The last day started as any other; coffee, internet, breakfast and a list. The sun finally made an appearance and what a lovely change that is. Batteries are charging both the barns and ours.
The list is all the little things to do with shutting the place down for winter along with the logical order in which to tackle them. We did get time to mend the big parasol which broke in the wind when Alison and Peter were here. We also made time for a short forage to top up the mushroom omelette with some wild ones.
Now everything is either disconnected or packed away. Vinnie the van is on the side of the piste facing downhill and loaded with stuff for Chamonix and the UK. Another oil lamp evening and early to bed and early to rise and hit the road.
Time for a cuppa tea me thinks.
From the front
From the back
From the side
With a donkey or two
Another less than satisfactory day as far as solar charging goes. We seemed to spend most of the day dodging the showers to get some of the “outdoor list” ticked off.Â Bits of garden sorting; pulling out the beans and courgette plants for the compost. Pulling in bits of garden furniture etc.
As the showers were fairly regular we managed to keep the fire in. Lit first thing it kept burning all day so even though the solar shower bags were redundant we always had a pan of water on the wood stove.
Indoors we got packing sorted out and odd bits of cleaning and storing as well as stock lists of food stuff etc.
Late afternoon we managed to get out for a forage. Pasta tonight os had a search for some shooms. Came back with 3 birch boletes and a handful of hedgehog fungus; lovely!
Oil lamp scrabble; pasta supper with chorizo, sundried tomato, onion, garlic, lardons and wild mushrooms followed by an episode of All Creatures Great and Small.
A drizzly morning so I lit the fire.
It is the time of year when the amount of sunlight, when it comes out, is limited.Â At the same time, one priority is to leave the batteries in the best condition we possibly can.Â Both at a time when our internet usage is at its most due to sorting out enquiries and websites for Ski Breezy so that we have work in Chamonix in the winter.Â So it is generator time; the inverter is unplugged and instead the building is plugged into the generator to charge computers and fire up the internet.Â Not very eco-friendly but needs must.
On a brighter note, I had a response from Muck Truck. Given the symptoms they have suggested that the issue is the air filter. Another mail and I have the part number. As the nearest Honda Centre is nowhere near the barn and we do rely on the old Truck I took the filter off and gently attacked it with an old tooth-brush. Hey presto, the symptoms are relieved and we have an operational vehicle again.
I must say that Muck Truck are fantastic and so so helpful. Also that it is well worth keeping old toothbrushes, you never know when they will come in handy.
Due to the wet weather we sanded the walls in bedroom two and applied a coat of paint. A lovely olive green colour (not that it says that on the tin).
Simple lunch of left over Thai curry & pita bread before the rain eased enough to get back up the pine tree. Distance between tree and building = 9m. Height of tree = 7m. No need to cut owt more off so salvaged the kit and chopped some more wood for the fire.
Sections of pine
Oil lamp evening
Finished the afternoon with some wiring while Breezy used up some materials and put up some more plasterboard.
Following the theme of leaving the batteries in as good a condition as possible we had an evening by oil lamp.
Roast chicken with fresh beans from the garden and Marmite roast potatoes. Served with enough gravy to feed the chase.
Although the forecast was OK for the day, it was wrong after internet and cake baking it rained on and off all day…..so inside work it was.
Donkeys have decided they prefer this side of the the fence to the other so Al fettled some fencing around the veggies and fruit bushes so they don’t get scoffed by them!!!!
We set too with sanding the porch, then giving it a coat of paint before grouting the final few tiles, looks good. One more coat of paint and all done I think!!!! May need to sort the wood frame out in due course with some colour but not urgent.
We had very simple butties for lunch and then attacked the packing. Sorted out the bathroom so we don’t leave anything we need here. Bag for UK, bag for Cham and stuff to say. All went by very quickly.
Off down the hill just as the storm really hit and we got soaked with a cake for Adam’s 75th birthday in the village and a bottle of Pastis for him too. We had a quick drink and chat with him, Reagan and another friend Paris before heading back to the barn.
Fire on, dry out and Al cooked a lovely Thai chicken for dinner a bit of R&R watching a DVD and then bed early.
We needed to be with Ian and Nina for 11am so started the day with a monster internet session to get on top of things.Â We were still late leaving once we got all the rubbish, water containers and recycling down to the van.
Ian wanted a had to take the scaffolding down at his place near Seix in exchange for some lunch. In the end we also shifted a new stove into one of his barns from his van as well.Â Over a lovely lunch we put the world to rights and put some clothes through their washing machine.
Down to St Girons for a small food shop and to buy some more tile grout.
Back to the barn to unpack and dry washing.Â No big meal required so we had some scrambled egg on half a bread cob each and devised a shut down list for the barn.
Exactly the same start as yesterday.
Once breakfast was out the way we got organised for the next sections of the tree to come down.
Breezy got the garden organised and sorted for winter while I scaled the tree again. I shall be glad when I don’t have to go up the tree again.Â It is getting more difficult now. As the trunk gets broader it is not so easy to get the saw cuts on each side to marry up. Also, I can’t remember exactly how long the chainsaw blade is but it is not long enough to cut right through so you have to cut from every angle in towards the centre of the tree.Â On the ground this is not a problem but when you are attached to the tree beneath where you are cutting (for obvious reasons) it is quite tiring and takes significantly longer.
Back to the porch, filling plasterboard joints and trimming squirty foam.
Lunch of bread cobs and pate.
In the afternoon we:
- foraged for more brambles
- shifted the fallen pine logs (ropes required)
- transplanted sage and mint to near the doorway to the barn
- collected a muck truck of donkey poo for the garden
Now the Muck truck is really sick. Struggling to get up the hill in 1st gear with very little weight in. In the evening I fired off an email to the manufacturer explaining the symptoms.
BBQ duck salad for supper.
BBQ duck breast
Almost a complete day of no chain saw use.Â We did manage to avoid cutting any trees down but not quite a chainsaw free day.
Started in the usual fashion.Â I make coffee and pour Breezy a juice, fetch stuff for breakfast and boot up the satellite broadband. Up to a couple of hours work on the old tinterweb sorting stuff for the chalet in Chamonix for the winter then a breakfast of fruit and yoghurt.
Once done then as ever there is a list of things to do and a logical order in which to attempt them. First up is more brambling followed by sorting out the last little bit behind the new wall at the front of the barn. Having built the deck there is still a little area at the end between the deck and grass slope to backfill and “do something with”. I have made a couple of stone steps and want a small rockery (apparently very big in the 80’s).Â This is driven partly by my desire to grow some alpine plants but mainly by the need to get shot of some rather large rocks that I can’t lift. Finished – another tick off the list.
Next was to grout the floor tiles in the new porch. Again it is a use up of materials which in this case was insufficient leaving us with a couple of tiles still needing grout.
Later, Breezy took the strimmer and had a bracken thrashing session. We fitted a new down pipe to the gutter at the back of the barn and then the chainsaw came out to tidy up some of the pine tree sections now on the floor at the base of the tree.
Pork curry with dhal & rice for supper.
With just over a week or so left before we head back to Chamonix on route to the UK, there seems to be a bit of a spurt on to get things ticked on lists. Different people to see, jobs to do and internet stuff to get sorted.
As per usual we booted up the computers and sat bashing away at the keyboards before breakfast of fresh fruit and yoghurt.
The jobs list started with tiling the porch. The tiles were the free ones we salvaged from Chamonix last winter and the glue was left over from the first porch. It would not last until next year so it makes sence to use it now. And we had just enough glue for the job.
Tiling the new internal porch
Tiling the new internal porch
Next up is the tree, or should I say next is up the tree. Chainsaw trousers, helmet, ropes, slings, harness and steel toe cap boots; oh… and a chainsaw. Top came down in one 3m length followed by two more 1.5m lengths. They hit the ground with quite a thud.
Late lunch and Breezy picked up the strimmer while I fettled the steps up fromÂ the new terrace. The strimming is to cut the small bracken shoots in the meadow. We have an annual battle with the bracken but slowly it is getting weaker so hopefully we are winning.
Finished with a forage for blackberries for Breezy to make a tart with. Hot shower (not down to solar action) and a cuppa tea.
September has been glorious and then only day it decides to rain is my birthday so our walk was not to be this year. So after a leisurely am with pressie and card opening we tackled the porch.
Main thing was to get the ceiling in to the porch area. So used up any insulation we had left. Then on to plasterboarding, electrics and then filling the joints before calling it a day.
In between times I had a quick forage out the back to find some mushies to go with the steak. 1 parasol out the back and 2 cheekily hiding out via the main side terrace. We had a dash in between rain to favourite field and added a birch bolette to the collection. We ran back as the rain started to chuck it down again!!!!
Neither of us felt like a shower in the rain so we lit the fire did a little quick internet, skyped a few peopleÂ and then cracked open the pink fizz and then had delicious steaks, with salad and wild mushies perfecto!
The social theme continues as Peter and Alison are coming to lunch with Alison’s parents.
Another mad morning of making salads, dressings and marinating chicken for the BBQ. Great marinate by the way.
Ginger Soy chicken
Can use chicken breasts slashed or chicken legs/thighs scissored. A great way to do it is putting everything in a ziplock bag with the meat and giving it all a good massage. Then place in the fridge for up to 2 hours before cooking.
- 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 2 tsp sesame oil (toasted if you have it)
- 1 tbsp dry sherry or port
- 8 tbsp soy sauce
This time lunch was prepared to be had on the side terrace as access is easier and it is not so far to fall off.
Another great day with good company only slightly marred when a big gust of wind snapped the parasol. Mendable I think, just add it to the list.
Another evening where we did not need to eat. Instead we settled by the fire and watched and old Clint Eastwood film with an oragutan.