Our house in France is essentially in the middle of a field. The front part is our own bit of field; the garden and drive between the house and the road. The rest of the field was sold off to a nearby farmer who knows how many decades ago. His land effectively comes right up to the walls of the house along the back and the two sides but he leaves us a walkway when he cultivates it. He also owns and cultivates an enormous field across the road so our own little bit of paradise is basically an island in the middle of a huge plot of land owned by one farmer. This year he has grown nothing on any of this land.
Back in April he spread weed killer on all of it then over the following few weeks he created three huge piles of dung (cow manure). Since then we have been surrounded by dung heaps!
They ponged for a few days after each truckload of dung was added to a pile, and for several weeks we were inundated with flies inside and outside the house. Living in the countryside has its challenges!
We knew that sooner or later he would do something with this dung and sure enough, yesterday morning he turned up with his digger and tractor with the muck spreader attached. Of all the agricultural processes we have to live with, muck spreading is the one I dread the most!
Unfortunately he picked a time when we had visitors. However, they are young and fairly laid back about most things so we still barbecued and sat out late.
He parked his muckspreader in the gateway directly opposite the house as he left to go home late in the evening, gave us a cheery wave and wished us a pleasant evening!
I am a bit concerned about one of our new air conditioning units. The one that serves our bedroom is perched well above ground but the engineers put the other one actually on the ground because the wall of the house just there was too uneven to mount it higher up.
Most agricultural processes result in some kind of stuff being flung about and I'm worried that the lower one might get damaged. Nick thinks it will be fine but I'm not so sure so I have placed a sheet of old cardboard over it for when he spreads the muck on the back field. If the cardboard remains untouched all will be well but if it ends up splattered we will have to either build some kind of screen around it or get the engineers back to try harder to mount it higher up.
Still speaking of dung, yesterday some unwelcome post arrived.
Our lovely neighbours in the UK keep an eye on our house there and once a week check the post. We usually decide what is worth sending on to us here and decided that an unfamiliar looking letter was worth a look.
It was a parking fine for me from my visit in July.
On my last day there I had arranged to meet a former work colleague at a Starbucks cafe which was on her way home from work and convenient to both of us. The restaurant is in a small retail park just off the M1 and serves as a motorway services. She was held up at work and a bit late arriving but we had a nice long catch up over a couple of coffees.
The fine is because I stayed ten minutes longer than the time allowed for free. The parking spaces right outside the door of the cafe are owned by someone who employs a car parking company to collect ludicrously high charges for people who stay too long. £60 if I pay within fourteen days and £100 if not.
They turned out to be expensive cups of coffee and illustrate one of the saddest things about what is happening in the UK. There are rip off schemes and scams in everything.
While our young visitors have been here we have taken them all over this part of France and parked in plentiful car parks entirely for free.