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The French Blatting Company

Life at La Foie

January-March 2015

The story of the refurbishment of the Caterham is now on the "Bit of Daft" section HERE



On the night of 14th/15th January we had very strong winds and heavy rain. In the morning at 0900 we had to go to the hospital at Angers and as we drove out Lynne screamed and said "look at the shed". I left it as it was otherwise I'd be late for the hospital and it was chucking it down and still blowing a gale. When we got back this is what I found.

Looks horrendous doesn't it. But it wasn't as bad as it seemed. The telescope didn't actually hit the ground, only the forks it's mounted on. We "walked" it into the workshop (it's very, very heavy) and dried it down by blowing the water off with the airline and then I checked it by looking at the house with a 40mm eyepiece. It was OK. I'll let it dry out for a few days and then check the GOTO computer. I'm letting it dry on it's own overnight and I'll then put a small heater under it tomorrow.

18th January 2015

Not bad for 90.


Lynne's father was 90 on 18th January, 2015. We had a surprise birthday party for him at a pub in Ashford-in-the-water, near Bakewell, Derbyshire. We left home at 1000 on the Saturday, got the 1600 ferry from Caen to Portsmouth, landed at 2130 and drove to Winchester to stay at the Premeir Inn. Then Sunday morning up, breakfast and drive to the pub. After the party we went to Premier Inn at Derby for the night then next morning to Portsmouth for the 1445 boat.

Well that sound OK, but lets look at it in depth.

We left home at 1000 on the Saturday and got to Ouesterham, parked up and had a nice lunch in one of the restaurants on the quayside. 2 main courses, desert, bottle of water for me 1/2 carafe white wine for Lynne and total cost: 47. We left and joined the queue at the gates to the port. There were 3 cars there. After a while there was a knock on the window which woke us up and we moved forward onto the boat :). The boat departed on time and we settled down in the lounge. I was freezing as the heating ducts were blowing cold air. At about 1900 we went to the posh restaurant and had a meal. I selected "Spicy Avocat with crabbe" and a Sole Meuniere. Lynne missed the starter and had the sole. I've never had a more awful meal. The "spicy" was overwhelming with chilli, capers and other spice. Advocat is a delicate taste as is crab, this was ruined by the spice. To cap it off the crab and advocat were still frozen in the centres. The sole was equally ruined by being cooked in the same spicy mix that was on the advocat. Sole is one of my favourite dishes, just gently grille in a bit of butter and serve on the bone with a few veg. Great, but not this time. And the price for freezing and having a horrible meal-86. I didn't complain as I was feeling so cold I was shivering. Really-shivering. There were 10 cars and 6 lorries on board but if they can't afford the heating then don't run the boat with a handful of people.

We got off on time and drove to Winchester to check into the new Premier Inn. I had put the address given in my satnav. We spent 10 minutes being directed in a circle and after making some phone calls found the hotel (where I thought it was, by the motorway) an hour later. Checked in and went to the bar for a well deserved pint. Only beer was Boddingtons on gas and it was freezing cold. Beer should be at room temperature and be hand pumped not gas pumped. Never mind, I'll get a decent pint tomorrow.

Up at 0630 and breakfast, which was self service from dishes under heat lamps. Ever had fried eggs dried out by heat lamps? No, well take it from me and don't try. On the road to Derbyshire. The roads were covered in salt and I used a full bottle of screen wash by the time we got to Cherwell Services. Another 4 litres went in (but ran out when we got to the pub).  WE pulled into the pub car park which was full. Just then someone left so we were in. I texted my daughter as I wanted to get the stuff from her car into mine in daylight. Now, I thought we were there before her but as we didn't have a strong signal (this was Ashton-in-the-Water near Buxton) it took a while to get her message that they were inside waiting for us. It was now too late to swap the stuff over.

Left to right. Tanya, our daughter, Lynne, Hymie, Malakia our grandson and Denise, Lynne's sister. Malakai normally smiles nicely for photographs, but he was so excited in seeing us (he didn't know we would be there) that he kept giving us a scary face.

Big puff now, Hymie

Big cake!


The party was for Lynne's father and he thought his other daughter and her husband were taking him out for lunch. He did not know we and 13 others were there waiting for him. The scenes were a bit emotional but he loved it. We had a nice meal and I had a pint or three of Black Sheep. We left at about 1700 and swapped all the stuff from one car to the other. Problem was that in the dark I could not see to pack it properly. We made our way down the A6 to Derby and checked into the Premier Inn without further mishap. We were going to get up at 0600, breakfast at 0630 and off the Portsmouth. However we couldn't sleep, not sure why as the room was nice, quiet and warm (maybe too warm, we normally have no heating in the bedroom-no comments please!). So at 0400 we got showered and dressed and left at 0430. On the way up we struggled through two sets of roadworks on the M1 so going back I went M43, M40, A34, M3. Got on really well, stopping at Cherwell to top up the empty washer bottles. Crawled past Oxford and then got going again. Until a police car went past with blues and twos and the traffic came to a standstill. Then the fire engine went past. Road closed so off and find your own way as diversion signs hadn't been set up yet. I sort of knew which way to go and we were one of the first back on the A34. Bit spooky going flat out with no traffic in front of you. Looked up the incident on Google when we got back. A car transporter was in collision with van and the transporter had turned over - into the field next to the road. The road was completely clear so I have to ask why was it closed. I'm aware police officers say they close high speed roads for safety reason (their safety) but a two lane A road with one lane closed and police directing shouldn't be a threat to their safety, should it?

Dad and his daughters

Left to right. Me, Simon our son, Lynne cuddling Malakai, Hymie, Paul (Tanya's better half - Big bloke at the back), Leanne Simon and Kerry's daughter, Kerry (just peeping out) Simon's better half, Tanya and Denise, 

Arrived at Machine Mart with plenty of time, got the stuff in the boot re-packed and the Machine Mart (including a garage creeper) stuff in. I'd organised to pick up three packs of lino tiles and a tub of glue from a carpet shop very near Machine Mart, they had to go on the back seat. Got to the port, checked in and joined the queue. Went into the cafeteria and got an "all day breakfast" roll, and a drink. Wasn't wonderful but it filled a hole. Loaded on to the boat about 1600. This time there were a few more cars and lorries, about 25 cars and a dozen lorries. But the boat was freezing cold. We went into eat at 1830 and avoided the frozen advocate and crab and the sole. The restaurant was colder on this boat than the one going out. There were about 6 parties in the restaurant and all kept their top coats on and complained about the cold. I didn't have a top coat, it was in the car. It may be because I'm currently not fit (back trouble) that I really felt ill. This time I had Saint Jacque (clams) for a starter and the lamb chops. Lynne had no starter and the Beef Bourguignon. The Saint Jacque were OK but the lamb chops were so fatty and stringy I couldn't eat them. Lynne's Beef was likewise, she left most of it. This time I did complain but it didn't get us anywhere. 

Off the boat at 2130 and on our way. Now, I've been having trouble seeing the road with dipped lights. I have the light switch on auto so the lights come on when it's dark, be that day or night. However the dipped is so low it's difficult to see ahead in the dark. I was concentrating so hard and had not had any sleep the night before that half way home I had to stop for a nap. We pulled into the Aire and pulled in behind a lorry. I turned the lights out and we both went to sleep for an hour. Awake I turned the lights on and away we went. At this point I realised I could see much better. Turns out the auto lights double dip and when not on auto the dipped beam is where it should be, higher than it was. We got home about 0100 and the temperature was down to -2 c. The sky was crystal clear with thousands of stars visible and no flickering at all. What astronomers call "good seeing". If we weren't so tired we'd have got the telescope out and spent an hour or so looking at this fantastic sky. Didn't get that good a night's sleep, too tired probably.

Next morning I emptied the car. Spent an hour setting up Lynne's new computer, a few minutes setting up the new wifi repeater (amazing half the price of the ones I bought last week which 2 were faulty, took nine hours of setting up and the cheap one just worked straight out of the box). Then I set up the new Humax PVR with a 2TB disc. After all that I got the nuts and bolt cabinets from the workshop ready to sort out my nuts (see below). I then got my new Sparco seat belts out of the packing and started to adjust the straps. By this time is was 2200 and we both crawled into bed and slept well.


20th January 2015

On our trip to the UK I collected lots of bits I had ordered, mainly through amazon and ebay and had sent to the office. My daughter brought them to the pub and we filled the Mini. When we got to Portsmouth we called into Machine Mart and collected a load of stuff they were holding for me. I bought two 30 drawer cabinets and have spent the past two days sorting my new and old nuts, bolts, setscrews and washers into new, labeled drawers. Like this....

The two new ones are at the bottom, the old ones on top. There's another two in the workshop but they're all sorted with other stuff.





On the 24th January 2015 I purchased a Land Rover Series 3 from a chap in Rosyth, Scotland. Why? Well I've always wanted a Land Rover, a Series 2a would have been nicer but they're so expensive now. And why from Scotland? Well the price was right, it had a buy it now price so I did a deal and paid for it straight away. Now to collect it.



This was our Itinerary:  

We left home for Ouisterham on Monday afternoon and checked into a hotel. We had a lovely dinner, 6 oysters followed by a lobster for me and Dover Sole for Lynne. We arose at 0700 next morning and walked the 200 metres to the port, had a coffee and got on the boat. Full English breakfast followed (what diet?). The boat arrived on time at Portsmouth and we got a taxi to the station and got the 1423 train to Southampton and then on to Sheffield (see above). Only problem was the line is closed between Banbury and Leamington. We were advised that buses and coaches would be waiting for us at Banbury and take us on to Leamington. There would be a train waiting to take us to Birmingham New Street. NO. Coach was there but no train waiting, after 15 minutes a train pulls in and we get on. Only problem is it's going to Moor Street. We get off and we've already missed our train to Sheffield. It went at the exact time we got on at Leamington. We ask where's the train to New St. only to be told we have to walk. I have 5 fractured vertebrae and Lynne has asthma so breathing is difficult. We now have to carry our bags the 1/2 mile to New Street station. We get the 1903 train (should have been the 1803). We go for 10 minutes and then I'm aware the train has stopped. I have earphones in listening to Cat Stevens. After 15 minutes we are informed the delay was because a lady has thrown herself out of a window. I know exactly how she feels, she must have been on the same train-bus-train as we. Now all this would not be a problem other than we should have met friends for dinner at 1918 at the station. We were so late that after dozens of calls and texts we decided to postpone until the following night.

Next morning, I'm up at 0400, taxi at 0445 and train from Sheffield at 0529. On time, connections made like a clock and arrive at Rosyth on time. Only problem was surly station staff at Edinburgh who couldn't be bothered to find out which of the 3 trains on platform 17 was the one going to Rosyth. 

Do you like my new handbag. It has tools, magazines, number plates, an ipad and lots of other goodies. 

The new road bridge over the firth of forth. Not finished yet but very impressive. 



The previous owner picked me up at the station and we went to his house. He explained all there was to explain, handed over the paperwork and I got going. It was about 1100. I wanted to go the scenic route down the A68 but as the East coast was snowing I went down the West coast motorways. Apart from the boredom of driving 250 miles at 55 MPH the journey was uneventful, until I got to the M1. I would normally have gone over the Snake Inn Pass but it was closed due to snow and ice. 

There was heavy traffic as I joined the A60 and the M1 traffic was at a standstill when I came off the M62. I went on the inside lane and when we started to move the car was wandering from left to right and was impossible to keep straight. After a while I moved to the centre lane and the car behaved correctly, the wandering stopped. I turned off at Meadowhall and went on towards Hillsborough. 


When I was approaching the traffic lights at the Barnsley Road/Herries Road by the Northern General Hospital, two police cars, one from the opposite way and the other from behind, stopped me and asked me to pull onto the pavement. A white car also pulled over. It would appear the chap in the white car, shall we call him Mr A - on the HOLE a good name, was following me when the car was wandering. He was a senior officer and had arranged the stop. I heard him say that I should be breathalised, the car checked over and summonsed for undue care and attention, at least. He then left. The second police car also left and I was in the hand of PC Tankard. He was a very nice chap, he inspected the steering, all the documentation and then, sitting in his nice BMW wrote out an on-the-spot fine for 100 for Undue Care And Attention. The fine was paid by credit card. In case your wondering about this the Police can now impose on-the-spot fines for non UK residents. He said, 3 times, that I could appeal and request a court appearance. At the time I said I wouldn't do that as the fares would come to 3 times the fine. 

I was now late for the postponed dinner date with my friends. They probably thought I was avoiding them. I picked up Lynne and we got to the restaurant about an hour late. The place, the meal and the company were beyond compare. It cheered me up no end. On telling the tale, two people said the problem was the grooves in the carriageway made by HGV's.

I would have expected an experienced traffic officer to have know this, Mr. A apparently didn't. So I am now appealing and have requested a court date for the Monday morning of the 30th March when we will be in Sheffield for our annual visit. Whilst I know you can never predict the result of a court hearing I'm very confident I will win and get my fine and expenses back.

Next morning we leave Tanya's (our daughter) at 0715 and get to Portsmouth without any major traumas. I had to pick up some vinyl tiles from a carpet shop but left my gloves and handbag in the shop. I was using a sack barrow to get the two heavy boxes from the warehouse (around the corner) to the car and forgot to go back in the shop to collect my stuff. Half way to the port I realised and turned around to go back. As I turned from the main road to a side street the car cut out and wouldn't start. I was causing a major traffic jam so drove forward on the starter. I pulled in at the back of Iceland. I put a gallon of petrol in (the fuel gauge doesn't work but I was sure we had fuel as I'd filled up about 100 miles ago). It still wouldn't start so I got the 2 gallon can out, caught a taxi and got another 2 gallons. I put this in but still not starting. Spinning over very fast but no joy. In the meantime Lynne gets a taxi back to the shop to collect gloves and bag. Just as well as if she hadn't we would have missed the ferry. I then climbed up to open the bonnet (spare wheel is on bonnet) and checked fuel - OK, and spark -weak and not consistent. The battery was on the cusp of being too weak to drive the starter and ignition. A lady from Iceland called her son to get his car and jump leads. A few minutes later, jumped from an Escort it started. We gave him a drink, which he protested wasn't necessary, shut the bonnet, drove off at high speed (well faster than a walking pace) and got to the ferry with minutes to spare.


The ferry crossing was uneventful and we docked on time, drove the few hundred yards to the hotel, showered and went to bed, instantly asleep. Next morning had breakfast and set off home. We arrived at 1300 and had some lunch.


Now you must be getting the idea that we've not stopped eating. You're correct! So much for my diet. The good news is that I've only put on 0.9 kgs. After lunch I backed up to the workshop and emptied the stuff in the back of the car. 4 spare wheel with tyres, a new tyre (no wheel), a huge box of spares, 4 cans of fluids, more boxes of stuff as well as 2 heavy boxes of vinyl tiles, our cases and bags. 

I guess this car was overloaded although it's too late now to find out. I will use this to give further reason for the car wandering on the motorway. As I haven't been summonsed for being overweight I cannot now be prosecuted for it. So worn carriageway and a car at the point of being overloaded should convince the court I was not driving with undue care and attention - I hope. 


I'll try and buy the next project in Portsmouth!


Weekend of 14th/15th February 2015.

My right ankle was hurting but not too bad. No idea why, I hadn't twisted or knocked. Next day it was a bit better. The following day the pain had moved to my big toe. That night I was in agony and took 1 Tramadol, 2 paracetamol and codeine and 10 mg morphine (not all at once, I doubt I'd be typing this if I had). In te morning off to the hospital. Now you must promise not to laugh, it isn't funny, well a little titter maybe..... I have gout! I thought gout was something boozy old men got, er, well that fits then, doesn't it. It's now Thursday and well on the way to recovery.


19th February 2015.


A friend asked to see my tool boxes in the workshop, so here they are (how boring!)

Riveting! No, actually the rivets are in a box under the black shelving with the cabinets on.




On Monday 23rd March 2015 I serviced Lynne's Honda Jazz.  I looked up the invoices and found it had been serviced in January 2013 but has only done 6000 miles since. So I didn't change the 8 plugs only the oil and filters. One of the air filter screws was so tight that the phillips head had been rounded off. I tried to get it loose with a chisel but the plastic air box broke first.

One over tightened screw-or should I rephrase that.

I then looked up and saw why Lynne had complained about a squeak.

Can't see it? Do you know what it is yet?

Yes, it's Micky, very dead and very dry. I said mummified but was corrected, it's mousyfied.


When I did get the air cleaner out I found the filter to be almost as clean as the new one.


On the 27th March we went to the UK for our annual visit. We went early and for a short visit as the kids are coming here this year so we didn't need to put them out for too long. We returned on 1st April (fool!)

Whilst there we took our grandson to Jodrell Bank. He's 8 (9 in August) and when we got there he exclaimed "Nanny I can't get my breath, It's so BIG"


So here's a pictorial record of the day. I know there's a lot but he is our only grandson.

He seems to like crisps. There's a surprise!

Yes, he's enjoying those crisps

OK, that's done, now what?

My gorgeous wife, enjoying the day. 

Nanny, what's this?

Oh, look it's flown away!

He makes her laugh. It's great to see her so happy.

He's posing for these!

See, nanny, I can make a funny face.


The black hole machine. You spin a ball around the edge and as it gets sucked into the black hole it gets faster and faster. Never mind about Malakai, I want one! Great fun.

Infra red photo of Malakai. He thought this was great.

Wow, Malakai, that is a big bang. Good exhibit, you go inside and the universe from the big bang until now is portrayed on the inside wall.


A model of the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope.




One night on our visit we had the whole family together at a great restaurant in Sheffield.

The two at the end are Simon and Paul (son and son-in-law) they found something to amuse them.


On the way back we stopped off at a restaurant in London to meet a friend of Lynne's. They've known each other since starting nursery when they were 4 years old. 

Old friends!


We then went off to see Lynne's Aunt, Stella, who is in a care home in Wembly.