Friday, 19 February 2010

April 2007 PART 8

11 April 2007
We decided to have a day off and after going to town and buying some paint and electric plugs; we then headed off towards the outskirts of Angouleme. The road works were still in progress that we had seen the previous year and the traffic was still very slow. We drove to Cognac, Saintes and Marennes where we managed to buy ‘un pain’ for lunch. We then carried onto La Tremblade and on towards the coast where we had our picnic lunch. It was not very warm; unfortunately we did not pick the best day to do this trip! Never the less we enjoyed the scenery; there were some beautiful pine forests all down the coast line and the nearby Zoo was packed, even on a Wednesday out of school holidays. Caravans and cars were everywhere and we were not in the tourist season yet. Certainly a place for us to stay away from in July and August!! Neither of us is very fond of crowds!

We drove home via Chateauneuf, Vibrac, St Simon and Bassac. The latter has a large Abbey which is probably worth a visit some time and the other little towns are lovely medieval villages. We arrived home in time to have a quick clean up and then off to friends for an excellent dinner.

12 April 2007
I cycled down to the boulangerie to get the bread and Nigel got back to sanding and painting the kitchen ceiling. The sander is quite heavy so he had to break the sanding with bouts of painting to give his arm a rest. His back was also troubling him; I always find the same problem when working up the ladder for long periods it must have something to do with the angle one stands at! We put up one panel in the ceiling that needed repair.
We had some rain during the night which helped to keep the grass we had previously watered damp. The sprinklers went back on to the remainder of the grass again today; it is a huge area and is going to take something like 15 or 16 moves of the sprinkler to cover it all. Hopefully we will get some more rain as it is using up lots of water. We will just have to keep going though until it is established.

Friday the 13th April 20007
Nigel painted and painted and painted, this was now the second undercoat and it seems to go on for ever. I sealed around the ceiling that we put up yesterday. I went to town to buy some seedlings to put in the veg garden as it had rained lightly during the night – great for the grass. I bought Courgette (both round and long!), tomato, peppers, chillies, mint, parsley, basil, artichokes, haricot and carrot seed. I have already planted chard seed (ex South Africa) thanks to a friend who brought it over for us a couple of years ago. We have had four years of excellent chard in the garden in the UK meanwhile. I also have some radish and chive seed to put in the ground when I have dug a bit more up.

14 April 2007
We both went to the dump this morning to get rid of all the rubbish that the builder left in the barn. The place looks quite respectable now that there is room to move in there again.

We bought a small bedside cupboard from the second hand shop for the spare bedroom and then came back home. Nigel had yet again worn his arms out with sanding the ceiling, still two panels to go! After tidying up the barn I planted out some vegetables in the garden. I really need a bit more room but it is such hard work now that all the top soil has been put on the area we want to use. Managed to also get some washing done and on the line after a bit of drizzle early in the morning.

15 April 2007
Nigel finished the rubbing down of the kitchen ceiling, at last I was able to clear up and get rid of all the dust. The rest of the day was spent painting.

I moved some earth from the veg garden then somehow got distracted into cutting the lawn, which Nigel came and helped with a bit just before lunch. I had managed to miss a branch from a tree that was heading for my eye and in ducking hit the handle of the lawn mower cutting my lip with my tooth!! After lunch I did the last bit of lawn and moved another wheelbarrow of soil before being distracted yet again by two shrubs that were being strangled by ivy. By the time I had unraveled all the ivy it was then dinner time.

16 April 2007
Nigel started gloss painting the kitchen ceiling beams, only to have David arrive to help re-erect the fence. The ground proved to be too full of old broken tiles and stones for the steel post shoes to penetrate, so plan B was to cut them short and concrete them in. I had gone to get 2 more posts and shoes, but in view of the ground problem, these were then surplus! By lunchtime, the fence was back as it was (sort of) and we hope it will last a couple of years, when something more robust can be installed. We put the sprinklers back on the “lawn” as the ground has started drying out in places. Other patches were boggy, which was strange. The afternoon was spent completing the gloss paint in kitchen.

We had a late night visit from an English engineer living in a neighbouring hamlet. Young guy with a wife and two small children. He works 3 months a year in the UK and spends the rest of the year abroad. I wish I knew how he manages to survive on working 3 months a year; Nigel could retire almost if we could fathom it out!!

17 April 2007
Nigel was not feeling too well this morning so I carried on painting part of the kitchen ceiling. The paint stated that only one coat was necessary but it is very definitely going to have to be two coats!! Nigel watered the lawn and the veggie patch only to find that ‘something’ had been having a good meal of veggie leaves during the night! He also put all the washing out on the line. (I have since discovered we have a number of rabbits in the area!)

After lunch we popped into town and bought mole deterrent, cutworm bait and slug killer; hopefully this will get to the bottom of most of the problems, not the rabbits though!

On our return Nigel put up some shelving in the passage for me and we put the new garden table together, not without a few problems but we now have table in the kitchen as a temporary measure.

Later went out and had a serious assault on moles, cutworm, snails & slugs.

18 April 2007
I took Nigel to the airport only to find the plane was an hour late. I then discovered later that in the UK he had to wait an hour for the train which was also running late. It then took over an hour for him on the bus to get from the station to home; the latter did a tour around villages that Nigel did not previously know existed!

I did some shopping on the way home (cider had run out!) and then had another go at the new molehills. I also watered part of the lawn which looked dry, I see that it is now starting to grow and there is a light tinge of green showing all over.

I spoke to Nigel at 20h00 and after a few small jobs.

19 April 2007
It took the whole morning to clean the bedroom and en suite thoroughly from top to bottom and do two loads of washing. I had a ‘go’ at the veggie garden after lunch. The part where Nigel cleared and dug is all planted out but I need another extra bit of space for the chard seedlings which are growing well and the runner beans. I also needed another smaller area cleared near to the house for the herb garden but that could wait until the vegetable garden was ready. I had a long chat to Nigel at 08h00, I think it is going to take him a few days to get into the swing of looking after himself by the sound of it.

20 April 2007
I went for a cycle ride early through several small villages and found buildings and lakes that I did not know existed. The joy of cycling versus driving is that you get to see so much more. I only did about 15km but my legs were well aware that the roads are not flat! Hopefully as I get fitter I will soon sail along up and down!

I returned to spend the day working on the veggie garden. There were no new mole hills last night so maybe I am winning some sort of battle but we will see.

21 April 2007
I did not feel too well with a stomach ache which I think was a diverticulitis pain, it kept me awake from midnight! After breakfast I felt a bit better but thought cycling was not a good idea so went into Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure as it was the monthly market day and it is always good to have a walk around and see what is going on. I bought a couple of things in the market and then bought a lounger for the garden in Inter Marche. We have two in the UK but I thought that another one would always be useful when we have visitors and I can use it meanwhile in between DIY. I also bought some ‘fumier du cheval’, manure for the veggie garden.

On returning home I finished off the second part of the veggie patch ready for the chard which is growing well in the pot so far.

22 April 2007
I still had a bit of stomach ache again this morning so decided that cycling was again not a good idea. Never the less I felt better after breakfast and a shower. David popped around to see if I was OK in the morning; they were on their way to vote for the new French President, which I gather will take place in a couple of weeks time. It sounds like this is preliminary voting, I know very little about French politics but I guess I will need to learn a bit.
hung some African masks which Nigel bought when he was in Nigeria. I also hung some pictures I had done over the fire place of bushman paintings. It all makes it look a bit more like home. I think I have painted the rock back ground for the bushman paintings a bit dark, when I have time I will touch them up a bit!

I started on the herb garden in the afternoon; the plan was to get it finished over two days. It would be nice to get everything planted then I could get back to painting the kitchen ceiling. Half of it still to go with the first coat, then the whole lot to have a second coat. I hope to go for a cycle ride early tomorrow.

23 April 2007
I had a really amazing cycle ride first thing in the morning. I left home and tried a different route going straight up a hill. The cold muscles were not quite ready for this and I have to admit to using my granny gears to take it easy and not pull a muscle. I cycled past an old road sign on the edge of the woods that had a horse and cart painted on it. A few yards further, on the left, I saw what looked like a horse training track and on further inspection there were two sulkies (plus obviously horses and jockeys) training at the bottom part of the track. I wondered where they race in our area; I can't believe they would be kept in training unless there was a purpose behind it. I know that there is a large racing contingency in Paris and they have a large track there somewhere off to the East especially for the trots. From here I passed several small villages and found that the country side here was quite beautiful this morning and I was sorry that I did not have the camera with me. There were thousands of bluebells along the sides of the roads, I suspect Spanish ones are they are not as large as the English ones and the perfume is not as strong. There is still quite lot of cowslips out and there are flowers that look like buttercups but I think they are different as they are longer stemmed. There were masses of very white daisies, and last but not least there are dozens of red poppies starting to come out. To add to that, in the forest areas where 3 weeks ago the ferns all looked brown and dead they were now suddenly green with new fronds about a foot or more high.

The views were stunning in places, next time I must remember binoculars and camera, it will be a long ride as I will keep stopping! I passed several dams with very noisy water birds. I also saw many buildings under going restoration, one of the old houses the stone over the doorway is printed with the name of the house and the year 1833, yet another thing one would not see driving past in the car. All in all I only did 20.16 km but I enjoyed every second of it under the bluest of blue skies and a warm to hot sun shining down.

On my return I showered and went into buy some more manure at the Co-op for the herb garden, I forgot it was Monday, half the town including the banks close on a Monday, one day I will remember! I ended up going further afield where I did managed to buy manure then returned and finished the herb bed and planted out the herbs. The garden is now starting to look quite reasonable. I watered the new grass which is growing well but at 27ºC today it is a constant battle to keep everything from drying out. Nigel said when he phoned tonight that it looked like we would have a cloudy day tomorrow, I hope so and I hope we get some rain soon. As I have no internet or TV I could not keep an eye on the weather reports. Tomorrow I planned to carry on painting the kitchen ceiling. I hoped I could at least finish the first coat.

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