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tool lorry pionsat puy de dome auvergne france novembre november 2008 copyright free photo royalty free photo

One of the delights of living out here in the wilds of the Combrailles is the regular arrival of the tool lorry.

Pionsat has its market every Friday morning, but the first Friday of the month is fair day. Not the fair as in entertainment and dancing and the like, but fair as in its early medaieval meaning when itinerant travellers and craftsmen come to the village to expose their artefacts.

Pionsat market is a shadow of its former self, even from the days when I first started coming here. Even the first Friday of the month is pretty sad. But the tool lorry can liven things up. We don't have Pound Shops (Dollar Stores) such as I am used to, but the tool lorry is somethimes a reasonable bet. A catalogue is delivered to your house by the postie about a week before the lorry is due, and that gives you time to have a good thumb through. It's mostly overpriced garbage but occasionally there is something that catches the eye that you won't find in any of the more established shops.

And certainly not in Pionsat. Shopping here is miserable.


low cloud over the mountain pionsat puy de dome auvergne france novembre november 2008 copyright free photo royalty free photo

One of the low lights (if you pardon the pun) is the weather. I deliberately chose this area as it is in the frontier of three different climatic zones - the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the COntinental - and so the weather is changeable and there is regular rain, just what you need if you are growing crops.

But sometimes the wind dies down, and if the calm is in conjuction with what was previously a westerley wind off the Atlantic, we can have stationary clouds that stick on the mountain here, shrouding everything (including my solar panels) in a thick clammy mist. The clouds have sometimes stuck for days. This one lasted for three, and on one day I had as little as 0.2 amp-hours of solar electricity - a figure I can have in just under 40 seconds when the sun is going flat out on my panels.

Of course there is no wind either so the wind turbines don't go round. On days like these, there isn't very much that you can do.


snowfall in novembre november 2008 les guis virlet pionsat puy de dome auvergne france copyright free photo royalty free photo

We had a wind that picked up and moved the clouds along - but I noticed that it was coming from the north-east. That's in the direction of the Continental weather front, and so at this time of year that means that the temperature will drop. If the wind stays from the east, we'll have cold frosty weather - just the job for my solar panels. But if it veers back round to the west and brings a raincloud, the low temperatures will produce snow.

And sure enough, the wind veered round and we had a sudden and dramatic fall of snow. It didn't last long, but it was there none the less. Winter is definitely here.



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