This week's throwback Thursday takes us back seven years, with a post from 14 June 2009.
What am I doing updating my blog on my birthday? A very good question, and one that can only be answered with “because that’s the kind of thing I do“. So, here goes.
Pretty good week for weather. It started kind of dull, but by mid-week we were basking in high temperatures and wall-to-wall sunshine.
The scythe mower arrived on Tuesday, I assembled it (with a lot of help from Pete) and it was soon ready to work. Incidentally, on a trip to Montluçon later in the week we found that we could have bought the same model from Mr Bricolage, fully assembled and ready to go. Including delivery charges, it would have cost a little over one thousand euros – 43% more than I paid for it. To my mind, two men working for the better part of an hour is OK if it saves over three hundred euros!
A quick set of photographs to set the scene.
1. before2. during3. afterWe experienced only two mishaps during the cutting – three if you include nearly losing the machine in the pond. The first misadventure surrounded the curious case of the disappearing plum-tree. When cutting long grass, as the “during” photo shows, the operator cannot see the blade. Whilst trimming around the new plum-tree – the one that was, in its first full year, proving willing to bear fruit – it suddenly fell down. I felt no resistance, even though its trunk was about 4cm thick near the base. It seems that when they say it can cut thick undergrowth and it is good in orchards, they did not mention that it was a good forestry device, too! I shall devise a method of signalling the outside edges of the blade to stop it happening again.
The second issue was when a screw holding a crucial part of the cutter drive mechanism decided to go AWOL. It presumably hadn’t been sufficiently tightened, and we didn’t spot that. That part was pre-assembled, so NOT OUR FAULT! No way were we going to find it, so we had to replace it. It was, for those who care, a M8 x 20mm socket head cap screw. I don’t have any of those. Pete and I hot-footed it to Montluçon and headed for Brico Depot. It seems to be more trade and serious DIYer oriented than does Mr Bricolage, which always seems to me more aligned to the home beautification market. Brico Depot had no socket head cap screws, neither could they confidently name a supplier, but suggested we try Mr Bricolage. I chuckled.
Mr Bricolage had no M8 x 20mm socket head cap screws, but did have some M8 x 60mm socket head cap screws. We bought some and wondered why we didn’t try to find an engineering place (even the local garage). We got home with the screws and promptly attacked one of them with an angle grinder and a few other instruments of torture so it could fit in the space vacated by its predecessor. Back to work in half an hour. In case this is a screw that can vibrate loose – it does have a lot of vibration to put up with – I shall attempt to get hold of a quantity of them.
The entire area is now done, and all we need to do now is gather the cuttings. Currently it looks like a half-harvested field!
While all this was going on, Clare and Marcia were doing flowery, fruity, gardeny stuff, and I happened to mention that I wanted a gate at the back, to give direct access to the terrace area.Peter’s hay fever stopped him from becoming involved in the harvest, but he did set about making a gate. Thanks Peter!I would like to be able to say that Peter did the whole thing single-handed, except that would be an untruth. I happened to sneak a look into the workshop whilst he was in there, and …
… I saw him using both hands!
On Saturday afternoon we went across to the tip at St Eloy to see the Black Kites. There is something not quite wholesome about pulling up near a tip and getting out cameras and binoculars, but that is what we did. To prove it, here I am with my long lens.There were probably a couple of dozen kites, about 200 metres from us. Mostly they were down very low against a background that made photographing them difficult. We did get a few shots, though.
This is a young bird in very good featherwhilst this older bird is showing signs of wear. This is possibly a brooding female who needs now to have a damned good moult!
Although they were mostly quite low, we were treated to the occasional spectacular stoop.The pre-birthday finished up with dinner at the hotel À la Queue du Milan in Pionsat. The name means “at the Kite’s tail”, reflecting the fact that, from the air, that part of the town’s outline resembles a kite’s forked tail, and the hotel is in the middle of it.
It is a very fine establishment, the chef is a bit of a genius, and a jolly good time was had by all.
In the hope that the weather would stay on our side, we invited a few people to pop in on Sunday afternoon for a couple of drinks and a chat. Nothing excessive – no big party or anything, just a few friends.
And finally – what do you think of our new rescuing dog?