samedi 5 août 2017

End of an era, the Ark retires old Leopard computer.

  The old Apple desktop computer has become somewhat erratic so I reluctantly decided to replace it. Failing to find an Apple model I decided to use a Toshiba laptop, provided by our computer expert, Nick Westrell. The old Leopard was supplied by Adrian Brown, who rehomed unloved Apples. It has given sterling service for many years but is now obsolete and erratic. I am a little reluctant to use a Windows machine but no doubt will learn to love it in the end....and I still have my i-Pad of course, which operates on Apple, best of both worlds really!
  Bye for now, coffee calls, after feeding all the animals.

The Ark visits the town of the mermaid Melusine

   Last Saturday, we decided to go out in the afternoon. We had felt a bit stale and Kim was complaining that we didn't go out exploring as before. I suggested we went to revisit the town of Lusignan, the town of the mermaid. We had previously been there years ago, and explored the picturesque old town centre prior to climbing down to the banks of the river, below the castle ruins, where I entered a gloomy passage leading  to a ruined spiral staircase ascending to the castle above. I wrote a blog about it at the time.
  This time, my state of health limited our walk and I certainly couldn't climb down to the river valley.  However, we were able to see the old town and the gardens which have taken the place of the castle bailey. We really enjoyed our visit and may well go again when my walking distance has extended.
  Bye for now, we're awaiting the arrival of Patrick and Cecile, our friends from Lille.

samedi 22 juillet 2017

The Ark goes to a concert

Last night we were in the Salle de Fetes at Matha to listen to the All Souls Orchestra perform. It must be the third time we have heard this excellent orchestra and we try to attend their performances every to years, when they have a French tour
  The orchestra was created in 1972 in London, at All Souls Church by Noel Treddinnick, who remains their conductor.  He overflows with energy, bounding and gesticulating in front of his musicians, seeming to drag them along with him, I can't imagine how they could fail to perform to their utmost with such a leader! They are internationally famous, so we are lucky that Noel arranges a tour of several local towns, he has a second home in Deux Sevres.
   We found the orchestra most impressive as always, the two vocal soloists being particularly excellent. Several well known pieces were performed, both secular and religious. Strangely, Noel doesn't seem to speak any French and an interpreter was used to translate his words to the English followers. The audience was a mixture of both nationalities, so this was much appreciated. Later in the evening, we were asked to stand and sing a hymn in French, which gave us the opportunity to see what being conducted by NoelTreddinick was like! Altogether an enjoyable evening, well worth the drive to Matha and the rather late return.

Bye for now, going to make a cuppa..

vendredi 14 juillet 2017

His Master'sVoice.

   A few days ago, Laika cut her foot, looking for rats in one of our outbuildings which used to be a bottle store. Unfortunately, there was broken glass in it, I have since locked the door shut. I noticed she was limping on her left hind foot, but she dislikes us putting Betadine on it, and threatens to bite. It got worse and the poor dog went onto three legs so we booked an appointment with the vet. He examined it, which we had never succeeded in doing, he did take the precaution of  putting a muzzle on the dog! He prescribed painkillers and a product to keep it clean but also a funnel-shaped object to stop her constant licking of the foot. She now looks like the old HMV advert and bangs into everything including our legs...
  Bye for now. Going to Kine at Melle.

lundi 10 juillet 2017

Beasts in the garden

Swallowtail
 We have a rather overgrown Buddleia in the Ark's garden. They call it the butterfly bush, and it's appropriate, because it attracts all sort of butterflies and moths by its honey scented fragrance. I wanted to photograph some with my little camera. Isn't it strange how the insect flies off just as you press the shutter release! I had to take dozens of shots just to have four or five half decent results...at least I could delete the failures without financial loss. I would never have continued if I had to pay for film and development under the old system!
  Bye for now, going to drink a cuppa.
Hummingbird Hawkmoth

jeudi 29 juin 2017

Return from the mountains--barely,

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that we spend a week in the Pyrennees at Aucun, above Argeles Gazost, at the holiday centre Vers Les cimes. We love the high mountains, and find the holiday does us good. It's always a happy time to meet old friends and meet new ones, to walk among the mountain valleys, even though neither of us can walk as far as we used to. It's lovely to listen to Christian instruction among fellow Christians and to eat the copious and delicious meals we don't have to cook.  However, this year, on the penultimate day, disaster struck, which nearly undid all the benefit. We were going to take the dogs for a little stroll on a footpath near the village but when I tried to start the car to remove it from under the shady pine tree where it is parked to keep the dogs cool, it failed to start, the battery was nearly flat. I couldn't decide whether to call our insurance assistance, or to accept help from our friends at camp to restart the awkwardly parked vehicle .I was really worried about how we would get back home the next day.Eventually, I decided it would be best to call for help. I rang for Credit Mutual assistance and they were really excellent. They sent a local garage to call within half an hour, who had no difficulty in finding the very remote holiday centre. We were expecting a breakdown truck, but the mechanic arrived in a normal car and restarted the car with a portable battery and leads. He gave good directions to his garage, and asked us to go there to have the battery tested as he had another emergency to attend. We drove there very careful not to stall the car, and another most helpful mechanic tested the battery with a high-tech machine, which established that the alternator was charging the battery ok, but the battery itself needed changing. They fitted a replacement straight away, and we drove of having paid just for the battery. It worked fine since for the trip back, so obviously needed changing.
  Bye for now, going to make a nice cup of English tea, don't the French have strange ideas about what constitutes a cuppa!
The van stuck under the pine tree, Laika was trying to pull it out but got tired.

dimanche 18 juin 2017

New Ark crew--a Shark!

  It's not that we've installed a fish-tank on the Ark, or corralled a ferocious requin on the deck! The Shark in question is a new vacuum cleaner bought as a result of the demise of our Dyson. We have always preferred the Dyson, for its formidable suction and strong beater action on carpets. However, after needing service from a motor problem consequent to falling downstairs, it never seemed quite its former self, emitting a sobbing noise and needing frequent unblocking of its numerous exterior hoses. Finally, it quit altogether and needed a replacement . Our neighbour, IanMacdonald had bought a Shark Liftaway and said it was loads better than a Dyson, so he let us try it by cleaning his lounge... It did seem very satisfactory  and was somewhat cheaper from Amazon, so we ordered one.
  The Shark does have excellent suction and collected a disreputable amount of pet hair from the kitchen carpet in no time. The dust collection box is quite small and was soon full, but very easy to empty ( once the instruction manual had revealed the latch to be lifted. )  The various buttons seem a bit complicated  but a little use soon breeds familiarity. The term Liftaway refers to an ingenious feature, the motor unit detaches from the shaft and the beater brush continues to turn, so it can clean under low furniture. It even has a headlight, like the Hoover Dirtsearcher of many years ago, I have fond memories of selling them when I worked for Currys. All in all, a most useful crew member, I can thoroughly recommend it!
  Bye for now, sitting drinking iced lemonade, the weather in France having decided it's summer.
The Shark in question