Monday 23 March 2020

New tool

I got a new tool the other day, a battery-powered impact wrench in the Ryobi One+ 18 volt range.  It's one of the newer tools, with a brushless motor.   I'm not familiar with impact wrenches, not having used one before, so using it was a new experience for me.

I had to remove and replace a blunt mower blade from the sit-on mower, which is a job for which I normally use the big adjustable spanner.  With the spanner it's difficult.  I have to brace myself against the blade to stop it turning, then heave on the wrench with most of my strength. It usually comes off OK, but it's awkward.

I tried the impact wrench.  BZZZZZZT and the blade was off, didn't take one second.  I had to smile, I was impressed.

Thursday 19 March 2020

Garden development

It's at this time that I try to put the garden into shape for the rest of the year.  I have been working on the veg patch today.

The first task is a new raised bed to add to the existing ones.  I have always found it difficult to maintain a large area of veggies, but by dividing it into well-defined smaller beds, I find I can manage things better.  It's probably psychological.

The wood for the frame needs to be protected from rot, so I paint it with two coats of a tar-based preservative paint.  This seems to have worked well on the previous installations, and I had some of the paint left over from last year.  I had to add white spirit to get it to soften up, but once I did that, there was enough for two coats.  The frame is now ready to assemble and put out.

I also bought these smaller frames in kit form when a local garden centre was shutting down.  I wouldn't normally buy anything like this - the wood is a bit feeble, and the frame usually retails at about €25, if I remember correctly.  I figure that I could knock up a better one myself for the price of the wood.   These ones were under a tenner each on sale, so I bought the remaining stock of two.   They've been in the conservatory annoying Anita all Winter, so it was time to assemble them and put them outside.

I added rough compost from the heap, and then covered it with a thinner layer of sieved compost to make a good surface for seedlings.

I will use them this year as a nursery bed for onions and leeks.   It used to be that I could plant onions in a seed tray and transplant them to their final positions once they got to about pencil thickness.  I don't know what they put in French compost, or rather what they don't, because the onions just don't grow that big in it.   So I figure to put them in a holding bed once they have germinated, and then I will plant them in their final homes a bit later.

Later on in the year I might use them as a bed for climbing beans, by putting some form of bean tent on top.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Confined to quarters

Well we might be stuck at home, but the Jasmine is filling the house with perfume.  

Well, OK, we can garden, and I'm even allowed to take a walk in the countryside around or near the house, for excercise.

Tuesday 17 March 2020


The French for curfew is "couvre-feu" so you can see the similarity of the two languages.   We have one imposed, now, in France.

I'm glad we did our shopping in Laval yesterday, because as of mid-day today, we are supposed to shop only locally, and would probably not be able to go there.   I don't know if that means locally as in the nearest small supermarket (A Carrefour Market in Vaiges, 10 minutes by car) or the much bigger Super-U in Evron (20 minutes by car).  But either way, it's unlikely to mean Laval (40 minutes by car).

You can be excused the curfew if you are travelling for certain specific purposes such as food shopping, walking dogs, going to a medical appointment, exercising near your home but not in a group, and so on.  The documentation you need is rather quaint: you can handwrite or download and print out a document that declares "on your honour" that you are travelling for one of the permitted purposes.  You have to present it along with your ID, if stopped.

Some people see a sinister purpose behind all this, but regardless of whether they're right or not, keeping everyone separate from sources of infection, that is, other people, should stop the spread of the disease in its tracks.

Not only is travel inside France severely restricted, but certain EU borders are closed too.  I wonder what they will do about the illegal immigrants coming into Greece.

Monday 16 March 2020


Well it's Monday 16th and many businesses in France are shut down, especially those involving getting groups of people together.  Including our gîte de groupe.

Meanwhile, life goes on, and we went to get the week's shopping today.   Many supermarkets are being raided by panic buyers, and their revenues are up.  Promocash, our supplier of food for the business is, however, experiencing a severe downturn, because no restaurants (except take-aways and the like) are buying.   They sent a text message on Sunday assuring us of their availability for professional and personal supplies, so we decided to shop there.  

I had a chat with the manager, and she explained that as a result of the downturn, she was opening the store for only only half the day from tomorrow, and putting her staff on part time working - "chomage technique".   We want the Promocash in Laval to survive; there's no other commercial "cash and carry" food provider in that town, and currently the nearest is in Le Mans, much farther away.   And by shopping there we not only help them to survive but also reduce the load on the normal supermarkets.

The shop was fairly busy, the shelves were well stocked and the trees outside were in bloom.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Garden attention

We're coming around to that time of year when the garden needs a lot of attention.  I've been occupied by a few tasks these recent days.  I have put up a trellis on the front of the wood store, planted some seeds, and chopped down a few trees.

My friend Leo up the road gave me a climbing plant, a red-flowered Jasmine, some time ago and I planted it in front of the wood store with a view to training it up the side.  It has spread along the ground by the end of the house, but not much along the front of the wood store, so I decided it was time to take action.

There were some wooden trellis panels going cheap up the local supermarket so I bought some, and with Anita's help, attached them on to the wall.  They're not especially strong, so I supported their horizontal members on blocks of thicker wood.  (2 top, 2 bottom)  We then transplanted some of the Jasmine in front of it, and tied it on.

Meanwhile, it's time to think about seed planting.  I've planted some onions, leeks and echallions, that are tolerant of mild frosts so if I run out of space I can put them outside.  I also planted some sweet peppers that will stay indoors until the frosts are over.   To follow will be the more tender things like tomatoes, and so on.   Beans and squash I will plant directly into the soil.  

It's nice to see the onions germinating - these are seeds I collected from the red onions that ran to seed last year.   Hoping for better results this time around.

Thursday 5 March 2020

Hat o' nine tales

Or maybe the hat with 9 lives.   I can't count the number of times I've lost this thing, or left it behind somewhere, and had to go look for it or collect it.   It wasn't all that expensive to buy - in fact I think I got it thrown in with a leather coat for free, or at least seriously discounted.   It's cost me more than that in recouperation costs.

You guessed it.  I left it behind again today.  I swear it scuttles off to hide, and creeps out again once I've gone.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Stormy weather

We've been having a bit of a wet time recently, but every cloud has a silver lining.  I tried to capture the light on the raindrops hanging off the branches.  It looked better in real life.

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