Thursday, 29 March 2012

Vide Grenier

Vide Grenier is France's equivalent to a car boot sale in the UK. These are held nearly every weekend throughout the year and are generally quite well attended. The actual translation is "Attic sale"

As like most aspects of French life these are very tightly regulated, it is unlikely that you will find "Fake" goods that seem to be all to common in the UK.

Everyone having a tables at these events have to give full details to the organisers  which are in turn made available to the authorities, tax inspectors etc and there is a limit to the amount that you can exhibit in one year.
If you take a table on a personal basis rather than a "trader" all items have to be owned by yourself ( no reselling ) also the maximum amount of times you can do this is two times a year! The penalties ( It is a criminal offense to exceed twice a year ) are severe with a maximum 30,000 euros fine and six Months in prison.

we visited quite a large one in the sports hall at Pleyber Christ which is about 30 min drive away from where we live on Sunday.

we came away with a nearly new expresso coffee machine for 5 euros, a bargain If ever I've seen one. At that price I didn't try to knock the price down.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Don't give up the day job!

Well I did promise to publish photos good or bad, let's just say that I haven't any good ones :) I can't say my first attempt at ploughing was a 100% and I certainly won't be entering ploughing competitions but I suppose it is all turned over, something I could never have done without it

My biggest problem was that the turned turf and soil quite often didn't turn completely over and fell back in the furrow. This had the result that when I ran down the furrow with the next pass the turf didn't have a furrow to fall into properly and it happened all aver again. Here is a video of my first attempt:

In hindsight this was probably because the field had never been ploughed before so I am not too disappointed, what I shall do is to wait a few days for it to dry a bit in the sun then flatten and break it down with the rotavator attachment, I may well plough it again then and I suspect that the second time I won't have the same problem.

The end result

Of course if anyone reading this can tel me why some of it was falling back into the furrow I would love to hear from them..

Friday, 23 March 2012

Ploughing a straight furrow!

Well after my purchase of the plough yesterday I decided to make it a bit more presentable before I used it for the first time. I got a wire brush on it and cleaned off all the rust especially from the blades, greased and oiled it and attached it to the tractor. I have now painted it with "Hammerite" which should stop it rusting again and oiled the blade. It sure looks different from yesterday.

I shall probably have a go with it tomorrow although I am a little apprehensive about it as I have never ploughed before in my life! I will post some photos though "Good or Bad"

My lovely French neighbough, who seems to have every known garden implement known to man, of course has already ploughed his garden perfectly, I am sure he has been doing it for years and years and I'm not really in competition but I do feel a little pressure all the same to make a half decent attempt.

I often have conversations with him over the fence, he speaks no English whatsoever and my French is pretty much non existent so he speaks in French and  I speak in English with the odd French word and we understand each other perfectly :)  

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Spring is here

I love this time of the year with all the Months of Spring and Summer ahead of us. The weather is still quite changeable with colder showery days but already there are some days when the sun is out and the temperature is beginning to reach the high teens.

We have birds busy building nests both at the front and rear of the house, at the back we have a pigeon who totally ignores me even at close quarters as she selects twigs for her nest and then has to make a complicated flying maneuver to get between the branches of a fir tree to build it in.
At the front we have a magpie building a huge nest right at the very top of a tall tree. It's fascinating to watch it carefully selecting the right twig then having to make it's way right up though the tree to the top without dropping it which it does often!

I finished off the final few bits to the decking area and formed a flower bed around it and put in some roses and also a black grapevine that I'm hoping to train up over the pergola.

I've now moved onto the garden in a serious way, I think we are in a bit of a cold spot so It's obviously not going to be an "early" garden but I'm getting excited about all the fruit and veg we are going to grow in the future.

Talking about getting excited, I really must be turning into a farmer, I never thought I'd get excited about buying a plough but I am! I put an advert on a local Brittany forum asking If anyone had one for sale and yesterday had a reply.
So today I am the proud owner of a plough.

"We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land"

I have quite a large area that I would like to extend the garden into but without ploughing it I really think it would have beyond me to do. I've never used a plough so If my furrows are not quite straight "cest la vie"!

I have already rotavated quite a large area of ground and have so far sown carrot seeds, put in a row of onion sets and yesterday put in the first row of early potatoes.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Busy Times but lazy BBQs to come

Well after our 25,000 mile trip round the world I thought it was time to start a job at home that I've had in mind for a while. At the rear of our house is a sort of patio area.
As you can see in the photo it is just plain concrete and not very attractive and it doesn't inspire you much to make use of it even though it gets all the sunshine in the afternoon and evening and an ideal place to sit outside.

I decided that I would make a larger decked area, but rather than just a boring rectangle I would be a bit adventurous and extend it with an octagonal seating area.

These two photos show the octagonal end set out and the decking started and were taken 7 days ago.

This one shows the seat construction started and more of the decking completed

Just two weeks to the day after starting it here is the completed area.
I am really pleased with the end result which came about all the quicker with the help of my son, Peter, who came over on Monday and helped for two and a half days.

If you look closely you can see I've also put in low level LED lighting under all the seats plus installed hidden speakers for a sound system under the seating.

In all I used about 250 metres of timber 400 metres of decking boards and well over 2000 screws.

Time now over the coming Months for long evenings by the Chimenea  and many BBQS.

Happy Days!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Back Home

Well this last few weeks have seen us doing an awful lot of travelling, Our daughter Anna, lives exactly half way round the world from us so visiting her is a major event. We started off with an 8 hour drive to the tunnel and stopped overnight in Folkstone before setting off from Heathrow, the first leg of the journey is (just) an 11hr flight to LA we spent some time in Santa Barbara before continuing our journey, another 13hr flight to Auckland a 2 hr wait and the an hour's flight to Wellington arriving refreshed (sic) at 8am in the morning, during which we passed the date-zone so lost a complete day!

We had a lovely time catching up with Anna, James and the 3 boys ( Joe,Leo and Blake ) while we were there we all hired a beach house a couple of hours drive north from Wellington.
The house backed right up to the sand dunes with a short walk to the sea......Lovely!

 A nice seat directly behind the house on the sand dunes overlooking the sea

Miles and miles of deserted wide clean beaches, the beach is actually designated as a road with a 30mph limit and many vehicles use it to tow boats or just to gain access.

There was a lovely decking area around the house and an outside Pizza oven with a good supply of wood which we made good use of. A nice place to spend a few hours each day with some cold beer and wine!

The time there went all to quickly and we were back on a plane or another 1 hr flight to Auckland another 3 hr wait and another 13 hr flight to Hong Kong, In actual fact we stayed this time the other side of the water in Kowloon for a couple of nights which made a nice break before yet another long flight 13hrs 40mins back to Heathrow!
All in all a lovely holiday and one to remember.

Back home now with all the spring and summer to look forward to. The garden is the first priority so I've spent a bit of time this week rotavating quite a reasonable sized area beside the fruit beds ready for vegetables.
From this end it looks quite a big area which in reality it is as against the area of grass I have cut down in readiness for turning over in the next few weeks but looking from the other end I wonder what I've taken on!
 I've also knocked up a compost area out of some of the trees I've been taking down so all in all I'm quite pleased with my work since we have got home

I am now also making the first tentative steps to forming quite a large decking and seating area at the rear of the house, this should make a very nice entertaining area and I would very much like to get it completed in March so that we have the full use of it during this coming Spring and Summer. 
Watch this space!