vendredi, avril 11

Seals at Start Point

In between work appointments, we tidied the allotment on Thursday afternoon and then the garden this morning. 

With the weather sunny and warm we snuck out to Start Point and watched a couple of seals playing the sea. A spot of fishing at Mattiscombe bay, but lost my spinner after an hour or so, so we retreated to Slapton for a half.

lundi, avril 7

Home time

 Just time to finish the white paint in the bathroom then it's back to (rainy) UK. Called in on Minsou, who is well and having her roof re-slated. She told me that Michelle (AKA the Suisse) found lots of Morels at the weekend...grrr! Seems I've missed them.

The new tram terminal under construction at Blagnac

samedi, avril 5

New door to bathroom made and hung - needs to be sanded to get it back to clean wood, then oiled to bring out the grain (which is actually very nice, plus the wide boards are book-matched). I used the other brass suffolk latch that I got in Totnes market, and managed to mend the broken lever with a piece of cut down brass hinge that I soldered into the stub.

Bathroom is also sanded, caulked and painted. It's been a productive week all in all.

vendredi, avril 4

Bathrooms again

This one needs a bit more sanding and fitting tomorrow

Rain continued most of the morning and into the mid-afternoon. I had to wait a couple of hours for the man from the ERDF to arrive to discuss the devi for Gilbert's grange in La Trappe, but then I pressed on with the oak joinery working under cover of the entrance canopy. The upstairs bathroom window and door reveals are fitted and there was enough left over to replace the painted plywood shelf in the downstairs bathroom. I have two remaining book matched boards which with a narrow board between, will make a lovely door for this bathroom too - replacing the one I made from left over floorboards, which has always been warped and a swine to shut.

All done by 8pm. : )

jeudi, avril 3

Bathroom works

The hot wind continued to blow yesterday, so I continued with bringing down more hung up trees (the not so threatening ones), though they were still challenging trees to bring down safely. Ian arrived in the late afternoon with some oak for the bathroom and I headed over to his to help unload his wood and stay for supper.

Overnight some wet weather has arrived, so today I cracked on with plasterboarding the bathroom and plastering the joints. I managed to get the first first of the oak in place (the window board) but the continuing rain called a halt to proceeding before I could do the window and door reveals (I have to cut and plane the timber outside).

Sandrine and John over for Dinner tonight.

mardi, avril 1

Architecture work in the morning, the last of the dangerously hung up trees in my fields brought down, logged and branches burnt in the afternoon and an evening stroll in the hot south wind.

lundi, mars 31

Spent the morning finishing off the loft hatch, then headed out to split logs from the recent tree clearances. Was hot and humid and I ran out of steam - so headed off for a walk in search of morels (3 weeks early but you never know). None to be found but a made a circuit around Biech, Col de Bologne and Cane.


Mr caterpillar, he'll turn into a scarlet tiger moth (below)

Mr Wild Goat can you spot him?

Haven't seen him for a few years, so was good to know he's still alive. 
It's a long camera shot - couldn't get any closer

Ladder in place

Ladder gone! The trap doors should keep the bedroom warmer in winter.

Some opening up for the dormer project!

dimanche, mars 30

Up early this morning, two more bonfires lit, all around the house strimmed, some more fallen trees logged and tidied away. 

Both the newly cleared area down near the barn and the field in the woods were also strimmed to clear the brambles and saplings that had started to invade.

Then it was on with installing an outside light in the porch, it's been annoying me for sometime that when I have to split logs or kindling in the winter I can't see what I'm doing.

In the late afternoon I went for a stroll with camera in hand. There a lot of big trees down this winter, difficult to photograph and get a sense of the devastation, but torn and smashed oaks boughs of 50cm diameter give an indication of the forces involved when big trees fall.

With the warm weather there are many flowers - it's very early but is it worth a look for Morels?


 cuckoo flower


 early purple orchid


 stellarium nemorum


 sedge (not sure which)



samedi, mars 29

Paddle stair

From the remnants of the old attic stair (which got cut into two to make a temporary stair for house) I've built this paddle stair. More of ladder than a stair really. It will give access to the attic but being portable it will also give access to the deck over our bed (where it'll live most of the time) and the little attic over Jasper and Ruby's bedrooms.

Hot gusty South wind today, so no fires.

vendredi, mars 28

Trees, viruses and flowers

Back to France and warm balmy weather, although it had snowed the night before I arrived at Quelebu (traces of snow were still in the garden). 

The computer here had a virus which occupied most of last night and today (on and off) to eradicate. I had to reinstall windows and managed to get stuck in a loop where windows wouldn't let me log on until I'd registered my copy of XP, but I couldn't do this because I needed to log on to get on the internet. When I eventually solved this problem, I spent most the afternoon scanning the hard disks to get rid of the virus which had wrecked my PC.

Today I set to clearing more of the hung-up trees - brought three down and logged them. Also burnt 1 of 5 big piles of branches as well as starting to clear the area between the barn and the new field below which has been full of fallen trees and brambles since I moved here.

Still got these hung-up trees to bring down

Chainsaw problems this afternoon, but as always a damn good clean and some fiddling with the carburettor seems to have it working again.

Flowers are starting to come out - violets, cowslips, hepatica, vetch, lungwort and speedwell.

 Also made a start on the new paddle stair which will serve the attic and other assorted decks - need to get some wood tomorrow so more on that project then.

dimanche, mars 23

Another walk to Red Lake

 Allotment dug over and potatoes planted

Another walk to Red Lake today, this time in the reverse direction and with Susie. Strong cold wind and a short hale storm in the afternoon but otherwise a good stomp to blow the spider's webs away. Susie drove both ways, her driving test is getting close!

 Sharp Tor

Susie on the barren moor close to Red Lake

samedi, mars 22

Big oak brackets

Made these to finish off one of the jobs at Cornworthy. I'm currently busy with jobs in France (back there at the end of next week) and an interesting project here in Totnes to remove most of the load bearing walls in a 1970's house and turn it into something with a contemporary, open-plan design...more later.

mardi, mars 18


Happy Birthday to me! Susie bought me this lovely watch...I'm very happy as my old Seiko is nearly 20 years old and battered.

Thank-you for all the birthday wishes.

lundi, mars 17

Cleaning the sensor on an Olympus XZ-1

Ever since I bought my second hand Olympus XZ-1 there has been two large bits of dust on the sensor, visible whenever I have a small aperture or use some of the art filters. I have searched the internet far and wide for several months trying to find some instructions on how to clean it yourself. A couple of weeks ago I found a forum where someone described how to take the back off the camera, which I promptly did but the screws holding the sensor were glued in place, so I could only get to the back of it. I vacuumed vigorously but after reassembling there was no change.

Annoyed by more spoiled photos yesterday I starting looking for a new camera, but the price of something decent is scary and I have no money. The cost of Olympus UK cleaning the sensor on the XZ-1 is £90 + postage - this amounts to almost what the camera is worth, so I decided to have another try.

Once the camera was open, I removed the flat shiny plate that wraps around two sides of the sensor (held in place by two screws. It is then possible to lift some of the orange plastic circuit tapes and get a better look at the image stabilizer mounts that carry the sensor (these are the series of sliding frames held on stainless steel rods with tiny springs). This whole assembly and the sensor is held in place by three screws. These need to be carefully undone with the camera lens down (there are tiny loose washers on each screw between the assembly and the rest of the camera), then the whole assembly with the sensor still attached can be carefully lifted away giving access to the sensor and inside of the lens. I gave both a careful wipe with a new lens cloth and after reassembly the camera is as new again!

Whole job took no more than 20 minutes...definitely not a job for the faint hearted, fat handed or clumsy though.

dimanche, mars 16

Red Lake

A stomp today from Harford to Red Lake via Piles Hill, Sharp tor, Three Barrows and Quickbeam Hill.
Return by the Erme Valley. About 10 miles or so in balmy temperatures but a steady North wind on the moor.

Red Lake spoil heap plus those two annoying bits of dust on the sensor!

Upper Erme valley