Me old mate Sprocket passed away this afternoon.
Died in my arms on the operating table minutes before an operation to remove a cancerous growth or tumour from his spleen.
Left the vets' in tears.
'Twas one of the greatest pleasures of my life to have been the keeper of this mischievous little rascal during his entire lifetime.
There's a big hole where he used to be.
Georgie, me and wee Jocky miss ya more than you'll ever know.
See ya again soon chum.
@ 2012-09-26 – 22:50:06
Me old mate Sprocket passed away this afternoon.
@ 2011-04-02 – 08:23:43
Oops. Seems that after five or six years of writing this blog, I've finally run out of photo space. Tried uploading a photo and a message flashed up on the screen informing that I need to pay BCUK a ludicrous amount of money (can't remember the exact figure, but to a skint old hermit like moi even a minumum amount of dosh is ludicrous) in order to up my photo capacity from 1GB to 10GBs (whatever that means). So, as my bloggeau just wouldn't be the same without photos, I've reluctantly decided to call it a day here and continue my blethering at my other blogsite which I started some time ago in order to escape the attentions of a saddo heckler. Ah well, life goes on. Many thanks to all my chums and chumettes on this very friendly blogsite for your much appreciated comments and, more importantly, for taking the trouble to read my drivel. Toodle pip.
@ 2011-04-02 – 07:34:23
For yesterday evening's dogwalk we drove down the valley, parked up, then ambled along the forest path which runs parallel to the stream. Our side of the valley was in shade while t'other side had the sun. Looking out across the valley stream I suddenly noticed that the small pine forest that lined one side of the narrow downhill track from the hamlet had been felled. Stripped tree-trunks glowed orange in the evening sun, littering the open hillside where there was once a dark green blanket of trees. Very soon they'll be stacked, loaded onto lorries, then driven off to one of the local woodyards where they'll await their final destination. Then the cycle begins again with the planting of saplings about a foot high, all set out in rows. The landscape round these parts is constantly changing. Used to bother me at first but now it doesn't. The forests are in safe and expert hands.
Crossed the stream at the little bridge (where Jock had a paddle and quick drink) then headed up the path for a closer look at the felled trees. Couldn't get far though due to trunks blocking our way. Wee Jockie couldn't get through but Sprocket just jumped from log to log like a mountain goat. Never known a dog like him for agility. And all the while we enjoyed the wonderful aroma of freshly cut pine.
Curiosity satisfied, we then turned around and headed back. Then, as usual, just when we were approaching the end of the walk, Sprocket detoured left into the field where he chases rats in the banks of the stream. Forget the rodents, it's a really tranquil spot with a lovely view along the valley. At the edge of the stream the ground was smothered in blue flowers. Don't know what they are but they're definitely not bluebells (having said that, they're probably part of the same family - hah, what do I know!). Pottered around there for a few minutes, enjoying the peace and quiet of a warm, spring evening while Jockie had another well-earned drink from the stream (short legs, long walk - gets tiring for the old fella) with Sprocket nowhere to be seen. Minutes later he appeared out of nowhere and we headed back to the dogwagon and drove home. Then the dogs got stuck into a Friday night treat of chicken and rice while I had the same but done as a curry. Marvellous.
@ 2011-03-22 – 14:47:14
Been a bit lazy on the bloggeauing front lately. Had a few weeks when nothing much happened (apart from the weather and dogwalking, and I'm sure my reader/s out there is/are bored rigid with all that kinda stuff), followed by a week when Georgie popped over. As my main reason for writing this drivel is to keep her informed of what's going on, there's not much point in scribing stuff when she's out here. Besides that, as I often think when I haven't blogged for a bit, it seems daft to expose one's own private little world to the scrutiny of a global audience who may not have the slightest interest in what one gets up to. Mind you, by 'global audience' I probably mean a couple of old chums who very kindly 'pop in' to check how I'm getting on from time to time. I really haven't a clue who (if anyone) reads this stuff. Which is why it's always most encouraging when someone is kind enough to leave a message. Makes all the effort worthwhile (well, almost). And I'm sure it's the same for all us bloggeauers.
So..., what's new? Well, I think last time I bloggeaued I was toying with the idea of buying a Mercedes Benz 190 as a replacement for my old Golf GTi. Glad to say I'm now the proud owner of said vehicle. (Click pics to enlarge.)
It really is a belter: a 1991 model with a 1.8 litre petrol engine (twin chain cam, not single) that's only done 60,000 miles (if my maths is correct, that averages only 3,000 miles per year) by two previous owners, and all for the very reasonable price of 2,600 euros (about 2,300 quid?). No service history unfortunately, but the chap I bought it from (an elderly farmer who kept it as his 'second' car) assured me it had always been properly serviced. Being somewhat cynical, one of the first things I did was to drop it off at my local mechanic's for a checkover and replacement of plugs and air filter plus an oil change. Mechanic said the plugs and air filter were new so didn't need replacing, and the oil and filter looked newish but he changed them anyway. Apparently my cynicism regarding servicing had been misplaced. Reassuringly, the mechanic said the underside was in superb condition with not a sign of rust or corrosion anywhere. I'm left with the impression that many people in France (and perhaps the UK too) are unloading cars that don't fall into the 'economy' class due to recent hikes in petrol prices - out here a litre of 95 octane costs between 1.50 and 1.75 euros (that's about 1.40 to 1.50 quidish) depending where you buy (1.52 euros at our local supermarshay! - maybe 1.80 or more on motorways). Having said that, I was somewhat surprised yesterday when I did 150 miles (drove Georgie to Limoges airport) on a quarter tankful (according to the fuel gauge) which works out at about 50mpg (not exactly an accurate assessment but, nevertheless, looks promising). A lot to be said for cruising at 60mph (French limit on ordinary roads), in top gear, with a light throttle foot, on open roads with hardly any traffic.
Anyways..., back to Georgie's visit. Picked her up from Limoges airport a week ago last Saturday (the 12th?) at about 9.15am (French time) after the poor wee thing had endured a night of wandering around Stansted airport (she worked late so was unable to grab a couch) in order to catch an early morning flight (6am ish, UK time). Had a morning stroll around Limoges (bit dull and rainy) searching for a dressing gown (my old one was a shadow of its former self - huge holes in the elbows etc.), looking in shoe shops (what is it with girls and shoes?), grabbing a coffee (sat outside, under a canopy, so I could have a quick fag - windy and rainy) and caught up on news. Then drove home via the supermarshay. Still drizzly.
Stayed dull and drizzly for most of the week, which was a bit of a shame. However, Georgie, being a keen gardener, saw this as an ideal opportunity to do a bit of weeding, pruning, digging and planting. Dragged her away from her labours a couple of times - once to visit Aubusson to whip the battery out of my garaged and slumbering camper, and once to whizz down to Beaulieu to check if the barn had collapsed and to see if the ruined cottage had disappeared under brambles.
Luckily the barn seemed to be holding up, although we noticed a bit more movement over a door archway, and the brambles definitely need attention soon before they really let rip in spring. Shall have to go down there again p.d.q. armed to the teeth with chainsaw, axe, cutters and, possibly, weed killer. Trouble is, it's about 75 miles away. That's a total of four hours' driving. Which doesn't leave long for actual work. Then there's the question of whether to take the dogs or not. Without them I could have a three day session down there, staying in a cheap hotel. With them I have to get back each day. Other things I have to do are to arrange short meetings (or phone chats) with the mayor and the road digger man, just to inform them that we haven't forgotten about the barn, and to find out if we still have permission to go ahead with whatever, should we decide to do so. Then, of course, there's costings. Ooh, too much to think about.
Barn visit done, we then nipped into Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne for a quick wander round and a coffee. Out of season, Beaulieu seems a lot less 'poncy' and so, perhaps for the first time, Georgie seemed to warm to the place, which I found rather encouraging. Add that to the fact that she didn't seem to be totally against the barn (she isn't totally for it either) and maybe there's a glimmer of hope that its purchase wasn't entirely bonkeurs (pretty close though). The only problem is... we're skint. Still, c'est la vie. The dream (or is it nightmare?) continues.
Typically, on her last day the weather improved. Bright sunshine and a clear blue sky. Spent most of the day in the garden again, transplanting a few bushes and chucking a thorny one out (big trubs with big roots). Then I decided to dig up a damp spot that we thought might be a drain off point of the fosse septique (cesspit). Discovered what appears to be a hole in the top of the tank or inspection box thingy. Water (grey?) draining straight out. Shoved a tile on the hole and replaced the damp earth. Now have to get a specialist in. Asked Christian if he knows anyone. Said he'll give it some thought. Disastrous as this leak may be, it could mean we'll soon discover the exact whereabouts of the mysterious (and, no doubt, antiquated) fosse septique that the neighbours have assured us exists somewhere out front (no sign of any inspection covers or ventilation shafts).
Finished off the afternoon with a leisurely dogwalk up the cemetery run. Showed Georgie the violets and periwinkles that I'd discovered up there. She seemed rather impressed. Then spotted a pink primrose. Didn't have my camera so Georgie took some shots. Then ambled up to the hillside field across the valley from our hamlet. Sun low, directly to the west at this time of year. Spring equinox, or whatever it's called.
Went up there again, late yesterday afternoon, after I'd returned from seeing off Georgie at Limoges airport. This time with my camera. Another wonderfully sunny evening. Walked the same route. Sad not having the full team there. Just me and the dogs. Stood and looked across the valley as we had done the day before. Looking north, beyond the hamlet, somewhere over the horizon, Georgie would probably be on a coach entering London, maybe stuck in a rush-hour traffic jam. And here I am with not a car in sight, standing in the shadow of a circling hawk, lazily cadging a lift on whatever you call those warm, rising winds. Ah well, c'est la vie.
Went home and knocked up cabbage, mash and a pork chop. Georgie rang about halfway through to say she'd arrived safely. She'll be out again in a month. By which time I have to plant a blackberry bush and a raspberry that she didn't quite manage to get around to. And I have to make sure all the things she did manage to plant get watered and don't die. Big responsibility. Especially for someone who hasn't a clue about gardening. Ah well, better get digging.
@ 2011-02-27 – 14:37:21
An endowment thingy recently matured (I think that's the right expression but I'm not sure - I know nothing about finances) and I suddenly discovered eighteen grand had been deposited in my bank account. Peanuts to some people but not to me. Years ago I'd have invested the dosh in some savings account but not nowadays. The return for one's investment is a joke. So, what to do with the money? An obvious answer is to throw it at the house. Maybe a new kitchen and lounge. Or, resurface the lane to the barn down Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne way so builders can gain access to the ruined cottage and perhaps begin renovations. But, unfortunately, we still haven't decided what we're gonna do house-wise. Which means that if we chuck the loot at the house then sell, we'd be unlikely to get that loot back again. Similarly, if we chuck the dosh at the lane then sell, no way would it add eighteen grand to the selling price. Meanwhile, the money's just sitting in my bank account, in effect, losing value.
So..., without consulting my better half, and thereby risking an almost certain bollocking, I decided to invest about 25% of the dosh in an appreciating asset. Namely, a 1957 350 Ariel HT3. Arrived last week. But it's no ordinary HT3. This one has (and here's where I get technical) a hand-built Bartram frame, BSA fork yokes, Ariel sliders, Marzocchi fork internals, rebuilt motor (not yet run-in) with sports cam, Serco alloy barrel (re-bored with a new, low compression piston), new valve guides and springs, new big and little ends, new genuine roller mains, Lucas competition magneto, AMC competition gearbox (wide ratio high top gear) with all-new bushes and bearings, Norton clutch with new cush drive, new chains (front and back), new brake shoes, new wheel bearings, re-chromed front pipe, various beautifully hand crafted items by the highly revered Steve Gagg (such as airbox, oil tank, sump guard, primary cases and rear mudguard stays), new tyres and mudguards, special rear hub (BSA q.d. hub, alloy brake drum with steel liner, alloy back plate), Rickman front hub, and is road registered. It's already worth far more than I paid for it. A wise investment indeed. And a far prettier thing to look at than a load of diminishing numbers on a stupid savings account monthly return sheet. Financial advisers be damned.