samedi 30 juin 2007

Hot weather and thirsty pigs

Today has been a lovely hot day - about time as the rest of June has been pretty poor weatherwise. The Stonework on the barn is almost finished (tomorrow should see it complete) and the shuttering for the ring beam which will top the wall is well under way.
The pigs are constantly turning their water trough over which is driving me mad (refilling it is a major task). I've tried digging it into the ground and weighting it down with huge rocks but they are so strong they always manage to tip or push it over or - then they cry all afternoon because it's hot and they need a drink. I either need one of those ancient stone vessels that weighs in at several tonnes or an automatic drinker/fountain linked to a header tank somewhere the pigs can't reach it.

lundi 25 juin 2007


Finally sign for the barn on Thursday, so have started work. Demolishing the gables (which were leaning precariously), rebuilding the walls from random rubble and mud, and installing a new window opening in the ground floor. It's slow heavy work and you can never the find the stone to fit the gap!
The wood for the floor and roof arrives next week, so I hope to have all the walling finished by then.

vendredi 22 juin 2007

Mont Valier (2)

Took Sophie up Mont Valier yesterday via the Port d'Aula and Petit Valier. A beautiful hot day in Spain and cloudy and horrible in France. Fortunately, most of our walk was in Spain but the contrast of cloud one side of the frontier crest and sun the other made for some spectacular ridge walking. Unusually there was more snow on the southern spanish side than the northern french side.

From the summit there were the usual spectacular views across Spain to Pico Aneto and the Maladeta, to the north was a sea of cloud perhaps 1000ft below us.
We saw just one person during the walk but several marmots, izards and a bearded vulture.
Finding the Port d'Aula on the way back called for map and compass in the poor visibility and the descent to the car at the Col de Pause was in dense mist.
A long day (11 1/2 hours) and about 2000m of ascent.

dimanche 17 juin 2007

Pic Seron

The hay is all in and dry. I now have two large haycocks that settled to about half their original height (they're now about 6' high).
Sophie Martin is here for a week on her cycling tour of France. We climbed up to the Chateau Mirabat on Friday, visited the market in St G on Saturday and this afternoon climbed Pic Seron.

On the descent from Pic Seron, Pic de Mede in the background

Tomorrow it's back to work for me, recommencing wall building on the barn and thinning the carrots. Sophie is off for some day tours on her bike.

mercredi 13 juin 2007

Hay making day two

The rain stayed away today and the forecast is now for the possibility of a thunder storm late tomorrow evening - which should be time enough for the hay in field 2 to dry. It's already fluffy and rustles and is taking on that bluey green colour. I reckon it'll be ready by lunchtime tomorrow.

Meantime I've cut the grass in field 6 (the new one which is established meadow). It's so dense it was impossible to cut really close to the ground, even so there'll be plenty of hay as the growth was at least two and a half feet high. It's a big field and took about 5 hours (with a considerable break for lunch). I should have started at the crack of dawn when it's easier to cut but I elected to tidy the workshop to make room for the things brought from England, so it was a late start.

In medieval times they reckoned a good man could cut an acre of grass in a day with a scythe (although there's an account of a man cutting four acres!). I managed about an acre in 8 hours so I think it's official - I'm a peasant.

mardi 12 juin 2007

Hay making


Time to make hay. Hard work early this morning cutting the grass and flowers in field 2, but now it's down tossing it about is easy. It was hot today, but this evening Meteo France revised their forecast and now it looks like rain for Thursday. I'll probably throw it up into a haycock Wednesday night then take it down and let it dry a little more when the rain has passed. That's the beauty of a haycock - if I had to bale it, it would either be wet or ruined by being out too long.

lundi 11 juin 2007


I have just returned from a 5 day trip to the UK. Managed to decorate the flat from top to bottom, fit new tiled splashbacks in the kitchen, fix the bathroom light, varnish the floors, replace the copings on the shed, regrout the shower, clean, sell/swap and deliver the remaining contents (mostly furniture), catch up with family and friends and meet a potential thatcher to discuss details....needless to say I'm knackered!

The 22 hour non-stop drive back has just about wiped me out. It would have been quicker, but I was daydreaming and missed the Orleans turn off, ending up in Blois. I cut across country to pick up the autoroute again at Chatereaux, but nearly ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere. As always happens when I have an open top trailer of stuff on tow, it rained heavily; from Limoges onwards. It was a spectacular electrical storm, but made for difficult driving.

The pigs are bigger, as are the vegetables and ferns (though I've cut the latter down already). Fortunately, the last week has been warm and mostly dry, so the mud has gone.

...and I have my planning approvals - in writing - yippee!