Saturday, 20 May 2017

Nice mill

Just had a chat with Mick who has been renovating the mill down the road.  Looks nice, eh?

Saturday, 13 May 2017

An apology

I have really sorted out the watering system for my veg patch this year.   An immersible pump pumps water from the well (27 metres deep) into two one-metre-cubed vats.  From there a different pump sends it to a spraying system made from little red nozzles set into a hosepipe, that makes a fine spray just above ground level.

So it's going to piss down all Summer.  Sorry about that.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Revolving doors

Revolving doors are widely used by shops; they are quite effective at keeping heat in during Winter, and cool, conditioned air inside during Summer.  Since shops are keen on not getting sued by people losing a limb or suffering other injury in doors of this type, the doors are fitted with some kind of emergency stop, whereby they cease revolving if anything untoward is happening.

Around here, a few supermakets have fitted shiny new, larger revolving doors with super-sophisticated safety systems: if you touch the door it stops, and a proximity detector works such that if you get within 30cm, it slows down to a snail's pace.  This works fine if there are only a few people in the door at once, but the fun starts at busy times.

Since the new doors are larger than the old ones, the temptation is to fill them to capacity with people and trolleys.  The problem is then that the proximity detector trips and slows down the door to almost stationary.  Arguments then ensue as to who might be responsible - the people at the front, or the people at the back, each group defending itself vigorously.

To correct the problem, those at the front just have to stand still and wait for the door to move on a bit, but those at the back have to shuffle forwards in the limited space, compressing the people in the middle, until the door catches up with them again and slows down.  Although it's easy to stay 30cm away from a door that is moving away from you, it is remarkably difficult to do the same with a door that is creeping up behind, especially if there are people in front of you.

Meanwhile, since it's a busy time, queues are forming outside of the door, with encouragement to the occupants from people who are keen to get on with their shopping.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Snake on the woodpile

They like the warmth under the tarpaulin.

Sunday, 30 April 2017


At this time of year, the onions are right at the end of season.  We get them in bags of 6 or 7 at our local restaurant supply shop, and often there is one in the bag that is squishy.  You have to choose carefully.

On the other hand, these fennel are maginificent, and I guess we must be right at the start of season.  They're firm, white, crisp and flavourful.  The fate of these is to be finely sliced and sprinkled over a smoked salmon starter for our guests.

I can assure you they were delicious :)

Saturday, 29 April 2017

No bamboo

What I hope was the last frost of the season was last night.  It managed to do some damage to my potatoes, but not too much.

I figure that now it's safe to plant out some of the tender plants, so I set about making some supports for the runner beans.  Failing to find any good straight plant stakes of the right length (at least two-and-a-half metres) I set off to the local garden centre to get some cheap bamboo stakes.  Except they don't have any.  They could flog me some nice, green, plastic-covered metal ones of the right length for a bit over four euros each.  No thanks.

Back to the drawing board, and I raided the hazelnut trees for a few of their longer branches.  Not as straight as bamboo, but functional, and they add a bit of rustic charm to the garden.  And they're free.  Should have thought of that in the first place, I guess.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

On railway tracks

One of the things you can do with disused railway tracks is turn them into bike trails or hiking routes.  There's a few that have been so converted in Mayenne; the one we tested runs from an unremarkable and un-named place north-east of Laval, North towards the town of Mayenne.

The start point is quite literally a point where an old railway bridge crosses a road, and there is a slip-lane you can take that leads up to the track.  There is no parking there, so we drove along a couple of Km to where there is a proper car park.

As with the towpath along the Mayenne river that we tested the other day, the railway line was very close to level, but unlike the towpath it was straight.  This made for a rather boring ride.

There were occasional points of interest as the track passed old station buildings, or went over or under bridges, but the interest to be had was in spotting landscape features through the trees.  The track had been well signposted, with adequate warnings for what used to be level crossings, with notices showing how grinning cars will joyously crash your bike if you're not careful.

We had a pleasant pic-nic when we got to Commer (About 10km from our car park) and then set off back.  The weather was fine, the route calm and quiet, and the general atmosphere peaceful.  We will doubtless test other sections of the track, but the winner so far in terms of interest en route, is the Mayenne towpath.

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