Well, this part of it anyway. Insects. You can live with the little blighters if you’re just lying out in the sun because for some reason, maybe because you’re not moving around and creating a disturbance in the air, very few of them then notice you and the ones that do are just a minor nuisance. However, as soon as you go outdoors to do something heavier, gardening, or building something as I have been doing this week, they are on you from the moment that you start. And we’re not just talking five or six here, we’re talking about dozens. And they all seem to have one mission in life, especially if it’s a bit hot and humid and you have worked up a bit of a sweat, and that’s to bite or sting you.

There are lots down here that want to do that, ranging from midges, mosquitoes, wood wasps, mites (or jiggers as some call them) horse flies and so on. Even the little black flies that look quite harmless, like small house-flies, and you think are just being an awful pest swarming around your eyes, ears and mouth, give you a nasty little bite if you don’t notice when they land on you, and when you’re heaving and straining laying concrete, moving stone around or cutting wood, it’s impossible to spot every one.

The result has been that as I’ve been working outside on my new wood store, I started off being bitten all over the lower parts of my legs and every evening after my shower I’ve been frantically rubbing Cortisone ointment over all the little red raised bumps and welts in an attempt to derive some relief. However, for some reason, as the week has worn on, they seem to have transferred their attentions a bit higher and I now have insect bites all over my upper torso. With one exception.

When I was getting ready for my shower right at the beginning of the week, I noticed a small pink patch on my left ankle. It wasn’t like a normal insect bite and I couldn’t see any obvious puncture wounds and as it wasn’t causing me any pain or irritation I thought nothing more of it. As the week progressed, however, the patch began to expand day by day, becoming much more livid in colour and although it still isn’t causing me any pain or discomfort, this is how it looked this morning before I started work on the wood store.

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I know of no insect here that could cause such a wound and I suspect that I’ve been bitten by a spider. Just as there are so-called False Widows in the UK, I’m sure that France also has its share and I’m wondering if one of those was responsible. One of the things I did right at the start of last week was remove two long oak planks from my ‘grenier’ to use as scaffold boards. They can’t have been moved for at least four years since the previous resident of my house put them up there and I wonder if when I pulled them out, I disturbed a spider that had been enjoying a blissful life in the darkness of my loft and demonstrated its displeasure in the only way it knew. The good news is that they don’t kill you but they can cause you to feel a bit unwell, depending on how big a slug of venom they inject into you.

As it happens, I have been feeling a bit off-colour for the past couple of days – a slight heaviness as though I’ve got a minor dose of flu – and I’ve put that down to the venom still going around my system as my body tries to get rid of it. I started work outside today with the hope that I’d get a goodly portion of the wood store’s wooden frame under my belt but there was no chance of that happening. I got a fair bit done but I called it a day at around 5.00 pm when I started to make silly mistakes, like picking things up that I’d forgotten were plugged in, or picking up a drill bit only to find that in fact I had my pencil in my hand instead. That was time to call it a day, I think, before I did damage to the job or, indeed, myself.

The only practical thing I did yesterday was finish off and make good the new concrete base after removing the wooden shuttering from around it. I made good any small bits of the edge that broke away when I removed the shuttering as well as any obvious holes in the exposed faces where the wet concrete hadn’t been able to pack down. I needed to do that in case any water subsequently found its way into them and then froze because that could potentially cause a bit of serious damage. I also had to cut back the stones on a section of the house wall in order to fix an upright of the new timber frame vertically to it and made that good afterwards as well, as shown in the second of the following two pics.

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So today was supposed to have been the day of the big leap forward with much of the shelter’s wooden frame being completed by the end of the day. However, for the reason given above, that didn’t happen, but some useful progress was made nevertheless.

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Tomorrow I’ll be going to Brico Depot to get some more wood, some long screws and some large plugs to fix the frame to the house wall and base with and possibly the plywood for the roof, although that can come a bit later in the week. Fixing the frame to the house wall and the concrete base will be more tedious than tricky because of the number of holes that I’ll have to drill into hard stone. But the upside is that once it’s done, then the job really will begin to move along quite a bit faster. At least I hope so, anyway 😉