lundi 31 mars 2014

Spent the morning finishing off the loft hatch, then headed out to split logs from the recent tree clearances. Was hot and humid and I ran out of steam - so headed off for a walk in search of morels (3 weeks early but you never know). None to be found but a made a circuit around Biech, Col de Bologne and Cane.


Mr caterpillar, he'll turn into a scarlet tiger moth (below)

Mr Wild Goat can you spot him?

Haven't seen him for a few years, so was good to know he's still alive. 
It's a long camera shot - couldn't get any closer

Ladder in place

Ladder gone! The trap doors should keep the bedroom warmer in winter.

Some opening up for the dormer project!

dimanche 30 mars 2014

Up early this morning, two more bonfires lit, all around the house strimmed, some more fallen trees logged and tidied away. 

Both the newly cleared area down near the barn and the field in the woods were also strimmed to clear the brambles and saplings that had started to invade.

Then it was on with installing an outside light in the porch, it's been annoying me for sometime that when I have to split logs or kindling in the winter I can't see what I'm doing.

In the late afternoon I went for a stroll with camera in hand. There a lot of big trees down this winter, difficult to photograph and get a sense of the devastation, but torn and smashed oaks boughs of 50cm diameter give an indication of the forces involved when big trees fall.

With the warm weather there are many flowers - it's very early but is it worth a look for Morels?


 cuckoo flower


 early purple orchid


 stellarium nemorum


 sedge (not sure which)



samedi 29 mars 2014

Paddle stair

From the remnants of the old attic stair (which got cut into two to make a temporary stair for house) I've built this paddle stair. More of ladder than a stair really. It will give access to the attic but being portable it will also give access to the deck over our bed (where it'll live most of the time) and the little attic over Jasper and Ruby's bedrooms.

Hot gusty South wind today, so no fires.

vendredi 28 mars 2014

Trees, viruses and flowers

Back to France and warm balmy weather, although it had snowed the night before I arrived at Quelebu (traces of snow were still in the garden). 

The computer here had a virus which occupied most of last night and today (on and off) to eradicate. I had to reinstall windows and managed to get stuck in a loop where windows wouldn't let me log on until I'd registered my copy of XP, but I couldn't do this because I needed to log on to get on the internet. When I eventually solved this problem, I spent most the afternoon scanning the hard disks to get rid of the virus which had wrecked my PC.

Today I set to clearing more of the hung-up trees - brought three down and logged them. Also burnt 1 of 5 big piles of branches as well as starting to clear the area between the barn and the new field below which has been full of fallen trees and brambles since I moved here.

Still got these hung-up trees to bring down

Chainsaw problems this afternoon, but as always a damn good clean and some fiddling with the carburettor seems to have it working again.

Flowers are starting to come out - violets, cowslips, hepatica, vetch, lungwort and speedwell.

 Also made a start on the new paddle stair which will serve the attic and other assorted decks - need to get some wood tomorrow so more on that project then.

dimanche 23 mars 2014

Another walk to Red Lake

 Allotment dug over and potatoes planted

Another walk to Red Lake today, this time in the reverse direction and with Susie. Strong cold wind and a short hale storm in the afternoon but otherwise a good stomp to blow the spider's webs away. Susie drove both ways, her driving test is getting close!

 Sharp Tor

Susie on the barren moor close to Red Lake

samedi 22 mars 2014

Big oak brackets

Made these to finish off one of the jobs at Cornworthy. I'm currently busy with jobs in France (back there at the end of next week) and an interesting project here in Totnes to remove most of the load bearing walls in a 1970's house and turn it into something with a contemporary, open-plan design...more later.

mardi 18 mars 2014


Happy Birthday to me! Susie bought me this lovely watch...I'm very happy as my old Seiko is nearly 20 years old and battered.

Thank-you for all the birthday wishes.

lundi 17 mars 2014

Cleaning the sensor on an Olympus XZ-1

Ever since I bought my second hand Olympus XZ-1 there has been two large bits of dust on the sensor, visible whenever I have a small aperture or use some of the art filters. I have searched the internet far and wide for several months trying to find some instructions on how to clean it yourself. A couple of weeks ago I found a forum where someone described how to take the back off the camera, which I promptly did but the screws holding the sensor were glued in place, so I could only get to the back of it. I vacuumed vigorously but after reassembling there was no change.

Annoyed by more spoiled photos yesterday I starting looking for a new camera, but the price of something decent is scary and I have no money. The cost of Olympus UK cleaning the sensor on the XZ-1 is £90 + postage - this amounts to almost what the camera is worth, so I decided to have another try.

Once the camera was open, I removed the flat shiny plate that wraps around two sides of the sensor (held in place by two screws. It is then possible to lift some of the orange plastic circuit tapes and get a better look at the image stabilizer mounts that carry the sensor (these are the series of sliding frames held on stainless steel rods with tiny springs). This whole assembly and the sensor is held in place by three screws. These need to be carefully undone with the camera lens down (there are tiny loose washers on each screw between the assembly and the rest of the camera), then the whole assembly with the sensor still attached can be carefully lifted away giving access to the sensor and inside of the lens. I gave both a careful wipe with a new lens cloth and after reassembly the camera is as new again!

Whole job took no more than 20 minutes...definitely not a job for the faint hearted, fat handed or clumsy though.

dimanche 16 mars 2014

Red Lake

A stomp today from Harford to Red Lake via Piles Hill, Sharp tor, Three Barrows and Quickbeam Hill.
Return by the Erme Valley. About 10 miles or so in balmy temperatures but a steady North wind on the moor.

Red Lake spoil heap plus those two annoying bits of dust on the sensor!

Upper Erme valley

jeudi 13 mars 2014

Spent this week building a glass roofed lean-to for a client, weather's been rather nice for change.

dimanche 9 mars 2014

Yarner woods

After months of storms some sunshine at last in the UK. Dominic, Bridget, Susie and I profitted from the weather with an afternoon stroll in Yarner woods.

 Tree life

 Wood ants

Tits on the feeder

...and the best of Dominics photos taken with SLR and telephoto lens.

jeudi 6 mars 2014

Thick Ear

 A great days skiing at Guzet with Ian today. I felt a bit rusty at first and the snow was very compact and a little icy so you needed to be on yours edges. We soon headed over to Freychet and after a couple of runs on the right-hand side we switched to the left and found some lovely steep skiing hors piste on the steepest part of the slope. I was skiing well and about three fifths of the way down decided to stop. I managed but just lost my balance and skidded onto my bum...and I was off, sliding down the slope! It was close to forty degrees and icy and there was no way to stop. I tried self arrest with my pole, tried turning from skis first to head first but couldn't stop, I knew there was a safe run-out but I was heading for the piste to our right and at top velocity managed to narrowly miss a piste marker pole (1/2" diameter rod) except for my ear which smacked it hard. Eventually stopped about 200m lower down a little shaken but otherwise fine. Only yesterday I was reading about slopes above 35 degrees being "no fall terrain" when skiing on Wildsnow as it's impossible to stop if it's icy.

 The slide

My big red swollen ear.

Close up of my thick ear which feels like a lump of steak grafted onto my head.

It's half term at the moment in this part of France, so Guzet was heaving and it took a couple of hours to get our lunch and the queues at the lifts were long and slow, but today was about soaking up the sun (which is forecast to shine here for the next 10 - 14 days) and chewing the fat with my old friend Ian.

Early morning alpenglow

Gonna be a blue bird ski day  : )  : )  : )