Tuesday 31 December 2019

Saturday 28 December 2019

Antenna alert

I have a mobile phone but I don't usually have it turned on at home since there is only a weak signal; it's just about OK for text messages but not so good for voice.   It's only useful when I go out.

We have been promised a new mobile antenna installation for some time now, to improve network coverage in the village.  It was supposed to be installed in September, but there was a bit of controversy over its placement - someone didn't want it at the end of their drive.

Well, it's now in place.  The antenna that is - it's not connected to the mobile network yet, and we're told that that can take up to six months.  I asked our mayor if we couldn't have told Orange six months ago, that there would be an antenna that would need connecting in six months' time.  I got a gallic shrug.

I'm not sure if it's in line of sight with the house here - there are trees in the way.  If it's not, we're just a few metres below an undulation in the ground.  I'm hoping for decent reception.

Friday 27 December 2019

Christmas cactus

Actually flowering at Christmas.  I think that's a first.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Rising waters

Over the 12 years or so that we've been here, we've seen an increase in summer droughts and winter rains.   It could be a short-term thing, or not.   At the moment, the river just down the road is quite high, but it has not yet flooded.  I have seen it cover the road before now.

The people who run the restaurant down there are a bit worried.  The water level is dropping now, it's about two feet lower that it was yesterday, but if we get another good storm, that will change.

The mill up the road looks a bit precarious too...

Thursday 19 December 2019

Flowering spikes

When my friend gave me the orchid, he suggested I keep it outside in the Summer to stop it getting too hot in my conservatory, and bring it in for the Winter.   I didn't take it outside the first year, but it didn't seem to suffer any - I got four flower spikes off it around January.

The subsequent year I put it out, and was rewarded with an extra spike of flowers; five last year.

This year, after the same process, I have seven flower spikes; Three are out now, two will follow shortly after and two more are in the early stages.   I'm not counting my chickens, but experience tells me I should get a long flowering period.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Light and lumière

We're back from England, following the traditional pre-Christmas trip to visit friends and family.  A nasty cold put a bit of a damper on things, but didn't prevent us from enjoying seeing everyone.   I was dead impressed with the brother-in-law's VR setup.  He uses it for car racing, but showed me what it could do with flight simulation.  Very fine.  I could even drive the cars, much better that when I tried on the old screen-based system.

Our friends in Wimbledon were in fine form, and introduced us to The Giggling quid, an excellent Thai restaurant there.  We also saw the BBC programme The Repair Shop, that struck us as a nice programme, a bit like Antiques Roadshow in its connections between people and objects.

We visited the Christmas at Kew light show.  They illuminate trees and areas with different light displays, some static, some changing.   You walk along a defined walkway between the different displays, and it was very impressive.  Definitely worth a visit, and we were lucky in that it was cold, but not windy or raining.   I bought some chilli seeds for the B-I-L.

Once back in France, it was time for the traditional festive lights in Laval.  The town is decorated, and you just wander about looking at the lights.  Again cold, but with a bit of rain on and off.

A different style but effective, all the same.

Monday 16 December 2019


We have been devoid of cats around here since the death of our Minuit in September.   Nature and (especially) cats, abhor a vacuum, so predictably, in a short time, another cat presented itself for adoption.   We weren't ready for another cat, so with some reluctance we fed it, and with more hope than expectation, announced its arrival, with a photo, on various local cats-lost-and-found facebook pages.

A castrated male, with an inflated belly that speaks of intestinal worms, he was friendly enough, could be picked up, preferred being outdoors, and ate like he was inhaling.   Unusual for black cats, he had white whiskers.   Quite distinctive.

 We were surprised to get a phone call from someone who said "My friend lost a cat like that one a couple of years ago, he will call you tomorrow morning".  And call he did, confirmed it was his cat, lost two years ago, and he came to get it.   He lived some 20Km away, probably much farther as the cat roams, and said his kids would be pleased.  They were so disappointed that their cat got lost, that they had to get another one.  I hope the two get on; if he turns up here again I guess we'll know they didn't.  He was called Atomique (as in kitten, I guess)

We had the oldies lunch in the village shortly after, and we passed the story on.  The oldies commented on how the internet had changed things, and how it used to be that you had to pay for an ad in a local paper, or a few surrounding newsagents, and hoped that someone would read your small ad.  I suppose they're right, I never thought of it that way.

Friday 6 December 2019


Our entrance gate is no longer symmetric.   The left-hand post and swinging gate are no longer in place, following a small difference of opinion with a car.  Not mine; it was the chef of the restaurant down the road, who knocked on our door and apologised for having failed to follow the road and negotiate the turn to the left a few yards in front of it.

Not to worry, these things get repaired, although his car might be a write-off, on account of the (partially concreted) stone wall right next to the post.  This also is not all quite where it used to be.

Monday 2 December 2019

Trees and plantings

We own the small field opposite our place, it's on the other side of the road.  I haven't done anything with it for about ten years and it is reverting to whatever would be its natural state.  Walnut trees seem to do well in this area, and numerous self-seeded ones are now growing there.   I have decided to do, in a small way, a little management of the area, and I have just finished planting 25 Hornbeam trees.

I chose small trees because, being small, they establish themselves very quickly, and often overtake initially larger trees planted at the same time.  They need less care, and they're also cheaper, at one euro each.  Hornbeams are said to prefer chalky soil, and resist drought, both of which are characteristic of the growing conditions around here.   If this lot do well, I will do the same thing next year.   I am hoping that, in time, the field will produce some firewood, but also that it will become a more natural woodland area.

There are so many stones in the ground that I dug out, that the trees are at a level a bit below the natural soil level.   I am hoping that this will result in them being better shaded by the surrounding grass, so they are less likely to dry out, and more likely to survive.

These two trees are in a different part of the same field.  The big one is a present from a friend, and I am pleased to see that the leaves are now gone.  The shedding of leaves is an active process on the part of the tree, and this proves that the tree is still alive.   The smaller tree is typical of the growth here of walnut seedlings.  Often, some creature, either a hare or perhaps a deer, nibbles the end of the single growing shoot, or takes the bark off it.   The tree then sprouts multiple side shoots, and eventually another leader emerges, protected from damage by the remaining shoots.

As I was coming back in after finishing the planting, a neighbour stopped by with his tractor.  He had been working on renewing some fence posts in a nearby field.   We commented on the brambles that have attached themselves to my fence over the past several years.  I had been planning to attack them with a blade on my strimmer.  He's going to clear them for me with his tractor.  Good plan.

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