First work week over

Well French Film night was interesting. The film itself was good, the attending lecturer said that the actors were well known in France. Worth a watch, there are copies with English subtitles. A shame only three from our course turned up. As a reminder the film was ” Les Choristes”.

The DIY at the daughters went well and I was particularly pleased that the outside temperature was about 3°C as getting the 6mm cable through into the fuse box was a nightmare! Took 1 1/2 hours to complete that part of the work into the wiska box. Much warmer in the outhouse 🙂

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Electrics

The plumbing for the new dishwasher was simpler but working under the worktop isn’t great for my back. As usual a couple of leaks, one was the old washing machine water hose that didn’t like the reconnection. Spare hose at the ready! The other was the connection of the two waste hoses, just needed to be tightened.

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Plumbing

The radiator replacement at home also went well apart from having to pull up every floorboard in the vicinity to get to the old pipes. I’ve really got to like the plastic push-fit plumbing stuff now. It’s a shame because I love to use my blow-torch – is that a normal man-thing or just worrying? Just one remaining job, to patch where the old mounting brackets were.

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New Radiator

Paid Work …

First week finished. After the first couple of days I was exhausted. Just had to get home and rest. The cycle home takes about 10 minutes longer than going! 7 hours of physical work either moving sacks of, generally, bundles of magazines or cutting open the sacks and moving the contents onto the tables for further post code sorting. They have now got the process sorted, as I didn’t realise that this setup is just for Christmas. The original processes were so inefficient that they were driving me crazy, but I managed to keep quiet. It was all about workflow – unload the lorries in Distribution (another group of workers), a couple of rounds of Sorting to get the mail (large letters) into trays in preparation for machine sorting. The Shift Managers were on the ball because in a couple of days things were moving much better. I can feel my Abs improving already, but I’m not sure about my finger tendons – could just be that I try to lift the bundles by gripping with my fingers on one hand, rather than like the others that lift one bundle with both hands. Some of the regular staff are already saying that I’m working too hard! I just tell them that I can’t get my cardio rate up without working that hard! Not enjoying getting up at 0500 hours though!

Au revoir!

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OMG back to work soon!

In a moment of madness I thought it would be fun to apply for a Christmas job with Royal Mail. The original idea was to become a Christmas postie to get in some serious daily cardio, but when the jobs came out it wasn’t listed. In the end I opted to work in the Sorting Office, which is about pushing parcels around in trolleys (I think, as there wasn’t any real job description at the interview). Should achieve the same thing for the cardio. Went to recce the route to the Office today as I’ll commute by bike. It’s only 2.5 miles away, so about half the distance I used to cycle to work. I found my ‘secret’ walk-through that cuts off cycling too far down Beddington Lane and exits on the industrial estate and quieter roads. The site has a large covered cycle shed which will keep the bike drier on the wet days. Not sure about storage facilities for my rucksack of necessities, such as change of clothing (wet days), repair kit, pump and lights – I’m starting at 0600 hours – eek!! Us retired people don’t normally get up until 0900 hours!

Tonight is French Film night at Sutton College where all the various French courses can watch a film in their study language and discuss it afterwards. I believe the film has English subtitles for ‘us beginners’. The film is titled “Les Choristes” (Le Spectacle Musical). As far as the course is going, each week seems to bring a huge amount of new vocabulary towards the end of the session. I’m beginning to think that because most of the students don’t have time to revise, the review period at the start of the session lasts 75% of the time. That leaves very little time for the new course content to be introduced. I, of course, revise regularly in order to be class swot 🙂

DIY has been going well. New radiator in without too many hic-cups.  Didn’t push one of the fittings on fully first time around, so a small leak. As I drain the system down the sewer manhole, I discovered that the outlet was flowing correctly.  This all started when the Electricity Board dug up the road outside the house for the new South London supply and backup cables disturbing a family of rats.  They dug up from the sewer by the edge of my manhole (the old air vent pipe) and deposited all the soil and stones  down the drain.  The stones eventually form a solid ‘cork’ that has to be cleaned out by. Looks like where I blocked the hole last time, the rain has just washed in back down. I think I will have to put a cement surround down in this area to stop any further blockages.

Next major job is to extend the ring-main over in the tech area ( router, NAS etc). I purchased some triple socket adaptors (fit into double back-box). It’s never simple as the last socket in the chain has to have surface wiring installed into trunking to take it around a supporting pillar. I’ve got a fair amount of brick chasing to do now that the wall is marked out.

First however, is my daughters out-building electrical upgrade. As there will be a tumble-drier plus a couple of freezer/ fridges and a light hanging off the circuit the existing flex back to the board has to be replaced! This means a new circuit-breaker in the board and a new cable run. Managed to scrounge some armoured cable, wiska boxes, breaker etc from the bruv so looks like a full days work tomorrow. It will be interesting trying to get the new cable into the fuse board, which has been plastered into the wall, without destroying half the house!! Second job is to plumb in a new cold-water point for their dishwasher. I love working under kitchen worktops, my back is already twinging with the thought of it. I think I will try and build it on the table and then install to the cold water main. As usual I’ll let you know how I get on.

 

Timmy’s in the fridge for winter

Timmy has now reached a decent weight (1200gms) so that hibernation is safer. I wouldn’t have bothered as we have the indoor habitat, but now that he has the freedom of the house he destroys all in his wake. When we first collected Timmy he weighed about 40 gms, that was 7 years ago. Mediterranean tortoises have a short hibernation of about 1 1/2 months in the wild, so hibernation in a colder climate were he will sleep for about 3 1/2 months is much riskier. There are a couple of methods for hibernation; 1) Put in an insulated box and place in an outhouse 2) Put in a fridge that stays at 5ÂșC . The constant temperature of around 5ÂșC is important as it keeps the tortoise asleep. The problem with outhouses (or lofts etc) is that if a warm spell occurs they can wake up and if this happens too many times their store of energy is used up. Even if they make it to warmer weather in the spring they are in poor condition. I had planned to use the beer fridge in the garage, but on measuring the temperature it drops to 0ÂșC  which is far too cold so Timmy is on the bottom shelf of our normal fridge fast asleep. Just requires that the door is opened regularly and fingers crossed he’ll sleep until spring.

Update …

Since starting this post, he’s been in there for a week and seems OK. Weekly weighing to keep a check on him.

Volunteered to help the brother-in-law install a new kitchen at my niece Charlottes’  house. Younger brother also there to do the electrics. Always a learning curve with ‘one -off’ DIY projects. I probably installed my kitchen about 15 years ago, so any pitfalls that I encountered I have long forgotten.  Luckily Richard is around builders all the time so had a million little tips to pass on. I’d forgotten how hard kitchen installation work is, making the bike ride home tough. In the end it was all cardio exercise and saved a visit to the gym. I missed the final day as I’ve sneaked off on holiday to Brighton again, but by all accounts the cupboards, sink, ovens etc are all in their final resting places waiting for the granite work surface to be delivered. Nearly done.

That’s good because I’ve got a number of jobs that need doing…

A radiator in the back bedroom need to be replaced as it seems to be rotting and letting in air. All parts on site ready to go!

The lounge TV area is a mess. I mounted the TV (an impressive 65″ Samsung) ages ago but have never got around to hiding the cables hanging down. Samsung TV’s now come with a small box for all the source inputs, delivering the signal via one HDMI lead to the TV (plus power cable).  So no need for all the cables that used to be dangling (other source HDMI, PC VGA, SCART), thankfully progress has been made. I also wanted to get rid of the TV table that houses the DVD player, Sky Box, Raspberry Pi Kodi media player etc. All this technology, including my two NAS devices and Router, Phone unit, require power so I have about 3 extension cables running this lot! I’ve bought a shelving unit that will fit by the chimney breast to house all the tech.  I’ll extend the existing socket ring main to provide another 6 outlets and hide them behind the unit. Should be nice and neat when finished.

As I mentioned we’re back in Brighton and it is distinctly Autumnal now. Short walk yesterday to blow away the cobwebs. Woolly hat needed.

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Undercliff Walk

We decided to walk along the cliff top this time to a set of steps that descend to Undercliff Walk and return via this path. The steps are at the roundabout for the Ovingdean turn-off (must have a ‘dean’ in the village name around here!) and the Blind Veterans UK Centre (one of three UK premises).

Wildlife watch …

More Herons at the beach as it was low tide and also what appears to be Great White Egrets.  Apparently they don’t all migrate for winter, with some remaining in the South i.e. breeding here now.

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Blind Veterans UK Centre

We walked through the Marina for a change and passed a flat that had a bird feeder out. A flock of Goldfinches back and forth to the feeder. Must be the best looking of the Finches. There was even a Wren who put in an appearance. Very unexpected on an estate in a Marina, but the hedges dividing the gardens of the lower apartments provide a safe haven.

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Goldfinches

Today was much brighter and we went on the circular walk that takes us up over the racecourse and into Rottingdean before returning via Undercliff Walk. It works out at just over 10 miles with a stop off at Molly’s for toasties and tea.

Wildlife watch …

First to put in an appearance was a Stone Chat family and the light was perfect for seeing the males colours. Kestrels are relatively common on the South Downs and it wasn’t long before we saw one hunting. The wind today providing the best conditions for hovering,  saving energy.  A little further on I spotted one in an Hawthorn bush just staring at the ground. We were only about 20 feet away, but that didn’t distract it. A sudden dive to the ground and I thought it must have made a kill, but no, it sat there for a while looking and I suspect that the mouse? must have a hole there and got away. The Kestrel not wishing to look foolish sat there and nonchalantly preened itself.

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Kestrel

One other reason for being in Brighton over this particular time is Remembrance Sunday. A while back I used to attend the Crawley Parade as Lauren PJ was in the cadets who played a prominent role.

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Me!

Since then I discovered the Brighton Parade and have attended the past couple of years. As always the Corp (for the unknowing, that means the Royal Corps of Signals, my old mob) is represented, as the Royal Signals Association has a Branch there and that means a standard bearer for the Parade. I also bumped into the Lieutenant who commands the local cadet force. She is Royal Signals, but the cadet force in Brighton is aligned to the Royal Corps of Engineers. Sadly the R. Sigs. affiliated cadet force was based in Eastbourne, but was disbanded I presume because of lack of numbers? Next year I may venture up to the main parade at the Cenotaph.

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The RSA Wreath

Lest we forget!

Other news …

Just purchased a new phone – the Google Pixel 2 to replace my ageing Nexus 5. It was scary (but successful) taking the scissors to trim down the SIM card!!

We’re back home now, so on with the DIY!!

Au revoir! À bientît!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chores…then push South

I’ve always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment in a bit of DIY, even if the air can be slightly ‘blue’ during the actual works. The kitchen is finished – all nicely painted, which to be honest consisted of the ceiling, a shelf and a couple of bits of skirting board. My fussiness meant I painted the boards that are permanently hidden behind the fridge and washing machine, but I just can’t help it!

My next challenge might be painting the outside of the house before the cold weather arrives. I’ve got to decide whether to completely strip and repaint the facia’s, as I did 20 years ago, or get Steve the Roofer round to fit plastic? I could get him to replace the felt on the flat section above the bay window at the same time. I need to get my brand new virgin ladders out for a recce up there to see “How hard can it be to DIY?”. As I sacked the window cleaner after retiring I probably need to get the ladders out to clean the windows and sills! Let’s hope the mild weather holds.

Enough of that, as we are now back to our local’ish\favourite site again (Brighton) and as it has been for the last couple of years, relatively mild, calm weather. My brother Richard has invited us again to the Lodge Ladies Weekend which is in Brighton, so an extra reason for visiting.  Might do an update to this blog after the ‘do’.

Lazy setup day, followed by shopping the next day as it was cloudy. Did cycle into Hove before shopping to get some miles in. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the one remaining Brighton Pier.  These are the remains of the other – West Pier …

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Remains of West Pier

I’m always disappointed when the owners of a Grade 1 listed building ‘get away with’ allowing the property to disintegrate into an irreparable wreck. How did two separate fires destroy this property in 2003? Am I a cynic?

Needed a new white shirt to wear for Remembrance Sunday, when we are back in Brighton for the Parade etc. Either too much time in the Gym or too many calories (of course I favour the former excuse) but I’m no longer a 16″ neck. Can get it buttoned, but too tight and the chest buttons bulge. All signs of putting on bulk!

On the way back we pass the Brighton Zip Line, a new’ish attraction that I thought I might like to partake in. Further investigation and it’s only about a 20 second ride from about 100 feet up. Not enough of a thrill for me.

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Brighton Zip Line
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A Dad & Son having fun

Poet and didn’t know it! (Previous caption)

Woke up today to glorious sunny weather. First task was to nip back to Debenhams to exchange the shirt! Out with the bikes and off we went. Left Jasmin on the Promenade above the Brighton Music Hall, from which we could hear “The Closest Thing to Crazy” being sung. Looked over the railings and saw that it was not a machine, but a person.

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Amy at Brighton Music Hall

Over and back to Debenhams in double-quick time (Army slang for very speedy, I think based on the Light Infantry marching speed) before heading down to the Brighton Music Hall for Coffee/Tea and listening to that ‘person’ – Amy. Beautiful voice singing Katie Melua/ Amy Winehouse and similar genre. Although there is often Music in the evenings at this Bar/ Kitchen for which tickets can be purchased, during the daytime (and when it’s sunny) the Bar invites ‘buskers’ along to sing for tips. I can recall previous passing-by’s listening and the standard is always very good. This one was perfect music to complement the sunny day and I could have stayed for hours, but time was pushing on (mainly because I didn’t get up too early!).

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Amy

I wanted to try and check/ remember the songs that Amy was singing, something that I’m awful at. I know the tunes, but can rarely associate them with an artists’ name, same with Films and Actors/Actresses. I know, I’ll download ‘Spotify’ onto this laptop and so off to the Windows Apps store I go. Hmm, that’s taking a long time and on checking find out that Windows has decided to download 12 updates to other Apps!!!! Killed them, leaving just Spotify downloading? After 20 mins it has downloaded 250 Kb, so thought it will be quicker to download on my Android phone.  Yep, here it is already, all 40Mb!

Popped into Asda’s on the way back for provisions, had lunch and head off again this time in the other direction towards the Marina and Undercliff Walk. I can’t praise this walkway enough, and Brighton CC for building it. OK so they had an ulterior motive – keeping Rottingdean out of the sea but instead of just building a sea wall they turned it into a walkway enjoyed by thousands!

We’re over an hour in and the 80Mb Windows download has reached 5Mb !!!!!!!!!

Didn’t get too far without feeling the need to record our progress, so stopped off at the Marina for a selfie …

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Selfie at the Marina

Wildlife update …

Further along the walkway I spotted a couple of birds standing in the water. It was low’ish tide so fairly shallow and I assumed a couple of Cormorant’s and decided to take their photo. There was something nagging at me, but I carried on. A lady stopped (with dog in the shopping trolley) and said ” Are they Herons?” It twigged and I replied “Yes, they are!” It’s strange that because I didn’t expect to see Herons at the seaside my brain just thought of Cormorants, despite the several give-away signs 1) Much longer necks 2) longer beaks 3) Shape and colour of the wings (as one took off showing the light band). Context is everything! So Herons aren’t just fresh-water predators.

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Couple of NOT Cormorants

Just off-shore, opposite the Marina, is the battery of green power – a Wind Farm and what appears to be a not green Oil Rig …

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Wind Farm

The strange thing is that 1) a few weeks ago when it was v. windy the rotors weren’t turning. That may be correct as too much wind isn’t good. 2) this time – flat calm with a breeze – still not turning? Not generating much electricity then!?

Just Googled – The Rampion Offshore Wind Farm doesn’t come online until 2018! Consists of 116 turbines and the last one wasn’t installed until September 2017, about one month ago. I’ll be checking for rotation next year then!

Reached the end of the Undercliff Walk and time for a rest (sorry for the nudity) …

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Getting some rays!

On the way back we usually stop off for a cup of tea at Molly’s Cafe.

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Molly’s Cafe on the Undercliff Walk

Today was no exception and I took the chance to laze around on the rocks of the groyne. What a great word ‘Groyne‘ is! Not sure from the correct definition if groyne is the correct word for a line of large rocks – I suppose it is a wall? Even better, the Americans use the spelling ‘Groin’ lol. Check out the definition in the link above – I would never have guessed where this word derived from.

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Boulder Groyne opposite Molly’s Cafe

Mostly smooth Granite with some other types, not a geologist, but one looked as if it had been melted. Think I spotted a fossil that looked either like a clam shell or a coral fan …

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Fossil Shell or Coral?

A number of kids and adults took to the sea without wetsuits – how hard is that? I was disappointed that I didn’t have my paddleboard here as the last two days have been flat calm. I would have had my wetsuit on!!!

P.S. Several hours later and Spotify is installed!

Au revoir! À bientît

 

 

On the move once more!

It’s been a drag cooped up at home after so many weeks in France!

Baby sitting for a while at the daughters house while they swanned off to New York. Followed by a DIY frenzy …

First was the patio,  front and back paths jet washed – only been waiting for 10 years! There are red paving stones in the pathway! Then pointing the front pathway slabs, a task that just takes hours because it is so fiddly to keep neat. After that fun, there was plastering the area around the boiler flue and old pipeway boxes – just 5 years in waiting. Managed to keep the plaster flowing for ages by several pre-coats of PVA to stop the water being sucked away, but the area didn’t allow for that long sweep of the trowel so hard to keep neat.  In the end a smooth job that now needs painting. That’s a job for next week.

French lessons are going well and as most are complete beginners I am the class swot! The teacher (an Albanian! who studied in France for years) even thinks my accent is quite good – Lauren Pearl Jelley take note!

This week we have got away to Brighton and are at the Caravan Club site just north of the Brighton Marina. It’s a large site that is always nearly full of oldies like Jasmin and I.

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The Rig

A long while ago some enterprising ex-Royal Signaller had produced some decals that could be stuck on ‘things’.  The decay references ex-7 Signal Regiment (was based in Herford, Germany) which provided the communications for 1 BR Corp during the Cold War. While, as some jerk pointed out (I’ve done well not to take a more offensive stab on FB at aforementioned jerk), the ‘spear’ icon that the official 7 Sigs ‘flag’ had isn’t on them, that’s not the point. Anyone seeing this decal will know, 1) I’m an ex-Signaller and 2) I was at 7 Sigs during my Service. Small rant over!

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RS Decal

First full day was ‘out for a walk’, so had a look at the map and off we went …

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Coast View from Balsdean Reservoir

It’s always a good walk if you pass a windmill! Just the other side of this windmill is the A259 coast road and the sea.

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Windmill

It turned out to be nearly 12 miles of a walk, so tired legs for Jasmin!

Wildlife watch …

Also found this fine fellow (Ocypus olens) …

Devil’s Coach-horse Beetle

When threatened they curl their abdomen up (aka Scorpion) and open their mandibles to look fierce … he he. They don’t sting, but just beware the ‘jaws’ which can latch on to human skin.

Today was a cycle ride along the coast.  Cycled down to the Marina, turned right and kept going until the harbour at Shoreham-by-Sea.  This is also the major footpath route known as the ‘Monarch’s Way’.  The path stops there because of the inlet to the harbour. (I recall in the days of ‘foot and mouth’ and being banned from the countryside we did many coastal walks – turn around and find the bridge into town to get around the inlet).  Cycled back for a meander up the remaining Pier before continuing East.

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Brighton Pier

Brighton council have created the ‘Undercliff Walk’ which runs from Madeira Drive (by the Pier) to Saltdean. It was part of our walking route yesterday, when the quiet fierce wind was blowing sea-spray over the wall, but today protected us from the much lighter breeze. It was hot in the sun!

Undercliff Walk is not really a ‘pathway’, but is the sea wall – protection for the cliffs from the sea.

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Undercliff Walk
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More Undercliff Walk

The cliffs stretch from Brighton and eventually join the ‘more famous’ cliffs of Beachy Head etc. There aren’t many places in Europe where Ice Age (that is about 250,000 years ago) cliffs are exposed.

Some Geology …

While the majority of the cliffs are white, which is because they are mainly Calcium Carbonate from the shells of molluscs, there are layers of flint and bands of a dark material. The flint and brown sediments were washed down the Whitehawk Valley during periods of global warming.

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Black Rock Cliffs Geology

All in all, a lovely day out with more tired legs as we cycled about 20 miles!

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The Sun was shining!

This is the newer editor that appears to import larger photo’s.

Au revoir! À bientît!

 

The mundane life again

Still missing the simpler travelling life!

The first task after getting home was tackling the garden which after 10 weeks was a bit over-grown. Couldn’t believe the SA Acacia tree which has been growing for about 20 years, but because of hard pruning is only 3 feet high. Most of the branches had grown by 3 feet!! Longest thorn was 1.5″ long. Luckily a neighbour had kept the rear access road trimmed so at least we could get the car parked.

It hasn’t been a good start to September, more like the start of Autumn. Think we have been spoiled in recent years by so called “Indian Summers”. That’s certainly what Timmy the tortoise thinks. He’s been hiding in his house most of the time, so someone felt sorry for him and brought him in. He decided to explore every inch including forgetting how he can’t get under some items of furniture. Last straw was him being entangled in the patio window blind cords which resulted in falling over onto his back. Good job I was in the house at the time.

Timmy tangled up

Timmy was put back outside again and on checking one day couldn’t find him in his cave? Eventually found he had dug a hole under a strawberry plant and was hiding there. I think he wanted to hibernate, something he hasn’t done before, but he is big enough now. He needs a visit to the Vets first for his worming and then must be purged of food and water. I’ve increased the length of his cave in the greenhouse and packed it full of straw and stopped him from using the length of his outdoor enclosure. It still gives him a chance to get to food and water if it turns warm.

The climbing trip to Dartmoor had to be cancelled due to lack of participants :-(. Perhaps the weather played a factor in that? That means I am available to assist Jasmin in looking after the grand-children at our daughters house while the parents are in New York. It has been useful to be near the Motorhome storage facility so that I can do some final checks.

Mentioning my favourite subject has reminded me that I eventually got around to using the Amazon vouchers that my colleagues had kindly given me as a retirement pressy, with instructions to purchase something for the van. While I am not much of a barbecue fan these days, there were some days during the summer that I wished I hadn’t been indoors cooking! I had also seen other ‘campers’ using a ‘gas-ring’ type cooker. Bit of research and up pops the ideal item. Marked as a ‘Braai’, fans of South Africa will know that word, it has a frying pan, a griddle pan and the lid doubles as a Wok.  Ideal for the type of cooking we tend to do.

New BBQ
Packed BBQ

The other item we needed was a small vacuum cleaner.  The very ancient one discovered at the back of the cupboard (replaced the perished rubber belt) we were using, a Dirt Devil, failed with a broken belt. It also sounded like a small jet taking off. Time for a modern 18V hand-held! Thanks to all once again for the vouchers.

Thinking about future trips, possibly for a longer period after meeting a chap on a two-year travel. Looking into renting out the home for a while, lots to consider. The winter trip might be off as I’ve applied to Royal Mail for some casual Christmas work. I thought Postie originally for cardio exercise but there were no jobs locally. In the end I applied to do parcel sorting which is at the Croydon depot in Beddington Lane.  A short cycle ride to work for the early shift!  Course I have to get through the interview first.

Did I mention evening classes to learn French? All signed up for a course in Carshalton College with the prospect of an exam at the end. Really need to be able to recall the language more quickly if I stand any chance of having a decent conversation.

Au revoir!

Homeward Bound … sniff!

We decided to leave Dreux a day early as we had spend 5 nights there and explored sufficiently.

Off North to our starting Aire called Le Tarteron (name of nearby stream) in Le Crotoy. Only one snag and that is the route through Rouen. It is one of the French Cities that doesn’t appear to have a good orbital road? It is also where I ripped the bikes from my car roof-rack travelling down one of the underground round-about roads! In the end the most excellent Sat Nav, Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D,  got us through!  Another new route where we crossed the river twice? Still don’t like the place.

When we first arrived at Le Tarteron it was during the mini-heatwave and the temperature was around 36Âș C. It was now 16Âș C !!! Worse still there was no wifi!

Spoke to the Office – got the usual “Stand near the entrance”,

“I am” is my standard reply, this time followed by “I cannot see a network starting CCP!”

“Are you sure, there should be a network called CCP …”

“Yes and it isn’t there!” I said with excellent vocal control!

“Oh, there must be something wrong I’ll get our local representative to investigate and call you back when it is fixed” the office lady said and the last I heard from them!!

Unfortunately at this site the electricity and the network equipment boxes are locked with proper keylocks, so I couldn’t take a look at the router I know is in there 😩

That afternoon we cycled into Le Crotoy for a recce. The first 100 metres or so is on a fast (90 Kph) road with no cycle lane, but Jasmin did really well. I think she has the hang of this biking now!

The harbour area reminds me of Grangemouth with a huge area of sand exposed at low tide. There is a sea wall that creates a large sea-water lake which at one time was the focal point of the shellfish trade for Cockles. The water in the lake was filtered and used to clean the shellfish before selling. The lake water level is still controlled by sluice gates that close during high tide. An odd point about the Town is that although it is on the Northern coast the beach faces South.

Fascinating place during tidal events. We first arrived at low tide and could see vast expanses of sand and what appeared to be grasslands. The next day we watched the tide come in and in about 10 minutes the sand was under water and after half-an-hour, so was the grasslands! So no grass as such, but some sort of sea water tolerant plant (with yellow flowers). This would account for the numerous warnings in 3 languages about the dangers of swimming within 200 m of the sluice gates and various others parts of the harbour. You could see the water swirling around in all the gully’s cut into the sand.

Low Tide
High Tide

An unusual World War I memorial can be found in Le Crotoy. I don’t think I have seen a colour painted one before?

WW 1 Memorial

History …

Le Crotoy was of course part of England for many years and due to incompetent Kings of England lost during the 100 Years War!

One famous visitor was Joan of Arc in the 15th century. Not great for her as she had been captured and was on her way for trial in Rouen, where she was found guilty and burnt at the stake. Let’s be clear – it was the French who did this!! Napoleon declared her a French ‘National Treasure’ in the early 19th century, I expect to annoy the British!

Jeanne d’Arc

Le Crotoy would be even better with some good weather, but then all beaches are.

The end of our holiday was nigh. We packed up and headed for Calais and Eurotunnel. As it was only an hour and a half away we took our time and arrived early. Result! ‘You can leave on the earlier train!’ announced the check-in machine. Zipped through French passport control and even the British one! Didn’t even get stopped at Security which I was surprised at! Parked up and went for a coffee and couldn’t help noticing the number of Porsche’s, Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Aston’s and a selection of vintage cars etc. Must be a show on in England? Quick google to find out that Goodwood was on at the weekend.

Our letter was called and we drove to the lane to await boarding – only for the familiar announcement … “We are experiencing greater than normal volumes” … what???? When we queued I could see that the train wouldn’t be full and as a cynic suspect that they just remove a train from the schedule to save money. We ended up on the train that we booked so mustn’t grumble 🙂

Drove off the train at Folkestone and knew we were back in Blighty by the road noise and vibration!! The Government had 10 weeks to get the roads fixed and did nothing!

It’s horrible being back home!! Planning how we can get away soon!

Other News …

Booked my evening course to study French and choose a course with an exam?

Lauren phoned me to ask if I knew about the new Crit’Air stickers required by cars for some French Cities. I did recall seeing something but thought I would check.

At the moment they are only required for Paris, Lyon, Grenoble and Lille. In Paris, the PĂ©riphĂ©rique is the border and literature states that ‘on the PĂ©riphĂ©rique does not require one’, but the underground through road does. Anyone going to Belgium and other Western European countries from Calais often travel via Lille, so check it out.

In a few years time, other Cities and Towns will be added, including next Bordeaux and Strasbourg.

The Crit’Air stickers only cost a few Euro’s and can ONLY be purchased online. They last for the life of the vehicle, but order early to ensure you receive it before travelling. Beware Hire Cars who don’t seem to be geared up for this yet!!!

Au revoir!