Wednesday 28 October 2020

Lockdown project

It looks like France is going into another lockdown, as we reap the rewards of our beloved leaders' past underinvestment in intensive care facilities and/or a territorial army of trained volunteer medical personnel.   So I thought I had better go out today and buy the materials I need for my next project, because I might not be able to go and get them tomorrow.

I started the veg patch some ten years ago, by making a raised bed out of some wood I had lying around.   The wood was rotting a bit already, so I didn't take any special anti-rot measures; I just made it into a rectangle and put it on the ground.   The current problem isn't due to the wood rotting, it's because I put the second raised bed too close to it.   I didn't want to waste good agricultural ground on a wider path between them.

This was a mistake.   I could just about walk along the gap, but it wasn't wide enough for the mower, nor even for the strimmer, so I had to use small shears to cut down the inevitable weeds that came up.  So I've decided to do something about it.   

Anita's idea, to minimise the work, was to widen the gap by making the original bed narrower.  I tried to do this, but the wood was so decayed that the whole thing fell apart.  There was nothing for it but to replace it, and move it about 9 extra inches away from its neighbour.   Hence a trip to the garden centre this morning.

I have moved most of the earth to allow the new wooden frame to be placed correctly.  Then I can add the compost as needed, and the bed will be ready for next year's crop that will be, according to the crop rotation plan, potatoes.

Next step will be anti-rot treatment of the wood I bought this morning.

Saturday 24 October 2020

Adding a radiator

Our little office has no installed heating.  It's not a big room, and it connects to the rest of the house, which allows warm air to flow, so a small electric fan heater serves for when it's really cold.   However, this is an expensive way to heat, and there are heating pipes that pass overhead upstairs, so I have taken on a project to install and connect a small water-filled radiator.

I bought the radiator online, and the bits that go with it I bought at Leroy Merlin, the local DIY shop.  The first job was to get some pipes up and out onto the floor above.  I managed to forget about the mild steel support for the plasterboard ceiling, so I had to go out and get some metal drills to make a big enough hole.

The radiator will be halfway up the wall.  Not ideal I know, but it means that the little desk-side cabinet can sit below it.   Any new owner of the place could easily lower it if he wanted.

I had some trouble soldering the copper pipes.  There were only three joints to make per pipe, to take them from behind the radiator on to the connections.  I thought I would be able to do all three at once since they were close together, but once I had done the first one, the flux had burnt off the other two, and the solder wouldn't flow.  So I had to take them apart and re-do them.

Here is a pic of the radiator on the wall.  It's not connected in yet; I will do that on Monday when the shops are open and I can go and get any emergency necessities in case of problems.  The copper pipes will be painted to match the radiator.



Sunday 11 October 2020

Sunday afternoon

Sunday's not the day for physically demanding work in the garden.  I did manage to mow a bit of lawn this morning, but then sitting on a mower isn't hard work.  This afternoon I shelled walnuts.

There are two big old walnut trees in the garden, and although they survived the drought this summer well enough, they have only made very small nuts.  Hardly worth the effort of shelling them.  But there are some young trees about and they have produced lots of nuts of good size.   I spent about five minutes this morning under the young tree in the pic, gathering nuts, and about an hour this afternoon shelling them.  Accompanied by Miles Davis and his quintet, who were Workin' and Steamin'.   That sounds like hard work; rather them than me.


Tuesday 6 October 2020

New wine in old bottles

Our customers get through a fair bit of wine in the gîte so there is no shortage of empty bottles.  Usually.  With a serious lack of foresight I seem to have run out of green bottles for this year's batch of cherry plum wine.  Never mind, the transparent bottle allows one to appreciate the subtle pink colour.   The wine tastes nice too, even though it's new, so after a year or so, should be quite decent.

Monday 5 October 2020

Useful things

Don't send me into an auto parts shop with a voucher.   Those shops are chock-full of very useful things, and this lot only cost ten euros, taking the voucher into account.   What a bargain.  Vouchers aren't real money, everyone knows that.  And it would have expired soon.

Friday 2 October 2020

The Monday bike ride

Monday morning was bright and crisp; it was very pleasant to be outside.  We dawdled over breakfast, loaded the bikes onto the car and drove off to join the cycle path at the little village of La Chevalerie.   After a pleasant ride off to the East and back, we strolled around the park there, the Parc des Forges de Varenne where they are restoring ancient iron forges.

We went shopping in a local supermarket for a pizza for dinner.  A bit of a climb-down from Sunday evening, but tasty and nourishing.  On Tuesday we slid slowly home, refreshed.

Thursday 1 October 2020

Dinner out

We were only away for Sunday and Monday nights, and restaurants in France are often shut on Mondays, so we decided that our dining out evening would be Sunday.   Since we weren't paying for aeroplane tickets and hotels this time around, we thought we'd push the boat out.  We dined at the Manoir du Lys that was 15-minute drive away.   It was... an experience.

It's a Michelin starred restaurant, and the chef is a great fan of mushrooms so we had a fabulous meal where all or most of the dishes had mushrooms in them.  I had the menu dégustation 5 plats so 5 different dishes, while Anita chose 4 from the menu.  Very nice. 

I think that taking photos of the food in a restaurant is a bit iffy, but Anita was so impressed with the presentation that she couldn't resist.   It tasted good too.

It was a memorable dinner, and a serious indulgence.

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