As often happens, the dilemma with which I was faced was resolved for me rather than by me. The deciding factor was that anti-Coronavirus measures in both France and the UK are being racheted up to levels whereby undertaking a trip between France and the UK just isn’t worth it at the moment. The hassle involved is just too great, not to mention the risk of doing so also. The infection curve here in France is ahead of that in the UK and the clamp-down on public free movement was becoming more stringent and the advice being given out, especially for older people, more severe. There is a strong possibility that France will close its borders adding further complications, so I had already made my mind up not to travel yesterday when I decided to go to Brico Depot on the outskirts of Périgueux to get what I needed for the job that I had planned for today.

And lucky that I did, because out of the blue after I’d done so there was a government decree closing all retail outlets not essential to normal human life, so only supermarkets, food shops, pharmacies, tobacconists and petrol stations are excluded and will continue trading. As from midnight last night, restaurants, cafés, discotheques and all other types of commerce are now closed until the government issues a new decree, so presumably that will also include Brico Depot. The economic cost and disruption to the country will be well-nigh catastrophic.

The purpose of my visit to Brico Depot was to buy sand and gravel and cement to make tie-downs. They’ll be necessary if, as and when I do get my ex-pat X-air to Malbec, it has to be parked outside because I still have my Weedhopper with my Savannah in the barn. The X-air does have outdoor covers, of course, but if it has to be left outside on the parking area next to Philippe’s hangar where I left my old French X-air for a time, there is the possibilty that strong winds can come zooming in from the south-west to which it would be fully exposed. Remember, shortly after the hangars were built, the wind actually whipped the roof right off Philippe’s hangar and now both hangars have large straps going right over them as a precaution to prevent it happening again.

On the way back from Brico Depot I dropped in to Malbec and did the owners a favour by taking 3 old tyres from a heap that is stacked against one side of the barn in which I have my aircraft. I already had a tyre that the Spanish firm that supplied my replacement Kia engine placed the engine on in the back of the C-Max, so I wanted to end up with 4 new tie-downs that I’ll initially be able to use for the X-Air and eventually for tying down the wings of the Savannah and the X-air in the barn once the Weedhopper has gone. At the moment I’m using rings that were screwed into the concrete floor but there aren’t enough of them and they’re not in the right places either, so my new tie-downs will be very welcome additions.

I bought 6 x 35kg bags of sand and gravel mix and 2 x 35kg bags of cement, the total weight of which almost pole-axed my poor little trailer. But all was well and I arrived home safely and I was thinking that I’d have enough material left over to repair the floor of my ‘new’ garden store in which I keep my ride-on mower and various other items. This is collapsing on one side due to the bad batch of cement that I used when I laid it but after making my tie-downs, although I had a bag of cement left over, I was only left with one bag of sand and gravel which I doubt will be enough.

But that’s for another time. Here’s a shot of the new tie-downs taken after I’d finished the job, cleaned up and even managed to patch a small area of my wood store floor with left-over mortar that’s started cracking up a bit, mainly I think because I was at one time cutting hard oak logs on it with my hefty old axe.

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The work was pretty back-breaking as I had to mix the cement in buckets, having decided that it wasn’t worthwhile getting my concrete mixer out. In fact, afterwards I think it would have been worth it, because I used much more concrete than I thought I would. But never mind, the job’s now done. I bought the four ties with eyes from the UK and made up some little anchors for them out of left-over scrap metal to make sure that they can’t pull out, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the tie-downs come out once the concrete has cured. My guess is that even if it’s ‘hard’ tomorrow, that’ll take a week or even more, but the way the Coronavirus problem is panning out, it looks as though time will not be a problem.

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