Thursday, July 23, 2015

The sweet sense of things out of the way or underway; the sweet smell of a new septic tank.

At last the very slender and (in theory) uncomplicated volume I've been putting together for my brother is done, uploaded, sent to print... A lot of time taken for a very modest result I fear, and I can only hope he's not too disappointed after all the waiting. I don't mind too much if I never have to do with Blurb's new Bookright software again (and please, Blurb or rival operations, spare me the spammy comments, I'll only delete them), though of course now I've finally done with it I've pretty much got the hang of it, even appreciating its flexibility, though of course that then provides one with an embarrassment of choice which is the enemy of getting things done. I found it was useful to have some knitting to hand, to forestall me from doing violence to the hardware, while I was waiting for the little blue circle to go round and round, and the programme to tell me petulantly it was 'not responding', or to reload after crashing completely. It may be down to our big computer (my notebook can't download the software or store enough photos), which is getting slow and grouchy. Anyway, it's easier to blame that or the software than to take responsibility for not bothering to go through any of the 'getting started' guides or tutorials. And I tell Tom off for insisting that no physicist ever reads an instruction manual.

In addition to that sense of relief in accomplishment (which is perhaps too fine a word), I have also in the space of less than two days, put in train the replacing of our ageing septic tank. Long time readers with specialist interests (you may be few but I cherish you) may recall that this has been a moot matter for a long time now. Following the initial meeting of our commune on the matter, a nice young man (who's probably a nice middle-aged man by now) from the body in question, which I failed to note previously is called the SPANC*, an acronym which doesn't sound much better pronounced with a French accent, came and assessed our sanitary arrangements, advised us that they were not up to the normes but adequate for the time being, and not to do anything until the question of subsidies for the work had been sorted out, they'd let us know. We never heard from them again and the matter has drifted into l'oubli for about the last eight years. It would only really be a problem for us if we wanted to sell the house, except that the old tank is, well, old, and our washing machine discharges we know not where into the nature, which is not great from an environmental point of view.

Then just the other day I picked up a municipal bulletin with an article on the back which said the closing date for submitting a dossier to claim the 50% subsidy for the cost of replacing the tank was the end of November this year. Since we had never been told this subsidy was in place this was rather a surprise, but nothing focuses the mind like a deadline. I got on the 'phone, went to the local office, was taken through all the forms, given a list of soil analysts who conduct the first stage of the operation, made an appointment for one to come the week after next... and all this during the summer holidays too.

So, when I have finished cutting the grass this afternoon, and maybe picked the rest of the white currants before the blackbirds and thrushes completely beat me to it, I will have a very fine sense of achievement. The less onerous one's life is, it may be observed, the more onerous the few onerous things one has to do seem to be.

And here I am blogging again. Some photos, mostly from my Essex trip. We went for a long walk in the country, wheat fields and old houses with red roofs and half-timbering and gardens. Essex is really very pretty in places, and more spacious and better proportioned than much of south-east England. These picturesque corners ooze money, of course, but don't seem to labour under and be smothered by it as much as some places - sweet little Kent lapboard cottages almost entirely obscured by the enormous 4x4s parked outside them, for example.

My Aussie brother, looking like both my mum and my dad; my sister and her daughter, my Aussie niece B.

Photographing them photographing me photographing them.

This house had an beautiful lavender hedge lining its path, lavender seems to do well there,

filled with bees and butterflies.

Less charming were these very small beetles, which were everywhere but especially in yellow flowers. They didn't seem to be a deliberate nuisance though, keeping themselves to themselves.

Contentment: a very handsome cat in the sun on a red brick path.

And then last week Tom and I went to Lamballe market and bought lots of small ripe tomatoes from the Man from Finistère, who also sells pink onions, and Tom made chutney, with lots of garlic and ginger paste and spices. We put some of the stalks in because it makes it taste more tomatoey, a good tip for any cooked tomato dish, and you pay for the stalks, you might as well use them.

* service publique pour l'assainissement non collectif


Catalyst said...

That cat is very content and beautiful.

Just wondering, do you eat the tomato stalks?

Lucy said...

Hi Cat! He was a lovely puss, quite an elderly gent I think but very handsome. No, I meant to say, you take the stalks out!

Zhoen said...

Cat's like - "I'm comfortable. You may adore me."

Lived in northern Michigan, place I rented used a septic tank. One year, the garbage truck drove over it, and fell in. Huge mess involving a tow truck and diggers for a new septic field.

Roderick Robinson said...

Two minds with a single thought. Part of long short story which I never posted (although I did touch on the subject non-fictionally very early in the life of Works Well. Your comment: This is the subject all Brits like to write about.)

The mayor, a Socialist who was also principal of the village school, spoke windily about Médréac’s progress into the twenty-first century. Listed the improvements his programme had brought about. Then launched into excruciating detail about the water purification plant, much of it on the very periphery of Grégoire’s understanding. The others, sitting on the hard chairs at the table, stared hard at the mayor as if he were an obscure television news bulletin about taxes but which they needed to know about.

The mayor changed his tone, became sentimental, talked about the original village centre – the bourg – and the need for them all to cherish its history. “But not at the expense of our communal good health. Some of you have lived with fosse septique sanitation for many years. A cavity within your house, you’ve known its discomforts. This is not how modern-day Médréaciens should exist. My programme takes us forward. The cavity will be filled with sand, rendering it safe from gas generation. Connections will be made to outside piping; your hand basin, your bath to one, your cuvette to another. A healthier life for all.”

the polish chick said...

the chutney sounds delicious. the cat is a beauty - i would be owned by one simply for the aesthetic benefits it would confer on our space.

christopher said...

The cat had me at first sight. I marvel at how nature has set me up to dote on feline beauty. I am not totally fond of the rest of the animal, though I also care deeply about the autonomy they maintain on the whole, actually permitting me to serve them rather than the other way around. As ever, I fall in love with your country home each time I stop by.

Dick said...

On the Côte d'Azur the septic tank drainage operatives are known as 'les Panthères Roses' & the lorries are all painted pink.

I've started a new blog, Lucy. Good resolutions are being maintained so far on

Rouchswalwe said...

A beautiful day with a Puss-in-Boots and chutney ... mmmm

I've just returned from my morning walk before the temperatures rise to uncomfortable heights. There weren't many cats about, but the tomato plants are doing very well here.