Monday 23 May 2011

Even more belles chaises

Les Belles Chaises is a little village event that has been held for several successive years in the throbbing metropolis of St Pierre sur Erve. It's basically an excuse for a get-together, the central organising theme being decorated household chairs which are displayed in the village centre.

Here is a chair that has been creatively turned into a rocking-horse/car toy, much to the delight of my friend Christian.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Cart vitale

There is a drought across most of France, and although we don't have a hosepipe ban in the Mayenne yet, one will surely come. I don't yet have an electricity supply to my well, and using watering cans is hard work and time-consuming, so I have been looking for another watering solution that doesn't involve hosepipes.

I started with the idea of a wheeled water tank that I can fill up an then tow behind my lawn mower. Being a farming area, you can find a lot of used water bowsers for sale, but they are too big. Starting at 500 litres and built for rough use on farms, they weigh anything up to a ton when full. Much too big for my little mower.

I ended up with the concept of a number of jerry cans on a cart. I can pull the cart around with my mower, and load it up to capacity with cans. I can get empty plastic containers up the dump, so I am left with the problem of finding a trailer that I can tow. A new or used "proper" aluminium one would be a few hundred euros; overkill and too expensive for what I have in mind.

I was explaining this problem to my friend Christian in the coffee bar the other day, and it turns out that he has an old unused cart that should do the job. Great! Even better, I can have it for free! A bit of refurbishment and off we go.

Here it is! A good set of metal wheels and axle, the rest of it wood, some of it rotten.

Knock the floor out, take a good look at the chassis.

Cut the rotted ends of the chassis,

Replace the strut with a new one,

Make a new floor out of some old oak planks I happen to have lying around,

Some sides so the water containers don't slide off, and off we go!

Oops! Handle broke. Idea sound, execution failure. Must make a new handle....

Saturday 21 May 2011

Shingle beach

I can't really pretend that the water front at Warsash is pretty. It offers a grand view of Fawley oil refinery and the associated power station, and the big yachting marina at Hamble. The estuary is muddy and the beach is shingle. It doesn't even border on the Channel, but looks out onto the river Hamble and Southampton Water, and a bit of the Solent if you direct your view towards the Isle of Wight.

But I like it. It is full of activity; the boat yards, the school of navigation, the lifeboat training station, the little pink ferry that shuttles across the Hamble. And all the boats that go into Southampton pass here; there's always something going on.

Here's a few extra pictures of the area, and some of the plants you can find there.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Fish 'n chips at Warsash

Last weekend was spent in the South of England, visiting friends and relatives. I noticed two things: that the sales staff I encountered were helpful and polite, and that the food was excellent.

On the boat out I found some reading glasses for under a tenner, but I couldn't find a pair that I liked of the right power. So on the shopping trip in Fareham, I asked in the first glasses shop if they had any reading glasses for a tenner. "No, sorry, ours start at 25 pounds" But then the lady caught us up going out of the shop and listed all the other places in Fareham where cheap glasses might be found.

The young guy in Jessops who enthusiastically took me through the new Sony Nex-5 camera in some detail, even though I had explained that I wasn't going to buy that day.

And the guy in the fish 'n chip shop who made sure my chips had lashings of salt and vinegar on them, which is how I like them.

Now the only way to eat fish 'n chips is with your fingers, out of a newspaper, by the sea. I don't think they are allowed to sell them in newspaper any more, so ours were served in a sterile paper bag. But still, I enjoyed a bench on Warsash front, where I used to cycle, and superb fish 'n chips (and mushy peas), eaten with the fingers. And a stroll along the shingle beach afterwards, following the trail I used to walk with my bike, towards the cliffs that will eventually lead you to Titchfield marshes.

Friday 6 May 2011

Big moth

How big? This big!

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