Tuesday 31 May 2016


I'm embracing my inner nerd.   I may be some time....

Monday 30 May 2016

Up a ladder

My cat likes ladders.  I had one up against the wall today, to work on a lamp, and the cat noticed it as he walked past.  Once I had gone up it and come back down, he waited until I was out of sight to climb it.

Thursday 26 May 2016

Did I mention Iris?

This one's called Belle de Nuit

Monday 23 May 2016

I went for a walk....

... and saw for the first time, a shiny new wooden bridge or walkway, over an area where the river, rising in Winter, washes away the earth.  You can see, looking at the rocks under the bridge, that this used to make the path an ankle-turning nightmare; this bridge will make things easier.

A bit farther along the path, this simple red rose was beginning to see the light of day, and as I passed, a blue tit flitted into the the hole in the wall behind this wooden wheel, and flitted out again a few seconds later.  I'd not have figured a hole in the wall as a nesting place for blue tits, but there you go.

This horse was sharing a field with some cows, and passing the time by scratching itself against a fence post.  Now I don't know much about horses, but this one doesn't look like a racer to me.  More like it would be happier pulling something heavy, not that I've seen any evidence of horse-drawn ploughs or the like around here.

The fancy new public toilets in the valley look like they're nearly finished.  The museum building that is being built in the old restaurant building, looks like it will be attractive too; more of that later in its own post.

Finally, back up the hill to home and garden.  The Iris are a joy at this time of year.

Thursday 19 May 2016

Garden update

We had a very mild Winter, and some of the plants that I thought would die, made it through to the Spring.   I have saved some seeds of this shrimp-like blue Cerinthe from last year, but I don't have to plant them, as these self-seeded ones made it through.   These Madia, that will flower later with yellow daisy-like flowers that curl up in the hot sun, have also made it through.  I had thought that the slightest frost would kill them.  They should be safe now, since the cold weather, including frosts, should be over (touch wood).

I'm very pleased with the colour of this little broom plant that I bought last year.  I put it behind the Aubretia, in the hope that the blue/purple colour would match, and it does.  Now I just have to wait for it to get bigger.   And the Iris are starting to flower nicely.  Here's one of my favourites.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Viper attack

Our cat came in last Sunday afternoon, making even more noise than usual.  On inspection it turned out that his rear right paw was very swollen, so we suspected a snake bite.  We called up the vet's office, on the sunday of a bank holiday weekend, and got an immediate response.  We explained the situation and the vet said he would see us at his office as soon as we could get there.

The very unhappy cat got his leg shaved, revealing several puncture wounds, and ended up on the recieving end of several jabs.  We left the vet's with instructions to keep a close eye on him, call immediately if he got worse, and otherwise bring him in on Tuesday for a checkup.  The cat spent the rest of the day and the following night curled up on a sofa, not moving.

I didn't realise but Vipers can kill cows.  They tend to bite the neck, which is a bit close to the heart for comfort, but also, a necrosis can set in and spread.   We have to watch out for signs of this (paw swelling again) in the cat.

The bill? 80 euro for two visits including an emergency call-in on a bank holiday weekend.  Not bad.

Friday 13 May 2016

Fast food

I'm finding that buying traditional "fast food" is getting a bit irritating these days.   Not that I especially mind dealing with an automatic vending machine, it's just that I keep having to tell it that I don't want any of the extra options that it keeps presenting.  I keep wanting to tell it to eff off.  Grumpy Old Man index is approaching 85% and rising.

Bill Bryson put it funnier in his book about Little Dribbling.  Something like "Would you like me to tell you all the things that I don't want with my burger and fries?  It's a long list: it's everything you sell except burger and fries".

But there was a bit of a giggle in the Laval KFC today.   One of the vending machines was representing the products on offer as shown in the photo below.

I'm wondering where I should insert my system disk, and whether my credit card would work as one.   And incidentally, the dog-eared notice on the bottom right of the photo tells customers that if they want any of the special offers, they have to ask at the desk.  (Because, presumably, the computer doesn't know about them.)  Methinks some IT  enhancement could be in order.

Friday 6 May 2016

Life's little irritations

This is the key for our Renault Espace.  It's credit-card-sized in area, but is about 6.5mm thick.  What's annoying about it?  It doesn't fit on a key ring.

That little hole at one end might look like it could be used for attaching a key ring, but that's the end that goes into the slot in the car.  And being credit-card-sized, you might figure that you could keep it in your wallet, but I did that at first and the key lasted about a year before all the stresses and strains that my wallet suffers in daily use (I imagine), caused it to fail.

So now it lives a life detached from my key ring, and at any given time, I know where all my keys are except the one for Espace.  Which gives rise to conversations like:

     "Have you seen my Espace key?"
     "No, you had it last, you drove to the shops"
     "I'm sure it was on the hall table"
     "No, that was last week."
     "Are you sure you haven't picked it up by mistake"...

and so on, followed by a house-wide search, every time I want to take the effing thing out.   I will not buy another car whose key doesn't fit on a key ring.

....... now I must remember that the key is in the scanner.

More work in progress

The bed by the car park entrance is developing.  I got a big heap of earth delivered the other day, now I need to spread it about the cleared area using my trusty wheelbarrow.   My shovel didn't survive the task, and has gone to that great recycling bin in the sky.

The heap of soil is a bit smaller by now, since I have spread some of it over the cleared area.  Meanwhile I have found some interesting bits of iron as I have been digging - any idea what they are?

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Cultural appropriation

It's a funny term, cultural appropriation.

To start with, the word "appropriation" implies that something has been taken from its original owner, thus depriving them of its use.   The use of force or other coercion is implied and it's therefore generally considered to be an undesirable thing to do.

The term "cultural appropriation", however, is used in the context of observing a different culture, and incorporating those aspects that you like into your own.  No force, or theft is involved, and the act is voluntary.  The donor culture loses nothing except whatever exclusivity it might have had to the idea.  The word "appropriation" is inaccurate.

There are countless examples of course, but the one that springs to mind is the near-universal adoption of the Arabic numerals 1,2,3... that replaced the Roman ones.  The Arabic system is more concise and lends itself much better to arithmetic and maths; where would we be without it?

Yet there are some people who argue, for example, that one is obliged to immerse oneself in the history of the Chinese nation before having the right to pop out for a Chinese take-away.  Or that white people shouldn't wear dreadlocks.  Lunacy.  Sorry, kids, you have to learn the history of the Middle East before you can learn to write numbers and do maths.

Anyway, here's a bit of cultural appropriation that tickled my fancy.  Rillettes are a traditional food associated with Le Mans, and made, I believe, by prolonged boiling of meat.  Thai style?  Actually I enjoyed them, but they're not what I would describe as Thai.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Work in progress

There's an area of garden I'm working on at the moment.  I've been putting it off, to be honest, since it represents a lot of work.  On the other hand, it's important, because it's one of the first parts of the garden that gîte guests see when they arrive.  And I haven't done anything with it in the ten years we've been here, so since we have a bit of time with no clients, it was time to set about it.

The first thing to do is to clear it of weeds.  I sprayed it all on a calm day, and left it for a week or so.  I estimate the area to be about 120 square metres, so I figure that if I clear 4 square metres per day, I can do the whole area in a month - longer if I take into account rainy days, or days when I have other appointments to keep.

After a few days, it's starting to look like I'm working on it.   I'm building a wall around it with the stones that I uncover.

Right now, the space is about half-done.  It's inevitable when working on an area like this, that one disturbs the occasional wild animal (and that's a reason I don't like to do it with great mechanical engines).  This female green lizard came to warm up in the sun beside my wheelbarrow, and I rescued a hiberbating slow-worm too.

I have surrounded with shreddings, the smoke tree I planted ages ago, and put some stones around an inspection cover for some underground conduits, to keep the dirt off.

I reckon I can order some good quality topsoil now, and spread it over the cleared area.   I ordered 12 cubic metres.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...