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Waste treatment audit

I had to take a day off work today in order to be present for Veolia to come and examine my waste treatment - the assainissement non collectif. This means I'm not connected to a public sewer, so waste water needs to be treated on site.

In my case, that's basically a grinder that mushes up everything and spits it into the stream.
Well, that's the theory. The motor really doesn't want to work any more.

I printed an annotated copy of the land registry document, annotated to show what land is mine, where the water courses are, and where the toilet and "grey water" (bath, kitchen) is discharged.
I also printed a copy of the photos that I took during The Flood Of 2018 showing the pig waste all over the place, and another from winter 2018 where the water in the stream was basically like hot chocolate. The underlying message was that if you're looking for the one damaging the environment, yes, I agree that chucking shit into a stream isn't great, but my waste will largely be treated by natural processes within maybe 10 metres. So long as you don't have children playing in the stream near to the outflow (unlikely given the tangle of brambles), it'll be safer than Climping Beach...
The big pig farm up the hill? That's a whole different matter.

The man was very polite, apologised, and said that he is only there to check domestic treatments. His delivery gave me the impression that it's not the first time he heard this.

He told me that it wasn't "that bad" given that it's only one person, one person who largely uses ecologically friendly cleaning products (well, actually that was mom but I've continued because familiarity).
He also told me that I'm not the worst he's seen, there are a number of properties around with no effective treatment.

Then he told me that my situation was non-conformant, and I had four years to put everything in order. It was obligatory.
I said, on my wage, that was unlikely given the price of these things. So what then?
He replied that he will return in four years, and tell me that my situation was non-conformant, and that I had four years to put everything in order. Because obligatory.

I don't disagree that it is not good to chuck poop into the stream, but as I mentioned, when the water comes from upstream like chocolate, it seems that really if France wants to sort out its pollution (I'd imagine this is some EU thing), it might help to start with those who are actually making the biggest impact on the environment.

Oh, and one thing the man did say is that should I see the stream looking horrible, I should contact le police d'eau who will come and take a sample.
The water police? I didn't even know they existed!
I dunno, if I were to call the "water police", I'd sort of imagine Paul Hogan to turn up...

Whatever, here's a photo of the entry to the not-pond as it was in December 2018.

I called this "pondyuck". That's about the size of it...


Potatoes and flowers

Thursday after work I went shopping, and upon returning home I decided to mow the driveway. It was a double duty, actually, as I hung the bag of recycling off the mower's height adjustment lever, and did the journey up the access lane with one hand on the steering wheel and the other pulling the wheelie bin behind me.
The driveway mowed, I did the Picnic (East) lawn. Then I got out Pig (little mower) to do some parts in front of the house, and some of the potager that I didn't get to with Marte the other day.
Then I turned the ground where I plan to put the bird-friendly flowers. The rotovator has no exhaust so it's pretty noisy. While I can imagine the rules for noise pollution in the country is more relaxed than in a town, we're supposed to be done by 8pm. I finished and stopped the ancient wobbly noisy engine at 7.58pm. ☺

Today, while waiting for the Veolia man, I dug more trenches to plant the rest of my Bintje potatoes.

Planting potatoes
Planting potatoes
The sun was out and I was wearing sunglasses, which is why this is such a lame-ass photo, I literally couldn't see the screen. Just be glad the potato is in frame! ☺
Actually, that's why I left the spade there. That was about the only thing I could see on the screen (contrast with the soil), so I used that to locate the thing I wanted to take a photo of.


So that's now all of my Bintjes planted. The Charlottes are only just starting to think about sprouting. Like, how much later? I guess I'll need to find a bin or something to grow them in, as I think I might use the remaining space in my potato patch for something else, like melons.
Plus, it's a useful insurance policy in case planting them into the ground goes horribly wrong for whatever reason. Sadly, the neighbour is going to be planting maize in the field adjoining, so I can expect end-of-year mould (he feeds the corn to pigs, not cows, so it isn't cut and mashed, it is left until it is an environmental disaster and then harvested) as well as a risk of wild boar as they frequently live among the shelter of the stalks.

But, for today...

Potato patch
Potato patch


I planted my "Gazon Japonaise" (an annual flower mix that's supposed to be like a Japanese garden) at the west end of the house. I threw in some sweet pea seeds as well, as I recall that mom liked them. Plus they ought to smell nice.

I discovered that my pack of bee friendly flowers purchased from Action, that I was intending to sow there, was actually mostly empty. I made a video of opening the packet, and there's maybe five or six seeds inside. Well, being from Action it was dirt cheap, but still, quality control needs a spanking.

Next, I sowed the shaker of bird friendly flowers up in the potager. It might seem odd, but the potager isn't our my vegetable garden, it is the area mom designated as an LPO garden (or "bird garden" as the LPO is roughly equivalent to the RSPB).

Patch for bird friendly flowers
Patch for bird friendly flowers.


And now? Now I'm sitting here writing this. I'm wearing my coat as it's a lovely warm day when the sun comes out, and bloody freezing when it isn't. The ambient is something like 11C, and it dipped below zero this morning.

Mom always said that a really hot summer (like last year) was followed by a cold winter. This winter wasn't actually that cold, per se, but it was rather long and had a nasty sting in the tail with those lovely hot days followed by a -8, then -5, and at least a week of fairly hard frost.
There probably won't be much happening with the cherries. Or the apricots. Or the gages. A number of the earlier flowering apples will have been wiped out. And from all accounts, this year's vignoble (wine growing) is a complete disaster.

I'm not sure at exactly what stage the damage is done. The first I knew of the gage flowering was the petals raining down on me when I was mowing the back of the potager last weekend. I wasn't even aware that the gage was in flower. I suspect the flowers were killed by the cold and the tree just gave up.

The GC-161 apple looks like it will flower nicely. I hope, as this is its first year out of the cover of brambles, that it will have a good year. The flowers aren't yet open, so hopefully they will have escaped the worst of the cold.

GC-161 apple flowers
GC-161 apple flowers

The apple isn't really called GC-161. It never had a name. When we bought it a long long time ago, it had a tag that was a bunch of letters and numbers. I don't recall what, so I call it "GC-161" which was the name of the chemical that gave Alex Mack her powers in a Nickelodeon programme from... what was it, the late '90s?

The Bramley hasn't started flowering. It is putting out leaves, but nothing that resembles flowers. I don't know if they develop later, or if it just won't bother this year. That's okay, it's a much smaller apple (barely more than a twig) and it's just been planted, so if it wants to concentrate on growing, that's fine.


How to get Marte started

I've finally figured out a reasonably reliable way to get Marte to start.

First, remove the air filter.
Then put the engine to minimal choke. Too much choke just floods the engine.
Then crank the engine, and as that is happening, give a nice good squirt of WD-40 into the carburettor. We're not aiming to oil anything, we're using the propellant, which will usually be butane, in order to give the engine enough of a kick that it'll fire.

Helping Marte to start
Helping Marte to start
Once the engine catches, it will be turning over a lot faster than the starter could ever manage, which will suck petrol through the carburettor and the combustion will be self-sustaining.
So the next job is to multitask. With one hand, put the air filter back on. And with the other hand, apply a touch more choke so the engine can warm up without running at maximum speed.
This is slightly complicated by three things. The first is that the choke adjustment is a bit finicky at this stage. Too much or two little and the engine will stop.
The second is that right next to where the air filter goes is the engine. With the air intake for the cooling being a big piece of metal with holes in it, spinning really quickly.
And thirdly, I'm somewhat dyspraxic, so doing two different things with my hands is....interesting.
Beware! It bites!
Beware! It bites!


Polly Scattergood

I listened to Polly's first two albums (Polly Scattergood and Arrows) on Amazon Music. The most recent album (In This Moment is only available if you subscribe to Unlimited). I listened to them on repeat-random while working in the garden, mowing, etc.
While there were certain songs that I connected with immediately (as evidenced here), I wasn't entirely sure about the others. Well, after a few listenings, they have grown on me.

So yesterday I ordered all three albums from Amazon. I would have ordered the most recent from her own site, but for some reason (given it has a .es domain) it took off VAT and said I'd be responsible for import duty (to France). Uh, okay. Thanks but no thanks. I'm guessing this is a casualty of Brexit and the farcical last-minute mess that is the current Withdrawal Agreement? Oh, yes, this is probably it as despite having a .es domain, it's run by Townsend Music based in Great Harwood.

So I got the albums from third party sellers on Amazon (as Amazon wasn't stocking them itself). The CD of Arrows, for example, cost €6,32 (plus postage) while MP3 cost €7,99. Similar story for her first (self titled) album. The most recent album is €7,50 (plus postage) for a CD, or €9,99 for MP3. Prices for new CDs, not used.
From her own site, it's €8,99 (plus postage) for the CD, and €5,99 for a download (actually €4,99 as the site deducts VAT for some reason).
I agree with Polly's own site. The MP3s should be less expensive than the CD because you are getting a lossy music format plus most sources aren't even advanced enough to think of offering a PDF of the CD inlay booklet.
But it gets worse. If you choose to buy the album from Amazon, it's a tenner for the album, or €1,29 per song if you want to only buy one or two. How is that at all economic? Or, maybe I am asking the question the wrong way around - how much of that does Polly herself ever see?
Thankfully she is the (co-)songwriter and the performer, so she'll see twice the pittance, but I can imagine the majority share is split between the label and Jeff Bezos.

Anyway, as the songs grews on me, I ordered the three albums yesterday morning. I purchased In This Moment on the strength of one song (In This Moment) and my impression of the other two albums.
And... I have to give a big Thank You to the Amazon seller based in Moselle. They shipped the CD of Arrows yesterday at about half three in the afternoon. It arrived in the post today! That's faster than Amazon themselves sometimes manage using a parcel delivery service!


A guy at work heard me listening to Bunny Club while getting changed (I had it on speakers as it's not practicable to wear headphones while putting on hair net, mask, and all that sort of thing.
He asked who it was. So I wrote her name down and he said he'd look it up on Deezer (that he subscribes to).
Well, I think he might have a new favourite performer. He loves her voice and likes the music and how it is arranged. I have to say, I do like the layering and build-up - such as Nitrogen Pink and Bunny Club. And we both like how she throws so much emotion into her performances. There's something....real about it.

Unfortunately, I have a quantry. He has no idea what she's singing about because his English is various phrases and quoting Soft Cell. ☺ I don't know if telling him wha she's actually singing about will improve the songs, or the opposite? I mean, my God, "I've Got A Heart", it makes you wish somebody would just give her a hug. Fetch a box of Kleenex. And tea. Bucketloads of tea.


And finally

Here's breakfast/lunch/dinner. It was either that or a handful of Mars. I have stuff in the fridge, but I just don't feel like cooking. I woke at 6am, had some fruit juice, and went back to bed and woke just after nine. That's my usual weekend routine (I'm not a morning person), but on workdays if I wake at about six, well, that's it for me as the alarm will go off at seven, and I've never been one of those who could look at a pillow and fall asleep. In fact, I wake up a lot at night. Sometimes, I go to bed at about 11 or 11.30 and I'm up by three. Four hours to go. Staring at the wall. The ceiling. The clock. The wall. The ceiling. The clock. The strange thing, I can't see the wall or the clock or the ceiling as it's night and the light is off. But I can easily visualise them. Sometimes I've even gotten up to look at the clock with a torch to confirm that the time that I can 'see' on the clock is more or less what it actually says. My brain is incredible. I just wish it knew how to put itself into standby mode...

Pastrami toast and mustard crisps
Pastrami toast and mustard crisps.
It is buttered (well, "margarined" but nobody says that) toast with pastrami slices, which must surely be the most expensive way of selling beef ever. That, served with mustard crisps (maybe a sixteenth of a potato there).
And, of course, tea.
There's always tea.


Speaking of which, I think I'll upload this and then go watch The Inbestigators because I don't want anything that I'll need to think about... so while I am sorting out the RSS (and checking I upload the right bit!), seems like a good time to go put the kettle on.............



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David Pilling, 18th April 2021, 17:12
Not oil. "WD-40 stands for Water Displacement, 40th formula. That's the name straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who developed the product. The first company to use WD-40 commercially was Convair, an aerospace contractor, to protect the outer skin of the Atlas Missile from rust and corrosion."
David Pilling, 18th April 2021, 18:27
In a land long ago, where mornings were cold and people drove Ford Popular cars, I had a neighbour who put his spark plugs in the oven for 10 minutes before setting out for the day. 

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