September 24, 2021

I knew this would happen

So my Fimi X8 SE 2020 quadcopter became stuck up a tree a couple of days ago and there was some urgency getting it back down again because we are expecting thunderstorms tomorrow and continuing wet weather on Sunday. So after thinking about it I went ahead and ordered a ‘starter’ archery set comprising a 60″ bow and a set of three or four arrows, I’ve forgotten exactly what the ad said.

My idea was to fire an arrow up into the tree with eg a fishing line attached to it which could be used to pull up a rope with which to shake the tree branch and release the Fimi. However, the next day (yesterday) I came across a super video on Youtube that showed how to build a simple device to perform the same job much more elegantly, it seemed to me, and more cheaply also.

So although I couldn’t now cancel the bow order, I ordered some of the required items from the internet yesterday (a metre of surgical tubing and a cheap-as-chips fixed spool fishing reel and line) and picked up the remainder (2 metres of 25mm PVC waste pipe, 2.4 metres of thin wooden dowel, some rope and some strong cord) from Brico Depot while I was there buying some tubing and connectors with which to install the water heaters that I have ready to go into my caravan.

I was all ready to make a start by lunch time, so took another quick look at the Youtube video to take notes on the method of construction and within half an hour had my quadcopter retrieval device all ready to go. I took a couple of practice shots just with an arrow and no fishing line attached and was amazed by its power and then with the fishing line attached to the arrow it was time to move to the next phase.

I’m not an angler and have never used a fixed spool fishing reel before and it took me a while to find out how it worked and how not to end up with bundles of fishing line entwined around my feet. Once I’d mastered that (not well enough but it got better and I only ended up wasting a couple of small bundles of line) it was time to use the device in earnest. The first shot went off like a damp squib but I put that down as just being part of the learning curve, reeled everything back in, re-attached the fishing line that had pulled off and had another go.

It took several attempts maybe around seven or eight, but less than ten, before I managed to place the arrow in about the right place in the oak tree relative to where the Fimi was stuck and see it come back to earth with the fishing line still attached to it. It had gone too far, into the next tree, but at its highest point seemed to be positioned about right and yanking on it did move the small branch on which the Fimi was perched.

So I carefully removed the arrow, attached a length of the string followed by the end of the rope and then went back to the fishing reel end and began carefully reeling in the line as though I was trying to land a large fish. The line got stuck a couple of times so I had to release the tension and give the rope a shake in the hope that that would allow it to clear whatever the obstruction was and lo and behold, eventually the end of the rope appeared up in the canopy of the oak.

After a few more moments of reeling, the rope was almost in reach. But not quite. If I had continued reeling away, it would have raised the other end of the rope until it was out of my reach. The rope was too short and I needed to find a way of lengthening it. Trouble is, the only other rope I have is in store but when I looked in the back of my car I found an old length about a metre long and some cord. I joined those together and attached them to the other end of the rope and went back to reeling.

To cut a long story short, with the extra I was just able to reach both ends but was unable to pull on them together at the same time, so I tied the loose end round a tree trunk and went back to vigorously pulling the other from a position from where I could see what was happening to the Fimi. And here’s what happened.

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Whoever came up with the idea for this device was a genius because after taking just a few attempts to get the arrow on target, it worked like a charm. After just a few shakes of the branch, my Fimi was released and came tumbling down to the ground. I’d hoped to catch it if it did, was just unable to but did manage to break its fall on landing. With the tree still being in full leaf (part of the reason why the Fimi was trapped in the first place) it suffered no ill effects on the way down and having had its fall broken, it landed in quite soft grass. And I’m glad to say that a quick test (quick mainly because it was beginning to get fairly dark) revealed that it seems to be absolutely no worse for wear after its experiences and being left out up a tree for two nights.

Here’s a shot showing the rope still in place after the Fimi had been recovered that gives an idea of the height at which it had been trapped – I’d estimate something like 15, perhaps even more, metres up.

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So all’s well that ends well, as we say. Trouble now is that I’ve got a brand new bow and arrow set arriving tomorrow. I just knew that would happen. I don’t see myself as an archer and don’t really have any interest in it, so the kit will possibly be a candidate for Le Bon Coin? Maybe…

September 24, 2021

Here we go

Right, after two deliveries today and picking up some items from Brico Depot yesterday, I’ve now got all of the components necessary to make my own device for retrieving my Fimi quadcopter from the oak tree where it’s currently resting.

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I’ve got to nip out to pick up some insulating tape though, because I forgot that the roll I already have is in my toolbox that’s in storage. After that I’ll press on to make what I hope will be the means of getting my Fimi back. Fingers crossed 😉

September 23, 2021

Aw shucks!

I should have searched yesterday before ordering my bow and arrow set. I just came cross this much more elegant, and possibly cheaper, solution.

I think my Fimi would be a prime candidate for one of these things and I’m wondering if I should put one together without waiting for my bow and arrows to arrive. The concept of firing a projectile into the tree is obviously the correct one but the idea contained in this video looks to be a much more effective way of going about it. And the ‘projectiles’ used would be cheaper too.

September 22, 2021

More frustration

My super Fimi X8 SE 2020 quadcopter is stuck up a tree.

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It was my own fault, but not entirely. I was flying it a day or two ago and the battery I was using suddenly came up with a fault message. Luckily it wasn’t too far from home at the time so I brought it back but kept it flying and although it eventually displayed a message saying that it was at 0 volts and had to land, I still had time to bring it back from about 100 metres away and land it. Plus it almost had the normal flight duration.

I decided that I’d check the battery out again today but keep the Fimi close by while doing so and initially all was well, but this time whereas the initial warning message came up at about 50% voltage (I think), this time it came up at around 80%. Clearly the battery does now have a fault but after the previous experience I thought that I’d see the flight out.

I was only flying at around 30 metres distance but had decided to try to capture some shots of some housemartins that were wheeling over some trees not far from my caravan and as the battery seemed to be performing as before, I thought that I’d have enough time left to bring the Fimi back safely as the battery was still showing around 50%. However, without warning it suddenly gave a message that it would have to land immediately and started to do so.

I tried to cancel the landing but it ignored my command and descended into a tree. It was a soft landing and I don’t think that there was any chance that the Fimi was damaged. However, it’s supported something like 30 or 40 feet up in a canopy of oak leaves. The question now is, how do I retrieve it as it would be impossible to put a ladder up or climb up there?

I could leave it for a while to see if it become dislodged by the wind but I don’t like that idea as although the Fimi’s body is waterproof, I’m not sure that moisture couldn’t get into its electric motors. Here’s another shot taken using my Zino quadcopter which shows that the Fimi is actually on its side, which could be a good thing.

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Being on its side effectively makes it narrower. I think that I’m going to have to put a weight onto a strong, thin cord and see if I can throw it up over the branch that the Fimi’s stuck on and see if I can either catch it on one of the upward pointing motor arms or shake it around a bit and dislodge it, catching it before it hits the ground if it does fall.

If that doesn’t work, and it doesn’t look encouraging because although I might have been able to throw a weight that high when I was a bit younger, after experimenting with a few rocks, I can’t now. I don’t know what else to do – maybe a bow and arrow would work – otherwise I’ll have to see if the wind does dislodge it. However, we’re not expecting winds of any strength at all until this coming Sunday and then we’re also likely to be getting quite heavy rain. Taken all round, it’s another frustration that I really don’t need right now. And a rather expensive one at that 🙁

FOOTNOTE

I’m back to say that after thinking about it, I’ve ordered a bow and arrow set. Wim is a keen archer and has one but he’s off with Sophie for a short break and won’t be back until after the week-end when we expect to see some quite heavy rain. That won’t do the Fimi any good at all if it’s still up in the tree. Here’s what I’ve ordered, which should be delivered in a couple of days – can’t do anything about that unfortunately, and we’ve been getting some heavy overnight dew lately.

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It’s what is referred to as a ‘débutante’s’ kit – ie for an adult beginner that’s a good step up from a child’s toy, which I wouldn’t think would be at all suitable. The bow is a 60″ with a pull pressure of 26 lbs. If I can’t throw a weight on a string high enough into the tree the only alternative, aside from calling the Incredible Hulk, will be to fire it up there and I think a bow is the only practical alternative. It comes with three or four arrows and I only hope that I don’t lose them all in the tree while trying to rescue the Fimi…

September 20, 2021

I’m gobsmacked

Having applied for an electricity supply on my land, I’ve been batted backwards and forwards, initially between the two state-owned organisations EDF and Enedis, and more latterly between Enedis and SDE24, another public sector business, since mid-May. I’ve been getting to grips with the latter two over recent days, a most frustrating experience at the best of times due to the stultifyingly bureaucratic manner in which both operate.

I brought things to a head at the end of last week when after confirming that it is SDE24’s responsibility to extend the mains electrical cable onto my land and for Enedis then to make the final connection, I demanded to know by last Friday when SDE24 would be doing their part of the work. Naturally in the usual arrogant way in which the French public sector works, I got no reply.

So today I contacted them again to ask if they had received and read my message with another copy of same and with a further request to know when the work would be done. The response I received was as follows.

“Regarding your extension of the electrical network, the work is projected to be actioned in about week 45 (that’s mid-November). Regarding your connection, you need to contact Enedis”

I regard this as appalling and an utterly contemptible display of customer service at its rottenest by the French public sector. This was my reply.

“I made my demand for connection in the middle of May – that was week 19. So you are proposing a wait of 6 months – most likely over 6 months with the final hook-up. Is this normal? I would suggest that this is unacceptable for the delivery of an essential service in a country like France. What is the problem?”

This was the reply that I then received from SDE24.

“SDE24 only received your request (from Enedis) on 3rd August. The time required to carry out an extension (of the network) is about 4 months. This term cannot be shortened due to administrative requirements and for consultation with the managers of other services which is mandatory before the work can be done. Thank you for taking these factors into account”

So a typical response from a desk-bound bureaucrat. It would take 30 seconds for a check to confirm that there are no other services on my land that could possibly conflict with the provision of an electrical supply, as was confirmed weeks ago in any case when an actual engineer came on site and did an inspection. The latter also found that the job will be very simple – merely feeding less than 100 metres of cable into an existing plastic sleeve in the ground.

And so the bureaucratic bullsh*t continues. This is France in the 21st century. I think that SDE24 must still be relying on one man and a donkey to do their cable work. I’m not giving in and I’ve already decided what my next course of action will be. I’ll not be accepting this nonsense unless I’m forced to do so, so keep watching this space.

On a lighter note, I’ve been working on a Youtube video during my free moments in my caravan. It’s not been easy because I’ve been using my laptop which is not only slower but also has far less computing power than my main PC, which is in storage. I’ve been using an editor that requires much less power than Corel Video Studio which I usually use but which nevertheless gives results that are equally as good. It’s Hitfilm Express, and the best part is that as well as being very effective, it’s also free.

Here’s the video.

I’ve also quadrupled the size of my laptop’s SSD hard drive up to 1 TB so I’ve now got storage to spare as well as a usable video editor. So I’m now looking forward to getting back to video editing, which I enjoy, and producing more ULM and drone content.

That’s it for now 😉

September 18, 2021

A good morning’s work

I was up before dawn for a CT (chemical toilet) run to Rouffignac (sorry, it’s a fact of life and has to be done) and after a brief breakfast, as the promised rain still hadn’t arrived, I thought it would be a good time to put into action an idea that I had yesterday.

My water standpipe was more or less just sticking out of the ground and already I was finding it a bit messy standing on bare earth to fill my water containers. As the Véolia guys hadn’t done a very good job of tidying up before they left, I thought that I could kill two birds with one stone by removing all of the rocks that they’d left strewn all around, ‘landscaping’ the area around the tap as best as possible and laying some paving slabs to make a platform to stand on.

So that’s what I did. I started before the rain arrived and finished in a light drizzle. I’d brought all my unused paving slabs with me when I left my house in Plazac and used six of them to lay a small platform around the tap and the box that contains the water meter. I also had to lower the small round black cover adjacent to the water meter box that houses the master valve because it was sticking much too far above the surface of the ground. Here’s how things finished up.

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It’s not perfect – I could do with a bit more soil for a start to build up the surrounding area – but it’s better than before. The other thing is that it will be a great help when winter comes and the weather deteriorates and also when builders with big boots start using the tap during my house construction – whenever that might be…

September 17, 2021

Ready?

Yes, ready for when SDE24 and Enedis can stir themselves to provide me with an electricity supply and as ready as I can be for the start of construction, seeing as I now can’t do any more, like moving the caravan back up to the top of my land and putting in the base of my garden store, until I’ve got electricity. This is because my ‘coffre de chantier’ (the temporary electric cabinet that the land owner has to install on site while the house is being built) is now in place and my water standpipe is secured ready for use.

I retrieved some tools out of storage yesterday and then went over to Brico Depot to buy a few bits and pieces. These included a new ball valve to replace one on the caravan’s water connection that was leaking so I can eventually connect up a hosepipe, two lengths of 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm angle iron, one 2.5 metres long and the other a metre and a small bag of nuts, bolts and washers.

Then today, as it will be raining from tomorrow for several days into the coming week, I cut a metre length off the longer of the two pieces of angle iron giving me two lengths of 1 metre to bang into the ground to support my ‘coffre de chantier’ with three bolts on each side and a 1.5 metre length to do the same to support my standpipe. Here are some shots of the final results.

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The ‘coffre de chantier’ is now all ready to be connected up to a mains supply. It was confirmed to me yesterday that SDE24 are the source of the current delay and I told them yesterday that I want to know by at latest today the date when they will be doing the necessary work as the current situation cannot be allowed to continue. Unsurprisingly, at the time of my typing this I’ve had no response.

I’ve designed the water stand pipe to be secured to its support by four large cable ties. Unfortunately although I already have quite a few cable ties, they’re all in the storage so I’ll have to pop out and get some more. In the meantime the standpipe is secured just with a single piece of wire until I can finish the job off. Once the cable ties are all on, there’s very little more that I can do at the moment – other than continue playing the waiting game 🙁

September 14, 2021

Water, water…

As the dying man crawling across the desert muttered, ‘Is that a mirage?’

OK, I hadn’t quite got to that state but I was getting pretty close to it. But last week the man said that Véolia would be along either at the end of last week or the beginning of this and they duly arrived today. It’s not a pretty sight, even after I’d straightened the standpipe, that was originally at a drunken angle, and made it vertical but I guess I must be thankful for small mercies.

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Considering it cost me over 1500€, I don’t think you get very much for your money. As I told them in the office a short while ago, I could do it myself in a couple of hours and it took two of them less than that to ‘complete’ the job and disappear up the road again. I say ‘complete’ because now I’ll have to go over the area with a rake to remove all the rocks they’ve left on the surface and level it off.

But as they say, ‘It’s an ill wind…’ The rocks will actually come in very useful to use as hardcore when I get round to laying the concrete base for my metal garden store which I soon hope to be able to start building. All I need now is electricity so it’s time to chase up SDE24 and Enedis. Where’s my phone…

September 6, 2021

Very sad news

A short time ago I visited the airfield at Galinat and found that it was totally overgrown with weeds because the runway appeared not to have been mown for many weeks, possibly even since the beginning of the season. I remarked in a post here on My Trike that I hoped that this wasn’t a sign that Galinat might be no more, especially since when I dropped in at where Christian, the owner lived, there was no sign that he was still there.

I went up to Galinat again today as I returned from the Véolia office in Terrasson, of which more in a moment, and I was initially encouraged by the fact that although the small white windsock that someone had erected was no longer flying, the runway had been run up and down a couple of times with a tractor so at least it should now be possible to land and take off there again. Until the grass grows too long again anyway.

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However, my hopes for the future were dashed when on returning I stopped at Christian’s house instead of just driving by. It was obvious that nobody has lived there for some time, and more ominously, several of Christian’s old things were still hanging up outside. As I turned to leave, a youngish local pulled up in a battered old Peugeot of the kind of era that Christian himself would have been driving and asked if he could help. I asked about Christian and sadly he told me that he had died in June at around the time of the local elections.

So an era draws to a close. Galinat has not seen much life, since about the time I left actually. Christian will be missed by all who knew him but it would be sad if Galinat also suffers its demise as a result of his passing. The airfield falls under the jurisdiction of Tamniès and I do not know how it is regarded by the local ‘authorities’ as, although not to the same extent, there are people here in France who delight in getting such facilities closed down.

I have sent the Mairie an email to find out if possible what the future holds. At the very least, there is a FFPLUM on line ‘fiche’ for Galinat and at the moment the contact details are incorrect as they still link to Christian. If the airfield is to continue in operation (I do not know if Christian had children or other close family) there needs to be a new ‘manager’ and their details need to be posted on the ‘fiche’. I’ll let you know what response I get.

Regarding Véolia, I went to their office in Terrasson again this morning taking with me a copy of their invoice for connecting me up at Labattut and pointing out that as I’d paid over 1,500€ for the privilege nearly a month ago I needed to know exactly when the work was going to be done. The lady behind the bullet and Covid-proof plastic screen was different to last time, not so hatchet-faced, and she was almost sympathetic when she checked on the system, found my details and couldn’t find one.

She said that she would get the ‘responsable’ to call me to tell me when the date would be. She didn’t, however, tell me when that would happen. I don’t think that this is the end of the story, far from it. This is the appalling state that France finds itself in, when it is practically impossible to obtain the supply of an essential service. Even one that you’ve already paid for.

You couldn’t make this up. I’ve just returned to say that a few moments ago I was on the internet on my laptop and my phone dropped its connection. When I checked I found that there was ‘no service’ on both sims and as I couldn’t get it back again, I decided to reboot the phone.

When it came back on again, there was a message saying that during the few seconds while it was off, there had been an incoming call. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it was Véolia. I called back and a gentleman on the other said that my file had just been passed to him, that they were waiting on EDF and that my connection would be done by the end of this week or the beginning of next.

I’m saying nothing… 😐

September 1, 2021

Special flight

Sophie’s young granddaughter is down for a short visit from Holland and whenever she comes, she always likes me to take her for a flight. The last time, nearly a year ago, we flew in my X-Air but she’s flown in both it and the Savannah and today it was the Savannah’s turn again.

It’s only a short flight down from Rotterdam to Bergerac by Transavia but this is the first time that she’s spread her wings and travelled alone, so that alone made this trip a bit special. As she has aspirations of becoming an airline pilot, I thought that I’d also make today’s flight a bit special and show her what’s involved in doing a flight in controlled airspace, namely by transiting the Bergerac zone and showing her it from the air.

This is only possible, of course, because my Savannah is fitted with a transponder, which makes everything something of a doddle, but I thought that I’d go through the planning that was necessary, not in too much detail though, so she could begin to understand what the responsibilities of a pilot are under these circumstances. Here’s a shot that shows the route that I had planned, landing at St Julien (just south of the Bergerac zone) and Lacave (to the south of Brive).

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I gave Danique the chart and showed her how I’d marked distances from the airport on the first leg, from Malbec to Bergerac reporting point NE, the latter being just outside the controlled zone to the north of the airport. I explained that this was so I could call up Bergerac when I was ready, accurately give my position, altitude, heading and transponder squawk code (7000) before requesting the current Bergerac QNH (pressure setting, which was still 1019 hP as I’d discovered before taking off) and clearance to transit Bergerac’s zone via reporting points NE, NA, SA and then direct St Julien

So this went as follows. ‘Foxtrot Juliet Hotel Hotel Papa is out of Lima Foxtrot 2467 (the code for Malbec) destination St Julien d’Eymet, currently 35 kms north east of Bergerac at 1800 feet on 1019 heading 256 degrees squawking 7000, estimating November Echo at 05 (5 minutes past 10), request Bergerac QNH and clearance to transit the zone via November Echo, November Alpha, Sierra Alpha and then direct St Junien. Over’

Bergerac immediately came back with ‘Clearance approved’ and gave me a new transponder squawk code of 3410. They then asked for the aircraft type – a Savannah with 2 on board – and that was almost it, no drama no pressure, a classic ATC response. I was asked to report overhead NE (November Echo), which I did and also added that I was turning onto heading 187 for NA (November Alpha). As we flew on I was advised to maintain altitude as another aircraft was going to depart heading north using the same corridor below us (not above 1300 feet as we were at 1800 feet, thereby maintaining a 500 ft separation), and we saw them pass below us.

As we left the Bergerac zone just before arriving at St Julien, I advised ATC who acknowledged my call and advised switching back to squawk 7000, which I did before thanking them for their help in the usual way and immediately beginning our descent into St Julien. We knew that the winds today were going to be fickle and Wim and I had discussed beforehand whether we ought to make the flight at all, actually. In the event we decided that I should go ahead but that did not stop the landing at St Julien being quite challenging (see my earlier post) on account of the shape of the terrain, the narrow threshold and the proximity of the trees on either side.

I didn’t have a video set up but here are some shots that I took at St Julien in the few minutes before we took off again to head for Lacave.

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The leg from St Julien to Lacave was the longest of the flight at around 50 minutes and on the way we passed by Castillonnes, Belvès, Sarlat and some other small private airfields. This time I landed even higher up Lacave’s long sloping runway (see earlier post) than I did in the X-Air and here are some shots that I took after we’d taxied up onto the airfield’s superb parking area.

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There was a family with young children playing outside an open hangar and just before we left I had a conversation with one of the guys in the group. It turned out that this was not the first time that we’d spoken, because he was the person who I’d contacted when I originally phoned to ask for permission to go into the airfield in my X-Air. So that was good – I always like to make contacts like that because you never know when you might need them in the future.

The final leg back to Malbec only took 25 minutes but by that time, getting on for midday, conditions were already becoming pretty bumpy and the landing was again challenging, as it had been at Lacave because of the fickle winds that I mentioned previously. What do I mean by that? How about 9 kmh gusting 24 kmh and 10 kmh gusting 28 kmh, depending on which stage of the flight we were at. Nevertheless, we got up and down safely and the Savannah was reusable (the definition of a successful flight) so everything was OK and we’ll live to fly another day 😉

August 24, 2021

Back on the land

In my possibly child-like belief that I surely must be connected to electricity and water sometime soon, I’ve been thinking about what I need to do to prepare for moving my caravan back up to the top of my land. The main thing that I’ll need is a relatively flat area on which to place it and while I’m getting that ready I’ll also need to create a flat area of about 4.5 x 3.5 metres on which to position my garden tool store.

There was still some plastic left buried in the ground up there which I needed to dig out while at the same time shifting some earth down to make an area that is at least fairly level on which to place the caravan, hard work as I’d have to do it by hand. Even though most of the work would be under the trees, the past few days have been far to hot to undertake such tasks. But that wasn’t true of this morning as although we expected lots of sunshine later on (it’s scorching as I’m typing this) it was going to start off cool with a brisk easterly wind that would keep things fresh.

So I was out there before 9.00 am this morning getting stuck in and ended up with quite a good job, as the following pictures show.

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There was a bit of plastic left at the lower level after my earlier efforts to remove it but the main task as far as that was concerned was getting rid of what was sticking out of the ground up closer to the road. That was quite hard work to get out, actually, as it appeared to have been buried together with quite a lot of pieces of rock which my pick kept hitting every time I swung it. But anyway, I got as much out as I needed to and here’s a shot of the pile that I finished up with.

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I got to thinking while I was working about where I go from here. I’ll need to dig out the area where I want to place my garden tool store in order to lay a concrete base for it. I’ve had in my mind that it’ll only be temporary so won’t need much but I’m beginning to wonder about that.

My new house won’t have a garage cum workshop until I eventually get around to building one, and when might that be? My main tasks once the house is completed will be to put in a kitchen, lay laminate floors in the bedrooms and paint the whole of the inside and the shutters, all of which will take a few months. So if there’s a further year, or more possibly, before I can get around to putting up a garage/workshop after I’ve done something with the garden, what are we talking about, two years? Three?

So the 4.5 x 3.5 metre base that I’m talking about will have to last at least that long and will therefore have to be constructed properly to a reasonable thickness, and in this ground that will take quite a bit of effort if done manually. So I’m thinking about hiring a ‘mini-pelle’ (small mechanical excavator/shovel) to do the job and if I do that, I’d also be able to use that for doing a better job of levelling the area and also removing roots.

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A small 1 tonne machine can be hired from Loxam via Leroy Merlin for 120€ a day (not sure if this includes tax at 20% though) and I have to enquire whether it also comes on a trailer so I can collect it myself, as otherwise delivery is about the same amount again. If not, a quick internet search has thrown up a hirer of a 1.5 tonne machine that does for 140€ a day including tax (see above). The only problem is that they are located in Marmande which is about 75 miles away. Anyway, I’ve not yet decided what I’ll be doing, but watch this space. A 2-day hire would be far cheaper I think than paying someone else to do the work.

I also ticked another little job off the list today. I will need a water heater in the caravan once Véolia actually gets around to connecting me up as I won’t be able to continue boiling kettles when I need them as I’m doing now. Before I left my old house I ordered a high power water heater that I figured would deliver enough hot water on demand for a shower. The big drawback was that it would have drawn about 6000 watts of power, equivalent to around 30 amps.

This is greatly in excess of what a normal domestic supply can deliver so it was a relief actually when the supplier failed to deliver and my money was refunded. But this still left me with the problem of sorting out hot water, which I think I’ve resolved today. I need hot water in two places – my sink and my wash basin in the toilet. The only problem is that it’s difficult to find a suitable location for a single water heater as the two locations are on opposite sides of the caravan, meaning that a connecting pipe would have to be outside and underneath the caravan itself.

I’ve been toying with the idea, therefore, of installing two heaters – one for the hand basin and one for the sink. There’s ample room for the former as the caravan’s original gas heater has been removed and I’ve fitted a face-mounted electric convector heater instead. It’s also likely that there’s room behind the little Beko fridge that I installed for a second heater for the sink, but if not there’s plenty of space in the cupboard below.

So today I ordered two of the little units shown in the image below. It only draws 2000 watts and keeps 12 litres of water at a temperature of 75 degrees C.

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One unit will supply the wash basin and I’ll even experiment to see if it can provide enough for a modest warm shower through the mixer tap that I fitted. My idea is that I’ll fit an external switch so the heater can be turned on only when it’s needed, principally in the morning and evening, because if I need to wash my hands during the day, there should be enough warm water still held in its reservoir after it was last switched off. The other will serve the sink and my thinking is that that will be left on permanently as that’s where there is the greatest demand for hot water.

Want to know the catch? If the local supplier hadn’t been out of stock, I could have bought the two units for 66€ each including delivery. Instead I’ve had to order them through two different Aliexpress European warehouses – one in France that will take 2 days to arrive and the other from Germany which will take a week – at a cost of 77€ each. They were both on promotion down from 84€, so in that case I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies 😉

To finish off, I could have ordered a 30 litre water heater for only 90€ which I think would just be enough for a modest shower. There’s also enough space for it where it would have had to go to supply the hand basin. However, I calculated that when it’s full of water it would have a total weight of over 80 lbs and I decided that this would probably be a bit too much to be attached to an internal wall of the caravan, even if it was supported on the floor. Better to be safe than sorry, eh, for the relatively short time that I’m going to be in residence, even if I will be slightly inconvenienced…

August 20, 2021

X-Air’s turn

I’m not sure what happened today, but I overslept – until 9.30 am, which is late for me now I’m in the caravan. When I opened the door and looked outside I was greeted by the most beautiful morning that we’ve had for about a week, in fact a perfect flying morning with an azure sky containing a few fluffy clouds and only a very light wind.

Having rested my right wrist for a day or so, I’m glad to say that the pain I had has now almost gone and I began to think about the possibility of taking the X-Air for the flight that I’d planned. The main thing against the idea was that with the sun already beginning to warm things up, ideally I should have been over at Malbec and almost ready to go before the thermals started building and not just out of bed and thinking about it.

I’d also decided that the planned flight was maybe a little bit short – not a bad thing perhaps, if I was going to be late getting away – but if I’m going to make the effort to fly, I like to make it worthwhile and be away for a couple of landings or so, over a period of 2 hours or more. There was also another factor. The number to call for permission to land at Peyrillac is a fixed line which leads me to believe it could be a home number. It might be OK to get through in the evening or at week-ends, therefore, but maybe not in the daytime during the week.

So with these things in mind, I had been considering an alternative, and the obvious one was LF4623 Lacave Le Frau in the Lot. This is a private aedrodrome at 980 feet on the side of a hill with an enormous hard runway of length 630 metres on headings 13/31, with 13 being the preferred landing direction. The reason for this is that the first part of 13 is on a very steep hillside and landing is possible and safe even with a modest tail wind. Like today 🙂

So I decided to give the published mobile number a call to obtain prior permission to land there. There was no answer, just a voice mailbox, so I decided to put down as it was already by then becoming a bit late in view of the fact that I’d have to do a completely new flight plan and load the route into my GPS. But then fate took a hand. My phone rang and as it was the person I’d been trying to call, I asked for permission to land today and got the usual answer – no problem, bon vol!

So that was it. I hastily got everything ready and took off at 1315 hrs, a bit late really with the thermic bumps already beginning to start up, heading for a landing at Condat. Here’s the new flight that I’d loaded into my GPS.

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I landed at Condat after a 20 minute flight watched by a lone cyclist who was swigging water in the shade of the clubhouse as it was already warming up pretty rapidly. I filled in Roland’s movements sheet and did a quick turn-round, taking off 10 minutes later heading for Lacave, a flight of about 35 minutes.

I had my GoPro 7 video running both for the flight from Malbec to Condat and for that from Condat to Lacave, and this time I just managed to strike lucky. The SD card ran out just after I’d parked on the apron at Lacave so I managed to capture both take offs and landings up to that point (memo – I need to buy some SD cards for my GoPros with much more storage on them).

The next few shots have been taken from the video and give a good impression of Lacave’s long’ sloping runway. First shot, from a few hundred metres out on final.

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Second shot, approaching the threshold at the bottom of the runway.

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Next shot, over the threshold. There’s no need to land on the numbers with an upward sloping runway like this in an ULM like the X-Air.

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Next shot, just before touch down. Note how the airfield buildings have disappeared and only the top of the windsock is just visible. And this was from half-way up the slope.

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Next, breasting the top of the rise before continuing on the runway and turning off left onto the apron.

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At the entrance to the apron.

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Now several shots of my X-Air 24ZN parked on the apron at Lacave.

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While I was at Lacave there was a Group A single parked on the grass with a cabin cover on. I think it was a Cirrus, but I’m not sure. As I was preparing to leave, a young family of 4 drove up and began preparing the aircraft for flight. It turned out that they were there on holiday and that they planned a short flight over to Sarlat to refuel.

I told them that I was also going there but after taking off, I found that the thermic bumping was becoming too uncomfortable and that it would be a good idea to cut the corner and shorten the flight, heading straight back to Malbec. I still flew overhead Chateau Beynac (just beautiful, Google it as it was too bumpy to take a photo) and past St Cyprien, before setting 24ZN up for a long bumpy final onto Malbec’s short runway.

After the usual lift, sink and lift again just before the threshold I was safely down after a very satisfactory landing, and after taxying up to the area in front of the barn, here are some of the final shots that I took.

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So I enjoyed what turned out to be a great flight and 24ZN flew flawlessly. I had a bit of a scare when after the jar of landing at Lacave, one of its carbs started overflowing. It has happened once before – I think that maybe a needle gets jarred and sticks in a fuel inlet or maybe it’s something to do with one of the carburettor floats. Anyway, it has never happened in flight and today I did as before, namely detached and re-attached each carburettor bowl without tipping out any fuel, which cured it. I might have to think about buying a Bing carb refurb kit but that’s not for today 😉

August 19, 2021

Grounded – for now

I slept very badly last night because of the pain in my right wrist and this morning I have a swelling on the side of my wrist below my right thumb. Even using my computer mouse is painful, so I’ve had to give up on any idea of flying, probably for the next few days.

It’s not so much the flying itself that will be the problem, it’s moving the aircraft around that will do more damage as I’m right handed. My Savannah and X-Air are not ideally positioned in the barn as the Savannah is in the wrong corner and as a result the X-Air is too far forward. However, although there might be some light rain on Sunday, my X-Air has its outdoor covers on, so there won’t be a problem.

I’m very disappointed about this after yesterday’s flight but if I don’t rest my wrist the problem will undoubtedly keep niggling for longer. So it’s best to bow to the inevitable now and try to get it over and done with. Maybe this will be a good time to get my main computer out of storage and see if I can edit yesterday’s videos without too much discomfort. If I can, at least that will be a good use of the time.

August 18, 2021

Excellent afternoon

Well, I did eventually get away for my planned flight today and I did get some brilliant video footage from my GoPros. I got the take off at Malbec, the touch and go and full stop landing at Sarlat, the last take off at Sainte-Foy-la Grande and the final landing back at Malbec. However, yet again the gremlin won and I didn’t get what I really wanted – the landing at LF2436 Saint Julien d’Eymet and the subsequent take off from there.

The reason was that although I changed the GoPro battery before I took off to head to Saint Julein from Sarlat, I hadn’t realised that the memory card was filling up quite as fast as it was and it did so and switched recording off just as I was on final there about 30 seconds before I touched down. As I hadn’t realised that the GoPro was no longer recording I also, of course, missed the take off from there which was one of the most spectacular that I’ve ever done.

The reason was that not only does Saint Julien have a one-way sloping runway, its second half rises very steeply indeed! I’ve managed to grab a couple of screen shots from the video just before it conked out to show what I mean. In the first shot below taken when turning final, the runway is in the top left of the screen with a white topped building, the hangar, on the right about half way up.

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In the next shot, the runway is in the middle right of the screen, again with the white topped hangar visible. You can just about see how narrow the gap is between the trees on either side of the threshold that you have to go through before you touch down.

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But neither of the two shots above give a very good impression of just how steeply the runway rises. However, you can get a much better idea from the next shot of my Savannah parked next to the hangar.

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The next few shots give a general impression of the airfield. It’s neat and tidy but there isn’t a lot to see there!

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My next stop after Saint Julien was Sainte-Foy-la Grande (there are, or were, a lot of saints in this area) but first came the take off. I taxied right up to the top of the hill before beginning my take off roll back down again. To say it was spectacular is an understatement. With the Savannah’s power, acceleration was incredibly rapid and because of the steepness of the down-slope, the temptation was to pull back on the stick to get airborne as soon as possible.

In lesser powered aircraft this might have caused premature lift-off with a subsequent return to earth, possibly on the nose wheel assembly, causing it to collapse. There was no danger of this with the Savannah though, which jumped into the air and clawed its way skywards, and after one of my most exciting take offs ever, I was on my way to Sainte-Foy-la-Grande.

As I mentioned previously, I didn’t get to record the landing there but I did a GoPro changeover there which allowed me to record the take off from there, the whole flight back to Malbec and my final landing. I can’t edit the videos on the laptop that I’m using in the caravan to post this but I’ll try to get access to my main computer in storage and do so as soon as possible.

After arriving back at Malbec I did as I intended and changed the positions of my Savannah and my X-Air in the hangar, as shown below.

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I did this to be ready for my planned flight in my X-Air tomorrow, but at the time of typing this, I don’t think that I’ll be able to go. The reason is that I already had a painful wrist that has never completely recovered from the heavy-ish work that I did in my old house before selling it and also from when I dug the plastic out of the ground on my land here. It seems that I might have done even more damage by heaving and tugging the aircraft around today and it’s now very painful indeed. I could probably fly with it but what would be the point if every move that I make is painful? Better to wait a few days I think. It looks as though there will be some good flying days next week too 😉

August 18, 2021

Very frustrating

It’s approaching 11.30 am as I type this and I’m all ready to go flying with my route and charts prepared and my GoPro batteries charged. However, there’s a clump of low cloud hanging over this area at a height of only about QNH 1100 feet according to the weather app Windy. A few minutes ago an autogire came scudding over at about that height and although he was obviously below the base it wasn’t by much and he did a pass over Malbec from north to south at only about 300 feet or so above ground level. Here’s the cloud I’m talking about.

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Brive and Bergerac are both reporting light variable winds and a cloud base of 3000 feet or so, so the low cloud is fairly local. Both airfield TAFS report NOSIG (no significant change) in their weather during the day and Windy suggests that the cloud base in the whole region including here will be at around 3000 feet this afternoon with the local low cloud dispersing by about 1.30 pm.

So what to do? OK, it’s flyable right now but who wants to fly with a dismal low ceiling hanging over their aircraft? I don’t really want to – done that enough in the past. I don’t think that we’re going to see much, if any, sunshine during the day but if the local low cloud does disperse in the next hour or so, it’ll probably be worth going off then, or even a bit later, as the temperature is only forecast to rise by a couple of degrees and there will be no risk of thermic activity this afternoon.

So I guess I’ll wait an hour or so and make a decision then. Maybe it might be better to put my two planned flights back a day, I don’t know. Funny isn’t it, whenever I plan to go flying there’s always some kind of hitch… 😕

Just after I posted the above what I think was the Jodel from Belvès flew over. He will have come in from an area where the cloud base is higher than here, and he looked to be at at least 1500 feet, maybe a bit higher. So it looks as though the local low cloud is dispersing, which is encouraging. I think I might grab a quick snack for lunch and head over to Malbec.

August 16, 2021

Looking good for flying

Today I pumped up all the tyres on my Savannah and my X-Air in preparation for the flights that I have planned for this coming week. This means that the Savannah is all ready to go subject to a normal daily check and walk-round and all I’ll have to do (on Wednesday hopefully) will be to mount my GPS and GoPros before getting away and up into the air. Then when I return I’ll be able to swap the aircraft round in the barn bringing the X-Air to the front so I can pull its covers off and give it an inspection and engine run in preparation for its flight the following day.

I’ve just phoned and received permission to land at St Julien which is a privately owned ULM airfield at the south-western corner of Bergerac’s controlled airspace, so that will be the first new airfield in my logbook for quite some time. I’ll do the same tomorrow evening for Peyrillac for the X-Air’s flight on Thursday and this means that I can spend a leisurely day tomorrow uploading the routes into my GPS, preparing my backup navigation papers and ensuring that all of the necessary batteries (GPS, GoPros) are charged and ready to go.

So all my flying plans are looking good and I just hope that they stay that way 😉

August 15, 2021

This week’s plans

Since cleaning and prepping my Savannah for flight last Sunday, I’ve been unable to do any more with either it or my X-Air due to the scorching weather we’ve been receiving. However, as I mentioned in a previous post, conditions are forecast to be much more favourable for flying on several days this coming week, notably on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so I’ve decided to make some plans to get back into the air.

When you’ve had a long lay-off, as I have because of house buying and selling matters and Covid, what you need to do is get in a few take offs and landings to get your judgement and control coordination back into shape. Usually you’d do that with circuit bashing, but we can’t do that at Malbec because of the nature of the airfield.

I could nip down to Sarlat and do a few circuits there, which would be a good idea for my Savannah, which can get there pretty quickly and can easily fit in with any other general aviation traffic doing the same thing, because of its speed range. However, that’s not so feasible for my X-Air which would take longer to get there and back and might also have problems in the circuit if there are faster aircraft doing circuit training, for example.

However, I’ve decided to reject the Sarlat option and because my two aircraft have such different flight characteristics, to go for two different kinds of flights instead. Temperatures are forecast to be much more reasonable this week and the winds fairly light also, making this coming Wednesday, Thursday and Friday look as though they will be almost ideal flying days.

First my Savannah, which given today’s forecast, I’ve decided to fly on Wednesday. I’ll be going with the Savannah first because with it’s higher airspeed I’ll be able to cover a greater distance in the two or three hours from mid-morning before the temperature starts to rise and the thermals with it. This will give me the opportunity to drop into several different airfields to practice my landings before returning to Malbec. Here’s a pic of the flight I have planned.

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After taking off from Malbec I plan to fly straight to Sarlat, maybe for a touch-and-go followed by a full stop, thus giving me two practice landings with plenty of room for ‘misjudgements’. Then I intend to drop into a new airfield that I’ve never been to before, LF 2436 St Julien down at the south-western corner of the Bergerac zone. This is a privately owned ULM airfield that’s open for visitors and I’ll be phoning ahead for permission, although this isn’t specified on the airfield ‘fiche’. From there I’ll then be flying on to a landing at Sainte Foy la Grande, an airfield I’ve now visited alone and with Wim on several occasions, and thence back to Malbec.

The whole flight should take less than 90 minutes, meaning that I should be back at Malbec before any thermals start to activate and with three or maybe four landings under my belt, depending on if a do do a touch-and-go at Sarlat or not.

Now for the X-Air flight which I plan to do on Thursday. The winds are forecast to be even lighter then than on the day before, not that that will be important. The key factor is that whereas my Savannah flies at 140-150 kmh, my X-Air only does about 90 kmh, so with a similar time frame in mind, I needed to plan a shorter flight (in distance) but one that would offer a similar number of landings and take offs. Here’s what I came up with.

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Usually my first two ports of call in the slower aircraft would have been Galinat and Condat, but sadly, as I found yesterday, the first option is not available, for now at least. So my first stop will be Condat with its long, upward sloping hard runway. From there I plan to head for another airfield that I’ve never visited before, namely LF2443 Peyrillac.

This is another privately owned airfield that I’ll need to obtain prior permission for, but hopefully it will be forthcoming when I make my phone call. It has a long, upward sloping runway much like Malbec’s being, ‘only-one-way-in’ and the opposite way out, but with a length of over 400 metres, it should be much less challenging.

Then I intend to fly back to Malbec flying close by to Sarlat and the small town of St Cyprien. I don’t intend to land at Sarlat, although I’d have liked to, because the X-Air’s radio is now non-approved. However, my experience when I left UK airspace with it was that it communicated perfectly with the old 25 kHz London Information frequency so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t with Sarlat on 118.15, so I may drop in there anyway, especially if the circuit isn’t busy.

So those are my plans and they leave Monday and Tuesday for me to pump tyres up (I’ve just acquired a super new foot pump that knocks my old one into a cocked hat) and do anything else necessary to prepare the X-Air. And this time around I must make sure that my ruddy Go-Pro cameras are fully charged and ready to go…

August 15, 2021

Sad news

I stopped by over at Galinat yesterday, the airfield where I kept my French X-Air for some time and where I first landed my Savannah when I flew it down from La Ferté Gaucher, the airfield to the south-east of Paris, after buying it. I was sad to find that it no longer appears to exist.

I don’t know whether it’s just temporary or permanent but it’s obvious that although the hangar is still there and someone has erected a ‘new’ white pole for a windsock next to the old one, the runway hasn’t been mowed, probably for at least the whole of this year. I guess that this could be reversed just by running a tractor with a large mower up and down it a few times but the grass and weeds are much too high now to be tackled with a normal ride-on.

And other signs aren’t good either. On the way back I passed the home of Christian, the owner, and it doesn’t look as though he lives there any more. If so, I doubt that there would be much hope for resurrecting Galinat again in the future. I do hope that I am wrong, but if I’m not, I hope that he has left his old home for a good reason and not as a result of something bad.

It was always asking a lot for Christian to keep Galinat open and alive single-handedly, especially as it wasn’t getting the number of fly-in visitors that it used to even before Covid. I did what I could to help while my aircraft was based there but that stopped after I moved over to Malbec.

It would be a shame if Galinat has fallen victim to Covid but if it has, I’m sure that many other small airfields across France will have suffered a similar fate. The signs are from the absence of aircraft in the air that private flying has been gravely hit here. I’m a typical example with my not having flown my two aircraft for months, and it could take some time for it to recover, if indeed it ever does.

August 13, 2021

Can’t waste time

Still no news about when I can expect to have my water and electricity connected, so no surprises there then. But it doesn’t mean that I can just idle my time away waiting as there are still things to be done. And the most urgent priority today was to cut the grass, which was getting a bit long. Even though we’re getting into the hottest time of the year, surprisingly it’s still growing.

Aside from looking untidy, I think that it also encourages insects and as I’ve mentioned previously, my legs are already bitten to pieces, from the ankles upwards, possibly the worst they’ve been since I came to France. We’re in the middle of a scorching few days and it’d be unwise to mow the grass in the heat of the day, so I made an early start this morning while it was still cool and afterwards shot some video on my Fimi and Hubsan quadcopters from which I’ve grabbed the following images.

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Now that the bushes and undergrowth below the trees have been removed it’s possible to get a much better idea of the scale of the land and how my new house will fit into it. Unfortunately I can’t work any cut-and-paste magic with images of the house from my architect’s modelling software because that’s on my main computer that’s in storage but I would love to do so and will maybe have to get it out, even temporarily, so I can make some even more realistic pictures than before.

I wasn’t the only person out cutting the grass today. While I was shooting some video with my Fimi this afternoon a local farmer was out cutting the grass in the field in the valley below my land and I lifted a few shots of him and his tractor.

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That was enough for today and I stayed in the caravan for most of the afternoon with all the windows open and a fan on. Even so, it became almost unbearably hot, not that I can do much about that for now. Hopefully it will be better when I can eventually move the caravan back under the trees.

And talking of that, I have some preparatory work planned for this week-end. I had a new pick-axe type hoe delivered the other day (it’s called a ‘serfouette’ in French) and I plan to use it to dig the rest of the plastic out of the ground and create level areas for the caravan and the metal garden store that I’d like to erect as soon as possible.

I can’t start on the latter, though, until I have water as it will need to have a thinnish concrete base put down, but as I can now start preparing the ground it looks as though I’ll be making some more early starts while the mornings are cool. The other casualty of the weather is, of course, flying as the intense heat generates thermals, which can be both violent and dangerous. However, it looks as though there will be a run of cooler days in the middle of next week, so I hope to get a bit of flying in then. And until then, I need to make the best use of my time 😉

August 10, 2021

Look, look!

It seems that I must try and curb my cynical tendencies. I walked up to the top of my land a short time ago to see if there were any signs of what the man with the fluorescent jacket was up to earlier on. And this is what I found.

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The arrow shows the workmen who will eventually come the job’s exact location and the stake precisely where the hole has to be dug to locate the empty plastic tube (‘gaine’) in the now-filled-in trench, marked with a line of greyish stones, coming in from the right in the second shot above.

The next shot is a view from that position back up in the direction from which the trench comes, from Enedis’s connection box (‘coffre’), which can be seen on the other side of the road, just beyond a telegraph pole about 80 metres or so away.

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And this is the ‘coffre’ in question.

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So maybe, in spite of my cynicism, the job of connecting me up to electricity is closer than I think to being done. Or maybe this is the result of the efforts by SDE24 to push things along and get cable into the ‘gaine’, and once that’s done there’ll then be another long wait for Enedis to actually connect up the cable at each end. I’m afraid I know what I think is the most likely – but then again, that could just be my old cynicism coming out again 😐

August 10, 2021

hmmm… what does this mean?

A small van just arrived at the top of my land and a gent got out wearing a fluorescent jacket. He took a quizzical look at the point where the trench carrying the empty ‘gaine’ (plastic tube) for the electrical supply ends, then marched up the road to where Enedis’s ‘coffre’ stands, marched back, got back into his van and parked there after first taking a quick detour around Labattut, presumably to make sure that he was in the right place.

Then he re-emerged and measured the distance from the ‘coffre’ to the point on my land where the empty ‘gaine’ ends, got back into his van and drove it back onto the top of my land. There wasn’t much that I could do so I just left him to do his job and take his measurements. Afterwards he turned around and drove off.

Does this mean that I’m close to getting my electrical supply connected? I doubt it. Closer perhaps, but if his firm (Bouyges Energies) has been contracted by SDE24 to extend the cable down to my land I’d surmise that first they will have to submit a ‘devis’ which SDE24 will have to accept and notify them of their decision and they will then have to programme the work, all of which from my experience could take several more weeks.

I live in a constant state of hope but I never raise my hopes as experience has shown that it’s not worth it 🙁

August 9, 2021

Utter craziness

I had lunch today with a companion in Brantome. Although we were going to be seated outside and although we were only going to have coffees at that stage, the waitress insisted on seeing our Covid passports before allowing us to sit down. It had obviously been impressed on her, I guess for the sake of the bistro, that she had to because when I told her that mine was on my phone but my (English) companion had left hers in her car, she apologised profusely and said that if I’d like to sit down and wait, my companion could go and fetch hers.

It took my companion about five minutes to get her awful A4 size printed UK version (there’s no QR code on a UK one so it’s not surprising that some establishments are rejecting them) and when she arrived back with it another member of staff scanned mine with his phone and didn’t even bother looking at hers. After that we were served with coffees and eventually with lunch while in the meantime other potential customers were being turned away because they were unable to comply.

So what’s crazy about this, you may be asking yourself? Well, firstly they ended up not bothering about my companion’s UK attestation and only scanned mine. But the main point is that although mine was genuine, it could have been anyone’s, not mine at all, a friend’s or relative’s or even a fake one that I’d just downloaded onto my phone from the internet. The only way to prove authenticity would be to cross-check an attestation against a proof of identity and how is a member of staff in a busy restaurant going to do that? And why should they?

This proves once again that politicians of all colours in all countries, it would appear, love knee-jerk politics. They want to be seen to be ‘doing something’ even when that thing is stupid and makes them look like the imbeciles that they evidently are. Why? Because they are never, never held to account…

August 9, 2021

Nice one!

With all of the time I had to devote to getting my house ready to hand over to its new owners, acquiring the land for my new house, finding a contractor, sorting out the electricity and water services (the list goes on and on…), flying my ULMs has had to take a back seat over the last few months. It’s been ages since I even started their engines and even longer since I flew them.

So now that I’ve reached a bit of a hiatus in all of the other things that I mention above, I decided that I have to get back onto my Savannah and X-Air. We’ve had unsettled weather for the last few days and with a change forecast for Sunday, that was the day that I’d had ear-marked for some time for getting going. I got a few things out of storage that I thought I might need – buckets, battery charger and some other bits and pieces – and shortly after lunch I started on the Savannah.

It’s been months since I last cleaned it and unlike the X-Air, which is covered up, the Savannah has been standing in the open barn, so as well as being covered in a layer of brown dust, parts of it, especially the empennage (tail section) were covered in tiny bird droppings. That was because they were immediately under roof beams on which the little buggers perch and poop, and whereas most of it came off very easily, the large splodges left by the bigger birds were much more difficult to remove.

However, after an hour or so of elbow grease, the Savannah eventually came up beautifully – possibly the cleanest it has ever been. I didn’t even have to use any detergent in the water, possibly because the dust acted as a very mild abrasive. I then removed the engine cover and checked the oil (OK) and water (needed topping up) as well as giving the engine a general check-over. No birds nests or anything else that shouldn’t have been there and all looked clean and tidy.

So then it was time to start and run the engine. In view of how long the Savannah had been sitting, I thought that its battery might have dropped to too low a level to swing the engine over. But no, it started quite normally. Despite having swung the engine over manually several times to prime the oil pressure though, it took a few moments to come up, which caused me some alarm, but then everything was perfect.

Here are some shots that I took after I’d finished the cleaning. I wanted to take them while the Savannah was outside but before I could, the only cloud in the whole of the Perigord centred itself over Malbec – over the Savannah to be precise – and began to deposit rain on it. After moving the Savannah back inside I had to leather it off again, but maybe that wasn’t a bad thing because as the rainwater was nice and clean, it came up even better and shinier than before.

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I ran the engine until it had warmed up and then switched off, meaning that after I’ve put a bit of air into its tyres (next time) the Savannah will be ready to fly. The weather forecast is pretty good for this week, so I should soon have it (and myself) back in the air. I’ll also get the X-Air out this week and do the same with it that I did with the Savannah. I topped up the Savannah’s tanks with about 12 litres of fuel and the X-Air’s with 20 litres, so if the X-Air’s battery has also stayed sufficiently charged, both aircraft will be ready to go. And I can’t wait to do it!

August 5, 2021

A roundabout

I feel as though I’m on a nightmarish roundabout in a hitchcockesque movie that sends you round and round in circles until you’re driven completely mad. Today I received a letter from SDE24, the organisation apparently charged with the responsibility of connecting me up to the electrical system. But reading between the lines, they’re not, as I’ll go on to explain.

They actually go by the grandiose name of Syndicat Départemental d’Energies de la Dordogne and it would appear that like many public sector organisations in France, they have an over-arching responsibility for nothing very much of any practical value, although you can bet your breeches that they cost the taxpayer a fortune.

Any right-minded person can see that if you have a nationwide, nationalised organisation like EDF it should be easy for a new client (like myself) to ask to be connected up and for them to do so. But not so here in France, where the main objective is to keep people in ‘jobs’ and off the unemployment register no matter what the cost. And you do that by creating lots of separate quangoes and ‘bureaux’ and ‘syndicats’ that can play pass-the-parcel with ‘dossiers’ and hang out even the simplest operation for the maximum amount of time so as to be seen to be ‘doing something’.

A ‘syndicat’ is a union. Now you may ask yourself, what need can there possibly be for a ‘union’ of ‘energies’ (and a départmental one at that, so there’s one in every départment in France presumably) and what role can it possibly play? And you might well be right to do so, given the letter I’ve just received.

The letter is headed ‘request to extend the electrical supply – commune of Fleurac’ at which point you might do a doubled-take, as I did. I’m not asking to extend Fleurac’s electrical supply – I’m only asking for my plot of land to be connected up, like millions of others all over France. But reading between the lines, you can see what’s coming here.

By asking for the electrical supply to be ‘extended’, that will probably involve a major study I’m almost certain. That will involve France Telecom, to ensure that no telephone lines will be affected, and Véolia to make sure that they won’t cut into any water mains. And that, of course, will be both time-consuming and costly. And who will be paying? Why, the client ie me of course.

The letter informs me that SDE24 will arrange for a visit on site by a ‘technical team’ – all this to do what the chap from the contractor sent down by Enedis did a week ago ie confirm that there’s a plastic tube already in the ground into which cable can be fed the few metres to connect me up. They grandiosely also inform me that ‘my dossier is complete’ ie they require no further information, and that they will keep me informed of the ‘study’ effected by the team. With a ‘devis’ for the work they propose also, presumably.

But then comes the the coup-de-grace that makes you want to stick pins in your eyes. They suggest that in order to effect my connection request I should, in parallel, make a connection request without delay to Enedis. So SDE24 will be doing nothing except laying a cable in the ground (I’m guessing here…) and it will still be up to Enedis to actually make the connection.

My mind boggles. At this rate I can’t see me being connected before Christmas. I have never before in my whole life encountered such monumental, crass stupidity and inefficiency. And they all think that they are so bloody intelligent and clever.

Now the next bit. On Tuesday I received the ‘devis’ to connect me to the water main that passes across the top of my land. There’s an access cover there in which it will be a simple matter to make a connection and then I want a water meter and valve to be placed a metre or so away from it, in a ‘regard’, which I think is a plastic box-like inspection chamber. For this I have been presented with a bill of over 1500€ which I must pay in advance of commencement of the work.

It appears that I was wrong when I previously said that Véolia is a nationalised monopoly. It isn’t. The French government owns something like 10% of it, but it is still a monopoly as there is no other water company supplying Fleurac. So I have the choice as to whether I pay this bill, which I think is somewhat extortionate, or not. However, if I choose the latter, I just won’t be connected. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the 1500€+ also includes 20% of VAT, so the government is in for a double helping. Welcome to France’s Brave New (Public Sector) World.

Now onto other things. If all of the morons that I’m dealing with do ever manage to get me connected up to services, even if they can just give me firm dates on which the miraculous events will happen (some hope) then I’ll be able to start thinking seriously again about getting my life in my caravan onto a more organised footing. This is by no means a trivial matter as I’ll be living in the caravan for a good year and you can ‘t do very much living inside a box that is just under 6 metres long and less than 2.5 metres wide with most of that space being taken up by fittings and furniture.

So you have to think about the outside and I’ve already started doing that by acquiring a metal store with a footprint of around 13 m² in which I will be able to keep my ride-on mower, tools and other items. When I can decide where to put it and make a base for it, that is. But I’ve also got other stuff that used to live outside and which will be a great adjunct to the caravan, especially if the current rather miserable, cool, wet weather improves and we end up actually getting a summer.

These include my large glass-topped table with chairs and large parasol and my smaller round glass-topped table and its smaller round parasol, all of which are currently being stored at my old neighbour, Chantal’s house. I can’t do anything with them until I know when I’ll be moving my caravan back up to the top of my land and obviously from what I’ve written above, I have no idea when that might be.

But there’s also something else. When I came from the UK I brought with me a suite of whicker-work conservatory (verandah for my European friends) furniture, comprising a round glass-topped table and four chairs plus a 2-seater sofa and two armchairs. They’ve seen better days and for most of the time, the latter were stored upstairs gathering dust in the ‘grenier’. But they’re still perfectly OK for garden furniture, especially until such time as my new house has been completed and I have a fancy ‘terrasse’ for something better to go on.

But I don’t want to just have them standing out in the open – they have cushions on for a start – and I don’t want to have to keep covering and uncovering them or taking things like cushions inside (where there’s no space anyway) to protect them from the weather. That’s when I had the idea of getting a ‘tonnelle’.

A ‘tonnelle is a bit like a fancy tent. It’s more stylish than a marquee, but when erected it can be left up to protect anything inside from the weather. Plus it’s also nice enough to sit inside in the shade, for a meal or drinks, for example. I was searching for ‘tonnelles’ on the internet and prices, as usual, varied dramatically. I wanted one with side curtains that can be secured to protect the contents and these varied in price from around 300€ to over 1000€ depending on specification (and snob value). And then there was always delivery on top of that.

I then came across someone offering just what I was after, a ‘tonnelle’ of 4m x 3m, for only 80€, brand new and unopened in its carton, and when on further investigation I found that they had 4 of them, I thought that it would be well worth a visit. I was already thinking that I’d be hard-pushed to get a table plus 4 chairs and a 3-piece suite into a single 4m x 3m ‘tonnelle’ but at over 300€ a pop, there was no way that I could justify buying more than one. But at 80€…

And so it was that I found myself yesterday trekking off back to the Gironde. But it was worth it. I’d already decided that I’d have one anyway – after all, I might not need it again after the year in the caravan, but after it had been brought down to my car, I opened up the pack to check its quality. And it was pretty good! So I offered 140€ for two and ending up paying 150€ – 75€ each. And at that price if I don’t need the second one for any reason (although I think I will) I’ll be able to sell it on in any case.

Here’s a shot (of the carton label) that shows what I came home with.

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I got back to Fleurac just before 7.00 pm after a drive of over 2½ hours each way but I think that the trip was worth it. I’ve not been feeling too well for the last few days – I think perhaps I might have a summer virus of some kind – and felt very tired as well as a bit rough. So after unloading my two ‘tonnelles’ I crashed out, for about an hour, which surprised me. However, I’m feeling better today so perhaps that was what I needed to help me turn the corner 😉

FOOTNOTE

Wow. It appears that my comments about SDE24 were harsh and totally unjustified. A neighbour who is acquainted with SDE24 appeared on my doorstep a half hour or so ago and said that I needed to go with him to meet a man from SDE24 who was about to arrive on site. When I arrived up at the top if my land the mayor was there as well so it looks as though a few cages may have been rattled.

The mayor left and shortly afterwards the man from SDE24 arrived. He said that they’d received the request from Enedis on 3rd August and had immediately actioned it, as was evident from the date of the letter I received this morning. He confirmed what we already knew and said that now things would be accelerated and not only that, but as the length of cable will be less than 100 metres, I shouldn’t need to make a contribution as SDE24/the commune should pay (if I understood correctly).

I’ll still need to pay Enedis for the connection, however, and it still looks as though I’ll have to wait until September for that. Then there was lots of conversation (as usual in France) between the two of them, much of which I couldn’t understand, but it looks as though progress is being made, albeit slowly…

August 2, 2021

And still it goes on

I’ve just received a message from Enedis. Now, bear in mind that to date I’ve been in contact with EDF, Enedis and more recently a contractor (appointed by Enedis) in a so-far vain attempt to have electricity installed on my land. The gist of the message is that despite there being a ‘coffre’ (a system box if you like) just up the road and a plastic pipe (‘gaine’) connecting it into which cable just needs to be fed in order to connect to it, the network is ‘too far away’ to make the connection.

As a result, yet another bureaucratic monstrosity in the form of an organisation called SDE has now been brought into the equation and it is they who will be responsible for actually doing the above. One wonders how close the ‘network’ would actually have to be for Enedis to be able to do it themselves, especially after seeing how quickly and easily the contractor was digging up the ground and laying cable in the road outside my old house and in my garden just before I left.

So my ‘dossier’ has now been passed over to SDE and one wonders for how much longer this ridiculous pass-the-parcel game will go on, ridiculous if its repercussions weren’t so serious for me. For several more months I would guess, as this all started back in May when I filed my original request. And how much must this nonsense all be costing? One wonders how in all sanity such a system can ever have been devised.

On another note, I’ve been thinking about what to do with my caravan and in particular, where to locate it on my land. I started off up at the top end closer to the road and I suffered from a bit of a lack of privacy and some disturbance from passing traffic, although the latter was not that great. I’ve since moved it down to the bottom corner, mainly to make it more conveniently connectable to my neighbour’s electricity supply.

However, and today was a case in point, I’m finding that where it is, under the trees, it’s rather cold at night and especially in the mornings. When it was really hot a week or so ago, I thought that I’d welcome being in a cooler spot, but now it’s gone totally the other way. And my thinking is that aside from a few more hot spells that are likely to come along from time to time, the cooling trend will continue as the year proceeds.

My thinking now is that it might become very cold during the winter, although hopefully by then I’ll have my own electricity supply to run my on-board convector heater. Even so, my caravan will be much more exposed to northerly winds where it is compared to if I moved it back towards the top, especially now the scrubby undergrowth and bushes have been removed allowing it to be tucked under the umbrella of the tall trees up there.

So I’m thinking that while I’m waiting for my own electricity to be connected and while I’m relying on my neighbour’s supply, I’ll leave the caravan where it is. However, when I’ve got my own, and just before if I’m given a specific date when the hook-up will be made, I’ll move the caravan back up.

And this means that it would be a good idea now to prepare a level area for it and also to decide where to place the metal ‘abri’ (toolshed, or more of a workshop/store really as it is around 13 m² in area) and make a base for that. So that’s a decision taken and it’s now time to get cracking instead of wasting time doing other things that don’t matter, which I’m very good at!

July 29, 2021

Workout before breakfast

I was up and out this morning at around 7.00 am as the sun was just creeping over the horizon to do something I’ve been thinking about since the area under the trees at the top of my land was cleared. Sebastien and his crew did an OK job of clearing the area but, let’s just say, they were not quite so careful about clearing up after themselves.

A small heap of debris was left behind and as I mentioned previously, there were quite a few small and some quite large branches together with other waste foliage that had been cut and left around the periphery. So this morning I thought that I’d go round myself, collect all of the latter up and add it to the heap so when someone did eventually come back, they could take the whole lot away.

Afterwards I thought that I’d take a look at the plastic that was coming out of the ground. It turned out that my ‘strawberries’ theory could not have been wider off the mark. This was simply a case of ‘what the eye doesn’t see…’ because when I began to pull some out, what I found was that it consisted of bales of waste plastic, probably old fertiliser bags or something like that, that had been baled-up with thin blue cord and then buried by some unknown ‘agriculteur’ at the edge of what was once one of his fields.

I managed to extract four lots, which was nearly all of it, and add it to the heap. At the end of it I think I might have cricked my neck a bit with the effort involved, but it was worth it and the area under the trees looked much tidier afterwards.

I finished at about 8.30 am and came in for a clean-up and shave and to have my breakfast. And just in time, because at around 9.00 am just before I began typing this, a small truck pulled up next to the heap that had now more than doubled in size and began loading it on. It’s still there because they’re doing a bit more tidying up, maybe because of the example I’d set. Anyway, it looks as though my early-morning workout was well worth it.

A footnote – it turns out that the guy clearing up was the one who was driving the tractor. He has just left after driving down to say ‘au revoir’ and ‘bon courage’. Very local and very pleasant… quite unlike those who all seem to work in the public sector in France. As a further aside, I also approached and made peace with my neighbour this morning with whom I’d had the disagreement about the generator. We bumped fists and agreed to forget and move on. Life is too short. So taken all round, this has been what I think was a very satisfactory start to the day 🙂

July 28, 2021

Rejoice!

As I mentioned in my previous post, Sebastien and his team came and did their work yesterday and I’m very pleased with the results. Not overjoyed, though, because although they cleaned up after themselves pretty well, they’ve still left quite a few small logs and branches around the periphery of the cleared area and also a small heap of debris that they somehow managed to ‘overlook’, all of which I want to see gone.

I won’t pay, of course, until they are. I’ll probably tell him when he sends his ‘facture’ that if he’d like to come over and get rid of all that stuff I’ll hand him a cheque at the same time. I do have one disappointment, though, which isn’t his fault. At some time in the distant past it may have been that the land was used to grow strawberries on. Whether that’s so or not I don’t know but what we’ve found is that there’s a lot of black plastic sheet buried in the ground, something which is done by strawberry growers, and which is now being brought to the surface.

I have a rotavator which is now in storage and inaccessible so I may have to hire a largish machine to till the ground while it’s soft and see if I can get it all out. If I do that, it’ll also help to extract the roots of the bushes that were left in and also help when it comes to make a level area if I should decide to move the caravan back up there, which is by no means certain.

Here are some shots that I took this afternoon, starting looking back up the slope towards the road.

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The next shot was taken looking directly across to more or less where the northern corner of the house will be.

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This shot was taken looking back towards the same area but from slightly further up the slope.

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The next shot was taken of the cleared area from next to the road.

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This shot was also taken from next to the road but slightly further round.

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This shot was taken from the point next to the road where I want Enedis to install my electrical ‘coffret’

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The next shot was taken from inside the now-cleared area just under the trees looking down the slope.

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This final shot of the cleared area was also taken from further down under the trees and shows the previously invisible boundary marker of my land, or ‘borne’, the stick with a red top, which had been hidden in the trees.

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Now, if you’ve read this far you might be wondering to yourself what the heck does he have to rejoice about? Well, the answer is that it appears that my visit last week to Véolia’s office at Terrasson where I made clear what I thought about their service may have paid off, because while I was inspecting Sebastien’s team’s handiwork with him, a technician from Véolia turned up!

He was a pleasant sort of a chap as most of the non-office types are here in France but it didn’t help that almost as soon as he started talking a pesky fly flew straight into his eye, something that they always aim to do. He had copies of the papers that I’d provided and we started by looking at the valve (or ‘vanne’) that I’ve been saying all along is already on my land, which will make connecting up a water meter a doddle.

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He agreed, but whereas I said that this was the valve for my land he said that actually it wasn’t and that it’s actually for the house opposite on the other side of the road. This came as something of a surprise to me because I said that the plans show the water main running across my land close to the road. He said that that wasn’t the case. It actually runs down through the trees several metres from the road as can still just be seen in the final shot below by the ‘alleyway’ that was cut through and still exists.

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However, he said that it would be a simple matter to cut my supply in at that point and implied that if I only want my inspection chamber that will hold the water meter a metre or so in any direction from the existing valve, it would be relatively quick and cheap to do. Then came the reason for my rejoicing. I asked him when things would start to happen, and he said that he’d get my ‘devis’ (estimate) out within the week.

I don’t want to start my celebrations too early because that doesn’t mean that a van with an engineer will come trundling up the road to do the work any time soon, but it does at least look as though there are reasons for optimism that the estimate of 6-7 weeks made by the hatchet-faced lady at Terrasson last week might be improved upon. And maybe by quite a bit 😉

July 27, 2021

Going places

Well, not really. Not very far anyway. I had a call yesterday afternoon from Sebastien, the tree man, that he would like to do the job today. That meant that in order to give his team plenty of access, I needed to move my caravan and all my other stuff out of the way, so I had to get moving straight away.

I’ve had my eye on a spot at the bottom of my land right from the very beginning so that’s where I decided to move to. I had no idea how long it would take and it was the end of the evening before I got everything down there.

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I was up bright and early expecting Sebastien’s team to make an early start and I was right. There’s a little deer that I see most mornings who comes onto the fields on either side of my land for her breakfast. She doesn’t seem to be too worried by my presence so long as I stay at a distance and I’m hoping that she’ll continue doing so in future as she gets to know me. Here are some shots of my new location that I took this morning.

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However, today was an exception for the little deer because while she was eating and flapping her ears to shoo the flies off she was disturbed by a tractor with a flashing light that came rumbling down the road and turned onto my land. After a brief discussion the driver got cracking on slashing down all the bushes and small trees that I wanted removed and shortly afterwards the rest of the small team arrived.

They’re still working as I type this and are making short work of clearing the desired area. I have to say that it’s making quite a difference. I don’t think, though, that I’ll be moving my caravan back up there anytime soon. The reason is that the contractor appointed by Enedis to do my electrical connection also came by yesterday, as planned.

So for the first time someone who knows what they’re talking about came to actually look at the job and he showed me what he’d found. I’m told that the previous potential purchaser of my land who backed out two years or so ago paid to have water and electricity connected and sure enough, as I’ve mentioned several times, there’s a water supply on the land.

There are also signs that a trench has been dug bringing a cable from the electrical ‘coffret’ on the other side of the road down to the corner of my land and the engineer confirmed this to be so. However, he showed me that whereas they’d dropped the plastic tube, or ‘gaine’ through which the cable passes, into the trench, there is actually no cable contained in it!

Why would they do that, for goodness sake, especially if as I’d been told, the previous person had paid for a connection? However, it is what it is and the engineer said that it’s likely that it will take several weeks for a cable to be installed and for my own ‘coffret’ to be installed on my land.

In that case, I might as well leave the caravan where it is. It’s closer to my neighbour’s house for my electricity supply and the cable now runs around the periphery of the intervening field and not across it. And as I’ll also probably be waiting several weeks for Véolia to stir themselves and connect a meter and tap to my water supply, there’s no difference there either.

My biggest problem is that although the area on which I’ve sited the caravan looked level, it’s far from it. Once again it’s tilted over towards the front left corner and although we’re not expecting rain for some time, I need to get it levelled up. It’s also very uncomfortable as it is (I had to sleep the wrong way round on the bed last night so my head was higher than my feet) so that will be today’s main task. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep the right way round tonight 🙂

July 25, 2021

A taste of freedom

From the tyranny of Enedis and Véolia. I popped over to Leroy Merlin yesterday and purchased two 50 metre rolls of suitable 3-core electric cable and two each, in-line plugs and sockets to make up a pair of long extension leads. Then this morning in between the showers I laid a long cable across the intervening open field and connected up my caravan to a plug point in what used to be the former owner of my neighbour’s house’s chicken shed.

And now for the first time I have continuous power in my caravan without the clattering sound of my generator and the loud ker-ching sound of euros cascading out of my wallet. So I’m now receiving both water and electricity from my neighbour after agreeing, despite her reluctance, that I will be paying a daily or weekly rate for doing so, and we’re both happy.

As the tree man will be arriving this week to clear the bushes and small trees behind where my caravan is presently parked, I’ve decided that I’ll be moving it down to the bottom corner of my land so he can have full access for the machinery he’ll need. This will not only have the advantage of getting me away from where he’ll be working but it will also give me more privacy as well as being closer to my neighbour’s house.

In fact the more I think about it, if she’s happy with our arrangement, I could well end up keeping the caravan there for the long term as getting water every few days is not a huge chore, especially if I fit an electric pump in the caravan, and even when my own electricity is connected up, the premium you pay for a ‘temporary’ connection could well end up making it more expensive than the amount that we agreed that I will be paying her. And it will also be possible to run the connecting electricity cable under the trees where it will be inconspicuous and unlikely to cause an accident.

So something to think about, but every little step that I take is ending up making my life in my caravan a little more comfortable, which is no small deal I can tell you!

July 24, 2021

More Véolia… what??!!!

I went to Véolia’s Terrasson office yesterday with high hopes that there would at last be some light at the end of the tunnel only to have them dashed in a way that only the monstrous French public sector could be capable of. I don’t know where they find them from or if they are bred specially for such roles, but there was the now-usual unsmiling, hatchet-faced young woman waiting to ‘deal with’ my query behind the now-usual bullet-proof plastic shield.

I handed her the papers I’d brought with me and she proceeded to confirm every item that I’d written on them which seemed a bit pointless to me, as if I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to have the connection made and wasn’t sure of my own phone number. But I decided to just go along with her anyway in the interests of keeping the peace… after a mere 7 weeks. ‘So this is in Fleurac?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Lieu dit Labattut Basse?’ ‘Yes’ I almost expected her to ask me to confirm that this is indeed on Planet Earth but thankfully she did stop before then but still felt that she had to get me to confirm my mobile number and email address both of which were clearly shown on the paperwork.

Then came the crunch question. How long? ‘For a new connection, 6 to 7 weeks’, she replied. That’s when I hit the roof. No matter that there were by now other people waiting in the ‘salle d’attente’ outside. I told here that this was totally unacceptable as I’d already been waiting 7 weeks since I’d placed my connection demand on Véolia. She had the cheek to say that I should have made the demand when I bought the land and, infuriated even more by such impudence, I pointed out that that was exactly what I’d done 7 weeks ago.

With the ruckus brewing, eventually a young, wet-behind-the-ears manager (I guess) emerged at that point from his office. Hatchet-face began to explain what the problem was and I then told him how appallingly Véolia had been behaving, how in 7 weeks they had done nothing to action what was a simple request that I could carry out myself in about 2 hours (fit a water meter and stand-pipe to an existing supply) and that they by their incompetence were now intending to condemn a person of my age to yet another 2 months without water in a caravan in temperatures of over 30 degrees.

He tried to bluster his way out by saying how complicated it was, how they had to use a mechanical shovel and therefore had to liaise with electricity and telephones to ensure that no lines would be affected and I replied that this was total rubbish as the water supply had already been installed and it was merely a metter of connecting to it, that I knew what I was talking about and that it would still take at most 2 hours of work to do what was needed.

But there’s no arguing with such people here in France, not so as to get any form of useful response out of them anyway. He said that they’d get someone down to my land to take a look ‘as soon as possible’ and they’d give me a call to arrange a ‘rendez-vous’. The usual response, but that counts for nothing. In due course I’ll be seeking and making contact with the ‘Médiateur’ responsible for water and making a stiff complaint but that won’t help to deal with the present issues and I’m highly sceptical that anything meaningful will come out of it anyway, but I will do it nevertheless.

Luckily, although as I’ve found, there are those here in the private sector who have a similar off-hand and dismissive attitude to customer service, there are still others who treat their clients with respect and do things properly. Such a person is the young man who came a week or so ago to look at the small trees and bushes that I need to have removed from my land so I can make enough space to reposition my caravan.

On the way back from Terrasson I received a message from him saying could I please send him my email address as he’d got it wrong and hadn’t been able to deliver his ‘devis’ for doing the work. I accepted it as soon as I got it shortly afterwards and after thanking me for my ‘confidence’ in him and his business said that he’d be able to start the work next week. So that’s good and how refreshing to know that there are people like him here and that not everyone treats their clients with the utter contempt that the likes of Véolia and Enedis do.