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Summer sales

Well, my little holiday, the five day weekend. This is the final day. Didn't that go quickly?

Today I went to Châteaubriant for the summer sales. Brought forward a week due to COVID (not sure how or why a pandemic makes the sales advance, but whatever).

In Leclerc I got a book for a fiver, a 100 years of history of Loire Atlantique. That was the sort of thing that mom lived for - rummaging around in history. She always said she wished it was possible to come and visit France a few hundred years ago.

Speaking of interesting history, please allow me to take a moment to point you towards Vince Hudd's blog, specifically here, here, here, and here.

The sales were quite restrained this year. I bought some clothes from GĒMO, including a hamburger t-shirt that, well, it appealed to me, okay?

Clothes
All of that was fifty percent off.
I didn't get any shoes this time. Partly because I don't need any right now, and partly because nothing looked good.

I stopped in at Action and got a super-bright torch, a little LED UV bug zapper, two gas bottles for the cooker (it's a camping stove, but plenty sufficient for heating beans and pasta) and some solar powered glowing butterfly things for out front. None of that was on sale, but since it was Action it was under a tenner.

A quick whizz around Leclerc for beans, sugar, and a box of croissants.

Then, for the first time in ages, I stopped at McDonalds. Because I hadn't had a burger in a long time, and it's unlikely I'm going to make it to anything that resembles Burger King this year.
A sign on the door and a pop-up stand on the patio outside says face masks were obligatory. That wasn't being particularly well enforced. I ordered my Big Mac meal at 11h27 (it was free, I had enough points on my loyalty card), and it was finally in my hands at ten to twelve. Clearly in their time of enforced shutdown, none of the people in charge considered anything to do with their typically deplorable service. It wasn't lack of staff, there appeared to be three people in the kitchens, one dealing with the tills and handling the chips, and the other? She was making up three salads. That's what took the time. And since she was the designated meal-putter-together-and-server, everything stalled because nobody had the initiative to realise that she was doing a lengthy task so to work around her to keep the process running smoothly.
I didn't eat there. Or on the way home. No, I'm afraid that in times of pandemic, I'm a little more circumspect regarding food hygiene. I took the chips and the burger home, and gave them three minutes in the microwave. Hurray for iceberg lettuce - it's bomb proof!
I had a regular coke because they've gone and switched their Fanta to some zero sugar concoction. I wish they'd stop doing stuff like that, I mean, if I wanted to eat "healthy", I wouldn't be eating a burger now, would I?
I should have got the Fanta just to try it. After all, I tossed the coke. It was foul, nothing at all that resembles coke from a bottle. Or, indeed, nothing at all that resembles anything I've ever called coke in my life. I tossed it in the pond, didn't think is was even suitable for watering the flowers with (note: some flowers quite like lemonade so this isn't a completely bizarre statement).

Here's the meal:

Burger
As you can see, as generous as usual with the chips. Given this photo is now on the Internet and it makes McDo look like a bunch of cheapskates, it's surprising that they so often give out embarrassingly underfilled containers of chips. You'd have thought the centime/penny that some extra chips would cost wouldn't go amiss in the bigger scale of things.

And, yes, that's a bamboo knife and fork that you see. I shall quote an American girl that mom and I met in McDo a few years ago, along with my reply:
Her: Whoa, duuuude! You're eating that with a fork!
Me: Well, hun, that's because I'm civilised.
Sarcasm aimed at American tourists is usually okay, it just bounces off. ☺

 

Harvest

In yesterday's entry, the car video, I said they'd probably be doing the field closest to me (and indeed, just under a hectare of it is mine (see below)).
They did about two hours later. A big yellow harvester had the entire field sorted in about forty five minutes. Today, as I began writing this, farmer-neighbour was out baling the straw. He said the harvest was mediocre. Too warm in the winter, too hot in the spring... but the corn (maize) is doing well.

This picture is from the top corner of the potager (veg garden). My land boundary cuts across sort of to where the left hay bale is (it doesn't go straight down), and then goes down to where you can see there's a bit of hedgerow remaining.

Back field

We can thank mom for that. There was a guy, on behalf of neighbour farmer, who was tearing the hedgerow down with a tractor-digger (think JCB) at night. Mom marched across the field and stood in front of the thing, demanded the man get out (he did) and told him that it wasn't missed on her why this was being done at night. If he should take one single tree of ours down, this place will be crawling with gendarmes before he has a chance to pack up his digger and leave.
Smart ass demanded a copy of the plan cadastral.
Smarter-ass mom said it wasn't up to her to tell him what was and wasn't something he had the right to cut down. She told him to talk to neighbour-farmer about that.
Don't mess with mom!

Neighbour-farmer uses the land, he has ever since, sort of 1994 or such. It's just under a hectare (so it doesn't fall into the nasty "farmer can use it can keep granting himself the right" rule). He also uses it for free. No rent, no nothing. This may seem like a weird idea (think, a couple of hundred free euros each year) until you understand that the neighbour on the other side (far behind that hedgerow) retired from farming, sold off his remaining cows, and rented his land to neighbour-farmer...who immediately desecrated the land by tearing out ancient hedgerows and an entire little forest. Why? Because under French law, a farmer renting land has the right to treat the land as he sees fit for his own agricultural needs. He grows maize and wheat and barley. Trees don't figure into that equation.
He still comes along from him to time and flails the edges, and we don't like it but permit it as general maintenance, but our trees are still standing. He also got the message quite strongly when one of our trees fell and he came out with a chainsaw and chopped it into logs. Mom and I took several wheelbarrow fulls of the good wood. There was nothing he could do as if he had taken any of it without asking, it would technically have been theft. We did leave him some for his efforts, but not all of it as I'm sure he was hoping for.

Technically, according to a legal document provided to the farmers about two decades ago, they're supposed to tell us what they plan to grow each year and ask for permission. They don't, but it's usually wheat, barley, and rape (colza) in rotation. No rest time, not any more. Once in a while corn is grown in that field. We don't like it (risk of wild boar) but it doesn't happen often as the conditions just aren't good for corn.

I have the right, since there is no binding "rental" of the field, to tell him to take a hike if I so choose. Obviously there are restrictions, I could say it today as the field is empty, but if there's a crop on it, it must be assumed that he'll be able to continue using the land until the harvest is done.
If he was paying me to rent the land (and it doesn't need to be a monetary arrangement, "payment in kind" counts), I would probably not have any of these rights. And if the land used was over a hectare, I'd not have any of these rights regardless of payment or not. Plus he could pass his 'right' to somebody else's land on to his children. This concept, heavily weighted in favour of farmers (guess who has a strong lobby in government!) has caught out many a British ex-pat who has a farmer use their land (less for them to bother about) and upon putting their house up for sale, discover that the farmer has no intention of vacating the land. Suddenly their property sale hits a pretty large roadblock.
I plan to remain on reasonable terms with neighbour-farmer. I still think he's a twat, and I'm quite sure the feeling is mutual (I'm a foreign twat, no less!), but so long as I have the option to stop him messing too much with the land, I'm happy for him to keep on usig it.
It works to my benefit anyway. He, I'm sure, claims subsidies on the land (that's usually what farmers use to pay for the rental), and somewhere in a little dossier this place is rated "agricultural". Which means my land tax is something like three hundred or so euros per year (I pay in monthly installments).
But, then, when I talk to anybody about this, they always think I'm crazy not to milk him for every centime I can get. Because, like most beancounters (great example: Softbank and ARM) they only see what's available right now, without understanding (or attempting to understand) the big picture.

 

It's now really quite cloudy. 4pm. I was out for half nine, back by half twelve, fed myself the aforementioned burger and measly portion of chips, and mowed the driveway by two, then spent two hours writing this (and wandering off to take photos, getting sidetracked watching a lizard play, etc). Now time to upload it, then go in and see if there's any film that takes my fancy. Because it looks like it's going to rain soon. Not hard rain, the sky isn't that colour. But any rain will mean no more sitting outside with the tablet plugged into a charger on an extension lead rolled out by the picnic table... might as well just cut my losses and head in now that this is done. Besides, given the coke was such a disappointment, as were the chips, and it's back to work tomorrow, I could really use a nice cup of tea right about now.

 

 

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Gavin Wraith, 16th July 2020, 11:58
Forest has run through at least two shifts in meaning during its passage from Latin to Old French to English. Originally it just meant 'out of doors', then 'land belonging to the monarch' and then 'woodland' because monarchs usually kept their land uncultivated for hunting. I was very intrigued to hear that CERN now counts as a monarch. I visited CERN in 1961 when I was a postgraduate student studying theoretical physics; stayed at a B&B on the road out from Geneva and took the bus to CERN. Of course it is much bigger now, and no doubt they employ thousands of people. Do you suppose the refectory noticeboard has an item: stick a feather in your hat for some shooting in our forest in Brittany? I cannot see it. A perk for the grandest panjandrums? A discrete nuclear bunker? It is a long way from Quantum Field Theory. Interesting.
David Boddie, 16th July 2020, 21:49
Maybe the folks at CERN are also interested in medieval French history. For some reason, I'm reminded of Timeline: http://www.michaelcrichton.com/timeline/
David Pilling, 17th July 2020, 03:07
CERN interesting, can look it up on Google. CERN seem very full of themselves these days - got the biggest machine and found the Higgs bozo.

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Last read at 14:34 on 2020/10/31.

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