Tag Archives: insulation

Friday 3rd May 2019 – I’VE DONE …

… a massive 15% – almost 20% – of the outstanding files on the dictaphone list this morning.

211 was the figure at which I started this morning. By late morning it was a mere 172. And the only reason that I stopped was because I reckoned that I ought to be doing other things as well.

Actually, I cheated. I finally found out where I’d copied the notes previously. I’d actually typed them directly into the blog entries without putting them in the notes file.

Ad so I simply copied and pasted them into the dictaphone notes file, and that was that.

Despite my saying that I’d be having an early night last night, it didn’t quite work out like that. Just as I was planning on going to bed, I had a phone call.

And that put paid to my early night, and in spades too because by the time that I’d finished the phone call, my desire to sleep had gone and it was long after midnight when I finally hit the sack.

And I was off on a voyage too. I was in the EU last night and a princess probably the princess of Monaco came walking through. I had my camera with me so I took a few photos of them. She asked to see them and was quite impressed. She said that she would be at a meeting at the Parliament there at 09:15 next day and would I like to photograph her there. So about 09:05 I picked up all of my stuff, cameras and the like but because I didn’t have a flash I carried a copper frying pan with me that would reflect the light. As I set off I had to walk through my office. everyone was sitting there like at school and I just walked through with my camera and my stuff and straight out of the back door, leaving them open-mouthed at what was going on. I had to fight my way through the huge crowds at the Commission (?!) And found myself at the back of this big meeting where a huge discussion was taking place. There were thousands of people there but I couldn’t see this princess. We were discussing documents and all this kind of thing. Suddenly a document came up talking about storage and I realised that it was a document that I had prepared. They were passing copies about through the meeting to people who hadn’t had them and an extra copy of this document which was in two parts appeared at my desk. I hung onto it as no-one else behind me seemed to want it. A woman came in late and had all of her documents given to her late. She started to ask “who’s this EH who had prepared this document?” I said that it was me – tey asked me who it was; She said that she didn’t have a copy so I passed mine over or the spare one that i had. She was not very impressed because she was expecting a much bigger document. I couldn’t see this princess and her children (because she had some children with her) anywhere in this meeting, but they were all looking at me and my stuff wondering what I was doing. I think that that Nicole was there at one time.

It goes without saying that I didn’t leap joyously out of bed with the lark this morning. Just after 07:00 it was when I finally saw the light of day.

After the usual morning performance, rather later than it has been just recently, I did the photos for yesterday and then attacked the dictaphone notes.

What with a stream of interruptions and the like, and searching for the notes files, it took me until probably 11:30 or something like that to demolish a good pile of them.

Next task was to do some of the outstanding blog entries – to update the photos. I’m now back to 12th July 2018. I’ve left out the trip to the High Arctic because I have plans for that.

There were no photos for 11th July, and 10th July puts me back to the last day of my voyage around Europe. We’re at the Somme battlefield and I spent much of the remainder of the day allocating the text and alt tags to the photos from that period.

When they are done, I’ll update the blog entries as appropriate, and then think about doing the web pages.

here was lunch in between all of that, and it was taken indoors again. The high winds are putting the wind up me as far as sitting on the wall goes.

autogyro place d'armes granville manche normandy franceI called a halt to the photos when it was time to go for my afternoon perambulation.

And I immediately came under aerial attack. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that back in August when we were at the Cabanon Vauban we saw an autogyro fly right past where we were standing.

This afternoon, just as I walked out of the apartment, the aforementioned machine flew right over my head. And so I took a photo of it.

hang glider pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceThat wasn’t the only aerial operation going on this afternoon.

About 30 seconds later, one of the hang-gliders flew past my head. There were a few of them out there this afternoon enjoying the windy weather.

I must admit to having a little musing to myself about how exciting it might have been had the hang-glider and the autogyro had a meeting of the minds and bodies right over where I was standing.

discussing installing monument resistance granville manche normandy franceAnd that was far from being all of the excitement out there too.

Round on the Pointe du Roc not too far from where the bunkers are situated, there were some people measuring up, setting pegs and tapes on the ground and marking something out.

Further enquiries (because I believe that if you want to know the answer to the question, you have to ask the question) revealed that they are going to erect a monument to the Heroes of the Resistance on this spot

chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWe can’t have a trip around the Pointe du Roc without going to see what is going on in the chantier navale

We have the two usual boats that have been there for a while, and on the right is the old trawler that has been on blocks over on the far side of the yard for as long as I can remember.

But on the left we have what looks like a different trawler that has come in for some kind of repair or renovation.

fishing boat towing small boat english channel granville manche normandy franceIn between dodging the aerial attacks earlier, I’d been looking out to sea to see if there were any boats on their way in.

I’d noticed something in the distance and snapped it once or twice, but sure enough, it eventually chugged round the Pointe du Roc and into the Baie de Mont St michel.

And then I was finally able to work out what it was. We have a fishing boat and it seems to be towing a smaller boat behind it.

Back here, I had another outstanding task that needed dealing with.

The memory stick that I take with me when I travel is a mass of confusion because I’ve been very lax in bringing the files up to date.

So what I did was uploaded them all to this computer and wiped the memory stick clean for future use. Then, with all of the files now on the computer, I eliminated all of the duplicates.

Next wtep was to allocate files to folders where I could.

Finally, I had a mass of files, some with two, three or even four copies which are all different. My next task is to do a compare and merge so that there is only one file for each, but with everything on it.

Tea was another slice of shepherd’s pie with gravy and veg, followed by fruit salad and soya cream.

insulation grillage on floor rue du nord granville manche normandy franceTime then for my evening walk of course.

My trip took me by the house on the corner of the rue du Nord – the one that is currently under major renovation. They’ve now laid some grillage on top of the insulation that they put down yesterday, so it looks as if the concrete won’t be far behind.

I’ll be intrigued to see how it all comes out.

museum christian dior granville manche normandy franceIt was a thoroughly beautiful evening out there tonight, and the colours in the evening sunshine were marvellous.

Just the type of evening that is ideal for photography so I spent some time out there taking a pile of pics of the scenery.

This one of the cliffs above the Plat Gousset, with the Museum Christian Dior on the top, has come out particularly well.

minette black cat rue notre dame granville manche normandy francetalking of things coming out particularly well, on my way back home via the rue Notre Dame, I was greeted by Minette, the old black cat.

She came over for a good stroke, and she expressed a considerable amount of interest in the camera.

Clearly she was looking for her little moment of fame, and what could I do apart from obliging her? She really is a nice cat, although she would benefit from a good grooming.

So back here now, and I really am going to try for an early night. I was disappointed about yesterday so I want to catch up, and of course I have shopping tomorrow.

I need a pile of stuff too so I need to be on form.

fishing boat towing small boat english channel granville manche normandy france
fishing boat towing small boat english channel granville manche normandy france

fishing boat towing small boat english channel granville manche normandy france
fishing boat towing small boat english channel granville manche normandy france

donville les bains granville manche normandy france
donville les bains granville manche normandy france

holiday camp donville les bains manche normandy france
holiday camp donville les bains manche normandy france

waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france
waves plat gousset granville manche normandy france

Friday 30th October 2015 – ALL GOOD THINGS …

… come to an end. And today, the home-made 12-volt immersion heater that I use as a dump-load for the excess solar energy finally ground to a halt.

Mind you, I’m not surprised. What has surprised me is that it lasted as long as it has – about 4 years if I remember correctly. It’s a 500-watt industrial 12-volt water heater element that I can pick up by the dozen in the USA, fitted into the side of a 25-litre plastic storage box and sealed in with rubber gaskets, and a simple tap. The whole lot is stood on a thick sheet of polystyrene insulation, with some of this thick space-blanket insulation wrapped around it, and a plastic lid covered with an off-cut of a sheet of polystyrene-backed plaster-board. Down on the inside of the space-blanket insulation up against the plastic side is the sensor of a maximum-minimum thermometer.

It’s wired in (with a 70-amp fuse) to a 60-amp Solar charge controller that I have reverse-wired so that instead of being “on” and switching off when the batteries are fully-charged, it’s “off” and switches on when the batteries are fully charged – and so when the batteries are fully charged and the charge controllers on the batteries switch off, the current that would otherwise be lost is diverted down into the water heater element and so heats up the water in the immersion heater for washing up, washing, and all that kind of thing.

And so why did it all go wrong?

The answer is that it hasn’t really gone wrong. A year or so ago I noticed that the positive wire to the immersion heater was heating up dramatically, and so I rewired it. But the thread stripped in the connection on the element so I had to find a small nut and bolt. But I couldn’t really fit a spanner into it so that it wasn’t particularly tight.

Today, I went downstairs to the fridge to fetch something to drink, and I could smell the burning plastic. There was something or a record of 37 amps going down the cables and this was simply too much for the bad joint and the wire was so hot that it was melting the insulation.

I hadn’t designed it particularly well – I can do much better than this, and in any case I don’t have any rubber joints for the element which I’ll need to take out and remake the joint, and so that’s a task for next week if I remember to buy the things that I need tomorrow at the shops. However, I have plugged the fridge back in so that something is being done about the excess current.

And so what else have I done today?

Apart from work on the laptop, which you can take as read, I’ve been tracking down some wood. I went to rescue the wooden box that I used to use to keep my fruit and vegetables in, but I pinched it last year to store my potatoes. But that didn’t work as the potatoes all went off and the wooden box is ruined (but I did in passing cast an eye on last year’s compost and it’s brewing beautifully!) and so I need to make another one.

I found a 50cm pine plank and some 40mm aluminium angle and I’ll be using that on Monday to make my new fruit and veg box.

As well as that, I went to check over the Kubota mini-digger. The reason for that is that the battery in the Kubota tractor is finished and I need a new one, so if I’m ordering one it makes sense to order a second for the digger – after all, that hasn’t run since the end of November last year.

But much to my astonishment, the mini-digger fired up straight away with no difficulty. And so I checked it over and left it running for a good hour or so to warm everything up and top up the battery.

I spent some time downstairs tidying up the ground floor too. It’s now looking as if you might be able to see the floor if I keep up like this. But I need to make a great deal of room as pretty soon I’ll be starting work down there and I’ll need the space.

Last but not least, I had a shower. 33°C in the verandah and 59°C in the 12-volt immersion heater, and so I cleared a corner of the verandah, fetched a bucket of hot water with some cold mixed in, found the pouring jug, and hey presto! Now I smell like coconut. I finished it off with a shave too, so now I’m all ready for the weekend.

But I could have done with a shave and a shower last night, as I was on my travels again. It was Marianne who had the pleasure of my company, going to the airport for a flight to Portugal. At the last minute she asked why I didn’t come with her, so with three hours to go before take-off I nipped off to my apartment for some clothes and the like, and to run one or two errands.

Once I’d done all of that, I had to return to the airport so there I was, driving through North London (flitting in and out of another nocturnal ramble from ages ago) on my way to Brussels Airport. The road was certainly very familiar to me, but I wasn’t convinced that it was the road that I should have been taking. But I arrived at the airport and reached the security gate with just 15 minutes to take-off and I still had a long way to go, not to mention passing through the “security”. And here I was, panicking in case I missed the flight, which was looking more and more likely as time passed by.

Monday 21st September 2015 – IT WAS COLD …

… last night in Strider. Firstly, the temperature had dropped outside during the night, and secondly, the aluminium sheeting provides nothing in the way of insulation – in fact quite the reverse. I’ll have to do something about that because the condensation was terrific too despite the rear window being ajar.

But as for the bed, it was indeed comfortable enough and once I did manage to drop off I was fine except for the noise from the lorries that awoke me every now and again as they went moving about the lorry park.

This morning I fitted my shelf up in the roof. It took ages to do as it had to be cut really fine and so I took four or five goes to cut it precisely to size, and then I screwed a front batten to it to stop the tins and everything sliding off. I’ll put the saucepan and the tin opener up there too so that they are to hand.

After a coffee and an internet at Tim Horton’s, I hit the road and headed to Moncton. First stop was the Salvation Army thrift shop where I picked up a book, a CD and a tin opener, seeing as how the one that I have doesn’t seem to want to do anything.

Second stop was not the second stop at all. Princess Autos is just opposite the Salvation Army thrift shop, but not any longer. It’s all closed down and they had the builders in. However the builders directed me there and although they didn’t have what I wanted, I ended up with a 19mm spanner (at last), a set of offset ring spanners and a big set of torx and torx-E drive sockets.

Value Village was a disappointment. I ended up with just a (rather expensive) book although it did produce a decent old saw and a tenon saw. The saw that I have is rather flaky and I need to do better. God second-hand tools are much better value than cheap new stuff, that’s for sure.

At Home Depot I bought a pile of insulation as well as a couple of sets of screwdriver bits for back home, and then I went off to have a look at the new music shop that has just opened across the car park.

And then I set off.

railway line across freeway dieppe moncton new brunswick canadaYou may remember a while ago that I wrote something about a railway line that crosses the big freeway at Dieppe (just outside Moncton) on the level and made a comment about the M25 in the UK.

So just so you know that I wasn’t pulling your leg about this, Strawberry Moose took a photo of the railway line as we passed over, so that you know that it’s there.

covered bridge tantramar marshes new brunswick usaOne of the things that I’ve been trying to do as I pass by here is to find a way across the Tantramar Marshes. There’s the freeway of course, but finding another road is not easy. This time however, with the aid of The Lady Who Lives In The Sat-Nav, whom I told to take the quickest way to Amherst without using the Freeway.

She found me some exciting roads, including passing over this delightful little covered bridge across one of the many drainage ditches that criss-cross the marshes.

The Tantramar Marshes have been described as “The Largest Hayfield In The World” and quite rightly so.

largest hayfield in the world tantramar marshes new brunswick canadaYou can see from this photo that I took from the ridge on the northern edge of the marsh that it lives up to its name. Especially at this time of year when the “rolos” are everywhere.

The marshes were originally drained by the first Acadian settlers here so that the hayfield could be created, and you can see everywhere the traces of the old drainage ditches running through the fields. You can also see traces of the old Acadian dykes and I took you to visit the remains one of them a couple of years ago.

wind turbines amherst nova scotia canadaMy route took me past the wind turbines across the border in Nova Scotia (there’s not a one in this area in New Brunswick) and down to the site of old Fort Beausejour. This is situated at the head of the Bay of Fundy where I would watch the sun set.

But as for this insulation, it’s no good. It’s far too thick, far too heavy and not flexible enough, so it would do for the roof. I’ll have a go at the sides tomorrow but I’m not hopeful and I can see all of this going in the bin even though it cost a lot of money.

I’ll have to think again about this.

Sunday 11th January 2015 – I HAVE DONE …

… absolutely nothing today. I haven’t even made any food since breakfast.

And breakfast was rather late too. having had a more reasonable night last night, I was awake before dawn broke. But badger that for a game of cowboys. The nice clean me turned over in the nice clean bedding and went back to sleep until 10:20. I deserve it after my efforts of the last week.

I did manage to go outside once too – to bring in a few bits and pieces from Caliburn, but that was about that.

Something worthy of note, though. Another day in january when I’ve had no heating on at all. It’s going a little chilly now but I’m off to bed in a minute. As I have said before … "and you’ll say again" – ed … stuffing this place full of insulation was the best thing that I ever did. Money spent on insulation is never wasted.

Saturday 3rd January 2015 – NOW HERE’S ANOTHER THING.

Make a note of today – the 3rd January. And today I have had no heating on at all in my attic.

This means of course that i’ve not had a hot meal today but it’s more important to try to run this place on an energy-efficient basis and with the temperature late at night being 15°C inside my attic then heating would really be superfluous.

What has contributed to this state of affairs is that at about 15:00 I had the gas ring up here going for about 15 minutes boiling a kettle so that I could have a really good wash, and that bumped the temperature up to 16.5°C at one stage. This just goes to show that all of the insulation that I have stuffed into the attic when I fitted it out has not been wasted at all. We have insulation in the ceiling, in the walls and under the floor as you know. Money spent on insulation is never ever wasted.

During the night I was working in an office somewhere and it was so hot in there that I removed my shirt and jumper. When it was time to go home and I put my shirt and jumper back on I nearly boiled away in the heat. I went off back home on the old Honda Melody that is around here – my urban transport mode when I lived in Brussels all those years ago and which is still here. The Melody hadn’t been used for so long that when I went to fill up with petrol the upper part of the filler cap came off in my hand leaving the lower part firmly wedged in and blocking the filler hole.

After breakfast I carried on with my relaxation and after lunch I had a good wash (see the above) and then went to Intermarché …
1) to do the shopping
é) to do the laundry which has been backing up here for I don’t know how long. Yes, it’s a godsend, this launderette here in Pionsat.

Back here, I’ve done nothing at all this evening except to sit in the comparative warmth of my attic. But I’m under no illusions – I’ll probably have to have a fire on here when I wake up tomorrow.

Tuesday 30th December 2014 – WELL, THAT WAS A WASTE OF TIME.

Remember yesterday when I was busy putting that piece of wood in to fill that unexplained gap in the woodwork and ended up falling down the stairs?

This morning I started to fit the plasterboard into position, and after a good hour or so at the cutting, measuring and fitting, and also fitting in some bracing which was unaccountably absent, the light suddenly went on in my head. Yes, where is the insulation in the wall?

Off came all of the plasterboard that I had cut and shaped, and off came the bracing that I had fitted, and on went 40mm of polystyrene insulation. And now I can see why there was that unexplained gap – it was for passing the insulation through and out behind the stairs. Still, it’s too late to do much about that now.

Before I had started on the plasterboard, I had taken the masking off the floor under the stairs on the landing, and put the first coating of varnish on there. I’d put the second coat on and fitted the stairs too. So that’s another job out of the way.

I’ve even had a bit of good luck too. Aeons ago, when I lived in Brussels, I bought a pack of 100mm wide 25mm thick planed wood planks to make some shelves, but I never used it. I discovered two of the planks and tried them as end-stops for the plasterboard stud walls. They seem to be perfect for this job and so tomorrow I’ll have a go at fitting tham.

I’ve also rerouted a pile of wiring so that it will run under the false ceiling on the landing and then down with all of the other wiring between the stud wall that has the shower room on one side and the head of the stairs on the other side, and I can’t think why I didn’t do this ages ago.

As for the water issues, the front tap thawed out slightly today and the leak isn’t anything like serious. It’s losing about half a litre every hour, but more when the tap is open. The rear tap is still frozen up so I can’t isolate the front tank.

Mind you, the frozen tap is doing that so it’s the same thing really, and as for the leak, the front tank needs to be emptied anyway so that I can change the tap so it’s neither here nor there. I’ve emptied 40 litres out of it today into various containers and I’ll keep on doing that for now until the weather warms up and I can isolate the front tank.

Thursday 20th November 2014 – I’VE BEEN TO PARIS TODAY

And Terry came with me too.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have recently bought some huge 200 amp-hour batteries for my solar system here and I’ve been rebuilding the battery box and I’ve gradually been installing them one by one as the battery box takes shape.

I’ve been so impressed with these as you know – almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin. But anyway, my wholesaler sent me a circular the other day to tell me that they were having yet another battery sale. The price for the 100 amp-hour batteries was extremely interesting and my ears pricked up, especially as the batteries in the barn are struggling along on their last legs as you know.

Having a decent secondary solar system in the barn is of course very advantageous for many reasons, and so I bit the bullet and placed an order.

There is also a new range of data loggers that look much better than anything that I have around here and so I ordered two of those so that I can give them a whirl.

I would have had all of this delivered, except that the company is now starting to sell solar water heaters and they had an exhibition model on display. This is what I want for here, and Terry is very interested too, and so we decided that we would go, pick up my batteries and so on, and have a lengthy chat about solar water heating.

And so at 06:00 Terry phoned me up to wake me, and at 06:45 we were on the road to Paris.

We arrived on the edge of Paris at about 10:00 and then spent 90 minutes covering a distance of just 20kms to our destination. Not traffic queues and not roadworks either, but my satnav has a fetish with the A86 autoroute. No problm with that in itself, but there’s a height limit of 2 metres on that road, and Caliburn is 2.17 metres. Every road that we took brought us back to the A86.

After a wile I gave up, headed for the centre of Paris and then the road out underneath La Defense. But of course the sat-nav can’t pick up a signal in the La Defense tunnel and so I missed the exit. It was certainly not my lucky day today.

Eventually we arrived and spent a good hour or so there. And the upshot was that I have now come home with a solar hot water system. I couldn’t miss out at this price, even if I don’t have any running water yet.

On the way home, I took a different way and of course in the end after much binding in the marsh, we came to the A86 – not once but three times. This was totally beyond a joke and so I headed west on the A14 to Le Havre and came home via Rambouillet. And if that wasn’t enough, I hit a part of the kerb with a hell of a whack at some speed and I’ve smashed a wheel trim (and probably a few other things too)

The rest of the journey was incident-free but we did come home via Brico Depot in Montlucon, where I bought the insulation for the battery box and a few other things, and then the LeClerc for a bit of shopping.

So, what a day! Nearly 900kms and spending all that money but my renewable energy system will leap ahead in spades if all of this works out.

But I do need to work out this route. It’s doing my head in.

Thursday 6th February 2014 – “OHH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING”

And it was, too. Just like a mid-March morning, with a lovely fresh wind, the kind of wind that makes you glad to be out and about in it – a feeling that I can’t describe but I’m sure that you know what I mean.

So today, what did I do? The answer is “not as much as I hoped”. I had to fit some battens and counter-battens on the ceiling at the head of the stairs so that the tongue-and-grooving will have a proper support. That meant that there were of course gaps between the battens and as I have said before, no money spent on insulation is ever wasted and seeing as how I had a few leftover slabs of 20mm polystyrene insulation, I cut them up and filled in all the gaps.

But then I had a surprise. Just as I was cutting the last piece, Liz turned up. She had been to Pionsat and it’s a couple of years since she was last inside the house and so she came to inspect the works, having heard all about the progress here this last couple of months. Anyway, we ended up having a chat and a coffee for an hour or so.

After lunch, I started to fit the tongue-and-grooving on the ceiling. That’s not as easy as it sounds as it’s in three dimensions and each length needs to be cut in two pieces – one of 850mm and the other of about 1185mm.

I say “about”, because it needs to be trimmed at one end to follow the profile of the plasterboarding, and once that’s done, then the other end needs to be cut exactly to size to fit over the top of the corresponding piece of 850mm. Not only that, one of the pieces needs to be holed to take the light fitting and this is where Brain of Britain realised that he hasn’t left enough free cable to put the light exactly where he wants it, and so we’ll have to compromise on that.

Ahhh well

The final lengths need to be cut down the lengths as well to fit the width of the ceiling and it was while I was setting this up that Cécile rang.
“If it’s not convenient right now, just tell me”
“Don’t worry – it’s never not convenient for my friends to call”
And so after chatting to Cécile for 10 minutes, I cut the wood incorrectly.

So I took another length of 850mm and cut that incorrectly too.

I’ve owned my Ryobi plus One jigsaw since August 2008 and it’s taken me until now to realise that the blade isn’t in the centre of the tool – it’s offset to the left by a couple of mm (the strangest design fault I have ever encountered). That means that when you cut down a length so far with the aid of a guide, and then put the jigsaw at the far end to come back to where you left off, you will be a couple of mm out.

This will explain a few of my more bizarre woodworking efforts, and why the door into this room looks such a mess. And it’s taken until now for me to find out why.

But I’ve had some bad nights just recently – trouble sleeping and the like and I reckoned that it was catxhing up with me, so I knocked off and came up here where I crashed out for a couple of hours.

And tonight it’s warm and windy – just like March. I’m all confused.

Saturday 1st February 2014 – CALIBURN STARTED …

… first turn of the key this morning. But then again, the temperature was much warmer and, after the glorious, magnificent day yesterday when I had 134.4 amps of surplus solar energy, it was overcast and pouring down with rain.

And I didn’t even stop for breakfast either but straight off to Montlucon just like young Janet going to the fair at Carterhaugh in Tam Lin“as fast as go can me”

First stop was the Auchan where I hadn’t been for ages, and I bought the things that I couldn’t buy yesterday. but hasn’t the Auchan changed? Store enlarged and everything moved around, but fairly deserted. You can see where the new LeClerc has found its customers.

Second stop was Brico Depot where I spent a staggering €450. But then, I need about 85 m² of insulation to do all of the walls downstairs and when you see this space-blanket insulation on special offer – 23-layer thickness for just €3:80 per m², which is far, far less than half-price, well, you have to go for it.

I also bought the paint (and I’m still recovering from the shock of course) and the tongue-and-grooving for the ceiling out here, as well as a huge pile of staples for the percussion stapler seeing as how I’m running low.

And that, dear reader, was that. Not even 12:00 and I was well on my way home. So much so that it wasn’t until I arrived home that I realised that I hadn’t bought the big water filter kit that was on offer at just €59:00 and which I also desperately needed.


sapeurs pompiers fire brigade montlucon allier franceOn the way back through the side streets of Montlucon I pass by the fire station and there’s always some exciting stuff going on there.

Today they were stretching the extended ladder and the young apprentice firemen … "firePERSONS" – ed … werepractising running up and down the ladder. I had a good look at them and then left them to it. Far too tiring for me, even just looking at it.

annual village meeting virlet puy de dome franceThis afternoon we were having the annual village get-together at the village hall in Virlet. M Le Maire gave his little speech, and I spent most of the time chatting to Pete Marsh and his lady-friend and also Rob and Nicolette from up the road here.

I didn’t stay long because I don’t “do” social events, but I did stay long enough to receive my village Xmas prezzy (an LED pencil-torch) and also a copy of the photo that they took of me for the village year-book.

So now I’m home and I’m staying home. No footy tonight but the season restarts tomorrow with Pionsat’s 1st XI home to Lapeyrouse.

Tuesday 13th November 2012 – I’VE JUST WOKEN …

… up 🙁

Yes, I went out like a light again in the middle of the evening and it’s hardly as if I’ve been working too hard either.

This morning after coffee I wrote some more stuff for one of the Radio Anglais programmes that we do – a delightful couple of pages on composting toilets, would you believe?

And then I went out to cut another pile of wood ready for the bad weather.

After lunch I carried on emptying the first floor and finally, at 18:00, I was in a position where tomorrow, if nothing else crops up, I can rip up the floor in what will shortly be the shower room.

It’s quite nice tongue-and-grooving but it has about 200 years of ingrained dirt from when it was the upstairs hallway – that is, until I turned the stairs around in November 2009.

It’s impossible to clean it – believe me, I’ve tried, and so it’s coming up and being replaced with new. Once that’s in and given a couple of coats of varnish, I can start on insulating the walls and then fit the plasterboard.

Yes, and I don’t know why, but I also seem to have been very popular today.

I’ve had four phone calls, from Cécile, Rosemary, Percy Penguin and Liz, although not necessarily in that order. Maybe its those that are wearing me out.

Friday 17th February 2012 – I FINISHED THE CEILING …

TONGUE AND GROOVE CEILING les guis virlet puy de dome france… just before lunchtime. And I’m really impressed with how it has turned out, even if it did take ages to do.

And there’s 60mm of insulation underneath that tongue-and-grooving, and that is what is probably helping to keep my little attic warm. I remember just how cold it was in here when I first moved in and there wasn’t any insulation at all.

But it was colder in here this morning too – a mere 14.4°C. Positively arctic, I mused to myself. And that’s a difference too from 9°C from the other day, although the difference between 0.3°C outside last night (first 24-hour period for ages that it didn’t get below freezing) last night and -16°C the other night is even more spectacular.

So after lunch I cleaned the pathways outside now that everywhere is warming up. I can walk about the place without sliding over now.

And then it was back into the bedroom. All the joints in the plasterboard on the wall by the window are now sealed and filled, and I’ve almost finished sealing in the window.

I started off using mastic for that but then I remembered that Terry gave me a load of mastic-type glue that he didn’t think too much of, and so I used a pile of that.

That has gone in from the inside, but I’ll buy some proper stuff tomorrow to do the outside.

Once the window is properly sealed in, I can do the window= framing in the bedroom. The two sides and the top will (of course) be in tongue-and-grooving and I’ve some pine board that will do for the windowsill.

Thursday 7th April 2011 – I’m burnt!

Firstly by the sun. We had a magnificent day today, easily the best of the year. And I spent it in unloading Caliburn, stacking stuff wherever I could find some room (and that wasn’t easy – I’m beginning to feel the pinch here now) and then I washed out the inside of Caliburn where things had been leaking.

All the time of doing that, the sun was beating down upon me and I’m now a delicate shade of lobster. And cutting my hair (it had gone a bit wild just recently) didn’t help either as I’m now likely to get a suntan on there. I had to clean and overhaul my hair clippers as they were all clogged up, and now they cut as well as they ever did.

And when I knocked off, the water temperature in the solar shower was 40°C and I had a gorgeous shower. That really was nice.

But the best bit of news comes from the second way that I burnt myself – and that was with the washing-up water. And no, I didn’t leave the kettle on too long.

At 22:00 when I came to do the washing up, the water in the home-made immersion heater was an astonishing, incredible 64°C. It had gone off the scale (over 70°C) during the course of the day and that is down completely to the insulation.

This morning, the water was still 34°C after yesterday’s exertions – I could have had a shower ( and we aren’t talking the OUSA Executive Committee here either) in that. It’s proof positive that good insulation is definitely the way forward.

Electrically-heated washing water is a major milestone for me in my search for autonomy and I am glad that I’ve managed it. But this insulation is giving me another headache – with temperature over 70°C with 2 hours of sunlight left and a few more hours to come later in the summer, I’m going to be perilously near boiling up and I don’t need that at all. I’m going to have to rig up a proper immersion heater with thermostat and all of that – and then what will I do with the surplus electricity? But at least it is the right kind of headache.

And in other news, I now have a car transporter trailer. The company who makes them can’t build mine until July but they are building one for a dealer – exactly the one that I want – and he’ll sell it to me at the factory price if I go and collect it. The factory will keep it until the end of May when I’m in the UK and this is really good news

Wednesday 19th January 2011 – Just by way of a change …

… I was awake before the alarm clock this morning. Surprising too, because it was after 03:00 when I went to bed – rather busy on the computer was I last night.

And this non-seasonal weather is still here – light cloudy skies and plenty of solar energy, and thus electrically-heated water too, but the temperature has dropped. At 21:00 it was -2°C and falling, so winter is still with us.

I’ve had another good day working on the bedroom roof and that is making progress. Slowly, it has to be said, but at least it’s one of those tasks where you can actually see how you are getting on. I’ve probably done about a third of it and it seems to be making something of a difference up here with all of the extra insulation and then the tongue-and-grooving on the bedroom ceiling, which is of course the floor in here.

But I think that I have made something of an error in that I started with the tongue-and-grooving by the window, which means that I am having to do all kinds of contortions around the framework of the fitted wardrobe. It would have been easier to start at the wall by the fitted wardrobe and then continued out to the window. However, where you start is much neater than where you finish and by finishing over the top of the wardrobe, no-one is going to see how it all ended up.

The days are lengthening too. It was 17:48 when I finished work in the bedroom due to fading light, and I went outside to do some more but the drop in temperature drove me in at 18:10 when it was still light . enough to carry on for a short while. Give it another month and I’ll be outside working at 19:00. I’ll need to be too, as I have this greenhouse to build and some new plots and raised beds to deal with. Wherever does the time go to?

And in other news, CREFAD – this Government-sponsored business networking thing that gives lectures and advice to small businesspeople in the Auvergne – rang me up. There’s a meeting on 1st March at St Gervais on the subject of auto-entrpreneurs – this new system of taxation for small informal businesses – and they need a speaker for it. would I be free by any chance that evening? Magali (the girl who runs it) clearly remembers me from 9 months ago when I did a talk on eco-construction.

As it happens I am free that evening and even if I wasn’t, I would be. There’s no payment or anything involved of course which is a shame, but it gives me a chance to meet some more potential clients and talk about my business. An opportunity not to be missed. And they must clearly be impressed with my command of the French language otherwise they wouldn’t keep on asking me to speak at these public meetings, and that is something that pleases me greatly.

Tuesday 18th January 2011 – We were recording again today

This time it was for the programmes for Radio Tartasse – the next lot of four-weekly programmes to take them up to the end of February. Luckily I don’t have too far to travel because it’s an early start in the morning, like … errrr … 10:00.

This time we were allowed to do the programmes how we wanted to do them, and it went much better. Liz and I have a very good rapport and much of our stuff is done as ad-libs and you can’t do that if you are having to concentrate on pages of script. And they have also agreed to let us have copies of the recorded programmes so that I can stick them on our blog when I have the time and I’m not so tired. But that will come – you can be assured of that.

And so back here, and carrying on with my ceiling. and that’s what I did for most of the rest of the day such as it was. And I’m making good progress too. It won’t be all that long before it’s done. BUt it went dark at about 17:00 – at least too dark to work on the ceiling, and so I had an hour or so outside doing a little more clearing up. And slowly but surely it’s looking a little (but only a little) more respectable out here. But the weather has turned. It clouded right over and it’s gone cold. I even have had the heating on a little earlier this evening. But not that that worries me. Now that the weeds and brambles are dying down I’m uncovering a few of the old chevrons that we ripped off the barn roof and threw down to the floor. It’s all more firewood for the stove.

Monday 17th January 2011 – It was Monday today …

… believe it or not, and this afternoon we went to the recording studio to record our radio programmes for the month of February. And no offer of transport from our sponsors either. It seems that whatever budget that was available was only for 12 months and that has now expired.

Anyway, with a view to not taking this lying down, I have taken some positive action. I’ve created a blog for the radio programmes that we do and the intention is that I will stream the radio programmes on there for the benefit of those who can’t receive them or who forgot to listen to them. And in addition to that I will be offering advertising space, at a very democratic €30 per annum for those who run a business or have a service to offer, or €3 per 15 words per month for small ads and the like, people buying and selling articles and so on. And with the money that we raise, we can pay our own travelling expenses to the studio.

So I need help in spreading the word about the radio blog, and I also need customers to buy the advertising space. If you can do your bit to spread the word it would be a great help.

This morning I was up early (just for a change) and with the new insulation that I bought on Saturday I was able to have a profitable couple of hours doing the bedroom ceiling. And it’s advancing pretty well in there. I’m quite happy with that. This evening though we were in St Eloy for the Anglo-French group and we were so carried away with the discussions that instead of finishing at 21:00 as is our wont, it was almost 22:00 when someone noticed the time.

Tomorrow we are recording again – at Radio Tartasse. I need to encourage them to let me have the radio programmes from their end so that we can put them up on the blog too.

I hope it all works!