Monday, 28 February 2011

Repairing the Fork Candles !!

Manche Louchet Bequille 90cm
This morning we had to go to Bricomarche so whilst there we picked up a 'Manche Louchet Bequille 90cm' or to our english readers a fork handle. However when translated Manche = Channel or sleeve or long shaft, Louche without the t = dubious and Bequille = crutch ??  Such a lovely language French. I think it means a long shaft with a top piece as usually french garden tools are just a long shaft.

Removing the old handle

The steel rivot was drilled out and then the old wood knocked out with a screwdriver !!

The new shaft was the planed and sanded to a 'perfect' fit!

The  fork head was then hammered onto the shaft and a new hole drilled for a new steel rivot.

What to use for a rivot? a quick look through the junk boxes and a suitable coach bolt was found. This was then pushed through the hole and rivoted over.

All that was left was a quick test !! and it was quick.

We now have a new fork at a cost of 5.95 euros.

This is not the end of my tale. The multi talented Elizabeth was dying to try the planer So I gave her the old fork handle and a quick lesson in planing and !!

She made herself a dibber. I am expecting at least 50 seedling plants a minute when the time comes !

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Pampas v Pick Axe

There are several pampas grasses of varying sizes in the garden and one or two were in need of a coat of looking at. We expected to dig them out with no problem.

The pampas grass thought otherwise...

The garden fork gave up the ghost quite early on in the proceedings

At this point we may have been losing the battle but we weren't going to lose the war..
With pick axe in hand, Colin attacked the beast

then I swung into action

The result???

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Signs of spring

Out in the garden today Phil, one of our guests, thought there was a bees nest close by. The humming came from by the walnut tree and when you stood under it the sound was quite loud.

Looking up, we saw dozens of bees pollinating the walnut catkins.

Of course this called for a quick trip inside to get the camera.......

Two of the bees in flight above our heads


The two of them settled on the same catkin,

Then it was off to visit the daffodils...

A sure sign that spring is on it's way!

Friday, 25 February 2011

A visit to the hairdressers

Yesterday I paid my first ever visit to a French hairdressers. In the past I've chickened out and waited until we have been back in England to get my hair cut.

This visit took weeks of planning. In fact when we went for haircuts  back in the UK just before new year we took photographs in preparation for the French version.

The thinking behind this was that if all else failed we could use the tried and tested: "Comme ça, s'il vous plait?" routine.
Anyway, I wrote down what I needed to say and practised until word perfect - sort of. I went to make the appointment, and when I got to the end of my prepared speech the hairdresser calmly announced that she spoke English, having lived in Reading for over twelve months.... AGHHH!!

If only I'd known I could have spared myself the sleepless nights.

If you're wondering.... yes I did use the photo and yes, the haircut worked out just fine. I even got a 'carte de fidélité', just as we have for every supermarket chain in France!

Having said that I think we'll buy some hair shears before Colin's hair needs trimming!

Footnote -Thanks Norma for the photo update you have done a great job. I wonder how may of our readers have noticed the difference!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Child Labour!!

This week has been half term both in France and in the United Kingdom. We have had my family over to stay for the week so it has been a case of work for your keep!

Elizabeth negotiates a labour dispute
Jasmine does the work
Jamie learns fast; Must have seen the Britsih workers

With the garden levelling completed, it was time for some road repairs...

Loading the raw materials

Labour force repairing the driveway..

The grandchildren then relaxed after their hard labour...

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Long and Winding Road

We do the bulk of our shopping in Chätellerault which involves a journey of around 25 kilometres. This road is such that I am worried it will wear out the steering on my car.


On and on it twists and turns and the traffic well it is awesome.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Braye-sous-Faye - Part One

Its about time we told you a little about the village in which we live Braye-sous-Faye.
The village as seen from the D749 the main road to Chatellerault
The village has a population of 340 people giving a population density of 21.7 inhabitants per square kilometre. You really can't move for people!!

Apart from housing, which varies from the ancient to the relatively modern, the only other buildings are the Mairie and school combined,

the Eglise Paroissale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, dating back to the twelfth century

and the Salle Polyvalente (village hall) with adjacent boules pitch.

Each of these is a story in itself...
The tales will unfold over the coming weeks!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Taupes (Moles in English)

Moles are the majority of the members of the mammal family Talpidae in the order Soricomorpha. We appear to have many of the little creatures in our garden.
Mole can be eaten, can't wait to catch some! will make a cheap meal for our guests - the taste is said to be deeply unpleasant. Right where was I - yes the damage they do is awsome, mounds of soil all over what will be our nice flat lawn.
I have purchased two varieties of trap, both scissor action, the first a sprung bar type purchased here in France but in my view a bit on the weak side. The latter I remember my gamekeeper grandfather using when I was a boy. They were of course much meatier then not the tinny things of now..
You are supposed to mature them in earth for several weeks so the moles don't smell them but what the **** I put them in the ground immediately my thoughts being they may as well mature being set!! I remembered how to place them and that speed of insertion was important from my boyhood days with my grandfather, so the five traps were duly set..
Imagine my surprise when the following morning two of the five had been sprung... Elizabeth was out in the dressing gown with camera in hand for the removal of the sprung traps.............
............but alas the traps were both empty I had caught nothing.

Several days on, the hills get bigger and still I have yet to catch a creature but I will NOT be defeated .... Watch this space !!! there are more ways to kill a mole!!!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

An update on the updated Potager..

Here's a special for George on the progress of the potager....

The plot has now been gone over once with the motobineuse and here's Colin taking a well-earned breather..

A man surveying his plot!

You can certainly see the improvement! 

We'll go over it once more with the motobineuse and then it will be ready for planting in earnest.

It's a bit different to the soil back in Lancashire, eh George?!!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Art lessons...

I'd like to think I have a bit of an artistic flair.... But in truth, it's more of a smudge than a flair...

My ex art mistress at the very Catholic all-girls convent school I attended offered little in the way of encouragement, but at the start of our GCE O level she stood behind me and said: "Let there be light; Genesis, Chapter 1; verse 3. as I set brush to paper.

Lark Hill House School Preston circa 1920

Ever since I've been acutely aware of the importance and impact the quality of light gives to a painting or photograph. So in an obscure way, Miss Noblett sowed the seeds for my love of both art forms.

Years later, when the fear of being late for our weekly art lesson (at the far end of the building and on the top floor) had subsided, I went voluntarily to an evening art class. The teaching methods had changed beyond recognition but the criticism was still implicit.

I prefer to do small. It's what I'm comfortable with and what I enjoy. However this was at odds with the art teacher who wanted me to think big. "Fill the paper; use a larger brush..." The brush in question was the sort used to apply masonry paint to the gable end of a large building... And so once again I found myself at odds with my art teacher.
Teacher's brush
My brush!

Why mention this now?? Well, things changed in the art class. I gave up trying and failing to think big and went back to doing small. I painted snowdrops.

There was to be an open exhibition and I entered my snowdrop painting (not the one I've done above, I hasten to add!) and lo and behold, it sold! Not only did it sell, but it was the first painting in the exhibition to sell!!

I was vindicated at last. I became well-known (in the art class, at least!) for painting snowdrops.

So every spring when the snowdrops appear I'm taken back to that art class I attended all those years ago...

Perce-neige (Galanthus nivalis) by the roadside in Braye-sous-Faye

Friday, 18 February 2011

Things we nearly bought....

We thought some of our readers not that familiar with France and french life may be interested in a couple of items we recently 'nearly bought'.

Elizabeth used to keep a Hamster !! until it passed away!! She was very surprised to see these for sale in Gamm Vert, a garden centre.

Yes take your hamster for a jog !!!!

When we were looking for a new carpet for one of the bedrooms we can across an excellent carpet at a good price too...

We didn't buy it though.. although we do need more carpet so there is a chance yet.

The final item is one for Norma ------ Sorry Norma

Cheap  for a WC don't you think.
Only in France!! Its a great place.