Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bateau L'Olt

Hibiscus on 'lawn'
Raining heavily again Sunday morning so the trip to Quezac and Rouzier where there was a vide grenier was called off. Sad. The forecast is more of the same for the week.

Matthew and the girls arrived safely mid afternoon. Bo has bought her guitar so we have had endless several concerts.
Her favourite is - 'I like the flowers . . . '

Monday - into Maurs to stock up on groceries later we managed to play some badminton on the boules piste.

Tuesday - Jim's Birthday. Saskia made him a 'Pooh Bear' cake with magic candles. 

Bateau L'Olt
Jim's Birthday treat was a trip on the Bateau L'Olt with lunch included. Embarkation was 11.45 and the journey lasted three hours. The meal was salad, duck and Aligot, cheese and Baked Alaska.  The boat went through two locks and sailed from Port d'Agres to Boisse-Penchot. A very pleasant day out. Pictures below:

A happy sailor - Tess
Not the Titanic - we hope - Bo

Harvesting potatoes
L'Olt is Occitane for the river Lot.

Thursday - usual market excursion. Followed by some nifty stilt making for Bo.

Sunday 24th 
We all went to the above Fete this morning. The main attraction is the parade of old tractors - see pics below. There were about 30 altogether. I took the girls on a ride in a bullock cart. Well, that is one experience I can now tick off my list of things to do before I die.
Some large . . . 
 . . . and some small

And some not really tractors at all.
We have just got out . . . 
There were some pigeons and the like -
Weird - eh?
There were also some woodworkers -
Machine for making a right mess
He is making wooden clogs
Later Matthew and Jim decided to remove a large alder tree which was shading the terrace. It was a Laurel and Hardy affair. Saskia and I watched in trepidation and offered advice and general comment which was ignored.
The tree eventually fell, fortunately missing the bridge and the medlar tree, causing no damage to life and limb and only slightly demolishing the forsythia hedge.
the Tree
The sawing . . . (saw on a pole!)
What you can't see is a cable stretched from the tree to the tractor (off left). The tractor is slowly reversing and pulling the tree in the desired direction of fall. The cable kept on breaking.
The fall, three hours later
Matthew has a new project - carving spoons from greenwood. He had special knives sent from Devon and has selected some walnut wood. At the moment it is a work in progress -

And no, the shavings didn't stay in the tray
Get the soup ready!
Tom and Olga van Hoek arrive today. They are driving all the way from Maastricht in one day. Whew!

We are off back to the UK tomorrow for family functions and return in about 10 days so I will not be writing this blog again until Sunday 7th August. 
Keep your comments coming.
This weeks mystery object - answers on a postcard, please

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tour de France

Rain over the Millpond
On Saturday evening we spent a very pleasant time having supper with Caro and Dennis and their two French neighbours. Jean-Baptiste and his wife, Suti are building a house in the field next door. Jim looked at the plans.
Dennis and Jim with architect's plans
Sunday dawned wet which was a pity because there was a brocante sale in Maurs and a vide-grenier in St Santain de Maurs. We went to both but they were lack lustre affairs because of the weather. I bought three old photographs and Jim bought an axe.

The pictures were framed together and I suspect that they are family members because of the likeness between the women. Perhaps the child in the second is the young woman in the third. A nice record of clothes and hair.

Monday - we have planted two honeysuckles at Peter's Place to prettify the safety rails around the platform. In a couple of seasons it should look better.

 Tuesday: The Tour de France travels the N122 between Aurillac and Figeac today. The road is closed to normal traffic for a good part of the day from 9.30 this morning. We have decided to try and view the race from St Etienne de Maurs, a little hamlet just down from Maurs when there is a car park which is easily approached from our side of Maurs. The timetable gave a time of 12.50 for the 'caravanne'. What does that mean?
Taking two folding chairs, the camera and an umbrella (and in my case a book of Sudoku and a pencil) we parked the car and found a viewing spot in the shade by 12 noon to be on the safe side. Quite a few folk were already assembled and there was already a festive air. We waited.

We waited until 12.50 when the number of official cars and motor bikes increased and the 'caravanne' approached. This turned out to be a cavalcade of commercial floats etc throwing various items of souveniers into the crowd. It was chaos, as I was trying to video the proceedings and had to keep dodging the missiles and the grabbing hands of my neighbours but at the same time acquire some booty myself. Jim, at this point, has moved further up the road where he considered he had a better vantage point so I was on my own. The cavalcade lasted about an hour with a shower of rain for a while.

The cyclists arrived about half an hour later - first the six leaders and then the rest. They were all gone in a flash.

Wednesday lunchtime - it has been raining now since Jim finished watering the plants last night. Some of it torrential. We shan't need to carry a bucket up to Peter's Place this evening to water the honeysuckles.

A Monsieur Nangeroni from the Cantal Departmental Director des Territoires - or somesuch - came this morning to discuss our plan de l'eau with Jim. He told us that the Moulin had a fish farm licence!
It would seem that we have a responsibility to keep the water flowing over the weir at a minium rate. Anyway Jim found the discussion interesting and informative and he has some work to do.

Usual market excursion on Thursday. Most of the plant stalls are now gone but we managed to get a couple more perlagoniums for the tables and some lettuce seedlings for the potagers.

As today is the 14th of July it is La Fete Nationale day and this evening there is a market of sorts at the Moulin du Fau and some fireworks. When we arrived we found a great many people eating. There were several stalls selling meals and long queues. We contented ourselves with a beer, a cake and a bench in the sun, listened to the brass band and watched the French enjoying themselves.

And I took some photos of dogs for Matthew's project. he is drawing images for clipart and dogs are one of his categories.

Friday and Saturday were spent sorting out our stuff to move into the gite while Matthew and Co are here and cleaning the place generally. Saturday evening is the Celebration supper in Fournoules. 'Grillades' and entertainment.

Should be fun. Brigitte and Dominique will be there. Report back later.

Great evening. There was dancing - as can be seen.
Jim learns line dancing
Axel demonstrates the Jive - the lady on the right is his wife
Jim and Brigitte No. 2
The band - with Axel acting as compere

The projects have moved on. I have now completed all the quilted blocks but have not had time to finish sewing them up. However I did get the baskets done for Bo and Tess:


Full of Goodies
The pumpkins are developing - we now have at least five. The sunflowers have flower buds and we have been eating potatoes, cabbage, spinach, beans, courgettes (lots) and garlic from the vegetable garden.

It has rained a great deal this week and the slugs are competing for the produce. Jim makes a regular slug hunt and has stopped throwing them into the millpond since he saw one climbing out. He has resorted to Pam Higgs's method of dispatching them!

That's all for now folks. Matthew and Co arrive on Sunday and we are moving into the gite. We have work to do before then.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Five Finger Exercises

Water low in the river now
Sunday, and today Yan leaves us to return to Bremen. He is booked on the evening flight from Rodez to Porto so we went to Belcastle after lunch. This time we intended to visit the chateau itself. Here are some of the pictures I took.

This was a bit of serendipity - I didn't see the man until I had downloaded it.
The chateau was well worth the visit. It is largely a reconstruction by a French architect who fell in love with the ruin and had it restored using old methods. It is beautifully done.
We had intended to finish off the visit with a meal in Anna's place where we ate  before but we discovered it was not serving meals at that time of day on a Sunday and as we could find anywhere else on the way to the airport we had to put Yan on the plane hungry. Tsk! Tsk!

On Monday a party of hydro-biologists arrived from Toulouse University. They wanted to investigate the fish in the river either side of the weir. The leader spoke perfect English so Jim was able to converse with them easily and gave them permission to do whatever they wanted.

They took samples of fish from the river, recorded what they found, clipped off bits of fin and then put them back. The fish were mainly gudgeon and trout.
The biologists may return in September for another look in the river.

Wednesday was a quiet day in, doing patchwork and laundry. Jim strimmed various grassy areas. Discovered Elizabeth Peters stories about Amelia Peabody. Bought and downloaded the audio version of the first one ‘Crocodile on the Sandbank’. I like to have something to listen to when I am sewing or ironing. There are 14 books altogether so I have enjoyment ahead.
The badminton stuff arrived - it looks okay. All we need now are some keen players - and the grass cut.

Usual morning at the market. However we have now deserted ‘Le Globe’ for coffee as we wait an age to be served and went back to La Parisienne. A pity because Le Globe is situated next to a plant stall. We bought another Honeysuckle for the structure around ‘Peter’s Place’ before we left.
We now have a shortage of water for garden purposes. Jim’s reservoir is empty and he is having to water by hand. We need some rain soon.

My midi keyboard controller arrived. Such frustration! I connected it up to the computer but I couldn’t get a peep out of it. Obviously I needed to load the software. My computer kept ejecting the disk provided so I tried it on Jim’s machine which was ok so using my memory stick I copied the files to mine. Ha! I tried to follow the instructions (in English) but it was technical gobbledygook and still no sound from the keyboard. The Albert Hall was going to have to wait.
Two hours later I turned to GarageBand (an Apple music application for Macs) and voila! I practised a few chords and then as I was downloading lessons for the piano into GarageBand – phizzt! – the Neufbox died! I couldn’t believe it! No broadband again!
It rained. Jim said not enough to fill the reservoir.

I rang UK telecom. The snappy woman (I think she remembered me from last time) said that a new Neufbox would be sent – we should get it Monday or Tuesday next week. We shall see. 
We went into Maurs to get our haircut in the same salon we used last year. No problems except a long wait. We then went to La Parisienne to log on and pick up emails.

This morning (Saturday) I switched the Neufbox back on out of curiosity and, lo and behold I was logged on! The lights are not functioning properly but otherwise I am on the web so emails picked up, read Facebook and did this blog. I shan't cancel the new Neufbox as I still think something is amiss with it.

Mega ironing day today and supper with Caro and Dennis tonight. They have also invited their French neighbours who have some eco-building project ongoing. Should be interesting.

I am going to publish this blog now (Saturday morning) just in case I lose the connection. If I have missed any news I may add it later.
I have to practise the piano before lunch.
Don't forget your comments, please.
Late evening sun on the lawn