We decided to go with our neighbours T&M to the newly-opened equestrian Parc l’Alméria in Salbris, as the published program promised some interesting events including jousting. Entrance was free, and we watched some very heavily choreographed jousting with the “knights” using bamboo lances. But it was fairly entertaining, except for the commentator who, like most commentators we have heard here, seemed to love the sound of his own voice. He kept up a constant monologue describing how King Arthur (in the red coat) was about to tackle and vanquish the treacherous Sir Lancelot (in the black coat).
With King Arthur obviously victorious, it was time for lunch. This was when the problems started.

We discovered that there was a ticketing system in place; one could not just go up to the restaurant counter and order a hot-dog. Instead one had to purchase a ticket first. After queueing for an hour and a half we finally reached the front; but until that point we had not seen a priced menu in evidence anywhere. We then found one. It was affixed the wrong-way-round to a glass door. This was evidently done on purpose, because the prices were exorbitant. The management obviously calculated that after a person had been waiting in line for over an hour, they were ravenously hungry and not likely to drive into town for a proper sit-down meal.

In hindsight, this is exactly what we should have done. Having purchased our tickets (spicy merguez sausage in a baguette with chips, €6.50, glass of beer €2.50) we then made another unpleasant discovery.

Of course all the people who had been ahead of us in the queue had to have gone somewhere. Yes, you’ve guessed it. They were by now all at the restaurant counter. A further hour elapsed before we reached the front, by which time LSS was simply fuming. Do not speak to her when she is hungry.

The cherry on top was that as we got to the counter, an announcement was made that they had run out of merguez sausages. So instead we had a rather insipid ordinary saucisse. In a baguette. Without butter. Or any sauce whatsoever. And about twelve chips in a little plastic tub. Without any sauce either. Even the beer (€2.50, remember?) was ordinary Heineken. Which would have been fine, except for the quantity. The plastic cup held a mere 200 ml.

So if you happen to visit this part of France, either:
a) stay away from the Parc l’Alméria, or
b) bring your own food and drink.

From now on that’s exactly what we are going to do. And to be more specific; we are going to carry out option a) in its entirety, and if we go to any other event/market/fair in this country, we’ll carry out option b).

Other than that, we saw some spectacular stunt horseriding (I believe these horses are trained to act in films) and some equally stunning birds of prey.

Unfortunately LSS remained in a bad mood for the rest of the day.


I’ve had so many things on the go recently I feel like I’ve been trying to push several barrels up a hill at the same time!

The rabbit cages were finally put in place behind the workshop. I had to strengthen the base of one of them with a steel bar; although the cages are made of reinforced concrete panels, the panels themselves are rather thin, and one had cracked down the middle and was sagging a bit. On Friday LSS went to Neighbour J and came back with Mood. She’s a lovely pale beige colour, and seems to like her new home. Why is she called Mood? It’s an acronym. Mother Of Our Dinners. But she doesn’t seem to mind.

Mother rabbit
The first bunny

I’ve also been sorting out my collection of drill bits. In the aged FIL’s workshop I found several small wooden boxes containing lots and lots of drill bits. As he is unlikely to be doing any further drilling, these have now been incorporated with my own lot. Unfortunately many of them have been clumsily sharpened on a grindstone, so they no longer actually drill anything. Amongst my sundry collection of tools is an electric drill bit sharpener, so this has been dusted off and is seeing good use.

I tested the soil in the garden again. The pH is still pretty much the same as when I first tested it, soon after we moved in. 6.5, so very slightly acidic. Nitrogen levels are low to medium, Potassium is low, and the level of phosphorus has dropped to medium, so the huge quantities of superphosphates which the aged FIL had regularly applied have finally started to disappear. LSS has already planted the first row of potatoes.

Unfortunately the tomato seeds which were sown in pots in the new polytunnel have refused to grow, so we’re not too sure what the problem is. The pots have, however, already produced a generous crop of weeds. Radishes are doing fine though.

The solar thermal panel base has now been given a coat of bituminous paint (left over from a roof repair in Reading), and I’ve cut two corrugated iron panels to the correct size and joined them together. Well, I say corrugated iron. They’re actually aluminium. Which is just the right material to use for a solar thermal panel. They’ve also been painted black with high heat paint, but I’ve discovered I need another length of copper tubing because I miscalculated. I only have 20 metres of tubing, and need another 8 metres. So we’ll probably pop in to BricoDepot as we’re going to Bourges anyway to visit one of LSS’s English work colleagues.

Last week I recovered an old portable forge at the aged FIL’s farm, repaired the handle, and gave it a coat of paint. So I can now do some blacksmithing! (The kitchen chimney top cowl needs repairing, and the best method of doing this is to bend a piece of steel into the correct shape. This is obviously easier to do if you have a forge.) I knew my home-made charcoal would come in handy.

And the garden shed is starting to take shape. The base has been completed (using pallets obviously!) and I now need to bring back some panels of corrugated iron from the other farmhouse. These will clad the pallet walls and also form the roof. Once complete, this should free up some room in my workshop which is currently housing the wood chipper!

The Secret Project is progressing. Without giving too much away, I now have a block of ten Official Numbers, and am in negotiations with a company which specializes in the production of this sort of thing!