dimanche 19 avril 2015

The turning of the Seasons

  Well, that's the end of lighting the stove in the morning when I get up. I've cleared out the ash drawer, removed the ready-use log supply and swept the hearth. I hope we don't have a real cold snap now, but I'm not going to start again barring a real return to the Ice Age...in real emergency, we've got the gaz heater, of course. Now is the time for planting (for Kim, that is, though I have rotovated the potager) and cutting grass. Time to look forward to swimming and a trip to the Pyrenees. Winter is finished, long live Summer.
  Bye for now, nearly tea time

samedi 18 avril 2015

Debugging. Nothing to do with computers!

   When you're running an Ark, with three dogs and up to a dozen cats, you will find that you have also acquired other, uninvited livestock, what an aristocratic seller of Pekingese dogs we met used to call 'lodgers'. I refer of course to fleas mainly, though ticks and mites are not unknown. It is therefore of intense interest to come across a product,which not only keeps its promises, but comfortably exceeds them!
  When confronted with this problem, we have usually used Frontline,either in its spray or spot-on form. However, the chemical seems to have lost its potency lately and a kitten continued to have fleas after as many as three applications in a week, clearly not a good thing. Our vet advised a product called Sorresto for the dogs, and we fitted all three with these special collars. They look like grey, plastic collars, and had a faint chemically smell which soon wore off. They were a bit expensive, but last at least six months, so worked out reasonable compared with the more frequent spot-ons.
  After a few days we were pleased to find the dogs were free of fleas, but most surprisingly, so were all the cats as well!! The house seems to be a no-go area for fleas and we haven't seen one for months. It's not often that a product proves so unexpectedly efficacious and I would thoroughly recommend it if you are pet owners plagued with flea infestations!

  Bye for now, going to enjoy the feeling of a flea-free house and pets that don't scratch!

samedi 28 mars 2015

Calories, it's not that simple

   A couple of days ago, Kim was watching a programme on calories on the TV. I was only half watching, as it's a subject which doesn't really concern me, my weight remaining stable without the need for dieting. The programme stated that 100 calories consumed in excess of requirements would build up day by day leading to a continual weight gain.
  I feel, from my own experience that this is an oversimplification. There must be a separate process which prevents this in many persons, analogous to the system where the kidneys excrete surplus salt. When I was living in Portsmouth as a young man, I stayed in digs run by an ex-Navy petty officer, who prided himself on his cooking. My skinny frame was a reproach to his feeding, he compared me to a Maltese goat, ' All ----- and toe-nails'..... He decided to feed me up. A full English breakfast was on offer, sausages, bacon, fried bread, the lot, as well as cereal. At work I ate a good canteen lunch and in the evening a copious dinner of soup, main course and a good desert, on which suet pudding was a frequent choice. Did I gain weight? I did not, though I did have to visit the toilet much more frequently....
   I feel this pretty conclusively proves that thin people will remain thin whatever their diet, while people who are naturally plump can remain thin only by eating carefully. Life isn't fair, is it?

    Bye for now, going to eat breakfast.......

mercredi 25 mars 2015

End of an Era, sad death of Gremlin

  I'm afraid I have sad news for readers of the Ark-- on Monday we had to have Gremlin put to sleep. He has had a heart condition for many years and had to have medicine to keep him running. Still, he was a happy and apparently healthy cat, enjoying his food and would come running across the cour when called. When he was diagnosed we really didn't expect that he would survive for so long, but he defied all pessimists and seemed to go on and on. However, an ominous lump developed on his side, a cancerous growth, that threatened his life but due to his heart condition it was impossible to operate, he would not have survived the op. But he was not really inconvenienced by the lump, and continued much as before. But the swelling got worse and while I was in the UK for a few days to fetch Kim back, it started to bleed. Agnes, who was looking after the animals, took him to the vet, who said the bleeding was not serious and he could await our return. but it was obvious that the tumour had become infected and its growth was accelerating, and we were not surprised when Francois, our vet, agreed that the time had come to decide. So we came sadly back home with an inert package in the cat box rather than our silky-haired cat. He's now buried under the quince tree in the orchard, joining several of his friends. Kim is going to plant some daffodils and cowslips round the plot.
   Its always sad to say goodbye to a much-loved pet but we are comforted by the thought that he has had a good life and we were able to let him finish it with dignity and without suffering. Goodbye, Gremlin, run free!

mercredi 18 février 2015

A surprising Destination

   We are both very fond of our GPS, or Satnav as it's known in Britain. When we had our initial one, a Navman , we derived much amusement in setting it to take the shortest route to a destination, rather than the quickest, and we learned of many pretty out-of-the-way places, quite close but unsuspected and some short cuts which have since proved useful. To my mind, the Navman was the best machine of the three we have had, and it is still in the car, although now semi-retired, as it is no longer supported with up-dates.
  Our latest machine is a basic Tom-tom, which we are still learning to 'drive' and it was this which has led to the blog you are reading. We were at Sauzé Vaussais on Monday for Kim's Zumba session and I set the GPS to come home. You can set it by an alternative method of expanding the small scale map displayed initially until it shows the 'Home' symbol previously set and clicking on this, and to show off, this is what I did. The machine then directed us in the general direction of Mort Limouzin but instead of following our usual route, veered off towards Saveille. Aha, we said, it knows a short-cut. It then followed increasingly narrow and dilapidated lanes, eventually taking one which was no better than a cart track. I was remarking to Kim that I did not feel that I would be using this shot-cut in future, when it said 'You have now reached your destination' ! It seemed to think we lived in a field...
   Well! We had to turn round with some difficulty, the track being very muddy and slippery and, having set Home more carefully by the old method, we successfully extracted ourselves from our suggested abode and returned to our real house, keeping a close eye on the suggested route. A strange  but amusing experience and a lesson about trusting too blindly to technology....

   Bye for now, going to wash a load of mud off the car!

mercredi 4 février 2015

Winter starts to bite

After a relatively mild autumn and early winter, February has shown its teeth, with heavy rainfall earlier and now the first snowfall of the year this morning, admittedly only a sprinkling on the ground. I hope it's not the fore-runner of heavier falls.
  The heavy rain ten days ago has raised the river levels locally, the Charente in particular has filled it's banks though we haven't seen any actual flooding. This was brought home to us on Sunday afternoon, when we decided on a little outing. We chose to visit Moutonneau, where a little footbridge spans the river, leading to a pleasant walk through the fields. However, the bridge was barely above water, with a swirling and angry torrent rushing underneath. As the narrow bridge lacks any handrails ( we seem to remember it used to have one) we chickened out from crossing it, instead driving on to Aunac, where a safer, but rather muddy footpath let us walk beside the Charente in a safer manner. Luckily, the weather has now dried up, so rivers will eventually fall to more normal levels, we hope!

  Bye for now, breakfast calls...

samedi 31 janvier 2015

The Village of Wooden People?

    On recent visits to Cognac, the GPS has taken us through the village of Bréville, whose chief peculiarity  is a large number of wooden statues lining the streets. The last time we passed, I took the opportunity to stop and photograph some of them and to try to find out why the streets are largely populated by crowds of wooden beings, human, animal and mythical.
I found that the images were by various different sculptors and had to revert to the Net, once I had returned home to find out the reason behind this plethora of wooden statues. It appears that it has specialised in woodcarving, having several different workshops and training schemes and an annual fete with woodcarving as a theme. Obviously, the town has decided to display some of the best figures in its streets to an impressive degree. it certainly makes the town memorable!

  Bye for now, lunch calls