few years ago was here too and we were watching my ocean-going yacht arriving down the little lane here. It took hours for them to unload it – in fact they still hadn’t finished by the time that I woke up, even though this guy had gone downstairs earlier to chivvy them up.

Monday 13th April 2015 – I SMELL ALL WHEATY TODAY

And the reason for this is that I’ve had another shower.

solar shower unit les guis virlet puy de dome franceI started off today by dismantling the solar water heater and giving it a really good clean out. The solar water heater by the way is a black plastic box with an old caravan window over the top, and the back is insulated with some of this space blanket insulation. It’s stuck on the roof of the outside shower cubicle where it catches the sun quite nicely. The water then descends by gravity through a tap and then to a shower head.

It needed a really good clean too as it’s not been used in a while and there were all kinds of dead leaves inside the tank busily decomposing, and the window needed a really good clean too.

guttering uphill lean to les guis virlet puy de dome franceNext job was to fix the guttering on the uphill lean-to. The guttering has become detached because it’s too low and the door into the upstairs but where I keep all of the paint keeps knocking it.

But this wasn’t as easy as it might sound as I needed the folding ladder, and that’s all overgrown with brambles that have grown over the wall from Lieneke’s field and which one of the days we’ll have an accident with 5 litres of diesel.

I had to cut the ladder out of the brambles and that led to a general clearing of the patch of ground in front of the woodshed. Now I need a place where I can have a garden fire to dispose of all of the dead brambles.

So once I’d freed the ladder, I could dismantle the guttering, reposition the brackets and then refix the guttering. Now, not only does it slope all of the right way, but it clears the door too.

I’ve run a mains cable through from the house into the downhill lean-to, via the hole that I drilled through the wall ages ago. And with the electricity now in there, at lunchtime I did another load of washing. That’s come up nicely but there’s still a pile to do. It might not be done this week though as the water level in the water butts is quite low. 5mm of rain would do quite nicely right now to fill the water back up again.

I found 3 centimes in the bottom of the washing machine too. I hope that I’m not going to be done for money laundering.

After sitting outside eating lunch (it was really beautiful today again) and supervising the washing, I went and attacked the shower room and that’s almost empty now. Tomorrow I can start on fitting the shelves in there and the composting toilet.

Finally, the water in the solar heater was at 33.5°C. 5 litres of water at 61°C out of the 12-volt immersion heater soon sorted that out, and I had a really nice outdoor shower, followed by a shave and a change of clothes.

2 showers in 2 consecutive days? Whatever next? I’ll be washing myself away at this rate.

And I was on my travels during the night, working on behalf of the occupying forces during the day but directing resistance activities during the night. Nerina was here in this journey and we were somewhere in the UK in one of these areas with small Victorian detached houses with big gardens. The road to where we lived was a tortuous route though this built-up area but all of a sudden someone had put a direct road through the houses that curved around to where we were.

Saturday 11th April 2015 – WHAT, ME?

Working on a Saturday?

Perish the thought!

home made compost bin les guis virlet puy de dome franceMeanwhile, here’s a composting bin.

Having unexpectedly lost a good few hours of work time yesterday and with the composting bin to finish, I nipped outside after (a rather late) breakfast and carried on.

I cleared away a previous attempt at a composting bin, put as much of the compost as would fit into the existing bin, and put this one up on the same spot as the one that I had just dismantled and put the rest of the compost in. That will act as a starter.

The top off the dismantled bin, I salvaged that and cut it down to fit the new one, rescrewing and strengthening it where necessary. I was also able to salvage the hinges that I had bought and used for the infamously-unsuccessful trapdoor in the landing floor, and now I have a folding lid on the compost bin. That was a design failing on the original one, having just a lift-on, lift-off lid.

When I get around to it and I can find some cheap forsythia, I’ll put a little hedge around it. I’m not sure when that might be, though.

What is ironic about all of this though is that yesterday, the day after I had built the framework for the composting bin, the postie came round with a leaflet, telling us that VALTOM, the organisation that deals with waste disposal, has a special offer on compost bins this Spring.

Two other jobs that I had intended to do yesterday – fixing the guttering on the lean-to and cleaning out the tank for the solar shower – well, they will have to wait for Monday regardless. There are limits to what I’m prepared to do on an “office” day.
This afternoon, I’ve been researching for my website. I needed quite a few bits and pieces off the internet, so I decided to attack that.

And really, that’s about it today. Doing my shopping on Friday evening is a good plan, that’s for sure.


That made quite a change as we’ve had non-stop wind for the last three days or so.

All kinds of records have been broken too with the wind. For example, of all the wind energy created by the big AIR 403 wibd turbine since I reset the meter in December, 40% of it came today. And with the small wind turbine, today has doubled the previous record of wind generated.

It really was impressive but now it’s blown out and we are all quiet.

This morning, I took decisive action and ripped out all of the masking and protection on the stairs and on the landing downstairs. I gave the stairs and landing a thorough clean, sanded all of the imperfections, vacuumed it thoroughly and then gave it all a really good coat of varnish.

That took about an hour and a half in total, and so for the rest of the morning I went outside. First job was to sort out a huge pile of old cardboard that I had put on one side when I tidied the barn out the other day.

cardboard cover raised beds les guis virlet puy de dome franceWith all of that, I went down to the raised beds in the garden where I grow my crops of vegetables. Nothing is going to be done there this year, so I’ve covered over all of the beds with cardboard. I did 6 this morning, and then this afternoon I dismantled the bean frames and did the rest.

I’ve only weeded two of them, the rest can take their chance. BUt it’s not going to be a problem for as soon as it rains and the cardboard becomes waterlogged, it’ll fold down flat onto the soil in the raised beds, suffocate the weeds and then slowly disintegrate into the soil over the period of the coming year.

Immediately after lunch, I put the second coat of varnish on, and I’ll do the third coat first thing in the morning.

For tea tonight I made a mega-mushroom and potato curry. Mushrooms were cheap at the weekend and I had some potatoes left over from winter.

And there was so much surplus energy today that the water in the dump load (the home-made 12-volt immersion heater) went off the scale – ie over 70°C. I had some lovely hot wahing-up water this evening.

Thursday 30th October 2014 – I HAD ANOTHER …

… garden fire today. But to be honest, it was really the same one as yesterday, with a lot more fuel added to it.

Outside the house, the tidying up is done as much as I can do for the moment and it really is a great improvement on how it was before. That, at least, is noticeable. And where I couldn’t reach with the lawnmower or the brush cutter, I’ve poured a load of weedkiller over. That’s something that I’ve always been trying to avoid, of course, but sometimes it is necessary, especially as time is something of an issue right now.

Having dealt with that, I’ve been in the downhill lean-to. I’ve done some (but not too much) tidying up in there now and I can move around again. Dealing with that properly and comprehensively is another mediul-term goal of mine, and that depends upon what the winter this year is going to bring us.

This afternoon, I spent a considerable amount of time on the telephone. Firstly, I had to call the UK and my bank there to find out why a banking transaction hadn’t gone through. After what can best be called “a frank exchange of views”, this transaction might go through properly now, and there will be some news about this on these pages in early course if all goes according to plan.

The second call was to Canada and to my niece and her husband. This is something else that is going to involve a considerable financial outlay, but my best estimate is that it will pay for itself in just three voyages to North America, and I’m looking to reduce my outlay in this respect seeing as how it’s becoming a regular thing, these voyages. And there will be more of this anon too..

Once those were out of the way, I spent a delightful afternoon downstairs on the ground floor of the house tidying up all of that, and it’s now back to the pristine condition of how it was in the Spring. That left me just ebnough time to make a start on tidying the first floor where the bedroom will be.

As it went dark I had phone calls from Terry and from Rosemary. I’m exceedingly popular these days. I can’t be feeling myself these days.

And quite right too. It’s a disgusting habit.

Wednesday 29th October 2014 – I HAD A FIRE …

les guis virlet puy de dome france… today in the garden. The first of the year, if I remember correctly.

And it was the best garden fire that I’ve had since that one a few years ago and which was so hot that it set fire to the guttering on the barn and melted three dustbins 30 feet away. This one was not quite of that standard but it was still impressive.

And where did all of the material come from? The answer to this is that this morning I moved everything from off the land between the barn and the house, and then attacked the weeds and brambles with a pair of loppers and a big rake. By about 13:00 I had as much out as I could get, and so attacked what was left with the brushcutter

After lunch, I sorted out the lawnmower and mowed everywhere where I could reach. That wasn’t easy either, as we are having lawnmower issues. It’s proving extraordinarily difficult to start right now as the choke isn’t working corectly. You need to start up the mower and then keep on pumping the wobble pump until the engine is warm enough to run without the choke.

Anyway, it’s all mown as far as I can reach, and I’ll need to carry on a little further when I can clear some more room.

I had a little chat with the old woman who hangs around here helping her son who is a vacancier. She was telling me a story about what had happened to her 20 years ago, and apparently she had had an argument with the farmer who reckoned that her car was in the way when he was moving his cattle the other day. Not that surprised me any, because her car is never parked – it’s just abandoned in the road.

But having had 10 minutes in her company, I can understand why it is that Eskimos put all of their old folk onto ice floes and push it out to sea.

Last night was exciting though. I had 16 sacks of papers to take to Pionsat for the big paper collection. But there wasn’t much about the town. I reckoned that I had more waste paper than the rest of the town combined. IN the end, I had to drive around the town, dropping off a sack here and a sack there so that it didn’t look just like a big pile from me.

Thursday 21st August 2014 – THIS TIME NEXT WEEK …

… I’ll be at 34,000 feet. I hope that the aeroplane will be too!

And I can’t wait to go either – I need a break. Especially after today. It took an hour and a half to sort out the difficult part of the wiring issues. The problem was relatively straightforward but it didn’t half take some fixing. What had happened was that when we must have fed the huge cable through the piping, the pipe had come away from its mounting and dropped down through the floor some way. Pushing the pipe back up had wedged it underneath the floor and trapped the wires.

Of course, now that the plasterboard has been put on the wall in the shower room, it’s not possible to reach the pipe from underneath. Consequently I had to drill out the floor from above and chisel part of it away. That freed the wires off but the insulation on the one that had been trapped under the floor was damaged so I had to wrap it in insulation tape. It’s a good job that I noticed.

But this huge armoured cable going through the pipe – I can’t understand that. Why did I choose that? Two strands of 16mm cable takes up much less room than that and will be much better at carrying the surplus current upstairs when I finally manage to move the immersion heater up here when the bedroom is finished. Consequently I pulled the cable right out.

It still wasn’t as easy as it might have been to pass this cable through the pipe but anyway, there it is. And there’s plenty of room for 2 strands of 16mm cable as well as one or two others if necessary.

Before I could restart work after lunch, Rosemary came round and we pulled up the onions and garlic. And what a crop! I’ve never ever been so lucky as to have had a crop like this. It seems that this wet weather has done some good somewhere.

That took us until 19:30 and I was looking forward then to coming upstairs and tidying up because it is a total disaster here what with me trying to pack as well as having to clear part of the attic to access this cabling.

But it’s not to be. I’ve had a phone call that means that either tomorrow or Saturday, Caliburn and I will have to take the big trailer on a rather long run. Consequently I had to empty out Caliburn and rescue the trailer from the undergrowth where it lives. Of course, there was a light out so I had to fix that too and that took me right up to 21:30 when it was too dark to do any more and I didn’t feel like tidying up at that time of night.

Tomorrow I’ll have to finish off all of the stuff for Radio Anglais if we aren’t going until Saturday. The radio stuff can’t be left and so for the moment this is the priority task.

Monday 18th August 2014 – I’VE BEEN DIGGING UP …

… the shallots today. And there was quite an amount of those too – easily the best crop of shallots that I’ve ever had. I’ve washed them and they are draining off overnight, and tomorrow I’ll have to hang them up to dry off.

But I really am impressed with the crop. It’s superb.

I’ve also dug over the three potato beds again. Loads more spud too – it’s amazing how many were left behind yesterday but that’s something that always happens with potatoes. No matter how many times you dig over the beds, there’s always some potatoes left behind to grow again.

The beds have now been hoed and raked over and are now covered with black plastic to keep the weeds off. I can therefore forget about them for several months until the winter.

This morning though I booked my train and hotel. I’m leaving Riom on the usual 17:06 to Lyon Part Dieu and then the TGV – but this time as far as Lille. I’m having to stay two nights in a hotel before my flight leaves and two nights in a hotel in Lille is about the same price as one night in a hotel at the airport.

And not only that, there’s no food or anything at the airport except to be held to ransom in the hotel’s restaurant (and they can’t cook anything for me anyway) whereas in Lille there’s much more going on and much more choice.

Everything is now charged up as well – the North American phone, the North American SatNav, the spare batteries for the dictaphone, all that kind of thing.

Tomorrow, I’ll have to start packing. I mustn’t forget the car charger for the laptop and a few other bits and pieces but I’m certain that I’ll forget something before I leave. Most people make a list and then pack according to the list. I simply pack, and then make a list of whatever I have forgotten.

Sunday 17th August 2014 – OHHH LOOK AT THAT!

new potatoes harvested les guis virlet puy de dome franceYes, look at that indeed.

Roselary came around this afternoon and so we decided to pull up the new potatoes. In fact we ended up pulling up all of them as the lates seemed to be ready too, and this is what we ended up with after about 4 hours of uprooting.

There’s about 20 litres of potatoes there and and that’s a lot of potatoes, much more than I was expecting and much more than I usually have. Clearly the wet summer is having something to do with this.

Rosemary stayed chatting until almost 20:00 and that made a pleasant evening, even if it was a little cool.

But not as cool as yesterday evening – the temperature dropped to an astonishing (for mid-August) low of 9.1°C, and if you think that this is bad, then Friday night’s temperature was an even lower 8.2°C. For mid-August, these figures are unbelievable. I haven’t seen anything quite like this.

This morning I finally finished this mega-backup. It’s all on a big external drive, a portable hard drive and (minus the photos) on a 64GB memory stick. That should keep me going if anything happens.

I’ve also prepared an old portable hard drive and another 64GB memory stick.They have the old films that I downloaded from archive.org and also the old-time radio programmes that I like to listen to. There are directories for the photos, the dictaphone notes and the text that I’ll be typing.

One thing that I’ll try is a 64GB SD card too. The trouble with portable hard drives is that they eat into the power supply of the laptop and, of course, with moving parts they will use a good part of the power. Solid-state is therefore the answer, hence a memory stick, and I reckon that an SD card might be even better in this respect.

We shall see.

So tomorrow, I’ll go back in the garden, churn over the beds agaon to see if we missed anoy more spudes, then hoe and rake tham and finally cover them up with black plastic to keep out the weeds.

Friday 8th August 2014 – WOW!

What a storm!

It was totally stonishing. About 8mm of rain fell in about 30 minutes round about 22:30. It’s a long time since I’ve seen anything quite like it. I even had to close the roof windows as it was pouring in on me where I was sitting, and that’s not supposed to happen.

Mind you, it had been brewing all day. When the boulangère came by this morning, she mentioned that there might be a storm a little later. And it wasn’t long after that that we had the fist lightning flashes. They kept it up from about 12:00 until about 15:30 so I was pretty reluctant to go up on the scaffolding during that period, otherwise it would have been me frying tonight. That’s the one disadvantage of having metal planks.

When i considered it safe to do so, I went up there. Well, not quite – I had to round up all of the tools and fittings that I needed for the job. And that took several attempts to make sure that i had everything up there that I wanted. I drilled the hole, a 16mm hole, with the Hitachi battery-powered SDS drill and that went into the stone like a knife through butter. It’s a shame that the batteries are becoming tired in it now, because it really is one of the most useful tools that I have around here. I must sort out some new batteries for it.

Fitting my home-made eye wall anchor was straightforward – with a little persuasion from a hammer it went into the hole that I had drilled, but tightening it up was something else. With a little too much force, I reckon, I sheared off the wedge that splits the interior of the anchor. Then of course I couldn’t extract the broken one, and so I had to drill another hole and start again. This time I didn’t use quite so much force when tightening it, so I managed not to break it.

Fitting the turnbuckle was straightforward, but then actually fastening the guy wire was almost impossible as the length of the turnbuckle put it too far away from the scaffolding for me to reach it properly. I was lucky that the wire was quite long, as I was able to put a loop in the far end, pass the wire around the hook on the turnbuckle and then around a pivot (the framework upon which the wind turbine is mounted) and with a rope in the loop that I made, pull it back towards me again.

With it securely tied around the scaffolding, I could perform a major feat of gymnastics, balanced right on the edge of the scaffolding on the toes of one foot, and reach right out to the wire to fasten the wire rope ties (three of them) to hold the wire together.

Then dismantling the temporary fittings that I had made, I could tighten up the turnbuckle. And to my surprise, it pulled the wind turbine perfectly vertical instead of leaning over about 5° to the north.

All of this took me until about 18:20 and so for the remaining 40 minutes I did some (but not much) weeding in the vegetable plots. And as I knocked off, it started to rain. “Perfect timing!” I said to myself. And then we got the lot a few hours later.

i’m glad that I’ve fastened the wind turbine with a second guy wire. With just one, it was pulling it out of the vertical and of course, one isn’t very secure. Ideally it needs four and while I can think of a way to do the third one (and i might even do it some day) the fourth will be difficult. Nevertheless, progress has been made.

On Monday, I’ll start to attack all of the rest of the jobs that need to be done while I’m up there. Let’s see how long it takes me to finish them.

Tuesday 24th June 2014 – IT DID CLEAR UP …

… even though it didn’t look much like it when we started. Damp, claggy and overcast.

Nevertheless I was at my task early and first job after brzakfast was to empty the beichstuhl as I was to be having visitors. I also steam-cleaned the kitchen in the verandah and unblocked the sink there – I need to have the place looking something like. I followed that by working on the web pages again – getting back into my normal routine.

After lunch, the weather picked up and it looked quite nice. Rosemary turned up as planned and we set about a couple of the raised beds. Rosemary weeded four and I weeded almost three and I do wonder about my technique because Rosemary’s weeding looks absolutly perfect whereas mine looks a total mess. I wish I knew what her secret was.

We had a long chat afterwards and at about 19.15 Rosemary went home and that was that.

Tomorrow I won’t be doing much as I’m off on the road tomorrow night.

Monday 16th June 2014 – WELL!

So Terry’s Transit and the Jeep have now been for their controle techniques. Both of them have failed but only on minor points, nothing that will prevent them from being driven on the road. There’s a 8-week period for correcting the faults.

Most surprisingly, the brakes on both vehicles passed with flying colours. After all of the work that I put in on them, especially with the handbrake on the Jeep, I was quite impressed and I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t want to have to do that again.

Terry was of course preoccupied with the controle techniques today and so I was on my own here.

This new submersible pump that I bought the other day, that really did the business. I’ve 400 litres of water now in a pile of dustbins ready to use or cement, and the rest was pumped out and down the lane. It was all over in minutes and made a change from spending hours baling out with a can and bucket.

Caliburn is also emptied of his concrete pillar blocks and they are stacked. I’m leaving the cement in there for now though – the best place to keep it dry and out of the way.

Once I’d done all of that, I did some weeding in the garden for a change. The onion and potato beds are now clear of thistles.

This afternoon, I did what I should have done at the weekend and completed the Radio Anglais texts for the next recording session. I wish that I had done that on Saturday.

So now I’m off to bed. I have to be up at 07:00 as Terry and I are going to Riom to register the Jeep now that it has passed the controle technique. I’m glad about that – that’s one care less.

Friday 13th June 2014 – WHAT A WAY TO START THE DAY.

hanging cloud les guis virlet puy de dome franceYes, I woke up this morning at 07:30 and peered out of the window at the top of the stairs to see what the weather was like.

Here we have a good example of one of our typical Auvergnat weather phenomena. Here’s a hanging cloud coming drifting up the valley in this direction.

And in mid-June tpp. The weather is completely bizarre right now.

After breakfast I went off to pick up Rob and we set off to Montlucon to rescue his car. It was at the Renault garage near the centre and it was quite tight to negotiate with the trailer and the narrow streets and the tight turning into the yard of the garage.

chrysler PT cruiser car trailer transporter caliburn puy de dome franceAnd when we had the Chrysler on the trailer I noticed that we had a tyre right down but luckily there was an airline handy so I put some air in all of them. And then we set off.

The drive back to Pionsat was uneventful and we reached our destination with no trouble and dropped the car off. But this trailer tows nicely and I’m quite pleased with it. Then I took Rob home where Julie made coffee and gave me some vegetable plants

This afternoon I caught up with some work and then went out for an hour or so in the garden, weeding the cloche planting Julie’s plants and the tomatoes that I bought the other day.

So tomorrw I’m back in Montlucon buying the cement and some more pillar blocks for the concrete.