dimanche 28 janvier 2007

Suzuki goes back home to the UK

Andrew and Lee have been here to collect the Suzuki and take it back to Yorkshire. I think they loved the place - it's the first time they've been in this neck of the woods. Yesterday they headed off to Andorra to get some cheap tobacco and booze for friends back home, then today they set off early for home. Sorry to see the old suzuki go but at least in the UK it'll get used for a few more years.

vendredi 26 janvier 2007

Al's revenge

After digging up all the drainage for the 3rd time and replacing all the connections between the house and the sceptic tank I thought my blocked loo had to be sorted - but no, still there was a problem! The weather is bitterly cold (-6 during the day) and rather than admiring the beautiful artic scenery I've turned my garden and patio into a replica of the Somme trenches. In the end I rodded everything again with the chimney sweep. When it got stuck in the drainage run under the bathroom floor slab I thought of slitting my wrists. After some crevasse rescue techniques were employed I managed to free the sweep and finally everything works (though I've still to connect the kitchen sink to the sceptic tank).

On a brighter note the new downstairs radiator is installed and working well.

mardi 23 janvier 2007


At last it's snowing. 2 or 3 inches last night and it's snowing today and it's forecast to continue for most of the week.

lundi 22 janvier 2007

Signal de Bassia

Spent a night at L'auberge de Beyrede then nipped up Signal de Bassia in the morning for some lovely views of the mountains in Bigorre with Sandra. In the afternoon it rained but we had time to look at some more thatched roofs in in the Vallee de Campan, quite different from those in the Ariege with the thatch over the Pas d'Oiseaux, and for me to discover some more of Bagneres.

Back at Quelebu, I have been relaying all the below ground drains after Al (aka 'Colon the Barbarian' or 'the Bristol bog blocker') came to stay. The blockage was so severe I had to dig everything up to get things flowing and having done so I took the opportunity to remove some of the ridiculously tight (and needless) bends in the drains.

mercredi 17 janvier 2007

Field No 4

Yesterday, I formed the approximate hole through the wall of house for the chimney. An 8" diameter hole descending at 45 degrees through 2 feet of granite!

While I wait for the chimney to arrive, I've pressed on with clearing field no 4. After a full day of scything I've cleared the upper terrace. The five huge bonfires will have to wait to be lit until the fire ban has been lifted by the Mayor.



lundi 15 janvier 2007


Went to see this grange across the valley in Pentussa with Sandra yesterday. Its one of a handful of thatched buildings in the ariege. Although the detail at the junction of the stepped gable and the thatch is a bit odd, I've decided to replace my roof with thatch rather than slate (it was thatched until about 30 years ago). Stage one is to move the Rayburn chimney to outside the roof...work starts soon.

Spent today recommencing the clearing of fields 3 and 4. Back to a regime of 2 hours scything a day until the weather deteriorates.

Talking of weather it was 34 degrees a few days ago.

vendredi 12 janvier 2007


The weather remains very hot during the day here (25-30 in the sun) and the mountains have less snow on them than in May! I've taken advantage of the good weather to move my wood pile into a more favourable position where it can get the sun all day and hence 'season' for burning. Before it was behind the house where it got no sun and if it ever snows would be under all the snow which fell off the roof. Ideally the wood should dry for at least a year before burning. I reckons there's a years worth here (just about) and I have some more elsewhere which should be enough to see me through this year if the crazy weather continues for much longer.

lundi 8 janvier 2007


Meat is cheap here in France and now I have freezer I can take advantage of 'offres' at Champion. I got a whole pigs liver for 80p - enough portions for a least a weeks good eating. Tonight I made a slow cooked liver casserole with tomatoes, onions, chalottes, garlic and lardons all cooked in red wine. The liver was succulent and went down a treat with roast potatoes and carrots. The banana and walnut loaf is cooling on the rack whilst I digest!

dimanche 7 janvier 2007

Casque du Lhéris

A petit rando a le Casque du Lheris with Sandra. Great views of Pic du Midi de Bigorre and looking east as far as Mauberme. Bagneres de Bigorre is much nicer than I remembered, with lots of timber buildings from the turn of the century with fretwork bargeboards.

vendredi 5 janvier 2007

Pic Soubirou

Got a call at 9.30, Ian's guests fancied a walk before they left - so after a quick breakfast and pack we rendezvous'd at Seix and headed for the ridge leading to Pic Soubirou. I've been thinking about climbing it for a while and thought it might make a good ski tour (it would when there's more snow). The ridge has a real sense of being wrapped on all sides by high mountains. Two and and a half hours saw us on the summit and the views were fantastic.

lundi 1 janvier 2007

Chocolate paint

All my external oak frames are smothered in a horrible chocolate brown paint, so today I decided to start stripping them. Not an easy task as they are deeply weathered from a few hundred years of alpine weather. The weather today was fantastic (I was so hot working with my back to the sun I had to go topless) and after 4 or 5 hours work with stripper, scraper and wire brush, the door surround was finished. It looks so much better.

Here's a close up of some of the beautiful gnarled and weathered grain.