Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Autumn is well and truly here

We have just been away on holiday for 18 days and the difference in the garden is amazing! The very last thing I did before leaving was to cut all the grass and pick up all the leaves that had fallen, take a look at it now.




There was hardly an inch of the ( large ) front lawn that wasn't totally covered in a thick blanket o leaves, up to now I have shifted around 20 wheelbarrow loads with the same amount yet to pick up.
Of course the upside to it is that I have a huge amount o beautiful leaf mulch for the fruit garden, I am putting it in a thick layer all around the blackcurrant and raspberry bushes.

At the back of the house there are even more leaves from our huge chestnut tree, in some places it is over 6 inches thick, all of this will be going on top of my "Back to Eden" garden.






Monday, 14 November 2016

Shaken not Stirred

Although I have felt very minor bumps from earthquakes before, I have just experienced first hand ,a pretty major one measuring 7.8 magnitude.

I was in Wellington, New Zealand when the earthquake struck just after midnight on Monday the 14th of November. The epicenter was at a town called Kaikoura northeast of Christchurch on the south Island.



This was pretty big and the largest in New Zealand for 10 years as I'm writing this the whole town is cut off from landslides and there is no water or sewage in the town with supplies of water etc being bought in by helicopter.

However what I wanted to touch on was my reaction to it which on reflection surprised me.

I was in bed and had been asleep for only about 20 minutes when it started so woke up very quickly it started with a bumping movement which intensified over a period o what seemed like about a minute.
As it intensified the chandelier on the ceiling started to sway  and move back and forth quite strongly and the whole house started to shake in addition there was a lot of noise that was getting louder and louder. It sounded like rocks grinding together but in reality was just the house straining and moving.

I knew straight away that it was an earthquake but during the whole time it was happening I just lay there on the bed watching it happen.
I never once thought about getting up or trying to take cover somewhere but was just thinking, so this is what an earthquake feels like

I'm still trying to puzzle out my reaction?

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Further progress on the decking and some thoughts about communicating and friendships on the Internet

Even with the pretty awful wet weather we are getting here in Brittany at the moment I am still progressing nicely with the decking and Summer house project.
After getting most of the decking complete I have started on the Summer house. I have revised my original ideas and am making it quite a bit smaller as the times when we will be using it most will be on nice warm sunny days so we will want to be out on the decking not inside.
I am making it large enough to take two nice sized chairs that we used to have in a conservatory in our last house and with enough room to stack away the outside table and four chairs in the winter period.








I've now got most of the shiplap cladding put on the walls so the next job will be to board in the roof. I'm going to cover it in mineral felt so that it blends into the surroundings. After that I shall be making up the double doors to the front, these will swing back within the width of the side panels so will be out of the way but give a good open access to the front.

If anyone is interested I have a series of youtube videos showing the construction of this, here is a link to the latest one.


Actually this brings me on to the second part of the title, I recently had a comment from someone in Newfoundland in Canada, now I get lots of comment but this person took the trouble to give a bit more information about their life there and as a consequence I am now communicating with him by email on our different lives separated by several thousands of miles.

I am also in communication with people who live in Texas, Chicago, California, Oregon, the UK, France and Germany to name a few.

There are many reports on what awful things are on the Internet but to me it is a wonderful place to meet like minded people from all over the world. I have met, online, some wonderful people and had some great conversations who I would have never known existed without this medium.
All it takes is a little bit of effort in starting a conversation. I would encourage anyone to explore this either as I do through my youtube channel or here on my blog to engage in some conversation with someone that interests you.
Of course it goes without saying that you need to take precautions about giving out too much information about yourself until you get to know someone but that applies when you meet someone face to face as well.

For me the internet has opened up a whole new world and hopefully will continue to do so.

I try to respond to all messages, and have many interests..........so............. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

What to do on a wet Sunday morning?

It was a wet and miserable morning so we did what loads do over here on a Sunday morning and took ourselves out for a drive to a Vide Grenier otherwise known as a car boot sale in the UK or a Flea market in the USA.

In the Summer these are mostly held outdoors


but of course this time of year mostly in sports halls etc. The one nice thing I like about them is that nearly everything is being sold by private individuals not traders and as such there are always some bargains to be had.

This morning Avril bought a very nice brand new ovenware dish for 50 cents! What a bargain.


Me? Well I spent a little more :) A full set of golf clubs ( 13 ) in a golf bag complete with a cover for 25 euros.
I don't play golf that often and could never justify buying a new set but this will do me just fine for the 5 or 6 times I do go and play in the Summer.



I don't know a lot about golf but included in the set was a 10 degree Callaway "Big Bertha" Titanium War Bird driver that must have been worth the 25 euros on it's own so I'm very happy.


Monday, 25 January 2016

The ease of doing things

I went out fairly early today to pick up some of the decking boards from a builders merchant. Before I went I spent at least an hour the night before looking online as to where I could buy them, which brings me on to pretty much the only thing I miss about not living in the UK.

The ease of doing things

Back in the UK I could have gone to anyone of maybe up to 20 different places within a 20 minute drive to pick them up, here in France it is a lot different. None of the outlets in our nearest town had what I wanted in stock and eventually I found them in a merchant some 40 minute drive away.
Back in the UK I would have just picked up the phone and had them delivered, here, even though the builders merchant is a large outlet they don't deliver at all. They will hire you a truck at maybe 80-100 euros if it is available but other than that you have to collect.
Anyway it was a nice morning drive and one of the advantages of living here is the lack of traffic, in forty minutes of driving there I doubt that I saw more than a dozen vehicles!



My little Citroen C1 is maybe not the ideal vehicle for transporting lengths of decking boards but all at home now ready to be laid.

On reflection it was a pleasant drive through some lovely countryside with hardly any traffic to speak of,  so which would I prefer living here or back in the UK? ...........................................I think you all know the answer to that.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

A bit more progress

We have had a couple of days of dry weather which has enabled me to get on with the decking, I have decided that the octagonal end section will be stepped up from the other decking to give it more prominence.

The first job was to construct the framing which I did on a level piece of ground outside of my garage.


What I hadn't bargained on was how big and unwieldy it would be when it was finished, at one point I considered rolling it like a giant wheel down to the bottom of my field but decided that it would have all probably fallen to pieces by the time I got it there, so i Improvised some supports on a wheelbarrow and managed after about 20 minutes to get it in place.

  

It wasn't easy being on my own to either get it down there and put it into position but it all ended up well.
Here is a link to my Youtube video of it.

 In position


Once I got it in position and held with a couple of temporary cramps I could start screwing it to the existing  decking and then make a start on putting in the supports.
Standing on top of it gives a really lovely view over the stream and the trees around it and I can already imagine myself relaxing there with a glass or two of wine on a warm summer evening

Friday, 15 January 2016

Making a start

I have had enough of cutting trees and clearing undergrowth for a while so have made start on the decking area at the top of the slope down to the stream.






Although the structure was pretty stable I have added cross braces in both directions to make sure there is no movement. The bases at the bottom of the posts are made of heavy duty plastic and are in two pieces with a screwed insert allowing adjustment of height.

I have now decided to modify the decking, originally I had it in mind to encircle the group of trees directly in front of the end but I now realise this will probably make it all to large. In addition I would have to attach the decking to the trees. I noticed in heavy winds there is some movement in the trees which would have put a strain on the decking structure.

I am going to extend the end with an octagonal section and stop it just short of the trees. After coming up with this idea I had a look online to see if there was anything similar and came up with a couple of photos nearly exactly what I have in mind.


photos cpopyright http://simplicitydecks.com/