Saturday, 18 August 2018

18/08/2018 We bought the barn across the lane after many years' negotiation!

Our house is on the left; the barn we bought is in the centre, semi-detached to a neighbour's house!

The barn as it was, with an old platform for hay storage on the left. This was too low for Nigel to walk under and even I had to duck; our car took up the rest of the width.

Another view of the hay platform....

and again from a different viewpoint.

More visible with a few items cleared out.  The concrete tank in the corner on the left is where previous owners used to mature their homemade wine (About 2500 litres!!!!). You can just make out the brass drain-off tap.

Just another view of the platform and oak mangers where 3 cows used to feed!

Men at work removing the somewhat woodworm-eaten and dangerous platform... 

As above...

and finally gone all but the mangers, which we wanted to restore and keep...

The three mangers which will be moved back against the wall as a feature.

Goodbye to the wine tank - we will not be making litres of wine!!

The original doors, in very poor condition and not cat proof!

One door renovated...

Working in very high temperatures (over 35°C/ 98°F)...

Second door nearly there...

Looking so much better.  The small door is one that was removed from our bedroom in 2006 and we are happy to see it in use again.

Filling in the last piece of floor not previously concreted

The concrete mixer at work....

All done!

Mangers reinstalled on the back wall.

The new doors painted to match the house and the roof tiling overhauled.

We are moving in :-)

Monday, 23 July 2018

Falconry at la Rochefoucauld

Apologies for not updating the blog for so long and this post has been copied over from my photodiary.  I thought that it also belonged here, as this really is part of My Life in the Charente and I know not everyone who follows this blog follows the diary.  I have a number of photos to go through that will eventually find their way here but I seem to always be running out of time!

The castles humble beginning dates back to year 980, from a wooden camp that was built by Foucauld on a rocky spur. The word ‘rock’, in fact, translates to ‘Roche’ in French. A square keep was then constructed by his son at the same site in the 11th century.
To celebrate the end of the Hundred Years’ War in 1453 and to demonstrate his political power as the Lord of the region, Jean de La Rochefoucauld built three additional towers to the structure and raised the level of the main tower of the castle, thus, enabling him to oversee his domain at greater heights. The last major modification to the overall structure of the castle was done in 1760 with the construction of the West Wing.
The Rochefoucauld family have owned and lived in the chateau for over 1000 years.  It is possible to view the chateau all except the wing where the family still live.

You can see they have reverted to the old name here. La Roche à Foucauld -The rock at Foucauld.

There was a lot of events going on but my only interest was the falconry.  I have more photos than usual but I did not want to split up the post.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) from North America- just look at those eyes!!...

as above...

as above...

and in flight.

The commentary was all in French so it was not easy to follow, but they said this was a barn owl.  It looked too small to me but it is certainly from the same family.  Also, I did not know which country the birds had come from; my books only cover South Africa and Europe!  Any help here please would be appreciated.

As above...

As above...

As above.

This bird I did recognise as it is a Giant eagle-owl (Bubo lacteus). Africa’s largest eagle-owl.  It was quite noisy calling often, but they did not fly it while we were there.

I believe this to be a Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) that came from America...

As above with the falconer.

Even I could not mistake this bird, the Kookaburra from Australia (Dacelo novaeguineae).  I must say it is the first time I have seen one flown in a falconry exhibition...

As above.

I think this might be a White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus). It is only two years old.

As above with the falconer...

As above - close up.

This might be a Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)...

As above with the falconer.  The birds were flying back and forth between the two falconers...

As above...

and finally a close up of the head of the above bird.

My birdblog is updated HERE

and my photodairy is HERE

Friday, 23 February 2018

A fortnight in the Caribbean - Part 4 and final,

My last reminiscences  about Nevis, see Part 1 - Part 2 and Part 3; here are a few more photos taken during our holiday.

Vance W. Amory International Airport on Nevis. It is only used for private aircraft, the main international flights all flying into the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport on the neighbouring island of St Kitts, just a couple of miles across the water! When you land there, it is necessary to get a speedboat (fast, expensive but damp) or ferry (slow, cheaper but infrequent) to take you to Nevis.

Built in 1778, the Bath Hotel was once a playground for the rich and famous who came to Nevis to take in the hot spring baths. With the downturn of the sugar industry, Nevis stepped into the world of tourism with this hotel, which flourished for about 60 years. Since then the hotel has had various uses, reopening as a hotel from 1912 until 1940. It was used as a training centre for the West Indian regiment during World War II, and most recently, the temporary headquarters of the Nevis police, while the new station was built. (the old one was burnt down, I think, in mysterious circumstances!)

An old, but  now restored, cannon from the 17th or 18th century! This would either have been a part of the island's defences during one of the many wars in that era, or a cannon left behind after refitting of a visiting warship.

The royal cypher of one of the English kings named George. (GR stands for George Rex in Latin). There were three Georges in that era and I would guess this is the cypher for George III, who reigned in Great Britain between 1760 and 1820

View across to Nevis Peak; see part 2 for info on the old volcano.

Amazing views looking across to St Kitts.

Relaxing pool fed from volcanic hot springs.  While we were there, we had a couple of dips in the therapeutic waters; temperature varies slightly from day to day, but on those days it was 44°C (111°F)!  Not easy to get into, but once submerged to neck level, we managed to stay in for at least 5 minutes !!

Further information on the pool.

and some of the history - 108°F seems to be an understatement - perhaps it's global warming!

It was interesting for us to see a couple of baobab trees on the island.  We are of course fairly used to them in some areas of Africa. Both trees looked as if they had been inexpertly cut down or cut back at some stage long ago, as they had a number of branches growing out of the base.  Generally they have one big and thick trunk, sometimes many metres in circumference. Branches normally grow from the trunk a long way above the ground.

Here you can see the thick base at the bottom, with a number of branches growing out of it.

The pod from the baobab contains pips that are slightly sour and acidic. They  can be used as a replacement for cream of tartar.  The baobab is sometimes called a cream of tartar tree.

Driving to our next destination, we had to beware of goats wandering into the road; a common hazard. Also, just take a look at that frizzy wiring - scary stuff!!! But a note of progress - notice that solar panel on the bus stop roof!

Just off the main road are the ruins of New River-Coconut Walk Estates.

The tall boiler chimney is very visible, and the lower building  housed the old steam engine. In the 17th century, the sugar processing machines were driven by animal power,  but the industrial revolution eventually arrived here 150 years later! This suger production facility remained in operation until 1958—the last one on the island.

Underground, a mysterious space....

Machinery, bits of cane crushing rollers perhaps...

More cane-crushing machinery, now protected under a smart new corrugated iron roof. Restoration work on this site has partly been funded by the EU.

Nearby offices are sadly in a bad state of disrepair. The circular columns, stone arches and ceilings are quite elaborate for this industrial development, but a testament to the skills of expatriate British and local craftsmen!

This was the magnificent view that we saw daily from our friends' house, looking over to St Kitts!

I think this is an atmospheric optical phenomenon know as a "sun dog".  We were all lying by the pool when this was suddenly spotted.

To finish on an ornithological note, this is my collage of a brown pelican taking a dive into the sea to fish for its dinner!

I have a new blog purely for our feathered friends which is HERE

Also see my daily diary HERE

and My Life Before Charente (updated  February 2018)