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The unspeakable computery bits


So, a little spell offline over a busy summer and something nefarious broke the blog. Or, more specifically something in the underlying SQL. A few hours polish and it’s fixed. Apologies for the disruption.


plenty of updates in the pipeline including….

A complete re-roof of all of the outbuildings. STRESSFUL!

A visit to a Masked Ball at the Versailles Chateau

Some Special Visitors for the summer 2013 season

A Vintage bike-ride along the Loire

And so on.



If it ain’t broke, don’t try an’ fix it…

… except when it was broke hacked. Very broke HACKED!


I feel a bad moon rising.

Our first day out in the car for a few days today as we were running low on champers and truffles and needed to get off to the shops. All wrapped up we proceed to set off and.. high revs… no forward motion as the arse end of the car starts going sideways down the drive. EEP!

It’s been down to -11 over night and the brake pads on the rear had frozen solid, after I’d applied the handbrake a few days ago – the whole pad/disc/wheel combo was locked up solid.

Five minutes of warm water squirting onto the rear brake discs and I was finally able to free them up and we could then gingerly skate off down the mile of lanes we have, before we hit the main road which was thankfully snow and ice free.

Back home for some hot food and then it’s off out into the garden to rig up some chicken defrosting equipment. The chicken’s drinking water has frozen solid every night even though it was inside the chucky hilton which is itself, still inside one of the barns. Told you it was cold. No sign of a promised thaw is in sight just now so I reworked my old hand-built egg incubator into a chicken-water defrosting device and plugged it in. That should give them quite a few days autonomy now.

I’ve been trying hard to bone up on my photography skills and whilst sitting reading about it is all well and good, there’s no substitue for getting out and having a go. We’ve had such spectacularly beautiful days with the pressure system that’s brought this cold snap across to us and a full moon has been approaching for the last few nights… the only obvious thing to have a go at is the moon… and my ebay-bargain-humongous-zoom makes it possible. Technically.

What utter heartbreak to do all the homework, spend hours outdoors clicking away at the moon to end up with utterly rubbish photos. Time and time again I was just not getting it.. the results looked like MS-Paint, circa 1995.

But… at last this afternoon. A result. That’s my third evening expedition, wrapped up in a bazillion layers and almost unable to feel the shutter button as my fingers were so frozen solid. Anyway. I’m making progress and have conquered manual mode well enough to be able to share a photo. It can only get better! For a little inspiriation I did a check online for all photos on flickr tagged ‘moon’ taken on this day – 9th Jan. More than 540!


Moon over Bellebouche

As there are zero streetlights for miles around we do enjoy some breathtaking nightime displays. The canopy of the stars are stunning here and we’ve always enjoyed summer nights watching satellites/the shuttle/ the ISS spin overhead.

Stargazing is a little bit nerdy but we enjoy it so much that santa brought a telescope for Joan last year. We’re not far off having a rig to take photos with that – but milder nights must arrive first. It is spooky though staring at the moon and one thing springs to mind…

The rain is loud on the roof and beating on the windows.  The gathered continue to drink, play chess and darts, but all are silent and contemplative.

Perhaps they’ll be safe in the

The Chess Player slams his hand on the table. Shouts:

No one brought them here!  No
one wanted them here!

You could have told them!

Are you daft?  What do you
think they’d say?  They’d
think us mad.


The rain is subsiding.  There is a very faint howl.

Did you hear it?  We must go
to them.

I heard nothing.

Nor I.

Beware the moon, lads!

Happy Snappy

For many many years taking photographs was always just a perfunctory 35mm point and click. I’ve no idea where many of those photos from my very early years are. In a box in the loft no doubt.

In my mid twenties I bought a second hand Olympus IS-1. A pukka 35mm SLR with an integral zoom lens. It was quite the thing in it’s day and I still miss the form factor and pistol-grip. All of the great photographic trips of my life (all over Europe, the US, Southern Africa, The far east and Japan) were shot on that Olympus. I have hundreds of great photos and get a gooey feeling at the prospect of unearthing the best of them when a get a-round-tu-it.

Going digital for the first time in Late 2000 I splashed out on an eye-watering €800 Fuji Finepix 4700.  Almost €100 for a 32Mb memory card on top of that if you please! A point-and-click camera but it had a reasonably high resolution that was fine for web shots. Probably half of the shots on this website were taken with it so for that I’m particularly thankful – a real practical application and it earned its keep. Longevity wasn’t it’s strong point and the clever pointy-out lens bit and shutter mechanism gave up the ghost after four and a bit years. A sad day.

2005 and D-SLR’s were still unreasonably expensive… €1500 before you got anywhere, so thoughts of one of these went on hold for a while. I got a hands on with one in the summer of ’05 and took some interesting photos in the garden here – so the seed was sown.

Step into the frame an almost throwaway Canon A430 point and click digital. A massive leap in image quality over the Fuji and I was thrilled at the results with this thing and it was more than capable of bridging the gap. It still gets toted around everywhere as it comfortably slips into your jeans pocket – highly portable and bullet proof build quality. A good gizmo.

2007. The price of SLR’s comes down to consumer levels and I take the leap with a Canon EOS400D. What a massive learning curve. Reviewing my results over the 5000+ images I’ve taken shows that things are improving – slowly but surely. It is rewarding though to take a good photo and every once in a while something which I’d be happy to share comes along. They’re rare (0.6% of my snaps!) but that’s the beauty of digital. What you don’t want to keep, costs very little.

So, a handful of the better ones – almost all of which were taken here in Bellebouche or the locale are in this flickr slideshow set.

Click this for the full slideshow

Of course. The bug is biting a bit now. I’ve bought a couple of cheap bolt-on lenses. A Fixed focal length 50mm prime and an ebay cheapie 90-300mm zoom lens. I hope you see an improvment in the quality of the photos on the blog in future!

Crayon Physics

I rarely write up slices of my geek-life, but for this I’ll make an exception.

Download the small preview application here

After a delightful Easter* with my nephews (“almost six” and “four and a bit”) they all of a sudden were constructing things and thinking about dynamics, balance, inertia, gravity, acceleration.

Thinking back (“36 and a half years”)… If I’d have seen this at that age what might I have made of it?

I suspect it might have been a portal to a whole new world. Full marks to Petri Purho and your “Crayon Physics” application.

– Adrian

* a Couple of days enforced residence spent in the UK due to an unfortunate confluence of passport and sixty degree jeans wash!


When I’m not busy a-lime-mortarin’ or a beekeepin’ I sometimes parachute into the UK to do a little work for the UK clearing banks, this means a flight and a car rental and over the time I’ve been doing this it’s passed by largely without incident. Erm, until now that is.


Normal service resumes

It’s a long story, but the punchline is… I’m on the hunt for a new, somewhat more reliable webhost whose database servers are not run by chimps.

Houston We Have A Problem

Our wonderful seven year old digital camera is no more. It has finally given up the will to work. This has meant that we haven’t taken any photos in the last 3 weeks which is a shame as in this time we have visited some really amazing places and seen some truly outstanding things. We will write a few short posts later detailing these.

Today, our new camera arrived, courtesy of It has more functionality, is smaller and has a bigger memory – so watch this space !!

Speak now, or forever hold your peace

Well, we’ve decided to bite the bullet and finally turn on public comments for the blog. We’ve settled into using this new system for a couple of months now and we’re confident we can manage it properly. Just leave your name and email address along with any website you might like to see linked from your comment and a little note about what you want to say. Your email address is kept private, only we get to see it.
So, if you’ve got something to say then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on any of the posts. If you have any suggestions or pointers for us then we’d be delighted to hear from you!

Adrian & Joan

When you’re #1

Number one… on Google!

Sometime recently we seem to have climbed the Google page rankings and this week popped out on top as the number one result when you search for Bellebouche. After registering the website in November 2004 I submitted the address for google indexing and since then we’ve steadily climbed from position 112 to (sometime in the last week) number one.

It’s a teensy bit nerdy but every once in a while I take a look at the server logs of who has been tuning in, where they’re from and just how much our web visitors look at… the answer is… sometimes surprising.

I’m constantly pleased to see just how many readers we get. We’re averaging 800 or so hits a day, and plenty of unique visitors and all staying around to read some of the content. It’s a bit of a reminder that we should continue posting more about what we’re up to. Plenty of things are happening, mostly gardening stuff, but the first of the year’s construction projects gets started soon.

People do seem to come across our pages whilst looking for some cool things though. If you search for something and come here, having followed a link from a search engine, I get to see what you were searching for.

Some ‘highlights’…

road to santiago pilgramage cheap“, “sweetcorn in sewage”, “ryanir“, “ratpoo“, “espalier apple tree“, “france renovation diary” , “summer work in parthenay france“, “pruning overgrown sour cherry trees“, “charente renovation“, “price sluice gates” and “diligence woodburner

So. I have to say.. if you are checking for sweetcorn in sewage you have too much free time on your hands. If you are googling for sweetcorn in sewage as well then it’s time to seek professional help!

Update 20th May 2006 : Oh how the mighty fall!

I spoke to soon, or rather… because I spoke google doth smite me from their records! No sooner than I wrote this post then we vanished from all together but then leapt in to the number one slot on and Fancy that!

It’s all rather a bit of a giggle and I’d can’t profess to understand the whys and wherefores of it all… I’m sure someone, somewhere understands and cares about this kind of thing. Right. Enough nerdspeak… back to the jardin

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