Monday 28 February 2022

Rock 'n roll

I'm preparing a bed in the veg patch for potatoes.   This is a new area, never been cultivated, at least in my time here.  It's full of rocks that I have to remove to give the spuds a chance.   So I have been forking it over, taking the stones and rocks out.

Some of the rocks are quite big; boulders you might say.  This one here is too heavy for me to lift, so I have to roll it to get it where I want it.  There's another, even bigger one to the left of the wheelbarrow in the second pic.

Friday 25 February 2022


The mild Winter has meant that the biennial veggies are already starting to grow again.   In my case that means that the parsnips and the beetroot were both sprouting new growth.   Time to deal with them.

I like to keep the seed from my veggies.  They always make far more than I need, which means that I have plenty to waste if needs be.  Disasters can occur: slug invasion, weed infestation, cold snap death and so on, so it's good to have seed in reserve.   Also the amount you get in seed packets these days is derisory, so planting densely and then thinning out seems wasteful, but when you have lots, it's not a problem.

I dug up all the remaining parsnips and beetroot this morning.   Beautiful day, clear blue skies and warm once the frost melted.  The beetroot and the biggest parsnips I transplanted into a reserved seeding area, where I hope they will grow and flower.  I kept the smaller parsnips for eating; the big ones can be woody.

This time of year, the parsnips are exraordinarily sweet, and Anita does a grand job of preparing them.  I'm looking foward.

Just to keep on top of things, this afternoon I took the mower over the grass, then changed its oil.

Thursday 24 February 2022


I've been a bit under the weather these last few weeks, but at last I'm out and about, and hopefully, I have the end of the tribulations in sight.   As part of an effort to get back in proper form I was out on a walk today.  Here is a pic of a hopeful daisy I saw, welcoming the early Spring.

Monday 7 February 2022

Shredding wood

The garden here needs quite a lot of maintenance, and managing the trees and undergrowth creates heaps of discarded brushwood that need to be dealt with.   The bigger pieces of wood we dry out for the fire, but smaller branches we pass through the shredder to make wood chips.   These we put on the flower beds to help keep the weeds down.

We had an Eliet Maestro shredder, that is a fine shredder of its kind.   It had a bag to collect the shreddings, and a petrol engine (Briggs and Stratton) to power it.   It created reasonably fine shreddings that worked well as weed suppression.   But I have to say, I used to hate doing the shredding.   It would take me the best part of an afternoon to deal with a heap of about a metre cubed of unprocessed garden waste, that would create about three bags of chips.   A noisy, boring job, and very dusty during dry weather.

It was an accident, honest.   I let the engine oil run out, perhaps there was a leak that I didn't notice, and I didn't have the habit of checking the oil level before every use, like I should.   The engine seized up.   I got it turning again, having freed it, once it had cooled down, with a big spanner.  I thought I had got away with my negligence, but although the engine ran, it started leaking oil at a high rate.  Repair or replace?

I don't have the workshop facilities to repair it myself, so it would have to go out to a professional.   Probably not worth the cost (according to my local service engineer).  A replacement engine is also a possibilty but again, probably not worth the investment.   We decided to get a new one.   A new Eliet Maestro costs about twice what we paid for the old one, some 15 years ago, so we decided that this was also an opportunity to make shredding a less onerous task.   This is what we bought.

It came in a metal and plywood shipping crate and we spent half an hour or so getting it out and putting it together.  It started first pull (with oil, and petrol added)   We did some shredding, and it works well.  Compared to the Eliet, it has the advantages that it will take bigger diameter branches without stalling, the chute is lower so I don't have to lift the brushwood so high to get it in the machine, and the chute has a much bigger maw making it easier to get the bigger branches in.   In sum, it's much quicker at dealing with a pile of brushwood.

Downside is that instead of collecting the chips neatly in a sack, it fires them out of the chute that you are supposed to aim at a trailer or similar, and in practice they are spread out over an area bigger than our wheelbarrow can catch.  This, however can be dealt with.   And I'm looking forward to doing more shredding, instead of dreading it.

Thursday 3 February 2022

New sofas

The gîte features a large salon, about 50 square metres, that needs a certain amount of furniture in it to look comfortable.   The first sofas we bought were cloth-covered, and they needed replacing when the stains became ineradicable.

The next bunch of sofas we bought were finished in a plastic imitation leather, that we figured could be cleaned more easily, but it flaked to pieces in about 6 years.   The stretch covers that we had made for them to conceal the mess didn't work well, so it was time to replace them as well.   

This time we bought, mail order, three sets, each comprising one two-seater and one three-seater sofa, that is, 6 sofas in all.   They're made in China (surprise) and cost €1500 the lot (on sale).   What I like about them, apart from the fact that they were cheap, is that the coverings are all detatchable, hence can be washed easily, or even replaced if necessary.   I'm hoping that this will prolong their useful life.

I was particulalry impressed with the packing for shipment.  All the cushions and the back rest fitted into the base, so the box was the size of just the base, elongated to include the arm rests.   No empty space at all.

The salon looks comfortable now, cosy even, and fresh.

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