Saturday 30 July 2022

Rock shifting

A previous owner of our place decided that he wanted a small water reservoir.   These are useful in the summer months, for watering and such.   Unfortunately, he didn't take into account the rocky nature of the terrain, and, after he dug the hole, he tried to retain the water with a thin plastic liner.  It didn't work because it got holes in it, and as a result I now have a useless hole in the ground.

It would appear that he surrounded it with the rocks that he took out of it to make the hole.  They're big and heavy.   I did manage to dispose of one of them by myself, by breaking it up into small pieces, but it took a week and was hard work.

Steph, a neighbour, expressed interest in the rocks, so I told him that he could have any that were too big for me to carry, if he took them away.   He wants them all.  Hooray!   He came the other day along with a massive Manitou, his tractor, and Jean-Phillippe, and between them they got rid of half the rocks.   The other half will be for later in the year.   When they're done, perhaps I can re-establish the pond/pool.

Faust at Linières

We're lucky in that the Chateau de Linières is a 5-minute car drive from our place.   It was bought a few years ago by Julien Ostini, a metteur en scène at Geneva, and his wife, a director there, in search of a change of lifestyle.   With the help of a large number of enthusiastic volunteers, it is turning into a cultural centre, and, amongst other things, they put on an opera every year.   This year it was Faust.

This is no amateur production.   On the night I went, singers included Marc Laho as Faust, Chrystelle Di Marco as Marguerite, and Nicolas Cavallier as Mephistophélès.   For me it was Mephistophélès who stole the show with a charismatic performance somewhat in the style of a swashbuckling Zorro.

The orchestra was no slouch also.

All for €15 the ticket.

Thursday 21 July 2022

Incident in the Peugeot 308 Hybrid - a review

I find the cruise control useful.   It helps me keep to the speed limits in town, and stops me having to monitor the speedo all the time on motorways.   I use it a lot, particularly since the new 308 hybrid doesn't give a strong sensation of speed. 

I have noted before that I can't seem to turn off the automatic braking system when cruise control is engaged - they seem to come on together even if I have used the option to switch it off.   I should note that this isn't the ABS anti-skid system that we have known and loved for some decades now - it's a system that is intended to slow you down if you get too near the car in front.   Useful on motorways, perhaps, or for drivers asleep at the wheel.

So I'm trolling along in a built-up area, 30kph cruise control on, since that's the speed limit.  There's a line of cars parked to my right.  (I'm driving on the right; I'm in France).    An impatient driver comes up behind and sits a short distance off my rear bumper.  I'm thinking "If I braked hard now, he'd go right in to the back of me".   At this point, the road bears hard left, and the car "sees" the parked cars as now being in front of me instead of to my right, and..... slams on the brakes.   No car should do this.   There was no need, the situation was risky, and no human would have taken that action.

The quick reflexes of the guy behind saved us from a collision, but he isn't happy.  He blasts the horn, overtakes with a squeal of tyres and blasts the horn again.  Can't say I blame him, and he probably thinks I did it on purpose.   Of course any accident would be blamed on him: he was following too close.   But I don't need the hassle.  My car would be off the road during bodywork repairs, there's the hassle of organising that, and the insurance, and, last but not least, I'm having to explain to an angry frog that I didn't brake on purpose and that the car did it when no human would have done.

I went into the Peugeot garage to complain about this "feature".  It's the sort of thing that could, I imagine, be sorted with a simple software fix.  The guy wasn't optimistic.  But I will update this post if I should get such a software change.   In the mean time, I would probably get into terrible trouble if I told you never to buy a car with this feature, so I won't do that.  But I'm beginning to think that had I known about it, I wouldn't have bought this car.

Monday 11 July 2022

Cantaloup melon seeds

Method one:   Wait until next Spring, buy a packet of melon seeds for about €2.50 for 20

Method two:   Buy a melon.  Extract and dry the seeds in the sun.  Eat the melon.  Save about 300 seeds for next year, all for about €1

Sunday 10 July 2022

Turning the tables

I hadn't realised that our old patio tables were ten years old.   We had re-finished them a couple of times, but the hail storm did some damage.   We were hoping they'd last until the end of the season, but when a customer sat on one and the wood gave way, we had to replace it.   And since we need four tables the same because of the total length we need, we had to buy four new ones.   They came in flat packs.

The new ones have glass tops that I hope will be more durable through the weather, and they have steel frames (the old ones had aluminium) so they are heavy.   But they look like they will last.

Perhaps it's unfortunate that they will be always used extended, placed end-to-end, so the action to extend and retract won't get used.  It's pretty neat.

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Tulle - Last day

We stayed on in Tulle throught the Monday, after the accordeon festival was over, and did a little sightseeing.  In the morning we went to the fine, restored chateau de Sedières.  It's in beautiful grounds featuring lakes and waterfalls, and you can walk around it following several routes.  It's a venue in Summer for various artistic events, including an art exhibition while we were there.

The GPS showed us its sense of humour on the way there, sending us down various donkey tracks, but we eventually found and followed the road signs and got there in one piece.

In the afternoon we trolled off to Brive-la-Gaillarde where we visited the old town, paused for coffee and bought some locally-produced alcoholic beverages in the tourist office.  You can climb the tower that forms part of the tourist office.  It is wholly occupied by a spiral staircase that leads to the balcony on the top where you can get a good view of the town.   A helpful sign there indicates that the exit in case of fire is back down the stairs.

Saturday 2 July 2022

Tulle - Gimel-les-Cascades

The waterfalls at Gimel-les-Cascades are cited as one of the must-see sights in La Corrèze, and they are a short drive from Tulle, so we went to see them.   They are suitably impressive.   We can see them today only because a scheme by a German engineer to turn them into a hydro-electric plant was thwarted.   So instead of an anonymous building and a set of concrete pipes, we can see the waterfalls pretty much as they were then.

The site is privately owned, is protected by the state, and costs €6 to get in.   There are three falls in all, plus rapids in between, and you can see them all from a footpath that parallels the river.  The path is uneven but there is a handrail for those of unsure footing.   It's a pretty place.

The village of Gimel was tucked away in the hilly landscape, difficult to reach, and poor.   The hydro-electric plant would have brought wealth to the village, so the fight against its construction was controversial.   The fight was led by a M Vuillier, a reporter for Hachette, from the days when they set off with a notebook, made sketches, took notes and reported back. He discovered the village and retired there, eventually to die there.

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