Thursday, October 30, 2014

Most of the rest of October

Since the Belgians were here and my last blogging stint whilst dog sitting at Vanessa and Lisa’s a fair amount has happened.  Mostly not here, but have been getting things done too in the gaps between.

I spend three days on the Atlantic coast, celebrating my birthday, having some time on the beach and enjoying gloriously hot and sunny weather.

we made it for sunset and stayed in the same spot as last year

Had a very interesting house construction meeting with a carpentry company that produces timber framed buildings in the ‘old fashioned’ style but using modern computer guided milling machined to do all the technical joints and angles.  The finished product looks amazingly smart and the time spent on construction is minimized as everything is ready cut to fit.  Not quite the real thing, but affordable and close.  We’ll see when the quote comes in.  

A day discovering Tarbes, my larger local town, nearly an hour away.  I had two leads to get solar electricity quotes, partly for now and out of curiosity for the house in the future.  I found both companies and know what they need to work it all out.  An evening or two of listing all my electricity requirements, then they can get on and do the sums.

Help from Pierre to cut my wood.  It was a worryingly large pile that I thought may take a day to get through.  We were done by lunchtime and stacked away soon after.  The joys of a decent chainsaw - I really must get one soon.

cutting wood in readiness for winter

Pierre admiring some of the wood

Hosted lunch for old helpX hosts from the past who live not that far away.  It was great to catch up and share with them my ideas for the future.  Really enjoying being able to host again.  A french lunch event is great if you’ve got nothing else to do for the rest of the day.  I’ve had two couples round for lunch now and both times we’ve still been chatting at four or so in the afternoon, an excuse then for tea and cake.  A properly leisurely affair.  

A cry for help from Cherry and Chris had me over near Carcassonne for two days helping Ben repair a collapsed roof.  Hairy stuff, jacking up one of the main beams of an ancient roof to the right hight so that it can be braced and secured back into the wall.  There were a few tense moments with loud cracking sounds, sliding tiles and unexpected noises but all went well.  The rotten end of the beam was removed, we added a new bit, thoroughly braced it with oak planks on either side and secured it back into the wall.  I would have stayed for a further week, to reset the tiles outside, build a staircase (from a kit) and continue a list of outstanding jobs, but with more guests arriving, I really couldn’t afford the time.

Another offer for a weeks paid work came in at about the same time.  A project that was overrunning with a deadline to finish.  It’s amazing how all these things seem to come at the same time. 

The Chestnut Fair.  A fun fair in a tiny village in the foothills of the Pyrenees where the chestnut is celebrated.  Stalls selling all things chestnut, jams, cakes, drinks, basketry, tools, demonstrations on grafting, pruning, woodworking and more.  Stalls selling local produce, honey, wool, handicrafts, the local male voice choir circulating amongst the throng, singing in the local language that only they seem to understand.  Three hundred or so people lunched on chestnut and pumpkin soup or chestnut raised pork charcuterie, local lamb and potato gratin followed by a chestnutty choice of deserts.  It had to be done.  Amazingly I ran into the chap who had come to look at providing me with hedge plants way back in June.  I’d heard nothing since, so had rather abandoned the idea of using him.  He assured me that the paperwork was ready and waiting since June but he knew that I was visiting the UK so hadn’t delivered it.  He called round two days later, excusing the handwritten estimate of costs, explaining that his colleague hadn’t been in the office yesterday to do a proper one. 

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