Monday, July 18, 2011


Weather changed about ten days ago. Turned windy, then storm clouds moved in. Gave the dogs a quick walk out back before the rain started. Big flash of lightning, then thunder. Dogs panicked. Managed a quick snap of Jock running for cover. Took 'em home just as the rain started. Really needed that rain. Saves the effort (and expense - we're on water meters out here) of watering the plants. Always feel a bit guilty chucking buckets of water on plants when there's a bit of a drought on. Valley stream was down to a trickle. And I imagine the local reservoir was spookily low. Been a lot cooler since that storm. Looks like high summer's over. Bit of a shame because Alain and Colette's two sons and various grand-kids (Christopher's about my height now, which ain't saying much but there you go) have just arrived from Paris for their six week summer break, along with a few relatives of other neighbours from our hamlet. Hopefully for them, the weather will improve soon.

The rose plant that Georgie bought on a recent visit, which I planted after she left, seems to be surviving. Always gave it top priority when the drought was on. Chucked the dishwater on it every evening while the other plants went without. And the apple tree outside the front door is doing equally well. Maybe because I always slung the dishwater and washing machine water on it in the weeks before we had the septic tank emptied. Georgie heard (probably on one of her gardening progs) that a good apple tree should have apples spaced about four inches apart. Well, as the photo shows, it doesn't seem to work that way out here. Ate one the other day. Bit acidic but very refreshing. Whilst on the subject of le jardin, spotted a wasps' nest in a hole in the ground. Wasps coming and going at an alarming rate. Thought about emptying a kettle of boiling water down the hole and then running like mad, but decided against it. Live and let live. They'll be gone by winter. And there's another nest in the shed, hanging from the ceiling. About the size of a small football. Looks like it's made from off-white tissue paper. Fascinating thing. Bit nervy taking the lawnmower in and out of the shed but, so far, no problem. And..., Georgie said she spotted a bees' nest in the compost heap. Haven't investigated that one. I tend to keep clear.

Haven't been doing much lately. Mainly due to following the Tour de France on telly. I'm absolutely addicted. Been watching it for about fifteen years. Ever since the days of Greg Lemond. This year's tour isn't a classic though. But maybe it'll liven up when they hit the Alps tomorrow (Tuesday). Nobody's yet grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and gone for broke. It's all a bit cat and mouse. However, the British sprinter Mark Cavendish has been performing brilliantly and currently holds the green jersey. Surely a contender for BBC's Sports Person of the Year (or whatever it's called). Trouble is, cycling's a bit low profile in the UK. Incidentally, great shame Wiggins dropped out with a broken collar bone. He was in with a great chance of winning. My personal hero so far is that chap (Hoogaloogen? Goolahoogen?) who was knocked off his bike by a car (French camera crew) and flung onto a barbed wire fence which ripped his bum and thighs and required 33 stitches. Rode the next day and, I think, is still going strong. Can't wait for the next bit of action (today's a rest day).

What else? Ah yes, my on-going cold. Had it ever since the weather changed. Getting a bit bored with the damned thing now. Raided the medicine cupboard last night for some aspirin or cold cure stuff. Lots in there but all the 'use by' dates seem to be around four or five years ago. Must chuck 'em out. I always reckon the best cure for a cold is fresh air. Loads of it. So, recently, I've been dogwalking with a sweater, fleece, rainmac and pockets stuffed with paper hankies. Not exactly yer usual attire for July. Thus dressed, I went up the Lightning Tree hill yesterday with the mutts. Raining when we left home but cleared up at the top of the hill. View splendid as ever. Took a few snaps. Well, silly not to.

Being a lazy burger rendered even lazier by a man-cold, I've been occupying my spare time by surfing the net. Fantasising about buying a UK gaff is a favourite game. However, the enjoyment factor is always considerably lessened by a budgetary constraint of around £140k. Spotted a rather nice place just outside Louth (sis's town) in Manby, Lincolnshire, for only £130k (semi-detached with garden and west-facing open fields to rear). And another one in Gosport for £145k (close to sea, needs modernising, with garage but north-facing garden; pricey compared to oop north but cheap for daan saarf due to relatively close links to London). Have also been fantasising about living on a narrowboat (website: Apollo Duck - but don't look, you'll get hooked) and cruising Britain's canals. Completely impractical of course (no room for cars or bikes) but rather fun. I get the impression many old gits of my age have had the same idea so I presume the inland waterways are getting more crowded than ever. Cost of a newish liveaboard narrowboat? About £80k. Then there's the mooring fees, licences, depreciation, upkeep (boats have to be taken out of the water, painted and fitted with new anodes - whatever they are - every five minutes) plus other costs. Nightmare. Forget it. Mind you, it's fun looking at the flashy interiors. Big question though: how do meandering boat people get their post?

And while I'm rambling on, what a joy to hear of that portly Scottish couple winning £161million on the lottery. Bless 'em. Reminds me of a couple of years ago when I fantasised about spending the paltry £90million(?) that another couple won. Am tempted to repeat the exercise by surfing the net once more for French chateaux, Porsches, holiday homes, etc. But that'll be a complete waste of time. Far better to get dressed, walk the dogs, hop in the car to Aubusson and buy some paint to re-do the front door and shutters. And maybe get some cold cure stuff.