Tuesday 28 September 2021

New tower roof continued

Materials delivered, old slats coming off, wooden frame made good, then new slats going on.   The slats have been soaking for a couple of days in a wooden bath, constructed on the spot, to render them more flexible for nailing down onto the round roof frame.

Saturday 25 September 2021


I planted a few Sunflowers last Springtime, just to see if they would grow.  They flowered well enough and here is one picture of the result.  The thing I notice is the near-perfect arrangement of seeds, and the question I have is "why haven't the sparrows eaten them all"?

Friday 24 September 2021

New tower roof

It was time to repair the conical roof of our tower.   The tiles were falling off and looking tatty, and there was evidence of leaks.   We engaged a local roofer, he lives in the village and does good work.   Since we're in an SPR "Site de Patrimoine Remarquable" the local state architects had their say, but OK'd the project in the end.

Days one and two, the scaffolding went up, the old chimney came down, and the tiles came off.  The finial was interesting; it was full of holes (.22 cailbre) that you couldn't see from the ground.  Apparently the local hunters used them as target practice. 

The pile of leaves you can see in the first picture is Wisteria that we had to cut away to make room for the scaffolding and to get it off the roof.   Something else of note is that the price estimate had to be increased due to the rocketing price of building materials.

Thursday 23 September 2021

One of those shops

I discovered this shop a couple of years ago when I had to connect a new pool pump to the existing pipework, and the diameters were different from the old pump.  You can go in with the bits that need connecting, and they will sort out what you need.   Plus they have some proper, big professional tools that just might come in handy.   Exactly the kind of shop I like.

Thursday 16 September 2021


When we opened the gîte for business, all those 13 years ago, we had decided that we would contract out the laundry.   We looked around, and Blanchisserie du Maine seemed to have a monopoly in the area.   It happened that they also did the laundry for the smaller gîte run by the village; they collected the dirty laundry from, and delivered the clean laundry to, a shed next to the salle communale to which they had a key.  So we piggy-backed on this relationship.

It was not always easy.   Although our linens were marked with our name, we often found we got back a bit less than we sent, and sometimes got some of other people's linens instead.   At the start we would phone them up to let them know, and see what they would do to fix it, but it became clear that this wasn't going to change anything, so we relaxed into a relationship where at least we normally got the amount of linens we needed for our next customers, and once a year or so we'd do a review and get them to replace lost items, maybe buy some more ourselves.

Recently they told us that they would only process 50 kilos minimum of any particular type of item (sheets etc. or towels).   Since this is way beyond what we normally send them, would we kindly find a different solution to our laundry needs?   They pointed us towards SARL Blanchisserie Guyard, a much smaller outfit on the outskirts of Laval.

First contact wasn't promising; phone calls not returned, emails not replied to promptly.   But apparently, poor M. Guyard was inundated with soon-to-be-ex customers of BdM looking to sign up with him.  We dropped in to say hello, explained our needs, and he agreed to help.  We have only sent and received two batches so far, but it looks promising.  He collected when he said he would, and that from our gîte, so we don't have to shuttle the linens to and from the shed in the village.  His prices are keen too.   Could be that BdM have done us a favour.

Sunday 12 September 2021

End of an era

I sold my flute.   I've played one flute or another for near on 31 years, and on this particular one for about 20 of them, but it's time to stop.  The dystonia in my left hand isn't going to go away any time soon, and practicing was just frustrating, and instead of being a pleasure, had become a habit. 

It's a hand-made flute, one of relatively few made by this maker.  I found a buyer for it who seems to be very pleased to be able to buy it, and right now it is in the clutches of DHL, somewhere between here and England.

P.S. to all sending good wishes:  Much appreciated.  I have restarted playing the piano, and bought an accordion. I played piano as a teenager, the accordion is something completely new.  So I'm playing two different instruments at two levels of proficiency.

Thursday 9 September 2021

Good trip

It's nice to get out on a sunny day and ride the bikes.   Anita's trike is a bit of a new experience, and is easiest for her on wide, flat paths with no car traffic.   Fortunately, the Mayenne is cris-crossed with a number of bike tracks that fit this description, since they are laid out along disused railway lines.   We made the first outing starting somewhere other than at our house, earlier this week.

We got the trike into the back of the Espace (a first); I had to lower the handlebars to get it in, but it wasn't hard.  My bike went in easily beside it, and we set off and parked the car at a starting point on the track at Marcillé-la-Ville.  We went Eastwards as far as La Chapelle au Riboul and turned around there, for a round trip of about 9Km.

The good thing about the trike is that when the track crosses a road, necessitating a stop, there is no need to get off and on again; this is an advantage since the old railway had several level crossings.  One can ride the trike as slowly as one likes in these tricky spots, with no lack of stability.

As a post script, when we got back I decided to take the trike out, to see how it rides.  I took it from home, down to the river, up the hill the other side, into the village and back home again, about 3km.  A hilly round trip, I used maximum assist up the hills, and freewheeling downhill I got it up to 40kph.   The steering was a bit twitchy at 40, but manageable.

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