October 2008


Hallow Happyween.

On Thursday, I changed my clothes more often than Shirley Bassey on a Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special.

First, there were the smart-ish work trousers for a meeting in a bank. It went quite well. They offered us a mortgage to cover the new land, and said we can increase it to cover the work necessary to turn the Shrieking Shack into a luxury(ish) shower and toilet facility for our lovely future guests.

(Let me put this another way: I, a Bluddie Peasant on minimum wage, working 30 hours a week, supporting a family of four, have secured a 100%+ mortgage for a bizarre and extremely tiny house with around 8,000 square metres of land, fixed for 20 years at just over 5% interest, for comfortably under 200 euros a month. In late October 2008!)

Then I switched to some fencing trousers. Not the shiny white skin tight jobbies you see in James Bond movies. The dusty black and (now) laughably baggy jeans I used to have to undo when watching the telly.

Yes, like I promised many blogs ago, I’m fencing the land against wild boar and other unwanted incursions and excursions.

After lunch, a change to chainsaw trousers necessitated by the running out of suitably thin acacia fenceposts. Fortunately, the previous owner had cut down many of the acacia in The Guest Woods (it’s seen as a pest around here – almost entirely poisonous, fast-growing, light-stealing and only really useful for… fenceposts). All I need to do is cut them to size, sharpen them into giant pencils and SLEDGEHAMMER them into holes made by a heavy, pointed crowbar (how fit am I going to be at the end of the winter?).

Finally, after cutting more wood for the voracious woodburner (having finally summoned up the courage to change the chainsaw blade for the first time – which I did successfully, the second time), back into the first set of trousers to pick up some pig food from a co-worker on the evening shift (more on this, later), feed the animals, collect kindling and write this.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to settle down in front of a good movie and a crackling fire, with a reasonably good glass of wine. No change there, then.

The one where Morgan Freeman is asked if he’s rehabilitated and he goes off on one about what it means to be rehabilitated?

We had a meeting with the mayor last night that was a bit like that.

Before going in, Her Outdoors said she had Absolutely No Confidence that anything good was going to come out of it, even though Our Hero Daniel has managed to persuade our neighbour to part with two pieces of adjoining land, one of which has a kind of shack thing on it, and that’s why we were seeing the mayor.

Then the mayor said: ‘OK. You can do everything. (Everything! Live in the yurts on our land! Have up to 20 guests in yurts next summer!) My team will push it through and Planning can’t refuse.’

It’s a good scene. Mind you, it’s a good film.

In the last 30 days, I’ve had a birthday (again? I’m beginning to see a pattern here), we’ve packed up and moved into a beautiful farmhouse a couple of kilometres away (and are currently enjoying a life filled with breadmaking – that’s why these kitchen tables are so big – wood cutting for the log-burner, fruit picking for jams and jellies, not answering the non-existent phone, seriously high levels of peace and quiet, and a whole lot more), driven to the bottom of Spain and back for the wedding of one of the Daughter’s soul mate’s parents, returned to discover I’m not allowed to use the Interweb at work (and seeing as my lunchbreak coincides with that of the Interweb place in town, blogging has become nigh-on impossible), overdone it with the strimmer, had to cope with a broody hen, paid a couple of speeding tickets (gotta watch that road from the Spanish border back to Bergerac), and witnessed the end of the beginning of the end of capitalism.

Oh yes, and I saw a snake.

I was taking the dog for a walk round the fishing lake (did I tell you about the fishing lake? I’m sorry – you’ll be telling me I didn’t mention the swimming pool next – or the orchard) when I came across it. Or more accurately, it came across me. Don’t know what kind it was, but it was dark, fast-moving and about five metres (yards) away. Seeing it was easily as shocking as accidentally touching an electric fence, and makes you realise that shorts and silly rubber clogs are not ideal for a stroll in the garden. If several acres can be called a garden.

Whatever next?