mercredi 26 juillet 2006


Couldn't get my pictures to load yesterday, so here is the patio.

I am always amazed by the diversity of insects. There are so many here and I get frustrated when I can't find the beetle or fly that I can see in my comprehensive guidebook. But then I read the intro and it says there are over 2,500 species of longhorn beetle or over 4000 species of horse fly! Perhaps I should get a bigger guidebook or start collecting all the insects I find - who knows perhaps I've discovered a new one?

Leaving early tomorrow for UK, hoping to order windows and doors in Pamiers en route.

mardi 25 juillet 2006

General Stuff

Now upto 6 loire there any end? The roof space over the dormer seems particularly popular at night and there's definitely one more still up there up there (7?). So I opened it up today and found...a complete leather horses bridal/reins! Did the loires drag it there? It weighs a few kilos so maybe a team effort was required. Or did someone build it into the roofspace? Either way given the loires penchant for leather (kinky?) - they ate my glacier glasses leather side shields when I first moved in - I'm hoping that now thats gone that they leave me in peace...hmmm fat chance.

Yesterday I explored some more of my immediate area walking into the next valley with surprising views towards Massat and Les Trois Seigners - got caught in a thunderstorm on the way back in only my shorts and vest, but it was refreshing and I soon dried off.

Have started building the last terrace (see photo). The firewood pile (inadeqauate for the winter by the look of everyone elses) was moved to be behind the house to make way. Some excavation beside the lean-to uncovered a proper storm water drainage system which like the one to the main house had been abandoned by the previous owner in favour of flower beds! Everything is now connected to soak away or septic tank.

Philippe my neighbour gave me his old pages jaune, which is really useful as it has maps of all the towns and of course all the essential where to find stuff! Off to UK again on Thursday and Phillipe and Celine are also off to a Salsa festival in Gers.

samedi 22 juillet 2006

Concrete anyone?

Another loire dispatched last night (it's the kindest way - a single shot and it's all over) though there is still at least another one at large. Do they breed faster than I can kill them? Over slept, then awoke to a cool overcast day - my chance to mix the concrete and cast the slab. A hurried trip to John and the cement mixer was mine. 8 hours of hard toil later and the job's done. Can relax now until the timber arrives a week on Monday. Can finish the painting and go for some walks...Phew!

vendredi 21 juillet 2006


Here it is...the finished path and patio and most of the windows and shutters in the new fetching blue. Was unbelievably hot today and was glad to finish by 1.00. Only had to step outside to burst into a drenching sweat. Went to see John this afternoon and sort out borrowing the cement mixer - though I'll think I'll wait until a cooler day, the thought of mixing two tonnes of concrete in this weather is not a good one.

jeudi 20 juillet 2006


For those shocked by a picture of a dead mammal (vermin) here's a cute cuddly reptile - a salamander to be precise which I spotted today during patio building. Looks like a regular lizard in a very thick wet suit! Works not quite finished yet despite my best efforts, so a photo tomorrow.

It's hard to get out of the UK work ethic of everything being finished yesterday. 2.00pm, 40 degrees and I'm still slaving away with sweat dripping from my brow, any sane human being would be taking a siesta! Still, the necessary works are progressing quickly which can only mean more time to relax in the cooler autumn. Found out that there is an area of climbing only 50 mins walk from the house - will check it out later in the week.

mercredi 19 juillet 2006

Loire-loire killed in gangland shooting

Sand and gravel finally arrived today, 4 days late but never mind. Meantime I have finished the sub-base of the workshop, met the mayor who is going to tell the owner of the ruin to demolish it or sell it (I hope the latter, to me), prepared the sub-base of the path and patio around the house and painted most of the shutters and windows blue (photos tomorrow). Two of the loires are dead (drive by shooting) but at least one more remains at's days are numbered!

Big thunderstorm this afternoon which cleared the air.

mardi 11 juillet 2006


Weather a little cooler today and after the usual fruitless trips to St Girons finally managed to find someone who can deliver aggregate and sand for the workshop floor. It seems a rule in France that no-one can sell you more than 75% of the things you need. Builders Merchants can sell me DPM, insulation, timber and cement but not aggregate!

The raised beds (of weeds) around the house have gone and the storm water drainage unblocked and reconnected. Sub base for the workshop is progressing well and should be ready to pour the slab early next week when I get back from the UK. Unfortunately I'll be missing Bastille day celebrations and the Tour de France which passes through St Giron on its way to Carcasonne.

Thanks for the card mum, arrived today.

dimanche 9 juillet 2006

Mont Valier

Today I decided to go for a walk in the mountains, the weather was set fair and after all I promised myself one walk a week. Where better to start than Mont Valier the mountain that dominates the view from Quelebu. I’ve climbed it several times usually over two days but there are many routes I haven’t tried yet. As I have to get my fitness back I thought I’d start with something tough! A long approach via the Port d’Aula (briefly into Spain) a traverse of Pic Pale, Petit Valier and Mont Valier, before returning over Petit Valier to descend via the Couloir Peyre Blanc. In all 8 hours of walking and about 6600ft of ascent. Tough it was, especially the descent, but the views were spectacular and it was good to stretch the legs

vendredi 7 juillet 2006

If you go down to the woods today...

A bear was spotted crossing the road in Castet d'Aleu a few days ago. Just a mile or so away and certainly less remote and further from 'bear country' than Quelebu.

I was wandering through the woods at twilight wondering why all the paths stay clear when no-one walks them except me. Now I know! Being attacked by a bear is no picnic.

jeudi 6 juillet 2006

Going, going, gone

Has taken two days but the old shed is now gone. Composed of more nails than wood, it was surprising robust. After the walls had gone I had a problem getting the roof down as it was supported by 6 tree trucks planted firmly in the ground. After plenty of excavation I still couldn't get it to fall over. I thought of using the chainsaw, but there was a good chance it might fall on top of me!

Enter the Suzuki! Engage low ratio 4WD attach a tow rope and hey presto - demolition derby. Clearing up the mess is proving harder work.

Last night the loire (edible dormouse) returned. I took a pot shot at it and missed so in revenge it ate my sunglasses! Not interested in food just expensive luxury goods. Perhaps tonight I will have the upper hand!

Rained this morning so made some cushions for the window seats and went for a walk.

mardi 4 juillet 2006

Je suis arrive

Another 21 hour epic in the suzuki, left the UK at 6.00am and arrived at quelebu 3am. The unbearable heat and noise of the journey were a killer, traffic in Paris was gridlocked and the cockpit temparature was 45 degrees wonder people die in the Paris heatwaves!

Hot and humid here and all my efforts to clear the field last spring are now laid to waste, the vegetation is 6 feet high! Scythed the front garden and unpacked the first car load of stuff. Tomorrow will start clearing the old shed of rubbish in readiness for the demolition.

samedi 1 juillet 2006

Al's here and work is over

Yippee my last day at work is finished... free at last. Al me old mucker is here, so we're catching up and eating barbeques tuna burgers.