Thursday 25 May 2023

One step forward....

 .... two steps back.

My car key is one of the new-fangled ones where you just have to keep it on you, and the car opens up as you approach.  Cool eh?

When I walk past the car, the car wakes up, then shuts down again as I walk past.  This happens often enough to be irritating, since the car is usually parked near the house door.   And the key is huge, as keys go, so it's awkward to keep in my pocket.    These two things combined mean that I tend to leave they key upstairs by the bed, a fact that I only remember when I look for the key as I approach the car to drive it.   So the minor inconvenience of having to press a button, or even put a key in a lock to make the car go, is replaced by the major inconvenience of having to go fetch the thing when I want to drive.

Even better, it is possible to buy quite cheaply, a device that interrogates such keys, and reproduces the response, so your car can be stolen quietly, by anyone who has such a device within a few yards from your key.  Someone outside, say, not far from the key by the bed, or not far from your table at the restaurant.   I hear that about half the car thefts in France happen this way.

You can get around this problem by putting the key in a Farady cage when not in use.   A metal box will serve (test it first).  Or, you can buy a special pocket to put the key in, that means it can't be interrogated remotely, but it also means that it doesn't open your car as you approach, unless you take the key out of its special pocket.

Do these people ever think?

The key, the Faraday cage:

Monday 22 May 2023

Ze French Touch

That's what the French call it: English, spoken with a French accent, even though the use of English tends to be frowned upon in France.

A good French artisan is hard to beat.  He will give you a quote detailing the work to be done and the price, and if you sign the document, he is legally bound to deliver the promised goods and services for the price quoted.   Once engaged, the good one will do his very best to deliver a quality service of which the client will be proud, taking the time necessary to do a good, artistic job regardless of any unforseen difficulties.   Multi-million euro contracts for ocean liners have been won on the expectation of ze French touch.

Some people prefer to DIY, which is fine, but I wanted to make the point that the following observations are in no way intended to denigrate the honest artisan.   It was on our break in Brittany that I spotted the depicted bit of (I hope) DIY in the loos at a restaurant.   It had a certain devil-may-care, a certain panache that tickled me.   Enjoy.

Sunday 21 May 2023


The Iris are looking good this year.

Monday 8 May 2023

Planting out

I have been planting out veg and flower seedlings that I have sprouted from seed.   I have to admit that I'm disappointed with the results: the seedlings are tiny and don't seem to be growing much.   I suspect the compost.

I remember from when I first started growing plants from seed some 40-odd years ago, I would start the plants in seed trays, using a peat-based compost.   Leeks for example would grow to pencil-thickness in the tray, ready for planting straight into their final positions, and African Marigolds would grow to 6 inches and would need the roots cutting into blocks to separate them for planting out.

Now, most plants seem to reach the stage of 2 true leaves, and then stop growing.   I am hoping that my tomatoes, cabbages, onions, etc will recover from this setback, but I'm not happy.   From now on, I'll be preparing my own seed compost.

Tuesday 2 May 2023

St Malo with family

Our return home from the garden fête was cunningly timed to coincide with my sister's trip with her husband, to St Malo for a day's visit and shopping trip.   We picked them up at the ferry terminal when they arrived, and drove straight to the nearest supermarket where a quantity of wine was bought.  I think there was other stuff as well, but mostly wine.   We then went on a tour of the ramparts of the old town, followed by lunch in a créperie, a stroll around the old town itself and a drink in a quirky bar.   At the end of the afternoon we took them back to the ferry.

The ferry that brought them over is in the background; the lunchtime venue in the old town served a good crêpe.

The bar I describe as quirky, calls itself "Le Café du coin d'en bas de la rue du bout de la ville d'en face du port 35" and it is filled with theatrical props, dolls, swinging seats, a confessional (that makes a passage to the toilets) and many other things.   Enough to attract your attention for an entire afternoon if you have the time.   The proprietor sells T-shirts with the name on it, so I got one for the brother-in-law.  So now he's been there, seen that and got the T-shirt.

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