Wednesday, 21 September 2011

166. Cue "Season of mists etc.." but not just yet.

18th September 2011. Down to the river yesterday for the first outing in 2 weeks.. Went out in a double sculler and did 14km on a very humid and heavy morning.. (Running total: 971km)

19th September 2011. For some time I've been meaning to film the pooch when he goes through his daily post-dog food exercise routine in the garden. Taking the weight off your feet has a whole new meaning for a dog! 

21st September 2011. Pleasant row yesterday evening on the river. Despite the imperceptible approach of autumn, the sun is noticeably lower in the sky. This isn't normally a problem but last night we were out in a coxless IV which meant that the person responsible for steering had to squint over their shoulders into the dazzling sun. It was still a warm evening out on the water and it usually stays so well into October.

We spotted a healthy-looking water vole at the water's edge.. looking to be the size of a domestic rabbit. Did 12km (Running total 983km).

Believe it or not, but I'm trying generate support for a Christmas dinner for us rowers - which is something I didn't expect to have to do. It seems that there's no tradition at the club for this but speaking to a few people yesterday they are definitely receptive to the idea but as usual it needs someone to do the organising. I know just the person.. We're extremely fortunate to have the Brasserie directly over the club.. so choosing a venue will not be a problem.
Christmas here is less hyped than in the UK - it's more of a family celebration - so the traditions of having the office/work/club Christmas party/lunch/dinner/whatever that are a feature of life across the Channel don't seem to exist in France - or at least in this particular part of it.

24th September 2011. 15km this morning in an VIII with a club crew that worked well together (Running total: 998km). Back to the clubhouse in time to see the closing minutes of the long awaited NZ All Blacks vs France game. Ouch!

27th September 2011. I've been doing some editing work for the last few weeks. Yesterday I completed the first large lump of work on this job and I put it all on a CD ROM. After posting it yesterday to my customer, I walked back home in the late afternoon heat (it was 28 yesterday) feeling quite carefree & pleased with myself. It's been a long month of sitting here in front of the screen with a stack of specialist dictionaries. It's an interesting subject though and I've learnt much about it. Before I get too carried away though, I've another 7,000 slides to laboriously wade through. The seats of my trousers are getting a good shine! Now back to work!

28th September 2011. Down to the river last night for a later than usual sortie in a coxless IV sculler. The river was as high as I've ever seen it and it was one of the very few occasions when the bridge that normally slopes down to the floating pontoon was level. Within minutes of setting off, I was dripping - it was exceptionally humid. This is one of the penalties of sculling as opposed to rowing - you don't have a hand free to swipe off the odd drop of perspiration that is driving you crazy! What a beautiful evening - it had been around 31 all afternoon and the river was looking its best under the slanting Kodachrome evening light. The water was static as the tide turned and it was another of those times when a camera would have been invaluable. At the turn round point the evening was closing in fast and the temperature dropped a few notches under the clear skies. We headed back to the clubhouse in the gathering dusk with the slightest of cool breezes on our backs. It was one of those evenings when you didn't want to stop. We were the last boat out on the water and by the time we approached the pontoon again, the river was running fast. Heaving the boat out of the water, washing it down and putting it away only took a few minutes but in that time darkness fell and I had to ride my bike home on the pavements - no lights! We did 14 of the most enjoyable km for a long time (Running total : 1012km).

The après-shower pastis tasted very good!

Here's something that I've been meaning to take a photo of for a long time - but  somehow I've never got around to doing so. My eye is always drawn to these platanes with their distinctive mottled bark and the strange rippled surface - it's almost as if the trunk had solidified from a plastic (in the sense it was once fluid) material. Every village square seems to be lined with them and no self-respecting café can call itself complete unless it has at least a couple outside. Generations of Frenchmen and -women have sat underneath them - and smoked, drank coffee, argued, kissed, flirted, read the morning paper and had one (or two) for the road. France would not be France if there were no platanes. They are truly an instantly recognisable visual symbol of France.  This is one that John Clinch (part of the Comète Line group) took in St Jean de Luz by the look of it.

These trees are everywhere in France. They are pruned back very hard in winter and in the spring and summer they are quick to grow back a leafy green canopy that offers a welcome shade during the long hot days of summer. The supporting branches are pruned to such that they develop at right angles to the trunk and sometimes the branches even fuse together with those of a neighbouring tree.

29th September 2011. There was a nondescript thorny old tree in the garden that had been allowed to grow wild and unchecked by the previous owner and finally I got around to tackling it today. Its gnarled and twisted branches were hanging over into our neighbour's and I started by pruning these. Not a very pleasant job but it had to be done. The more I pruned, the more I thought it would be a good idea if I took it down altogether.. (there's no-one more dangerous than your correspondent when he's armed with a pair of secateurs and a bow saw in his hand!) It wasn't long before the entire tree was lying on the green bit (aka the lawn) in large lumps.. A frenzied morning's work saw it all reduced to short lengths and I carted it all off down to the déchetterie (tip) which fortunately is only 5 minutes away. Phew..! 

Given the Indian Summer we all seem to be enjoying, no apologies for repeating this atmospheric song by the late Joe Dassin..(even with the slight echo)

PS. Hi to GFH who's just joined that hardiest of groups - aka the Followers.. (They must know something I don't!) Welcome aboard..  


Lesley said...

There is always a place on the back of a dog that itches and is out of reach of foot and mouth. But hey, thats what Owners and a good wriggle are for.
Will there be a celebratory glass or two for the 1000km?

Pipérade said...

Despite all our best efforts at scratching all those hard-to-get-at places, he does love his daily roll on the grassy bit (nearly said lawn!) in the back garden.
As far as the 1000km mark is concerned, I think a good lie down will be the order of the day! And then, yes, an attitude adjuster or two!

Anonymous said...

The dog clearly appreciates all the work you've put into the lawn Geoff! :)

Pipérade said...

I'm not so sure - you don't have to pick up what I have to!☺

Anonymous said...

il faisait si longtemps que je n'ecoutais pas cette chanson! Mon dieu,fantastique, l'ete indien!

Pipérade said...

It's always been one of my favourite summer songs.