Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Pet Passports the Hour Approaches - Lidl Special Offers

So of course I can't settle down to doing anything constructive today because I've convinced myself that at least one of the gang will fail. Probably the cat just for spite. That will put us back a month and I want to go NOW.

Wait till I'm waiting for the results I'll be really useless.

Besides, they are selling blueberry plants at Lidl for 99p from Saturday (a nice person posted about this on River Cottage but don't tell anyone else or there won't be any left) and we want blueberries for the garden and we could buy them and take them with us. Otherwise we just have to go buy some for Irene's garden and then Martin will be telling us how many blueberries they got and even worse how good the pies were.

The shopping is of course a replacement for doing stuff so that we can feel like we're moving toward our goal. The practical alternative is looking things up we might want to buy on t'internet this is a lot cheaper so here's a link to Lidl online to save you going in and spending money. Don't say I never give you anything.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007


The learning French item on the To Do list keeps looking at me funny. Sort of with raised eyebrows and a tut. It's trying to make me feel guilty because I never actually get any further than CD 2 or in other words about a month's worth. I am however up to CD 2 of about four different courses now, but I can't really call that the equivalent of 8CDs worth.

I keep telling it that when I get there it will all be different because I'll have to and I'll get to practice in real life situations like with Madame and Monsieur next door who are really lovely and willing to spend ages getting through to us. It looks sceptical. I'll show it.

In an effort to appease it I've added HardworkingHippy's commune blog Bourrou to my regular reading. It's bite sized chunks and pics so my brain doesn't switch off.

I am getting quite good at getting the gist but getting French to come out of my mouth is another thing altogether. It's like driving lessons "you mean I've got to look in the mirror, change gear and steer round a corner?" except it's "you mean I've got to listen, translate and reply?" all while my brain's running round in circles waving it's arms in the air. If I do actually manage to do all this my brain is then so overcome with admiration that I miss the next 10 minutes of conversation .

Ah well c'est la vie

Monday, 26 February 2007

Bodging and Badgering

I started to browse about the panels for the raised beds and via green woodworking ,which was a pretty useful bit of info on the BTCV web site, I came across bodging which is polelathe turning. If I'm honest I have come across it before in Ben Law's book The Woodland Way and I think I may have to give it a go.

No not just because of the name, although I will admit that is a major attraction I think Bodger would look good on a business card for instance, but because of the great stuff these people are making on a piece of machinery that you can make yourself. And they are making them out of what would essentially be scrap wood.

There are bowls, toys, candle holders, little boxes loads more things than I could imagine being made on a lathe. Not that I do a lot of imagining about lathes as such.

Badgering? no nothing about that I just wanted it in the title.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Bed raising, Self sufficiency the musical

I know it's spring and this is an autumnal picture but I just like it. I took it at the fishing lake at St Sornin-Leulac when we were house hunting. I cropped the right hand side to get rid of Techsupport's bum. (he was bending over to pick up chestnuts)

Although I'm stll thinking about vegetables and the raised beds. In fact I sketched it all out again today but I've still not got it all staight in my mind what's going where. These thoughts have led me to thinking about trees and woodland due to thinking about where to get the wood for the raising of said raised beds.
Mmm perhaps we can have a bed raising sort of like a barn raising, but for people with limited DIY skills who don't like ladders. There could be food and checked shirts and slapping of thighs and everything.
There is lots of wood in the barn but Techsupport says it might be useful for some other project like building the kitchen or a table.
I'm cooking up the idea of some sort of woven panels. The stakes could be chestnut which apparently is good for that kind of thing as it does not rot quickly and we have lots of chestnut so that's score 1 for self sufficiency. We also have hazel and bamboo but the question is can they be used freshly cut for the in and out bits of the weave. I can see the advantage if they could because they would be more flexible so that would be self sufficiency 2 points.

On the down side I imagine that it would take an awful long time to weave 150m even if it was only six inches high. Minus 1 point for defeatism. So I'm going to take a break from the veg and tootle off to do some browsing on t'internet and see if the books that go in to that sort of thing are here or in France.
I suppose I'll also have to do some washing as the washing fairy hasn't been calling much of late.

Thursday, 22 February 2007


I've started to plan out the plot and plot out the plan.

So far this consists of 10 raised beds 6m long and 1.5m wide nicely drawn on graph paper with North, South, East, West marked on it. The tricky bit now is filling in those beds.

I've found out what groups all my future food belongs to so they can all be planted near their relatives and make a stately progress round the garden year by year. My problem is I'm trying to decide how much of everything to grow. I have no idea how many peas you get on a pea plant or how many potatoes from a seed potato so I don't know how much room to give them.

Actually, that might be a symptom rather than the problem, the problem might be trying to produce all our own food from a standing start when the only food we ever grew before was rocket, mint and chives. That and the fact that my veg usually comes frozen it bags or preferably on a plate cooked by someone else.

But anyway back to the plan do we need a whole bed of spuds? Well we eat lots of them so probably but what sort? The field is wide open as that is the one thing we haven't bought seeds for but do we need earlies and maincrop and second earlies and all that stuff and do we gradually work our way down filling in the bed and we won't physically have the bed till next month and what about all that preparation that we should of done last autumn?

Sweet corn I'm reasonably happy with cos we've bought that and we'll plant as much as germinates and I think I've got the concept of undercropping with other stuff so that's one bed ticked off the list. Two if I ignore the potato problem and just allocate them a bed or maybe take the general advice and not bother with them. But if I don't bother with them we don't get to eat spuds that taste like the ones Martin brought from Irene's and smell well potatoey and earthy and wholesome. We'll wing it with the spuds probably and plant whtever comes along.

That only leaves about fifty other packets of seeds to account for.

Peas . . .

Wednesday, 21 February 2007


I'm confused, fodder it seems is an inappropriate word according to AdWords normally it's Sissy who's confused in our house especially if you do something spooky like look at her through a camera .

Life in general is mysterious to Sissy but it doesn't seem to bother her mainly because she only has room for one thought at a time and quite a tenuous hold on whatever thought it is. Unless she is thinking about food or Daddy. Food is important because it's food and Daddy is important because he protects her from spooky things.
He also protects her from Borg who, when he can't be bothered to go out in the
garden and do cat stuff, amuses himself by playing with her mind. He's not honourable he doesn't see her as an unworthy opponent beneath his skills just a bit of light entertainment. He places himself just where she wants to go next and dares her to try walk past him. Perhaps he's practising cat chess when he counters her every dither with a slight change of posture. Eventually Daddy helps Sissy out by suggesting the right move or she just gives up and decides to go somewhere else either way Borg chalks it up as another victory that confirms the superiority of cats.
Dream fodder was the phrase we wanted which to us means stuff that we buy or browse on the internet that gets added into THE PLAN ie the things we dream about doing and we're working towards being able to do.

I looked it up in an online dictionary in case it was just me who'd led a sheltered life and it had something to do with strange practices but no it just gave feed stuff for cows and cannon fodder. So it will remain one of those great unsolved mysteries of life I guess because that's about as much effort as I'm willing to put into finding out.

Monday, 19 February 2007

...and relax

Feel better now for that rant.

I can turn my mind to happy thoughts, puppies and kittens and birdsong and stuff.

Me and Martin's Pc are going to boldly go where it's never gone before and check out chickens and chicken tractors. This is part of the self sufficiency strategy.

Assuming we can make a permanent re-location then we can get chooks (as we say in the trade) for the purposes of egg laying and doing the garden. Do the chickens get little spades and stuff? I hear you ask. No I smile and reply (having read all about it) they scratch about and clear the vegetation, eat the weed seeds and bugs and add fertiliser. You keep them in the chicken tractor so they concentrate on the bit of garden you want rather than the bit of garden they want. Sounds great.

So I want silkies because they're just so cute and lets face it they are going to be pets. Lawrence wants something brown and speckled and archetypal. We'll probably finish up with whatever turns up. Look at the rest of the animals

Make it Go

Well my lap top is on the blink and Techsupport is working on it so I'm on Martin's PC this morning which will give it a change from looking up cheap holidays I suppose.

Why is it that IT stuff has to be perpetually b******d about with? Nothing else automatically updates and improves itself to the point where it's b***dy useless.

I like technology when it works but I don't want to have to be a technician to use it which is where Techsupport comes in handy cos in the matter of IT he doesn't mind all that starting and restarting and uninstalling and installing and reinstalling and checking the boxes and deciphering those questions that ask you to choose between three equally meaningless options. He's the instruction book reader and I'm the one who presses all the buttons and looks at the instructions as a last resort when it's broke and then rants about useless products and the useless spotty youths who design them.

I completely identify with those aliens on Star Trek that kidnapped Geordie to keep everything working. I'd do it too. This is why I sign up for all these updates I don't care if Microsoft or Google or whoever take over the world as long as I can just use my stuff without thinking about it and what happens? I give them carte blanche and they just don't keep their side of the bargain. **!?!**!

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Pet Passports

The Girly Dogs and Borg have seen more of the vet over the last couple of weeks than for the last couple of years as they go through the pet passport process.

Luckily their microchips are all still working so we were saved the cost of that, but by the time they've done with rabies shots, boosters for everything else, flea treatments, blood tests and the paperwork we'll of spent £600.

Blood tests are due on the 28th Feb hopefully they'll of done their bit and made lots of anti-bodies and we won't have to start the whole process again.

I was a bit miffed about the whole pet passport thing especially since the UK has loads more requirements than anywhere else. Then I thought it through i.e. we're actually stopping the rest of the pet owners who will never take their animals abroad from having to get a rabies jab for their pets every year.

Still miffed (I'm not that selfless) but at least I see the point and it's got to be better than six month's quarantine if we need to bring them back.

Borg was strangely well behaved we usually have a spitting snarling tiger on our hands at the vets I'm sure he's planning something.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

What did I say about waiting for it to warm up

Got an e-mail this afternoon from Cheryl its been 20 degrees and sunny (in St Sornin-Leulac). They had a foot of snow two weeks ago with phone lines down and roads closed.

Hope we can be there next winter for the snow, we've had nothing to speak of here in Leeds this year. I know lots of people hate snow and all the inconvenience but is there any kind of weather more magical? I don't think so.

Actually, I like weather to be doing something I'm the only person I know who goes on holiday and gets bored with the weather when it's nice. Hot sunny days can only be appreciated when contrasted with not hot, not sunny days.

That's one of the reasons we picked the Limousin it has proper weather

This is where it starts

First post first blog

This is where we start.

As of today we are waiting to go to France for the summer to start our experiment in self sufficiency.

We are waiting for it to warm up a bit (no heating yet) and for pet passports for Borg, Sissy and Tasha.

We decided years ago that we wanted to get off the "get up go to work come home watch tv go to bed" treadmill. Tried selling the house and living on a narrowboat. That got rid of the mortgage but didn't give us the space to live how we want and try the things we want to do like brewing beer and growing our own food.

So the boat has gone replaced by a house, barn and land in France.

We are going to use our dodgy DIY skills to get a habitable house and our non existent gardening skills to grow our own food.

We are not going to have angst and trouble and trauma unless that's what we decide to call the hens. So no reality tv stuff going on.