Monthly Archives: March 2013

26/03/2013

This morning we went to the local quarry (15km away) with the trailer, and came back with 700kg of 8/16 gravel. I used half of it as hardcore for the floor of one of the little rooms next to the workshop; this room will be used for storage, but we need a solid floor first. The layer of compacted gravel will be covered with a thin layer of lime, then a membrane, and then finally a lime concrete floor. Unfortunately it’s not warm enough yet to pour concrete, so the tractor-powered concrete mixer is still in the aged FIL’s barn; we’ll bring it to La Darnoire once the weather warms up.

I am currently filling up the thermal store in stages. It is now three-quarters full, but unfortunately I have noticed a leak where the topmost copper coil exits the cylinder, so I had to drain some of the water off again. Once the connection has dried out tomorrow, I will see what remedial action can be carried out – probably by using silicone sealant.

This afternoon I continued working on the ST1100; the wheels have now been reinstalled and the new stainless steel brake lines fitted. Whilst the front wheel was off I changed the coolant, using propylene glycol instead of the less ecological ethylene glycol. Now I just need to bleed the front brakes and put the body panels back on.

LSS took advantage of the sunshine to use the rotavator on the garden, ploughing in the rabbit-dropping compost. I suspect the first plants will soon be sown.

I sprayed the four peach trees with a copper sulphate solution this afternoon as the buds were about to break, and last year they suffered badly from peach leaf curl. As long as we don’t get any unseasonal frost this year we may even get some fruit – unlike last year when we didn’t get a single peach, pear or apple!

25/03/2013

On Sunday afternoon we visited neighbour J, taking the trailer with us. The reason for this was that she’d offered us a couple of young plum trees which had sprouted underneath their parent. We ended up with five fairly decent young plum trees, and four elder saplings as well. All of these have now been planted in the garden around the pond, or along the fence line.

We also took the opportunity of inspecting the elder trees we’d planted last year, and we were pleased to find they have all survived the winter and have started sprouting new leaves. Unfortunately it will be several years before we can enjoy elderflower champagne and elderberry wine from our own trees.

LSS did some fishing last Friday afternoon, catching 49 gudgeon in under an hour. I think she used a grand total of two earthworms as bait. So we had a fry-up on Saturday evening. There are lots of carp in the pond as well; but I’ve found these taste a bit muddy. We’ll probably need to rescue an old bathtub from the aged FIL’s field and fill it with rainwater. If we put any carp we catch in that water for a day or so, hopefully that will purge some of the muddy taste. I suspect I may have to rig up some sort of aeration mechanism to keep the fish happy for their final hours.

Oh yes – and I’ve updated the header logo!

24/03/2013

Day 365 since the shipwreck. The daily ritual of scanning the horizon for a passing ship had the same result; emptiness was again the norm. Sighing, I wandered back up the beach to my crude bamboo shelter, and passed the time by sorting my fish scale collection according to size and colour.

Oops, wrong scene… I think the French countryside is getting to me.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here a year today. I looked again at my “To Do” list, feeling certain that we hadn’t done that much over the past year. But it’s been reassuring to see that there are a lot of entries with lines scratched through them.

Here are just a few:
Make house less damp by installing gutters – check.
Install a rainwater recovery system for watering the garden in summer – check.
Build a wood shed to store all our firewood – check.
Have a borehole installed – check.
Install a cold water supply to the house to replace the rusty water from the well – check.
Build a thermal store – check.
Install new double-glazed doors and windows to help with keeping the house warm in winter – check.
Upgrade the outdated electricity wiring – well, the kitchen is done. And the lounge. Haven’t started on the bedroom yet, but at least all the antique fuses have been replaced with proper circuit breakers and a proper earth system with lightning protection has been installed. So I think that qualifies as a check.
Cure the problem we experienced with mould – check.
Stop the pond from encroaching into the garden by repairing the erosion at the edges – nearly complete. Unfortunately with all the rain we’ve had, the pond is now full, so it will need to wait until it dries out a bit before I can finalise this job. I did however manage to dig a trench from the pond to one of the property’s drainage ditches so that an overflow pipe could be installed.
Start a website about the project – check.

Of course, like all lists, ours just keeps growing, no matter how many items are crossed out! So it looks like year 2 will be just as busy. Hopefully I can talk LSS into adding a couple of gardening pages to the main site.

09/03/2013

Work on various projects is progressing slowly. The thermal store has now been moved to the loft, and placed above a supporting wall (500 litres of water will be heavy!)
The boiler stove has been placed in its final position, and I’ve started fabricating the copper pipe to connect it to the thermal store. Holes have already been drilled in the ceiling!

As the weather was fairly good today, I finally completed the roof of the wood shed, which I constructed using old pallets. It’s now ready to be filled for the next winter. A couple of large branches from last year’s fallen oak tree have already been cut and split into firewood. (I promise I will put up a web page regarding its construction, with some photos of course, as soon as I can get around to it).
I also took the opportunity to get rid of the rubbish in the brazier, and make some more charcoal at the same time.

My collection of bonsai trees, which have been inside the house for the winter, are now once again outdoors, and have been re-potted.

I recently recovered an old 100 litre electric water cylinder from the aged FIL’s barn, and have been dismantling it with a view to turning it into a wood stove to heat my workshop, which is absolutely freezing in the winter (obviously). Much welding and grinding has been taking place.

I’ve also serviced LSS’s Hyundai which has just reached 60,000 miles. I installed a K&N air filter and some Denso Iridium spark plugs.

My motorcycle, The Honda Pan European ST1100, is currently without wheels, as I’ve just had new tyres fitted and am taking the opportunity to replace the clutch and brake hoses with stainless steel ones, as well as installing new stainless steel pistons in the calipers. Once it’s back together again I may be able to go for a ride (presuming the weather improves and the road is passable). Speaking of road, we had a visit this week from the Garde Champêtre, who was inspecting the state of the public road which runs past the property. It seems the road is going to be repaired shortly (and it’s high time it was, it’s a mudbath).

I’ve also noticed that there are now quite a few Facebook fans for La Darnoire, so I’d also like to take this opportunity to say “Welcome. I hope you enjoy the site!”