Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A sunny walk out back

Bright sunshine this morning. Warm too. Really pleasant change after the freezing cold and snow of the last few days. Took wee Jockie for a walk out back. Took my camera too despite already having a million boring photos of dogwalks. Was half hoping I might see the last of the migrating cranes heading south. But none showed up. Good colours at this time of year though. Green leaves turning to brown, yellow and red. Seemed to be lots of red about including holly berries, rose hips and some other plant with pinky type berries or flowers - haven't a clue what it is but it certainly brightened up the hedgerows. The clear morning air led to great views. Strange to think that yesterday I couldn't even see across the valley for mist and cloud. And today, at the top of the hill behind our house, I could see forever.

Walk done, I slung Jockie into the dogwagon and headed for Felletin to buy bread and milk. Also planned to have a crack at tonight's EuroMillions because there have been about half a dozen rollovers and the jackpot now stands at about 80 million euros (should come in handy). But..., the lottery caff was shut. So, this afternoon, I shall head for the lottery caff in Aubusson. Complete waste of money of course, but ya gotta be in it to win it.


Full moon and splinter

Brilliant full moon with a halo last night. Bit tricky to photograph though. Tweaked it a bit but it still isn't anywhere near as impressive as the real thing.

Er, it was a bit tricky to photograph not only because it was night time and I didn't have a tripod, but also because the end of my right index finger (the camera shutter finger) was covered with an Elastoplast. This was the result of a self-administered operation to remove a quarter inch splinter gained when hurriedly picking up a log from the woodpile without gloves. I knew the splinter had to be removed immediately so I fitted a new blade to my scalpel and got stuck in. Cutting the skin in line with the splinter proved a bit difficult because I'm not left-handed. The operation was made even more difficult because I'm squeamish and therefore kept pulling my finger away from the shining blade. However, I eventually cut through, squeezed the embedded end of the splinter towards the entry point, grabbed the emerging other end with a pair of tweezers, pulled, and out the little bastard came, followed by a trickle of blood. Washed the cut, applied Savlon and then a plaster. Operation successful. Celebrated with a well earned scotch.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Heading south

Must have been last Monday evening. Walking Jocky in the forest out back. Suddenly heard a funny old noise. Sounded like a bunch of chirping frogs. But there wasn't a pond or lake for miles. Stopped and listened a little more closely. I recognised the noise but couldn't place it. Then I remembered: migrating cranes. Hurried to an open clearing and looked skywards. Spotted a long ribbon of cranes flying high and heading south. The French call that ribbon a 'bande'. At a guess, the bande consisted of about 400 birds, or maybe more. A magnificent sight. Then they were gone and the sky was silent. Walked on a bit further and heard the distant chirping again. Rushed to a open space and spotted a second wave approaching. Another bande, bigger than the first. Watched in awe as they passed overhead and slowly disappeared in the southern sky. A sure sign that summer was over. Always amazes me how they follow the same route going north in spring and south in autumn. Not exactly sure, but I think they spend summer in Russia and winter in Africa. Shall have to find out more.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera when the cranes flew over (above photo borrowed from internet). Took it with me the following evening when I walked Jock up the Sprocket Hill area. Clear blue sky, but no sign of any cranes. Great shame. I've witnessed this magnificent spectacle about seven or eight times and every time my camera's been left behind on the kitchen table. Typical. Maybe I'll be lucky next spring. Anyways, while I was up there I took a few snaps. Nothing special, just a cloudless sunset. Took the camera out again the following evening, up the Cemetery Run, in the hope that I might catch a few late-flying cranes. None appeared, so I snapped the old orchard trees that will be the subject of my next painting, a few cows in the far field, the low sunlight hitting some forest trees, and the view across the valley towards our hamlet which I've used as my new header (our house is on the left). Arrived back home and snapped some white smoke coming out of the chimney. Good to know the fire hadn't gone out. Noticeable that the evenings are getting chillier and shorter. Gets dark at about seven. That'll be six when the clocks go back later tonight. Also snapped yesterday's sunrise. Red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning. The warning was a day early. Sure enough, we had a flurry of snow this morning. Not much, just a dusting. Freezing cold though. But then, around midday, the sun came out and the snow disappeared.

Those cranes definitely moved south at exactly the right time. Amazes me how they know when to go and which route to take. Truly incredible.

P.S. - Clocks gone back. Winter time begins. Sunday dawned a bit snowy...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Decision time

Just had nine days with Georgie. She flew out a week ago last Saturday. Flew back yesterday. All a bit sad because it's the first time she's been here without Sprocket. He really has left a big hole in our lives. One minute he was there, and the next he wasn't. Made us both realise that time is precious. Not just our time with the dogs, but with each other. Over the last dozen or so years we've been apart more than we've been together. And that's wrong. I felt the time was right to try and make some decisions about planning more of a life together instead of just drifting along as we are. And I think Georgie felt the same. Trouble is, we both find it incredibly difficult to make decisions. It'd be easy if we were rich. But we ain't. Still, at least we gave it a try.

One of the many things we decided was not to rush into replacing Sprocket. Another was not to rush into selling either this house or 'the barn' down Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne way, or both, and possibly moving back to the UK. The best way forward seemed to be slowly slowly. Maybe do a bit of work to this house (not expensive major stuff), then get a realistic idea of its value and then decide what to do. It was good talking about that because I sometimes forget its good points, such as location, view, originality, etc. Similarly the barn and ruin, which, despite their dilapidated state, are in a location which wins prizes. Overall, I think we decided to look on the bright side rather than think doom and gloom. Had a bit of a giggle because that's the way Sprocket would have done it. Maybe not so slowly slowly though!

Surprising how quickly those nine days passed. And it's always the same. Just as soon as we sort of get used to each other's company, it's time for Georgie to get packed and driven off to Limoges airport. Two hours there, and two hours back. We usually leave the dogs at home for the trip, but now that's Sprock's gone I've started taking Jock with me wherever I go, so as not to leave him on his own. Took him for a sunny stroll up the Lightning Tree area, which I've renamed Sprocket Hill, when we returned home. Stood admiring the view as the sun slowly dipped towards evening and asked myself would I rather be here or back in the UK? Daft question really, but one never knows what the future has in store.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


For the last couple of days Jock's taken to sitting by the front gate and peering into the distance, occasionally barking. Not sure, but I think he's waiting for Sprocket to come home. We all miss him. Been a week now.