Sunday, 29 July 2018

Covers

Holidays are over and it is back to the usual preoccupations. I've actually lost count of the number of edits I've done on the wip. Possibly the fourth? I'm printing it out for the second time as I complete each chapter, because I am still making changes to the storyline, which makes me think this may be the third edit rther than the fourth. There was such a long gap between writing the first chunk of itan, then abdoning it and coming back to it a couple of years later that I can see where changes are needed, particularly at the latter end of the story.

I have lots of plans for the autumn season. Finish the wip,  of course, but also to renew the covers on my earlier stories, and to do a lot more promotion of them. I was surprised to notice that KENP figures are showing up for the weeks I have been away - and I have done not a jot of PR to earn them! The  Amazon Conference I attended in Newcastle  a few days before going to France made me think about it more closely, and e-mails  received from Mark Dawson have inspired me to try different methods. I can't bring myself to pay his price for the course, though I might have done if I were in my twenties, in full time employment and hoping to make writing my future career, but his ideas are wrth trying.

I spent nearly the whole day yesterday attempting to download a free trial of Adobe Premier Elements yesterday and got so frustrated with it that in the end I uninstalled it. It was a sstruggle to register, took fifteen minutes or so to download and then refused to "play." Kept reverting to passwords time after time. It did not encourage me to buy the product, I must say! So I kept my old software and managed to produce a cover - a supposedly ghost Viking ship to represent the Viking magician who pursues a young girl because her power, aligned to his, will make him enornmously powerful.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Travelling


Friday 20th July, 2018

Tim stumbled as he bolted down the steps the other day and caught himself on the corner wall concealed by the shrubs; yesterday and today we’ve noticed that he is limping, not because his foot hurts, which was our first thought, but because he is favouring the shoulder. It is worst when he first gets up from sleep; he’s like me, a bit creaky until we’ve moved around a bit. We’ll give him another easy day with only light exercise and hope it clears up soon.
Everything else is fine. The weather is cool enough to allow gardening and walking – typical, isn’t it? Now that Tim is limping and needs rest, we could have gone out and done the circuit: Gite Rural, Peyrouse, down the hill to Saint Maurice and back home along the straight road to the bridges.

Saturday 21st July, 2018
Cloudy and cool, with a threat of rain this morning. Tim still limping. Paws checked, nothing found. No lumps, bumps, and he doesn’t seem to feel pain when we try to find a sore spot.

Today, 27th July, 2018
Shortly after my last post we lost the internet connection, which we had been expecting. We're now home after a visit to the vet to get Tim cleared as fit to travel, then next day we set off up the country on Tuesday, no problems at Eurotunnel and up England to Newcastle around 4pm on Wednesday. Tim behaved very well, but he is still limping and we still can't find any reason for it. Hopefully it is bruising that will fade in time. So glad we cleared Eurotunnel when we did. I have every sympathy for those who are stuck there.

Monday, 16 July 2018

South of La Dordogne


Monday 16th July, 2018

More thunderstorms, one yesterday morning and one this morning. Lightning and thunder reverberating around the valley, lots of rain but no high winds, thank goodness. And all between four and five in the morning, guaranteed to wake a person from a sound sleep, which means a very slow start when morning actually arrives. But the air is somewhat cooler today, which is a relief. And now we know why the local farmer was working so hard and so late to get his crop in before the deluge.

Yesterday we discovered the gas bottle which runs the bbq was empty so we drove down to the Jardinelle in Bergerac to have it recharged. Because it was Sunday and opening hours were later than normal, we drove south from the last roundabout in order to locate the turn-off for the airport and fill in a little time. The countryside seems quite different south of La Dordogne – smooth green hills filled with vineyards and with the most surprising chateaux dotted around. Well worth exploring – or going to visit the caves to sample the wine – though perhaps not the best idea when driving!

My impression of this small portion of France is that there are not many tourists about. Oh, they are here; but not in the numbers that we’ve seen in previous years. Is that because of Brexit, I wonder? The general economic climate? Prices in France are very much on a par with England these days, so the days of a cheap holiday are long gone. Makes it easy to calculate the euro-pound sterling exchange rate, which for me is good news.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

It's the little things....


Saturday 12th July, 2018

Doing the grocery shopping in Vergt is dh’s task, mainly because I am cowardly about driving the big car through the narrow little lanes around here, not to mention parking it in the congested car park once I get there. In my trusty 14 year-old mini Cooper I'd have no probs, but dh’s car is so much bigger and it is automatic AND it has all the latest computerised gizmos and gadgets. 

I can drive the mini in my sleep, but just starting and moving off in the new one involves a set of instructions I ought to know and keep forgetting.

I like shopping in France, because the selection is different, obviously, and it is a much more leisurely occupation than back home. That may be to do with the rural location than the French psyche, but you never quite know if that is the answer. After all, I have never grocery shopped in Paris or Lyons! I stood in line at the till with 2 items the other day – bread and two millefeuille – around 11 o’clock and stood there for ages while every housewife in Vergt did her weekly shop and then stood in the queue patiently waiting while the lucky person actually going through the till exchanged pleasantries with the cashier. There were at least six lines and the same was happening at each. When my turn came after about 20 minutes I stepped forward with the usual "Bonjour Madam" and put my two items forward. 

$4.55 she said, in French and I checked the numbers on the screen just to be sure I had them right and then handed her the $5 euros in small change I had laboriously counted out as I waited.

She quickly gave me back about 40cents and I picked up my packages and walked away, glad to get away at last. There was an outcry behind me. 

“Madame, madame MADAME!” Oh God, I thought, what have I done wrong?

It turned out, with much giggling from the young cashier and the ladies in the queue, that I had walked away without “la difference” - my change. All 5 cents of it.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Storm damage


Saturday 7th July, 2018


What a week! We had the night of the thunderstorm on Monday 2nd; violent thunder and lightning all through the night, with power off from about 11pm until about 8am Tuesday morning. On Wednesday 4th, it started rumbling off in the west mid-morning and faded away again. Then late afternoon, back it came with a vengeance – not only thunder and lightning, but torrents of water and a howling roaring wind that thrashed the trees round about the mill in a scary way. The power went off again almost at once.

Dh was downstairs checking the electrics and I was sitting cuddling Tim when there was a bang, a crash and the windows behind me blew open with another crash. The wind had blown open the shutters in the balcony room (they were pulled closed but not fixed and the windows were open because of the heat) The gust of wind slammed the door in the hall and knocked out a small pane of glass and the big windows at the end of the living room banged. I leapt up and ran to secure the shutters and found the floor of the balcony room very wet where the rain had blown in. DH arrived upstairs at the gallop wondering what all the noise had been.

Fortunately the only damage was the small pane of glass from the lovely old hall door. The rest was mopping up and fixing all the shutters properly, which meant we were in semi-darkness, so there was a hasty rummage in cupboards to find candles. Then dh found water pouring through a conduit into the same cupboard as the electrics…. after a hasty mop-up there, we traced that back upstairs and found the downcomers from the roof – and it is a huge roof – had carried all the dust and debris into the drain that runs along the bolly and then plunges down under the house. It was blocked and the water was backing up. So we unblocked it and next morning we spent a good hour cleaning that out.

The storm final moved off, but by then it was too late and dark to do anything. Next morning everything seemed quiet. I took Tim for his early morning trot around the lake and discovered three, maybe four big trees damaged. Two big walnut trees in the garden have lost major branches, the old quince tree by the well has a broken branch and at the far end of the lake by the log store, a huge tree had snapped, fallen and broken another tree in the process. One branch has speared through the log store roof.

None of those will be dealt with until some sort of mechanical power is used. There are hundreds of smaller branches littering the ground and those we can move, we will. There are other, smaller trees that have fallen or partially fallen within the woods but luckily nothing had blocked the drive.

The real problem was no power. Friday morning we made contact with the neighbours and heard that the high tension line that supplied power to the area was down, and no one knew how long it would take to repair. In a way it was a relief to know that it wasn’t only us without electricity, but that didn’t solve the problem. We had several days food supply in the freezer and the fridge and by Friday it was starting to unfreeze.

There was nothing for it but to cook everything on the gas barbecue, and we spent a couple of hours doing that on Friday around 6pm. We braved another cold shower (my second and dh’s third, since he had been unlucky enough not to have had his shower when the power went out on Wednesday!) and retired to the balcony room to read. The pool is filled with leaves and dirt, but there’s no power to clean it. No tv, no computer, and my ipad was down to 19% charged. Things were looking dire. We retreated to bed about 9.30pm while we could still see what we were doing, and suddenly dh saw the electric clock had sprung back into life. 9.40pm and we had power! We could look forward to a cup of coffee and a hot breakfast in the morning!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Wildlife in't mill


Wednesday 4th July, 2018

The thunderstorm should have left the air fresher, but it didn’t. Next day the heat was back, as hot as ever and has continued ever since. By Monday night I was so tired I went to bed in the afternoon and had a real siesta. Slept for an hour, and then slept all night too. Days later we are still hot, hot, hot and getting very little done. We are drinking litres of water and skulking in the shade wherever we can find it.

Saw a fox the other night, running away from me across the nearest part of the cows’ field. It had been foraging among the irises that grow by the stream, but ran off into the woods. Tim never saw it, but he finds the little piles of poo filled with cherry stones or some dark blue fruit. I scooped a frog from the pool with the long net and dumped it in the wild grass. Currently watching a chick being reared in the rafters of the bolly. We think they are swifts or swallows (we don’t know the difference!) and then there is the large grasshopper that dh picked up somewhere on his way back from shopping in Vergt. It was clinging to the front bumper and seemed unhurt, so we released it into the nearby honeysuckle. Small adventures, all of them, but part of the rural life we like. Oh, and there was the mouse who came galloping in from the hayfields when the farmer was cutting the hay and the kites were flying overhead; it made a beeline for the house door until dh put his foot in the way. Mouse turned sharp right and ran along the house wall back to the fields – but our fields and woods, hopefully.

I also forgot to mention the unmentionables - those pesky biting flies that find every inch of unprotected flesh and leave an itchy red bump that makes us look like plague victims!