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Water pump

Wednesday was a holiday in France. The 11th of November. I got up at about 5am (or so), turned off the power to the pump, and turned the taps on. Then went back to bed.

This is because the water in the house is brought up from a well. I noticed, when washing clothes over the weekend, that the pump was cutting in frequently. Like once every 30 seconds for a short time.

The reason this was happening was because the water tank is supposed to contain pressurised air. Basically, all the air in it when the water starts to fill it, gets compressed. This helps to push the water out at a fairly steady rate as, well, water is not exactly compressible. The tank has a mechanical switch that is supposed to cut in a little under 1 bar of pressure, and cut out at about 3 bars. When everything is working properly, taking a bath, say, should have the pump run maybe twice, tops.

So the system was drained (not completely, that takes around eight hours!), the taps turned off, and the pump turned back on.
Only, the pump didn't cut out. I tapped the pressure switch and it clicked over to turn the pump off. After a couple of hours and diagnostics, it appeared that the problem was that the pump just couldn't build up enough pressure to trip out the switch. Well, the pump is about twenty or so years old, everything else probably twice that. It would just keep on going until the motor burned out or something else failed.

So what I did was open up the switch, then drain the system down until it was reading 2.5 bar (the pump can make it until just below 3), then adjust the switch to click off at that point. Adjustment is done by tightening or loosening the bolt holding the big spring in place.

Pressure valve

A few more tests to confirm the it all worked, and I had a water system that pumped water "from time to time" instead of "all the time".

There's no mains water here. I use that (well) water for bathing, washing, and other random tasks (like watering the plants). Ever since the torrential rain in June 2018 which washed a lot of pig effluent all over the place, the water has been somewhat brown and metallic smelling. Getting the well cleaned (it is likely polluted due to that) is on the to-do list. Maybe some time next year?
At any rate, I "sterilise" dishes and cutlery by pouring freshly boiled water over them, and I cook and drink using either Volvic (normal use) or Evian (tea). No way in hell I'd drink water hoiked up from a well even in the days when it ran clear!


Prodding Felicity

She'll be picked up at half five on Thursday afternoon (after I come home from work) and will be brought back some time on Friday. As I'm working the Saturday, I've simply taken Friday off. ☺

So Felicity needs to hold whatever it is together for the next four days, and then she can be looked at and have all the necessary changes. I will also ask them to look at the brakes.
I have put aside around €700. I really hope it'll be less, as she's already cost me around €1K (though a lot of that was the local mechanic taking mostly an entire day to remove the engine, change something, and put it all back toogether - lesson learned!), but when it comes to car repairs, I feel it's better to overestimate than underestimate.
What is left over can be transferred to my savings account, the "replacement peanut fund".


Chômage partiel and lockdowns

My day off was supposed to be an unpaid day off, but my boss asked me if I could take it as a paid day, because it looks like we are going to be returning to chômage partiel (or part time) as a knock-on effect of the second lockdown. At the moment, no decision has been made regarding how it will be implemented - whether something like three day weeks, or whether to have a "daytime" production with the two teams (that would normally be morning and afternoon) working alternate weeks.
The French press is reporting that Germany is envisaging another five months of severe restrictions. And this is the thing I touched on the other day - while the Spring lockdown brought things under control, the easing of restrictions let them spiral out of control again. So we're back on lockdown. Again. But can we, and the economy, and our jobs, and our sanity, cope with repeated lockdowns amid brief periods of liberation?

Especially given that this time the lockdown is a lot of nonsense. In order to attempt to reduce the financial burden on the state, adults have to remain at home. Children go to school and mix with each other. It is forbidden to cross into other regions. I cannot, for example, go shopping in Châteaubriant. However people from Châteaubriant can come to work. As can people from Laval (that was recently a restricted hot spot).
So, the rules apply, except for the many exceptions that make you wonder why they bother?

Good news for chocolate companies that got screwed over Easter. It seems that toys are an unessential item so supermarkets have been banned from selling Christmas toys. Chocolate, on the other hand, is one of life's essentials if you're French. So feel free to pick up an advent calendar, a box of Celebrations, and some Lindt.
Yeah, it makes no sense. But I do wonder what will be the economic impact if "non-essential" continues right through Christmas? The supermarkets can sell some, a bit of loophole abuse means that all of the aisles that are blocked off are marked "you can buy this on-line using our click-and-collect service"; however that has a minimum of €50, so I wonder how many people will use the service?
I hope toys are provided on some sort of sale-or-return scheme. If the supermarkets buy the products to put on the shelves, an inability to sell that stuff could be ruinous.

We need something better than to yoyo in and out of lockdowns.


An alternative to McDo?

As I've mentioned a number of times, I've gone off McDo. To the point where if I was going to Châteaubriant (you know, in a Covid-free world), I probably wouldn't bother. I'd love to go to Burger King, but my "local" is in Ancenis, some 60km away. There's also one in Rennes, about 55km away, but it would be troublesome to get there with a car that isn't permitted on the high speed roads. There are plans to build one in St. Berthevin (Laval) though I'm not sure how the lockdowns might affect that. If they do, it too will be about 55km away. Well, that's a litle under an hour and a half of driving, one way. The Ancenis one is a good choice as it is in a sort of open air mall, a bit commercial zone with numerous shops.

Anyway, BK isn't really viable. McDo is too meh (their new product appears to be McBaguette - makes my teeth hurt just looking at that!). So what to do to fix my desire for a burger?

Well, how about:


It's dead easy to make, too. You wil need:

  • Four frozen burgers.
  • Two burger buns.
  • Four slices of cheese, I am using Leerdammer.
  • Ketchup.
  • Mayonaise.
  • Dried fried onion flakes.

Take the four frozen burgers, put them on a piece of paper towel on a plate. Microwave full power (800W) for five minutes. While that is happening, lightly toast two burger buns.

When that has finished, turn the burgers over and microwave for a further four minutes.
As that is happening, prepare the bun parts. The bottoms should be covered with a squirt of ketchup and pieces of cheese.
The tops should be covered with a good squirt of mayonaise (I prefer a non-mustard mayo) and have a generous amount of dried fried onion pieces embedded into the mayo.

When the burgers are done, place a burger on top of the cheese of each bun bottom. Add another layer of cheese, then place the second burger on top, and finally flip the burger lid in place on top. Press down to help the thing take shape (and reduce the risk of the top from sliding off!).
Pop the whole lot back into the microwave for about a minute or so, to get the cheese nice and melty.


Unfortunately I must eat this in moderation. As I don't have a freezer, and the burgers come in packs of ten, I need to make this for dinner two nights in a row (and throw two burgers in the bin). Let's just say that by the second night it's enough grease that my tummy isn't particularly happy.

The funny thing is, a typical trip to McDo costs at least €12, and often tops €15 or so, and I don't really feel full afterwards (one of the big differences between McDo and BK, the prices are about the same, but there's a lot more food in BK so I feel 'full' at the end).
This? Well, gee... It probably cost around €15 the first time I made it. However since I now have the ketchup, mayo, and onion bits, the second time cost maybe €8 - the burgers and the buns. If I do it again tomorrow, say, then it'll be another €8. So, yeah, four bloody huge burgers (with a possible fifth) for a mite over the cost of two Happy Meals.
And not just that, preparation time is less than the average wait in my local McDo!



Since I'm talking about cooking, let me remind you that Mac'n'Cheese is dead simple.

Bring some water to the boil in a saucepan. Add macaroni according to how hungry you are. Boil it gently, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes depending on how you like it (don't use the quick cooking pasta if you can help it).
When it is done, strain it, then toss in a good handful of grated cheese (cheddar is good) and stir until the cheese starts to break up and go gooey-stringy.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, give it a dusting of pepper, and enjoy.

A tip - don't wash up the saucepan immediately. It will be a disaster. Instead, pop in a squirt of washing up liquid, then fill the saucepan with cold water. Deal with it once you''ve eaten. If possible, watch a movie too, give the cheese longer to break down. Then it'll be a fairly simple matter of wiping the crud off of the inside of the saucepan.


The final mow of 2020

Yesterday was a nice day, pretty warm for mid-November, so I thought I'd go out and mow the driveway. Well, one thing led to another (like it does) and a few hours later everything else was cut. This may well be the final cut of the year.

When I was finished, I completely removed the cutter deck as it was clogged with damp/wet grass bits and gave it a good clean. After reassembly and testing, Marte was put away - potentially until next Spring. That depends upon the weather, really, but I don't anticipate to need to mow again this year as the shorter days and incoming cold should slow down grass growth.

At the end, I make the observation that there's weather a comin'. Correct - today has been a mixture of bursts of torrential rain and gale force winds. So it's lucky I got it done yesterday, huh?

Hint - turn your speakers down!


And finally...

With thanks to Bernard for finding this, it's amusing, but you'll need to understand French...
Either way, un grand merci à ce qu'écrire cette texte!

  1. Un maximum de 4 bergers seront autorisés dans la crèche. Tous devront porter le masque et respecter la distanciation sociale.
  2. Joseph, Marie et l'Enfant Jésus pourront rester ensemble, vu qu'ils font partie d'une même bulle familiale.
  3. L'âne et le boeuf devront détenir un certificat de non-contamination, délivré par l'ANSES en France ou autre agence compétente.
  4. Les Rois Mages seront tenus à une quarantaine de 15 jours, qu'ils disposent ou non d'un test Covid négatif, vu qu'ils viennent de l'extérieur de l'espace Schengen.
  5. La paille, la mousse, les branches de sapin et autres décorations seront désinfectés à l'alcool.
  6. L'ange survolant la crèche ne sera pas autorisé, en raison de l'effet aérosol produit par le battement de ses ailes.
  7. Le chœur sera restreint à un seul participant, en raison du risque de contamination.
  8. Aucun berger ne sera âgé de 65 ans ou plus, catégorie à risque.
  9. Tous les participants non essentiels (romains, pécheurs, ...) sont interdits.
  10. Pilate expliquera à tous les participants autorisés comment se laver les mains.



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David Pilling, 16th November 2020, 12:42
Yeah lockdowns are not what they used to be - lockdown 1 in Spring was much better. I had a valid reason to be out on the roads last week, and I'd say it was only a bit quieter than normal. 
Some of what you say chimes with the situation in the UK. Which is interesting because the press paints the UK government as uniquely incompetent. 
Here much talk is of the vaccine, they're arguing over who gets the seat on the last plane out. Give it to the vulnerable or give it to those who have to go out to work. They like to talk of how many doses the UK owns. There's been a little glee at banning anyone from buying a dose. 
There is a strong assumption that 2021 will be normal. Vaccines and warm weather will see the end of the virus in Winter. 
Creche is not a word one sees in the context of baby Jesus, more usually "manger", but I guess that is what you do to your Mac Do. Anyway apart from that Google translate did a spiffing job ( 
travail spiffing): 
A maximum of 4 shepherds will be allowed in the crèche. All will have to wear the mask and respect social distancing. 
Joseph, Mary and the Child Jesus will be able to stay together, since they are part of the same family bubble. 
The donkey and the ox must hold a certificate of non-contamination, issued by ANSES in France or another competent agency. 
The Three Kings will be held to a quarantine of 15 days, whether or not they have a negative Covid test, since they come from outside the Schengen area. 
Straw, moss, fir branches and other decorations will be disinfected with alcohol. 
The angel flying over the crib will not be allowed, due to the aerosol effect produced by the flapping of its wings. 
The choir will be restricted to one participant, due to the risk of contamination. 
No shepherd will be 65 years of age or over, a risk category. 
All non-essential participants (Romans, fishermen, ...) are prohibited. 
Pilate will explain to all authorized participants how to wash their hands.
Bernard, 16th November 2020, 18:58
I did wonder whether the original should have said pécheurs (sinners) rather then pêcheurs (fishermen), but both are prohibited in any case.
Rick, 17th November 2020, 06:36
Yeah, sinners makes more sense. If only French had a word for it (and not fishermen with a different accent). ;-)
John, 20th November 2020, 10:11
> I did wonder whether the original should have said pécheurs (sinners) rather then pêcheurs (fishermen), 
I'm wondering if "pécheurs" is related to "impeachment", where one is "held to account". 
Thanks for the new piece of vocabulary, 
Vive le Président Désigné !
John, 20th November 2020, 10:17
> Creche is not a word one sees in the context of baby Jesus, more usually "manger", 
Apparently the word "crèche" is used to describe the "nativity scene", though the word "nativité" exists to describe the actual happening, the "naissance" of Jesus. 
I think they should just cancel Christmas and be done with it! All this shilly-shallying is just unnecessarily tiring! 
I do like your "travail spiffing"! 
John, 20th November 2020, 10:24
> If only French had a word for it (and not fishermen with a different accent). 
If you accept that the circumflex on the "e" of pêcheurs indicates a lost trailing "s", you get a word much closer to "piscatorial". 
The accents can be a help sometimes! 
url: nts.htm 
Rick, 20th November 2020, 13:02
Fixed the accent. ☺
Bernard, 22nd November 2020, 12:01
For your next test (those of you living dans la belle France), see if you can emulate the slight difference in pronunciation between é and ê by mentioning either sinners or fishermen to your (educated) native speaking friends and see where the conversation leads. I await results...
Rick, 28th December 2020, 22:14
I can't even spell my name - that bloody 'u'. Euh, oooh, uh, eeeeu, oh sod it I'll write it down. 
Often followed by them helpfully spelling it back to me, repeating what I tried to say the first time...
Rick, 28th December 2020, 22:15
Don't get me started on "dessus" and "dessous". The Frenchies swear that there's a clear difference, but both sound the same to me. 

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