August 25, 2020

Animal crackers

A few days ago I had yet another bat in my living room. I heard a noise behind me and found it lying quite calmly on a tread half-way up my stairs. It was quite large – quite a lot bigger than the one that woke me up in the middle of the night a week or so ago by flying in circles in the darkness around my bedroom.

It was about the same size as the bat that came into my house a year or so ago but luckily nothing like as mad. That one had angry red eyes and made a constant clicking sound by snapping its teeth together. I think it might have been rabied and was quite nervous about scooping it up in a thick towel and freeing it outside.

This last one was much more docile, however, and I scooped it up quite easily from my stairs after it briefly tried to hide behind a decorative brass warming pan that’s there and it happily flew off when I dropped it onto the little glass-topped table in the garden.

But today takes the biscuit. I went into the kitchen to dump my lunch things in the sink and… there was a small snake on the worktop! It was trying to climb up and hide itself in a towel that is hanging on the wall and before I could grab it, it dropped down and shot into a gap between the (unfinished) worktop and the wall. I pulled the dishwasher out and all of the cabinet kick-panels but could find no sign of it, so it may still be there.

It was quite thin, brownish-green in colour and about 20 cms long. I think that it was probably a grass snake and have no idea what can possibly have possessed it to come into my house. For the time being I’ve just left the doors wide open, which is how they must have been when it found its way in, in the hope that when it finds that there’s nothing for it inside it’ll just find its own way out. If that doesn’t work and I catch sight of it again, I’ll just have to take up a new career as a snake-charmer in the hope of mesmerising the ruddy thing πŸ˜•

I’ve just come back to say that I’ve had another thought about this. Domino, the cat belonging to one of my neighbours, is an avid hunter of the lizards that climb up the stone walls of my house and sunbathe on the paving slabs. She was over just before I found the snake and I’m wondering whether she caught it and left it as a little ‘gift’ the way that cats do?

I didn’t realise that living in the country would be quite so wild…

August 23, 2020

And then there were two

Up until June I owned three ULMs (ultralight aircraft), a Savannah MXP 740, an Xair and a Weedhopper. However, I couldn’t justify keeping all three – I couldn’t fly them all enough for a start – so much as I loved it, in June I sold my lovely old Weedhopper leaving me with just the Savannah and the Xair. We had a very hot July/early August here in south-west France so I was unable to fly either as much as I would have liked and they spent most of the time in the barn where they are kept, gathering dust and bird droppings.

Although the Xair is covered up, the Savannah isn’t so yesterday I pulled both aircraft out of the barn to get to the Savannah so I could clean it today. Just as I began videoing them with my Fimi X8 SE 2020 quadcopter a large black cloud moved in and centred itself right overhead the airfield and it began to rain. Wouldn’t you just believe it! However, I kept shooting and here is the result.

I made an early start this morning and was able to pull the Savannah out of the barn, give it a good clean and get it back into the barn before it got too hot. Here’s a shot that I took after I’d finished.

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I didn’t get to fly it because I’d enjoyed a bit of a heavy evening last night at a ‘MarchΓ© Gormand’ in Plazac and thought that it would be unwise to fly given how much I’d had to drink. However, it looks as though the coming week will bring a few good flying days so I’m going to make sure that the Savannah gets some air under its wings after having stayed on the ground for several weeks, far too long. Watch this space πŸ˜‰

August 18, 2020

A couple of videos

I’ve been busy these past days doing this and that but without having an awful lot to show for my efforts. However, I have managed to fit in a bit of video editing and here are two of the results. First, a video of the first leg of my flight in July in my ex-pat Xair across the English Channel from Clipgate Farm near Canterbury in south-east England to Calais-Dunkerque in northern France.

And now a short video that I shot this morning using my Fimi X8 SE quadcopter in the area where I live in the Dordogne in south-west France.

I’ve been mainly dealing with admin and paperwork stuff in the last couple of days but now that’s done I can turn my attention to my aircraft and tomorrow I plan to pull my Savannah out of the barn for another good clean. It hasn’t been flown since the last time so it’s about time that I got it back into the air, and that’s the next thing on the agenda. There’s really no reason now the weather is cooling down a bit that I shouldn’t be getting at least half-an-hour to an hour’s flight each week in each aircraft, so that’s what I’ll be looking to do if I can over the next few weeks.

Oh, here’s something I nearly forgot to mention. It’s that time again – but much earlier than usual. Due to the period of incredibly hot weather that we had during the second half of July and early August, the plum trees in my garden have already become laden with ripe fruit. And lots of it. While a crowd of us were enjoying apero at my new table last week a sudden squall blew up and although there wasn’t a lot of rain that evening, as a result quite a lot of fruit fell to the ground.

So as it was all good and otherwise undamaged, rather than waste it I gathered a couple of huge bowls as I’ve done in previous years and my French neighbour Chantal gathered a bucketful to share with her friends. But it’s no good just leaving the fruit in bowls, you have to do something with it so I bought some special jam sugar as I usually do, 4 kgs of it, which made 10 kgs of jam mix.

I spent the whole of yesterday jam-making from 8.30am to 4.30pm and here are the results of my labour stacked on the top shelf of my fridge.

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There’s much more than I’ll ever be able to consume all by myself before next year’s crop arrives so I’m bound to be giving some away to friends. I also told Chantal, who came back for some more plums, although there’s not much good fruit left on the ground just for now, that she can come back and take whatever she wants when more ripen as I won’t be making any more jam. If I did, I really would have it coming out of my ears. And if I eat many more I’ll start looking like a plum soon myself πŸ˜•

Oh, and yes, I had some this morning for breakfast on two pieces of toasted bread. I thought yesterday after looking at it after it had been in the fridge for a short time that it looked as though it was going to be a bit runny. But it wasn’t. It was almost perfect – it stood up when placed on the toast but was runny enough to drip off if you tipped the toast up. Just the way I like it πŸ˜‰

August 8, 2020

Phase 1

At long last I’ve got somewhere where I can eat outside and enjoy good times with friends.

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I should have done it ages ago. It’s not ideal because the area has been graded with a slight fall away from the house in preparation for when I eventually go ahead with my planned extension, so two legs of the table have had to be propped up to make it level. But it’ll be fine. I have a brand new barbecue that’s been standing unused in my ‘atelier’ for over two years so at last I can get around to thinking about using it for the first time. It’s much too hot for the time being as with daytime temperatures of over 40 degrees C, much too much heat still rises from the white stones in the evening for it to be comfortable. But the hot snap should end soon and then it will be time.

I’ve also got big plans for the back of the house but I’ll come back to those later when I’ve got more to show. For the time being I’ve just placed a small round table that Victor gave me just after I arrived in France in the most shady corner of the part of my garden behind my house which gets less sun and doesn’t therefore get too hot, especially in the evening. I’m using it with the two spare chairs that came with the new table that I’ve got out front as I don’t think I’ll need eight chairs around that very often. I’ve finished it off for now with a three metre square parasol giving me another area that I’ll be able to use for eating outside at, especially in the evening.

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That’s it for now. As mentioned above, I’ve got some much bigger ideas for the area at the back of my house to make it a lot more usable instead of it being just a patch of sloping grass that’s full of weeds. I’ve already got things moving with them so should have some results to show quite soon with the whole project being finished hopefully over the coming few weeks, bearing in mind that even after Covid, most enterprises in France have now closed down for August so anything that’s ordered, especially that requires fabrication, won’t be delivered until some time after they get back.

August 7, 2020

I have a delivery

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Stuff that needs assembling. And on what is probably the hottest day of the year at over 40 degrees C πŸ˜•