An Uncertain Point of View

île de Ré and Back [Part 2] Sunday 20 August 2017

Despite the previous entries and despite our attempts at budgeting, it appears we may have to take a rest-day – another one, as, physically at least, today hasn’t been the most challenging – in another bloody hotel this week.

Physically and mentally, we could keep going until we get someone from Warmshowers to actually be available – and just keep moving until then. But there are some practical matters to attend to – there are always some ‘practical matters’ to attend to – that require extended Internet access. Something you cannot take for granted in the France we’ve seen so far – even in hotels! But a hotel is the best bet to have that bloody access. Ironically, we require some of this access to more accurately check our finances and take our budgeting beyond best-guesstimate, whilst simultaneously taking a lump out of our finances in order to do so. But, we also need it to make contact with some people, and there’s still a lot of things that need to be checked on – so maybe it is unavoidable this week.

But we have to get off this track as soon as possible.
It’s bloody unnecessary 
and expensive.
And we don’t even like doing it.
It’ll have to come down to necessity to do so.

We’ve got to get better at sorting out accommodation
or dealing with the lack of it when it isn’t there.

Cos Warmshowers really ain’t cuttin’ it at all in France. We’ve had two great hosts in Normandy, of course, but it appears that the whole of France, or at least Pays de la Loire, has gone on vacation for the middle two weeks of August. And while it may, therefore, be wrong to be either too harsh on the place or the website, I am a bit disenchanted with our ability to escape these costly ‘conveniences’ for longer than a week at a time.

So we have to continue to work on this ability, which is what we are about to do. But please notice, you unknown third person I’m having this conversation with, the word ‘work’ there. Keeping such a lifestyle going is definitely not the easy option. It requires planning and effort and focus to retain the integrity of the essential idea of travelling around from place to place, resting our weary bodies, and then moving on. It’s not just dropping everything and buggering off. It isn’t.

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OK, we’ve found a solution for this week – we are good when we put our heads together and focus. Barring finding a host in Bordeaux for two nights at the end of the week, we are going to camp in the environs of Bordeaux Thursday evening. Then, Friday, work our way into the city to try and make us of the facilities available there: wi-fi, recharging, and laundry. Then drift out of the city as twilight approaches to pitch our tents and make our way on Saturday.

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Compost, Mulching, and Preparing the Garden for Spring #3

Organic Matter

As January has come to an end, so has our composting and mulching of the garden beds. We’ve managed to empty the compost pit of most its solid organic matter, and used it in combination with cardboard to cover them. These beds can now absorb all the goodies from both the brown and the green matter, simultaneously being protected from exposure, severe temperatures, and too dry or too wet periods. On top of this, any unwanted perennials or weeds will have to make a lot more effort to grow in Spring or Summer, which is another thing we want: win-win 🤞

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  1. We’ve developed a routine collecting cardboard from supermarkets whenever we get access to a car. This happens on average four times a month, and allows us to collect a significant amount of brown matter.
  2. Here – 25 January 2020 – we harvested celeriac planted 02 May 2019 which we happily shared with our neighbours 😊 We immediately covered the soil with cardboard.
  3. We then extracted whatever was left of the solid organic matter from the pit.
  4. And, in the final stage, distributed it evenly.

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As mentioned in a previous post, in March the cardboard should be nicely decomposing and the layer of organic matter on top quite dry, making it possible for us to break up the bigger pieces, remove any debris, and remove and return anything that still needs breaking down to a compost heap. By April, it will resemble the soil it will become: a new layer of soft soil ready for sowing and planting. Today we had a sneak-peek under a mulch layer and, much to our surprise, we saw busy earthworms already ‘having a good time’ 😁

Avoiding digging or ploughing, and keeping the earth undisturbed, well-fed, protected, and mulched, makes for a much healthier ecosystem for both the plants and the organisms and microbes within. Healthy undisturbed soil provides enough food for all those small creatures, which, in exchange, break down the organic matter, making more healthy and healthier soil for the plants that we want to grow. It is a cyclical process – and one of the most basic, beautiful, and essential cooperations on our planet. 

If we look after the soil, it will look after us. 👍🌍

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This year, we’re aiming to improve our soil-making by building a two-compartment compost container out of pallets. From this, we hope to be able to cover most, if not all, of the garden beds with fresh home-made soil before next Winter. In the meantime, we’ve been making sure that the container we’re presently using is busy receiving green matter, brown matter, and pig manure.

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  1. Green matter (plant-based waste) and brown matter (paper, egg-boxes, and egg shells).
  2. Pig manure and straw.
  3. More brown matter (mainly cardboard and paper). It eliminates smells and helps absorb excess liquid from any soggy organic waste that comes next. 
  4. Pallets donated by our neighbours, waiting to be converted into the new composter. As part of an offer made to all local residents, the black plastic container was provided at no cost by our local council to promote a more eco-friendly use of household organic waste in the region. It has certainly found a good home here 😊

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Before closing today’s post, we’d like to share with you the joy and pleasure of harvesting vegetables in Winter. We sowed these carrots 25 April 2019. Today, 02 February 2020, they are still crispy, sweet – and very tasty. We haven’t had to buy any carrots since late Summer last year. So yes, a winter garden is something we’re going to be looking into even more this year 👍👩‍🌾💚👨‍🌾

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Great Adaptation for Polish (and English) Language Learners

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alicja w krainie czarów adapted by Scotia Victoria Gilroy

5*/5

As an adaptation and translation, I felt the vibe of the original Alice story, and found myself laughing and smiling throughout. I can happily say, therefore, that this was a job very well done and performed with care to the source material, allowing me to confidently recommend this to Polish language learners at around the B1/Lower Intermediate+ level who may be interested in improving their skills while enjoying an adaptation of a classic tale that talks to rather than down.

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*Of course, this mark reflects my opinion on this as an adaptation and translation rather than as a piece of literature.