Tuesday, 23 February 2010

May 2007 Part 10

16 May 2007
Yet another dismal, grey, wet day!!!

I finished rubbing down the second radiator in the lounge, just the hallway one to go after this thank goodness. The one in the bathroom needed a second coat of paint (I did the first coat in 2006) but as there is paint in the U.K. it can wait until I bring that back. No point in buying more of what we already have!

I wall papered behind the second radiator in the lounge, no more wall papering to do. At least one job is completely finished. I then painted the radiator with primer.

A package arrived in the post from my friend Liz, a box with a small plate and lavender to burn; she is always so thoughtful with her little gifts.

The starlings moved in to the cherry tree like a cloud today; I wonder if there will be any fruit left!

Nigel phoned, he sounds particularly miserable! I think the weather in the UK is getting him down as well.

17 May 2007
I woke up to a completely grey sky and continuous rain. I wonder if this is ever going to stop. It was still very cold and generally miserable. After the wonderful April this weather really is difficult to work in. I could hear the starlings still in the cherry tree so they obviously don’t worry about the weather if they can fill their tummies!! It was far too wet to go out and see if there were any cherries still intact to be picked, apart from the rain the ground is so saturated that one just sinks. I am not sure how the moles survive the soaking but they seem to!!

I painted one radiator in the lounge with the first coat of paint but with the terrible light I don’t know how much I may have missed. The Second coat would have to wait for better weather so I could see what I was doing. I must say even with a first coat there is a huge improvement in the way it looks. I also painted the wall paper behind the radiator where I had wall papered. The wall paper behind the other one had not dried so would have to wait another day.

Erica phoned me to say she is coming over with her parents tomorrow for a cup of coffee.

18 May 2007
Busy day! I was up at 06h00, after showering and dressing I went into Chasseneuil at 07h30 to get bread and some ‘edibles’ for Erica and her parents who would be arriving at 10h30. On arrival in Chasseneuil I discovered that yesterday had been a public holiday and I had not even known it! On arrival at the Boulangerie I found it was closed until Monday – they had decided to take a long weekend. I then went to the one around the corner and the same thing, it was also closed. With fingers crossed I went to the third one and fortunately they were open. Sadly the ‘edibles’ were not nearly as appetizing as the shop I usually go to. Anyway what they had was better than nothing so I bought a few things then made my way back home. I gather no more holidays now until 14 July.

Erica and her folks duly arrived and after a look around we had a cup of coffee and something to eat. Erica told me what to get to remove pips from cherries, so when they left after painting radiator number two in the lounge, I went out again to get a ‘dénoyauteur’ in other words a pip/stone remover! On my return I went out and picked some more cherries, the starlings do not seem to have made much difference to the tree; there was still a mass of fruit. After a few minutes of practice with the de-stoner I quickly got the hang of it and I soon had two bottles of de-stoned cherries bottled in cognac. This was just great and it did not use so much cognac as the stoned cherries as I could squash them down a bit more! Erica told me as they were eating cherries cognac was really the only answer, they would not make good jam and were not really good for cooking. She had a sour cherry tree which was good for cooking and jam. I later discovered that the cherries after being soaked in cognac for a couple of months or so did in fact make a fantastic cherry pie. The cognac that remained disappeared down the throat by the glass! It did not taste quite like cherry brandy but it was pretty good.

I had a very long chat to Nigel in the evening, we are both hoping that the weather my hold so we can cycle tomorrow (in different countries). Today has been the first day without rain for a week and even then the sun only came out in the afternoon.

19 May 2007
So much for cycling again today the weather was back to grey, dismal and damp. It was not raining as such but there was very thick mist. I had to do washing as I was running out of clothes so I rigged up a temporary clothes line of sorts in the barn to hang everything on. So long as we did not get a storm the barn was fairly dry, it was really the only thing that I could do.

It was again too dark to paint the second coat on the radiators in the lounge so I decided to sand down the door in the hallway that leads to the outside.

I put on all the putty on the windows and door where it needed renewing throughout the house, but now of course I can’t paint it for 4 weeks as it needs to dry properly. I am sure putty in South Africa did not take a month but that is what the instructions say on the packet I bought here.

I picked more cherries which I de-stoned and bottled.

20 May 2007
Just for a change I woke up to rain again.

By lunch time the rain had eased off and I managed to put the still very damp washing from the barn on the line. There were a lot of very black clouds around so I had to keep a watch out for signs of the rain starting again.

I picked another large bowl of cherries, pitted them and packed them into two bottles in cognac. I keep picking and the starlings are still around but there are still masses of cherries ripening on the tree. They really need more sun but......

The light improved a bit so I decided that I had better paint the second coat of paint on the two radiators on the lounge. One radiator left to go now in the hall, I could start rubbing that down tomorrow if the weather was not good enough for any outside work.

Suddenly the dark clouds built up again so I decided to bring the washing in before it was too late! Only two T shirts still a bit damp so it was not too bad. At least I had some clean clothes to wear again.

I went down to the vegetable garden to see how the plants were doing. I pulled a few radishes and I saw that there was one courgette that looked like it may be a sensible size to eat in a couple of days. The chard was now growing well and I would, I hoped, soon be able to use that in salads with the rocket which was also almost ready for picking. The rhubarb had lots of new leaves appearing and there were several small tomatoes. The beans were struggling a bit as something was eating them, not sure what as the slug and snail bait appeared to be working elsewhere in the garden. The carrots seemed to be a bit slow but I hoped, if all the rain has not rotted them that they would soon pick up. The spring onions were also slow but were starting to grow a bit. The artichoke plants were growing well but I did not expect to have any ‘flowers’ on them this year. The large bushes over the back of us in the neighbour’s property were loaded, but they were well established.

21 May 2007
It rained over night but cleared up a bit during the morning. I picked yet another two large bowls of cherries. I de-stoned and bottled one bowl and took the other over to David, Florence and the kids for eating. I rubbed down the radiator in the hall, painted behind it and touched up the bare metal areas with primer. There was a light shower at lunch time but by 15h00 the sun was out though a few dark clouds still persisted. At 17h00 it had warmed up quite a bit so I decided that I had better cut the grass while I had a chance. It was still wet under the trees but.... 18h30 I finished the lawn. Now as I was cutting the whole lawn it was taking one whole tank of fuel per cut, this is the biggest lawn we have ever had, even bigger than in S.A. I was still dreaming about a sit on mower!!

I chatted to Nigel in the evening and at 21h00 I thought I may as well have an early night when the door bell rang. It was David, he said no rain was expected overnight and he thought that it would be the best chance to kill the grass and weeds in the drive and on the verandah area. He asked if I wanted to do it or would I like him to, he had brought the weed killer over with him plus his sprayer. I said it was better that he did it; I was sure he would make a better job than me and be quicker. He also had a quick look up on the roof to see if he could see a cracked tile as we have a small leak in our bedroom. He could see nothing but he moved a few tiles around so maybe.... As he said it might be a small leak up on the ridge and it is running down a beam and only showing the damp patch right at the bottom! I eventually got to bed at 22h30.

22 May 2007
I woke up to sunshine but a cool wind. It was just so much better than the last week or so. I decided that I should go for a ride on my bike while I had the chance. I did a small circular route over only 26 kms but went through a pretty village called Cherves-Chatelars that I have not been to before. What of course I had not noticed when planning the route is that it is in the bottom of a river valley, steep down into it and steep back out again!! Just beyond the village is a little road that follows next to a medium size dam with a lot of picnic tables, ideal for visiting and close to home, it was very pretty. Note made to return here for a picnic one day. What I did know though, was that the route I had picked came back through our local commune which was also through the bottom of a river valley!   Never the less I made it without walking though I have to admit the ‘granny gears’ were definitely in use, it was very steep!

I arrived home safely and went back to cherry picking, de-stoning and bottling!

I did a bit of weeding and then lost track of time so I missed Nigel’s phone call! When I realised the time I phoned him to let him now I was OK and he phoned me back. It is much cheaper for him to phone me! David came around to tell me the outside light was on – not sure how that happened as I never use it, I must have touched it by mistake. The weather was still hanging in there and the sun was shining, long may it last.

23 May 2007
It was very windy but sunny and quite warm.

I painted the first coat of paint on the pipes in the corridor. Picked two bowls of cherries, de-stoned and bottled one bowl in cognac and took the other bowl over to David and Florence again. I did all the washing while I had the chance and the weather was good. I managed to do some weeding; everything was growing well, weeds included! I also had a blitz through the house with the vacuum cleaner and duster.

24 May 2007
I went in to Chasseneuil at 09h00 and bought some more cognac. I was not sure just how many cherries there were still as almost everything that was easy to reach had been picked. There were a lot very high but I would see tomorrow just how many I could reach. The second cherry tree is not ready yet but it is a much smaller tree.

I spent the remainder of the day rubbing down the inside of the shutters of the spare room. They will still need a bit more work on them tomorrow!

I checked the veggie garden and a few courgettes were about ready for picking, the radishes were definitely ready. I would be able to pick some chard for salad and the rocket was also ready to go with it. The rhubarb was doing well but under Auntie Renee’s instructions I am letting it get established, no picking in the first year. There were lots of little green tomatoes but they would be a while yet. The peppers and chillies have not grown much but I could see there were flowers on them. I was hoping that it would not be long before I would not have to buy any more vegetables.

I spoke to Nigel early as he was going for a cycle ride. Maybe if the weather was ok I would try to go out early tomorrow. It was too hot to work on the shutter in the early part of the morning as the sun is on that side of the house. I could pick cherries after cycling.

David came around later and said they were not going away for the long weekend as planned because the weather was going to change. As they were not going away I asked the whole family around for an aperitif and they said they would come around tomorrow at 18h00.

25 May 2007
The cycle ride never happened! I decided to pick cherries first and by the time I had struggled around the tree as high as I could reach with the ladder it was getting late. I still had to de-stone and bottle them and by then it was 11h30. I decided that the shutters had better come next and by the time I had finished them it was time to go and have a shower and tidy up for the evening visitors.

They all duly arrived on time and after about an hour we saw Octavie walking past outside and we asked her to come and join us. They were all just about to leave at 20h00 when Nigel phoned so David answered the phone just to confuse the issue! Nigel’s French is not too bad but the phone is very difficult especially when you are not expecting French at the other end! I spoke to him later and he said he was a bit taken aback.

I was woken up by a huge clap of thunder at 23h30 and the heavens just opened, this went on ‘loudly’ until about 00h15 when I finally managed to go off to sleep again.

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