I can’t believe it’s been over a week since my last post. The truth of the matter is we’ve now fallen into a sort of routine, and unfortunately posting to the blog was one thing which was left behind.

Work is still progressing on the house – the rainwater barrel installation is nearly complete (I’m just waiting for a final Ebay order of some connecting tubes). We searched high and low for an adjustable hole cutter (so that I can cut an 80mm diameter hole in one of the barrels for the downpipe entry) and finally gave up, ordering this item, like so many other things, from Ebay.

We’ve also managed to have a bath every day for over a week now – mind you, we’ve needed it as most of the work we’ve been doing has created a lot of dust. I’m pleased to report I managed to clear a space in the woodshed, and made An Important Find. I discovered four large 44-gallon drums (210 litres if you’ve gone metric) with removable lids! These will come in very handy for making charcoal at a later date. Basically you fill the barrel with wood, put the lid on tight (installing a pipe to let gases escape) and light a fire under the barrel. The wood inside is basically cooked, converting it to charcoal. And as a bonus, you can use the gases coming out of the pipe for fuel as well – either for cooking or running an engine. During the Second World War many vehicles were converted to run on wood gas.

The war on the Colorado Beetles is progressing, and I think the tide has finally turned. Every day last week we were getting around 30 beetles. This number has fallen over the past couple of days to 13, and today was an all-time low of 7.

We also visited Castorama in Orleans yesterday, and spotted a wooden porch at a knock-down price of around 40€. This will come in very handy to shelter the kitchen door from the rain. Today’s shopping consisted of visiting Leroy Merlin in St. Doulchard (about 40km away). The aim was to purchase some paint and also a double-glazed PVC window (we have 3 more to order but I want to see how easy they are to install before purchasing the rest). The window we purchased is for the kitchen, and the aperture measures 1042mm in height by 1085mm width. Without having a window purpose-made, the closest size displayed in the catalogue and on Leroy Merlin’s website was 1050mm high by 1000mm wide. This size I was fairly sure would fit, with a bit of chiselling of the cement window surround at the bottom, and a bit of filling in at the sides.
Taking my trusty tape measure with us, we measured this window. Its actual measurements were 1050mm in height by 1065mm in width, so I’ve no idea what brand of tape measure they were using. The good news is it will fit even better than we thought.

We’ve been attacked by what we think must be fleas. The cat has now been banned from the bedroom, and is Not Happy. The bed linen has been washed at 90 degrees and the mattress sprayed with some anti-tick, anti-flea, anti-bedbug, anti-pretty-much-everything stuff. Despite examining ourselves, and the bed, and the cat, closely, we have not found a single flea. So maybe all our itchy bites are from mosquitoes (there are quite a lot around). We’re now caked head to toe in bug repellant. So this is just to make you aware life on La Darnoire is not always entirely rosy!

I’ve also been occupied with registering domain names and all that sort of stuff, ready for setting up the website of which this blog will form a part. I’ll be able to include many more photos on the actual web pages, as I’m not entirely happy with the way they are displayed here.

Last Friday was a day which will hereafter be known as “The Day Of The Great Pepper Pot Disaster.”
LSS had made a salad for dinner, consisting of lettuce, cubes of ham, cucumber, tomatoes, and sliced crab sticks. She had already added the vinegar and oil, mayonnaise and salt, and the last thing to go in was a sprinkle of pepper.
I was in the garage at the time, and heard an anguished “Oh la la”. Upon investigating the reason for this cry, the lid had fallen off the pepper pot at first shake, with the result that the salad bowl appeared to consist of an amorphous mound of grey stuff. I made the mistake of trying to blow some of the pepper away. I now know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a pepper spray.
“Maybe it won’t be too bad,” I said, scraping some pepper off what I think was a piece of cucumber and popping it into my mouth to test.
To cut a long story short, the salad was finally rescued by washing the whole lot, and LSS adding more vinegar, oil and mayonnaise. Upon tasting, it was quite nice. However, my quip of “Hmm, very tasty. Needs pepper though.” was met with a stony glare, and I have not been the flavour of the month since.

I have therefore been occupied in fitting out my dog kennel workshop by clearing some space against one wall, laying some concrete foundations (no bricks this time!) and installing my workbench. Of course there’s no power or lighting in the workshop yet but there will be, oh yes there will be.

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