July 2008


For months, I’ve been looking forward to writing a blog about the time we asked a water diviner (sourcier) onto the land, to find the spring that would make self-sufficiency much, much easier. And cheaper.

It was going to be called, punnily enough: Diviner intervention.

But the spring couldn’t wait and it sprung up right in the middle of the long field, near the veggie patch, the other day.


It’ll be a long time before anything wipes the smile off our faces.

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At the top of écovallée is a country road with a small lay-by big enough for a couple of cars and a trailer.

For the last many months, we’ve been extending the lay-by, by filling in the holes in the soft verges. First, we did this by hand and wheelbarrow. Then, by taking trailer loads of soil from a friend’s building plot – again, by hand. Most recently, by filling the trailer using our friend’s mini digger.

(Now, operating a mini digger is not as easy as personhandling a shovel. Which is why we parked the trailer in the lay-by on Saturday evening, full of soil, sporting a shiny new dent in the tailgate.)

On Sunday morning, after spending the night in Yurt One, I went up to the car to retrieve some bread to make eggy bread (not pancakes as previously promised – recipe for both now to follow).

Back in écovallée, this bread was found to be mouldy.

After pausing only for a coffee, I returned to the car to discover a new, unexpected and entirely unwanted hole in the lay-by. A hole exactly the same shape as a trailer full of reddish, clayish soil.

I managed to put this together before the rain stopped.


Then put this together.


Before the eggs started (but only by a few hours).


By Sunday, we might have enough for pancakes.

Our communications are based on a series of assumptions:

o That electricity will keep flowing into our wireless domestic over-the-internet telephone.
o That we will have enough money to replace our mobile phone when it ultimately fails (taking with it those photos I couldn’t possibly delete) – although having a friend like Café del Nightmare, who sends a whizzy new-used phone through the post, is a definite bonus here.
o That we will have the money to replace our computer when its sockets start failing and it’s too slow to run the needlessly updated operating systems that spawn the needlessly expensive software upgrades that mean we can no longer open the old-format files we couldn’t bring ourselves to throw away.
o That our online keeper of emails and other digital trivia we cannot live without will not, in a needless attempt at making our lives easier, replace their perfectly functioning system with one that does not work – without warning – days before it’s time to renew – thereby making our inbox disappear – and leaving us to ponder the untrue statement: “There is a problem with the credit card on this account”.

I’d love to have read what Douglas Adams would have said.

So if you’re ringing me on my old mobile number, please bear in mind I may never answer it. If you’re waiting for a response from an email, please understand I may never receive it. In case of emergency, you can leave a comment here and hope the computer will live long enough for me to read it.


More on him, later.

I went into the wine shop down the road last night, walked up to the counter (careful not to let Boy touch any of the Expensive Things) and waited for someone to realise we were there.

We waited for a few more minutes.

Then a few more. It’s not unusual for the owner to be round the corner filling up someone’s car with wine, or having a chat with someone outside the nearest coffee shop.

Eventually, I turned towards the door at the back of the shop and said (loudly): “Bonsoir!”

Then, after a moment or two more, slunk out of the shop, empty handed, a little guilty that I had looked in the corners for the non-existent CCTV cameras.

Last weekend (week-end) was the village fête (fête).

There was a car boot sale:


A demonstration of laying mats:


And people:


A football match followed by prizes for all players (that’s the Maire):


Various stalls, including face painting (that’s Her Outdoors, holding a brush):


The school show (costumed by Her Outdoors):


And much more I didn’t shoot. Unlike The Daughter.

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