July 18, 2014

Out of the loop

It’s been a busy couple of weeks during which flying has had to take a back seat. Val came to stay for a few days following my last flight on 2nd July and while she was here, some friends dropped in while on their way back to the UK. I then had to fix a small leak on the power steering of my car in readiness for a visit from my son and his girlfriend and fortunately for me, my friend Victor kindly agreed to give me a hand when things got sticky almost as soon as I’d started the job.

I’d got hold of a second-hand power steering pump from Ebay and I’d also bought a Haynes workshop manual that was supposed to explain exactly how to replace the existing leaky unit. The only problem was that although the manual claimed to cover my model, the text and pictures in the appropriate section bore absolutely no relationship to my vehicle. A quick internet search also showed that although there are several Youtube videos and other articles showing how to remove the alternator and power steering pump on Kia Sportages, none of the vehicles in question are quite the same as my car. So it was back to first principles and lucky for me, when I phoned him Victor very generously dropped everything he was doing and said he would help me out. He’s a skilled engineer and spots things immediately that take me a minute or so to work out so whereas I’d been struggling for what seemed like ages to remove the alternator, he had it out in a few minutes and the whole job was completed in a few hours. So thanks Victor, I really don’t know what I’d have done without you.

My son and his girlfriend arrived the very next day and I was relieved that my car was totally 100% for their visit, as it was the first time they’ve visited me here in France (and the first time I’d seen him for nearly two years) and I wanted to show them a few of the local sights. We visited Oradour sur Glane, the martyred village destroyed with 642 of its inhabitants by the Germans on 10th June 1944, which was lucky for me as Val and I had gone on the previous week end and I’d lost most of the camcorder footage that I’d recorded. So not only was I able to re-shoot it, but I was also able to share an important event in local history with my son, who had never seen anything like it before. We also visited the Maison Forte de Reignac which I’ve taken several people to see before from the outside without ever going in, so that was a first for me too.

Son and girlfriend left for home on Wednesday and now my house is my own again, but it feels a bit empty and lonely now they’ve gone and I miss their company. Val also left a few days ago for the UK where she will be with her elderly mother for three weeks, but I’ve got lots to occupy me in the meantime. In the middle of all of the above, I finally upgraded my PC to run Windows 7 without constantly freezing and crashing. I suffered a bit of a hiatus in the middle of the process when I found that my old PC used DDR2 memory sticks and my new motherboard would only accept DDR3, so I had to wait for them to be delivered from Amazon (who ship to France promptly at competitive prices unlike other UK and French companies) together with a new wireless network card. Luckily, I still have a ‘spare’ PC that I could reconfigure and use in the meantime for basic internet and email. I completed the process yesterday and it’s a huge relief to at last have a stable machine again, but I know that I lost several emails yesterday as a result of having to recover my Thunderbird profile and I suggest that anyone reading this who sent me an email yesterday afternoon and is expecting a reply should send me their message again.

I plan to return to the UK myself in a few weeks time but first I have a job that I must do. That’s to rebuild the wood shelter on the end of my house in preparation for this coming winter. At the moment it isn’t anywhere near weather-proof enough to store wood in and the only way to make it so will be to take it down and rebuild it. Then I’ll have to order a couple of ‘stères’ of dry oak, which probably won’t be enough to see me through (I reckon I’ll need about 4 stères) but that’s about all I’ll be able to get in. ‘What about flying?’, you ask. Well, we’ve had a couple of lovely days following my son’s departure (compared to several cool and some downright wet days while they were here, unfortunately) but although I could have flown yesterday, I elected to give my computer priority. I bought fuel and had planned to fly early today but it was a bit misty and breezy and the sky has a ‘whiteness’ about it. So it appears that the weather is ‘on the turn’ towards the thunderstorms that some forecasters have predicted for this afternoon (and others for tomorrow) and it looks as though I will have to wait a little bit longer. In the meantime, while it’s still dry, my grass badly needs cutting… 😉