jeudi 28 février 2013

King pin bearings

After getting in some wood it was time to tackle replacing the king pin bearings in the car.

There are four bearings to replace, two on each side of the car and it involves completely dismantling the front hubs, brakes, CV joints, drive shaft and steering. Apart from the fact that there is still snow on the ground, all went well until the star drive socket wouldn't reach the star bolts on the free wheeling hubs. I eventually managed to grind down the shoulders on the socket so it reached.  Then the steering arm connecting bolt started spinning so I couldn't undo it. After some research I worked out it was a taper pin and once I got the jack under it, I was able to undo it.

A very messy job as everything has to be degreased then re-greased. The driver's side is done (it took 6 hours and towards the end I was lying in a puddle of melting snow, mud and grease residue) but the passenger side will have to wait until the weekend as a little more snow is due tonight and tomorrow.

mercredi 27 février 2013


Back to France, snowy and sunny here...19 degrees in the sun but cold in the house as it's been very cold here the last few days. Rayburn alight!

samedi 23 février 2013

London trip

A trip to London to see Pina Bausch's "Vollermond" at Sadler's Wells Theatre (Susie's birthday present from me). We also went to the National Gallery to escape the cold, wandered around Covent Garden and ate at Jamie's Italian Restaurant (Jamie Oliver's chain of restaurants).

We stopped over with Andy and Emma in East Dulwich, who treated us to an amazing breakfast.

mardi 19 février 2013

Swine flu

I can't remember the last time I spent a whole day in bed through illness, but this flu virus is really vile and has wiped me out (as it had already to Susie and the kids). Managed to get some fresh air today - and although it's miraculously stopped raining and there's even a glimmer of blue sky, it's still cold and damp.

samedi 16 février 2013


At last some dry weather so I can start rendering and pointing the rear wall in Totnes. Harling coat on.

vendredi 15 février 2013


Came home to a household of sickies. Jasper, Ruby and Susie all have a terrible flu virus. Finally after week of nursing they're getting better but now inevitably I'm going down with it : (

lundi 11 février 2013

Lots of snow

Another 20cm overnight but managed to get away safely to the airport. 420cm lying on the ground at the Port d'Aula weather station and plenty more to come at that altitude (2100m). It's an exceptional snow year.

samedi 9 février 2013

Joubac (ski)

As the weather and visibility didn't look promising at Guzet and with so much snow here I decided to make a ski tour from the house. I left ski's on feet and on reaching La Bordasse headed up Joubac. It's a modest 1069m high but there's a good descent and the powder was oh so deep and light! Skinning up for the first time was hard work - breaking trail through deep snow, but subsequent ascents on the same skin track were much easier.

Problems with the ageing GoPro headcam so alas no videos (think I fixed it now).

I made four complete descents, the final one ending up at Serge and Danni's house for a coffee!

No problems with the recently broken foot or remembering how to ski!

Leaving the house skis on feet

Arrival at the summit

The amazing views (note wind sock in photo above, it's a high mountain airstrip in summer)

Nearing the top for descent number four

Still snowing here tonight and more forecast over coming days! An update on works here, Jasper's room complete except for some painting and Ruby's should be in the same state by bedtime. The Utility is now almost finished too.

vendredi 8 février 2013

Still dumping it down

Forecast is now for another day of heavy snow tomorrow (Saturday)...we're close to 4m at 2100m in the Couserans which is more than I can ever remember having here. Spring touring looking very promising.

Visibility looking very poor at Guzet tomorrow so a plan is forming to make a ski tour from the front door : )

jeudi 7 février 2013

Snow update

A lull this afternoon before the next 36 hour storm hits. A couple of feet everywhere and now a cool 3.6m at 2100m. I put on the snowshoes to visit John and Sandrine and take a quick wander.

 Where did the road go?

 The barn

As the snowplough didn't come until 4.00pm escape was impossible so I've also pressed on with progressing Jasper and Ruby's bedrooms and sanding the beams in the kitchen. Getting to Pont to complete some minor works there and replacing the car's kingpin bearings is looking less and less likely, as more heavy snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow.

Ice station zebra

snow encrusted windows

 Well over the wellies

Strong winds and more snow overnight. Drifting has coated everything with snow even the windows!

mercredi 6 février 2013

mardi 5 février 2013

Snow gone - for a day at least

After a wasted trip to St Girons to sign some documents at the notaire's that weren't ready, I made the most of the dry weather this afternoon. Clearing up branches, boughs and a couple of fallen willow trees in the fields, repairing fences, hopefully mending a small leak where the old house and new extension roof join and mending a broken slate from last winter, where a chunk of ice fell from the ridge onto the dormer roof.

After heavy snow I love the way the fields look "neat". All the mole hills and vegetation has been squashed flat.

Rain then snow due tomorrow, then snow off and on until at least Monday. Hope to get a ski in sometime this week.

Update: 10.00 pm and already snowing hard!

lundi 4 février 2013


Mild on arrival with the snow here melting fast, but temperatures quickly dropped at sunset and more snow on the way Wednesday! Rayburn stoked to get the house warm.

samedi 2 février 2013

Coast walk

After a rushed MOT on the car this morning (all well), Dom, Susie and I made the most of some rare sun. It's a consequence of the high pressure system that is currently dumping more snow on the Pyrenees (where I'll be on Monday).

Cold in the icy breeze but good to see the sun. We also saw a huge seal, but alas he decided to dive when I reached for the camera.

A 25m high navigation tower