Sunday, 7 February 2016

A short walk

I was feeling a bit in need of some excercise, so I took a short walk outside between showers, to the village.

There's an air of Spring, with Primroses and Camelia both in flower.

The river is flowing fast, with the sluice gates open at all the little dams, it's intended to clear silt from the river, apparently, and help with fish migration.   The trees are budding out already, which gives them a purple haze, and the catkins are on display too.

I quite liked this woodstack - very neat, all the logs the same length too.  I wonder what they did with the short leftover bits?  The tin roof is tied down, so shouldn't blow away.  Some neat raised beds too, look carefully made and tended.  The maker has raised them a bit higher than I make mine, and I like the way he has joined the semi-round planks that make the sides.

Some animals on the way.  This is the ex-mayor's donkey, in a field with some little black sheep to keep him company.  He will come over to you if he sees you  picking the juicy grass just out of his reach on the other side of the fence.   And this bull struck me as not the kind to be taking any crap.

This sturdy bridge replaces an old rickety one that I crossed once.  It had rotten wood, gaps in the planks and a handrail that would give if you lent on it, so the new one is a great improvement.  The view back towards the village from the far side of the bridge is sort of rustic and peaceful.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Some time around January 2015 I bought an electric jack-hammer, for the bargain price of 215 euros. It came with two drill bits; a sharp pick, and a chisel.   The chisel is no wider than the shaft that attaches it to the hammer, and at the time I thought it would be a good idea to get a bit with a wider edge, for cutting into things like tree roots.

I spotted one in our local DIY warehouse Leroy Merlin, the right size for the jack-hammer, but if memory serves, it was priced at about 120 euros, that is more than half what I paid for the whole jack-hammer with two bits.  The price was not inconsistent with what you could pay on Amazon, but since I wasn't cutting tree roots at the time, I left it.

Well there we were in the shop the other day, and the chisel bit was in the clearance sale, 30 euro, marked down from €105, according to the tag.  That's more like it.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Local restaurant

The Restaurant Le Canyon is just down the road from us, and as part of a big renovation / museum construction project, it has been moved into the old mill.  It opened in these new premises yesterday and we, along with a bunch of other people, went down to check it out.

The restaurant is on two floors, the upstairs being one large room, the downstairs includes the toilets and the kitchen as well as a smaller eating area.  The decor is well done, and I liked the hat tip towards the cave paintings, in the form of cut metal representations of the horses there.  The atmosphere in the downstairs part is reminiscent of an English tea room, which is perhaps appropriate for a facility that is intended as an adjunct to a museum.

The chef, Jean-Claude is very pleased with the new kitchen; he says it's ideal for a single person cooking, and he advised personally on its layout and equipment.

The tenant Luigi and everyone else is delighted to see the restaurant featured, on the front page, no less, of a review in Paris Match, of the gastronomy of Le Pays de La Loire.

And of course, when you're not enjoying the gastronomy of the Restaurant Le Canyon, you can enjoy the scenery.  It's a bit dull at the moment, but then we are in February.  The river is running fast, but in no danger of flooding, and the catkins are out already on the Hazelnuts.  The french for catkin is chaton, the same word as for kitten, and I wonder if catkin is an ancient English word for kitten.

On our way down to the restaurant we met our neighbour Jean-Claude and his wife Francoise, and we lunched together.  We all had steak and chips.  Bon appetit!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Note to self

Don't put Cuprinol on planks of wood in the conservatory, cos it stinks out the house.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


The garden cloche is a glass or plastic covering, placed over plants to protect them from harsh weather, usually frosts.  The word comes from the french for bell, since they used to be bell-shaped. Originally, they were made of glass, and placed individually over the plants.  You can also get opaque ones for forcing plants such as rhubarb.

Cloches can cost a lot, especially in relation to the value of the plants they are protecting.  I once saw some excellent cloches, made from terracotta, designed for forcing rhubarb.  Lovely they were, but at about 55 quid each, I figured you can buy a awful lot of rhubarb for that.

My Dad used to make cloches from rectangles of salvaged glass that were placed to form a triangular tent over the plants, lines of them used to cover planted rows of seeds or seedlings.  I don't happen to have any suitable glass, but I can get transparent corrugated plastic fairly cheaply.   A sheet 2.5 metre by 0.9m costs about 15 euros.  I got two, here they are being a cloche.  I need to get some flat transparent plastic to cover the ends; my wife has some suitable perspex that I can cut to size.

Just under 5 metres of cloche, 30 euros.  Nay bad.  Sturdy, and stores flat too, when not in use.

As an optional enhancement, I might try using the bendy green poles, suitably shortened, to hold them in place instead of the rustic-effect sticks.

Monday, 18 January 2016

First snow

There was just a light dusting on the ground this morning, but snow has been falling continuously since breakfast, and with increasing intensity.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Goodmill hunting

We are looking for a water mill to buy, with the intention of retiring to a life less hectic, and generating our own electricity, amonst other things.   We went to look at a mill not far away, at Auvers-le-Hamon.   Since it is described in the blurb as having a generator capable of heating the place in Winter, we were intrigued.

It has a proper water wheel, fixed to a gear chain capable of turning a generator at reasonably high speed.  The proprietor told us that it could generate about 15KW, a figure that seems about right to me.  The generator was no longer in place, since it had fried at some time in the past, and the water wheel wasn't turning because the flood water would make it turn too fast.

The mill is not for us; the land that would be the garden is too small and it can flood, although the mill house itself, however, is high up enough to avoid this problem.  The controls for the water supply to the wheel are situated across a road, which is a pain to get to, and the house is, to be honest, too big.

There is a viewing window so you can see the wheel from the living room, and I liked the timberwork in the roof space.

I thought the house looked ugly in the ads, but it wasn't too bad in real life.   It has an access for canoeists to the main river from the millpond, (via the tunnel), although I think the water is too high for that to be passable at the moment.

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