Bassin progresses

One of my daily pleasures is having a mid-morning coffee with Jacky, the delightful guy building my bassin.  He is both a true Cévenol – I keep finding he is related by marriage to various people I know, like a goat farmer and wood merchant – but also a classic example of the ‘alternatifs’, who make this part of the Cévennes so interesting: passionate about nature and ecological issues, shares my views on politics (and is therefore correct…) and is a lovely cheerful gentle person.  His partner Marthe Pialat is the painter, one of whose paintings now graces Ed and Jude’s dining room.

Jacky is an artist too, a paysagist who has become the local builder of bassins – natural pools.  He loves creating each bassin to belong to its unique environment, and enthuses daily about my view. By the end of this week he will have completed the second layer of cement; there will then be a third, finer layer and then he will be working on stone walls to hide the cement. Here is a photo I took at the start of the week.  Since then Jacky has completed the wall separating the plant pool (on the right) from the swimming pool (the larger one on the left.

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You can see (below) that the plant pool has now been finished.  In due course, he says, it will have not just plants, but its local population of frogs, dragonflies and other water loving beasts.  The area just above it will include a space for a seat so I can sit watching the wildlife and listening to the water falling from the plant pool to the swimming pool.  The shallow slope for walking into the water is in the foreground.

2014-03-05_IMG_0098The main problem with the site is that the neighbour’s house is very visible.  But Jacky plans to plant along with wall and says that the neighbour’s oak tree will in time spread to hide their terrace.

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There are local friends who think I will have to pay increased local taxes on the grounds that this is a piscine – a swimming pool – rather than a basin – a pool for storing water, on the grounds that it has been given a concrete base. I looked on the internet and distinctions between basins and piscines seems to be a bit of a grey area.  But Jacky says that it is definitely a bassin, because there are plants in the upper pool – and that it is the plants not the concrete which define it as a bassin.  He agrees that one day authorities will no doubt get round to changing the rules, in order to get more local revenue, but for the time being none of the bassins he has been building in this area  get counted as piscines.

Processionary caterpillars

Well, we get days of wind and rain, but they are interspersed with glorious days of sunshine, like today (temperatures hit 17 this afternoon). But the lack of any real cold weather has some worrying implications.  The pin maritime in front of the house has about a dozen chenilles processionaires (processionally caterpillar) nests.

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This is really worrying.  When the caterpillars come down, they form a weird line, head to tail.  But they are not just fascinating to look at, they are extremely dangerous and poisonous..  Last year we came across a line of chenilles during my birthday party, and guests quickly and efficiently burnt them.

Here’s a photo I took in 2009.

Chenilles processioaires

I’m particularly worried because these are particularly lethal for dogs.  I just have to look out for them every day and get there before Poppy does.

Much prettier is the changing colours in the landscape as the hazelnut trees are covered in catkins.

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Chris’s eucalyptus tree

Well, our weather is clearly milder than in Britain, but apparently there were some quite strong winds in January, when I was in hospital. One of the casualties was sadly the eucalyptus tree which we planted over Chris’s ashes, on his former vegetable plot.

It was already snapped in half a year or so ago, but quickly re-established itself. This time, I fear it is too near the base.
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View from my new bed

Taking a quick rest before driving (first time in three months!) down to le Vigan for a physio session.  The photo is all skew whiff because I’m lying on my back (notice Poppy has sneakily crept up) and does not do justice to the glorious warm sun shining on my bed.

2014-02-04_IMG_2072.JPGThe terrace is unfortunately a mess.  The jacuzzi was covered inefficiently in my absence.

Couldn’t resist a couple more photos of the new bed on which I was reclining.
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Bassin naturel

My bassin naturel – natural pool (cleaned by filtration and plants and no chemicals) – has made excellent progress while I was in hospital.  Jackie, the landscaper who is creating it, is an artist, delighting in the challenges that the location of each pool brings. He is currently taking a one month break, but the pool looks well on schedule to being ready for this summer.

The pool will be on a lower terrace in front of the house.

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Room for a tree and viewing bench in the foreground.  The water is pumped from below (pump house just visible) up to the top of the pools (right), passes through a pool of plants, over a little waterfall into the circular swimming area below. The main sitting area and entry to the pool will be top left.

Photographed from the main sitting area, you can see the sole problem: the visibility of the neighbours’ house.  Jackie had to cut back a lot of greenery which hid this.  We are now discussing what to plant which will quickly restore the privacy.

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This will be the way down into the pool:

2014-02-02_IMG_6205And here is the view from below the pool, looking up to the house (neither car nor bulldozer will be there!):

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Weekend visitors

I cherish the visits, because I know this is a good hour’s drive from home.

Charles and Pierre came on Saturday, full of news about the previous week’s concerts, at which of course I could not perform, and dark hints about ‘l’ambience’.  I fear la jalousie des musiciens continues.  It was a good visit, they came armed with DVDs which I look forward to watching.

Then om Sunday Margaret came with Poppy and we had another lovely walk in the sunshine.  Margaret has brought me up to date on local news and scandals – and no, I won’t risk repeating these on the internet.  She and Hans visit my house regularly.  The kitchen progresses, although it appears my fridge and dishwasher are too old to attach to the doors I have bought.  Richard is attempting to find a solution.

The pool is making good progress.  Jacky is taking January off, but already you can see the main pool taking shape.

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The weekend saw a lot more people leave for Christmas. We are down to about 20 who can’t leave because they have thoraces – like -me, or are still in wheelchairs, or live alone.