Tag Archives: Pentax

Thursday 7th March 2019 – WE’RE IN THE …

night stom waves breaking over sea wall plat gousset granville manche normandy france… grip of another major storm here.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the weather station by the lighthouse here recorded one of the strongest blasts of wind ever registered in France.

And while it’s not anything like that windy (it’s quite easy to move about) there must be a really strong wind blowing somewhere out to sea

night stom waves breaking over sea wall plat gousset granville manche normandy franceStanding on the old medieval walls overlooking the Plat Gousset, it was a really impressive sight watching the waves go smashing over the sea wall and crashing down on the promenade over there.

The power and force that there must be in the sea could power the whole of the world many times over if it were properly harnessed, that’s for sure.

Just for a change I managed to sleep right the way through until the alarms went off. Although I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to leave the bed.

I’d been on a travel too during the night. Something to do with some kind of outrageous posting made to a group of which I am a member in a French Social network. It unravelled itself into a scenario where I hd various packets of flour and so on and some olives and I was having to put them into different jars, and becoming confused to such an extent that I ended up with the olives in the flour and wondering how I could separate them.

After the medication and breakfast I had a good shower, a clean-up and a change of clothes, and then headed off to town.

recycling lorry place d'armes granville manche normandy franceI didn’t actually get too far though.

Right outside the door the recycling lorry had just finished emptying one of the containers.

I loitered for a while to see if if was going to empty another container, but in the end I had to clear off.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn the city walls in the rue des Juifs, I had a look down into the harbour.

I thought that I detected some lights down there last night but I wasn’t sure, but sure enough, it looks as if Thora came in on the evening tide yesterday.

It was pretty quiet down there though today. They didn’t seem to be doing much working.

fairground place de la gare granville manche normandy franceThrough the town and up the rue Couraye, I headed for the station to pick up my tickets for Leuven next week.

ON the square outside the station though there’s another small fairground. I remembered this from last year as soon as I saw it.

A shame though that I hadn’t remembered it on Tuesday evening when I was around the town at night taking photographs.

At LIDL I spent €16:00, about half of which was spent on batteries. They are having another sale of AA and AAA batteries and I’m running low on them. Most of the ones here date from about 12 years ago when I had the old Pentax K100D and they are not performing as they should.

Seeing as I put coriander in my apple pie the other day, I looked around and found some cinnamon (and also some ground nutmeg) and so I’ve added them to the shopping basket ready for the next round of cooking. I fancy an apple crumble next.

new house building rue sainte genevieve granville manche normandy franceOn the way home, I went down the rue Sainte Genevieve.

There’s another house-building project going on down there and I’ve been keeping my eye on that over the last few months.

They aren’t far off finishing it now. A coat of rendering will make it look so much better.

Back here, I unpacked the shopping and put it away. Not very often that I feel like doing that straight away.

There were a few things that needed doing today. Firstly, to change the hit counter over on the web pages that I did yesterday. I’d put the wrong one on there.

And then there was the question of working back over the blog entries for the last few days and adding some of the photos.

In between all of this, there was lunch to arrange. And as I had forgotten to defrost the hummus in the freezer I ended up eating more cheese from the supplies. I’ll have to buy some more in Leuven.

waves storm beach plat gousset granville manche normandy franceOutside this afternoon, the wind had increased in velocity from this morning.

Not unpleasantly so, but there was an impressive sea building up with loads of whitecaps.

“Building up quite nicely for this evening” I mused. And I was right too, as you have seen.

la granvillaise armor chantier navale port de granville harbour manche normandy franceAnyway, I carried on with my walk around the headland, and paused for a moment to see what was going on down in the chantier navale

Armor is still there, with her hull still in aluminium but the deck superstructure looks as if it’s been painted white now.

And La Granvillaise is stil there too, with a couple of the volunteers working on her. That’s going to be a big job, preparing her for the coming tourist season.

thora port de granville harbour manche normandy franceFurther on round the headland, and over there down in the port Thora is still at her station alongside the quay.

She seems to have been loaded with some stuff since I saw her earlier this morning so I’ll be expecting her to move out at high tide later on this evening when the harbour gates open.

Back here I had a couple of mugs of hot chocolate to warm me up and then did a whole pile of shredding.

One huge load has gone out to the container and there’s a half-a-load now waiting, but the shredder seems not to be coping with the volume of work that I’m expecting it to do.

I’ve had to dismantle … “disPERSONtle” – ed …it a couple of times to clean out a paper jam.

But by about 17:00 I’d have enough and I was in bed asleep for a good 90 minutes, which was a complete surprise following the amount of sleep that i’d had.

Tea was a slice of the leek and tofu pie from a few weeks ago. And it really was delicious, with potatoes, vegetables and gravy. Followed by apple pie and the coconut-flavoured soya dessert stuff.

night stom waves breaking over sea wall plat gousset granville manche normandy franceThis evening, I was alone again on my walk around the walls. No-one else seems to be keen to go for a post-prandial somnambulation.

I stayed of a good 15 minutes watching the storm break on the Plat Gousset and took a pile of photos.

And then I came back and edited all of them.

trawler unloading fish port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOn the way back though, I had a look over into the harbour.

There was a trawler up by the fish processing plant, busily unloading its catch.

And Thora was still in port too. It looks as if she’s going to be in here for a while then. There must be something going on.

So now, I’m off to bed, always assuming that I can go to sleep after my little repose earlier.

Tomorrow, now that I’m up-to-date, I can start back into my programme of revision of October’s blog entries and see where that takes me.

lifeboat memorial storm baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france
lifeboat memorial storm baie de mont st michel granville manche normandy france

night storm waves pointe du roc granville manche normandy france
night storm waves pointe du roc granville manche normandy france

night stom waves breaking over sea wall plat gousset granville manche normandy france
night storm waves pointe du roc granville manche normandy france

night stom waves breaking over sea wall plat gousset granville manche normandy france
night storm waves pointe du roc granville manche normandy france

night stom waves breaking over sea wall plat gousset granville manche normandy france
night storm waves pointe du roc granville manche normandy france

night stom waves breaking over sea wall plat gousset granville manche normandy france
night storm waves pointe du roc granville manche normandy france

Wednesday 11th July 2012 – I WAS OUT …

bussieres pionsat puy de dome france… this afternoon.

You may remember a few days ago that Marianne and I went to do a recce of Bussieres to see what was going on there.

In this series of walks that she is doing around the villages that make up the canton of Pionsat, today was the day that she was doing the public walk around the village and so, as usual, I went along to hold her coat and keep her out of mischief.

bussieres pionsat puy de dome franceAs I’ve said on numerous occasions … “and you’ll say again” – ed … the church is the focal point of every village, and this is where we all met up.

I mentioned previously that the original building of the church has been expanded on several occasions, but as it is on a very constrained, the expansion has taken place in all kinds of directions and so its shape does not conform to what one would expect to see of a more traditional church layout.

sundial church bussieres pionsat puy de dome franceAlthough the church might not be as interesting as the one that we saw last week at St Maurice près Pionsat, it does have a feature that is quite unusual – a sundial.

We’ve seen a sundial on a religious building before – but on a monastery in Trois Rivières in Quebec, Canada. And I do recall telling you the story about the two Québécois discussing it
“what’s the time?”
“I don’t know. I don’t have a watch”
“Well go outside and look at the sundial”
“Don’t be silly. It’s dark outside”
“Well take a blasted torch with you!”

bussieres pionsat puy de dome franceThe claim to fame of Bussières does not lie in its church, but rather unusually in its village school, and you saw a good photo of that last time.

In the 1920s there was a controversial system of education introduced in France by someone by the name of Célestin Freinet. He didn’t believe in a structured, rigid system of teaching but more in a form of “learning by doing” in a kind of anarchic way.

His system was highlighted in a film called L’École Buissonnière – a title that is a pun on the French way of saying “playing truant” and in several novels such as Le Voleur d’Innocence by René Frégni.

One of the disciples of Célestin Freinet was the teacher at the village school here, Marcel Mercier. And he was apparently quite well-known throughout Europe for his efforts in the Freinet method of education.

st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceWhile you admire the view across the valley with the zoom lens over to St Maurice près Pionsat, I’ll tell you that during the period 1938-1941 Mercier sent out all of the children to interview all of the elderly people in Bussières.

He encouraged the children to write down everything that they heard. The result was a book entitled Notre Petite Commune – “Our Little Home Town” – and it’s something of a classic of French social study for the first half of the 20th Century – although it’s been long out of print.

The biggest surprise however was that one of the people on the walk had actually been a schoolboy under Marcel Mercier, had participated in the project and, furthermore, whipped out from his rucksack a copy of the book!

Of course, Marianne was in her element and it promptly disappeared into her own rucksack. A promise to return it in very early course was made, once a hastily-arranged appointment at the photocopiers had been met.

Our former schoolboy friend still thought very highly of Mercier and told us that he had also written at least one novel that had become quite famous, but the name of which he had completely forgotten.

bussieres pionsat puy de dome franceBussières is another one of these isolated villages that has been decimated by a desertion of its population. In the 1840s it could rustle up almost 800 inhabitants but today, it’s a nice, round 100 people.

This building here formerly played an important role in the history of the village, but when I came to write up my notes I found that its former purpose had completely gone out of my head – just like everything else has.

Something to do with taxation – maybe the hated gabelle, or salt tax. I dunno now. I shall have to check with Marianne

Mind you, there is a reason that things have gone out of my mind. And that is that today I’ve given so many people a piece of it that I don’t think that I have any left.

Mindless, you might say.

Firstly, the courier company to whom I entrusted 6 parcels over 4 weeks ago still has three of them in its warehouse. They didn’t know where the other 3 were, but nothing has been forwarded on.

So I’m surprised that I still have a phone connection this evening, seeing the amount of heat that was generated while I was … errr … discussing the issue with them.

Secondly, the phone that I purchased four weeks ago has still not arrived despite the “24-hour guaranteed delivery”.

It seems that the courier company won’t deliver it here as “the address is inadequate” – which translated into English, means that the driver is too lazy to step out of the van and look for the name on one of the five mailboxes here.

I had them on the phone today too and once more I was surprised that the wire didn’t melt. But then again they had just seen the review that I had posted on their Amazon page – trust Amazon to remind me to review my “purchase” this morning.

At the Intermarche I went in for a loaf of bread. That took seconds but going through the checkout took half an hour as a stagiare – a summer student who had been left on her own at the tills tried her best to deal with a queue of 20 people.

At the petrol station I bought a bottle of gas – my first for 15 months seeing as I have a decent woodstove that I cooked on all through the winter. Last year the gas cost €25 – this year it’s €36, and I had a few things to say about that too.

All in all, I was glad to go out and about.

Better news at the Post Office, though. I’ve sent back the Nikon D5000
camera for repair – downloaded all of the instructions and the address label and so on.

When I sent the old Pentax K100D back last year it cost me an arm and a leg to post it, but when I handed over the parcel and label and enquired about the price, I was told that it was “carriage-paid”.

Well, good old Nikon, hey? Let’s see what happens about that.

But returning to our gas bottle for just a moment. 15 months or so that I’ve had my new woodstove – costing €270. The wood burnt in it has cost me nothing.

With the gas bottles, I was getting through one every three weeks when I was running the heating – and probably a darn sight more when the temperature dropped minus 16°C.

By my reckoning, running the heat from November until mid-March is about 20 weeks. Say, 7 gas bottles at €36 a time – €252. One more period with the fire on and it’s paid for itself already.

Saturday 4th September 2010 – We are back where we left off in May.

fc pionsat st hilaire fcpsh st angel ligue de football league puy de dome franceBut never mind the footy for the moment – just look at the picture.

It’s not just streets ahead of what the old Pentax K100D could do – it’s on a totally different planet. ISO 3200 setting on RAW data with a shutter speed of 400 and automatic exposure and then the image reduced from 4200×3000 to 800×533 and it can churn out stuff like this.

This is definitely the way forward and as I said the other day, a decent (read “expensive”) lens makes a whole new world of difference. I’ll settle for this quality.

fc pionsat st hilaire fcpsh st angel ligue de football league puy de dome franceRemember that the floodlights are only cheap basic stuff, probably not even 250LUX. A proper professional football ground has a light output of 750LUX and that would give almost daylight-quality.

As for the match itself, this is Pionsat’s 3rd XI playing St Angel, and they started off the season with a 2-1 win. There were a couple of new lads playing for the side and they looked the business.

But before anyone gets too excited, the 2nd XI don’t have a game this weekend. Next weekend when all three teams are out you’ll see a different 3rd XI on the field and we’ll be back to the motley. But get the points in while you can.

At the moment the 3rd XI are top of the league, and that really is a moment to savour.

Today I’ve been working – in the morning on my Virlet website and later pointing the eastern wall. Three buckets of mortar went into it today. And I now know which are the animals that live in the holes in that wall. I threw a paintbrush full of water into one of the holes to flush out some loose sand and I flushed out a rather indignant bat. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or him, but I threw another brush-load of water at him, he took the hint and piddled off, and I quickly filled in the hole before he came back.

But this pointing is ever so slow – it’s going to take me for ever.

Does anyone remember those green fruits on the tree in my garden – I posted an image of them a few months back. They are in fact damsons and so seeing as I didn’t have any strawberries to eat with my plain soya dessert this evening, I grabbed a handful and boiled them in some sugar and water and made a kind of syrup. I added some of that to the soya and it tasted really good. I like this idea of profiting as much as possible from what is available to eat here.

And in other news, talking football again, I see that next Sunday afternoon the referee for the 2nd Division match between Pontaumur and Chapdes Beaufort is a Mr E Hall of Pionsat.

God help them!

Monday 14th June 2010 – This is a significant photo …

hardstanding caliburn parking les guis virlet puy de dome france… and for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the first pic of Caliburn in his new home. At lunchtime I took him for a drive on the new hardstanding to flatten it down a bit. But the ground hasn’t dried up enough (and it’s still p155ing down now) so it’s no surprise that at one stage he bogged down. But I was expecting it and I had the chain winch ready.

It’s also significant in the respect that it’s the first pic with the new Nikon D5000. I was in fact all ready to use the Pentax K100D but the battery was flat and the ones on charge wouldn’t fire it up. So it seemed to he the right time to fire up the Nikon.

But never mind being bogged down – this was one of those days where problems seemed to come along in droves. After Terry came round for some of my scaffolding poles, I went into Montlucon to pick up these tyres for the trailer – and I had a puncture.  Then of course there was the bogging-down, and then on the way to St Gervais d’Auvergne I got stuck behind a circus convoy – “Showman’s Goods” as they are described in British Road Traffic Law or “Les Forains” as they are described over here. So it was 30kph (if we were lucky) all the way there.

And at St Gervais d’Auvegne I’ve ordered all my wood. The guy in the sawmill has undercharged me, and I pointed that out to him (I don’t believe in taking advantage of small businessmen – I wouldn’t like it if someone did that to me) but he insists that he’s right. But €126 for one thing and €99 for another and then a few other bits and pieces will never ever make €167 no matter how hard anyone tries to make it.

st gervais d'auvergne birdwatching centre ornithologique puy de dome franceOnce everything was sorted out in St Gervais d’Auvergne the next stop was to Liz and Terry’s to fit the wheels and tyres on the trailer.

The route as usual took me past the birdwatching centre at the back of town, which is my favourite spot for photographing the Puy de Dome. Now that I have the new Nikon D5000 I can take a pic from here and compare it with one of the photos taken with the Pentax K100D and we can see if there’s a difference.

Terry was out earning some folding stuff when I arrived and so I put the new wheels on the trailer and then helped Liz with some weeding.

Now we are all ready for moving this tractor tomorrow. What with all of the effort we’ve put into it, I hope it all goes according to plan.

Sunday 2nd May 2010 – As you may well have noticed by now …

… I spend an awful lot of my time on these pages bemoaning the “great clear-up” of French hedgerows and fields in the 1990s that saw thousands and thousands of interesting old French cars depart for the smelter – a national tragedy.

If I were still with Nerina, she would be quite pleased because our summer holidays in the 1980s consisted of us going to France and me abandoning her in a country lane while I leapt over a hedgerow armed with my old Cosina to snap something interesting that I had found.

old car hedge st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceSo today was just like old times as I travelled along a road down which I have travelled hundreds of times before, did a quick double-take over something that I have never noticed before, did a u-turn through the traffic and disappeared over a hedge into a field, armed this time with my Pentax.

I’ve no idea what it is as I couldn’t get close enough but the long bonnet, wings and running boards puts it at the late 1950s at the latest. It’s restored a little bit of my faith in rural France anyway – I don’t know how I could have missed this vehicle considering all the times that I’ve driven down here.

Strangely enough, I was on my way back from an agricultural machinery surplus sale at St Gervais d’Auvergne. I’d been to see if there was anything worthwhile for me to buy for here but it was a waste of time. Just probably 20 items for sale, most of which was heavy stuff. There was a tractor for sale – a huge thing – made in 2006 and the price they wanted for it was €46000. God alone knows how much it must have cost when new. Who says farmers are poor and impoverished?

old car vintage renault Type R2161 lorry puy de dome franceAt the same time as the agricultural machinery sale, there was also a vintage vehicle exhibition. That was really the main reason why I’d come out this morning.

However, it wasn’t all that impressive. There were all of about 10 vehicles on display, most of which I have seen at other shows in the neighbourhood. This is a Renault lorry of the early 1950s and I think that it might be a Type R2161, the famous 2.5T

I bumped into Liz and Terry too – they were fuelling up at the petrol station across the road. That was the highlight of the visit to St Gervais d’Auvergne.

Back at the footy, Pionsat’s 3rd XI were playing Effiat. Effiat are propping up the division and so this was a match that Pionsat couldn’t afford to lose. The game was arranged for two weeks hence but Effiat asked if it could be moved forward, to which Pionsat agreed. Of course this weekend is a blank weekend in the calendar (it’s a bank holiday) and so no other matches are being played. And cynics might think that in this desperate struggle at the foot of the table Effiat have decided to play today so that they can reinforce their team with players from their 1st and 2nd XI.

Indeed, the team that took the field bore no resemblance at all to the team that Pionsat beat back in December. The players were younger, fitter and keener.

fc pionsat st hilaire fcpsh effiat puy de dome ligue de football league franceBut once again, Pionsat not only had a full team out (including one player from the 2nd XI who needed some match practice), they could afford the luxury of Eric, Jerome and Marc on the bench – 3 stalwarts of the team.

Another regular from the team couldn’t get a game and Thomas of the 1st XI and one or two others had turned up “just in case” the 3rd XI was short-handed, but they weren’t needed.

fc pionsat st hilaire fcpsh effiat puy de dome ligue de football league franceAnd they weren’t needed indeed.

Pionsat matched them ball-for-ball and with the luxury of 3 keen players on the bench giving the tired legs of the defence a rest every so often Pionsat prevailed by 2 goals to 0. And quite right too – they really did play well.

The season is over for them now and they ended up finishing 6th out of 10 – a far cry from where they were at the end of November anchored at the bottom of the table. They’ve struggled along in fits and starts but kept on going when things were against them. And a couple of unlikely results have helped them, as well as a good goal difference. Strange as it is to say it, losing 6-1 to Manzat was something of a triumph as 2 weeks ago Manzat beat another team at the foot of the table by a whopping 19-0.

Sunday 7th March 2010 – I think that the Pentax has finally died

I went out this afternoon to see FC Pionsat St Hilaire play Montel-Villosanges at Villosanges. I took three sets of fully-charged batteries, one of which was brand-new, and all charged up on different chargers, and I couldn’t get a shot. The batteries “depleted” while I was poised for action. I know that it was bad before but the voyage to Trappes and back seems to have made it worse.

So that’s that!

Mind you, it was perishing cold – minus 5 out there. With a howling wind and driving snow it was uncomfortable even watching the match. Heaven knows what it was like on the pitch playing. The game was difficult which was no surprise given the conditions, and ended up 1-1. The Chimps are a naggy, aggravating side as I have said elsewhere and the ref had his work cut out what with the players and a crowd (for it was a crowd, to be sure) whose passion quite often went beyond the bounds of what might be called “reasonable”. We had a “fight” between two players – and I use the word with inverted commas because had the two players have come up against a couple of British Brownies en route for a Sunday School outing my money would have been on the Brownies.

After that it was round to see Liz and Terry to discuss our radio programme next week. It’s keeping me busy, all of this.

Saturday 6th March 2010 – Well, we’re back.

fcpsh football club de foot pionsat st hilaire beauregard vendon puy de dome franceWe had a football match tonight – the first since early February, and only the second since mid- December. Pionsat’s 3rd XI played Beauregard Vendon and were one man short, yet they scored five goals – and still finished on the losing side.

But back in December you remember that Gregory Richen turned out for the 3rd XI as he was unavailable for his habitual 1st XI game and scored 2 of their goals – well that seems to have started a fashion for Christophe Larue who also plays for the 1st XI in attack is unavailable tomorrow so he turned out for the 3rd XI this evening and scored all five goals.

fcpsh football club de foot pionsat st hilaire beaurgard vendon les guis virlet puy de dome france All of this in thoroughly freezing conditions that are threatening snow. As if we haven’t had enough!

Also back is the Pentax – unrepaired and still struggling along. I’ll be happy though when someone round here pays me a pile of cash they owe me and I can think about a replacement.

I went shopping around Montlucon today and did the usual rounds. Some 12 volt LED bulbs at €3 each at Noz and a max-min thermometer at €4.99 from Vima were the highlights. Piles of gardening stuff including my seed potatoes (earlies and normals) and two blazing rows at Brico Depot – firstly when the girl in the building material section tried to sell me the wrong (and more expensive) plasterboard despite being told, and secondly when they refused to open the bulk purchases till so I had to struggle with an enormously-loaded trolley up a shopping aisle. Someone in the car park helped me get the wood on Caliburn’s roof rack to which I replied “it’s a good thing that the customers are more helpful than the staff!”

And then a freezing cold ( and I mean COLD) hour in the swimming baths only to find that the private shower was out of order. That put the tin hat on the day.

But I’m clearly moving in the wrong circles, much to my regret. As you know, at Noz I browse through the CDs and DVDs that they have on sale (I bought two twin-packs of Bela Lugosi films for 69 cents each pack today) and saw a CD entitled “Handel’s Organ Works”. Well, so does mine but no-one ever wrote a song about it!

Thursday 18th February 2010 – I got back into the swing of working today.

batten bedroom wall insulation les guis virlet puy de dome france
I’ve started to put the framing on the wall and I’ve attached the first row of insulation to the back wall. That’s the north side of the house so it needs a good cladding. Not for nothing will I be installing the wardrobe across that back wall either.

Mind you I think that the weather had something to do with it. For the first time in weeks it was warm in the verandah this morning and when you can eat your breakfast in the warmth and the calm it makes for a good start to the day.

Brilliant sunshine for most of the day too and I ran the heater up here for almost three hours to use up the surplus electricity.

So having lined part of the wall I needed to remove a pile of rubble to get at the rest. That involved fetching a sheet of corrugated iron from the garage and that involved tidying up a bit in there. And once I’d found a space to lay down the sheet it involved fetching bucket loads of rubble downstairs. But I didn’t do too many for the ground where I’m going to put my new raised beds had all dried out already even though the thaw is only about 24 hours on. So I set a big fire and spent the rest of the afternoon weeding.

With it being light until later I was still out working until 18:15 and I was quite enjoying myself.

There’s no doubt that good weather all helps to cheer you up.

In other news, seeing as I have nothing to lose I’ve written a stinking letter to Pentax. I’m thoroughly p155ed off with their after-sales service.

Monday 15th February 2010 – Well, the Pentax is Kaput!

Or rather, no it isn’t but it very soon will be because I’ve just had the bill for repairing it. FIVE HUNDRED AND TEN EUROS. That’s about as much as it cost new and a new body only in the USA I can buy for FIVE HUNDRED AND FIVE DOLLARS – or less than €400.

Totally ridiculous – and why Pentax couldn’t have pointed this out to me and made me an offer on a new body I just do not know.

But in any case there’s a major sale on in a leading camera supplier in the USA and there is a Canon EOS with lens on offer at $499 (plus VAT when it gets over here) and I’m wondering if that might be the route to go down. They use lithium battery packs instead of AA batteries (and AA batteries was a major selling point) but if I buy a spare and keep it charged up that might be another consideration.

I can then flog all my Pentax gear and use the dosh to buy a decent lens.

The RRP of the Canon is $799 – Body only by the way so this looks like a good price to me

I’m giving this some serious thought.

It was absolutely taters this morning – I dont think that it’s ever been so cold at 09:15 so after breakfast I came back up here and warmed up.

Once I had reached a decent ambient temperature I dressed up – not in fishnets and stockings, basque and high heels Rhys – but in two pairs of trousers, two fleeces, two pairs of socks, my overalls and a coat and then went to seal off the fireplace downstairs so that I can run the woodstove up here.

I had a piece of leftover plasterboard that was a good size and so I trotted off to find the silicone sealant. And you might or might not believe it but it was frozen solid! In a tight-fitting plastic tube. It took ages for it to thaw out.

But it seems to have worked because the small fire that I lit in the stove burnt away to nothing in minutes without the slightest trace of a smell around the house.

I’m going to track down a sack of compressed wood pellets now and see how they burn.

This afternoon I carried on with the battening of the rear wall in the bedroom but the batteries in the power tools kept on going flat so I gave it up in the end. But with the sun shining gloriously and the day warming up (it reached 6.5 degrees in the verandah) and with fully-charged batteries in the house and barn I felt much better.

But once the dusk gathered the temperature plummeted and as I set off for the Anglo-French group it was already minus 4. But still – 18:40 and it was still daylight. So the days are lengthening considerably. It wasn’t so long ago that I was packing up at 16:30.

The roads were gruesome and the return journey was even more gruesome as the temperature has dropped to minus 8. A clear blue sky with thousands of stars and a strong easterly wind. The moment the wind drops the temperature will fall through the floor.

We could well be on course for the coldest night of the year.

And tomorrow we shall all be radio stars!

Monday 26th October 2009 – I didn’t do an awful lot today.

In fact, it was a day of interruptions.

Starting as we mean to go on, I wasn’t upstairs 10 minutes before the phone rang. The man from Nazar …. errr… DHL rang to seek directions to chez moi. I carried on with tidying up last night’s wiring efforts and Terry rang, asking if he could borrow my compressor.

Then Terry came round – and he helped me finish the wiring. I was struggling to get the 2x10mm cables for the heater element through the conduit – not something it’s easy to do yourself, so while Terry started it off I went to look for my patent cable dragger. And by the time I came back with it, Terry had threaded it through on his own. It pays to have an expert around the place.
In fact, I had a friend who was acknowledged as an expert by everyone else.
But in that case, it was spelt ex-spurt and ex is a has-been and spurt is a drip under pressure.

After that the man from DHL turned up with a little package for me, and then it was lunchtime.

Once lunch was over I played the usual game of “hunt the keys for Caliburn” and when I eventually found them I drove Caliburn round the back here and loaded him full of scaffolding to take round to Terry tomorrow – all the time half-expected to be confronted by The Ghost Of Farmer Parrett and his pitchfork again.

attic concrete base woodstove tile brick edge
In the attic I did manage to do some work today. All of the chimney is now connected up, sealed and clamped together, and I’ve also done something to the concrete base.

If you follow the comments to the various entries (they are often the most exciting part) you’ll know that Krys and I have been discussing the edging to the concrete. I wanted to put a raised edge around it although Krys thinks (and rightly so) that it will be difficult to keep clean.

I’m still worried about flying embers though, but there’s no point in soliciting advice if you don’t intend to take any notice, so what I did was to put a raised edge around the front and most of the sides, and leave the back open so I can brush out around there.

And what did the man from DHL want? Well, he brought me my new lens that I talked about the other day. And that was quick delivery – I wish Amazon would be this quick from the States. And €36 customs and charges – that’s an enormous rip-off if you ask me.

I’m disappointed with the lens though. It’s very small and you would hardly notice it. Freud had a thing or two to say about camera lenses, something along the lines of them being substitutes for part of the anatomy in the same way that guns and sports cars might be. And I was hoping for a whopper. The filter size is 49mm, which I don’t have, so that means a 20-quid order to the 7-Day Shop.

The lens is a manual focus (not a problem because with the footy, the focus is always “full on”) and that reminds me of a story I heard about the two blondes on the beach, being approached by the beach photographer.
Keep still” said one. “He’s going to focus!
What? Both of us?

Thursday 22nd October 2009 – FIAT LUX!

12 volt LED lights attic LIDL les guis virlet puy de dome franceAnd we aren’t talking about Italian cars and washing powder either.

This photo here was taken at about 20:00 this evening and the reason that you can see inside the room here is that I now have four lights all properly connected and switched!

They are in fact four of those 12-volt LED lights that I bought from LIDL a few weeks ago and while they may not look very bright; that’s just 4 watts of lighting in there.

Dunno about you, but I think that’s quite impressive.< And that's not all. I now have 12-volt power all around the room, and also mains power too. My electrical day was quite profitable and, much to my surprise, everything worked straight away. I didn't need to make any adjustments at all.

I’ve not done the 6-volt circuit yet though because I ran out of time doing the 230-volt lighting so I’ll do that tomorrow morning. And neither have I done the telephone. In fact, I dunno how to wire up the telephone plug so I’ll have to do some research into that.

Liz and Terry are coming round to pick up some stuff so I told them that if they can’t find me anywhere, look to see if there’s anything black and shrivelled stuck to the ceiling. That’ll be me having made a false move with the mains wiring.

But talking of Lux, the washing powder, do you remember the advert from the 1960s?
“If it’s safe in water it’s safe in Lux<" I wrote to them at the time "Now, about my goldfish ....”

In other news, I’ve been spending more money that I don’t have.

I’ve effectively abandoned night action photography because the lens on my camera won’t stop down far enough to let in enough light to take effective photos. And when I crop them they are far too grainy, as you will have noticed.

But that’s the problem with budget lenses – and by that I mean anything under about 500 quid and I don’t have that kind of money.

Rhys and I were discussing that last night and he found a second-hand lens, a Pentax 100mm f2.8 telephoto on the internet . If you don’t know much about photography, basically it’s one and a half times as long as the maximum on my zoom lens (which is a 17mm-70mm) so it needs less cropping, and it only needs about 2/3rds of the light that mine uses. It’s an old lens but they had a very good write-up and were much in demand by action and portrait photographers back in the old days.

And the price? Well, only $129 (plus $40 postage from the USA). I’m not going to get anything better than that on my limited budget so I’ve bitten the bullet and it’s on its way to here. I hope it works properly and does the business for me, as I’m not going to get anything better without spending a real shed-load of money.

And in other other news, this blog attracts quite a wide audience. It has its regular followers and contributors, but it also has a considerable number of lurkers who just quietly read it. I was talking on a messenger program last night to one of the aforementioned lurkers – Sheila – who I haven’t seen around for some time. It appears that Sheila’s mother has suffered an aneurysm – the same that did for poor Liz back in March – and while she has had the operation the prognosis is not too optimistic.

So what would be nice would be that we all find a quiet minute or two and think about Sheila and her mum and send them both some positive vibes. They could do with some right now.