lundi 27 octobre 2014

Telephone Advertising--It's driving me nuts.



Is it just me?  You know the scenario, the phone rings, you run to answer but either there's a silence, or an enthusiastic voice introduces itself as Collette, speaking for the firm of..... With a special offer of something which you have no interest in buying. It's starting to make my phone practically useless as a quick response medium. My neighbour, Ian, tells me he doesn't answer the phone when it rings, lets it go to answerphone to filter the calls. What the Hell, I didn't install a phone as a sort of bulletin board for advertisers. It really annoys me.
   I take what counter measures I can. I tell all advertisers that I NEVER buy anything advertised by phone. I have told callers that my phone is prohibited for publicity, but firms are impervious to insults and regard all phones as a cheap route for advertising their products.
  Right, what can we do? I have been considering how we can make a difference. What about using the power of the Net?
   If we responded to the call sufficiently to identify the firm, or to obtain their phone number, we could publish it on the Net and ask everyone to ring the number and put the phone down,it would cost nothing and would swamp the firm's switchboard, play them at their own game. Is anyone interested n setting up a site?

  Bye for now, breakfast calls.

vendredi 24 octobre 2014

Sink Problems


You know how it is. Yesterday I had planned all sorts of tasks to do, but when I reentered the kitchen the kitten had upended a plant pot from the shelf above the sink and the mangled seedling and the potful of compost were dumped in the sink. Now our kitchen sink, as you can see above, isn't the most modern of equipment, yet it is an improvement on what was there beforehand. This would have been a stone basin installed in a recess, with a round porthole window above. The earlier sink's waste pipe debauched through a short pipe into the gutter, allowing the water to run away down the road as was the norm in rural France. The 'new' sink was simply installed on top of the stone one, and its waste  discharged into it. All this I have more fully realised as a result of this little accident. I cleared up the majority of the soil, but didn't worry about flushing the rest down the plug hole as this compost wouldn't be objectionable. We normally wash up in a bowl and carry any dirty water through to the bathroom, adding it to our septic tank by flushing it down the loo.
  However, my action did have a consequence on this occasion, as it blocked the sink. The stone sink underneath overflowed, and water poured out of the cupboard under the sink.
  Unfortunately, my usual standby of a sink plunger didn't work, as there was no connection between the two waste pipes. The wire from a coat hanger, my second standby also failed, the more so as the top sink's waste turned out not to be opposite the hole underneath....it was time to call in a snake.
   A snake is what plumbers call the long length of coiled spring you feed down the plug hole to clear it when the caustic soda fails. Unfortunately, I didn't have one but Weldom supplied this very posh version at 22Euros. Scarcely had I fed the end of this up from the bottom of the waste pipe when a gush of muddy water showed the money had been well spent. All's well that ends well and I shall surely find the tool useful in future blockages.

  Bye for now, pet feeding time!

mercredi 22 octobre 2014

Roscoff, gateway to Plymouth.


   On Saturday, as Kim was en route to spend a few weeks with our daughter Alyson, we drove the 560 kilometres to Morlaix, where we had booked in to spend the night in the B and B hotel. Normally, we break our journey at the Formula 1 at St Brieuc, an hours run South of the ferry terminal at Roscoff. However, after my previous traumatic experiences with the infamous Bonnets Rouges, who blocked the road and prevented me from catching the ferry, we had decided to install ourselves at a nearer spot, which would be nearly impossible to barricade.
    We spent the night fairly comfortably at the B and B, which does have the advantage of en suite bathroom, rather than than in the corridor  like the Formula 1. After a lavish and very copious breakfast (I try to eat at least the cover charge for the unlimited breakfast) we drove on the few k's to Roscoff.
 Roscoff is an amazing town; people who arrive at the ferry port , which is located a kilometre away from the little town and port, and just drive off towards their southern destinations miss a real treat. The town is a little gem, granite houses, some with amazing carvings, narrow cobbled streets and a thriving fishing and leisure harbour with a huge tidal range so it changes from lapping water to an expanse of weed and sand in a few hours. It is a prosperous little burg, too, mainly based on servicing the trade brought to it by Brittany Ferries, so it supports loads of restaurants and little shops. The country round about is charming also, little ports and inlets many with sandy beaches and several offshore islands. I always enjoy a visit even if it is to put Kim on the ferry. I shall be back to fetch her, and to make a short crossing to Plymouth myself in a few weeks!
Note the onions for which Roscoff is famed!

samedi 4 octobre 2014

A strange year for weather.

 
   This is a pic of our courtyard taken a few years ago, and is the normal aspect of the grass on this very thin-soiled former farmyard. Indeed, our daughter Alyson, who normally visits in the summer was AMAZED to see it green when she came in the spring. Although looking as dead as a dodo, it revives almost instantly when the autumn rains resume.
   Not this year, however. It has remained green and verdant all the summer, due to increased rainfall in what is normally high summer, though I must say the weather
is redeeming itself now with a lovely dry, sunny autumn. It does look far prettier, I must admit, but it has needed cutting throughout the summer, normally that chore ceases in May. On the up side, the garden has not needed any watering. Hey ho what you lose on the roundabouts.....

  Bye for now, off to strim the orchard!

lundi 29 septembre 2014

Taking the P--s.



   I'll tell you what, I bet you won't see this prohibition sign in the UK!  Not only are we much more prudish than the French, who are not shy of calling a spade a spade, but it would probably not occur to 90 per cent of the English populace that we need a sign to inform us that the practice is illegal. Any policeman seeing someone doing this would take action to arrest or at least severely warn the offender. We saw this nicely designed graphic behind the hall at Sauzé Vaussais, where Kim has started going to a Zumba class on Monday mornings.
   Frenchmen regard it as their inalienable right to relieve themselves on any vertical surface and a sign is a necessity in vulnerable spots in the interest of public hygiene. In the countryside this does little harm but can be offensive in town even to the inhabitants!

  Bye for now, going to take a short walk....

mercredi 10 septembre 2014

The Ark changes some of its equipment.

It's been an expensive time for the Ark! A week ago, our washing machine went on the blink, refusing to move on its programme. It would wash but only if you stood over it to say that's enough, time to continue... I tried the magic switch-cleaner without success and it was clear that either the repairer had to be called in, or we should replace the machine. As the old machine was nine years old and starting to rust around the base, we felt a repair would be counter-productive. A repairer would charge fifty Euros or so to visit, a new programmer probably 150Eur. We went to see some new machines at Weldom, as Kim felt it would be best to get it from a local supplier, who would deliver. However, their attitude was so unhelpful, almost truculent, (they wouldn't deliver either)and their choice was so poor, that we went on to Leclerc at Ruffec, and found a very nice top-loader with horizontal drum for 300Eur, a configuration that Kim had wanted for ages. Agreed, they didn't deliver, either, but with the Berlingo it wasn't much trouble to take it away. It's all installed now and working well. I did have to adapt the work surface to be hinged, but that was a minor job for a genius bricoleur like me....
   While we were in Leclerc, I took the opportunity to change my pre-paid mobile phone. The Orange scam was beginning to annoy me, you have to buy more credit than I need and if you don't use it in a limited time they cancel it unless you buy some more, and so on. The Leclerc credit lasts indefinitely and you just pay a service charge of 1.50eur a month. I bought a new mobile, very basic in the clamshell style I like, for 30Eur, a 10Eur start-up card, 5 of which was call credit and an extra 25Eur of credit so I'm in business and should save a lot in future.

 Bye for now, going to play with my new phone!

lundi 1 septembre 2014

Are we less trusting nowadays?

Yesterday, as we were feeling in need of a short outing, we decided to visit the grounds of the Chateau de Javarsay at Chef Boutonne. There is a huge fishing lake and park there beside the picturesque gatehouse  with a well- kept park around which is very pleasant to stroll around. Afterwards, we left the park by the rear entry and walked down the narrow and charming Rue de Judee ( is this a reminder of a Jewish  quarter of Chef?) and re-entered the park by the alley next to the large church of Javarsay. There was an information board about the church, which I had not noticed before, which gave some surprising details of the building.
   The board stated that the church was an important stop on the route of pilgrims to Saint Jacques de Compostella, and that the visiting pilgrims were invited to venerate the fifteen relics stored in the church. These included a piece of the Cross, part of the Crown of Thorns, and the dress and veil of the Virgin Mary! Well, I am a believer in Christ but I would be hard put to believe that a church in a small provincial town would have acquired these unique relics and I fear that unscrupulous individuals in the Middle Ages have been practicing on the Church or the pilgrims! I am sure that we more doubting Thomases today would fail to swallow the provenance of these 'relics' !

  Bye for now, breakfast calls!