28/03/2015

I happen to have four websites. And a week or so ago I received an email from Google. To paraphrase, they said: “You naughty website owner, you! We’ve noticed that three of your four websites are not optimized for mobile traffic. If you don’t comply, we will make sure that nobody – and we mean nobody – finds your sites. Which would be a Bad Thing for the Internet world. And for you, of course.”

Now the problem is that my largest site has over 2,000 pages. To update each of these pages manually would take me a year and a half. So I taught myself some php (a programming language) and have written a script which loads an old page, does the updates, saves the new page, then moves on to the next. I’ll still have to update approximately 100 pages manually though. Then I’ll need to update the next site. And the next. Because the La Darnoire website is fairly new, I used a responsive design right from day one, which means that this site is up to date as regards viewing it on a handheld device. So that’s the reason for the delay since my last post.

Meanwhile…

The latest batch of beer has been bottled, and LSS planted a row of peas in the garden. It’s a bit early but they should be fine. As the weather has warmed up slightly, the insects have started appearing again; so I thought it was high time to install something I purchased last year. It’s called a “Waspinator“. I bought four of them, and have hung three so far. They seem to be working – watch this space!

I also made some firelighters. This was real recycling in action! We had a few old candles – which we were never going to use anyway – and also a large packet of paraffin wax. The latter was used by the late MIL for her preserves. I had a large tin full of sawdust, gathered from under my radial arm saw. And when people purchase eggs, they generally give us a plastic bag full of cardboard egg-boxes. Now, we don’t need firelighters for the wood stoves (or the barbecue). Some crumpled paper and kindling do the trick. However, the brazier outside (which I sometimes use to make charcoal) is used to get rid of unwanted branches, punky wood, and that sort of thing. It’s not easy to light at all; and resorting to the use of accelerants like petrol is always interesting, but rarely has the desired effect. There’s normally a “WHOOOOF” followed by singed eyebrows and no flames at all; as the stuff residing in the brazier has usually become damp.

So I melted the wax on top of the stove in an old saucepan. The cavities in the egg-boxes were filled with sawdust, lightly pressed down. Once the wax had melted, it was carefully poured over the sawdust, then allowed to cool.
To use, simply cut off one of the individual egg-holders, and light one side of the wax-splashed cardboard with a match. It works very well, burning for around ten minutes – by which time the fire is well alight.

Home made firelighters
Home made firelighters

Apparently there was an eclipse of the sun on the 20th March. I say “apparently” because although the BBC Website was describing it in glowing terms like “Breathtaking”; “Witnessed by millions”; “Best solar eclipse in years” and all that sort of thing, we didn’t see it. It was very cloudy all day. I <think> it got a bit more gloomy during the time of the eclipse, but it wasn’t really all that noticeable. Well, one can always watch it on YouTube I suppose. Mind you, one thing did cheer me up a bit – my chainsaw chaps arrived. Now at least I have mitigated the risk of cutting my leg off.

On the 22nd – which was a Saturday – we went to a garden centre in a town nearby. As I have cut down two dead trees, I thought it would be a good idea to replace them with seedlings. Unfortunately the species I had in mind – Fraxinus excelsior –  or “European ash” – was a bit of a problem. Although the garden centre had them in stock, they were all about five metres in height. The only trees they had of suitable size were fruit trees, which would not have been ideal for the intended planting location. So we bought two gooseberry bushes for the garden instead.

Sunday was the start of our fourth year here. Which is why you’ll notice the yellow star proudly displaying “Year 3!” on the right of the logo at the top of this page has disappeared. I decided not to replace it with a “Year 4” variety.

As far as the ducks are concerned, there are at least ten eggs in the nest; and Mrs. Duck is in residence. The two males visit daily. We think they may be brothers as there is no fighting between them. We’ve also seen another new species of bird in the garden; a European Serin.

LSS has now planted the first two rows of potatoes, and the greenhouse is being brought into use for germinating tomato seeds. Unfortunately it looks like our lemon tree has died; despite being in the greenhouse for the winter it was obviously just not suited to this climate.

And how about the tree which was felled? Well, with the arrival of my chainsaw chaps, I have now finished cutting it into sections. All the pieces have been brought back to the house with the tractor, and I have nearly  finished splitting the sections into firewood.

Finally, I’ll end with something amusing. We’ve discovered the common name of a plant which grows everywhere in the garden; in fact it’s a bit of a pest. And having discovered what it is, we’ve started giving handfuls of it to the hens. They think it is the Best. Thing. Ever.

It’s called – somewhat aptly – chickweed.

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