Les poissons en France

Friday, May 28, 2010

Nice and Easy

Well, I finally got round to doing a 'normal' day. Yesterday, we'd organised the cement mixer, got a trailer of sand from the quarry and placed a quantity of stones ready for the off. So this morning I was able to mix up some cement and start straight away.

During the course of the day I used 3 mixes of cement and, when I came in at the end of the day, it was half past five; a good day's work!

Sue was naturally concerned that I had (or hadn't) done too much, but I'm currently relying on the recuperative powers of red wine.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Be Reassured...

...normal service is being resumed as soon as possible.

I've not been doing much yet, although this afternoon I started to fix my 'lines' for the walls I've got to build in the corner of the courtyard. We've got to get some sand etc. before I can go any further.

Sue, meanwhile, has finally finished making her Nasturtium mole hills. All she needs now is a nice downpour of rain!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bitter Pill?

This past week has been a time of significant change to my life as my body has told me that I'm getting old!

For the past few months I've been experiencing shortness of breath when exerting myself, and I've also had an irritating dry cough which we've thought was some allergy. I've had some tablets but, finally, 2 or 3 weeks ago I was sent off for blood tests and an X ray. Here in France, when you have an X ray, a doctor sees you straight away, before you leave, and he tells you what the results are. The doctor explained that there was nothing wrong with my lungs, but my heart is enlarged for my age. So, we went to see our own doctor on Monday morning. On Wednesday evening, 6.30, I saw a heart specialist, and on Sunday afternoon, I was in Toulouse hospital to start tests! Apart from numerous blood tests and ECG's, they examined my heart by passing a probe through a vein from the wrist into the heart and then injecting some sort of isotope. I subsequently had a scan, and then I had a probe passed through a vein from the groin into the heart to measure the blood pressure inside the heart. Toulouse is a big University hospital and at one stage I had 3 interns giving me an ECG .... it was like being a part of a tv series!

The outcome of all of these tests is that I either have a problem with the envelope around the heart stopping the heart filling up enough, or the muscles in the heart walls have lost their elasticity, stopping the heart filling up with suficient blood. So, they're nearly there, but I have got to go back to Toulouse for another scan and maybe more tests to decide which of these two conditions I've got! Once a final diagnosis has been made, a suitable course of treatment can be started, but in the meantime I've started taking diuretic tablets for the breathlessness. Just going to have to learn to live near the toilet in the mornings!!!

Naturally everyone is now saying that I must take things easy and I have to accept that I will have to make some adjustments to my lifestyle. What I really don't like is joining the 'pill brigade'.

I'm going to have to remember my daily pills wherever I go!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One Step Forward, One Step Back

It was a lovely change to wake up to bright sunshine. However there was a sting in the tail ..... there was a frost! I didn't realise it, although Sue thought that she could see some white out on the rear grass. We didn't think any more about it until, in the afternoon, Sue went down to the veg patch. Disaster! The frost has taken all of the tomatoes, the courgettes, squashes, peppers, aubergines, and has hit the tops of all of the potatoes.

Sue took it all quite philosophically and she will replant, albeit in about a week's time when we should be in some 'proper' summer weather!

In the meantime, Sue's busy planting Nasturtium seeds in our raised bed. As this is really a heap of stones with a very thin layer of grass cuttings and stoney soil, she's putting each seed in a little heap of compost.

As you can see, she does have moments of optimism!
Whilst all of this excitement was going on, I was playing on my digger.

I started off by wondering if the digger would start after sitting all winter in the barn. It started no problems, and, exiting by the 'new' rear door of the barn, I began to remove the ramp in the corner of the courtyard. Most of it was stones, but, I am pleased to say that the ramp has gone.

So, all I've got to do now is build two bits of wall in the corner, and then put down a layer of castine (chippings) in front of the barn doors! That's all!!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Will it Hold?

I've finished the barn door ..... even though I ended up having to scrounge some sand from our neighbours! I don't like to boast, but I was confident about taking the support down from the lintel .... really!

At least we can now drive the mower out straight onto the back garden, and I'll be able to start the next phase of building work to finish off the courtyard.

And then I'll have to make a door!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Plants, Plants.......

I spent yesterday cleaning my filthy house. I normally do my chores about once a week but I have to admit that they have been pushed onto the back burner in favour of the garden recently.

My plant production line has been in full flow in recent days. The weather forecast has been predicting hail, heavy rain and every other tempest in between, so I have been moving the plants in and out but have now decided that they well have take their chance.

I hope you are impressed with my improvised cold frame!! JJ had some windows replaced and I acquired the old ones - and whilst they may not be very attractive they have been very effective.

As I have grown literally hundreds of plants, both annuals and perennials, I will be planting them out for weeks!!

Door? What Door?

I finally became fed up with waiting for the weather to dry up so, this morning, when I saw that it wasn't raining, I decided to press on with the barn door. I began taking down the stones to make the doorway wider but, as I pushed one fairly large stone, it fell and knocked over the props supporting the wood under the lintel! I guess I should be pleased that nothing else fell down!

With Sue's help we put the props up again ( belt and braces and all that!) and I removed the rest of the stones ready to allow me to start rebuilding the doorway. However, upon inspection I realised that there was an enormous stone at ground level which needed to have some of it 'shaved' off to give me sufficient room to drive the mower out through the door.

Having modified the stone, I was able to start rebuilding. It would have been nice to have reused the 'dressed' stones that form the doorway, but a) they're too large and heavy, and b) I would need to take a lot more stones out of the wall to make room for these dressed stones.

This 'old codger' can only manage small stones these days!!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dodging the Rain

We're going through a long spell of unsettled and rainy weather. Sue's got lots of small plants to harden off before she plants them out, but we keep seeing forecasts of violent showers with hail! However, the forecast keeps changing and the hailstorm doesn't materialise.
In the meantime, between the showers, Sue has been working very hard in keeping on top of the weeds. With the rain and the warmth, everything is growing luxuriantly.

I've been reluctant to continue with the barn door until the weather looks more settled, so I girded my loins and sanded down the joints in the plasterboards in the 'library' and bedroom 3. It's a horrible job as there is no way to avoid getting covered in plaster dust. However, the job had to be done, and at least I now have a 'wet weather' job lined up ..... I can start putting the french version of lining paper on the plasterboards.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Garden in Spring

I will warn you in advance that you are in for a bit of ooh ahhing over the garden in the next few months (I hope). As you know I was quite despondent about it in the winter as I feared that the very cold temperatures coupled with "our four legged friends" would have caused so much havoc that it was not going to be worth the effort. Far from it! I have lost very little and the plants are much better this year. We have had a lovely lilac and blue display in the front garden, of tulips, irises and now alliums. They have all stood the enormous variation in temperature (27 degrees last week and 2 degrees and snowing yesterday) very well.

I am waiting for the weather to improve as I have loads of seeds and young plants to put out, but you have to work with nature as it always has the upper hand.
Poor weather has also halted play on the barn door, but never fear he is continuing the jointing in the bedroom.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Open Wider

After a busy weekend socialising, I began today to remove stones to make the barn door wider. As you can see I felt it wise to support the new lintel, even though I don't intend to remove all of the stones from under the righthand side of it. We're in for a spell of wet weather but I'm hoping to remove all of the stones tomorrow, ready to rebuild on Wednesday.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Walls Came Tumblin' Down

I'm happy to say that the walls didn't come tumblin' down....well only a little bit. Once I'd replaced the stones above the new lintel on the inside of the barn, it was time to remove the two outside beams. But there were some serious stones sat on top of the beams and I had to remove them before I could attempt to lift off the wood. So, of course, because they were fairly large stones, smaller ones above them fell out once they had nothing to support them! However, as you can see, the damage wasn't too bad and, by the end of Friday afternoon I'd put the two 'outside' longer beams into position.

Overnight we had a lot of rain, and I was fearfull that more stones would have fallen out, but, to my relief the wall wasn't even wet. So, today was building up instead of knocking down! I'd cemented in the stones above the beams by about 4pm and then had to let our neighbour JJ come to inspect. I think he'd been worried that the barn wall was going to fall down, but he was very impressed with the finished result.

Once the cement has dried out, and once I've recharged my batteries, I can start removing the righthand wall beneath the beams to make the new wider entrance.