Monday 28 May 2018

First ever

These are the first cherries we have managed to harvest from our tree.  Normally the birds get there first, but this year there is so much fruit that the birds can't possibly eat them all.

Life is ...

Sunday 27 May 2018

Stormy weather

The hot weather of late led to a very short, sharp thunderstorm last night.  We were catering for guests in our all-electric kitchen when the power went out shortly after we saw the first lightning.  We were lucky - other people not far away had a 5-hour power cut, but we got ours back after about 40 minutes.

In the mean time we were running about rescuing the parasols and outdoor tables and chairs from the awsome gusts of wind - the strongest that we have experienced here.  For the most part there was no harm done.  Our guests got ther meal on time, and nothing relating to the gîte got broken.

The greenhouse was not so lucky, but the aubergine seedlings survived.

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Old and new tech

Having a large gîte means that we have a lot of space to clean, and that includes vacuuming.  The old vacuum cleaner is effective but unwieldy.  It was not expensive, it sucks like crazy and you can use it for water too (though remember to take the bag out first, else it gets soggy and splits).  But it's awkward.  The cable is long, but still manages to get pulled out of the wall socket after it has wrapped itself around the body of the cleaner a few times.   And although the cleaner has wheels, it gets stuck behind bits of furniture when you try to pull it along.  And it knocks the chairs off the tables when I clean the dining room floor.

The adverts for the Dyson battery-powered cyclonic vacuum cleaner have impinged on my awareness recently.  With the new brushless motors and lithium ion batteries and compact form, they overcome most of the problems associated with the old machine.  We thought in principle we would get one.

We happened into our local supermarket and they had various of these types of cleaners on sale, inlcuding this Rowenta brand one on special offer.  Always fatal.  We got it, and I have to say I'm impressed.  Not just because it cleans well, which it does, but also because the design has been well thought out.

The suction unit itself can be used independently, and there's a little brush on the end of the suction tube to help.  You don't have to take this brush off to attach the extension, that also has a similar brush if you need it.  The detatchable motorised head brush works on both hard floors and carpets so you don't have to keep changing it over, and it has a little clip that allows you to get inside easily to clean it.  There is even a little groove in the roller so you can easily run scissors along it to cut the hair and threads that get twisted up in it.  You empty the dust collector by holding the thing over a bin, and pulling up on a lever.

There's a cylindrical sponge-like filter that you have to rince clean under a tap after a week's use, and then dry out for a day or so.  But two are provided so the cleaner doesn't have to be out of action.

It is labelled with a ten-year repairable guarantee - sounds good, I don't like planned obsolescence.  Battery life seems to be up to what we need (20 minutes is quoted).  And about 2/3 normal price - cheaper than Amazon.   I'm impressed.

Thursday 17 May 2018

BBC wildlife photography: hares

I was driving along the road that leads to our house the other day, and there were a couple of hares in the field, right beside the road.  I stopped the car beside them, just a few feet away, and got my phone out to photograph them.  It doesn't take long to get to the camera function, but it wasn't fast enough.  They ran away.  Here's a photo of them running away.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Not a molehill

There's at least one mole in the garden now, throwing up occasional little heaps of reddish soil.  I thought I saw a new molehill this morning, but then it moved.  My eyes aren't up to much these days.

Monday 7 May 2018

Spring clearout

We're now in full Springtime mode, with warmer weather (sometimes) and flowers everywhere.  It's also time for the Spring clearout which means selling your stuff at car boot sales (vide greniers; empty lofts in French).  The biggest one in the whole of Mayenne was at Montigné le Brillant last weekend, so we went to this one, and then on to another at Montsurs.  It was hot: 26 degrees in the shade, and most stallholders had sunshades up, and walking around was warm work.  This poor bear must be sweltering in the heat, wearing that black fur coat.

The idea of emptying lofts is great, of course, but it results, potentially in my buying more clutter for my own place.  These car boots were no exception, but the haul was rather unusual for me.  I came across a fine pair of leather shoes, new condition (never worn I think) that happened to fit.  I'm getting a bit tired of my daily uniform of trainers, jeans and T-shirt, so the idea of some different shoes at only €10 a pair appealed.  I bought the two pairs on offer.

I'm usually on the lookout for audio equipment, especially rack-mounted, for use in a sound studio.  My system is in bits at the moment, for want of time and space (and a computer), but there's no harm in buying useful stuff if it presents itself.  Here's a nice little amplifier, of ye olde transistorised design, class A/B, 100 watts per channel, analogue power supply.  It called out to me.  25 euro.  I tested it with some decent speakers and a good source, it sounds remarkably good for what it is.  That'll come in handy.  Honest.  And a couple of CDs to add to the collection, why not?

P.S.  I also noticed the following, that amused me:  "Epilator for sale, used once".
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