Tag Archives: verandah

Thursday 23rd July 2020 – I’M WHACKED!

Yes, it’s been a very hard day today.

Having crashed out so definitively yesterday evening, I slept right through and even missed the third alarm. Only by a few minutes but nevertheless …

First task was to write up my journal from last night, in the middle of which Rosemary brought me a cup of tea. Even so, I managed somehow to crash out again.

Afrer breakfast we organised a few things and then set off.

First port of call was near St Priest les Champs to drop off the door. And as it happens, Rosemary knows the lady of the house so we had a chat for a while.

Second was Ingrid’s at Biollet where she made us a drink. We had a really good chat and then went round to pick up her trailer – a big single-beast trailer much bigger than I was expecting. But the bigger the better. I can fit more stuff in it.

caliburn trailer pouzol puy de dome france eric hallRosemary and I said goodbye to Ingrid and set off to my place.

Tons of stuff lying around there that was of no use to man nor beast and that was something that I was always going to do “tomorrow”. But it was depressing me seeing it all lying there like that so we heaved it all into the trailer regardless.

But as an aside, I need to work on my reversing. I’m somewhat out of practice and I made something of a dog’s breakfast getting the trailer down the track to my house.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallOne thing that I wanted to do while I was there was to check on the pointing of the wall that I had built in 2012.

No cows in the field and no farmer about so we went in to check.

It’s all holding up remarkably well, all things considered, and I’m proud of the job that I did on that considering that it was my first proper effort at building a stone wall. But the joint between the lean-to and the main house wall is separating and if I do ever make it back I’ll need to refill that.

The dechetterie at St Eloy les Mines would be closed for lunch by now so we made our way back home for something to eat. Rosemary indicated some more rubbish that needed heaving into the trailer while she made the food.

This afternoon Rosemary had a bank appointment so I went off to the dechetterie where the old woman in charge directed me to the correct bay to unload it.

Back now to my house where I loaded up the trailer yet again. The concrete parking space is now clear of nonsense, some of the rubbish hanging around outside has gone too, and I’ve even thrown away some stuff in the verandah too. Plenty more to go at too, stuff that’s been hanging around for centuries and which probably will never be used..

bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallWhile I was there, I went to check on the bedroom.

It seems to be unaffected by the rodent infestation so I spent some time in there sorting out some stuff in the wardrobes. There were a few bits and pieces that I wanted to collect that I’d stored in there for safe-keeping and so I rescued them.

The rest of the stuff that’s in there can remain for another day or until I move back down whenever

bedroom les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallBut I do have to say that it was totally depressing to see the bedroom looking like this.

It took me four long years (not continuously, of course) to convert it from A RUBBLE-STREWN WRECK into wnat you see today, complete with fitted wardrobes and everything, and I was so proud of what i’d managed to build with my own fair hands.

And all in all, I reckon that I had no more than about three months’ use out of it before I was taken ill and rushed to hospital. That was the saddest part of all about this.

As for the attic, that’s had it, I reckon. And so has everything in there, I reckon. There’s little hope of salvaging anything from there although I did bring out a set of plastic drawers.

On the ground floor I did some tidying up – just a little. And there’s plenty more to go at in there too.

All in all, I could spend the rest of my life tidying up in there and still not see the end of it all. No matter what I did, I could never make that place look tidy

The dechetterie would be closed by now so I came on back to Rosemary’s, totally exhausted, with a full trailer behind Caliburn.

We had tea and a good chat, following which I had a shower and washed my clothes. And all of that was just as well too.

Plenty more work to do tomorrow- this little visit is far from over – not by any means. A good night’s sleep is called for so that I can be fighting fit. But there’s little hope of that.

Thursday 27th April 2017 – I HAD A …

… day off house-hunting today. I wasn’t in the mood.

In fact, I’ve not had a very good day at all today.

Just by way of a change I managed to watch all of a film last night and even stayed awake for a while afterwards. But I did eventually go off to sleep and despite some fitful tossing and turning, slept until the alarm went off.

After breakfast I had a shower and a good clean-up, and herein lay a minor tragedy. I had had a jar of jam in my suitcase since Belgium the other week, and it’s somehow managed to be smashed. As a result there was jam everywhere and all over everything.

This led to an impromptu tidying up and sorting out session, and to a good wash of the suitcase with plenty of soap and hot water, before rinsing it off with the hosepipe. Luckily it was a reasonably sunny but very windy day so it had dried by the time that I returned.

Having done a few things on the laptop I set out for the shops. Bent Tin Ci … errr … Netto at Brehal was the port of call, where I bought my baguette and some salad stuff as well as a few other bits and pieces that I might need. and then off to Coudeville-Plage to pass the rest of the day.

Just for a very rare change, weather and lighting conditions at midday were absolutely ideal for photography.

ile de chausey coudeville plage manche normandy franceNot only that but I managed (having tidied up Caliburn quite a lot recently) to put my hands on the big telephoto lens so I was able to take a few shots out across the water.

There, many miles away, right out in the far distance on a rock is what I reckon might be a lighthouse. And I love the way that the haze on the water makes it look as if the lighthouse is floating in the air above the sea.

ile de chausey coudeville plage manche normandy franceAnd with the light being so good, I was finally able to take a decent shot of the Ile de Chausey out there, with the colours actually being a little more true to life.

Once I’m actually settled (whenever that might or might not be) I’m determined to take a little trip out there to see what the island is really like, and I hope that I’m not going to be disappointed.

But me disappointed with a sailing across the ocean? Not on your life!

articulated pedal people machine coudeville plage manche normandy franceWhile I was making my butties (I stayed inside Caliburn with this wicked wind today) this strange machine pedalled past.

We’ve seen loads of things similar to this along the Costa Stella in Belgium, but this particular multi-person pedal machine is quite different in that it appears to be articulated. That’s a first for me anyway.

I bet that the kids would have loads of fun sitting in the front of it though.

I wasn’t feeling good today, as I may already have mentioned, and I crashed out for a couple of hours. When I came to, all of the car parks were jam-packed with people.

Today is apparently what they call the marée. One of the days when the tide is at its lowest and so everyone has the right to go down to the low water mark and scratch around for cockles and mussels alive, alive-oh!

ile de chausey coudeville plage manche normandy franceThe beach was crowded with people, each havng his own little patch. And there were people carrying buckets that were pretty well filled with them. It must have been a good catch today.

And I do hope that they remember to share them with all of their friends and neighbours. For as I have said before … "and you’ll certainly say again" – ed … you mustn’t be selfish with your shellfish.

It was a struggle to come home from the beach but I made it in the end, and I sat in the verandah to drink my coffee and read my book seeing as how it was really windy outside.

Tea was once again made in the kitchen in the garage, I’ve had a good chat with Rosemary and now I’m ready for bed.

And quite right too. I have a couple more ruins to see tomorrow.

Friday 24th March 2017 – CALIBURN HAS RETURNED!

And I should know, because I had to go and fetch him back. Of course that meant that I had to take back the little Skoda hire car but that’s no big deal.

Caliburn has had his rear end fixed (they even repaired the towing light sockets that I broke about 5 years ago but I didn’t say anything) and not only that, the nearside was stripped bare, all of the rust and stone chips ground out, the bare metal treated with anti-oxydiser, everything stopped, filled and sanded down, and a coat of primer then a coat of paint and then some varnish.

All of that came to a mere €283 – well, my bit did anyway – and I was expecting it to be more than twice that.

It’s true to say that you can see the join between the old and the new paintwork, but I’m not bothered about that. Caliburn is 10 years old and showing his age like I am. I just need him to keep on going for as long as I do without dropping to bits – that’s the plan anyway. Spending less than €300 to keep the bodywork together sounds like a good investment to me.

Last night was not so good. I went off to sleep easily enough but was awake by about 04:30 and struggled to go back to sleep again. By 06:30 I was up and about, and drinking my morning coffee when the alarm went off.

It was cold, damp, wet and miserable too, and so I lit a fire. I’ve decided that I need to keep warm no matter what while I’m here. It’s not as if I’m short of wood, as Terry keeps on reminding me.

I didn’t do much though this morning – spending a lot of time thinking about this and that and tidying up a pile of files on the computer that I have here – the old one with the smashed screen that I use as a desktop computer with added mouse, keyboard and external screen (the HDMI socket of the DVD viewer in fact).

Lunch was the rest of Ingrid’s delicious soup and then gathering my wits, I decided on a plan of attack. I fought (and I DO mean “fought”) my way into the verandah and the lean-to.

And there I really did hit the depths of despair because everything that I had set aside all those years ago – everything from Expo, the crockery and cutlery that I had bought specially – well, it’s all in a lamentable state having been stored in the verandah and the lean-to for 6 years. I should really have unpacked it all years ago, but I really didn’t have anywhere to put it.

Anyway, that really depressed me. I started dumping stuff into plastic bags to take to the tip – piles and piles of it – but that was soul-destroying and I lost all enthusiasm. The freezing cold and driving rain didn’t help matters either. I ended up with nowhere to put anything.

Instead , I went and fetched Caliburn, and then came up here for a warm by the fire and some more of Ingrid’s pepper, lentil and tomato sauce to go with my pasta.

Now I shall endeavour to fight off the depression that I’m in and go to bed. And hope that I can sleep too. It’s been a long hard day and the next four days are going to be even worse.

Sunday 15th November 2015 – I SHOULD HAVE …

… gone out this afternoon.

I had planned to go out to Menat for the football today. Two matches – one of the 2nd XI who play at the same level as Pionsat’s 1st XI, and the Menat 1st XI who play a couple of divisions higher. But then last night’s Pionsat 2nd XI match had been postponed until today and so I was wondering whether to go down there instead.

But then I had something of a late start today (well, it IS a Sunday) and then I had a bad attack of Writer’s Block and couldn’t make a start on what I had to do today. By the time I could tune myself into whatever I was going to do, it was too late to go anywhere and do anything. But at least I’ve finished the radio programme, eventually.

I’ve also emptied the beichstuhl today. The first time since I’ve been back home. And it needed it too. So that’s one job well-done. And with the temperature in the verandah being 19°C and then temperature in the home-made 12-volt immersion heater reaching 49°C, that was the cue for a shower. And gorgeous it was too.

Rosemary rang up for a good chat later, and we were on the phone for an hour or so. It seems from local gossip that our little ex-pat community is going to be thinned out even more, something that is surprising us because, by all accounts, it’s going to be an enormous backward step for the people involved. But then, what’s it all to do with us?

And in other news, we have had a definite candidate for not just “Quote of the Year”, or “Quote of the Decade” or even “Quote of the Century”, but what will probably end up being “Quote of All Time”. One of my “friends” on my Social Network who lives near Guildford posted, in relation to the events in Paris this weekend “… it could happen in Guildford or Bristol …”. it appears that the poster has totally forgotten that it DID happen in Guildford

And this just goes to prove a point that I have been saying for years. Atrocities committed by white-skinned Christian terrorists are totally forgotten, conveniently swept under the counter even by people who were exposed to the acts, whereas the mere threat of an attack by brown-skinned “terrorists” brings them out all in a cold sweat.

And why “terrorists” in inverted commas? That’s because one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. As a good example of this, certain white-skinned Christian terrorist swho had conducted a bombing campaign all through London in 1974 and 1975, convicted of 7 murders as well as a whole string of other serious crimes, were described as ‘our Nelson Mandelas’ by an MP who had served in the British Houses of Parliament for over 20 years and who was indeed a serving MP at the time he made the remark.

However, history conveniently overlooks all of this.

Wednesday 11th November 2015 – HAPPY BANK HOLIDAY

But it’s not really a day of celebration. it’s a day of memorial for the millions of civilians who were enticed into the ranks by all kinds of false promises (“it’ll be all over by Christmas”) and who died a desperate death in a waterlogged trench, quite often with no known grave and with no-one having any idea of their fate.

As for me, I had a lie-in until 09:40 and then after breakfast I’ve done precisely nothing.

That is, nothing of any much importance except for me. That 3D animation program that I use celebrated its 25th anniversary today and amongst the special offers available to members was a massive shed-load of clothing, hair and so on for an obsolete character that I still use. About $179:00 worth of articles even with my membership discount, and all on offer for today only at just $2:99. The only downside to that was that with my flaky internet connection it took over 5 hours to download it all and another couple of hours to install it.

I had just under 75 amps of surplus electrical energy today, all of which went into the home-made 12-volt immersion heater. The temperature in the water rose from 14°C to 59.5°C – that’s an increase of 45.5°C, which means that 1°C of heat was produced with about 1.7 amps of current – a far cry from the previous immersion heater that needed 8 amps of current to produce 1°C of heat. And not only that, the cables were stone cold too.

This is however all going to lead to another problem – namely what is going to happen in the summer. 75 amps is nothing compared to what I can have in July and August as we know. And with the water being warm from the previous day, an increase of temperature of this kind of magnitude with the amount of excess current that I can generate will mean that the water will be boiling, and that’s not a good idea with a plastic box. The answer to this is, I suppose, to make a second tank and have it so that I can switch the current on and off as required.

But today I made the most of it. I had a shower in the verandah and then a really good shave. That’s used up about 5 litres of the water and tomorrow I’ll fill up the tank if needed. If the temperature in the tank goes out of control, adding cold water should calm it down a little.

Friday 30th October 2015 – ALL GOOD THINGS …

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

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

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

And so why did it all go wrong?

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

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

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

And so what else have I done today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 3rd November 2014 – LOOK AT THIS!

It’s a 2008 Ford Ranger 4×4 Sport pick-up fitted with a 4.0 litre V6 engine. And furthermore, it’s mine. All mine.

Long-term readers of this rubbish will recall that I am thoroughly fed up with the price that I’m having to pay in North America to hire a vehicle every time that I go over. And not only that, what laughingly passes for “customer service” with Avis Car Hire is appalling. Every time I go there, they try to chisel extra cash out of me for all kinds of excuses and reasons and it’s gone beyond the point of embarrassment.

So to cut a long story short … "hooray" – ed … I’d asked a couple of garage proprietors in New Brunswick to keep me informed about any suitable 4×4 pickup taken as a trade-in, and one of them has come up with the goods.

Bearing in mind how much I’m paying for car hire, this pick-up will pay for itself in one-and-a-half visits to Canada. and if I can find a lightweight slide-in camper back for it, I will be really in business.

Consequently, I spent most of the morning on the phone to a couple of people in Canada – the garage proprietor and my bank – and now the deal is done.

Apzrt from that, I’ve finished the verandah today. Totally stripped out, cleaned and tidied and you can actually see the worktops now. I’ve also cleaned and refurbished the chemical toilet now that you can reach it, because that will be useful for visitors.

Finally, I tidied up a little more on the ground floor and that’s showing a great improvement too.

Tonight, I cooked one of my famous augergine and kidney bean whatsits, accompanied by one of the most wicked rainstorms that i’ve seen for a while. The weather really has changed now.

Thursday 17th July 2014 – THIS IS RIDICULOUS.

Here I am, just after midnight in my little attic and it’s 29.2°C. And that’s with the fan going full-blast too. The temperatue up here reached 32.4°C during the day.

And if you think that that is warm, In the verandah we had over 52°C, and so you can guess what kind of day we had today – glorious sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. I even had another shower this evening.

It was hard this morning to get out of bed before 08:00 but I did just about manage it, and after breakfast we had the usual go on the website although I do admit to going to sleep for about half an hour.

wood preservative under eaves roof les guis virlet puy de dome franceOutside a little later, I was up on the scaffolding finishing off the 1st coat of paint on the woodwork and also, incidentally, finishing off the tin. After lunch, I opened another tin and slapped the stuff all over everywhere. That shouldn’t ever rot now which is just as well.

All of the stuff to do the guttering is now up there on the scaffolding, but I’ve had a change of plan about the fascia board. Firstly, its too heavy for me to lift into position on my own and secondly, because the ends of the chevrons were never squared off, it’s impossible to fit it properly no matter how much padding I use. I’m going to use the gutter brackets that I used for the barn, no matter how much I hate them.

Much to my surprise I have a few of those so I’ll use them as far as I can until Saturday when I’ll buy a pile more.

So after my shower I called it a day – 19:25. And so you can’t say that I’m not putting the hours in.

Friday 21st March 2014 – LAST NIGHT WAS THE FIRST NIGHT …

… that I had left the fridge running right through the night.

Consequently today was the first day for fifteen days that we had heavy overcast skies and rain. It’s par for the course, isn’t it?

And normal service resumed with a vengeance too. I can’t remember what it was that I was doing – it was certainly nothing of any importance – but I happened to glance at the clock and it was after 03:00. Sleep issues are back again.

I can’t think why, though. I should have been exhausted after what I was up to during the night.

I’d been away from home for a while and when I returned my partner told me that she had bought a house down in the South-West of France to let as a holiday home. Even though it was late Saturday afternoon we got into the car and drove off to see it. The house next door to it was really two units but they shared a very big kitchen. There was work going on in there and I asked the owner about it – whether he was going to divide up the kitchen and make two bathrooms so that these two units would be self-contained but he didn’t give a coherent answer

My partner asked me what I thought of her house and I told her that she had done exactly the right thing. Investing money in property was never wasted if one took the long-term view.

We went out for a walk around the town in the evening and there was the wreck of an LDV minibus at the side of the road so we had a good look at it. But back at our hotel I had a memory stick and this kept on flashing to say that it was receiving mesages – and an icon of a man was flashing on it. So I plugged the memory stick into the computer and it showed me a couple of Youtube films sent to me unsolicited, one of which was looking down the slope from the town centre of where we wee to the cross on the edge of the town and the other showing the accident that had involved this LDV minibus- It had overtaken someone on the inside by going over the verge and on the grass.

We went outside to check on all of this but it was clear from the light and the position of the shadows that the action in the film had taken place a few hours earlier than the current time.

On the way back to our hotel we were stopped by the passengers of yet another LDV minibus – a couple of adults and a load of children all dressed in a bizarre but uniform way – jackets with red white and blue tassels that kind of thing – and they were looking for a camp of some kind. I had an idea where it might be – an old abandoned hotel where things went on in the grounds – but wasn’t sure so I told them to go to out hotel, because I knew that it was still open – and ask. The hotel was called the Lion d’Or of course. “Round to the left on the Rocade, rejoin the main road and it’s there on the left”. They repeated the directions a few times, with plenty of hand movements, to make sure.

Some way further on we passed a huge hotel on the right. Someone with a Landrover crew cab and dog cage on the back was leaving and they were lowering thos huge dog – a St Bernard – from their hotel window on the 7th floor by means of a rope and harness. They had cats on leads, several other dogs and I remember saying that I was glad I wasn’t going to have that hotel room after them.

This was another one of those occasions where the dream was so absorbing that although I had to get up in the middle of all this to go for a gypsy’s, I got back into bed and stepped right back into the dream more-or-less where I had left off.

After breakfast and the traditional couple of hours on the website I started work. And such exciting jobs that I had around here – I emptied the composting toilet. Lovely, isn’t it?

having cleared a bed for the onions yesterday, I planted out the onion bulbs into the bed. 75 went in – probably about 3 will come out if I’m lucky. And after that, I planted some courgette seeds into pots. For some reason that no-one knows, courgettes grow like stink here and everyone always has far too many. That means of course that I shan’t get a one this year now, having said that.

After lunch, I went off to Cécile’s to let this other estate agent view her house. This one didn’t stay long and didn’t seem to be half as professional as the one from the other day.

Back here I tidied out some (but not much) of the veranda so that I can create a space on the shelving to put my courgette pots, and finished off the day by attacking another raised bed – one that will take the shallots, garlic and leeks. That’s not finished yet – it needs abother hour or two so I’m sorely tempted to have a go at it tomorrow.

Always provided that it soesn’t snow, of course.

Monday 24th February 2014 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!

Yes, here I am – another year older and deeper in debt. And having reached a ripe old age, getting riper as I get older, I suppose that I ought to think about growing up.

So having had another late night last night, I woke up and hung around in bed for ages until I reckoned that “if I don’t get up now then I never will”, only to find that it was 08:45. So much for my body clock!

But last night I was in Crewe with my taxi business and I was round at the house of one of my regular passengers up on Bradfield Road, a woman who always had a cab to go to one of the pubs down West Street. She had a friend around, a woman who was a widow whose husband had died 9 years ago in a pub in West Street, having been sloshed about the head with a house brick. This woman had fallen victim to a scam whereby some mad had come from either Alfreton or Ilkeston to seel joints of mmeat “like this one here” – taking the money on the promise of delivery the next day but of course no-one would ever see again. Another adventure had befallen this woman at the hands of this meat salesman, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss it.

So after breakfast, it was to work, even though it is my birthday and thus usually a day off.

I have many requests from my friends, some of which are phyxically impossible of course, but others which require an element of work. This one today was “for God’s sake, have a shower”. But if anyone thinks that I was going to stand outside in this wind in nothing but my birthday suit they are mistaken but it was 23°C in the verandah and that called for positive thought.

I threw out the old woodstove that Claude gave me – and it went out in several pieces and a pile of dust in fact. Then a load of other bits and pieces followed, many of which went straight in the bin. And by the time that I had finished sweeping up and tidying up, there was a space about 2mx1m at the far end of the verandah that was clear. I ran up a rope and then hung a shower curtain to it.

After lunch I found the wooden rails that I stand on when I have a shower outside and put them in the verandah, mixed up a bucket of warm water from the home-made 12-volt immersion heater (which was on 66°C) and cold water out of the water butt, and … I had a shower.

Nice and warm it was too, especially as it was in the verandah and it would have been perfect had I had a low-debit 12-volt pump in working order. I ended up using a jug to pour the water over me, but nevertheless a shower it was, the first of the year at home, and I feel so much better for it too.

Cécile sent me a present of sweeties (thanks very much) and an envelope to send her any post that she has received, so I went round to her house to see if there was anything (and I made use of the washing machine too – so clean bedding tonight as well!)

puy de sancy snow mont dore puy de dome franceI’d been invited round to Liz and Terry’s for tea (thank you very much) but stopped off at the site ornithologique as there was a magnificent view of the Puy de Sancy and the Mont Dore covered in snow and with clouds reflecting the profile of the skyline.

Liz had cooked a curry with trimmings, followed by chocolate and avocado mousse which was delicious.

And then back home via picking up the washing, which is now hanging up outside as we are having another day of no rain so far (i’m the eternal optimist of course). But Sunday was the first day without rain since, would you believe, 9th January – 6 weeks ago!

Qo now I’m off to bed after my exertions of today. I wonder where I’ll end up tonight!

Thursday 23rd January 2014 – I FINALLY MANAGED …

… to pick up Cécile’s letter this morning, after all these weeks.

And so seeing as how I was going to have a morning out, I decided to make the most of it, especially as it was once again p155ing down.

First stop was the Mairie. I need a form to say that I’m still alive (and judging by the smell around here, you would be excused for wondering) and the best person to do that is the Mayor of the village. They have a nice big and official-looking stamp that gives a really impressive look to any kind of document.

Then off to Cécile’s. I need to put an accompanying letter with this form and so I typed one out last night and saved it onto a memory stick. Also, Cécile sent me an authorisation to collect her mail, and so both of these needed printing. I have three printers here – one stopped working when it fell off the desk, the second only prints in blue and only when it feels like it, and the third one, that I rescued from Marianne’s, that ran out of ink on me.

So round to Cécile’s and her printer and – guess what?

Quite right. Hers ran out of ink too but there’s an override button on it and so we ended up with documants in light grey ink.

Nevertheless, the authorisation was accepted at the Post Office and I collected the letter. And then off to Pionsat and the Post Office there. That’s a real Post Office and so I posted my letter and form, and also a packet for Malou. When I was stuck in Brussels with no ‘phone charger for the old Nokia, she very kindly sent me one. And she’s a big fan of Edith Piaf and Marianne had a German version of the film La Vie En Rose. Malou speaks German fluently, and so that’s now on its way to Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, that was the morning gone. And so I’ve spent all of the afternoon firstly, picking up the bits of wood from the construction project to use as firelighters, and then sweeping up the sawdust for the composting toilet. It’s impressive that I can actually do that.

Secondly, I started to load up the new shelves. The little cheap lightweight shelf unit that I put in the downstairs room as a temporary measure, that’s now completely empty. There’s a pile of stuff gone out of the barn onto the new shelves, and a pile of stuff out of the verandah has followed it. And, much to my surprise, the shelves aren’t even half-full. There’s tons of room for more stuff.

This evening, seeing as I was in a contemplative frame of mind, I watched The Wild Bunch. Peckinpah rather prolongs the violence unnecessarily, I reckon, but apart from that, it is one of the most magnificent films that has ever been made and the performances of William Holden and Ernest Borgnine have no parallel in anything that I have seen elsewhere. It’s a film that is in my Top 5 Films of All Time and quite rightly so.

So what’s the plan for tomorrow then?

When I dug out the flooring to put in a large battery box, I made the box the size to suit the Hawker batteries that I use. However, one or two of them are starting to creak a little and I can no longer obtain the replacements, and so I bought a while ago some massive 200 amp-hour batteries.

The battery box isn’t big enough to take them and so I’m going to be making a start on digging out some more flooring and enlarging the box.

And why 200 amp-hour batteries? Why not go for anything bigger? The answer to that is a simple question of logistics. I can just about manage to pick up a 200 amp-hour battery on my own. Anything bigger and it will be beyond the realms of possibility, and I have long-since given up the idea of doing anything that I’m not able to do on my own.

Friday 8th November 2013 – GUESS WHO …

… spilt his mushroom and lentil curry all over the floor of the verandah this evening? And that was a shame because it was even nicer than on the two previous nights. Ahh well.

Anyway, this morning I had another one of these lie-ins – I’m taking it easy until Monday when I’ll be starting work in Earnest – and after breakfast I carried on with the tidying up. Another two sacks of rubbish have been filled and I’ve also been sorting out a huge pile of papers that have now been filed away correctly and I’ve collected together a pile of stuff that needs to be taken outside into the barn.

I’ve made a few useful finds too, not the least of which being the business card for the car wash that I used in Montreal in 2012 and was trying desperately to find a few weeks ago when I was there. I’ve added the address to the list in the Canadian notebook

Strangely enough though, despite all of the work, you can’t see much difference – in fact, the place looks even more untidy than it did before. Even worse, places that were comparatively tidy, such as the what will be the bedroom, are now starting to look cluttered. I’m not quite sure how that is possible but then again anything is possible when I am trying to tidy up.

This afternoon it was far too wet to go to work outside and so in a rare departure from normality I started to tidy up a few boxes on the ground floor. They had been in the way for over 2 years. Curiously (or maybe not), a lot of the stuff went straight into the bin. I can’t think what possessed me to bring it back here from Brussels when I sold Expo. Pressure of time, I suppose. But now I can actually move around much easier on the ground floor and if I spend another hour down there sometime, I might even have free passage all around the place. You never know.

I’ve also tidied up around the stairs and the landing so there’s even a free run up to my attic without stepping on anything. It’s all looking terribly impressive around here now, except of course in the attic 🙁

Thursday 7th November 2013 – I’VE BEEN A BUSY BOY TODAY

Yes, high time I started work again around here. And even though I had something of a late-ish morning I still managed to do a good session before lunch.

First off, I repaired the woodshed. The corrugated iron sheets blew off while I wasn’t here and all of the wood is soaking wet. But I’ve rescued the sheets, nailed them down this time and used some bracing struts, and then covered it all over with an old tarp that was lying around not doing very much. That might hold it for a while until I can build the new one across the yard.

While I was outside I did some tidying up too and also a pile of weeding outside the house. It now looks as if someone is actually living here.

But that’s not all. The kitchen in the verandah was in a desperate condition and so I’ve tidied up in there and given it something of a superficial clean. At least the sink is empty now and unblocked which is a great improvement. Next task was the chest of drawers up here. There’s a screw retainer missing from one of the sides and so the drawers were dropping out of the runners. I emptied that, turned it upside-down to see what was needed and then fixed that.

After lunch, I emptied a couple of boxes out of Caliburn and dealt with those and seeing as I was in a good mood and having done a good day’s work I treated myself to a film. The Cannonball Run is 90 minutes of mindless mayhem but it’s a film that I can sit and watch time and time again, simply for the fact that it’s clear to see that the actors involved, and good actors too, are thoroughly enjoying themselves making it. As well as that, though, I keep a little database of film quotes and this film has contributed more one-liners to my database than any other film that I’ve ever seen. Who can forget immortal phrases such as “You wouldn’t last five minutes in a New York subway” or “It takes brilliance and years of hard work, and you wouldn’t understand any of that”.

Anyway, it’s beddie byes time now. See you all tomorrow

Tuesday 2nd July 2013 – *@ç#%§µ ¤£&€ù+§ cheap flaming useless tools!!!

damaged arbour sds dtill les guis virlet puy de dome franceThat’s the arbour off the core drill kit that I bought (and spent a lot of money on) 18 months or so ago. The drill end is totally burnt out.

What’s been happening here is that the arbour has not been a precise fit in the chuck of the SDS drill. With the 4 hours of constant pounding that it received yesterday, the percussion effect of the play slowly but surely enlarged the groove in the arbour until it burnt through.

Mind you, as I said yesterday, the impressive thing about this is that everything else – the inverter, the batteries, the wiring, even the LIDL drill, stood up to everything that I could throw at it.

I expected loads of other things to burn out before the arbour would give way.

And it took me hours to dismantle the SDS drill too before I could extract the arbour, and I can tell you absolutely everything about how an SDS drill works now because I’ve seen it first-hand.

Anyway, once I’d freed the arbour I cleaned and greased everything and then reassembled it.

I’m not sure how the automotive circlip will stand up to the pounding but then that would be hammered to death in the con-rods and pistons anyway with much more force than an SDS drill so it should be okay.

rail cascading off verandah roof les guis virlet puy de dome franceTook hours, as I said, and it didn’t make any difference to my work programme because I couldn’t have drilled anything anyway.

Look at the rain cascading off the verandah roof. We had the most amazing tropical thunderstorm, as you can see.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen rain like we had this afternoon although believe me, we have had some here for sure in the past as you know.

Not much good for working in but impressive all the same. And for a while there was no solar energy getting through at all. No chance of doing any drilling today of course, but there is still plenty of work to be going in with.

Later on in the afternoon I did manage to get into the shower room. I started cutting and shaping the horizontal supports for the stud wall between the shower room and the bedroom.

I cut and shaped four of them before I ran out of demi-chevron (and I wasn’t going outside for another one in that weather) and I managed to screw one of them in place before the batteries in the Ryobi Plus One drill and screwdriver went flat.

It just wasnt my day at all.

Mind you, it was 19:40 when I finished off so I suppose it was time enough. But I need to get cracking tomorrow.

I’m wasting far too much time and I don’t have too much to spare.

Monday 24th June 2013 – I HAD ANOTHER …

… vivid dream last night, and I remember telling Cécile about it when I woke up. But 5 minutes later it had gone completely out of my head and Cécile hadn’t been paying too much attention to it anyway, so that’s one that got away.

After breakfast I went to Marcillat en Combraille and recorded my Radio Anglais rock music programmes for Radio Tartasse – and have I got a belter of a live concert for the month of August – but more of that in due course.

I was able to harvest a pile of radio programmes to put on the net, and then Liz and I did another series of radio programmes in the “Radio Anglais” series.

However, we have a minor hitch – I forgot all about “On The Beach” and we ended up starting “identity controls”, and so we are now all out of synch. Ahh well …

Back at Liz’s I gave Terry a hand to fit some of the windows into his new extension, and then we attacked the left-over pasta from yesterday.

Down at Gerzat we recorded another 4 programmes for the Radio Arverne version of “Radio Anglais” and then Bernard arranged for all of the outstanding programmes held there to be copied onto my memory stick.

But here’s an issue – his main computer wouldn’t recognise the stick. It seems, after investigation, that it’s formatted in RAW data and not in NTFS (or in FAT 32 either) and so we had to do a few manipulations in order to get the data onto it.

Once I’ve taken the data off, I’ll have to reformat it all into FAT 32 or something.

I gave Terry another hand back at Liz’s and then came back here to help Cécile carry on sanding down her ceiling. One of these days I might even be able to make a start on my house, and won’t that be nice?

And talking of working on my house, Liz gave me a tub of really vicious weedkiller – something like the commercial variety of Agent Orange.

I’ve been trying to avoid using weedkiller at any price on my land but I just can’t cope with the weeds and so on.

There are some parts of my land that will be under black plastic sheeting and gravel or even tiles (looking at that lovely lot of tiles that Terry used on his new patio) and so, regrettable as it might be, I’m afraid that that is exactly what will be happening tomorrow morning, if the bad weather holds off.