Friday, 19 August 2016

New bar

We were in Laval the other day sorting out some business and doing some shopping, and stumbled across a new bar/restaurant by the château.  We had lunch there.

My choice from menu du jour was steak brochettes.  I never ask for rare steak in a restaurant I don't know, since I can't stand bad rare steak, so I asked for medium.   They were a perfect medium; pink all the way through except for a nicely seasoned, browned surround.   No gristle either, so it'll be rare next time.   Anita's choice of fish was also delicious.

The bright yellow thing standing on the floor by the bar area is a meat slicer, the kind where you turn the handle and a cradle holding the meat oscillates back and forth past a rotating circular cutting disc.  It worked too, cos I turned the handle to check.  I'm not sure if it quite works as a decoration, but it certainly is eye-catching.

We were asked, when we went in, if we had booked, which surprised us, Laval not being known as a hive of activity in the mid-August holiday season.  But the place got quite full as we ate, and we decided that a reservation would be a worthwhile precaution for future visits.  It's called Le Bistro Du Palais.  We'll be back.

Oh, and the view from the rear terrace is nice, too.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

How much wood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?   Apparently, a woodchuck is a real animal, also known as a groundhog.

My Dutch friend secured a firewood supply deal with an owner of a forest in the next village.   The trees are felled and left in place, and it's then up to us to slice them up and get them home.  We can then let them dry out for a couple of years before burning them.

This pile of oak logs is this year's result - should keep us going for at least three winters, maybe more.   The transportation took some time - we piled it into the trailer you can see in the photo, and also in the body of the Renault Espace (it needs a bit of a clean-out, now).  It took us 7 return trips plus a half-load, to clear the pile.   Now we have to stack it, a job that can wait until the weather is a bit less hot.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

15 août

The 15th August is a bank holiday in France, the feast of the Assumption, I believe.   Our village has a low-key fête during the day; the local bistro is opened and there is a competition for painters who paint street scenes of the village.   It's a chance to swap news, catch up with the neighbours and meet new people.

We strolled down for lunch (sausage inna bun) with chips, and then returned later for the evening barbecue, candle illuminations and concert.   The barbecue is a big social affair, you can usually find people you know to sit with, and in any case, company is convivial.

I got the impression that there were fewer people present during the day than last year, but the evening event was crowded.

The lighting of candles is a simple idea, but it casts a gentle spell on the village after dark as you walk around.  And the undulating relief of the place leads to long-distance views of the candles.   The layout of the displays  changes every year, as people are present or on holiday, or new owners move in.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

How many butterflies?

Vide grenier

The car boot sale at Thorigné was smaller this year: fewer stands, fewer people attending. There was a greater proportion of professionals among the stallholders too, not so much kids' stuff, fewer second-hand bargains.  Our haul?  A 2-person fondue pot and a CD, and some miniatures for Anita's collection.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Le Bigot

Yesterday we went to see a mill (called Le Bigot, strangely enough) for sale.  It was a depressing experience.   The building was abandoned in the 70s, and has been pillaged over the years since.  The wheel has almost completely rotted away.   Worse, the river on which it operates - Le Vicoin- is being stripped of the dams that make the mills operate, so I suspect there is no chance of doing anything useful with the water power, at least in the near future.   Of course, our grandchildren's generation will be rebuilding them as fast as they can, but that's irrelevant today.

Thursday, 4 August 2016


In response to a deluge of enquiries from fascinated readers, here is the state of my Android app so far.  I can't pretend that it's a major breakthrough in the Android world, but it's a start and it's mine.

The first screen is the home screen, the first screen you get when you open the app.  There's nothing fancy here; the Android development tools give you this for free.  I have changed the colours and the title to match our website, but that's about it.  The "Hello World" message is the standard one that tells you that you have created a basic app that works; it's easy enough to change (to, for example, something like the third screen) and I haven't bothered yet.

The second one is the menu, that you get by tapping the three horizontal lines ("the hamburger") at the top left of the first screen.  The choice of menu items and icons is mine and replaces the standard ones that the developoment tools give you.  There is a little work involved here but not much.  I'll replace the "Android Studio" and other headers later.

Of the options, only "Piscine" and "Nous trouver" do anything today.  Choosing "Piscine" gives you the third screen, and I spent some time here getting the two images to display side-by-side and scale correctly to different sizes of screen.   Once I have got this to work for Piscine, the others are easy to do in the same way.   If you choose "Nous trouver" you get a Google map that shows where we are on a map of North-West France.  You can zoom in, and get directions to us from wherever you are.  I wish I could show you the map, but when I try to, the emulator complains that I have to update Google Services, and when I try to, it crashes.   If I succeed later, I'll put the picture below.

There's clearly a lot left to do.  I need to make the "Share" button work, which should be an interesting challenge, and I need to either remove the green envelope picture (easy) or get it to invoke some kind of contact process (hard).  But the next thing I need to do is to sort the navigation.  At the moment, to get from, say, the "piscine" screen to "restauration", the user has to touch the back button, then the hamburger, then the restauration button.  Tedious; there needs to be a hamburger on each screen.  I've been having a go at doing this, it's a well-worn path for Android programmers I'm sure, but I haven't worked out how to do it yet.

Don't expect rapid progress; this is an evenings-and-weekends thing, and only for when I haven't got anything better to do.  And I haven't had a glass of wine.

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