Wednesday, 27 July 2016

And another day out!

I was settled into a day of jam making,
the recent plum harvest now in the fridge, holding their own, but needing to be jammed.
But Lester was man on a mission today,
and that was to get the French Driving License Project done with,
so a phone call to a doctor to give me a medical.
an appointment was made,
oh dear, now nearly 11am, appointment at 1.30 pm in Tarbes, better get moving, not much time.
So into the supermarket to grab food to eat along the way,
into Tarbes in good time,
everyone at lunch as is the manner of French people,
(12 to 2 lunch break and lots of shops shut) 
so plenty of car parking space available.
A pleasant walk along to the medical place,
arrived in good time.
Medical certificate given.
Town now unpleasantly busy as everyone moves into their afternoon doings,
Lester, still on a mission, decides to tackle the Prefecture again.
Squeezes into a car parking space by inches,
this time right by the Prefecture,
which is a good thing,
because my feet were not going to be walking very far today after yesterday's hot hike.
Prefecture still not hugely busy, the time now being 2.30 pm.
Summonsed to the necessary desk almost immediately.
Oh, a different woman,
looking equally as irritable and bad humoured as did the lady from yesterday until we got connected by 'the thought', which then made her shine.
And here's a funny thing,
not 'funny ha ha' but 'that's a curious thing' funny,
because the new lady called over yesterday's lady,
who was still smiling and all of a shine,
and she couldn't do enough to get the documents processed as efficiently as possible.
If left to the new lady I think we would have had problems.
Oh I did observe the new lady,
thinking that perhaps she might lighten up,
but since I was sitting there like a lump of cold porridge,
fatigue having draped itself around me like a sticky cobweb,
no enlightenment came through for me to pass her way.
It is done.
And the curious sense of another link between me and my old life in the UK being severed,
as we walked back to the car with the temporary French driving license clutched in my hand.
We still have to wait for the official license to come through in the post,
but my old license is now being sent back to the DVLA in the UK by the French authorities,
so I am no longer a registered UK driver.
Yesterday's lady gave us the beamiest of smiles as we left.
She was a great help.
Home now, and absolutely tired out.
Not to worry, start again tomorrow.
The fruit already processed is still refusing to rot,
as is the bucket of plums still waiting to be prepped.
So, you will find me jamming tomorrow!
And we shall not be going out at all!
Bye for now,

Off out into the world.....

It could not be delayed any longer.
Already weeks had gone by with no action from us,
 but soon I shall be seventy,
and my UK driving license will expire,
therefore it is of importance that we get our UK licences converted to French ones.
We want to do this anyway,
we do not want to stay loyal to a country we are no longer living in,
but most of all I do not have any great urge to have to take the French driving test.
We should have done this weeks ago.
But it is necessary to go to a place called the 'Prefecture',
which is in Tarbes,
Tarbes being a small city and therefore very busy as is the nature of such places everywhere,
and which now is becoming an increasingly hostile environment to us.
The longer we stay in the reasonable tranquillity of Labartere,
apart from the cockerels fighting and the hens squabbling,
and the sheep yelling to each other as the flock scatters across the field to graze,
and the little birds, mostly sparrows, who still think that it is spring and are still continuing on with  reproductive activities which requires much chirruping and carrying on.
All of this has a sort of tranquillity about it,
which cannot be said about the concrete, car fume laden environment of the city.
It was an assault to our senses, that is what it was.
But we needed to get those driving licenses done.
We took a road map with us.
We were cautious about finding parking so parked at the first spot available.
It was hot.
The map said to head this way.
We did.
Now I am a good map reader, having walked many a mile across the UK countryside using the excellent Ordnance Survey maps. I never feel lost if I have a map, even if for the moment I am not entirely sure of where I am.  Lester, though, is not so impressed with maps. In fact he frets. And when he does this he sets his stride to wide and fast, possibly thinking that the quicker he walks the more likely he is to find where he needs to go.
As I said,
it was hot, the road was uphill, cars were buzzing about,
after all, it was a city, so what do you expect.
We  only had one minor squabble along the way, though,
and that was brought on by Lester insisting that the map should be 'this way up' and me saying the opposite, which reminded me of certain memories of some of our walks back in the UK. It would seem that reading a map can be done in various ways depending on the opinions of those trying to read it.
Anyway we finally got to where we needed to be,
which was nowhere near what the Internet map said was the location,
and it was a long way from where we had parked the car,
but not to worry, we got there. 
Lester has a temporary French driving license, the proper one to come in the post soon.
I do not.
I have to have a medical to see if I am fit.
And may I say at this point that the lady who was sorting the paperwork out, was, at first,
downright horrid, and as I observed her horridness I thought to myself,
'She could do with a jolly good romp in bed with someone nice to sort her out'.
Now this might come as a surprise to you that I should have had such a thought,
but it was not a 'crafted, made up' thought as such,
just a 'She needs seeing to' thought, neither unkind or spiteful in nature for that was not my intent.
Now I don't know if she picked up this thought,
but all of a sudden she became more cheerful and helpful,
and full of light.
She said not to worry about the UK Driving License card being out of date, although the green paper that it is issued with was still in date, just to get the medical and get back to her asap.
 Bless her, whatever she absorbed from that thought of mine most surely did her some good.

The road was downhill all the way back to the car,
a welcome sit down in a bar for a pint of cool panache (larger / beer and lime juice I think),
then back home.


Monday, 25 July 2016

Lester's sore thigh, his sawing efforts, and jamming.....

Lester is upset.
He has a long red weal along his upper thigh,
which has the merest drop of blood in one corner,
but not enough to do a good trickle,
just a small bright bead of blood,
that is all it is.
It was the big black cockerel that did it, Lester said,
came up from behind as he was feeding the hens,
With spurs raised and claws outstretched did the cockerel charge
Lester is not pleased.
Said that the cockerel would be going in the pot.
Said "Why did he do that?!" he said,
as he lifted his shorts to show me the extent of the wound.
But it was not a mortal wound,
so I could not help but smile,
no sticking plaster, no bandage needed,
and my offer of spraying the weal with a vinegar potion
was not accepted,
and so I said that perhaps the cockerel charged
because he thought that Lester was a cockerel as well.
Lester is wearing shorts today.
Between feet and shorts are his legs,
which to a cockerel this could look like the legs of another cockerel.
Cockerels have big feet, long legs,
then what looks like feathery pantaloons at the top of their legs.
I think that the sight of  Lester in his shorts
must have got the cockerel confused,
and thus he took it upon himself to go into battle,
but not by making a full frontal attack,
the coward,
but then Lester is much bigger than him,
so he did an attack from the rear.
Today's camp.....
....doing a bit of spinning
keeping Lester company while he starts the long job of getting the wood cut for the coming winter, because living the life of a smallholder requires that we work ahead of ourselves.
He used the chain saw. I kept an eye on him. Lester and me do not like the chain saw. I only let him use if for an hour, just enough for his concentration to still be reasonably sharp, after that it would possibly dwindle away. Chain saws are mean machines. Any errors of use would not easily be forgiven by it.
However, all went well, and the log pile was started.
And in the kitchen......
the greengages have been picked....

....two trays of them....

which made twelve pots of jam.
I normally use jam pot covers to seal the hot jam,
but I thought I would have a go at sealing the jam in canning jars,
which is the way the Americans make jam.
It was quite a lot of faffing around,
because I had to hot water bath the jam filled jars to seal them.
I find that using the canner to seal jars is no problem at all,
but having to fill a large pot full of water and then bring it to the boil just scares the life out of me.
Apparently you can't can jam in a canner, it has to be done in a water bath,
but fortunately Lester was around to help,
and the job was done.
During the process I did think that it was taking a lot of effort,
but feeling the seals stuck tight to those jars makes me feel confident that the jam will stay mould free. Using the jam pot covers was a bit hit or miss, with the jams starting to show signs of mould the longer they stayed in storage.
The rest of the plums I dehydrated....
and they made 500g of dehydrated fruit several hours later. These will be added to cakes and desserts instead of shop bought dried fruit.
Lester's leg is getting better, so I think he was more upset about being attacked by the cockerel  than about the wound itself.
I now need to go and wash up the jam making things because he has just brought in our next plum harvest......
Bye for now,