Thursday 30 October 2014

It's the bike's fault!

This darn bike of mine. Got me into a right trouble yesterday, and I ended up with scratches up and down my arms and round my legs, not so many as to be dreadfully damaging to my person, but sufficient to sting when I was in the shower this morning. 

So what had happened? Well, for the last two mornings I have made it a habit of having a ten minute cycle, just a potter, nothing strenuous. Being an indoor bike I don't actually go anywhere of course, which is a good thing because I would probably overdo the exercise that cycling out and about would give me, so I would end up all stiff and sore. This is not happening with my exercise bike, even my nether regions are not suffering unduly, possibly helped by having a gel seat to sit upon, the purchase of which was separate to the bike, but after reading the reviews about the bike I was encouraged to believe that the saddle of the bike would bring a pain to my nether regions from which they would probably never recover. The gel seat is not much better though, but I have not had a painfulness of my bottom yet, perhaps because I have not launched myself into a fury of pedalling which would be foolishness in the extreme, me being a lady who has a lot of years behind her. 

Just after breakfast and before the day takes hold, that is when I jump climb up on the bike. I sit upright with my back straight, and let my legs start gently pedalling. The bike is at the least endurance level. I then start counting rotations of my feet, at the same time I do some waving in the air of my arms which are supposed to be upper body exercises. For about one hundred rotations I do this. But I not out of puff. It is all done very gently. Then I normally pedal gently for another 100 rotations. Then for the next 100 I go ever so slightly faster, but not enough to make my heart beat harder. Too soon to do that, I think. Then yesterday I did 'ever so fast' for 20 rotations, 'slow and easy' for then next 10, then repeated this sequence for another 100 rotations in total. Took about 7 minutes. Getting off, I felt real good. No sweats. No rapid heart beat. Just stretched out body. All that sweaty and raised heart beat stuff can wait for later. 

And that is why I blame the bike for getting me all scratched up. Because my body took on an enthusiasm to get outside into the sunshine. Taking the ladder and wheelbarrow with me, round the back of the house we went to start tacking the wall of brambles which have grown alongside the fence between the front garden and the back paddocks. Up the ladder my legs went, quite easily. And neither did they complain about the length of time they were required to stay there up on that ladder. So I took advantage of their compliance and attacked the brambles with much enthusiasm. 

However, it is usual for my legs to start complaining after about twenty minutes of such work, so that after about half an hour I potter off back indoors to do a less energetic task such as work on my computer. Not so yesterday, I kept on working, and of course the more I cut back the hedge the more the hedge fought back, hence the scratches. My legs refused to complain. Wahooooo! ANNNNNDDDD I went back out to do another session in the afternoon! Wahooo twice!!!

That is why I blame the bike for the scratches. That early morning ride must have got the blood zooming around my bod so my legs did not suffer so much, and that seemed to last all day. Plus I feel lighter. So just off to do today's exercise. I find it quite a ladylike occupation to exercise while sitting down. Soon, perhaps, I might start getting the heart rate up, but not yet, slowly does it. No use rushing into things, only to have the original enthusiasm fade away. I must do the cycling because I don't want to have legs which are eventually going to fetch up with purple blotches all over them. My legs have got a lot of miles left in them, and a lot of years to tread through yet. Two days of being on the bike and they have improved. I find a relief in that. Rumbling round the edges of my mind was the thought that perhaps I would become more and more immobile. It was not a good thought. 

So I don't mind that I got scratched by the brambles yesterday because I can do. The bike cost about £120. I bought it from Amazon. I would recommend it. I would show you a photo of it, but my camera does not like me after having had a mad moment of pressing buttons which I should have left alone. I have used it on its factory settings since I bought it, but now it is all confused and won't do the things it used to do. So I shall have to read the manual, which I needed to do anyway because it was bought to take videos and product photography as well as photos of life here. 

But I have kept you long enough. I need to ride my bike before my day begins so I must away. Hope you have a lovely day, and that I have encouraged you to believe that life does not end when one is in one's mid sixties and beyond..........


Tuesday 28 October 2014

They're back!

Nibblings and chewings, the sound of, ..... louder than what they have been intermittently through the previous months. rats are back, pushed indoors by the colder nights, their noise having given them away. Mice make much more delicate noises. Rats seen to have a habit of colliding with things. And so now I have to evacuate my temporary kitchen when it gets dark. I do have lights. They are switched on. But the temporary kitchen is on the side of the house which has still not had all the holes fixed. I can manage the thought of a mouse in the house at any time of the day. I can manage being in the temporary kitchen during the day when rats are about as well. But I can't manage being in there when it gets dark.

Not to worry though, soon we shall have the proper kitchen done, and that is over the side of the house which does have its holes fixed, well some of them anyway, at least the access ways into the kitchen have been thoroughly blocked up, at least that is rat proof. 

Living in an old house is a wonderful thing. Thick walls give a snug feeling, minimal windows increasing the feeling of being in a cosy cave. I love it. Our last house in the UK had loads of windows, big ones, and long runs of fully glazed patio doors, which were fine on sunny days but not so good when it rained or was wintry. We might have had central heating blazing away but looking out of those windows still made me feel cold. But here we are cosy, as if in a nest. Shame that other creatures want to nest with us. Shame that we had to purchase some rat poison yesterday. 

Good news though, that on the rat poison purchase trip we also purchased a proper ladder, the old one now being interred on the 'to go down to the tip at some point' pile, put there by myself after my other half broke yet another step on it, which nearly resulted in him making unto himself a mischief as he almost fell off. It was only a step ladder, but much used, the proper taller ladders at this moment residing on the beams in the Tall Barn. They are being used as shelves for hay. 

Anyway, I need to get onto the scaffolding thingy, but can't get through the trap door to get onto its first platform due to the bosom, and other things, being plump. Would not use the old step ladder, as could not even reach the second rung, the first rung having become broken. With the third rung now dodgy, onto the heap it went. The painting stopped. 

Ah but now we have a man coming in to do the floor. Need to get the painting done. Need to buy a ladder. We have. Gosh. Proper firm it is. Doesn't wobble, doesn't tremble, doesn't threaten to die at any moment. Might even take it out to the bramble hedge I am cutting back. Wouldn't take the other one for fear of taking a tumble into the thorns. It is a big hedge.

My bike has arrived, so I can now pedal my legs into well being. Bit of a difficulty at the moment though, as it would seem that the gap between saddle and handle bars are not designed for someone as rounded as myself so it is a bit of a squeeze to get on to the bike. Not to worry, I shall manage. My legs need me to manage, as does my heart. 

Just off for a quick pedal. Hope your day goes well. The sun is still warm so am off to tackle the brambles later on, might even have a climb on the new ladder. Wahooo. 


Thursday 23 October 2014

Thermals, here we come!


OOooooo, and here I am, sitting at my pc, and for the first time this end of year I feel chilly, which isn't too bad seeing as how it is nearly the end of October, so I can't complain. AND we have decided to get someone in to help get the kitchen moving because work on that has ground to a halt what with Lester having to keep on getting those gates done so the piglets can get out onto the future veg patch paddocks so they can grow happily, forage and dig, and prep the soil for next year's veggie growing. That's the plan. 

However....., winter is a-coming, and I am not going to go into a moan and groan about not having any heating in the house, apart from the heater in the bathroom and the small heater we keep by the computers for when we are frozen to the bone, which is not often because we have just had two mild winters, so most times we just feel jolly chilly. 

However....., and I say this with some pride, we have managed six winters so far without central heating, and would not have central heating if you paid us a million bucks. Nope! Not at all. I no longer suffer from chronic sinus problems nor ongoing chest problems which last for most of the winter, nor is my skin dried up to a frazzle. Dry and unhealthy air, that is the prob with central heating. Fresh air is what we live in now, and are glad of. Well, sort of 'fresh air'. Even down here near the Pyrenees we still get chem trails in the sky above. 

But let's not go into that. Let us rejoice that a nice man is going to come here in a few weeks time and get the tiles laid on the kitchen floor, and also is hopefully going to help Lester get the Rayburn cooker in. Yes, that same Rayburn cooker which has now been standing in the hallway for a year now. Not to worry, we have been doing other things, and if we don't manage to get the Rayburn in for all of this winter we might get it in for a some of it. If not, then definitely for next winter. I can always climb into bed and switch the electric blanket on for quick warm up if things get too frosty.

And another thing. My legs. I am quite a busy person, not as busy as I would like, but I do like to do lots of things. Trouble is, that after a lot of years working sitting down, my blood is starting to find it hard to get back up my legs, so thread veins are starting to appear, and a couple of purple patches are being hinted at. Now I am not being a vain person. I don't mind that I am getting older. I like how I am now I am of this age. (67) I am kinder, more compassionate, more loving, more wise, and much better in myself than when I was younger. 

However....., and this is the thing, I still maintain my spiritedness towards everything to do with life, but my body is starting to not like this spiritedness quite so much. So, good old Amazon, because I have purchased an exercise bike. I reckon that ten minutes a day should sort out my legs, and give my heart a bit of a work out as well. I have, of late, been having palpitations, but only when I am sitting down and not when I am up and about being active, which suggests that the heart is sound but that activity of not the right sort is mucking up my heart rate. 

Now you could say that farm life should keep me physically active, and it does, but for the winter months I shall be spending a lot of time writing, which means sitting at the computer, which means the legs are going to suffer. This will not do. I cannot have those legs of mine getting any worse than what they are. Therefore on the bike they are going. I hope they enjoy the experience, because next spring I hope to send them off on the ladies racing bike that I brought here to France with me, which is currently sitting snugly beneath a pile of DIY hay in the Middle Barn.  


And here is the parcel that Amazon delivered new Casio keyboard, which is a replacement of my old Casio which has developed a tendency to cut out at most inopportune times, as in the middle of playing a hymn for a local monthly church service. I might have mentioned this before, and sorry if I have, but the next time I play will be at the Remembrance Day service in November. It would not do to have had the keyboard cut out in the middle of playing the Last Post or the Reveille. So, needs must, and a new keyboard it had to be. 

I like the Casio because it is touch sensitive and has a piano length keyboard, but is also a very good synthesizer. It is unlikely that I shall ever return to playing a 'normal' piano because there is too much fun to be had on this type of keyboard. 

Band practice this afternoon. Looking forward to it. Still wobbly with playing the piano accordion, although slowly improving, as are my arm muscles. I can now lift the accordion more easily, and can manage a fuller extension of the bellows more frequently without running out of  arm strength. Lester wants me to play the accordion in the band. Ummmm........ well that's alright for the slower pieces, but not when he gallops of into playing jigs and reels. Not to worry. I shall keep practising. 


But the sun is still shining with some warmth, 
so as I close off this blog,
I leave you with this photo taken yesterday.

Bye for now,


Wednesday 15 October 2014

Gosh, and how time flies!

Just a quick note: I am going to tidy up the look of the blog so it is highly likely that it is going to look messy while I do that.....if it actually loads properly at all!

Gosh, and how time flies! It didn't seem such a long time ago when I was in the thick of bringing in the harvest produce from the over-run-with-weeds veg plot, and here I am in the middle of October wondering where the year has gone. And we still do not have our Rayburn wood burning stove installed because we are still making the gates for the Back Paddocks so that the four month old piglets can have the experience of a good sized space to run around in, digging up roots and making lovely big holes in the process. So why do they need to do that? Because they are for the freezer, and we can't go through the slaughtering and eating process unless we know that they have had a good life, and so far they have been confined to the much smaller pig pens, which they don't seem to mind, but we do. They haven't dug one hole yet, and that is just not the way of little pigs.

Anyway, getting the pigs sorted out remains our priority at the moment, so while Lester does the necessary work on the gates I now have taken over the job of painting the kitchen. I would have preferred to have light cream as the colour for the walls, but paint here in France is expensive, so we have opted for white. One more coat of paint on the walls should do it.

Things I have learnt: That it is not a good idea for a buxom lady to try and climb through the rather small trap door of the scaffolding tower so that she can get to its first stage so she can paint round the edges of the ceiling. She will get stuck. This I have found out. I was so stuck that I could not budge for quite a few moments. It was not a nice experience.


And this is us lot, the Maubourget choir, waiting for the coach.
We were off to Lourdes, to sing in a regional concert there.
The concert hall was huge,
the stage the same.
I was playing the piano for one of the choir songs.
I had to play a D major chord to begin with.
But quite clearly I played a C major chord instead.
Not to worry,
a quick glance from Juliette, the choir master,
soon had me corrected.
It was just as well that the chord was played in advance of the choir starting to sing.
otherwise it would have been a disaster.
But we all smiled,
and I didn't go into a fluster,
and I managed the rest of the song quite well.
I think my Mum and Dad in heaven would have been proud of me.

And then the next day it was us lot again, but fund raising in Maubourget town square.

I am the one in the red blouse and cream skirt, standing behind others.
It was not a busy day,
but it was fun.

...and John, reduced to playing his whistle to earn a drop of money to pay for the coffee set that Kathy wanted to buy. Just kidding around, that is what we were doing.
Lester is standing behind the three seated ladies.

It was good to get away from farm life for an hour or so.

Things I have learnt:
That good friends are a treasure to have around.
That taking time out is a great energizer.

.... and then it was back to making the gates,

......and Boolie looking ticked off because he was bored.
He is a Springer Spaniel,
and a diva.

Monday 6 October 2014

Will it fall?

This is the oak tree by the house.
It is leaning.
Should we lop off the right hand side branches,
which has already been done several times over the ages,
or should we let nature do whatever it intends to do with the tree,
which is probably to fall it over
slap bang onto the fence of the home field,
thereby rendering both tree and fence most thoroughly broken down.
Nature is to decide the fate of the oak tree,
that is what we have decided.

Meanwhile, things trundle along here.
I have finished harvesting the veg now,
mostly because I am done with the job, rather than having got all the ripe produce stored away for winter.
But nothing is wasted,
and the pigs are enjoying the provender.
They are also enjoying the milk from Lissie.
I still have no proper cheese storage area in the house,
so am not going to make any cheese until we get that sorted out.
Not to worry,
the pigs absolutely drool when they smell the bucket of milk coming their way.

Still have open doors here, but it is getting cooler.
Still have no wood burning Rayburn stove installed yet,
but we shall have sometime this winter.
It is our last winter without heating,
of that I am sure,
so I can remain patient,
and savour the anticipation of having a woodburning range sometime soon.

I am off to bed.
It would seem that winter hibernation is fast coming upon me,
and as the days grow shorter,
so, too, does my energy seem to be diminishing.
ZZzzzzzzzzzzing along,
I go!

Thursday 2 October 2014

Passing through

One of the magical events of the year is the passing to and fro overhead of the migratory birds, 
which never ceases to move my heart.
Such tiny beings,
such a long way to go,
such danger to go through to survive,
and twice a year it happens.
We are lucky,
our telephone and electric wires seem to be an overnight stop,
for a particular flock of swifts on their way down to Africa.

Thousands of them.....

...... far too many to get on a photo....

.... all the overhead cables have swifts on them,
restless, fidgety, waiting for the signal to start the day,
lifting off,
setting down,
waiting for the collective signal to leave.

And as I watched the magic of these birds
I thought of the months ahead until they come back up to Europe again,
six months of winter for us,
which I don't mind,
because we have lots to do which the busyness of the summer stops us from doing. 
They will go fast, those months.
They are not to be wasted. 
Being on the migratory pathway for several breeds of birds
always makes me conscious of time passing,
and that I should not put off things which I want to do.


Flip me, but I have been asked to play the piano to accompany the Maubourguet choir I used to sing with,
but left because they chatted too much during the rehearsal time,
and since it is a French choir,
they chatted away in French,
which is alright for half an hour or so,
but then my head used to seize up with the effort of having interpret what they were saying,
although each week I was able to pick out more and more words,
but at that time we had builders in,
and everything just got too much to cope with,
so I left.

But now it would seem that I am to return,
and I find myself hoping that they will keep up their habit of chatting,
because I really would like to be able to speak better French, and accompanying the choir will put me right in the thick of the talking,
because they will be talking to me as well,
which will make me have to talk in French,
which is good,
but a challenge,
because 1) first I have to manage to play the music,
some of which is difficult to say the least,
and 2) I have to listen, and talk, French.
I will be stretched on both counts. 
Not to worry,
I'll have a go,
after all, I don't have to spread my wings and fly for thousands of miles across Europe and Africa,
I can stay put on the farm.

We have made a purchase of a tenor banjo for Lester.
He already has a violin, an electric violin (thanks Dad),
a guitar (thanks John), and a mandolin.
He can play all these instruments quite well,
without the need to do much practice.
I, on the other hand, am still spending at least an hour a day learning how to play the piano accordion I bought earlier on in the year,
and can now play a tune or two.
I shall persevere,
although often feel like throwing the accordion out of the window,
but it is an enjoyable challenge,
and I would like to be able to play it in public,
just to see if I can.


The kitchen is coming along, but I have taken over painting the walls because Lester needs to get the gates for the pig paddocks finished before winter sets in.
He has made two,
eight more to go.
Why so many?
Because we have put in several passageways so that the pigs can be easily moved between the paddocks,
and also will make capture of the pigs easier,
and then there are the blood tests we have to now have done,
and how one sticks a needle into a pig the size of Max, well we don't have the foggiest clue as to how we can do this,
but capturing him in one of the passageways is an idea which we hope will work.
We still have the seven piglets,
and we are keeping them this time,
six for the freezer,
one female possibly to be kept for breeding.


Things I have learnt:
- that watching little birds getting ready to do a very long migration makes one encouraged to continue on with the day to day journey through one's life...
- that sitting amongst French people, no matter that one cannot understand much of what they are saying, must be viewed as a blessing. Better to be here than where we used to be, back our old UK lifestyle, which was slowing killing the spirit of Lester and myself.
- that watching one's partner learn new things is a blessing to one's soul.
- that one must not worry about the possibility of the river rising up over the fields again, as it has done several times these last two winters past, because if it does it does, if it doesn't it doesn't. Things can't be changed by filling one's mind up with worry, all it does is spoil the day.


Maz and Blue having a tussle over a stick.