Sunday, 21 February 2010

April / May 2007 Part 9

24 April 2007
I cycled to the Coop in Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure to buy some more ‘stuff’ for the moles. Think they are not quite as happy living here as they were before. I am hoping the deterrent will send them off to somebody else’s garden! When I left town I cycled home via Montemboeuf, several villages and hamlets, most of the way was a steady uphill. At one of the hamlets I was fascinated to see a van in a field, minus its wheels, with the back door open and bedding of hay inside plus several sheep snoozing in there out of the sun. On the final uphill I heard a cuckoo shouting at me all the way up the hill telling me just what it thought! I was pleasantly surprised to find that the last 3.5 km back home was ALL downhill. I needed to remember this route!

When I got home I caught up with all the washing and decided to cut the grass before painting the kitchen ceiling. This also meant bagging up a whole lot of branches and bits of ivy that I had previously cut back so it could be taken to the dump. The grass cutting was really quite tough going and at this stage I was probably only cutting about 50% of it. The remainder was still not ready to cut, but soon we will be cutting the full area. Our poor little S.A. lawn mower was having a tough time; a sit on mower is definitely required for this large area. Yet another reason why we need to win the lottery!!! By the time I had finished the grass and started watering it was late afternoon and I was more than in need of a shower. The kitchen ceiling had now moved to tomorrow’s list!

25 April 2007
I took a break from cycling, the seat is getting too hard anyway and I needed some recovery time! Rain was forecast for tomorrow but it certainly did not look much like it. I thought that I had better get some undercoat on the couple of new fencing poles, also the couple of places that need redoing where the panels have been moved around. After that I finally got around to painting the ceiling in the kitchen/dining room so the whole lot has at last got one coat of paint on it. I then returned to watering the garden and mole checking. (One new mound!)

David popped around in the evening to see if all was O.K., he thought the ceiling was starting to look better and it made the kitchen/dining room much lighter. He wanted to tell me that they were off in their campervan on Friday evening and would only be back on Tuesday night. It was kind of him to let me know, so if I had a problem I would need to introduce myself to other neighbours. With my rotten French I have not tried meeting everyone else in the Hamlet but it will happen. I had also been so busy that I had not really had much time to introduce myself to anyone else. I have met one lady who lives up the road who told me that her husband had been in hospital for several years after an aneurism. Surprisingly I understood most of what she had told me and I confirmed with David that I had the story correct.

26 April 2007
I went into town in the morning to take all the garden rubbish, bottles etc. etc. to the déchetterie. I did a little bit of shopping and made an appointment for a hair cut in the afternoon, different hairdresser to last time as I was not impressed with last year’s hair cut. I had intended growing it while in France to save the hassle but it was driving me mad.

I did a bit of sanding on the radiators to see how much I could improve them. We had spoken about having them done professionally as they were so bad but if I can save some money..... Very slow job, but it just may work; it is certainly worth a try.

I watered the garden yet again, so much for the rain forecast for today!

My hair cut was pretty good so I will definitely go back there again.

27 April 2007
I did some more painting of the fence in the morning, I think there are a couple of places that will still need yet another coat. In the afternoon I did half of the kitchen/dining room ceiling with the second coat of paint, unfortunately I think it is still going to take a third coat to look right. Not good for the neck or back! French paint is definitely NOT as good as British paint and it is one of the more expensive items here.

28 April 2007
I went into town early as it is a holiday on Tuesday and the shops mostly close on Monday anyway. Thought I had better make sure that I had in enough food.

I went to see Brian and Erica and took the laptop to see if I could get it working properly on their wireless connection. The dial up at home is so slow that the computer keeps freezing. It took absolutely ages to get it all sorted out but it does seem better, never the less I don’t think it is right. If there is still a problem when I get back to the UK it will have to go in for a check but as it is now out of guarantee hopefully I will eventually get it right.

I watered yet again when I got home, it takes about 3 days of moves to get around the garden/lawn as I only water late afternoon as it is too hot during the day. There is still no sign of rain but the weather report says it is going to cool down.

Yet one more mole mound to be treated! At least they were not coming up in large quantities numbers for the moment.

Sunday 29 April 2007
I finished the second coat of paint on the kitchen/dining room ceiling in the morning and had a lazy afternoon. I had just started watering the grass when a big black cloud suddenly appeared and we had a heavy downpour that lasted about 10 to 15 minutes. It was certainly enough to do some good.

30 April 2007
I decided that I had to get the third and last coat of paint on the kitchen ceiling and get it out of the way; I was really getting fed up with it by now. I just painted solid and kept at it until I had finished. My back and neck were complaining bitterly but I had the satisfaction of knowing it was at an end. I then dusted and tidied up to try and get the place looking a bit more presentable.

It had been overcast most of the day so it had at least prevented the garden from drying out too quickly. It was still very warm though.

1 May 2007
Grey and overcast, we had rain overnight and drizzle on and off during the day. The garden loved it! I planted out some of the chard as the weather seemed perfect for it even though some of the seedlings were maybe still a bit small. I spent the remainder of the day rubbing down the radiators in the kitchen. Tomorrow I would need to buy paint for rust, primer and then radiator paint, not to mention special bent brushes to get in all the odd corners. Radiators with fins must have been invented by a man as no thought was given to the cleaning, rubbing down and repainting of the very difficult shape!!!

David and family returned back from their long weekend away, they were in the Dordogne where David’s sister lives, he said the weather there apart from today had been very good. He popped in to check and see if all was OK with me when he put the campervan away. I had to laugh, he had left his razor behind and he was very conscious of four days growth of beard, he in fact had almost no stubble at all, I don’t think he would ever be able to grow a full beard!! Never the less I still had my four kisses which are typical in the Charente country side.

Nigel phoned me early as he was going cycling; the weather in the UK was apparently hot and sunny.

2 May 2007
I went to the hardware for paint and paint brushes for the radiator. Then went to the garden nursery on the other side of La Rochefoucauld to see what was available. It is a very new place and is typical of an English nursery, there are so few around here that it was a pleasant surprise to find one so close. I would never have found it though if Erica had not told me about it. I bought a Granny Smith apple tree that hopefully will not take too many years to bear fruit. The neighbours have plenty of fruit trees around so I hope the bees will come and visit us to pollinate. On the way back I stopped at the supermarket to get a few things for the pantry.

On my return I treated the radiator for rust, don’t think what they have sold me is quite what I really wanted but hopefully it will work.

3 May 2007
I painted primer on the one radiator in the kitchen and then the kitchen guys arrived to install the final cupboards in our kitchen. While they were doing this I went out and planted the apple tree. Typical, I of course I had to pick a spot with lots of stone, but hopefully I removed them all and I then added a large bag of soil that was recommended by the nursery.

Florence and the kids came around later to have a look at the kitchen when all was finished and she sent David around later to take a look, I think they were all suitably impressed.

Christelle, our friend from South Africa who plans to visit with her husband later in the year sent me a text to say they had sat for two hours trying to get their visas sorted out for France. It seems that France is not the easiest place to visit if you are South African!! I had previously sent them a letter with an invitation to visit that had been stamped by the Mayor’s office. A necessary item so I gather!

4 May 2007
I went into town for a few necessary items, bought a cheap water melon at Lidl, I could not remember the last time I had eaten a water melon! I also bought 10 tins of Beef Bourguignon; I have not seen these in the UK. With salad it was a good meal for me and easy to do!! Microwave 3 minutes. These were the last tins in the shop, if I saw them again I planned to buy more to take back to the UK for Nigel. It was even easier than my usual sausage & salad but it did make a change tho’ fractionally more expensive. I am very lazy about cooking for myself when I am so busy.

I cut the lawn in the afternoon and did the wall paper behind the radiator in the kitchen.

I put some fertilizer on the veggie garden, if I had read the instructions right this was supposed to last for 6 months so I should not have to worry for the remainder of this trip.

5 May 2007
I painted the radiator under the window in the kitchen/dining room; it is very slow going trying to get into all the corners. First coat took me the whole morning and it still needed a second coat! The weather was pretty dismal, grey and quite cool.

Andre, the one son of the family who sold us this house, popped in to say bonjour, he was picking up some things from his barn which they still own opposite us. This is the barn that David is trying to negotiate to buy as it joins his house; so far all he has managed to do is to rent part of it. It really would be ideal for him as he could knock a door from his lounge straight through to it and he could convert the upstairs to further rooms if he wanted to.

Andre said they were picking his mother up from the home tomorrow to take her to vote and he would like to bring her around to see the house as we have made so many changes. It would be interesting to see her reaction.

I checked for moles, they are still around I’m afraid; they just move from one area to the next but unfortunately they seem to like our garden and are not heading next door as I had planned!!

6 May 2007
I spent the whole morning doing the first coat of paint on the second radiator in the kitchen part of the big room. The light was very bad and it was difficult to see what I was doing; it has to have a second coat though, hopefully that would sort out any problems where I may have missed some places!

David dropped in to see if all was well before they went off to vote. They were having lunch with his mother so would only be home later.

The sun came out at lunch time so I took some photos of the lawn to send to Nigel.

Madame G and her daughter in law came to the house at 16h00; I don’t think Madame G could believe her eyes with all the changes that we have made. Tres joli, tres bon. She said she was glad to see the orange wall had gone!!! They also brought me a bunch of lilies which looked very nice in a vase on the kitchen table.

I cut the sides of all the hedges around the garden, but did not touch the top anywhere. The miserable neighbour said he was delighted that I was cutting the hedge, he was not so delighted when he realised that I was not cutting the top! He is sooooo inquisitive; he just wants to see what is going on all the time!! The woman up the road whose husband is in hospital is also a neighbour of his; I have discovered that she really hates him. She said she thought all the women in the hamlet should start up and an ‘I hate’ club. I am so glad it is not just me that has a problem with the miserable old bugger.

7 May 2007
It was cold, wet & miserable today and the light was very bad. I rubbed down the radiator in the spare room also the window frame. I touched up the radiator with primer where I had to go back to metal. The lady from up the road, I now know her as Octavie, saw me working by the window and came in and had a chat. I understand quite a lot more now when she talks to me and she has learnt that she has to talk slowly. She really is a sweet person; that is until the subject of our mutual neighbour comes into the conversation then her face just changes! There are four properties owned by either him or his cousin Lucienne. The barn next to us, this I think is in fact Lucienne’s as she keeps her car there, she still drives at 92!! Then there is a property on the other side of the road which is where he keeps his car and his/their dog, so presumably that is his. Further up the road, (thankfully just out of my sight!), on one side Lucienne has a small house and he lives on the opposite side of the road. His boundary is next to Octavie so she has all the nonsense to put up with the same as we do. I think he is in his early 70’s but no one appears to like him so he is just a lonely old man brought on by his own doing. It seems he has to have something to complain about even if there is no sense behind it. He moved here about 10 years ago from down South and I gather that he has just not tried to get on with anyone other than his cousin! All her property is left to him when she passes on!! I guess every village or hamlet always has to have one......

I painted the wall at the back of the radiator in the passage with anti humidity paint. The remainder of the wall I did last year with the same paint seems to be doing the required job. It was covered in crystals when we first arrived due to some sort of damp (strange in the middle of the house) and as fast as I cleaned it off they just came back. The paint, so far, seems to have worked and the only bit I had left to do was the difficult bit behind the radiator.

Nigel phoned and on checking the weather report for me on line it does not sound as if things are going to warm up much until Thursday.

I had soup for both lunch and dinner with some toast as I thought it was the best thing to warm me up. I went to bed with a hot water bottle; thankfully we have a couple here!

EDF came and took the electricity reading today.

8 May 2007
No change in the weather and certainly not any warmer. After the very warm April this has come as a bit of a shock to the system! It is a public holiday here today, end of the second world war in 1945.

I papered behind the radiator in the spare room so at least tomorrow if the light was any better I could paint that and the radiator as well. David told me I would never be able to paper behind! Wait till he sees what I have managed. I still had the second coat to paint on both radiators in the kitchen but I needed to wait for better light.

The rain eased off a bit for a while in the afternoon so I thought that I would go and do some weeding in the lawn while the soil was wet. I feel as if I have wasted my time after two bag loads of weeds, there is so much dock weed and the roots go down to Australia, it is almost impossible to get the whole plant out intact. The moles seem to be back with a vengeance now the soil is soft. After having run out of two boxes of deterrent I now decided that they had little to no effect. Short of dynamite I don’t know what else to do about them, it looks such a mess with mounds all over the place. They sell some ‘bombs’ here that you can put down the hole and light but I am told that they are also not very effective and they are very expensive! I tried filling up one hole with water from the hose pipe but I think there is such a tunnel network underneath that the hose could run all day with no effect!!

Hopefully I would be able to start cycling again soon if the weather clears up; I only brought fair weather clothes with me..........

9 May 2007
It rained over night but it was still chilly even though a watery sun was trying to come out around 10h00.

I painted the wall paper behind the radiator in the spare room and then painted the radiator. Not much fun – 13 fins wide and 6 bars deep, very difficult to get to. All of the others are 4 bars deep except for the passage which is only 2.

By 13h30 the sun was definitely making its way out and by 15h00 we had clear blue skies.

I dug another small bed in the garden at the back and put in some Lavender and orange daisies.

I picked the first of the cherries, off the huge cherry tree at the bottom of the garden.

10 May 2007
Very hot and sunny, complete opposite to what we have been having, I really enjoy this weather. The car said 32ºC.

I drove to Géant this morning, the very large supermarket at Angouleme for a change in shopping. It is quite far but it makes a change. There is a total maze of roads around the commercial centre where it is but I found it more by luck I think than skill! I managed to find exactly what I wanted there so the trip was worthwhile. I also found grilled maize snacks by sheer luck while there as well. We bought these a few years ago when we stayed in the Dordogne and other than one other time we have never seen them since. In fact we had given up even looking for them so it was a complete surprise to have come across them at Géant. They are delicious and it is probably worth another trip there to get some more, I only bought 5 packets!

By the time I got home, stopping off at LeClerk on the way (I know where to find everything there!) it was well after lunch time. I then decided that while the weather was sort of reasonable, it was hot and very windy, I would go for a quick cycle ride. I planned a trip of only 16kms, mostly climbing but with a quick down hill at the end. What I had not taken into account was the strong head wind I had over the last 3 kms; I had to cycle hard downhill!!

David came around in the evening to pick up the heavy roller that he had used on our grass which I still had lying in the driveway. With much huffing and puffing between him, Florence and myself, (I had the easy part with the handle!) we managed to lift it into the back of his van so he could return it. We had some old shutter doors that we thought we could use as a ramp but that was even more difficult than lifting it.

Later after talking to Nigel who was having problems with putting credit into Skype, (he uses Skype to phone me via the computer) I went over to David to ask if I could use his internet to see if I could sort it all out. After learning how to use a French keyboard (very complicated) I managed to sort out the problem. The whole story was quite a lengthy one but...... The problem was finally solved and he can phone me on the cheap again.

11 May 2007
We had rain over night and it was back to dreary, grey weather again.

I went in to town to buy some flowers for Florence and a bottle of booze for David to say thank you for all their help. I arrived home to a downpour and got soaked!

I went back to painting the second coat of paint on the radiator’s in the afternoon, while it rained on and off for the remainder of the day.

12 May 2007
It was cloudy and sunny intermittently but I hoped it would dry the ground enough for me to cut the grass tomorrow.

I rubbed down the very bad radiator in the lounge; I had to go back to the metal as the paint was so badly crazed. Other than a break to pick cherries and a quick trip to Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure to get more sandpaper I worked on the radiator all day and finished at 18h00. The car park in town was full of a large funfair, so parking was a bit difficult. What amazed me were the wires from generators to equipment lying all over the place on the pavements with no warnings anywhere – obviously health and safety is not an issue in France! The main road through the centre was closed completely and it was full of stalls. Most were selling rubbish but if one knew their antiques there may have been something there worth while. There was even an organ grinder winding away at the handle and singing in French. He did not have a monkey though just a couple of small dogs!!

13 May 2007
It was very windy but the sun was shining so I decided that I had better cut the grass while I could. The full lawn now needs cutting and it took me just on one hour with the small mower. Before I had finished the clouds built up and I thought that I was not going to be able to finish but it all blew away.

I sanded down the window over the radiator that I rubbed down yesterday, it was quite difficult to get to but there was no chance of moving the screws to take the shutters off to make life easy. The wood on one side was rotten so I cleared it all out and filled it with wood filler. This was also not easy as it was all behind the edge of the shutters. I hoped I would be able to get to it to rub it down tomorrow, so I can paint.

We had a small shower at 17h00 but it only lasted a couple of minutes and the sun came out again.

14 May 2007
It was really miserable weather again today changing all the time from sun to rain but with a constant chilly wind. I weeded the vegetable garden between showers and picked more cherries. I bottled two lots of cherries in cognac which I had bought especially for this job so that Nigel would get to try them.

I painted primer on the first radiator in the lounge and started rubbing down the other one. Phew this was hard, slow work.

David came over to get some chard seedlings for his mother and we had a quick pineau together before he left. For those who do not know:-

Pineau des Charentes, (Pineau Charentais, or simply Pineau) is a regional French aperitif, made in the departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime in western France. Whilst popular in Charente, it is less well-known in other regions of France and somewhat uncommon abroad. It is a fortified wine made from a blend of lightly-fermented grape must and Cognac eau-de-vie. (Wikipedia)

15 May 2007
No change in the weather. I went into town again to get some money from the bank then went to La Rochefoucauld to get radiator paint. I wanted to match the wall colours so I knew that I was going to have to do some mixing to get it right. Some of the colours were quite close but they all needed a slight change. I managed to get everything slightly darker so it meant only a tin of white to try and get the colour right.

I came home and picked cherries before it rained; the sky was very dark. I also had my first radish from the garden, not very big but very hot! I did two more bottles of cherries in cognac. I am beginning to think that I need a barrel of cognac.... The bottles use a lot to fill them, because I am not taking the pips out they don’t squash down very much! I tried de-pipping a few and gave up; my patience was not up to that I am afraid. At this stage I did not know that you could buy special de-pippers, in my book it said they were easy to de-pip with a bent paper clip, ha ha, today’s amusing story. I asked David if they would like some cherries as the tree was now laden. The best ones though unfortunately were all at the top and out of reach even with our ladder. The other problem was there were a lot of mole hills under the cherry tree and if I was not careful the ladder would suddenly sink on one corner! I was trying to remove the moles but they seemed to be trying to do the same to me!

Had another ‘go’ at the second radiator in the lounge, it is very time consuming getting back to the metal and the paint is so hard and well and truly baked on. The electric sander was just not capable of getting in the grooves so it was all elbow grease!

Nigel went to Belfast today but managed to get the early plane home so phoned me at the usual time. 19h00 UK time but 20h00 here. He sounds very tired after a long day today and a very long day in Bristol yesterday.

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