Tag Archives: Marcillat-en-Combraille

Wednesday 22nd March 2017 – ONE THING …

… about being in bed early is that there I was, out like a light, with just the odd bit of tossing and turning, and that was how I stayed until about 06:40. Totally painless. And with the early morning sun streaming into my room, I felt so much better than I did yesterday.

But it had been freezing in the night. The windows in the attic roof were all iced over. But nevertheless it was reasonably warm in the attic while I had my breakfast.

And then I had some work to do. The technician was due to arrive and so it was a good reason to do a little tidying up. And with the bright sunlight I could use the vacuum cleaner too. That didn’t take too long at all.

When he arrived, he told me that the fault wasn’t at my place but at the exchange (GRRRR – after all that!) and in fact, when I looked, I noticed that I had a connection. he helped me configure it and then cleared off. And, as luck would have it, I received a message from Orange to say that as the fault was not on my premises, I wouldn’t be charged for the call-out.

And so as I settled down again, I had a phone call from Ingrid. She had to go to Marcillat and so I invited her round for a coffee – that’s the least that I can do. And that meant that I had to tidy up here in the attic too. I need to be pushed like this.

Anyway, she came round and we had a coffee and a good chat, and then, much to my surprise, she made me a sandwich. And, while I was eating that, she fetched me up a huge pile of wood. Saying that I was overwhelmed is the least of it.

We nipped into Pionsat for the Bank appointment and then came back here for another coffee before she hit the road back to Biollet. I made some tea and then, still struggling with my cold and cough, I headed off to bed.

My bed is absolutely beautiful and it’s soooooooo comfortable, and it’s a shame that I can’t take it with me. It’s out of the question for me to struggle with it out through the window here and down the scaffolding. I remember the issues that I had trying to get it up into the bedroom.

I shall have to think of a Plan B, and I have one in mind

Monday 28th November 2016 – I WAS RIGHT …

delhaize closed monday bohan belgium october octobre 2016… when I said the other day that I would probably find the Delhaize at Bohan closed if I were to come here today.

Well – I was half-right anyway. Had I come here this morning I would have found it open. But I didn’t – I didn’t arrive here until this afternoon and by then the supermarket here was well-closed.

It wasn’t much of a guess though really, was it? Knowing how things pan out when I’m involved, you should have had the mortgage on it.

delhaize bohan belgium october octobre 2016It wouldn’t be so bad if it were an out-of-town retail outlet but here it is, in pride of place right in the town centre, on a site that’s been used for retail purposes for maybe at least 90 years if an old postcard that I saw had anything to do with it.

But as luck would have it, and quite surprisingly if you are a regular reader of this rubbish, there was a boulangerie open up the side street to the right,and I was able to grab a loaf of bread.

I’d had yet another bad night – this one probably the worst that I’d had so far. and I was awake long before the alarm went off. I’d been travelling too – round Labrador as it happens and I’d been promoting some complicated and difficult projects that I found very hard to explain.

First down for breakfast, even before the staff yet again, and then back to my room and carrying on with my work on Labrador and the Happy Valley-Goose Bay web pages that I’m writing. And I’m stuck. I’ve forgotten the name of a ship that I saw in the harbour and I can’t identify it from the photo. All I know is that it’s the Woodwards oil tanker that takes the fuel out to the outports and isolated islands in the Labrador Sea.

After my butties I set off to Bohan. And it was cold too – the ice warning was going off which was no surprise as the temperature had dropped well below zero during the night and there had been frost everywhere this morning. I sorted out the woolly hat to go on my woolly head.

riviere semois pont cassé bohan belgium october octobre 2016There was a really good reason for wanting to go to Bohan, because it’s another place that has a lot that I would find interesting.

Amongst them is what is called the Pont Cassé – the broken bridge. And if you really need to know who it was who broke it, the answer was that it was the French Army. They blew it up on 11th May 1940 in order to prevent the German Army and its tanks from using it to cross over the river

riviere semois pont cassé bohan belgium october octobre 2016And when they blew it up, they did a really good job of it too.

It was “repaired”, if that’s the right word, with a temporary wooden structure but during the German retreat they set it alight on 6th September 1944 and it burnt down.

And after the war, the decision was made in 1947 not to replace it.

rivere semois pont cassé bohan belgium october octobre 2016It’s possible to walk onto the bridge these days – it’s not fenced off – and so I did.

And you can tell from this photograph exactly what kind of bridge it is can’t you? It’s a railway bridge of course if you need to be told, and more than that, it’s another tacot or “rattletrap” – one of the
chemins de fer vicinaux or local tramway-type railways that littered Belgium just as well as they littered France and which we had near us in Marcillat en Combraille.

riviere semois pont cassé bohan belgium october octobre 2016And talking of my home area in the Combrailles, if you think that the railway line from Pionsat to Gouttieres with its 9 years of existence was quite ephemeral, you haven’t seen anything yet.

This railway line had a lifespan of just about 5 years. It was opened on 5th May 1935 and came to a rather sudden end on 11th May 1940 as I mentioned just now when the French army blew up the bridge.

chemin de fer vicinal bohan belgium october octobre 2016But even that pales into insignificance when we talk about the extension of the line.

Just over there is the railway station. The line came to a full stop over there in 1935 but the decision had been taken to extend the line into France. Just down beyond the railway station is the French border and beyond there is the town of Sorendal.

This was the terminus of the Ardennes tacot – the metre-gauge rural railway network of the French, and on 17th October 1938 an extension was built to join them together.

chemin de fer vicinal gare bohan belgium october octobre 2016While we admire the back of the railway station and what might be a signal cabin to control a set of points that might have worked a siding that looks as if it might have gone to the left just there, I’ll tell you an even more tragic story about the line.

And that is that despite only being opened in October 1938, the French closed the border at the outbreak of war and this part of the line didn’t even manage a whole year of working.

chemin de fer vicinal gare bohan belgium october octobre 2016There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that this was the old railway station. There wasn’t anything carved on the stone or any old sign that might have given me a clue – it just looks exactly as anyone might expect.

Thoroughly magnificent and thoroughly over-the-top, which was a feature of these rural railway stations. No wonder that the lines didn’t last all that long with this kind of expense.

chemin de fer vicinal gare bohan belgium october octobre 2016This is the line-side of the station – the roadway today is the track-bed and there is a pile of waste-land in front of the building that might easily have been the platform.

It looks as if it’s derelict now – all closed down and with damp rising up the stone walls. But it was at one time a garage and then later became a dwelling-house. But there’s no land with it unfortunately, and it’s far too big for me, as well as needing far too much work.

pont cassé chemin defervicinal bohan belgium october octobre 2016But before we leave the Pont Cassé, all 90 metres of it, let me just explain to you why it took until 1935 for the railway line to reach here.

It actually reached Membre in 1913, construction from Gedinne having begun in 1909. But then we had the war of course and afterwards, we had to wait for the Belgian economy to restart. And then we had the decision as to how actually to reach here because it’s a horrendous civil engineering problem.

In the end, they dug a tunnel through the rock, a tunnel of 22O metres in length and which was one of the marvels of Belgian engineering. Unfortunately, the portal at this end is on private property and overgrown so it’s not accessible.

road bridge bohan belgium october octobre 2016While we are on the subject of bridges, this is the road bridge over the Semois.

Of course, it’s not the original. There’s no need for me to tell you what happened to that – and on the same day that the Pont Cassé went up too. They didn’t do things by halves.

We had another temporary type of bridge subsequently, so I was told, but this one here is built of concrete and dates from 1957

maison de marichau bohan belgium october octobre 2016So back in the town again, I went to have a look at one of the oldest houses in the town.

It’s called the Maison de Marichau and it’s said to be one of the very few remaining examples of traditional Ardennais architecture that’s remaining.

Although in dreadful condition, it was classed as an ancient monument in May 1973 and is currently undergoing renovation – and not before time either if you ask me.

bohan belgium october octobre 2016Not a lot seems to be known about the history of Bohan.

It first seems to be mentioned as a fief of Orchimont, where we were the other afternoon, in 1205 when the Lord Of Orchimont, Badouin passed it over to his younger brother Rigaud.

However, you only have to examine its situation here on an easy crossing of the Semois with several valleys feeding in from all points of the compass to consider that it must have been quite an important ford here, and subsequently a settlement, for hundreds of years prior to that.

river semois bohan belgium october octobre 2016
The river here by the way looks as if it has all the air of a natural border or frontier, and that was indeed the case in the early Middle Ages.

Long before the emergence of national states here in north-western Europe, it was the church, with its various bishoprics, that divided up the country amongst themselves, and when we were in Bouillon the other day we noted that the Bishops of Liège managed to hang on to their independent provinces until as late as 1795.

river semois bohan belgium october octobre 2016
But the River Semois was the frontier between the Bishops of Liege and the Bishop of Reims. The southern side of the river was part of the Bishopric of Reims and in 1190 came under the control of the Abbey Church of Mézières, where it surprisingly stayed until 1802 when it passed into the hands of the Bishops of Namur.

All of this makes me so surprised to have seen nothing mentioned whatever about a fortress. Obviously the Lord of the Manor would have to live somewhere impressive and in view of the town’s strategic importance right on some kind of border I would have expected the town to have been fortified and some kind of fortress built.

river semois bohan belgium october octobre 2016
In fact we are told that by 1287 it had become the seat of a feudal nobility and villages on both sides of the river depended upon it. But if there had been fortifications and a fortress here, mention of them has escaped me.

Bohan is next in the news in 1559 when the territory is willed to the two daughters of Gerlache de Bohan. And in 1605 it passes into the hands of one Jan Baptiste van den Bosch. He’s of the family “du Bois de Fiennes” and Lord of Drogenbos in the Province of Brabant, and it stays more-or-less in the hands of his family until maybe 200 or so years ago.

river semois bohan belgium october octobre 2016
And this is probably the reason why it’s part of Belgium and not, as you might expect, part of France, even though the Semois would make a wonderful natural boundary.

I said “more-or-less” just now because we all know that this area is the “cockpit of Europe”, with marauding armies passing back and forth through here continually even as late as 1944.

We’ve seen how the French went on the rampage all around here in 1635, recaptured by the Spanish in 1652, the French again in 1657 and finally back to the Spanish by the Treaty of Rijswijk in 1697. And then we had the Wars of the Spanish Succession, the Wars of the Austrian Succession, the Napoleonic Wars and so on.

river semois bohan belgium october octobre 2016
But by 1830 and Belgian independence, things had settled down and there were 130 houses counted here. Forestry products were important, as was agriculture, especially as the area seems to have a microclimate that makes it a couple of degrees warmer than one would expect here. There are excellent alluvial soils due to regular periodic flooding of the river and it’s sheltered from the winds.

There was also quite a substantial cottage industry here, making nails.

tobacco drying shed river semois bohan belgium october octobre 2016But surprisingly, 100 or so years ago, this area was quite famous for tobacco growing and all around us are open barn-like buildings that were actually the drying sheds for the leaves.

It seems that in 1876 someone brought some tobacco plants back from Kentucky and to everyone’s surprise, they flourished here and grew like wildfire. But all of that has been abandoned now – not that I would know a tobacco plant if I were to see one.

eglise st leger church bohan belgium october octobre 2016As for the church, this was built in 1760 and seems to be dedicated to St Leger. Its construction was financed one-third by the commune, one-third by the Lord of the Manor and one-third by the Monks of the Abbey of Laval Dieu in Monthermé.

It’s certainly not the first church on this site. There’s a reference in a will of 1235 in which a “Clarisse de Gedinne” leaves a sum of money for the “repair” of the church at Bohan, and a ducument of 1190 seems to imply a church here too. We don’t know what that one looks like, or why it was replaced.

This church is built of stone brought from a quarry at Don-le-Mesnil, near Charleville-Mézières.

Its tower is 30 metres high and formerly contained two bells. The larger one, cast in 1860, was taken away by the Germans in 1943 to be melted down. It was replaced in 1949 and a third bell was added in that year too. The second bell is apparently called Marie and was cast in 1839 and repaired in 1909.

eglise st leger church bohan belgium october octobre 2016The interior is quite basic. We have the typical paintings of the “Chemin de la Croix” which date apparently from the very early 20th Century and the painter is unkown. There’s the principal altars and two side altars are also present, one dedicated to Mary and the other to Joseph.

There are several statues too, including ones of St Antony of Padua, St. Theresa and St Hubert, and several paintings that are signed “Renon Letellier de Charleville, 1827”, as well as a painting of Mary that seems to be older than that.

calvaire bohan belgium october octobre 2016As well as the church, there are a couple of other places of religious significance in the town.

This is a calvaire, a calvary, and seems to be dedicated to Mary as far as I can tell. I think that that’s a statue of her over there in her grotto. It must be some kind of spring too because I could see water cascading out under the road opposite this spot and discharging into the river.

I wonder if that is what is covered up by the tarpaulin.

And this does remind me of the story that I heard about the Quebecois painter who was asked to paint a picture of the Calvary. He came back with a drawing of John Wayne and several United States troopers on their horses.

As for the wooden construction on the left of the photo, I wonder if that’s an old tobacco-drying shed.

marriage stone bohan belgium october octobre 2016Here by the side of the river we have a very peculiar couple of stones. They are called the “Marriage Stones” because some kind of weird ritual is performed here by newly-weds after the church service.

The purpose of this ritual is apparently to symbolise the difficulties that married couples face during their life together. And I suppose that seeing as this is Belgium, the greatest difficulty that they might encounter is to deal with this ritual in the pouring rain.

hotel bohan belgium october octobre 2016There’s a hotel over there, the white building down at the end of the road. And I missed out on an opportunity there because it advertises long stays with breakfast for just €30:00 per night, which would have done me just fine.

I decided to make a note of that for future reference, which I duly did. But would you believe that Brain of Britain forgot to make a note of the name of the place.

Ahh well! I suppose that I shall have to carry out some further research.

And now I’m done. I had a coffee and went off home for my butty and another early night.

After all, I’m off in the morning.

You can stay here and read all of this – all … errr … 2554 words of it.

Friday 15th January 2016 – THE ROAD TO MONTLUCON …

… wasn’t too bad this morning. I was up bright and early … "well, maybe not so bright" – ed … at 07:00 and by 07:25 I was on the road with a nice thermal mug of hot coffee to keep me going.

I took it fairly easy and although Caliburn slipped around in a couple of places we didn’t have any big issues. Even going down the Font Nanaud wasn’t anything like the challenge that I expected it to be, and by the time that I reached whatever the name of the place is in between Marcillat and Villebret, the road was pretty clear. All in all, it only took me 10 or so minutes longer than usual and I was parked up at the hospital by 08:30 as usual.

Mind you, I’d beaten all of the staff of the day hospital into work so had to hang around 10 minutes before the doors opened up. And then, being first in, I could have my comfy spec in the armchair in the corner by the radiator and the power point.

It was the student nurse who came to fit my drain and that filled me full of foreboding. She was the one who had had three tries the other week before abandoning the job and calling for a friend. But today, to my surprise, not only did she do it in one, it was the least painful of all of them.

And here we had the confusion, much to my dismay. It was the young doctor who had telephoned yesterday to summon me to hospital, and although he had probably told the nurses that I was coming, there had been some confusion about the ordering of my blood. Consequently, I had to wait until about 11:15 for the blood to arrive. Then we had the new marvels of modern 21st-Century technology for warming up the blood – to wit – me stuffing it up my jumper.

At about 11:40, someone brought me a nice hot cup of coffee. I’d only been waiting since about 09:00 (the first time that I asked). But in the meantime I’d not been idle. I’d downloaded another whole pile of stuff from www.archive.org and now I reckon that I have a whole decent set of radio programmes to keep me company. I’ll have to check to see if I can find The Men From The Ministry because I forgot about that.

Running so late, I ordered lunch, and ended up with asparagus and tomato for starters, rice and boiled carrots with a bread roll for main course, and then apple purée and an orange for desert. Not the most exciting meal that I’ve ever had, by a long chalk, but it was quite filling and actually tasted quite nice.

It was 14:50 by the time that they had finished with me and I was really disappointed by this. But every cloud has a silver lining, for Ingrid was in the hospital and due to finish what she was doing at 15:00. So go down to the shops or have a coffee with Ingrid? No competition really, is there?

By 16:20 I was on the road and by then, the return journey was a very different story. There had been a flurry of snow in Montlucon at lunchtime and everyone had rushed to the window to see it. But by the time I reached Villebret there was much more than just a flurry and it gradually worsened the higher into the mountains that I climbed. The drag up to the Font Nanaud (height, 934 metres) was exciting, especially as there had been no snowplough or gritter south of Pionsat (I eventually met one, coming towards me from St Gervais) and I was right behind a Mercedes Vito towing a plant trailer with a mini-loader on the back.

He of course had no chance, but he did his best. Rear-wheel drive is useless in this weather when you are pulling something like that and he was sliding everywhere across the road, fighting for grip. He ought to have realised that it was pointless and should have turned round on the old railway track bed to go back down, but he pressed gamely on.

It wasn’t very long before the inevitable happened. He completely lost traction, slewed across the road and came to a shuddering stop. I couldn’t stop to help him because I would have lost traction too so I chugged on over the top and down the bank towards St Gervais.

snow january 2016 centre ornithologique st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceThe conditions round by St Gervais weren’t quite so bad as up on the Font, and the farther south that you travelled, the easier the route became.

By the time I got to Phoen … errr … the Centre Ornithologique, things had cleared quite considerably and the roads were much easier to move about, which was good news for me.

snow january 2016 centre ornithologique st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceI stopped here to take a few photographs of the snow, to record it for posterity. St Gervais, over there on the hill about 100 feet higher up than where I am, looks particularly covered and you can tell by the sky that there’s more to come.

Pulling away from here wasn’t easy either, with a couple of traction issues to get over the ridges made by the car tyres in the snow. But I was soon off and back down here to dig myself in for the foreseeable future.

I have no plans for going out anywhere else until my next hospital visit. And that’s a thought to depress just about anyone

Just in case you are wondering, we had none of the usual suspects, no family members and only one slight mention of a place of my previous existence during my nocturnal rambles of last night.

I’ve no idea where I was when I started off last night but it was a place that I certainly didn’t recognise, somewhere on the coast of the UK. It was a holiday resort, at a part of the town that was inland a little and high up with a view over the bay. There was quite a group of us and we’d heard that one of our rock heroes or bands was playing in this place at the carnival on the seafront. The word “Jubilee” was mentioned, and it turned out that Jubilee was a suburb of this particular town with access to the sea, so I was making a few enquiries to find out which trams we needed to catch to go there. There was a tram stop just outside the building where we were staying and I was trying to read the timetables and tram routes. But I was there for hours trying to find out which tram it was that went to Jubilee, with trams passing in front of me and all around me. In the end, I went back into the building, which was the hospital where I’d been a few days ago.
We then had an old woman putting in an appearance. I’ve no idea who she was but last night she was living next door to me and I had her doing quite a few of my affairs for me. I’d just turn up out of the blue and she’d do a few things for me and then I’d go off again. When I was there last time, and had her go along and do something for me, and as a reward I had paid for her haircut at the hairdressers. She said that she had only just been, so I told her to go again and have the same cut done, or something else, a second time. And so she ended up with almost no hair. She also said that next day she was going into hospital for an urgent operation but that cut no ice with me. I was supposedly in Crewe by this time, Alton Street or somewhere around there. I had wandered off somewhere and a couple of days later I was back, still looking for this Jubilee. I went into the local hospital and here I came across this woman. she’d had her surgery and I’d forgotten completely about it, so I had to pretend to be interested and to talk to her about it. I’d intended to go to see her later in the day in fact because this was really early in the morning when I arrived. But she was awake this early so we had the chat about her operation
From here I went off to work as a general handyman for some rich old lady. We were somewhere in an urban French environment and she took me with her, beckoned me to follow her around and through these old outbuildings into a large barn-type of place and through into a garage that fronted the street. I had to open the doors to let her friend in with a car. These buildings were full of what I thought were dead insects but she explained that they were immature crabs. She’d bought a huge pile of them but ended up with 100 too many but rather than take them back she’d just dumped them out of the car and they had all died. So we managed to bring the car in and then we went off, her beckoning me to follow once more up to a gallery place with a metal walkway. She’d erected a kind of metal fence around it that went around a kind of headland that she owned or had something to do with. It seemed that the neighbours had objected to the fence (it was merely strands of barbed wire) and so it had to be pulled up, so that was my job. Some guy who worked for some Civil Service body was watching me, telling me what a good job it was in the Civil Service and how I ought to apply to work there. But I was busy pulling up these stakes and coiling up this wire. He wanted to know what I was going to do with this wire so I replied that I was going to keep it – one of the perks of my job. He had quite a moan about that. meantime, I’d noticed that this wire was swinging around all over the road so I had to go down and coil it up properly. I’d also had to consult my telephone to see what was going on because someone else had started this job with me but had gone again, so I wanted to see where he was. However, I somehow managed to connect to a film on this telephone – a black-and-white film of the 30s with some film star appearing in it and I couldn’t stop it – each time that I tried to press “stop” or to switch it off, I had a “buy it now” screen. The volume was set quite loud – I couldn’t lower that and everyone in the area could hear it.

And so despite my trip to Montlucon today, I reckon that I’m still cracking up far more miles during the night. It’s hardly any surprise that I’m so exhausted these days.

But I do wonder what it is that they are putting in my food to make all of this happen.

Sunday 20th December 2015 – APART FROM A BRIEF …

sortie from my comfortable bed at about 02:00 in the morning, I had the sleep of the dead during the night. But one thing that I didn’t allow for in my calculations is that the immersion heater is in the attic behind a false wooded wall right by the head of the bed. Consequently, I was wide awake at 07:30 this morning.

Well, sort-of wide-awake anyway, or, at least, what passes for wide-awake these days. And the nurse didn’t take too long in coming either and so I had something like an early breakfast.

strawberry moose fishing sauret besserve puy de dome franceAnd we are not alone here in this house either.

I mean, you know that anyway, with Terry, Liz and her family. But even more importantly, Strawberry Moose is here. he’s come to stay for Christmas too. After all, Liz’s grandchildren are amongst his most faithful fans. This morning when we came downstairs, we found him busily trying to organise lunch for everyone, but he didn’t have a great deal of success unfortunately

He needs to work on his technique a little.

We spent much of the morning making templates of Christmassy items (and I do have to say that my Christmas tree looked superb) and then we used some of that snow spray stuff to spray the patterns all over the windows in the sun-lounge. And I do have to say that it all worked out rather well too.

strawberry moose liz terry messenger sauret besserve puy de dome franceAnyway, in the absence of fresh fish for lunch, we had a great big salad buffet. I had the rest of yesterday’s pizza and some sandwiches using some kind of vegan cheese and garlic spread that Liz had found in a health-food shop in Montlucon. That’s the kind of stuff that puts hairs in places I didn’t even realise that I had.

Everyone else had a wonderful time too for, as I have said before, the food that is served up in this house is the best that I have ever eaten anywhere.

After lunch, everyone went off to the Christmas market at Marcillat. I was invited but of course I’m not quite up to things like that right at the moment. There was some stuff that I wanted to finish, but I spent most of my free afternoon sitting on the sofa vegetating. However, I did finish my Christmas shopping by finding on-line something that I’d been looking for for quite a while.

I didn’t remain up and about very long this evening either. By about 20:00 I was done for, I reckon, and so I went to bed. An early night, and it’s getting earlier and earlier, but I don’t have the stamina these days. I managed to watch a film on the laptop, one of the Bulldog Drummond films that I’d tried to watch on several occasions that I’d downloaded from archive.org. Tonight, I managed to watch all of it before dozing off to sleep.

I can do with an early night.

Monday 26th October 2015 – AND THERE I WAS …

… deep in the arms of Morpheus, when the alarm went off. And I sat bolt upright and as I did so, all memory of where I’d been and what I’d been doing was completely wiped away.

After an early breakfast I reviewed everything that I’d written, collected up some music and then shot off to Marcillat, dodging the tractors on the way.

Recording the programmes didn’t take long, but what did take a good while was to find the events for the next month. We hadn’t been sent the dates by the tourist information office and the office was closed today. But scrounging around produced enough events to make up a decent programme or two.

Back at Liz and Terry’s, we had lunch (I had what was left over from last night) and vegan ginger cake, and Terry and I made some plans for the rest of the week.

Recording the Radio Arverne sessions was straightforward too and then Liz and I went off to do some shopping. With grapes at just €2:49 a kilo I bought a supply, but it goes without saying that they didn’t make it home.

In exchange for a coffee, Liz showed me how to use my mobile phone as a modem to power my laptop and now I can use my laptop anywhere in France provided that there’s a mobile phone signal, even if there isn’t a wi-fi signal.

Back here I had some work to catch up on and I made a quick meal too. But what has caught me by surprise was that with not having used the inverter at all today, of the 200 amp-hours of solar energy that I received today, 168 amp-hours of it went into the 12-volt immersion heater and the temperature went off the scale. Consequently I went and had a really good washing-up session of plates and dishes.

Tomorrow, what I’ll be doing depends upon the weather. If it’s raining, I’m off to Terry’s. But if it’s dry, he’s coming around here.

Thursday 6th August 2015 – *@#&*@ç&!

Yes, tomorrow is my last day to work on this car as I’m now booked up before I go away.

And the client says that he can’t come down. Apparently he has a paying job that has come in, and my convenience is apparently so much lower than that. Well, it’s nice to know where I stand.

He says that he’ll come round on Saturday morning and finish it off, but I won’t be here. I’ll be in Montlucon. And the car had better be gone by the time that I come back as I’ll be putting Caliburn in my drive. I’m off for 9 weeks and I’m not leaving Caliburn in the lane under any circumstances. I haven’t paid all of this money for this concreting that we did last year to leave my van on the public highway.

And I also need to clean my drive, with the amount of oil that’s leaked out of this car. That has totally dismayed me.

This blasted Hyundai has totally messed up all of my plans. There’s no chance whatever now of me tiling my bathroom before I go and I wanted to have this long-done before I go.

I’ve had a major sense of humour failure over this car. And the worst of it all is that, having seen the photos that I posted on here a week or so ago, you know as well as anyone else that this vehicle won’t be going very far even if we do manage to get it going. I’ve wasted all of this time and done all of this effort for absolutely nothing and I’m sure that I won’t receive any thanks for it. I shan’t see the owner of this vehicle ever again until his next car goes wrong.

Apart from that, we were radioing today at Marcillat. Two months’ worth of programmes that we recorded for Radio Anglais
this morning and that will take us up to the end of October with the next recording sessions pencilled in for 26th October. Just one more session, at Gerzat on Tuesday, and that will be that.

Liz and I went for a long chat afterwards and then I came back here. On the way back, I noticed that the construction work on the edge of Marcillat on the bed of the old railway line has now developed into a small petrol station. It seems that we will be having some 24-hour petrol pumps there. The Auvergne is definitely dragging itself into the 21st Century.

Back here, I had a pile of stuff to do, most of which I managed to complete, and I even managed for once to make some food this evening. This is progress.

I should have been having a day out on Monday but I’ve cancelled that now. I have too much to do, and it’s a shame that the tiling isn’t going to figure in that. I’m really fed up now.

Tuesday 7th July 2015 – THIS IDEA …

flying shelf shower room les guis virlet puy de dome france… about a flying shelf in the bathroom seems to work okay.

You can see how it’s going to work. There’s a bracket in the false ceiling (the false ceiling will eventually go over it) and from there are two lengths of threaded rod hanging down. At the moment the threaded rod is passing right through the shelves and held up with nuts, but there will be some captive nuts fitted into the shelves and the threaded rod will be cut to size.

The threaded rod will be covered by some nice stainless steel tubing and it will all look quite nice.

This morning we braved the heat and made it to Marcillat to record the radio programmes. Things went according to plan, except that Violette fell asleep and one of our 15-minute shows ran on for almost 19 minutes. She’ll have fun editing that down.

We went for a coffee and a good chat afterwards, and then I came home. I installed myself in the bedroom as 34°C in the attic was rather too much, but that didn’t work as I crashed out for a good hour – and I mean “crashed out”. And seeing as how I was in bed last night for 22:30, that was rather astonishing.

fitting bolt shower room door les guis virlet puy de dome franceAfter lunch I’ve fitted the bolt on the bathroom door (not that we need it but still, you never know) and then I attacked the shelving. That’s all cut to shape and drilled out where necessary (it’s having a cable run through it to power things like shavers and hair clippers) and now varnished, as is the shelf that I made the other day.

And surprise surprise, I was actually working at 22:30 this evening. I put the first coat on before knocking off at 19:30, but when I went out to take the stats, the first coat was dry so I put a second coat on.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish the shelving (I hope), plasterboard everything in, and then carry on with the ceiling.


Our Hero – “is it tomorrow that we are recording at Marcillat?”
Liz – “that’s right – at 09:30”
Our Hero – “ohhh” … pause … “I suppose that I’d better go home then”

Yes, the Bane of Britain has done it again hasn’t he? Gone to Marcillat on the wrong day. Still, it could have been worse. It was a nice drive out and in any case, at least it was a day early and not a day late.

And I’d been on my travels in the night. I was in Glasgow, the funniest city in Europe (everyone who goes there comes back in stitches) organising some kind of football training, and then I’d taken the Metro with Strawberry Moose. The train was stuck in the station for a while and so, knowing that I would awaken as soon as the train set off, I allowed myself to go into a deep sleep. But before I did, I took my trousers off and hung them over the back of the seat in front. Sure enough, I awoke as soon as the train moved, and I prepared to alight at the next station. But I couldn’t find my trousers. There was a pair of shorts there but they were nothing to do with me. Of course I made a fuss and the lady driver told me that seeing as how we hadn’t reached the first stop, no-one could have alighted from the train with my trousers. However, a couple of people had boarded the train and alighted before it had set off. I carried on the argument and a couple of the passengers started to become agitated. But none of this was finding my trousers.
Ironically, I’d been reading a little about the Glasgow Underground yesterday evening and also something comnected with North-West Glasgow and the Underground, which was where all of this was going on.

My morning wasn’t wasted though, as I did two more radio programmes – or, at least, half-done them. These are the rock programmes for Radio Anglais and I’ve done the miscellaneous programmes for two more months. I just need to do the two live concerts and find a radio commentary for one of the programmes.

After lunch, I made the shelf that will fit between the door and the stud wall by the beichstuhl. And the new Bosch circular saw – nice and lightweight, it cut through a pine plank as if there was nothing there. A nice neat cut, no need to sand it down, no whining, no rattling, and the inverter showed no sign of distress. This was the best circular saw that I’ve ever used (and so it ought to be at the price that I paid for it) and if it lasts the pace (because one or two people are a little sceptical about it) it’ll be just the job.

I also cut down a 300mm plank into 2x150mm planks, and the circular saw hardly broke wind doing it. But do you remember ages ago when I told you that the 600mm pine planks were actually 605mm? Well, the 300mm planks are actually 295mm. So much for Brico Depot’s precise measuring.

I had yet another shower to cool me down afterwards (I’m having my money’s worth from the home-made solar shower) and made a mega-red-pepper-and-lentil curry for the next 4 days. I may as well start the week as I mean to go on.

Thursday 2nd July 2015 – NOW HERE’S ANOTHER THING!

Wide awake and up and about at 06:30.

Yes, I’ve often been up and about at 06:30 and I’ve often been wide awake at 06:30 too, but I don’t recall ever having done both of them at the same time.

Mind you, I blame the Dawn Chorus.

I went to bed last night and left the bedroom window open – the best way that I could think of of keeping cool. And with no curtains, I had the view of a most beautiful moon to send me to sleep. But as dawn broke, we had the cacophony that is Mother Nature, and that was that.

So after an early start and early breakfast, I attacked the radio programmes. Everything is now ready for the next recording session, which is next week in Marcillat and at the beginning of August at Gerzat. And then I need to do a series of programmes for the next session at Gerzat, four more rock shows and then that, dear reader, will be the radio all organised until the beginning of November.

And quite right too because today, I booked my flight to Canada. I’m leaving on August 14 and coming back on October 14th. Now that I have my own vehicle out there in Canada, then nothing can stop me and I intend to make the most of it.

I’m flying out from Lyon this time, as I said that I would, and not by Air Transat, the bucket shop operator either. Strangely enough, Air Transat want an astonishing $1129 – that’s about €1050 – for a direct flight from Lyon to Montreal and return. However if I go via Zurich on the outbound flight (staying overnight, which suits me fine as I haven’t yet had a good wander around the city) and come back with a changeover at Frankfurt-am-Main, it costs me all of … errr … €788 (plus the hotel in Zurich).

And that’s not with a bucket-shop operator either, that’s with … errr … Swissair, one of the world’s best airlines.

How about that?

But returning to our moutons, as the French say, I’ve also reconstituted the radio databases that were lost (and that wasn’t a five-minute job either) and I’ve also built a simple page on Facebook for Radio Anglais. It’s high time that I sorted something out for this and did a little advertising. It seems that Social Media is the way to go these days.

And did I mention Strider? He is of course a Ranger, the Ford Ranger that I own in Canada and whom I shall be making much use of. I was speaking to an insurance company in Canada today on the telephone and they have sorted out some insurance for me. That’s that bit resolved and all Strider needs now is a safety check (that’s pretty much a formality) and then I can register him in my name – especially as I now have an address in Canada thanks to Service New Brunswick.

I’ve had Rosemary on the telephone twice today. The first time for a really good chat which was very nice, and the second time it was a very delighted and enthusiastic Rosemary who called with a little good news. Ages ago I bought a cheap electric pump to pump out the water from the inspection pit and it worked in spades. Rosemary was impressed and bought one to use in her well.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … "hooray" – ed … with all of the dry weather that we have been having, her water butts are empty and so she set to pump up some water from the well with her pump. And so impressed is she with the result that she rang me up to tell me.

I’ve spent much of the afternoon searching again – for the plastic vent covers for the air holes that i’ll be cutting in the bathroom door. I know that I have them, and they were in the bedroom until I emptied it out in February.

Then, I put them somewhere safe so that they won’t be broken, and that is that. Disappeared off the face of the earth. They’ll turn up on Monday though – that I’ll promise you because on Saturday I’ll be buying some more so that I’m not held up.

door shuts cut down floorboard les guis virlet puy de dome franceIn the meantime, talking of cutting, I cut down a floorboard into 25mm strips with the table-top saw and sanded down the edges with the belt sander. With the strips, I made all of the door jambs for the shower room door and the window frame above, and nailed them into position.

I’ve also fitted some quarter-round beading in the corner between the bedroom door and the shower room door so that part is finished too.

Tomorrow, always assuming that I don’t find the missing vents, I’ll be starting on the false ceiling in the shower room. I must remember to cut the holes for the lights and also for the shelf support. And to connect up the final bit of wiring that needs to be done there.

Wednesday 1st July 2015 – NOW, HERE’S A THING

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have a solar shower. It’s an old enamel shower base with a wooden frame built around it and infilled with corrugated plastic roofing sheets. On top of it is a black plastic box filled with water and connected to a shower standpipe and covered with an old caravan window.

It all sits outside absorbing the heat from the sun and a couple of times a week I can have a shower. Some times though, I have to put a few litres of hot water into it to bring up the water to a comfortable temperature.

Today, though, this was the first time, so my records tell me, that I have EVER had to put cold water into it in order to cool it down to a comfortable temperature. It’s thoroughly crazy, this temperature. And even with the cold water in there, it was still flamin’ ‘ot.

Mind you, it wasn’t like that this morning. It was all overcast and cloudy. Not good weather at all, even though it was hot. And I’d left the electricity on all night and had the fan going in the bedroom to cool me down while I slept.

I was on my travels too. back at school, school uniform and all. Properly back at school although, strangely enough, I didn’t recognise any of my fellow pupils. One person who was there though was Zero whom I mentioned the other day. What’s she doing at my school?

This morning after breakfast I cracked on with the radio programmes – doing the additional notes for the Radio Arverne sessions. The first lot is half-done and I’ll finish off the rest tomorrow. Then I can start on the second show.

And ironically, by pure and utter coincidence, a major topic has appeared right out of nowhere and landed on my laptop as it were. Something very important and very topical. “A sign from the Gods” I said, and stashed it away ready for use in a week or so.

I was interrupted by the postie who brought me my circular saw. “What happened yesterday?” I asked her, and she gave me a blank look. It seems that although La Poste promises to deliver on a certain date, it receives the parcels at the central tri, in my case at St Eloy, but they don’t come out to the Post Office at Pionsat until the following day. Meantime, to cover their tracks with Amazon, they pretend to have delivered the products the previous day.

Thoroughly dishonest.

After lunch, I attacked the bathroom door. It’s now sanded down so that it fits, a washer stuck in between the top and bottom halves of the hinges so that it doesn’t scrape the floor, and the mortise latch for the door is now fitted and the handles are attached.

Even more so, the closer in the door frame has been chiseled out and the closer frame fitted, so we now have a door that opens and closes properly. This really is progress.

Tomorrow I have to drill out the bottom of the door for the air vent and cut down a floorboard or two to make all of the door jambs. When that’s all done, I can mask everywhere off and varnish all of the wood.

But it is so impressive, this door. I’m well-pleased with that.

Then I had my shower, and went off to Marcillat. It seems that I’ve been co-opted onto the management committee of Radio Tartasse and I’m not sure why. Clearly something’s afoot, and I’m not talking about that thing on the end of my leg either.

Monday 29th June 2015 – BLIMEY!

Wasn’t it hot today! At one point when we were in Gerzat in mid-afternoon, the temperature on Caliburn’s thermometer was showing 41.3°C outside and off the scale (ie more than 50°C) inside. And it felt like it too.

Yes, we’ve been radioing today, haven’t we?

And I had a dramatic change of plan too. At 08:45 – 20 minutes before I’m due to leave here to head off to Marcillat and Radio Tartasse, I was busy scanning the news – to discover that Chris Squire, the legendary bassist with Yes, had died.

So with just 20 minutes before I had to leave here to record the rock programmes, I was sitting down and totally re-writing the show.

I recorded the rock shows and then Liz came to join me for the normal sessions. That will take us up to the end of July so we could then head back to Liz’s. After lunch (and finishing off the gorgeous dessert that we started yesterday) it was off to the furnace that was Gerzat and Radio Arverne.

We recoded another 5 programmes there, which will take us nicely up to the beginning of September, and another couple of goes should see us well on our way towards the end of the year. But we need to be well in advance with holidays coming up. Liz is off to the UK to see family and then when she comes back, I’ll be off to Canada.

On the way back, I stopped for fuel and a little shopping, and a nice cold drink in view of the heat, and I was back here for 18:20, promptly crashing out for an hour or so as it was far too hot up here to be comfortable.

And talking of being comfortable, I was on my travels again last night, in my nice clean bed. I was with Trixi and a few other people and we were doing a yoga tour of Europe, ending up in the Ukraine and Belarus, before coming back to the Netherlands via Northern Europe. But to cut a long story short … "hooray" – ed … the group of people who had come with us had become fed up and left the tour to the two of us. They went home via the south of Europe and had become snowed in in Northern Italy while the two of us carried nonchalantly on in the north.

Friday 29th May 2015 – THIS BACKING-UP …

… of my new laptop wasn’t as straightforward as I had thought it might be. And when I finally did go to bed – at 03:45 in the morning, it was far from finished. Mind you, I was. Keeping my eyes open at this time of night was not as easy as it used to be.

And I was up early to – a good few minutes before the alarm clock went off, and I even had time to make myself some breakfast before setting off to Marcillat-en-Combraille and the radio recordings for Radio Anglais.

Everything went according to plan and we were away quite early too. And that was just as well as I had to go to the garage at St Gervais d’Auvergne with Caliburn. Liz ran me back to her house for lunch afterwards and then Terry and I went down to Riom to sort out the tax payments on his van.

THat was quite straightforward too and we even had time for a run out to Lempdes for Terry to buy a new ladder.

It really was a gorgeous day and we made the most of it, sitting outside having a coffee in the sunshine, and then Liz ran me round to the garage to pick up Caliburn.

All of the mechanism on the brakes is working fine, so the problem isn’t there. If I take Caliburn back on Monday they will strip it all down and check to see exactly what is going on, and why the rear brake isn’t doing what it is supposed to.

The good news is, however, that according to them, there is nothing wrong with Caliburn in the grand. I dida sk them to check it over and their opinion is that he is in good condition for his age with nothing to worry about. The conclusion that I have drawn from all of this is that Barrat Ford in Montlucon will not be able to rely on any more of my custom.

Back here, I carried on with the backing-up and the re-installation of my 3d Program. However, I didn’t get very far. It’s 22:00, I can’t keep my eyes open, I haven’t even done the stats and I don’t care. I’m off to bed before I ……. (zzzzzzzzz)

Monday 27th April 2015 – THE WEATHER …

… was much improved today. We only had 30.5mm of rain.

And after everything that I have said just recently about good nights’ sleeps, I was awake at 06:30 and I couldn’t go back to sleep. In the end I got up (before the alarm too) and vegetated on the sofa for a bit.

Mind you, I’d been on my travels again during the night. I can’t remember who I was with but she was tall and quite well-dressed in a flowing black skirt. We were watching the Grand National and had to cross the course in front of the horses (I had memories of suffragettes and being trampled to death by the King’s horse) and they obligingly split into two packs to have a better go at getting us.

After the horses passed, we climbed into the car to head around the course and into town but we must have missed the course and instead ended up straight in the town. Parking the car, we had to find a cafe so we walked through an old granite building, formerly a cinema but now let into little shop units, and as we passed down the stairs we commented that this would make a good little theatre area.

We were having a coffee on some tables at the side of the street and there in a cafe just a couple of doors down was someone who, in real life, I haven’t given any thought at all but who has appeared a few times just recently in my nocturnal voyages. So what is going on here then? This is the biggest mystery in all of this.

At Radio Tartasse, Violette forgot that we were coming so I had to phone her, and we ended up running quite late. But a coffee afterwards warmed us up and then I came home.

Back here, I’ve done nothing. The weather is cold and miserable and I ended up crashing out for a couple of hours. This led to a very late (like 17:00) lunch and so I’ve had no evening meal again.

I did manage to shin up the scaffolding in the middle of the torrential downpour in order to check on the guttering. Mind you, judging by the speed at which the water was cascading out of the overflow in the waterbutts, everything must have been working fine.

And indeed it was. Everything was nicely aligned and all of the water was flowing right where it ought to flow. I can glue it all together now whenever the weather allows.

Now I’m off to bed to see if I can summon up a better morale and more incentive for tomorrow.

Monday 23rd March 2015 – THAT STRANGE ROUND GOLDEN THING …

. .. that I glimpsed in the sky yesterday was there for all of the day today. It was the nicest day of the year so far, beautiful and warm, and down by Chatelguyon all of the trees are now in blossom. Spring is definitely on its way, and a couple of warm sunny days will see it here too.

Liz and I were radioing today, starting off at Marcillat and Radio Tartasse. I was there at 09:30 to record the rock programmes and then Liz joined me for the information programmes that we do. Violette was back in charge of the studio today, and you could tell that she’s not quite with it following the passing of Henri.

I had to go to Pionsat on the way back to drop of Simon’s superb floorboard machine (and I gave him a bottle of wine for his trouble) but the boulangère who I wanted to see – she’s back from holiday now but of course Monday is her closing day, so that was a waste of time.

Liz made a salad for lunch and then we went down to Gerzat and Radio Arverne for the next round of programmes there – and it was as we dropped out of the mountains at Chatelguyon that we noticed the trees and the blossom.

We did 5 programmes for Radio Arverne – I need to start to get ahead for the summer or I’ll be catching up with muself if I’m not careful.

Back here, I crashed out for an hour or two. This is becoming something of a habit now.

Monday 23rd February 2015 – I’M NOT SURE WHAT’S HAPPENING …

… but I’ve had a bit of a bad day today.

Despite having something of a decent night’s sleep last night, I almost crashed out recording the radio programmes this morning, and it was something of an effort to drive back from Gerzat this afternoon. Back here, I crashed out for 3 hours or so and now, at just 22:40, I’m dying to crawl into bed and forget about today completely.

Mind you, I had something of an exhausting night last night and that might explain a great deal. I was walking from Brussels back to here and in the traditions of the well-known Irish joke, I’d fund a boarding house with a typical boarding house landlady, and I was setting out there to walk the route. When I reached the end of the day and was tired out, I would walk back to the boarding house for the night, and then next morning, walk back to where i’d left off the previous evening, and start out along the route, walking back to the boarding house at the end of the day.

No wonder I was exhausted.

At Radio Tartasse, we learned the news that we had been dreading – that Henri had not recoverd from his illness. He was 90 years of age but looked probably no older than 70 and was full of vitality, but a short while before Christmas he went down as if he had been poleaxed, and aged 40 years overnight.

It’s something that catches up with all of us eventually, sooner or later, but I really enjoyed Henri’s company, his knowledge and his good humour and I shall miss him.

After lunch, during which I demolished the leftovers of Liz’s vegetable pie from yesterday, we went off to Gerzat. and although we had a half-hour wait for the studio, the recording sessions went perfectly and we’d done in an hour with no delay at all.

And then I had to come back here.

But now I’m off to bed, I’ve cancelled the alarms and I’m going to sleep for ever. I really must be sickening for something.