Tag Archives: st maurice pres pionsat

Saturday 16th August 2014 – I’M ON ABOUT …

bad parking intermarche commentry allier france… this parking again, aren’t I? It must be that time of the year again.

I just can’t believe just how selfish some people are. The Intermarché at Commentry is a busy place and there’s always pressure on the parking here – and even more when someone such as this takes up two places in an old nail like that. It’s bad enough when someone in a brand new car does it – it’s even more sad when it’s something like this.

So yes, I was in Commentry doing the shopping this late afternoon. And it was a quiet time there, apart from the stuff that I bought in Bricomarché, such as more trunking and also the cement rendering for the outside of the house.

Prior to that, I spent the morning finishing off the backups that I had been doing and sorting out the stuff for taking with me in 10 days time. I need to sort all of this out as quickly as possible.

After lunch I went over to St Maurice to pay the deposit for the stuff that I had bought the other day, and as usual I forgot to take any photos, so you’ll have to wait for a good while to see what it is.

And then, to the baths at Neris for my weekly swim. There were about half a dozen of us in there and that’s hardly surprising seeing as it was not that warm and the sides of the pool were open. But it did fill up a little later, and there were quite a few kids having a whale (well, we are talking about water) of a time. One girl was just 5 years old but was really at home in the water, leaping into the 2-metre depths and then doggy-paddling to the side to start all over again. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a kid having so much fun, and I had a good chat with the girl’s grandma.

So then off to Commentry for the shops.

And the parking.

Thursday 14th August 2014 – I’VE BEEN SPENDING …

… my money again today.

I went out this morning to go to visit someone who was finishing off the work on his house as there were some bits and pieces up for sale. One of the items on sale was a solid, proper Indespension Plant Trailer – 4-wheeled close-coupled low-loader with built-in ramps, 3 metres long and built to carry a tank. It has low loader sides but they can be raised by boards so that the trailer can carry sand and gravel too and it isn’t half an impressive beast, especially when you consider that it will carry all of my scaffolding too as well as the Kubota tractor and whatever else is lying around here.

But not only that – it was what was on the trailer that caught my eye. I had a goot poke around at that and although it’s old, it was in good condition, not leaking and not smoking, and the price for the trailer and the load would have been what I would have had to pay for one of the brand new trailers that I had been looking at if I had to go to the UK to pick it up. Consequently, I bit the bullet and that was that.

I’ve got to go back with some money and then I can take a photo of my new toy and you can see what it is that I bought. UNtil then, I’ll leave you all in suspense.

Back here I put the second coat onto the fascia panel and the beams of the roof on the front of the house (at least, as far as I could reach). Then I went to lunch.

While I was eating my butty I was interrupted by a visit from a couple of people from the Mairie. They were newly-elected councillors familiarising themselves with the area, and they had a little moan about one or two things here.

And that was my clue. I explained firstly that the untidy and unkempt land isn’t mine but is actually the commune’s land. And why I can’t move my stuff around any better is that the commune hasn’t maintained the land for years so I can’t move stuff past it. ANd so if the commune wants me to do something, they need to do something first.

Furthermore, I had applied to the commune to buy the land. Readers with long memories will remember that I deposited my application on 8th May … errr … 2009 – over 5 years ago. And the commune has taken no action about my demand.

This led to an animated discussion that went on for an hour or two, and finally they saw my point. They promised that they would bring up the matter of my application at the next meeting of the council.

We shall see.

After they went, I spent a pleasant hour or so sanding down the facade of the house where I’d drilled through for the air vents and then filled it. That’s comparatively smooth now and almost ready to paint, but a sad discovery was that the crepi had dried out and so was no use at all. I need to buy some more now before I can paint the facade.

I then spent a while sorting out all of the electrical fittings and making a bracket to mount the outside light that I want to fit. And by the time I had everything ready, it was time to knock off.

It was a dull day today with just a couple of odd sunny spells – at least until about 22:30 when we had today’s torrential downpour. This summer is really getting on my nerves now.

Friday 29th November 2013 – I MADE IT OUT THIS MORNING …

… but it was rather touch and go as it as another one of those cold clammy mornings where I didn’t really feel too much like crawling out of my stinking pit.

But anyway after breakfast I had to unload Caliburn of all the wood that I had bought the other day and that’s all now in the barn. Then round to Marianne’s and then on to St Maurice.

laurent dumas pierrette ray jean yves gouttebel st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceFirst thing that was happening there was a meeting of the officials of the Canton of Pionsat and for the first time that I can ever recall, we had all 10 mayors present at the same time.

And not only that, we had Laurent Dumas, the canton’s delegate to the Departmental Conseil-General and also Jean-Yves Gouttebel, the President of the Conseil-General, in attendance. We were really honoured and it seems that I am once more moving in exalted circles.

new road opening st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceThe purpose of being at St Maurice was for the formal opening of a road. Not a new road, but a realignment of an existing highway that has just had a great deal of money spent on it.

Someone produced a tricolour ribbon and so we had Dumas and Gouttebel standing in the middle of the road cutting the ribbon – something that would have been quite exciting had there been a truck or something coming the other way.

Long-term followers of this rubbish know that St Maurice is famous for its exotic cars – there are a few crazy mechanics here and on one occasion they had an exhibition of their output.

la jonquille longest car in the world st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceOne such vehicle is “La Jonquille” – claimed by its builder to be the longest car in the world, and St Maurice is where it lives.

It’s rather loosely based on a Peugeot 403 estate as you can see – well, several Peugeot 403s in fact.

Later that afternoon I went to pick up Marianne again this time for Riom for the annual meeting of journalists of La Montagne – the local newspaper. Where the meeting was to be held was only a mile or so from the big LeClerc hypermarket at Mozac and so we went an hour or so early so that I could do my next week’s shopping. No sense in missing an opportunity for that and it saves me going to St Eloy tomorrow.

Back here later it was taters upstairs and so I had the biggest fire I’ve ever had. That increased the room temperature 15°C in an hour or so and that’s some going, and it cooked my tea in record time.

So now I’m off to bed – I’m doing “minding” duties tomorrow.

Now I

Tuesday 12th February 2013 – I was dead right …

… about the weather.

This morning was horribly grey and overcast with a hanging cloud. And it didn’t get any better than that either. Talking to Terry a few hours later, he said that it was snowing round by his place, and sure enough in the late afternoon it started chucking it down here too.

With regard to Bill’s affairs, it was too cold to go round there and so we stayed at Marianne’s and went through a huge pile of paperwork and did the accounts to date. After that I went with Pascal round to Bill’s and we moved some more furniture out.

This afternoon was yet another afternoon without working in the bathroom and this is becoming a tale of lost opportunities. Terry wanted to go to Brico Depot and wanted me to go with him. It was only fair and I’m not complaining as after all, a huge pile of stuff was for me but none of this is getting my bathroom done and for the last few weeks I’ve been continually sidetracked by one thing or another and it’s beginning to get on my nerves. What made it worse was that I was building up a list of things that I needed to buy next time I was there, and it went clean out of my head.

This evening I was at St Maurice. There’s a series of walks around France taking place every weekend and in 2 months time they will be walking around there, so they had a meeting of potential volunteers. I went along to find out what was happening.

 Back here, it was oven chips and baked beans for tea, and now I’m off to bed. Tomorrow we’ll have more hanging clouds and snowstorms. And who is going to come along tomorrow to put me off working in the blasted bathroom?

Saturday 13th October 2012 – I DIDN’T MANAGE …

… my quiet day at home today. It all went wrong from the very beginning.

The boulangère forgot to come this morning so in one swell foop I’ve gone from having far too much bread to not having enough.

That prompted a quick visit into Pionsat to stock up with bread, and to hope that the boulangère remembers me on Tuesday

Anyway, despite being considerably sidetracked all throughout today what with one thing and another, I managed to finish the Additional Notes for the radio programmes for the month of November.

With the Rock Programme notes already completed, I just need to choose a main text for the November programmes. There’s probably enough in the pipeline already actually but it’s as well to be sure. And when that’s completed I can start writing the Christmas Special

As there was no football tonight, I had a little pause and watched a football match on the computer. Now, Oldham Athletic? Isn’t that another good oxymoron? It’s almost as good as British Intelligence or Government Service.

However, not to be outdone, surfing the internet I discovered that the football in the Creuse is organised slightly differently than in the Auvergne, and there are league matches this weekend, not Cup matches.

And if that wasn’t enough, Auzance’s 2nd XI was at home against Dontreix-Chard in the 3rd Division.

It’s probably 15 years since I’ve been to Auzances and seeing as I think that I should get out more often (a sentiment with which many regular readers of this rubbish will agree) I set off into the unknown.

auzances football dontreix chard creuse franceQuite a charming stadium in a nice urban setting, in what looked as if it might at one time have been an old quarry.

But the match itself was total rubbish. Dontreix-Chard were awful, but Auzances were even worse.

Even FC Pionsat St Hilaire’s 3rd Xi could have taken on both of these teams simultaneously and held their own – and everyone else’s too – quite comfortably, I reckon.

auzances football dontreix chard creuse france4-2 it finished to Dontreix, and the big mystery was how come Dontreix-Chard managed to let Auzances score twice.

Dontreix-Chard’s fourth goal was a calamity that came out of absolutely nowhere.

3-2 down in the dying minutes and having Dontreix-Chard (surprisingly) under the cosh, Auzances win a corner. It’s everyone forward, and even the Auzances goalkeeper decides to go up.

However, as he is about three-quarters of the way upfield, his team-mates take the kick, not having seen him advancing.

The Dontreix players have seen him though, and when they win possession it’s the long ball right upfield over the Auzances keeper’s head, and Goodnight Vienna.

The Auzances keeper throws down his gloves and storms off the field – “I’m not playing with you guys any more”. Reminded me of Roxanne at Primary School when she was about 7 or 8.

There’s a pizzeria right next to the ground, and so I treated myself to a take-away – second weekend in succession after all of these years of doing without. After all, it’s a 35-minute drive back home and who feels like cooking at 22:45?

And a nice pizza it was too, especially the spicy oil dressing

But never mind the Combrailles – how about the Creuse for The Land That Time Forgot? On the D988 out of Pionsat through St Hilaire and St Maurice près Pionsat, it’s a nice two-lane blacktop with clear white lines – a reasonably fast road considering the terrain.

But cross over the border into the Creuze – it’s like the lane up to my house from the bottom road. Narrow, grey gravel, no centre markings, potholes and patches.

It’s a whole world of difference. It’s just like turning the clock back 25 years, which is astonishing considering that here in the Combrailles we are 100 years behind the times.  

I forgot to mention that I put out the washing today to let it dry off, and this time I did bring it in before I went out. What has reminded me of this is that it has just this second started to rain.

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.

Friday 6th July 2012 – This weather really is …

… getting on my wick right now. It’s still raining outside.

Luckily the rain did manage to hold off for a few hours while Marianne and I went to survey the village of Bussieres where Marianne will be holding her walk next Wednesday

eglise bussieres church puy de dome france.First place that you visit in any of these little rural villages scattered around the countryside is the church and here at Bussieres, the church was another one that merited a visit.

Again, it’s an early church that has been expanded and enlarged over the centuries but because it’s in such a tight situation, the expansion has had to take place in all sorts of unusual directions and unusually there is no north chapel.

eglise bussieres pionsat puy de dome franceIt was another one of these churches that was visited in 1842 by the same person who visited the church at St Maurice près Pionsat and, once again, he considered the church here to be of no merit.

You can tell by the photo here that quite clearly that he didn’t have any idea of what he was talking about, because this is another magnificent little structure well-worth a visit.

marianne contet school bussieres ecole puy de dome franceThe old school here at Bussieres is well-worth a visit too. It’s one of those that was opened following the “Universal Education” decrees of the 1880s and although it’s now converted into housing, it has a very interesting history.

Not because of the building, but because of one of the teachers here. Back in the inter-war period he organised the children of the school to prepare some kind of communal diary of daily life in their homes and in the area and it’s become something of a classic of rural life here in the Auvergne in that period and is used extensively in research.

Back here, I decided that I would put the second coat of paint on the woodwork on the lean-to outside. So I cleaned the brush, washed out the pot, filled it with the paint, climbed up the scaffolding, and then it started raining.

LIDL wood treatment charpente lean to les guis virlet puy de dome franceHowever I wanted it done today at any cost so an hour later, at 19:10, soaking wet that I was, that’s the woodwork on the lean-to all finished. And A good job it is too. That wood treatment from LIDL isn’t ‘arf some good stuff.

Next time the weather is half-decent for working outside (weekends excepted of course) I’ll dismantle the solar shower fitment outside the lean-to and then paint the facade with the pale yellow stone paint.

It should look quite pretty with that.

Wednesday 4th July 2012 – This was another day …

… where I didn’t really do all that much. An early start, though, and plenty of time on the computer even though I wasn’t feeling myself … “quite right too – disgusting habit” – ed … but at 12:00 Terry came round for a chat – he’d been working at Lieneke’s this morning.

One thing that we did was to look at that hole that I’ve been trying to drill for about 6 months. We came to the conclusion that I had grounded out on of all things a piece of granite which had somehow contrived itself to be in the wall. You wouldn’t believe that! Anyway, we took a gamble and hammered away at it for an age with a SDS drill and we managed eventually to shatter it. Drilling became a lot easier after that.

However I didn’t manage to do any more because Lieneke came round for a chat and it’s always nice to see her. She’s staying for 3 weeks, she says, and that’s good news.

After this I went to Marianne’s to erect one of these IKEA-type wardrobes for her. She’d been struggling for a while to do it but the Ryobi drill and the IKEA drill-bit soon solved that problem.

church st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceOnce we had organised that, we went off to St Maurice for her walk. We had 5 clients and we spent most of the time in the church there.

It’s really interesting as churches go because the original part is a tiny 12th-Century church that has been considerably expanded over the years in several different architectural periods, as you can tell.

12th century church st maurice pres pionsat tribune balcony puy de dome franceAnd yet the original bit, now largely abandoned, is still pretty much intact and original although it does have I suppose what in a theatre would be the circle – an upper floor balcony-type seating arangement dating from the 16th Century as a first attempt to increase the capacity.

I’m not quite sure that I’d want to go and sit up there, close as I might be to my maker. It’s not the soudest structure that I’ve ever seen.

church st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceAstonishingly, when an architectural survey of the church was undertaken by the bishop in 1842 he called it “worthless” and recommended its demolition. The congregation did move out into a temporary place of worship.

However that place deteriorated even quicker than the church did and so when that was condemmed they moved back into the church and instead of demolishing it, they planned its enlargement.

It just goes to show that Bishops and all these kinds of people can’t recognise a religious treasure when they see one, as I have said on a previous occasion. It really is a magnificent church and to think that the bishop wanted to demolish it.

Some people have no taste.

Sunday 6th November 2011 – WE HAD MORE …

… football today of course.

Mind you, we nearly didn’t. If Percy Penguin hadn’t sent me a text message I probably would be still in bed asleep right now.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football club de foot biollet st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome franceAfter a hurried breakfast I shot off to St Maurice près Pionsat to watch the fist half of the 3rd XI’s match which kicks off at 13:00. I couldn’t stay long – only for the first half in fact, as I needed to be off to catch the 1st XI’s match that kicked off at 15:00

It was 1-0 in FC Pionsat St Hilaire’s favour when I left, but it turns out that they ended up by losing lost 2-1. and that makes me wonder what happened in the match because they were well ahead in the game from what I saw.

But then it’s always going to be difficult for the 3rd XI without a recognised goalkeeper and I wish that the club would make more effort to find one for them.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football club de foot biollet st maurice pres pionsat puy de dome france But Pionsat’s goal was a pearler – another absolute screamer from Xavier, 20 yards out.

He’s big and rather ponderous, just like a lower-league centre forward should be, but sometimes he pulls something out that is so unexpected.

And he can be like that when he’s playing football too.

He has probably the most powerful shot of any footballer I have ever seen, and like this one today, many a goalkeeper has put both hands on the ball but it hasn’t done the slightest bit of good.

If there hadn’t been a net in that goal, the ball would have probably made it all the way to the Atlantic without bouncing.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football club de foot es malauzat puy de dome franceFrom there I had to drive like hell through the back lanes to the suburbs of Riom to watch FC Pionsat St Hilaire’s 1st XI in the match against E S Malauzat. And that was a hard-fought game that turned out to be very bad-tempered, and what made me happy in one sense was that most of the physical stuff was being dished out for a change by Pionsat.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve criticised the team time and time again for being something of a lightweight side, easily hustled off the ball, but they were nothing like that today.

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire football club de foot es malauzat puy de dome francePionsat’s rather physical tactics were having the effect of making the opposing players become all wound up and the opposing specattors were baying at the ref to do something about Pionsat’s physical (but reasonably legitimmate) tactics, but it all made absolutely no difference as Pionsat won 2-1

Pionsat’s goals were two of the best goals that I have ever seen at this level of football. The one scored by Jerome was particularly outstanding.

This was what I called a good day out

And so back home in the miserable depressing rain to find out that it has been miserable and depressing here all day and there’s been almost no solar energy today.

It’s still raining now – misty and foggy outside and it’s probably going to stay like this until next summer I reckon. But it’s not important because if it is still raining tomorrow I can finish off the steps and I’ve also bought the boards to make the worktops in the washroom bit.

I also need to work out where I’m going to put the front door. That has come with its frame and so I reckon that it will be easier to fit it before it’s glazed as the door will be lighter and so easy to manipulate. I can then take the door out of the frame and have it glazed.   

Thursday 25th August 2011 – Well, what a day!

And I had so much to do as well and I’ve ended up not doing very much.

Working unti 04:30 was one thing but another thing was being dragged out of the bed almost at the crack of dawn (well, 9:50, anyway) by the phone. Of all people, it wss the bank. Could I go down there?

That was eerie but what followed was certainly different. It appears that there has been some confusion at the bank, a sum of money hadn’t been paid, and a girl due to fly out to Canada on Saturday didn’t have any of the paperwork necessary. And so until about 12:45 I was engaged in negotiations down in Pionsat and then out at St Maurice pres Pionsat, which despite its name is nowhere near Pionsat.

Back at the ranch, I then had to make a few telephone calls to Canada, and thanks to Katherine for giving me some help as to who to call. All in all, I was involved in this for hours.

Having said that, though, I was flattered that the bank had called me in to help. It’s definitely a sign of progress.

And what else? I now have some web pages in French for my business web site, thanks to Marianne who made a few corrections to my text, I’ve almost finished this battery box idea thing, I’ve a proof of no-claims bonus for my Canadian car insurance, I’ve my train tickets, I’ve booked a motel in Montreal for the first night, I’ve rented some storage space in Montreal – ooooh, lots of things.

What with the late finish, the early start and all of the excitement I’m whacked so I’m off to bed. To listen to the wind in the trees as a strong wind has started up. It’s a beautiful breeze blowing through here.

Sunday 14th August 2011 – Every Picture Tellls a Story …

hanging cloud les guis virlet puy de dome france… and this one tells a story of today’s weather. A glance out of the window on the way downstairs to cook my pizza this evening, and I saw a small hanging cloud drift quietly up the valley just down the hill from the house.

The last serious one just like this was in Labrador back in October. Then, we had had rain and snow for most of the day and believe me – never mind the rain, I reckon that it was cold enough to snow just now. It was pretty miserable.

I should have gone out to the Vintage Fair at St Maurice pres Pionsat today but never mind that – I wasn’t going anywhere. Instead, I did some more tidying up in here – the desk received my attention today – and I found more stuff that I reckoned that I had lost or misplaced. It’s good, this tidying up, I’ll tell you. All the rubbish has been binned and so what I need to do now is to have a quiet evening sorting out the papers and filing them away.

I’ve also started packing for Canada – putting the 120-volt electrical items in a bag so that they are all together. And one of the advantages of having a North-American sat-nav is that I can programme it to hold all of the addresses that I’ve been finding – all the shops I’ll be having to visit. I’ve also prepared 3 notebooks – an A5 spiral-bound notebook with all kinds of useful info and addressed, an A6 spiral-bound notebook for mileages, petrol and expenditure, and an A7 spiral bound notebook and pencil to keep in my pocket. I’ve also found a couple of folders to put all of the receipts and papers in.

This evening I’ve been surfing the web and I’ve found a 160cm x 70 cm foam mattress in IKEA for $49 and a bed base of similar size for $15:00 so that’s my sleeping accommodation sorted out for the back of the van. Canadian Tire do a 60-watt solar panel for $299, plenty of deep-discharge caravan batteries and also, interestingly, a 60-amp-hour battery pack with a built-in 400-watt inverter for $99. All of that looks like it might be extremely useful.

As the day for my departure draws close, I’m getting quite excited, and who can blame me?

Sunday 3rd July 2011 – Remember yesterday …

rainwater harvesting home made water filter les guis virlet puy de dome france… when I said that today I would be working on the guttering and the water filter system? Well in fact that was what I did this afternoon and you can see the results just here in the photo. We now have full-sized guttering and a full-sized downpipe with a decent-sized sump that is angled down to where the drain is.

The tube down to the settling pipe is 80mm like the rest of the guttering, and from there on, nothing else has changed.

I’ve been trying to fit a covering over the top but I can’t get it to fasten down. In the end I’ll be having to resort to cable ties I reckon. Now where did I put my cable ties then?

I also said that I would be doing some bread baking, but the less said about that the better. Apart from dropping some of my mix on the floor, I ended up with a couple of soggy lumps of I’m not quite sure what – and that after spending I don’t know how long looking for a third shelf for the oven. I reckon that the “best before” date of April 2010 might have something to do with this, and so I’ll have another go with some fresh stuff and see what happens. But I really need a decent flat tray for the oven.

fete touristique roche d'agoux puy de dome franceMarianne the local journalist from the newspaper La Montagne rang me up this morning to invite me to Roche D’Agoux for her presentation at the tourism morning. She drove in her car and I went as passenger.

This was not really such a sound move as I get bored with this kind of thing after about half an hour. I’m not really much of a socialite as you all know and 2 hours and more is more than enough for me.

eglise village church roche d'agoux puy de dome franceAnd so after a while I slipped away and went for a little walk around the village. Only a little walk of course because there isn’t too much of a village to see.It’s only a small place.

Centre of every village in France is the church, and generally speaking, they are well-worth seeing. The one here at Roche d’Agoux is no exception and is, for a change, in an exceptionally-good state of preservation for such a small village.

jeux de quilles ten pin bowling alley roche d'agoux puy de dome franceOne thing for which Roche d’Agoux is famous (because it has several claims to fame which we shall discuss in early course) is that it has a public 10-pin bowling alley – a jeux de quilles in the open air.

It actually works too, so I was told later, and I would have loved to have had a go. But I think that you have to bring your own bowling balls. But anyway, it’s not what you would expect to find in a village like this.

Back at the tourism exhibition, I discovered that the organisers were the people who organise the vintage fete at St Maurice pres Pionsat where they have all of the old cars. I had a good chat with one of the organisers about the Minerva – so much so that I’ve been invited to exhibit it there on August 14th. I need to get a move on and get it running.

leper window church roche d'agoux puy de dome franceWhen the do was over, I told Marianne about my little wander around the village and the visit to the church. She told me that the church is quite famous – one of the several things for which Roche d’Agoux is famous – and that we should visit the inside of it.

She went off on a voyage somewhere and came back brandishing the keys to the front door. She knew who held them and had gone off for a little negotiation on my behalf

leper window church roche d'agoux puy de dome franceIn the immediate vicinity of Roche d’Agoux in the Middle Ages was a very large leper colony and they were isolated from the general community, as you might have expected in those days.

However, the lepers were obliged to attend Mass just the same as everyone else and so special provisions were made for them in the church. They had their own alcove away from the mainstream congregation and could witness the mass through a special leper window

roche d'agoux puy de dome franceAnother claim to fame for Roche d’Agoux is that the village is built on an bed of quartz that runs for maybe 20 kilometres across the north-western Combrailles.

The village takes its name from one of the most important outcrops of this bed, It is full of quartz and semi-precious stones and has been exploited for its precious stones in the past as well as having been quarried for building material.

roche d'agoux puy de dome franceNow, it’s a viewpoint for the village and the surrounding area. There are steps around the side and you can climb up to the top for a look.

It’s often been said that the rock that we have just seen is part of a Medieval castle that was situated here in the village but that’s not correct. This was something that was written in a guide book in the 1880s and has simply been copied out liberally without anyone having actually come here to visit the site.

chateau de Guillaume de Rochedagoux roche d'agoux puy de dome franceThere was indeed a medieval castle chateau fort here in Roche d’Agoux, but that was over there on that eminence – the small hill over there about a quarter of a mile away from the rock.

Unfortunately we cannot go to visit it as it’s on private property and the owner doesn’t encourage tourists which is a shame. But apparently there are quite a few remains that can be seen, according to someone who went there many years ago.

town walls roche d'agoux puy de dome franceThere are some ruins visible here and it doesn’t take much imagination for them to be pictured as remains of the castle or even remains of a wall around the village, but that is pure speculation.

But anyway, all of this area was the fiefdom of Guillaume de Rochedagoux in the mid-13th Century. He was famous for having gone on one of the Crusades to the Holy Land. He passed through the land of the Armenians (you have to remember that back in those days the territory of Armenia was much bigger than it is in modern times), noticed the skilled weavers there, and brought some of them back.

This accounts for the history that this region had as a flax-weaving area in the past, and accounts for names of places in the area (for example the Moulin des Armenièns) and the surname Desarmenièn that you encounter around here.

Anyway the hospitality had been freely flowing at the fete de tourisme, so much so that I had to drive back.

brocante arpheuilles st priest allier franceAnd I still had time, after playing for a while with the rainfall harvesting equipment to go off to Arpheuilles St Priest and the brocante that they were having today.

There weren’t many stalls there – despite the glorious weather – by the time that I arrived and I wasn’t able to go mad. but “spend, spend, spend” it was indeed and I was out by as much as €4:00 by the time that I left.

But the brocante was not my only reason for going to Arpheuilles St Priest. We’ve talked … "at great length" – ed … about the tacot or ligne economique, the narrow-gauge line that meandered through this area of the Allier between Marcillat en Combraille.

ligne economique gare de chemin de fer arpheuilles st pierre allier franceIt actually passed through (and that’s a rare thing – that the tacot actually passed through anywhere) Arpheuilles St Priest and so I reckoned that I would go and see if I can find any trace of the line.

And having waded through a couple of hedges and a pile of weeds (and someone’s nicely-mown lawn) this is, what I reckon might have been the track-bed of the line. It’s very much like the width that an abandoned railway line might be and it’s heading in the general direction of Commentry

ligne economique gare de chemin de fer arpheuilles st pierre allier franceAnd now that I know what a tacot railway station looks like, having identified the one at Marcillat en Combraille the other day, I could go off and look for a building that corresponds.

And here we are – following my track-bed backwards across the road I ended up peering through the trees at this building, and this is what my money is on. This looks like a tacot railway station to me if ever I saw one.

So wasn’t this a busy day then? It kept me well out of mischief and I learnt a lot too.

And so have you now.

Sunday 8th August 2010 – It was Sunday today.

And there was a vintage vehicle exhibition and brocante at St Maurice pres Pionsat as well.

And so I stayed at home.

Mind you it was … errrr …. 11:30 when I woke up and so I’d missed a good deal of the day. And then with working on my web site until 14:00 I missed a good deal more. But I went into Pionsat to the baker’s – and it was shut! It seems that last Sunday was a one-off seeing as how it ought to have been Pionsat’s brocante last week. But as I was quietly GRRRRRing to myself, out of the door came the boulangere, and so she sold me what I needed. It must have been my lucky day!

Back at the ranch, seeing as I wasn’t going anywhere I lit a huge bonfire and burnt a pile of stuff that has been lingering around here, and I also burnt the dried weeds that I had pulled up when I was working with Lieneke. In fact one of the reasons why I’m still awake now is that the fire is merrily burning away and I can’t go to bed leaving it unattended. But make the most of the sunny day – it won’t last, this weather.

modular home made composting bin les guis virlet puy de dome franceI also installed the compost bin properly in its proper place this afternoon after the temporary installation last night and added the compost from the collapsed plastic composting bin. At the moment it’s four sections high and the three that are currently unused are in shot. I’ll have to think of a place to put them.

You can also see the chassis for the Citroen 2CV that formed the basis of the Lomax kit car I once owned. There’s also a solar garden light and one of the solar cookers for the composting toilet. The others have now been incorporated into the compost and given a liberal dosing of potash.

Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are the essential ingredients for any fertiliser. There are plenty of nitrogen and phosphorus in the contents of a composting toilet and wood-ash is a good source of potassium. So all the essential ingredients for my garden are right to hand. Now all I need to do is to work out how I can move the methane digester and add the contents of that to the compost. I reckon that I ought to neutralise its contents with plenty of wood ash and sawdust first though but that will just add to the weight.

Nevertheless, things are slowly moving around here. The composting bin was another thing that I’ve been meaning to do for ages and I’m glad it’s in position now.

I was so engrossed that it was 18:30 when I knocked off. And on a Sunday too! A nice hot 41°C shower rounded the day off quite nicely. Tomorrow I imagine that we will be back on that blasted roof.

Sunday 16th May 2010 – Football isn’t everyone’s cup of tea …

fcpsh fc pionsat st hilaire puy de dome ligue de football league france… and as we were all staggering off towards the pie hut at half-time today during the match at St Maurice pres Pionsat I couldn’t resist taking this pic of a Biollet St Maurice supporter overcome by emotion due to the hectic pace of the game.

But the young lady fast asleep by the touchline and the blue sky will give you some idea of the weather today. Summer seems to be back – and about time too.

puy de dome franceMind you, I can’t blame the girl for falling asleep because it was one of THOSE games this afternoon. The heat was clearly getting to everyone and so it was played at something of a leisurely pace and in the end, finished as a 0-0 draw.

Pionsat were the better side though and did have one or two chances to take the lead during the match, but I do have to admit I’ve seen many more exciting games than this one. At least, is was a pleasant day out.

I woke up at 09:57 to the sun streaming in through my windows here. It looked beautiful and I couldn’t resist thinking to myself that it was so nice that someone was bound to spoil it. And right on cue the phone rang. Bernard, the football club chairman, wanted to tell me that his son (he who has the digger) wanted to talk to me and could he come round.

So I hauled myself out of bed to wait for him. I asked Bernard a while back if he knew of someone with a digger who can dig out where I want to park Caliburn and he recommended his son. But he was stuck on a chantier in all of this bad weather. It now seems that they’ve been able to work and it may well be that by Friday they’ll be finished. So he came to see the job and reckons he’ll ring me on Friday or Saturday to tell me when he can start.

I told him about Simon’s job and he’s keen to do that too. And by the purest coincidence it seems that where Simon is living is the old workshop of Bernard’s uncle and Bernard was born in the house just next to Simon’s.

This world is getting far too small for me.