EEC 28, 19th December 2005

Some while back I mentioned had a problem with a bridge over 3 front teeth. I picked a dentist out of the phone book, he said I needed a new bridge, he did a lot of work, and charged me 1500 Euros. Then I had some pain at the back of my mouth. The dentist said it was caused by a cavity under a bridge, he would have to take the bridge off to fix it. He tried, then said he couldn't get the old bridge off, he would have to break it and make me a new one. That cost 2,200 Euros. I said I had some pain the other side of my mouth, he said that was caused by a cavity under a crown over a wisdom tooth, he rived the crown off and said that would fix it. I don't think he charged me for that.

Later I was getting pain again in my mouth, where the dentist had done the 2,200 Euro job which he said would fix the problem. Obviously it hadn't done. I went back to the surgery one Saturday morning, by my good chance my previous dentist was not there, so I was passed to the duty dentist. He worked about an hour, charged me less than 100 Euros, and cured the pain.

So if you are in Mirande don't ever go near Dr Huron. In my experience he is only looking to make lots of money from making bridges or crowns and is not really concerned with the best results for his patients. My belief was confirmed when I had more troubles in the area where Dr Huron had yanked off the old crown. New dentist said, effectively, my oh my, you've had trouble there for years, sorry, there is no alternative but to extract, it's in a really bad state. After the extraction he showed me the swollen root, said it's been getting worse all the time.

And the story from the first dentist? I am certain he was just lining up another lucrative bridge or crown . So I would rate Frederik Pokorny as one of the best dentists I have ever found, and Huron as one of the worst. Strangely enough they are in the same group dental practice.

Just as an addendum, as I finish writing this note, I've made another dentist appointment for tomorrow. The new front bridge is moving very slightly and giving a tiny little pain. It should do neither.

It was getting cold. This is a photo of my launch site with white frost on the ground. My neighbour Michel, who helped with my concreting, told me he only put his central heating on for one week last year. Either he is a bigger cheapskate than me (I don't think he is!) or it's lots colder this year.

I am making progress on the main roof truss.

The bolts holding the beams together are a mere 2 cms diameter and 35 cms long.(that's almost an inch diameter and a foot long) There are seven of them in total.

The horizontal beams are nearly 6m (nearly 20 ft) long and are BIG weighing nearly 100 Kg each. There is no way I can move the truss never mind lift it on to the roof. A quick phone call to my neighbour the building contractor produced a machine which lifted the truss in about 5 minutes flat.

The local supermarket had a special offer on mussels so I bought some and made moules mariniere. Delicious. I counted the mussels, 167 total, cost about 2 Euros. Can't complain about the cost. I got some again the next day and I screwed it. I make my moules mariniere in the microwave, when I took them out this time the plastic cover I use has melted. That's a nuisance, I can't get another one, they have stopped making them. Anyway, when I put the moules back I covered with shrink film. That melted too.

I have a combination microwave and grill. The covers melted because the microwave was set to grill and I hadn't noticed. Of course it should have been set to microwave. Duh! So now I had an unseparable mixture of chopped onions needing 10 minutes cooking time, and mussels needing 5 minutes. I took a compromise and the result was dismal failure.

Here's a detail at the top of the truss. (Yes, we're back to the garage) There are about 60 screws holding these plates in place, just those in the picture. Then there is a similar set the other side of the beam, then two more similar double supports Thank goodness for electric screwdrivers, it would have been hell putting all those screws in place by hand.

Here's general view with the main beams in place.

I had a few wet days, so I took some time to go to Auch. I traded in my UK driving licence for the French version. That needed a signed confirmation of residence from the Marie but cost nothing. I changed the registration of my car to my address here. That needed a change of registration number but was free. Of course I had to buy new plates and fit them to the car. I also changed my address for my card vitale, my health service card. This too was free but like the other changes required a huge amount of back up documentation. Apart from the proof of residence I mentioned, I needed photocopies of my passport, my birth certificate, my UK notification of pension entitlement, and several recent utility bills. The driving licence people did not initially give me a licence to drive a minibus. My van is registered as a minibus so this is fairly important. They had to ring the ministry to check, I had to return to Auch to change my driving licence for one that included minibuses. They took the opportunity to time limit my permissions to drive 12 ton trucks but since I didn't have that permission before, and I don't really have in mind to drive such things, I didn't worry too much.

I hung a wild bird food source outside my kitchen window. The blue tits etc don't seem to care that I am watching from less than 50 cm away. I took a photo showing 3 birds with their heads rather than these 2 with their bottoms but the other photos were out of focus. There's another food source on the garage wall, it's just possible to see a coal tit's tail above the orange handle of the cement mixer.

Sadly the day after I took this photo I found a dead coal tit in my van. I think he had flown in through the open side door that you can see and crashed into the opposite window at full speed. What a shame. He avoided the cat, the real danger, then lost his life this way. Thinking about the cat, though, she does tend to hang about hiding round the corner of the garage waiting for birds to search for seeds that have fallen on the ground so I think I'll stop hanging seeds on the garage wall. The seeds that fall from the source outside the window just fall on the window sill which is about 50 cms deep, and while the cat can get up there, she can't get up fast enough to catch one of the birds.

The rafters are now finished

There are problems with the supply of the roof tiles so I will not be able to finish this year. I have 250 tiles, I need about 800. However just about all the timberwork is done, most of the laths, the horizontal pieces of wood that hold the tiles in place, are cut to size, and the surrounding bus boards are ready varnished. They are not drying well in those cold damp weather, I have put them in my bedroom to dry. So if I need to get up in the night for a pee I will have to remember to put on the light so that I don't trip over these 4m long boards propped on the floor!

I received some missing bits to mount the garage doors but they were the wrong bits. I have been re examining the catalogue and my doors, and I think that the doors I received were a lot more expensive than the ones I ordered and was charged for. The replacement bits were for the cheap doors I ordered but not the ones I've got. I doubt they will want the doors back. They are not exactly "as new". One has several big dents where it has blown over from it's propped position in André's barn and crashed against a tractor but it will be OK for me.

I'll finish the timberwork, as much as I can, but I don't think I will make a start on tiling the roof since I don't want to leave it for a couple of weeks or so with the roof only partially done. That's OK it will give me time to have a leisurely run up to Christmas and give me time to get my ducks in order, as someone says.

Most of the tiles have now arrived, I've collected another palette load of 240 tiles, 700 Kg, I'll unload these then call in Monday for the remainder, so that I know that I have them when I restart after Christmas. I'm short of some of the end tiles but I can fit these later, if necessary. I've got enough to be able to check that my calculations on the length of the roof match the tolerances of the tiles.

For Christmas I'm picking up my daughter Eleanor in Paris then we go for Christmas with my sister Helen in Yorkshire then rush down to visit son Daniel and family near London before we get Eleanor back to Paris in time for New Year. My route planner calculates that it's a 3000 Km (2,000 mile) round trip and will require 33 hours driving, that's plus another 14 hours on car ferries, we're crossing overnight from Zebrugge in Belgium to Hull. With luck we'll meet up with my nephew Oliver on the way, he's an engineer on the ferry but there are two boats, I don't know if he's on my sailing or not.

Lucky I decided on a leisurely run up to Christmas, I needed to have the battery and the alternator changed on the car, that wasted half a day, then another half day was wasted while they fixed the oil leak they had caused changing the alternator. It was one of the big chains, Feu Vert, I only went there because the battery was under guarantee and they wouldn't give me a new battery without the alternator being fixed first.

You have my very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. A few of my friends have had a pretty rotten year 2005 and I wish them a much improved 2006. For everyone else who had a good year 2005 may 2006 be even better! In any case I hope you all have a super Christmas.

Best regards

David Barker
Mirande, France

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