EEC 32a 15th May 2006

I've now finished the major works on the house, for this year anyway, so I have more time to note other things that have happened.

For example late one night I spilt brandy on my keyboard. Next morning I noticed the computer was double bleeping all the time. I suspected keyboard. Now, there could be minor problems here. In France they use an AZERTY keyboard instead of our English QWERTY plus, amongst other things, you have to hit shift to get a number on the top row because the regular keys are taken up with accentuated letters. One of the other things is that you have to hit alt to get the backslash \. But being a belt and braces type I have not one but two brand new UK keyboards in stock, plus another that I think works. The replacement I have chosen boasts "spill proof" design...........

Signs appeared around the village for a circus. Now St Michel is not exactly a big village, It's rather spread out, I don't know the population, but there are 110 telephones listed on the local exchange. I don't generally like circuses, but this I have to see, I thought, a circus that is small enough to play in a tiny village. Anyway, if they are that brave they deserve support.

There were 30 chairs set out around the ring, with, including me, 4 adults and 3 children attending. Here is the view of the ring.

And the outside of the tent.

You can see some of the animals. There was a goat, a llama, a Shetland pony, and a donkey that gave rides around the ring. Basically all the animal acts were the same, the animal stood on a support, sometimes on it's knees, and turned around. Oh, the pony jumped a low bar as it circled the ring. There was a clown, who acted with the animal trainer, and a contortionist, a girl of about 13 or 14, who did back springs.

They kept us adequately entertained for an hour. As well as the 3 entertainers, there was an announcer, a lady who took money at the door, and I think I caught a glimpse of someone with a foot in plaster. That's 6 people and 4 animals to keep. Ah, plus the regular dog of course.

I paid 10, and presuming children were half price they received the princely sum of 55 to share as a day's pay between themselves, and to cover expenses. Not exactly the route to a fortune but they seemed content.

I'm continuing to sort my things out. My new computer won't recognise my 5 floppy disk drive, so I threw away all my 5 floppy disks. About 300 of them. I've started on the 3 disks, about 100 have gone so far, I have at least 500 more to check through. Then I've got all the old the CD's.......On other lines I've got 10 pillows and about 50 pillow cases, also about 50 bed sheets. Why I should have so many I have no idea (I didn't buy them all although I probably paid for many of them!) but I am reluctant to throw out things that are perfectly good. Some of the sheets etc are still in their original wrappings. I've got boxes of photos, old ballooning magazines, dozens and dozens of balloon posters, framed prints and photos, all sorts of bits and pieces of equipment. I've got 4 hammocks, and nowhere to hang a hammock. I know I bought a hammock in Mexico, and one in Brazil a few years ago, but I've forgotten where the other 2 came from. Much of this is due to the fact that in my previous life I had loads and loads and loads of room to store things, now it has to go. My garage is too small!

Chucking things out is sometimes like throwing a small piece of myself away. Things which I took a lot of trouble to get, but which I just don't need any more. Usually you do this bit by bit, I'm doing it all at once. As I write I've just about emptied Andre's barn and everything I've kept is in the garage. A bit crammed in, but it's in, including all the pillows and the pillow cases! I've got 3 complete balloons here, I've not really got the space, I think the 120 will have to go. I bought it to fly the mountains and I have stopped flying the mountains, no reason to keep it, it has only 50 hours flying time in 15 years. I've got a middle sized basket, I don't ever use it, that will have to go too.

I found out why the battery for the laptop was so cheap. It's not same as others but it's compatible with my computer. I'm exchanging it for the better one, and paying a bit extra.

The parking is redone. Four men came, with a bitumen truck, a huge truck with gravel, a smaller truck with smaller gravel, towing a trailer holding a small road roller. They started with a minute examination of the area to be worked on, weeds and grass were removed. Then they brushed to get rid of loose big stones and odd gaps were filled in. It was all rolled. Then a layer of tar was sprayed on. Small stones were spread by hand then rolled then hand brushed to an even layer.

It's very different to the English system, where a load of tarmac arrives, ready mixed with the bitumen, which is spread in one layer, levelled with rakes, then rolled.

Here tar was spread again. Then smaller stones were spread. Rolled and hand brushed again. Tar spread again, 3rd time. The smaller truck left and returned with minute stones which were spread. Then rolled and hand brushed. In all it took 4 men just under 3 hours to put down 3 layers of bitumen covered stones. 97 m2 for just under 600 with some repairs to the private access road thrown in for free. (Andre, the owner of the road over which I have right of way, is uncle of Jean-Pierre owner of the company doing the works. Family connections always help) I've been told to hand brush from time to time over the next few months. I'll be away!

Here's some before and afters.

Eleanor's room inside, before. (You've already seen this photo. Twice!) Then from the same angle. Note the cat door in the wall.


Looking the other way.

Eleanor's room, from the outside, as it was. Then with new woodwork, new door, the brick wall rendered, the footpath extended, and the facade painted.


On the front of the house some of the old surfacing was dropping off.

It actually looked like this - but now.........


You may, possibly, have noticed that this email is headed 32a. That's because I've cut it in half. It was getting too big for anyone struggling, like me, with the slow speed of a dialup modem so I'll send 32b tomorrow. So you'll have something to look forward to.........................

Best regards

David Barker
Mirande, France

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