October 31, 2012

Vive les wine boxes

I was never much of a fan of wine boxes. Many years ago I used to work in the wine trade and although far from being an ‘expert’ (although I do have a diploma…), I have always enjoyed a good bottle of wine. All colours and types and from all countries. Like many others of my generation, the whole idea of putting wine in ‘boxes’ horrified me and I’ve always associated the practice with cheap plonk that you only drink at parties because that’s all there is ๐Ÿ˜•

I can’t remember the last time I actually bought a wine box before coming to France and it’s possible that maybe I never have. But since I came here, my thinking has changed a bit. My local supermarket stocks some very good wines of all types and many of them for not a lot of money and enjoying them, in moderation, with my meals or even just sitting out in my garden has been one of my great pleasures. But up until recently, I’ve always bought my wine in bottles. Some friends have said that I should start to buy boxes because it’s much cheaper, the wine lasts for four or five weeks and it’s just as good as the stuff in bottles but being a bit of a stubborn SOB, I found it difficult to overcome my ingrained prejudices. And what a twerp I was!

Now, I don’t know what’s been going on with wine boxes in the UK but when I looked on the shelves over here, sure enough I found that the same wines that I’ve been enjoying in bottles are also being stocked in wine boxes. So I started with a couple of reds, a Merlot and a local Bergerac rouge, both beautifully labelled and presented in their boxes, and very good they both turned out to be. Yup, just the same as when I’d bought them in glass bottles! I shared them with some friends and since then, they’ve been standing next to each other on a ledge in my kitchen and I still find it great just to be able to pour myself a glass of whichever of the two I happen to choose with whatever I happen to be eating at the time.

Well, today I came to the end of my first French wine box. It happened to be a 3 litre box of Cabernet d’Anjou which I’ve had for the past few weeks in my fridge, see below.

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I’ve enjoyed it with salads, many other light meals and very often just by itself, but today I found one of the best things about wine boxes. I knew that the wine inside was coming to an end when I poured myself out a glass to drink with tonight’s meal but when the glass was full, there was still some left in the box. So I drank a bit and topped up the glass again, but there was still a bit left. So I drank a bit more and filled my glass up again… and again… and again! Before I knew it, I’d drunk a couple of glasses before the box was eventually empty, so there you have it. I don’t need to make excuses because I live alone and don’t have to explain anything to anyone, but to those unfortunates who do, here’s a way to get a few glasses down your neck without anyone noticing – just say that you’re having to finish off the old ‘dregs’ before you open the next box for your friends ๐Ÿ™‚

I knew that the moment was approaching, of course, so as you can see in the pic, I’d already prepared myself by buying a 5 litre box of Pays d’Herault, a lovely crisp, semi-dry, 11.5% rose wine. It’s gorgeous and it cost the princely sum of 8.89โ‚ฌ. Eat your heart out – that’s only just over ยฃ7 for 5 litres. Who said that this isn’t the life ๐Ÿ˜‰

October 28, 2012

Brrrr… Changed again!

Although I’m now hundreds of miles south, I still keep an eye on the UK weather forecasts and see that the whole country is in the grips of an ‘arctic blast’ that has brought snow to many parts. Here in the Dordogne we also seem to have been affected by the same weather pattern including the same very chilly northerly winds. We haven’t had snow or anything like that – we’ve had brilliant clear blue skies for the last couple of days actually – but it’s all relative. The temperature yesterday reached a maximum of 9 deg C with a wind-chill factor making it feel rather colder and the forecast today is for a maximum of 8 deg C or so but still accompanied by the same cold wind.

So it’s not a good time for being out and about! I had to go to the supermarket on Friday and usually that’s one of the busiest days of the week. But not that day! The local population wisely decided to stay at home next to their wood-burners and since then it’s got quite a bit colder. I had a coffee with Wim and Sophie yesterday morning and poor Sophie had to pop out to pick up a few things. She was very cold when she came back and said that she was glad to be back home in the warm, and I didn’t blame her. Wim gave me directions to the Perigord Noir ‘bricollage’ where he said I might be lucky to find the floor tiles I need and later on, after lunch, I nipped over there to find out.

As it’s not a good time to be working outside on the X-Air , and as I’m waiting for price information from Raj Hamsa (the X-Air company who are based here in France) for the parts I’m thinking about ordering from them anyway, now’s a good time to get work done on and in the house. I’ve decided that I have to get my fireplace sorted out inside before I can get my roof work done. The reason is that the roofing man will be putting a tile cap on the top of the chimney the way they do here, to keep the rain out, and when the flue lining is put in for the wood-burner, either this would have to be removed again or it would need to be left off in the first place requiring the roofing man to make a return visit involving extra cost.

I have a large open stone fireplace that a previous occupant had sealed off. They then installed a small wood-burner beside it which had a flue that entered the chimney through a hole in the side of the fireplace. However, they then left the original fireplace in the crude form that it had always been in which was a kind of open semi-circular pit about 8 cm deep extending out something like a metre into the room as can be seen from the following pic.

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So the bottom line is that if I want to install a wood-burner stove in the fireplace itself, I first have to fill and tile the ‘pit’ and then create some kind of slightly raised platform for the stove to stand on. I then have to block off the hole in the side of the fireplace (and somehow clean off all the gunge that the previous stove left behind), open up the flu and have a metal flue liner installed that will go right up from the wood-burner to the top of the chimney, after which the tile cap can be fitted on the top to keep the rain out.

My immediate problem is that, as can be seen in the pic, the whole of my downstairs is tiled right through in traditional 30 x 30 cm terra cotta (‘terre cuite’) tiles and for the job to look anything when it’s been done, I have to try and match these as closely as possible. After an extensive internet search, I think I have find a company in Toulouse who can supply, and more importantly, deliver tiles that appear from their pictures to be almost identical, although until I receive the sample that I have ordered, I will not know for sure. In the meantime, Wim suggested that I should try Perigord Noire Bricollage who stock a large range of floor tiles and that I just might be lucky. Well, as it happened, unfortunately I wasn’t. They had some terra cotta tiles of the right size but the colour was not quite right and they also had a bit of an edge pattern that would make them stand out too much against the existing ones. So I’m back to waiting for my sample to arrive from Toulouse.

In the meantime, time is marching on, the weather is getting colder and I have no heating of any kind in my house. But I just had a stroke of luck. My local Intermarche has just made a special offer on convector heaters, 2000 watt units that can be either floor mounted on plastic feet or wall mounted. The extraordinary thing is that they were being sold at roughly 1/3 of the price of similar units in the Brico Depot at Perigueux – so I walked out of the store with five of them in a trolley. The cashier said that they will be expensive to run, but they will be perfect when I wall-mount two in the lounge and one in each bedroom because even after I have a stove installed, there will always be periods like now in the late Autumn when you need a bit of background heat before you fire up the stove proper. The last one I’ll probably keep as a portable unit so it can be used in the kitchen, bathroom or wherever, I don’t know yet.

So that’s what my plans are, for now anyway.

October 24, 2012

Quelle surprise! Suddenly now very warm…

The rain did eventually stop and the mist eventually disappeared but before starting serious work on the X-Air I thought that I should finish off a couple of jobs around the house that I’ve been meaning to get done for some time. I went across to the Brico Depot at Perigueux on Saturday but as it was raining, half of the population of the surrounding area had decided to go there too! So as the place was so packed out that you could hardly move, when I found out that I had to go outside (into the rain…) to buy the bags of ready-to-use concrete that I wanted, I decided to call it a day and come home ๐Ÿ˜

I went back again on Monday and got everything that I needed. The first job was to dig a hole and put up the rotary clothes dryer that I’ve had for several weeks now and it was while I was digging the hole for it yesterday that I realised that I was becoming rather hot. Not to put too fine a point on it, after a while the sweat was just running off me, and not surprising really because when I checked my car temperature gauge, it read 27.5 deg C!

But anyway, I got the job done and the base tube of the clothes dryer concreted neatly into my back lawn so I then went on to work on my front lights. When I came here there was one bare bulb hanging out of the wall on wires near my kitchen door that worked from a switch in the kitchen and another light that was all corroded away further along the front of the house that I assumed worked from another switch in my lounge. A little while ago I put a rather nice outside light on the wall connected to the wires near the kitchen door and I recently put up another to replace the corroded one. Sure enough, that worked from the other switch as I’d expected and I was never very happy about that. So I’d bought a length of cable on Monday and yesterday I fitted a junction box under the eaves and ran the cable down so both of the existing lights worked off the same switch, the one in the lounge. And I’d also run another length of cable from the junction box along to the other corner of the house so I’d then be able to have three lights all working together equally spaced along the front of the building.

Because the walls of the house are of stone and are very irregular, I’d had to put a kind of solid flat mortar pad on the wall to mount the last light on using some of my concrete with the largest stones removed and when this morning I found that it and the base I’d mounted the clothes dryer in were rock solid, I pressed on to finish putting up the third light. Once again, after a while it began to get pretty hot, but this time not as hot as yesterday – my car temperature gauge this time only read 26.5 deg C! But still hot enough to be working outside in, I can tell you ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are a couple of pics I took just as the daylight was beginning to fade this evening. I like the effect – I think it makes the place far more homely.

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So then I could start on the X-Air. As I need to get hold of new cables for the elevator trim and brakes, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get much done on the main fuselage, so rather than remove the covers that I have on it, I thought I’d have a go at putting a wing together. I have two sets of tubes and covers but I thought that I’d do the ones that were on the aircraft when I originally saw it in Brittany as it certainly flew OK then. I laid a large tarpaulin out on my back lawn to assemble the wing on and it turned out that the one I grabbed first was the left one. The wing tubes are assembled and the covers fitted in a similar way to the AX3 so this wasn’t totally new territory for me. If anything, the X-Air’s are easier to do but the heat didn’t help matters ๐Ÿ™‚

I found that although the bracing cables are in good condition, the outer plastic sleeves are damaged and a bit tatty so I swapped one from one of the spare wing tubes. I also found that when they’d disassembled the wings, they’d forced a bolt head against the upper fabric surface from the inside, which had put a small tear in it, but I pressed on anyway thinking that I’d just have to put a little adhesive patch on it when I’d finished. After much heaving and sweating I finally came to attach the bracing cable to the in-board end of the leading edge and at that point I noticed that the main attachment hole was slightly ovaled. I know that this was the tube that was fitted to the aircraft when I flew it and when I went to check the other leading edge tube, that was also slightly ovaled, so not good. However, when I checked the two spare leading edges, I found that they were in perfect shape, so not a disaster after all! All I need to do is swap the tubes around – after all, no point having good spares if you then don’t use them, and the chance of needing spares anyway is pretty remote.

So that’s what I’ve decided I’ll do. I’ll also replace the four wing bracing cables at the same time and while I’m doing it, I’ll get hold of a whole load of stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers and replace the existing ones as I go. At least now I’m in France I can just source high quality ones myself and not have to pay over the odds for the same, or possibly inferior ones, from the ‘manufacturer’ as I would have had to do in the UK. I’ve now got to order all the stuff I need and wait for it to be delivered so the job will take a bit longer, probably, than I’d originally planned. But I think it’ll work out better and once all the nuts and bolts have been replaced, they’ll never need doing again, not while I have the aircraft anyway. So tomorrow I’ll need to put together a list of everything I need – and take the wing I put together today, apart again. I’ll have to do that because it was too big to go through the door of my ‘cave’ and it’s now lying outside on the grass under the tarpaulin. But at least while I’m doing it, it’s not forecast to be quite as hot tomorrow as it was today ๐Ÿ˜‰

October 20, 2012

Plus รงa change…

It’s still raining. It’s hardly stopped in the last few days, never very hard but hard enough for you not to want to be out in it. And certainly hard enough to prevent me doing anything outside on the X-Air. It’s down to a light drizzle now but the mรฉtรฉo for Plazac, see below, is telling us that we can expect it to stay with us for the whole of today and probably tomorrow too and also much of Monday.

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I didn’t come here for this! I could have stayed in the UK if I’d wanted to be continuously rained on ๐Ÿ˜•

But seriously, it is a bit annoying because the X-Air has been standing tantalisingly outside my window for over a week now and I’ve been unable to do anything on it. And it’s been rained on every day! I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ever going to get into the air here in the Dordogne. And just to rub it in a bit, Wim flew over in his single-seat AX3 in a brief clear patch we had the other morning … he told me afterwards that he could see the X-Air standing safely covered up in my garden ๐Ÿ˜€

October 16, 2012

Home from home

That’s exactly what it’s been like today – dull, misty, drizzling, everywhere damp and dripping. It was just like being back in the UK, except when I spoke to my mother on the phone this afternoon, it turned out that they were enjoying a lovely bright Autumn day ๐Ÿ˜

Just my luck to be hit with this kind of weather at the exact time that I get the X-Air home, where it has to stand outside in the open. Yesterday was rather dull and chilly but at least it remained dry. The sun came out later in the afternoon so it warmed up a bit but by then I’d got everything out of the cabin and laid out neatly on the floor of my ‘cave’. I also made a better job of the covers when I replaced them so there wasn’t too much of the aircraft exposed to the rain. Here’s a shot I took of it this afternoon – note the milk bottle over the upturned open exhaust pipe ๐Ÿ™‚

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I noticed that there isn’t a VSI or a fuel pressure gauge fitted and as the ASI is in kmh, I’ll be removing MYRO’s instruments and using them in the X-Air. I may also fit MYRO’s exhaust temp sensors and gauge, I don’t know yet. In fact if it’s not too difficult/expensive, I’d really like to totally re-do the X-Air’s panel. I’ll have to look at it in more detail when I can eventually get onto the job – if this ruddy weather lets me ๐Ÿ˜•

As it was, I actually made good use of the day. I’ve mentioned on a few occasions that I’ve had boxes full of stuff that I brought with me from my house in the UK spread all over the floor of my ‘sejour’ (lounge) because for the time being I have nowhere to store anything. I’ve managed to empty quite a few boxes as I’ve set out furniture, filled cabinets and dug out the stuff that I need on a daily basis but my efforts have been a bit piecemeal to be honest. I needed to clear the sejour so I can get someone in to check out the work that I need done on my roof, chimney and fireplace so I can install a wood-burner so I decided that today must really be the day. And I succeeded. My sejour is now clear of boxes and everything that has to be kept stored is now documented and stacked up out of the way on my landing. And it’s a lovely feeling I can tell you ๐Ÿ˜€

October 13, 2012

All the way home

Getting my new X-Air from Brittany down to Plazac was always going to be quite a project and Wim and I made the plans for it together. Wim put together a handy check-list so we wouldn’t forget anything important and on Monday I picked up Regis’s trailer and dropped it over at Wim’s so I could concentrate on getting all my tow-bar electrical connections working properly. When I’d finished only the left-hand flasher connection was still not working and I think this was down to a faulty circuit in the ‘buzzer’ unit that came with it. I’d ordered a trailer lighting board but as usual, the French supplier was hopeless and as it hadn’t shown up by Wednesday (and still hasn’t at the time of writing this post), Wim and I set to to cobbling one together from the lights on the back panel of his old trailer, an old length of 7-core cable that he luckily had and a trailer plug that I had the foresight to pick up from the local supermarket ‘just in case’.

We also had another stroke of luck. Regis’s trailer didn’t have a spare wheel, which we thought would be inviting disaster on such a long journey, and one of the tyres had sidewalls with a few cracks in as well. So Wim and I decided that we’d get another wheel and tyre at the nearest scrap-yard which is some way away at Terrasson. When we set out, Wim suggested that despite my cynicism, perhaps we ought to first try the two local small garages at Rouffignac. The first couldn’t help, but I managed to buy a replacement fuse for my rear and number plate lights that had fallen victim while we were getting the trailer light board working. However, I was gob-smacked when the mechanic at the second garage we went to took one look at the trailer wheel we’d taken with us, went out to the back and returned straight away with an identical wheel and tyre! When you think that the trailer had been made from old car bits that were probably twenty or thirty years old, this was some achievement, and I was even more surprised when he sold it to us for the princely sum of 10โ‚ฌ ๐Ÿ™‚

My other problem, as usual, was Toddie. Because this would be a two-day trip, I couldn’t just leave him behind and if I’d had to bring him with us, this would have resulted in the space available inside my car being halved. But the problem was solved by Sophie, Wim’s wife, very kindly offering to look after him at their place for two nights. The extra night was necessary because we planned to leave for Brittany while it was still dark early the following morning and if Toddie was already there, this would make for the minimum of disruption and disturbance.

We needed to take a complete extending aluminium ladder and a smaller aluminium one that Wim had with us, the former to mount the wing tubes on, on the car roof for the return journey and the latter to place the X-Air’s main wheels on on the trailer. The track of the X-Air’s main undercarriage wheels is 1.60 metres and as the trailer is narrower than that, by placing the ladder across it we could safely mount the X-Air on it with each wheel in a gap between the rungs at each end of the ladder. The arrangement worked very well in practice because we could securely tie the ladder to the trailer and the aircraft to the ladder making the whole thing very safe and stable. Wim secured the ladders to the trailer the night before and so it was we left his place at Fleurac in the pitch dark at 6.30am on Thursday morning. Here’s a pic of our planned route.

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Our route took us north via Perigueux, Brantome, Angouleme, Niort and Nantes up to Bertrand’s house in St Ave, a small town just outside Vannes, a total distance of 520 kms. Unlike the UK, there is no speed restriction on two-wheeled trailers in France, so we were able to make pretty good time, arriving at Bertrand’s at around 2.30pm. However, we knew that this would not be the case the following day so we knew we had to press on, get the aircraft and everything else loaded and get an early night ready for another early start the following morning. Bertrand had originally told me that he expected that I’d need two trips to get everything back but Wim and I were determined to try to get everything done and dusted in one. I didn’t know beforehand exactly what there was to bring back but it turned out that the X-Air was to come with a complete spare set of wings including covers, battens and ailerons together with various items such as a spare set of front forks and pair of main gear springs, not to mention the doors that had not been fitted. As the wings had been totally disassembled and the propeller, rudder and elevators removed, there was plenty to be fitted in and on the car for the journey back, and not only that but it also all had to be carefully stowed so nothing could rub together causing damage while in transit.

Bertrand and his wife Pascale had very kindly offered to put Wim and me up for the night and to entertain us to dinner that evening, so as we were coming to the end of the loading, they both went off to get the meal ready. By that time it was around 6.00pm or possibly a bit later and when we’d finished getting everything loaded, Wim and I were both horrified to see that because we’d loaded the X-Air a long way forward on the trailer, the front of the trailer tow-bar was only a couple of centimetres above the road surface! We couldn’t possibly leave it like that, of course, so we had to untie everything on the trailer and move the aircraft further back. This involved us each taking an end of the small ladder, lifting it and the X-Air up and moving the ladder back behind the trailer’s wheels. We succeeded in doing it and after replacing and securing everything else that had to go on the trailer, the trailer hitch was raised high enough for the journey. In fact I still wasn’t very keen because I knew that in England, our whole arrangement would have been stopped if it had caught the attention of the police and I suggested that perhaps we should make the return journey under cover of darkness, leaving that same evening. Wim wisely advised against this because both of us were pretty tired after the day’s exertions and he said that in any case, this was France and nobody would bat an eye-lid anyway. In fact he was absolutely right. In the whole journey of over 1000 kms there and back, we only saw ten CRS police vans that were in a convoy on some sort of exercise and obviously would have had no interest in us, and a small blue police car that zipped past us with a flashing roof light on the way to an incident somewhere. How different this was to England where you can hardly drive for a mile without there being wall-to-wall traffic police in marked and unmarked cars and all manner of other surveillance devices such as lasers and speed cameras. But that’s another story.

Bertrand and Pascale are moving house and Bertrand had suggested leaving the car and trailer at their new property a few kilometres away from their current home where they would be safer. We decided that as where they currently live is closer to the main road, we’d park them right outside for a quicker departure and take the risk, which we thought would be non-existent as St Ave is hardly Brixton or Central Manchester! Wim and I had a most enjoyable dinner with Pascale and Bertrand and turned in by about 9.45pm. Both of us slept pretty soundly but although I soon went back to sleep afterwards, I was awoken at 4.00am when the boulangerie next door started pounding the dough for the morning’s supply of loaves! We were up at 7.00am and breakfasting in advance of our departure when Bertrand joined us and shortly afterwards saw us off, before returning to his bed! It seemed that our leaving coincided exactly with the St Ave morning rush-hour but pretty soon we were on the main road from Vannes to Nantes heading south. French main roads are almost without exception beautifully smooth and we had hardly any problems as a result of the low height of the trailer tow-bar. This was the case for the whole journey and it only bumped the road surface on a tiny number of occasions, at a few rural railway level crossings and on speed bumps in some of the larger villages and towns. We pulled up shortly after it became light to see how things were doing and whether any ropes or ties had become loose and here are some shots I took at the time.

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The last shot gives a pretty good impression of just how large the whole package of car, trailer and aircraft actually was and although we caught the eye of a few people on motorway bridges and of pedestrians and small boys in the towns and villages we passed through, it was surprising how on the whole we didn’t seem to attract too much attention. More to the point was that for reasons of safety, I had decided to restrict our speed to a maximum of 50 mph (80 kph). So we had another long day in prospect and after checking that everything was secure and nothing at all had shifted on the trailer, we therefore pressed on. From around Niort, Wim knows the road pretty well and whereas previously we had been referring to the satnav, from there we switched it off and I followed Wim’s directions. It worked out pretty well because much of the route we passed over had been recently re-surfaced and was therefore very smooth. Apart from making a few stops for drinks and comfort breaks, we decided not to stop to eat and to press on instead. The trip up to St Ave had been punctuated by rain and even the odd thunderstorm. We had been fortunate that apart from the odd light shower, the rain had held off while we had loaded up the car and trailer. Rain had also been forecast for our return journey, but in aviation met parlance, we were lucky to actually find ourselves in the relative high between two lows. This resulted in an almost cloudless blue sky to start off with only a few clouds beginning to build up as we drove south, which was really good news for us.

We hit the after-lunch rush-hour at Angouleme just as people were returning to their places of work but this didn’t delay us by very much, and we hit Perigueux, the only other place where our journey could have been similarly affected, well before knocking-off time. And so it was that we arrived at Plazac in fine, dry weather shortly after 4.00 pm. Nothing had gone amiss and everything had run smoothly during the whole journey and I thought that we had been very lucky that this was the case. I said to Wim that the idea of something like suspension failure on the trailer 500 kms from home didn’t bear thinking about and he agreed. But no matter, it hadn’t happened and we’d arrived home safe and sound with the X-Air and now it was time to unload before getting ourselves over to Wim’s where Sophie would have a meal waiting for us.

And so the day came to an end. After a most enjoyable dinner with Sophie and Wim, I returned home with Toddie and we were both in our beds by 11.00pm. Rain had been forecast for this morning but in fact I awoke to a beautiful bright but chilly Dordogne morning, and here are a couple of pics I took of the X-Air in its (temporary) new home.

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It was quite a project, indeed an adventure, getting the X-Air here and it’s an enormous relief seeing it in my back garden at last. It was a demanding task that would hardly have been possible at all without the help of Sophie and Wim. I count myself as incredibly fortunate to have such lovely friends here in Plazac and just saying ‘Thank You’ hardly seems like enough.

October 10, 2012

The sad, sad world of Bob Thompson

I resolved never to mention his name again here on My Trike but I had to briefly share what has just come to light. Bob Thompson has a number of Internet pseudonyms – BMWbikerinfrance, BioniXman and FlyingFrog among them. It now appears that as he has very little else to occupy him in his life and such a rapidly diminishing circle of friends on account of his tendency to ‘fall out’ (his words) with people, that he has been reduced to spending his time trawling around various Internet forums and even places like YouTube posting negative material about me and the incident involving G-MYRO. Apparently he describes me as a ‘rubbish pilot’ (cutting edge stuff this…) and in a similar vein, in the best traditions of your average thirteen year old, I found that he had ‘mischievously’ (oh you naughty boy you!) flagged up one of my YouTube videos as spam. It’s a bit like having a stalker – you never know where they’re going to pop up next.

It is no concern of mine, and frankly of no interest to me either, but I seriously now wonder about his mental state. In my experience, these are not the kind of things that a normal, rational, grown-up, adult person does. I terminated our previously friendly relationship following behaviour towards me that I found highly offensive and it subsequently turned out that my experience was not unique. But what normal people then do, and that includes both parties following such an event, is turn the page and move on. However, it appears that Bob Thompson is incapable of doing such a thing, even though several months have elapsed since the events that triggered his, some might say, very weird behaviour. This is probably because he lacks maturity or possibly it is because of some other reason. One of his other Internet pseudonyms is madmanbob and maybe he chose it with good reason. His recent behaviour certainly gives credence to such an idea.

October 7, 2012

Not as planned…

The week-end that is, and in more ways than one as well. I’m due to phone Bertrand tomorrow (Monday) to agree on which day this coming week I’ll be collecting the X-Air. I’ll be borrowing a trailer so it’s important that I’ve finished fitting my new tow-bar to my car beforehand. The weather forecast was for fine weather on Saturday and today and sure enough, I was able to get the unit onto the car on Saturday leaving the electrics for today. The instructions said it would take about 60 minutes for the whole job, but that’s another story. It took me over half a day just to get to the stage shown in the pic below!

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But unfortunately the weather then decided not to cooperate and I awoke today to dull, drizzly weather that looked to be set in for the rest of the day if past experience was anything to go by. And sure enough, that’s what happened. I got all of the electrical work done, though, and after I’d cleaned everything up and refitted the trim in the back of the car, I was quite pleased with the way the job had turned out actually. Only trouble was that when I tested the socket in the best way that I could, only two of the six pins worked properly! I could hardly believe it – I’ve done so many similar electrical connections on other cars and on MYRO of course, and if I’d had the same success rate with the latter, it would never have got into the air ๐Ÿ˜

So now I’ve got to find out why things aren’t working. I think I’ll see if I can borrow Wim’s trailer board tomorrow and see if the connections work with that, but failing that, I’ll have to strip most of the trim out again and check all of the connections one by one, and that will be a pain.

By the way, on Saturday I visited the local supermarket wearing my usual tee shirt, shorts and flip-flops because the temperature here is still something like 21 degrees C. However, the locals seem to have decided that summer is definitely now over because most of them were wearing long trousers, jumpers and even coats and jackets. Hmmm… must be careful that I’m not labelled as an eccentric foreigner ๐Ÿ™‚

October 4, 2012

Sss…snakes alive!

I’ve just taken the dog out for his lunch-time constitutional and as we rounded the corner of the house into the area at the back, right there in front of us in the grass was a long, thin snake. It was about 3 feet long, pale green in colour with the characteristic yellow collar around its neck, which meant that it was a harmless grass snake. It slithered off quite rapidly towards the house as I approached it to get a closer look and managed to find a hole of some sort at the base of the bathroom outer wall into which it completely disappeared. This isn’t as bad as it sounds because the walls of my house are something like 30″ thick so I don’t expect it to turn up unexpectedly in the bathroom any time just yet ๐Ÿ™‚

I spotted a snake similar to this slithering into undergrowth at the front of the house just after I arrived here in Plazac and when I mentioned it to my neighbour Jean-Claude, he said that there are dozens of them in the fields behind our houses. A herd of cows was put in there several days ago and my guess is that maybe they might have disturbed this one. If so, I hope it’s just the one because even though they’re perfectly harmless, I don’t much fancy having a garden full of the little devils ๐Ÿ˜

I had a bit of a result today. I’ve been working for several days trying to unpack as many of the boxes as I can that are still spread out all over the floor of my lounge (sejour) and preventing me from using it as a proper living space. I’ve made pretty good progress actually and the place is coming on a treat now that there are mirrors, pictures and ornaments around making it much more homely. But what’s been bugging me is that when I packed up for the move from the UK, I emptied two wooden cabinets and put their contents into cardboard boxes and although I left the key for one of them in its door, the keys for the other together with the screws that held my table together I placed in an envelope which I dropped into one of the boxes. Yup, you’ve guessed it – when it came to it, I had absolutely no idea which of the many boxes this was ๐Ÿ˜• I’d searched high and low including every ‘sensible’ place where I might have put them eg in the box containing the contents of the cabinet that the keys were for – but to no avail. Up to today that is.

I’d got to the point where I was checking every remaining box by removing its contents and either doing something with them (eg hanging pictures, putting out ornaments) or transferring them to another box when there at the bottom of one of the ‘kitchen’ boxes, I spotted what I was looking for. I’d completely forgotten that I’d popped them into an empty resealable cheese packet, you know, the ones that are like an envelope with a resealable strip along the top. The reason I was able to spot them was because my now long gone little mousie had managed to get into the box and had attacked the cheese packet not knowing that the contents were not what he was actually looking for and had made a ragged hole with his teeth that I could see a key through. So little mousie had been there and found the keys before me. If only he’d been able to tell me that before he met his unfortunate demise ๐Ÿ™