mercredi 16 septembre 2020

 I ve had man-flu for 4-5 days, now thankfully over...could it have been Covid 19? I isolated just in case and will do an antibody test in a few days time. 

Hedge laying all finished (apart from the clearing up) and after saving since last february and help from mum, dad and auntie, we bought a new (secondhand) car on Monday. Hopefully we can collect it from the dealer at the weekend (in france it's illegal to pay more than 1000 euros cash for an item and bank transfers take 4 days for large sums). It's a suzuki vitara allgrip. First diesel car and first blue car.  It has almost three times the fuel economy of the mitsubishi so we should save some money even though he insurance is a little more. Our model, the copper edition, has a large sunroof, which may not be the best idea in the summer for keeping the car cool when its parked out of the garage, but I'm sure we'll enjoy it in the winter!

jeudi 10 septembre 2020


Since finishing the chairs we ve been mostly hedge laying, but the last couple of days I ve been assembling and installing this stair for Sheri and Michiel, with Michiel's help.

samedi 5 septembre 2020

L'observatoire Cap du Guzet

My initial design for the Observatoire l'Occitanie à Guzet, visitors enter through the inclined screen of photovoltaic panels which power the observatory and mirror the mountains opposite.

A job I was interviewed for last year and led to believe I had secured (pending funding applications) was for a new astronomical observatory at Guzet a few kilometres from Quélébu. I have been in correspondance with the client (an association) for the past 9 months and I did some initial designs for the building during the lockdown/confinement. The building which would have to function completely off grid, at over 1800m altitude, in an exposed location and accommodate people with a wide range of disabilities was an exciting prospect. 

Alas, I discovered a few days ago when I saw a facebook post, that the association has appointed another Architect from Grenoble to do the project and didn't even have the courtesy to tell me! The new design I have to say is rather bland and a lost opportunity to build something special on a unique site.

Pic Tarbesou

A walk a bit further from chez nous than normal on Thursday with a trip to Tarbesou, East of Ax les Thermes. From just below the Col de Pailhères, we (Michiel, Sheri, Susie and I) followed the classic route up the Crete de Mounegou to the summit for a fantastic 360 degree panorama.

From the summit we continued along the Sarrat des Escales and the Sarrat de Gabensa to reach the Roc de Bragues before returning via the three lakes to cross the col de Coumeille de l'Ours.  The landscape east of the Ariege valley is much drier than the Couserans and the landscape dominated pines rather than deciduous trees.

descending from the summit

Dead pine with the Dent d'Orlu in the background

Reeds in the first lake

Tarbesou with the col de Coumielle de l'Ours on its right

The incredibly green Etang Bleu!

Etang bleu and the very blue Etang Noir from the Coumeille de l'Ours


mercredi 26 août 2020

Lane de Formente to Pic Montaud

First big stomp in a while and a re-visit to the ridge between Lane de Formente and Pic Montaud (2496m).  This time in the reverse direction to last time (Lane de Formente first). Breezy wanted to try to find the long traversing path from Cabane de Pouil which goes to south of Serre de Bougnos before climbing to Lane de Formente. We missed the left fork (or it didn't exist) and we ended up passing the pylons, when we realised our mistake. We scrambled very steeply up the next drainage line and with the path not really evident, we clawed our way up steep gispet in full sun to reach the summit of Serre de Bougnos and then follow the ridge northwards over point 1946m to the summit of Lane de Formente. A hot tiring slog of an ascent.

The last part of the slog upto Serre de Bougnos

Serre de Bourgnos

Susie was struggling with heat so we took a long lunch just before Escale de Saint Girons. The views from the ridge are superb in all directs and it's airy without ever being difficult. The rest of the walk was a joy and the only people we saw all day were 2 parapentistes overhead who flew from Mont Valier and the berger at Cabane Pouil.

1500m of height gain and 16km in a liesurely 9 hours.

Escale de St girons and point 2460m

Encantats and the Aigues Tortes

Al sporting some of the vulture feathers found on the ridge

Last part of the ridge to Pic Montaud

Pic Montaud summit

The descent to the Port de Salau then back to Al and Breezy's above Salau


lundi 24 août 2020

Rainy stomp


Sometimes the weather forecast isn't right...a planned trip to Pic de Lasirouge with Sheri and Michiel ended up being a rainy stomp in low cloud to the Cabane Subera. Glad for a dry place for a lunch and some Polish vodka left by visitors on the Chemin de Liberté. Sheep were being kept in...mist gives bears the element of surprise!

mercredi 19 août 2020

First seat


Seat had to be in two parts and little smaller than originally planned because of shortage of remaining wood, but so far so good!

dimanche 16 août 2020

Gluing up


All day, splitting the tenons, making tiny wedges and gluing up. Cleaning up the tenon ends next then seats.

vendredi 14 août 2020

Dining chairs - first dry assembly

After a few days of toil in the workshop the first new chair is dry assembled and three others are almost ready. Some finishing to edges and then the the tenons to split and wedges to make before gluing up. I'm hoping to have enough walnut left to make the seats, but we'll have to wait and see!


dimanche 9 août 2020

4 chairs = a lot of wood! 

64 pieces to be rough sawn, then planed to produce a flat face and square edge, sawn to dimension on the table saw, then planed to remove the saw marks...and is if that wasn't enough the chair members are hexagonal so then they each have to be planed four times more!

mardi 4 août 2020

Dining chairs project

In 2008 my neighbour felled a walnut tree and I salvaged two sections of trunk and had it planked for drying. Some I used for a gun stock I made for a friend, the rest has been in storage (for 12 years!) with a plan to eventually make some dining chairs for Quélébu.

The time has finally come and I've started work on some chairs (4 probably) which will be inspired by some of the furniture made by Richard La Trobe-Bateman in the early 1980's like the one below.