Wednesday 31 May 2006

Still Still /Still/ Packing

I've got a headache. I feel sick. I want my mummy.

Anything really to avoid doing whatever it is I think I should be doing. All I've achieved today is to rewrite a list and buy a tent that really we shouldn't need, unless we have some terrible argument and have to stomp away from each other. Even in that case there are more than enough buildings to sulk in.


This is what it's all in aid of. And I'm really looking forward to it but goddamit, I can't let go of everything here. I'm just going to have to wait for tide and time to sweep me away.

Monday 29 May 2006

Still still packing


The picture has little to do with France although I'll be taking a few roots of the plant with me - I was just really pleased with the way it turned out.

Packing is not going well. I am paralysed by indecision and confusion. The weather isn't helping, gloomy and/or raining hard. I simply can't get motivated.

Remind me never never ever to attempt a Life Laundry - I simply couldn't do it.

Sunday 28 May 2006

Still packing

With less than a week to go now you'd think everything would be well under control.

Some things are, the cat is now pretty much sorted with just another couple of hundred pills to pick up during the week from the vet. I've been through the airing cupboard (an epic task in itself) and sorted out some bedding and towels to take with us. I've have three lists covering such diverse subjects as doing the company tax return before I leave to remembering to take a new shower head for the bathroom.

But I still feel unprepared and am not prepared.

Tasks I should do today; sort out the greenhouses for the long absence, take a quick spin around the allotments for a final onslaught on the bindweed, sort out my office and pack a painting kit to take, clean the entire house from top to bottom (why? because I must) and there is no end to it...

Part of my problem is that we won't have room to take much with us on this crossing. The plan, still the plan, is that we'll bring stuff over in a van but that keeps getting delayed for one reason or another. There is no hurry but I'm beset with a awful sense of urgency that saps my soul.

The cat doesn't care.


Friday 26 May 2006

The Final Countdown

Yes, the crossing is booked! The cat, Paul and I will be travelling via the tunnel on the 5th June and neither the cat nor I will be back in England until mid October.

Plans for the party are progressing, lots of lovely people have now sorted out their travelling and made arrangements to be there, thank you all!

I'm packing.

Thursday 11 May 2006


Our bread oven has been invaded by masonry bees. Last year we had a couple but chased them away with some smoke and blocked the holes quickly (sorry bees!). This year we are too late and the dome is full of tiny holes containing small furry insects and their broods.

Wood fired oven

It looks like this might be the end for this particular bread baking experiment. The dome was already cracked and leaked heat alarmingly, now the bees have fatally mined the structure and we can't attempt repairs without killing them, even if such repairs were likely to be successful, which we doubt.

In France there is an old oven in the building adjacent to the main house. The chimney above it appears in good order from ground level but the stack has been removed and roofed over. The back of the oven protrudes into another room we believe was previously used for storing home made Calvados. There is nothing there now but an old wine rack but when we viewed the property the door was firmly locked and the agent didn't have a key. The oven is now blocked with concrete, with the date 1979 scratched in the surface, which is pity.

We're hoping to resurrect this oven although it may be a difficult job. Unfortunately it's still only a single chamber design, wood is burnt in the cavity to heat the bricks and then the ashes scraped out before the bread is baked where the fire was. Our plan ultimately is to have a two chamber arrangement, with a firebox and a baking chamber above which will allow for a little more control and longer baking sessions if necessary.

It's going to be a struggle to get this finished before the party. We'll give a go though, as fresh baked bread is an essential part of the good life.


And, while typing this up, the Vet rang to tell me that Bagheera's passport is now ready, so he's now set for a life abroad too.

Wednesday 3 May 2006

Little Apples


Follows my Birthday and Christmas list for some time to come; all apples have been chosen from The New Book of Apples with the exception of Josephine who was spotted at an Apple event at Brogdale. More information on apples can be found at the Brogdale Apple collection and a good place to look for apple trees to buy is Keepers Nursery although it's by no means the only quality outlet for these varieties. One year old trees are fine. Rootstocks should be MM106 or MM111 or equivalents. Explanations of these types can be found on the Keepers site on the apple pages.

The apples are:
Ananas Reinette
Ashmeads Kernel
Bens Red
Blenheim Orange
Bramleys Seedling
Burr Knot
Cornish Gilliflower
Court Pendu Plat
D'arcy Spice
Devonshire Quarrendon
Duke of Devonshire
Egremont Russet
Ellisons Orange
Fenouillet Gris
Golden Pippen
Merton Beauty
Norfolk Beefing
Paradis JeandeMetz M9
Paradis M8
Peasgood Nonsuch
Rough Pippin (cornwall)
St Edmunds Pippin
Steyne Seedling
Summer Golden Pippen
Tydemans Late Orange
Worcester Pearmain
Yellow Ingestrie


Monday 1 May 2006

So nobody reads this at all...

and I may as well please myself.

diary follows.

Diary Tuesday 25th April
Came overnight on LDlines ferry, unexceptional, smelly.
Weather unexpected - fog, down to 30m in places. Negotiated out of Le Havre o.k. but took roadsigned route for Cherbourg at Caen periphique sud. The periphique nord much better. Went to St. Lo, bought telephone. v. clever. arrived chez moi. Loggers have destroyed the telephone line. Other signs of minor mischief, doors left open, things moved. pissed off. Blossom out but not on many apples. Swallows, cuckoo.

Tried phone, hopelessly. went into village to report fault. didn't know the number for FT (it's on the list of numbers in box but says for after sales service, not depannage. ed.) Phoned number for water, office closed. Phoned number for EDF, number forbidden from phone box (actually, not enough credit inserted, ed.) Fuck. Came home. Old codger with stick entering courtyard from forest side - saw me, turned tail. gave chase in car. ROAR. across gravel. he took a turn and shot into forest. Me shout imprecations. Hope he tore his trousers.Mooched, made dinner. ring good but felt dirty. Bed at 8 it got dark. Before bed spotted strange beast, splashed in water behind tractor house. (not sure if this was coypu, seemed lighter in colour and possibly larger but didn't really get a good look.ed.+)

Up at 7.30. Raining! Started car to charge phone. Looked at map. Where I've been writing to EDF in cherbourg. Will go to St Lo office today. Dreary quiet mild but not comfortable. Went into St.lo got map of ville and bleu series of our locality (like the one we lost). Went to EDF an industrial estate. v. weird. nice man young spoke english. He thinks he has sorted . took bank details and made appt. for Friday morning. flushed with success headed out to St. Clair sur elle for Saur water. Walked all round village. Couldn't find office although found road. Phone box card only. Couldn't even make phone call to FT to report fault. Back to Cerisy la foret. Into the box and sit through France Telecoms auto system. Get cut off. Sit through again. Report fault. French barely adequate. man to come Thursday morning, I'm awaiting him as I write this. Phone SAUR. speak to man, much confusion. He tells me to phone another number. sweet girl in call centre. we get there despite my french. Water man Thursday afternoon.!!! Come home, still before 13:00 . After lunch sally forth to get petrol at the rondpoint (not self service). Quick tour of Balleroy tres dull. Onto bayeux. Didn't stop at Noron la Poterie continued on to find Leclerc (!) on route to Molay Littry. Get pictures of "otter" prolly coypu. See owl in distance. See buzzard or other large bird of prey.(short tail). no deer. Start digging in herb patch. We have rhubarb and redcurrants in Gite garden. Chives under bay tree. Headaches. Heard owl arrive as I went to bed.

Misty morning, mild, no deer. Get up at 7.00 and walk down to unlock gate. Take pics of damaged phone line. Planning lots of garden work. Soil terrible. Commenced digging many stops. No sign of telephone man by midday. no telephone either. Took siesta at lunch. Fast asleep in sunshine didn't hear water man approach. Luckily woke up before he left. He turned water on in ground then came to inspect meter. (need new handle for door to dairy) leaking his side so much huffing and grunting while fixing. Eventually new tap fitted. Nice old chap. Warned me about the dangers of frost on the meter. Tried out his English on me. Sweet. WATER!!! loo is buggered. The tap on pipe to fill leaks when on. The siphon valve also leaks so when tank is filled gradually drips away. To use: turn on tap. sit on loo listening to rushing water. Turn off tap. Flush. Kitchen tap is fancy two way mixer. Don't know hot from cold. Fitted sideways. one orientation hits the wall. No obvious leaks anywhere else at this time. Don't know about that water heater.

Back to work in garden. Rather feeble. plant a few things. Decide to take walk to front gate. Get there. Men working on telephone line. HURRAY. head off home. Eventually they arrive here. furiously reporting situation on telephone to bosses or perhaps just talking to Mum. who knows? chef+ junior. Junior gormless as always. chef, charming when not on phone. They lift receiver, it hums, so that's fixed! We make small talk. They are impressed by location and ask about deer. I ask about coypu but they've never heard of such an animal. Such success no need to work anymore. I open wine then have small bonfire. No casualties luckily. Stamping off across field startle two deer who rush away at huge terrified speed. Just as well, if I'd been a hunter they'd have been venison. At sundown very ready for bed.

Day dawns misty but set fair. See a deer in the forest. Settle down to digging more herb bed. 10.30 EDF arrive. Young man replace company fuses and stands back. No electricity in house. so he checks switch. Electric reaches there and beyond is not his problem. I sign bill for 14 euro. He departs. Now all is achieved suddenly feel down but continue slowly with digging. After lunch what day in France would be complete without a trip to the supermarket. Decide against Leclerc and go to SuperChampion instead. Buy cat food and treats for home. Also lemons. My mood is much improved by lemon juice on my bread. maybe it's the vitamin C. Continue digging and plant out most of the plants I brought with me. Sow some dwarf french beans and nasturtium seeds, also a couple of seed potatoes to show willing. My plan of planting them in hay and mulch has come to nothing. Too knackered. Sit up late reading by candlelight. Hear the owl arrive. also notice that the Telecommande box on the electricity supply clicks and whirs at intervals even when the switch is turned off.

Bad night of worry nightmares, not least being driven down a pedestrian walkway in an unfamiliar part of town by rdj in search of Chinese food. When I get up it is already late (well, gone 8 a.m. ed.) Packing commences. A last few photos. Battery is almost flat. Break gas ring and fix it but too late for planned hot breakfast. Plant last two silver birch in area now designated as Northern European Coppice. The Eucalypts will have to have a grove of their own. Put sheet of corrugated iron in 'back garden' of house to kill grass for summer salad patch as the fencing means it's reasonably protected from deer. Nearly kills me. Investigate loft over kitchen. Nothing of interest there. Pick some rhubarb from newly discoverd patch to take home.

Diary ends....