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December 2006
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January 2007

Construction Progress

Charlie_016 Our regular readers are probably wondering how the barn conversion is getting on so just to prove I am still active here is pictorial proof.

The outside wall of the barn needed to have three openings for windows to both bedrooms and the bathroom so it became necessary to re-build large parts of the original wall to accommodate the returns and strengthen the structure generally.

The rear wall does not have Genoise so the tiles will be cemented directly on the wall plate as the original method. I hope to get this done this coming week (weather permitting) but we have decided to put in a small dormer in the bathroom just to get a little head height above the toilet.

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Charlie Drake encore

Charlie22_1  After our initial loss of the original Charlie Drake we wanted to get another to keep the ladies company.

Our friend Colin, who we had got the original six from, kindly obliged and we collected him on Friday.

After a night spent in the cells to calm him down we let him loose on the pond yesterday morning and boy were the girls pleased to see him.

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Is it the calm before the storm?

I have been watching the weather story unfold in the UK and across northern Europe as it wreaks its havoc.

It conjures up memories of the 1987 hurricane and the 1990 storms which left so much devastation and financial loss and I just hope for our friends and families that things will not be too bad.

We are still finding it un seasonably calm and warm, although we had a brief spell yesterday evening of high winds but that soon died away. The rest of the week looks to be slightly wet but very mild but it makes me wonder if this is the 'calm before our storm'?

'El Nino' has turned the weather upside down with Russia being very mild and the United States having amazing ice storms.

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Mad dogs and Englishmen

Football_004 Whilst every weekend we tend to do some work around the farm it is more or less maintenance and not building related.

But we do always try and make time for other activities which is important for the Kids.

Both Henner's and I are Portsmouth fans and we always follow their progress. Luckily with broadband and satellite TV we can view the BBC website and watch match of the day which is a real treat although being an hour later I don't get to be before one am here.

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Even more spooky coincidences!

No_name_bust_1 A while back I wrote about how I met an English builder, Frank Ruddick living here in Monflanquin who was born in the same Guildford hospital as me and was the best friend of the East family who I accompanied on a trip to collect oranges from Spain back in 1985.

We then went on to discover that Frank attended Blackmoor School as myself and my two brothers and sister did and that his mother (for some reason) has a photograph of us all in her album.

Then yesterday another coincidence. Donna received the passport and breeding papers for Izzy (actually Isis D'or) the horse we acquired for her birthday.

Donna showed me the document I was stunned to see that the breeder was none other than Mathews mother. You will remember Mathew (Mat or Mathieu) played a pivotal role in helping me get the building work done in such record time last year and we have since become friends with June and Frédéric as well.

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The barn update

Building_013 We now have two window openings in the back barn wall having successfully finished the bathroom one yesterday.

We are still unsure about the style and we really wished we had opted for dormers along the back to give a bit more presence. The roof is rather a large expanse of tile so in effect quite featureless.

Our problem now is we do not have planning permission for dormer windows and we do not want to delay proceedings whilst the planning is approved.

On the other hand we could plough on and hope that planning would be granted retrospectively which is always a bit risky. We also do not wan't to make what is a traditional French building look over engineered. I see so many houses on my travels that are 'butchered' and 'Anglocised' which loses it authentic charm.

I have loosely replaced the canal tiles for now to keep out any rain but they will be eventually removed and re-fixed to ensure complete water exemption.

Sampling traditional Foie Gras

There is a lot of debate in France about the practise of producing Foie Gras by force feeding Maize to Ducks or Geese.

The name Foie Gras actually means 'fatty liver' and it is naturally occurring in migratory birds.

The Egyptians and Romans noticed that birds which migrated to winter feeding grounds gorged themselves before leaving in order to build up huge reserves of fat to sustain them over the thousands of miles they had to cover.

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Pigeons are on the move, is it a sign of an early Spring?

Christmas_020_1I wrote recently about the culling of the feral Pigeon which are traditionally housed in Pigeonnaires on farms or country houses to provide cheap food.

Well today while I was mixing up the mortar for the work my attention was drawn to a massive high flying flock of Pigeons (Palombe) heading in a North East direction.

The noise from the wing beats was quite substantial and it got me wondering if this was a sign that Spring is going to be early this year?

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Forget the rest, fit Everest

Building_010 OK not the best title for the post but I was struggling! :)

I am also still struggling in other ways as I am finding it difficult to shake off this 'flu like' feeling and just when I start to feel perky I am getting tired with headaches and a sore throat again.

I'll give it another six months and if no improvement I'll consider seeing a doctor.

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