Sunday, September 26, 1999

26/09/99 End of week update ...

Back again, after a busy week and a busy day.

Off to the market in Chambery this morning as usual, then stopped by Renaud & Sophie's for lunch and so that Jeremy and RĂ©mi could play together while I gossip, then up to St Jean d'Arvey for William's birthday party (and some more gossip with Steve while Isabelle looked after the kids). Jeremy was the token boy: William invites girls to his parties. Says he likes them. It's probably hereditary - Steve's the same

Finally got the evaluation from Bruno and the quote from his supplier for the central heating system: a bit more than I'd expected (hoped) but everyone tells me that it's incredibly cheap. At about 75000F all up, it probably is: most people are happy if they can get away with 125000F. The radiators are expensive but should last a lifetime or two (they get made to measure, I found out) and the big oil burner that feeds them and the hot water system is another big item but once again, it's top-quality German stuff (only the Germans understand central heating, or so the French say) so I suppose I can't complain.

The only thing that annoys me is that I have to wait three weeks or so for the radiators to arrive, which pushes us back to the end of October before the system is up and running - I suppose we'll just have to grin and bear it, and hope it doesn't get too cold before then. Couldn't be worse than last winter anyway, when we had the electric heating on and it made no bloody difference (apart from the power bills). On the brighter side, the bank's lending us the money to pay for the hardware at only 3% interest: we had points left over from when we bought the house, and although I could (just) pay for it out of my pocket I rather prefer to have a bit of cash sloshing around just in case and at that sort of rate it's pretty much a no-brainer.

Renaud and Sophie are in pretty much the same situation, which I suppose should cheer me up. They don't even have any backup heating in their nice new house, which worries Sophie no end. Mind you, she likes worrying. Renaud has been enormously busy trying to transform the 45° slope down to his front door into a sort of rustic rockery with stone steps up to the driveway and garage. Their house, you see, is built on two levels on a hillside, with the garage and bedrooms up at the top and the living areas below. As the place was, until very recently, a construction site, he has about 100 cubic metres of topsoil at the top of the slope - which he'll have to shift down to below the house when he gets around to terracing the hillside so that they can have something resembling a garden -and a muddy slope with 150kg rocks in it down to the front door. So far he's managed to get a retaining wall about three metres high up to the level of the driveway and has terraced about half-way up following the curve of the hillside. Hard work - I don't mind watching.

The tractors are out bringing in the trailers full of grapes for the vintage and I bet those who started harvesting at the beginning of the week are feeling pretty smug as today it started persisting down. Still warm - about 24° - but wet. Very wet. They're still forecasting another "vintage of the century" - what else could you expect for the last year of the millenium - but they might even be right: the grapes are healthy, as the summer has been so dry, so a day or so of rain won't do any damage that a few sunny days next week (as predicted) and some extra sugar in the vats won't cure.

Tomorrow ... definitely the first day of autumn: grey and wet and a bit blustery. Still, it's relatively warm. Had to rush up into the attic at about 11 last night to push a slate back into place: it had shifted sideways a little over the summer and as a result the rain was plitting on top of the ceiling, making a nice little soggy puddle of the insulation. Which I shall have to replace soon anyway, as it's not really in the best of shape.

Given the weather we haven't done much so far today - Jeremy's been busy with his Junior Meccano and right now is sitting in front of the TV watching Cow and Chicken, while I try to summon up the courage to go and attack the Pile of ironing. I've been trying to put off the dreaded moment by working on my stock-control project, but I've just about got to the point where I'll have to run it against the database to check out the inventory transfer functions and as I haven't installed SQL Server on the home machine it'll have to wait until Monday. Maybe if I went and had lunch ... that would gain me another 20 minutes.
And then I think we'll head off to see Jean-Gilles and look at getting a new 19" screen for the home machine: the one I've got now works fine but only with one specific video card (probably the last remaining on the planet) and on top of it won't lock on to anything but 1024*768 in 256 colours, so I can't see a thing if there's a full-screen DOS box up, or while the machine is booting. Now that 19" screens are a reasonable price (and I can get one at cost from J-G anyway) I think I might as well profit from the situation to pick up a new one (and a spanking new video card to go with it) and Margo can inherit the old one.
Bye now
Trevor & Jeremy

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