Thursday, 29 April 2010

Slowly progressing

Ian has been focusing on getting the  kitchen finished in his flat. It was the last big job that needed doing before he can think about renting it and needed quite a lit of work before he could even start on the actual kitchen. It has taken several weeks to get this far but the end is in sight and it is looking really nice. I may even get to cook in it once or twice before it goes. After this we need to do the same thing in my kitchen and then later in France. By then we will be experts, although I think I am doomed to have to cook in a temporary kitchen for the next 18 months!

One thing I am beginning to realise is that not working full time doesn't equate to having 40 extra hours to do things in or mean that things necessarily progress much quicker! It does mean that at the weekend Ian has a bit more energy and time to do social things which is nice as there is a danger that we will become so focussed on our end point that we will forget to enjoy the present.

I still haven't decided who I am going to vote for in the election and talking to others there seem to be a lot of people like me..or maybe they have but just don't want to say!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Amazing new discovery

Ian forwarded this to me today and I sent it on to a few people at work. We all liked it so I thought I would share it.

The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second. Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization. Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. It can usually be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings. Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

As if by magic

When I went to bed last night the skies were still free of aircraft and the plume of volcanic ash was getting thicker all the time. By morning, the fairy godmother of airlines had waved her magic wand and all airports were open. The explanation was unconvincing. There were claims of new scientific discoveries that mean that the volcanic ash is no longer 'the wrong sort of ash' and that it doesn't harm jet engines. The evidence for this seems to be a couple of flights carrying the chairman of  BA and persistant lobbying by Ryan air. It is not difficult to work out that in these days of risk assessment, it has now been judged that the risk to the economy of having an indefinate grounding of all aircraft outweighs the risk of a couple of plane crashes.

A colleague asked her father if he would get in a plane at the moment and he replied 'only if it was a jumbo jet with 4 engines and two were turned off and kept in reserve for when the other two seize up after hitting a cloud of ash. On the news they reported that Easyjet were operating flights but no one was turning up for them! Can't say I blame them.

Someone commented to me tonight that in all this all we have heard about is grounded flights and British holiday makers stuck overseas. No one seems to give a thought about the people of Iceland who are living with the volcano on a day to day basis.

Ian sent me this message today. It was sent to a friend of his who is a horse rider.

I know you are a “horse friend” so I send you some pictures and latest news about our volcano and the Icelandic farmers.

Here is a link with amazing pictures about our volcano.

But here is tragedy, too. The first farmers begin to send their animals to the slaughter houses for they do not have enough space in their stables for all the animals. They send horses, sheep and cattle. Some of them can not use their grounds for the next years because of the ashes and have to abandon their farm. That is quite sad, some of they ran the farms for ages in the same family…… all Icelanders are quite touched by their fate……..

My horses are still save as long as the wind does not change directions.

Monday, 19 April 2010

A spring weekend

The high pressure continues; resulting in lovely sunny spring days. The downside is that the cloud of volcanic ash hanging over much of Northern Europe, and grounding all air travel, is going nowhere fast. We all know people caught out and unable to get home. However my mother lives near Heathrow and was telling me tonight that for the first time since she moved in she has been able to open her windows and sit outside and hear the birds singing. I am quite glad I do not have any trips booked for the next couple of weeks as I feel now we are in a catch 22 situation as if the planes are allowed to fly tomorrow I would not be convinced that safety had been put before commerce.

All of a sudden it seems, everything is in bud. Ian and I spent some time on Saturday clearing up the garden. On Sunday we went out on the bikes along the coast to Pevensey and Norman's Bay. In the evening Norma and Ian watched TV together!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Cameron goes viral

Okay. I said I wasn't going to write about the election again, but today I got an email from David Cameron. It was addressed to me personally.
Dear Linda,
Next month, you'll get to choose a new government. But don't just choose it, be a part of it. I mean it. We've got big problems in this country and the truth is politicians can't do everything on their own. We need your energy, your ideas, your passion to get this country moving.
There was an acompanying video. It also asked me to 
spread the word. I'm asking you to send this invitation on to just three friends, workmates or family members. Get them involved too. Extend the invitation. Together we can build the future.

I did and this was the reply:
words escape me, and to think that that idiot might be in charge in a month’s time – oh God

Monday, 12 April 2010

F*ck you

Ian managed to ration his trips to DIY shops to one while we were away. We went to Leroy Merlin, the French equivalent of a B&Q crossed with Homebase. It was pretty unimpressive and we didn't buy anything (although did see a bath we liked). The most sureal part of the experience was as we were wandering around with the piped music playing in the background, Lily Allen's 'F*ck you' blasted out in the uncensored version.  If you don't know the lyrics you can see them here. It is is not the best song ever written but I did smile when I saw all the shoppers singing along innocently.

Bloody election

I didn't read a paper or listen to English news for the entire 10 days that we were away and I have returned to find that there is an election in May. Not really a suprise but I just can't work out any enthusiasm for it at all. When I was younger I used to be bothered. When Stephen Twigg beat Michael Portillo to win for Labour in Enfield (my consituency at the time) my neighbours and I came out and danced in the street. Now when I look at them all I see complete mediocracy. Nothing inspires me about any of them. Mrs Thatcher was rememberred for starting the 'me' culture and Tony Blair will be rememberred for creating the 'spin' culture. Today I watched a clip on TV where David Cameron spoke about the loss of his son after a long illness (and hence how dedicated he will be to the NHS)  It was very moving but I couldn't help but think what a cynical ploy that was to gain the sympathy vote by using the memory of his dead son. Still, people have done and will do much worse.

I have no idea who I will vote for, I have no interest in things political at the moment and I will not mention the election again here!

A working holiday

We returned back late last night. The journey was relatively smooth and we made good progress, although as usual it was hard to leave; feeling as always that we are leaving a job unfinished. However, this is the way our lives are and there is progress to report. The render had been finished and the results were rather pleasing. The colour is getting lighter as it dries and even Ian, who is very particular about things, thought that the company had done a very good job. All the corners and edges were perfectly squared off and all was done by hand.

This time last year we had no interior walls and the windows had only just gone in and now we have most of the interior walls, some plumbing, half a fosse septic, drainage and a finsihed exterior with the exception of the shutters.

Ian spent much of the week putting in the drainage pipes under the house. This is not a job that gives you much to see from the outside, but as a result we can now run water direct from the sink and shower into the fosse. He also fitted the shower trays and basins in the guest bathrooms and connected up the drainage for the two toilets.

I also tried to be mindful of the fact that whilst we have to spend a lot of time working we should try to enjoy the moment. I spent a lot of time looking at the view from the terrace (more time than Ian thought I should!) and we also spent some evenings with friends (more details to follow).

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Essential works

Ian has spent the last couple of days trying to fix the drainage system in place under the house. It is not a very pleasant job as it involves crawling around on all fours in mud under the house. However, once this is finished we can begin to plumb in our toilets and thus eliminate the need for the macerator and temporary pipe work that is held together by black tape. The short comings of this system were apparent this morning when Ian had a sh*t and flushed the loo. The vibrations from the pump disconnected the pipe and liquid sh*t was sprayed all over the bathroom! Fortunately as it was Ian’s sh*t he got to clear it up!

03/04/2010 10:46

A plague on your houses

The drive down was uneventful. As usual it rained on and off all the way but we arrived safely at 11.00pm and went to bed as soon as we could. Unfortunately Ian’s attempts to rid the cellar of its flooding problem have all failed and although we are not flooded out there was a good inch of water in the cellar that had seeped in through the walls, so it is back to the drawing board with that one and probably will mean a major digging project to install a drain all around the house (something that should have been done when it was built).

The good news however is that the yellow rendering is getting lighter by the day and actually looks quite nice, especially when viewed from a distance, when the house blends in with the other houses and surroundings much more evenly. The other piece of good news is that the plague of woodlice seems to have abated. Maybe the cold finished them off for good or maybe they have been eaten by the plague of millipedes that seem to have decided that the walls of the house, especially the soffits, are a nice place to go to get warm! There is an army of them all over the wall! Warren has still not finished off the fosse septic and the hole that should contain the soak-away is not full of water. This has obviously attracted a few frogs and now we have a plague of tadpoles swimming happily around (although probably not for much longer as Warren swears he will be here next week when the weather is said to improve!)