Saturday 6 October 2018


My neighbour Louis has a smallholding, and keeps sheep.  He gave me a big trailer-full of sheep manure this springtime, and I planted squashes and melons on it.  I got a decent harvest too, and I gave some to Louis.

Yesterday I collected a couple of loads of manure, and started spreading it on the veg patch, ready for Springtime planting.  We have had a very dry year here, after a very wet start to the season.   I have a well, so I was able to keep things going, but the ground is hard, and I can't dig up the potatoes that are still in the ground.

I got good crops of tomatoes, and the shallots and garlic did well, onions less so.  Plenty of squash (thanks to Louis) and French beans.  Enough potatoes too.   Runner beans were a failure; plenty of flowers but few beans, and I was disappinted by the sweet corn - I found it hard to pick it at the right time, and it came out a bit chewy and not especially sweet.  The best cob I had was the first one I picked, and that I ate raw - very sweet and juicy.  The blackbirds got most of the gooseberries, as usual.

Incidentally, Louis has some crocus flowering.  I don't know if there are Autumn flowering crocus, or they are normal Spring ones, confused by our strange weather.

Tuesday 2 October 2018

New norms and standards

A change in the standard for electrical mains plugs sockets in Europe has crept up on me.  I didn't notice until I tried to push a plug into a socket and it wouldn't go.

A few months ago my PC got fried by a lightning strike, so I had to buy a new one.  The old PC was a laptop with its own batteries; the new one is a Dell all-in-one design (with the computer's workings mounted behind the screen, like a telly), that doesn't have a battery.  One of the first things that the new PC did was insist on a BIOS upgrade, and you don't want the power to cut off while that is happening.   We get power cuts often enough that I sweated for a few minutes while the upgrade went ahead, and so I decided to solve the problem with a UPS.

A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply, or French: un onduleur) cuts in when the mains power cuts out, and supplies enough power from its internal battery, for long enough to allow you to shut down the PC.  I bought one, plugged it in, charged it up, connected the PC to it, fired up the PC, then unplugged the UPS from the wall socket.  The UPS kicked in, the PC carried on as if nothing had happened, so all was well.

Then I tried to plug in a different mains cable, and it wouldn't go.  Turns out that there is a new standard FR/SCHUKO that applies to mains plugs and sockets.  The system is backwards compatible in that new plugs will go into old-style sockets, but old plugs won't go into new sockets.  The old style sockets have an earth pin that sticks out, so that the first thing you touch if you touch anything at all is the earth.   Double-insulated devices that don't need an earth connection just use a slim plug that avoids the earth pin.

The new sockets dispense with the earth pin and have a pair of sprung contacts that go down the side instead.  It's these contacts that prevent the old style plugs going into the sockets.

Apparently, it's about safety, but I'm not convinced.

Monday 1 October 2018

The 135-year celebration

Mr & Mrs Oger run the Hotel du Commerce in Vaiges.  Mr Oger is the chef and runs the kitchen, Mrs Oger keeps front of house.  We have reason to be grateful to them; they introduced the Morgan Owners' Club to us, who have stayed with us on numerous occasions.  Their hotel has been in the family for 5 generations now, and the time had come for a serious celebration of this fact.

Coincidentally, Mr Oger had re-established a friendship from his youth with another chef, Jean-Luc Boulay, who is native to this area; they did some of their apprenticeships together at the same restaurant in St Pïerre des Nids.  Life took them in different directions.  Mr Oger took over the Hotel du Commerce, and Mr Boulay, on hearing that they were short of chefs for the Olympics in Quebec (1976?), bought himself a one-way ticket to Canada, met a Canadian girl, and stayed.  He runs a restaurant there, and is a well-known "celebrity" chef.  They met again at a cooking course in Paris.

The form of celebration was, unsurprisingly, a special dinner, prepared jointly by Mr Oger, and M Boulay who had come over specially for the event.  Two dinners, in fact (Friday and Saturday evenings), preceded by a display and sampling of the local products to be used in preparing the meals.  It was a celebration of French and Canadian cooking styles, most courses being served in the two corresponding styles.  6 courses, plus coffee - Delicious.  A fitting celebration of food preparation, friendship, and long-term service to the public.

Mrs Oger confided to us that she had been concerned about filling all the tables; the Mayenne is not known for its gourmets.   But on the night we were there, she had (if I recall correctly) More than 115 people against a minimum needed of 90, so she was happy.   So were we.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...