Wednesday, 21 July 2021

The Bistrot

Our village has a bistrot, it's right in the centre of the village, opposite the church.    When we arrived here it was not in use, but it has since opened, serving a locally-brewed beer, and it's staffed by volunteers.   A very fine establishment.

I'm the volunteer server on Tuesday evenings, an activity I have recently started.   It gives me an opportunity to meet the locals, shoot the breeze, etc.   We sit out on the terrace and enjoy a beer as the evening cools down.

There's enough being debated on the current disease outbreak; I don't need to rehash it here.   But I will not be party to any mandating of vax passports that I can possibly avoid.   So if, from the 1st August, as currently mooted by our leader, I would have to demand such a document from the clients, I won't be volunteering any more.

How far to take this?   If I am required to demand it for gîte customers I probably don't have much choice.  But if the end-of-year concerts given by the harmony orchestras that I play in will demand it?   I should probably stop playing.

Given that égalité is a prized part of the French constiution, I am hoping that a vax passport would be declared unconstiutional.  I wouldn't bet on it though.

There's a free concert tonight in Evron.  You have to reserve your place so I phoned up the local tourist office to do so.   Good - no problem with availability.   I was able to assure the lady that yes, I do have the vax certificate and identity card that will be required of me in order to get in.

Shit, it's started.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Veg update

The tomatoes have been a complete failure this year.  The wet, cool weather did them in, they got blight.  The situation was not helped by the fact that I planted marigolds along the rows to keep the bugs off.  But I got the seeds mixed up and planted tall African marigolds instead of the short French ones.  The result:  The tomato foliage peeking above the marigolds looked fine, but the bases in the stagnant air were thoroughly rotted, so I had to take them all out.  I've sprayed the potatoes with a copper fungicide (bouilli bordelaise) in the hope that they will stay clear of it.

I planted florence fennel, and have had some good plants.  However, the good ones are coming from randomly-scattered self-seedings, not the ones I planted.  Oh well, they taste good.

If you leave a courgette for a day or so without noticing it, you get a marrow.   You can't take your eyes off them for a moment.

The French beans (purple variety) have been a great success; they must have loved the weather.   I only planted three one-metre-long rows, and I have been picking enough for two servings, every day for the last several weeks.   There's a lot still in the freezer, and plenty more on the plants

Potatoes didn"t do especially well.   I have a crop, but mostly small ones.  I'm hoping that if I leave the plants alone they will get bigger, but the foliage is starting to die back.

I have good beet root and plenty of carrots.  

I planted climbing French beans alongside the sweet corn when that latter was bout 6 inches high.  4 beans per corn if I remember rightly.   The beans are now weighing down the corn leaves, but I am hoping the corn will produce as normal.  No beans yet from those plants.

Looking forward, the squash look like they will be productive come the Autumn, the parsnips are growing well, and maybe I will get some green peppers.  The aubergines in the greenhouse look like they will produce too, not sure about the ones outside.

One lives and learns.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Today's walk

A swift walk in the valley and back via Saulges.   This butterfly was distractedly supping from the blackberry flower so I was able to get quite close.

This signpost is at the entrance to a long driveway leading to a home that is an ex-mill on the river.   It's asking people to keep to the footpath on the other side of the river, in a polite and friendly manner, but personally I think it would be more effective in blood-red paint, with dribbles running down.

There's a massive horse in this field, along with some cows.  I think the owner has had some problems with tourists.

(For her health, please don't feed my horse ("Valda") bread or cake, but you can stroke her.)

Friday, 9 July 2021

Lilly the Pink

Imagine that you're a doctor, and you're presented with some cases of a new, nasty lurgy.  So nasty that it kills about 8 out of ten people you see with it (you only see the serious cases).   You're pretty desparate to find something that will cure it, or at least reduce the death rate, and you recall that Medicinal Compound was efficatious in a similar outbreak in the past.   MC also has the advantages that it's cheap, its toxicity is known to be close to zero in the correct dose, and it has been widely used for years.

So you call up Pink Lilly Pharmaceuticals, and order a batch of Medicinal Compound, and try it out.  And behold, out of the next ten patients that you see, only 3 die instead of 8.   The question is: what do you do now?  

There are many options available to you, of course, and you must realise that all you have to offer right now is "anecdotal evidence".   If you are a normal human being, you will probably continue to use MC to see if your result is just a fluke.   You might phone up some colleagues elsewhere in the country or in the world, to tell them about your results and find out if they also might have tried it, and with what outcome.   Only if your conversations convince you that MC is inefficatious would you think about stopping using it, and then only maybe.

What you probably won't do is stop using Medicinal Compound until a randomised double-blind trial proves that it is efficatious (or not) in these cases.   You might even question the morality of giving people a placebo in such a trial, given the success you have had with MC.

What you also wouldn't do is stop using Medicinal Compound while you scrabble around looking to find or develop a new, expensive treatment of unknown toxicity and side-effects to inflict on all of your patients.   Why on Earth would you do that?

What you also wouldn't do is organise a limited trial in which you give potentially toxic overdoses of MC to people who are seriously ill with the lurgy, at a stage of the disease when MC is known not to work, find out that they die, and then proclaim that MC doesn't work.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

The plastic cabinet

We got a new small cabinet for the gîte kitchen, for storing odds and ends.   It comes in kit form, it's like Ikea on steroids.

The instructions are clear enough, but you have to look at all the fine details of the drawings to get it right.  All the information is there, but you can't lose concentration for a second.  I put one of the door edges on the wrong way around (easily fixed), and I put the screws for one end of one handle in the wrong place through the door (small, permanent holes in the front).   However, the final effect is pretty reasonable.   I'd be happy to buy more of this kind of thing.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

I've got a trike,

You can ride it if you like, it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things that make it easy to ride and to transport.

I have had a bike for as long as I can remember.   Strictly speaking, my first bike was a trike, it was red and had just one gear.   I graduated to two-wheeled locomotion in the fullness of time and a bike was my main transport until I graduated from university.   Riding a bike is second nature to me.

This is not true for Anita, who learned to ride as an adult and has never felt quite so much at ease as I do.   And since she has had two hip replacements, falling off a bike is more dangerous than it used to be.    So we got her a trike.   It's not impossible to fall off a trike, but it's much more difficult.   And stopping and setting off is much easier since it stays upright.    

We like to ride together along the pathways both locally and when away on holiday, so this is an investment in holiday activities.   I have ridden it.  It takes some getting used to after a bike, but this is just a matter of familiarity.   We'll be having little sorties locally in preparation for longer trips as confidence builds.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Monday garden

We came back home on Monday, we chose not to take the option of breakfast in the hotel, and so we set off looking for something to eat.   We were a bit early.   

When I used to organise business meetings in London, I would arrange them for 9 o'clock.   It was my pleasure to get up early, hit the road at about 6.30 and I could be in central London in less than an hour.   There was never any traffic.   I'd park up, find a restaurant and have a toasted bacon sandwich with coffee, and watch the city wake up as I planned the meeting and enjoyed breakfast.  Walking around the empty St Malo streets at 8.00 on Monday morning reminded me of that.

We found a place eventually, and after a slow start we set off for the Parc Botanique de Haute Bretagne.  What a garden!   We got there at lunchtime so we ate at the little on-site restaurant that was really excellent - the kind of delight that you can sometines find in little corners of France.   And the garden is spectacular, perhaps the best one I have seen.  Worth a visit for anyone who has the slightest interest in gardens.   And only an hour away from our place.  To re-visit.

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