samedi 28 janvier 2012

Tour of Cirque de Campuls

A glorious day out in the mountains. I had a late start (after a late night finishing the plumbing) but by 10.20 was on the hill heading for the cabane de Campuls. It was icy as climbed into the cirque above the cabane and soon put on my crampons. They stayed on my boots for the whole day.
The Etang d'Ayes was frozen and I continued to climb up to the smaller Etang de Bellonguere where I caught the first of the sun. The icy crystals were sparkling and the combination of warm sun and cold air magnificent.
From here I followed a vague ridge steeply upwards to the east before striking south along the ridge to the corniced summit of Pic de la eyre Blanque (2176m). The snow here was hard as ice and great care was needed as only the tips of my crampon oints could penetrate the snow and give me grip. Good practice of "french crampon technique". After lunch on the summit I contemplated descending to the cabane d'Eycheil where I stayed with Susie, Jasper and Ruby last spring - but the snow here was soft and balling up under my boots. So instead I stayed on the ridge and descended northwards to Tuc de la Seube and then Col de Auedole, before the descent on GR10 back to the car.
My only company the whole day was an Isard.

mardi 24 janvier 2012


Yesterday evening a visit from escaped cows.
A change of tack today to escape plumbing for a short while. Infilling the window openings in the flank of the front dormer (weatherproofing is more important right now and I won't have the time to build the windows for some time), sealing around the frames and a bit of tidying in the fields.

Tomorrow a day in the hills as the weather is set fair.

lundi 23 janvier 2012

I f***ing hate pumbing

The never ending torture that is plumbing continues. Three delayed action leaks (24 hours after filling the pipework) all in the same run of pipework and each one occurring about 3 hours after the preceding was one fixed, have driven me to the point of despair. The water dripping from the first woke me at 5am this morning, water everywhere. I'm beginning to wonder if I have a bad batch of solder. In which case the last 3 days work will have to be dismantled and completely redone. The entire trip will have been a waste of time.

I need a day in the mountains as far away from plumbing as is humanly possible.

jeudi 19 janvier 2012

Windows, walls and tractors

A beautiful day with clear skies, cool air and hot sun. In the morning I added some new mouldings to the windows which had leaked in the storm in December. Then I put silicon between the timber beads and the glass and mastic between the frames and sub-frames. Hopefully that should sort it out!
After a quick lunch I pressed on with finishing the retaining wall and clearing the pile of rubble next to the new entrance. All finished but before i could take a picture John and Nat arrived.

Nat had managed to get his little tractor stuck in one of the fields below Pinsou - the engine wouldn't start and it sounded terminal to me. About 100m of rope and a pulley were required to pull it out with John's landrover. I was middleman relaying commands and retying the rope when required. Once on the road the job wasn't over as we had to get the tractor into the barn. John's landrover couldn't pull it up the muddy track, so I went to get my jimny which did the trick. The last manoeuvre required all our effort as we had to push the thing into the barn manually.

mercredi 18 janvier 2012

Back to Quelebu

Back to France and a flat battery in the car which was parked at the airport. No idea why as nothing was left on. After several futile attempts at pushing and bump starting the car single-handedly, I remembered that breakdown assistance is included with my french car insurance...what a relief!

Weather here lovely, though I think that may change in next few days. No worries though as I have plenty of indoor work to do on the house extension.

mardi 10 janvier 2012

AVIVA insurance "taking the piss"

I've been driving since 1985 and never made an insurance claim, but do you think I can get a UK insurer to recognise this? In France I have 6 years no claims bonus (or a Coefficient de reduction-Majoration of 0.68). Because I haven't had insurance in the UK for more than 2 years, I now have 0 years no claims bonus.

I got an insurance quote and the broker said that the underwriter AVIVA would accept my French CRM provided I got the relevent documents from my insurers and had them translated into English, which I have spent the last 5 days doing. Now it transpires that AVIVA won't accept the statement of CRM, but must have a letter from the french insurer stating the number of years without a claim, they then want this letter translated into English by a certified translator, then the translation of the letter to be printed by the French Insurance Company on their headed paper, then the reprinted translated letter to be sent back to the translator to be officially stamped, then the stamped reprinted translation of the original letter to be sent to AVIVA in the UK for consideration as to whether or not they will accept it. I can guess what the answer will be.

If I had car insurance with AVIVA in the UK and decided to move to Iceland, I wonder if they would agree to translate all my car insurance documents into Icelandic and get them officially certified for me?

Pheasant Casserole

A lovely new recipe. Game is very reasonably priced these days because most people (in the UK at least) don't know what to do with it! A brace of pheasant is cheaper than a single chicken.

I marinated the pheasant in a mixture of olive oil, fresh ginger, orange juice, a little grated orange zest and tarragon leaves for 24 hours before making my traditional slow stew by browning the meat in a pan with some butter and lardons, deglazing the pan with some red wine, then adding some stock, carrots and a bay leaf before slow cooking it for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. An hour before it was ready I added some lightly fried whole shallots. I served it with roast potatoes, curly kale and carrots.

vendredi 6 janvier 2012

New Car

For the last year or so Dominic has been lending us his car when I was back in the UK and in need. Finally though, we have our own wheels - a 1974 Saab 95! A day of fiddling and it's all in working order except for the heater control (the broken cable for that is on order). Just need to find a passenger door wing mirror and a spare wheel.

dimanche 1 janvier 2012

Walk on the moor

A reasonably long walk (12.5 miles) on Dartmoor with Susie and Dominic yesterday. Rainy and windy all day with poor visibility but good to stretch the legs nevertheless. The River Dart was in spate and we watched some kayakers tackling the river.