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A day of here and there

I got up at the usual time, but made do with a tiny dribble of tea and no breakfast.

Yes. I started a day with next to no tea (normally, we're looking at two before I leave and one to one-shot in the staff break room before starting). Could explain my headache today.

I got to Cyril at five to nine. He said "I'll call you this afternoon", and I replied I'll be waiting at the train station. Hint, hint.
The tasks to do were to do the minor service, change the drive belt, and change the headlights.

When I got there, there was glass all over the place. Two panels of glass had been broken. Nothing else looked damaged, so I'm guessing this might have been intentional.

Broken glass
Broken glass.

It gets worse. I saw two SNCF employees over on the other side of the railway knocking out bits of glass from windows broken over there. Yeah, I think some arsehole did this on purpose.

The train came, and went, picking up four people. That might explain why there aren't many days. At least going the other way you can get to Châteaubriant from Rennes, and then to Nantes switching at the tram-train.

The tariffs are a bit eccentric. It's €5 up to 29km. Then it's €10 up to 69km. €15 up to 109km, €20 up to 149km, and €28 for anything other 150km (it's cheaper for people under 26, but I don't think I can fake that any more ☺).
Is this a Brittany-only price? I know things are very regional... or could I get a train to, say, Lyon for sixty euros? (twice twenty eight, I'll be coming back too!)

The sun kept lurking behind the clouds, the only clouds in the sky, and with the chilly wind I got quite cold quite quickly.
I listened to that The Birthday Massacre album three times (couldn't be bothered fiddling with my phone to find something else).

Eventually, at ten to eleven I got up and started to walk back. I saw my car in the same place I left it, which wasn't a good sign. Then I noticed it was the other way around, which was a better sign.

He motioned for me to go into the office. He told me that he couldn't change the drive belt as his supplier sent the wrong part. I know that there are all sorts of drive belts for these cars. One I got was rejected by the mechanic at CNU because it was slightly too large (the car only made it to ~30kph running flat out), and the one I have in the boot, a spare from Felicity, doesn't have the notch in the middle. It's not the right belt, and it also might not run at proper speed, but it's better than nothing if the main belt breaks. It'll at least get me home...
Anyway, I'm aware that there are numerous types of belt, so it sucks that he didn't have the right one, but it's not a big surprise. I didn't get the right one either...
He said to call in a week, so I will, and pop over on a Saturday morning.

The belt is rated twelve to fifteen thousand. I've done fifteen. He said the belt is still in good shape. I've read horror stories about the belt snapping after hours on forums and... are they buying their parts on eBay? Are they trying to drive with the handbrake on? All the driving I have done, including hauling my fat arse up a hill alongside 36l of water (4 six packs of 1.5l) and a full tank of diesel... you can certainly hear the engine struggle with that load, but it manages.


He also didn't change the headlights. He said the clip was incorrectly fitted, so he put it in place correctly. He probably thought that was more useful, but I actually wanted the headlights changed because I am not able to get an H4 connection off, and they've been in use for over

I tried with mom's car, the C1 as I could get to the headlight fitting (with the Aixam, it means putting the steering on full and then reaching up from the wheel arch and essentially doing it blind. So I had an idea what was necessary, I did a dry run on the C1.
And completely failed to pull the socket off of the headlight. Is there something that needs to be squeezed, or should I just shove a screwdriver in there and lever it off? What concerns me is that the contacts of an H4 bulb have little holes in them, which would be a great place for some sort of lug to keep the socket attached so it doesn't come undone through vibration. I didn't want to risk breaking anything.

So, my question to you, dear readers - what's the secret to getting an H4 socket off of the headlight bulb? I tried squeezing around the C1's fitting, but nothing felt like a squeezable part. And it remained stubbornly attached.


The oil change cost €49. I paid with my Crédit Mutuel card and had a quite heart attack over not finding my Banque Postale card. As I put the CMB card back, I saw the BP card. Okay, okay, I know I've only had two mouthfuls of tea, but come on, wake up!

I'm not sure if he changed the oil filter. It's supposed to be done, but the receipt is written in mechanic code. So I know he's topped up the wiper fluid and checked the tyre pressure because, well, there's evidence of the tyre valve caps being removed and the wiper thingy is full. ☺

Excuse me being paranoid, just remember that time I got Felicity back from a service and the oil was below minimum to the point of being dangerous to the engine if I hadn't noticed. It's not that I don't trust him, it's just a case of "JPEGs or it didn't happen". Or maybe "check, check, and check again".


I then drove down to Châteaubriant and got there just after noon. It was a surprisingly empty road.

I noted that Picard was closing for lunch (I usually go on Friday or Saturday when it's open all day), so I ambled around the Leclerc and... I was right, the sales weren't anything much. I could have got a 128GB µSD card for €10, but since one from a brand I've heard of (Sandisk) was half the size and twice the price, I walked on by.

And... that was it for the sales. Oh, sure, there was a load of tat but nothing of interest. Unless you have a little girl who likes dressing up as the ice princess from that Disney film, or a boy who likes American superhero nonsense.
Or, okay, these days... if your boy wants to be a princess and the girl wants to be a superhero... 😛


I got various things that I usually get, and noticed that they appeared to have no Felix cat food (but plenty of Sheba), and there was an obvious shortage of chocolate bars but hundreds of slabs. Weird things to run out of.

While the "British food segment" appears to have shrunk to two sections of shelving (which is practically nothing), it seems as if the Frenchies are waking up to the pleasures of Cheddar. After nearly twenty years of having to make do with something else, or the weird orange stuff trying to pass itself off as cheddar...


It's the real deal. And a lump of it used to cost around €3, then the withdrawal happened...

I took a piece (of Seriously Strong) into work for a woman that agreed to try it. She was like "oh no!" when I presented her with it. So I cut off a little bit for her that she tried, and I'm not sure if she was "oh, that's nice" or "oh, that's a sharp taste".
The remaining piece? I dipped it in my yogurt and ate it all. Told her that cheddar goes with anything, but it's best on toast, macaroni, or baked potatoes.

Funny thing is, for the billion and one mouldy squishy things on sale in France, there's nothing that's quite like cheddar. The closest I ever found is a cheese called Comté, but it's generally not aged long enough to match. Plus, the name cheddar derives from a very specific method of preparation known as "cheddaring" (and that name comes from the place of origin of this way of making cheese... just be glad it wasn't first done in Westonzoyland or god only knows what we'd be calling the cheese.


I looked in Gémo, nothing. I did notice that a lot of things were marked down 30%. Only 30%? It used to be 50%, with a 70% markdown in about three weeks.
Districenter was better. I got a pair of black stretchy trousers, for work mostly. They weren't on sale, just a regular fixture for around €8 or so.
The supermarket and Gémo had them too, but only in sizes like 4XL or XS.


The next place of visit was Action, where I got myself, finally, an adjustable wrench. I must have had a premonition...


A quick swing by the indoor vide grenier place. Nothing of interest, but some tweeny girls getting way too excited about finding Playmobil, and then getting freaked out by the prices. Yes, that Playmobil jumbo will set you back €90. I saw that. It's a joke. You'd be better looking on eBay...


Finally, Picard as it reopened at 2pm.

Actually, I briefly considered a burger joint because by this point I was getting hungry. I'd not eaten anything, and was still functioning on the fumes of a couple of mouthfuls of tea.
Rationlisation #1 - I could get a cherry coke and onion rings, as these weren't what tried to kill me.
Rationalisation #2 - I could get anything from the ex-clown place.
But that's the thin wedge of the slippery slope, isn't it? After all, I could get anything that isn't a double steakhouse right? And in a year or two, anything at all as it's probably not the same set of employees.

Or, you know, hold firm and accept that May 2022 was my last burger joint burger and I'd rather abstain than ever ever go through that trauma again.

So I went to Picard, and figured I'd probably have blown twenty five euros on way too much food in a burger bar, so that was my target price at Picard. I can't buy too much at Picard, as it's a frozen food place, and my "freezer" is a one star thing at the top of the fridge, so I have to buy what I think I can eat in three days.
Twenty eight euros. And I did splurge a little. But stuff from Picard is made specifically for the place, and it's good quality so it's worth paying a little extra.


Got home just before 3pm. Kettle on before anything else.

I unpacked and had two teas and a "Buddha Bowl". Weird name, but tasty.

Green things
Green things.

A bed of basil-coated curly pasta, topped with lemon-drizzled brocolli, soy beans, and yellow lentils. Very nice. The only bad point is finding the odd piece of volcano in the lentils. ☺


Then, not feeling like wanting to waste an afternoon writing this, I fired up the little mower and mowed along the edge of the driveway, and then made a start on the potager. At which point I suffered a serious technical failure. The control cable that makes the mower go forward snapped.
I'll have to get a bicycle brake cable from the supermarket, but being annoyed at almost-but-not-quite finishing, I got my tools out and rigged up something.

I spliced the broken cable onto a length of similar salvaged from a broken bike.

A quick fix
A quick fix.

The front of the mower is to the right. The cable enters from the upper right, wraps around the thing that pulls the belt tight, and the spliced part passes out underneath (closest to the camera).

That photo is looking up from underneath. I didn't want to take time to get the camera and take photos with the cover off. The photos would have been a lot better, but the sun had already set by this point, so...

The splice cable that goes out to the back is rigged around a support bar. So when the main cable is pulled on (by squeezing the handle), the whole shebang will tighten, which will pull the wheel up, which will tighten the drive belt against the wheel on the side of the engine, which will make the mower move forward.

This is the other side of the fix. This part is crap - I ran out of large washers. Hmmm, sure I had a lot more of them. Anyway, it's just a temporary fix.

A quick fix
A quick fix.

The control is very loose, but it works. That's the important thing. I don't want to try to make it tighter in case the pressure pulls anything apart. I was able to finish the mowing. Then feed kitty, then come in and write this.

Then? Blanquette of veal (that's veal and some sort of white sauce on rice) and a piece of cheesecake. Sounds like a good dinner. I can't have a Horlicks as I have very little milk - I didn't get any from Leclerc because, for some reason, they don't stock organic fresh milk. I'll swing by the usual supermarket tomorrow to pick up some.


Google's crazy collusion

I periodically answer questions about places I've been to on Google Maps. Not because I have any desire to be a Local Guide (although I have the stats), but because I like it to be accurate for me, so it's good if I can help it be accurate for others.

I had to tell them that their range of "Can you buy X here?" questions about the vide grenier place was an invalid set of questions. It's basically an indoor boot sale, so what's there depends entirely upon what's actually available at the time you visit.

The next question was...

A question about CJE?
A question about CJE?

I would assume so, but what?

After some rummaging, I turned up the reason:

CJE - a pretty lousy picture
CJE - a pretty lousy picture.

That's an unimpressive picture. Hey, Chris, why not take a better one and submit it to Google Maps?

Anyway, they are asking me questions about CJE because I visited their website.

I shook my phone and made a tactful suggestion that if they wanted their answers to be accurate, maybe it might be a good idea to ask questions on places that people have actually visited?

I have nothing against CJE - don't get me wrong here - they're one of the big players in the RISC OS world, but what am I supposed to say if they ask a question like "Does this place have wheelchair accessible parking"? If I actually went to CJE, I might have noticed if there was any particular issue (actually, looking at that photo - if that's the way in then it's not accessible without third party assistance!), but looking at a website? Come on Google.

Oh, and FFS, just because I look up something, this should not pollute my timeline with bollocks. I mean, are you going to ask me about the Odda-Grillen next?


One more thing...

My CD has been posted. Bandcamp suggests it will reach me sometime before 22nd February.
Is that ridiculously pessimistic, or are Metropolis Records sending it from Canada taped to the underside of a carrier pigeon?

Well, okay... the potager is an LPO space (LPO is the French RSPB) and there's, here's the deal, drop the CD in the letterbox and stuff yourself and, well, Spring will be on the way so feel free to hang around. Just don't waste too much time chirping at the locals, if Canadian Pigeon is anything like Canadian French, it'll be unrecognisable... ☺



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Anon, 11th January 2023, 21:42
My old Fiesta (from recollection) used H4 bulbs. Or maybe they were H1? So long ago I can't remember. H4 sounds familiar though, I think they're the ones that have the two filaments (for dipped and main beam) in the one bulb? 
The Audi uses H7 for main and dipped beam. 
Checking Google for a photo of an H4 bulb, it does seem to be like the ones on my old Fiesta. The trick is to pull the connector in a straight line, without moving it from side to side. 
Of course if the terminals on your current bulb have corroded this may not work. In which case I'd suggest some brute force. Followed by some WD40, then some more brute force. 
If all else fails, place the failed bulb in a plastic bag and crush it with a pair of pliers. You should then be able to grip the bulb-side connectors with the same hefty pair of pliers and yank them out. 
If that doesn't work? Get a new H4 connector, chop off the old one (as close to the plug as possible) and crimp the new one onto the end of the cable. 
Meanwhile I'm trying to figure out how to install a set of H7 LED bulbs into the Audi without the diagnostic computer reporting it as a bulb failure. I'm stuck with halogens until someone figures this out, although I did invest in two pairs of Osram Nightbreaker ultra-bright halogen bulbs.
C Ferris, 12th January 2023, 10:36
You could use your Phone camera and a good torch and find out what you are up against? 
You might have some kind of lamp + bulb.
Rick, 12th January 2023, 14:26
It's a rubber boot, with the plug semi embedded into it, and a lot of crap thrown up from the tyre. 
It feels like the socket is quite firmly attached. 
The problem with the previous suggestion about taking the whole bulb out and yanking it off, is that there's a weird wire ring that clips into place to hold the bulb in the right place, but it needs to flip down to release the bulb, but this cannot happen if the socket is still fitted. 
I tried tugging and wiggling the connection, but it wasn't going to let go. So I did a test on the Citro├źn, and that was just the same. 
I might try the degripper idea (on the C1) and see if that works. 
Pain in the arse, if you ask me. 

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