Monday, 31 January 2011

Why does that make me feel so good…

Well, “hows about that then”….the mobile homes never came, and how very expected is that.  When I scrambled into conscientiousness this morning Mike was dressed and ready to go, today was mobile home day and as I clomped my way through the tedious routine of getting ready for the day I had a real feeling of foreboding. Before breakfast I had given HOSS a ticking off for barking too loud and the cock for cockadoodledoodling inappropriately so early in the day.  I called Monsieur Morris to make sure he was prepared for the transport lorry and he sounded as ready as a French chap can sound selling two old mobile homes. 
I made porridge, as punishment for the moody start to my day and it felt good and justified. The sound of the phone screaming for attention from the lounge forced me to pass a comment in the way that you do when you know precisely what is about to happen next and I said, “that will be the transport company saying they can’t come”.
I must confess that if the transport planner had said the driver had colic and he couldn’t come I would have sent him my best wishes and accepted a new plan, but when the planner calls you to say the vans will be delivered on Thursday because we had not been given Monday as a delivery date I just saw red. My French is good and my intuition and observations of behaviour is mostly spot on and the attitude, speed and volume at which the planner was telling me that at no time was I given a delivery date just made me screech with anger. I knew he was in the wrong, and so did he.  We were both at it hammer and tongs, me, in the “I am the client”  corner and him in the “I’ve got your deposit and your caravans” corner so I took the blow as soon as I realised  that at any moment he could throw the phone down and I would be at his mercy to get my caravans to Brevands.  I shut up and let him tell me that despite my daily calls to his office the girl who gave me the date of Monday, actually said, “we will call you on Monday”. So, I wonder where the conversation was going when I asked her at what time we could expect our delivery on Monday and her reply was that the driver would call us en route to ensure that we would be in and ready for him.  I am amazed that the large transport company can allow the planner to lie to that extent, he most likely took a call late Friday afternoon to collect a load from  Caen or Cherbourg on Thursday and  moved us about  so he could get a return shout at our expense. Mike and I got over the initial, put the house on the market we are going back to the UK routine but then  agreed that  any profit seeking transport company would do the same the world over, I just don’t like being treated like an incompetent foreigner when I actually hold my own quite well. We have a few extra days now to prepare for delivery and come up with a cunning plan of revenge.
As soon as I had got over the now routine collapse of confidence, the questioning my worth and my ability to squabble in French I called a lady in Baron Sur Odon and arranged a little retail therapy for Mike and me. We set the GPS to small roads only and followed the mesmeric tones of Lovely to the back end of Caen to buy, for twenty five Euros, an ancient water pump, all broken and rusty but perfectly formed to adorn our garden.  Tomorrow we will give her a clean and find her a corner to rot in dignity. Why does that make me feel so good…

Saturday, 29 January 2011

And that will be his first task in the morning…..

You know you have mates when you drop a birthday card off and perhaps angle for a cup of tea and you end up staying around their table for five hours.
It was William’s birthday today.  William and Anna live in Blossville between us and the annual  Montebourg chandeleur weekend where all the local nursery men line the streets selling bare rooted trees and bushes, so we planned to have a nosey around to see what was new on the market then take a tiny detour into Blossville on the way home. We have in the past, spent a lot of money in Montebourg this time of year in order to build up our plant stock but as the years have gone by, we have propagated more and more from our first purchases  and now we are smugly satisfied  to see that the plants we have nurtured  with love and care cost a small fortune on the open market, so an appreciative thank you to the makers of  gardeners world who helped me realise, even I can make baby plants and that they might grow into big ones.  I made William a card and wrapped a jar of home made strawberry jam in a square of cellophane to give it French style but in reality it was like taking coals to Newcastle as Anna is the queen of jams and chutney, I confessed this thought to William who said that other peoples jam always tasted better, but he hasn’t tried mine and I fear he was just being kind. Needless to say when we got to Blossville  our welcome was huge and we were sat at table with cutlery in hand sharing a spontaneous lunch before we could say, thank you.  There is so much to talk about and I do sometime wonder if we will ever exhaust our  enthusiasm to chat and debate. The garden is a good and steady subject and Anna is on the cusp of developing her brand new garden this year and we are thrilled to be able to appreciate her plans and actually have an opinion and dare I say a bit of advice.  When we walked  in at one o’clock a cake came out of the oven and at four thirty it was iced and topped with birthday candles, we took photos and sang the most sung song on earth and had a good afternoon out.
It is bitterly cold at the moment and although we had plans to go on to the park to move a few plants and, oh yes, I forgot to mention that we bought two cultivated bramble bushes to grow over our new antique farm machine, but it was cold and I was feeling relaxed and happy on my spontaneous lunch and cake so we shut the shutters and loaded up the fire box and said maniana to today’s work plan.
As the weather has turned again Mike has decided to do another fat ball run for the birds  and set himself up in the lounge with seeds, fat blocks, large bowl and a sheet covering my precious rug. If he had been a teenager in my home I would have given him a stern talking to about the right place for the right job but he lives here, sometimes vacuum cleans, and that will be his first task in the morning…..Happy birthday to Miranda

Friday, 28 January 2011

I had just struck the deal of the week.

We are most definitely in good form this week and have achieved a huge amount.  I called the Transport company on Tuesday about the delivery plan for our little cabins and was promised that they would call us in the afternoon with a date. I called again on Wednesday and I was informed that the planner was in that morning and they would call us in the afternoon. On Thursday my mind was racing away and I began to develop the concept that we might just be caught up in a complicated and cunning scam so when I rang I was delighted to have the planner himself on the phone who promised that he was planning that day and would call in the afternoon. This morning, Friday,  I called up as Mrs UK Everso Angry and Grumpy, and kindly asked what the dickens was going on. The very sweetly spoken receptionist replied, we will call you with a date and at that mention of “we will call you”  I snapped,  in the most adult and grown up manner but with the tone of a blood thirsty terrier and sent the young lady off to get me a date. When she returned she meekly announced that our delivery is planned for Monday. Now I could have ranted on about it being Friday so when were they planning to let us know but I climbed down from my spike and thanked her for being so efficient and now we know, the vans will come on Monday. Hoo raaa
The septic tank report from ES Etude arrived at lunch time yesterday and took all evening to decipher and  came in the format of a pretty glossy report copied five times with forms to sign and attestations to complete so we set to and went to the office that does, and put our wheels in motion with the lovely Miriam who will let SPANK know that we are  building a septic tank so that they can come and inspect the build and ensure we are following the rules. Now I want you all to say SPANK with a French accent and understand why I am having reservations about this whole process but  Miriam assured us that with the quality of work we have already presented for this project there would be no problems and it will all go to plan . OH GOOD.
To finish off a jolly day as we were planting out our two English Brambly apple trees I suddenly remembered that we were due to be at the wood yard in Perrier to collect twenty wooden garden stakes we had ordered last week. We rushed to finish the planting and dashed out to catch the wood yard  before a possible poets day routine. Pop Off Early Tomorrows Saturday.   Fortunately the yard was in full swing and we went straight to the office to find two dogs on duty. One was on the desk and the other one was on the chair peering at the computer screen. You really do have to take stock of a tableaux like that and wish that you had the foresight to carry a camera but as we backed out of the office the owner came over and asked if the office was empty, well I couldn’t  say no so said that the dogs had suggested we find him. The owner saw the funny side of my response and we started our business with a good laugh. We asked for our order and although he looked a little blank and bewildered for a moment he graciously admitted that the order had not been started but would we like some of those over there at the same price instead. We absolutely jumped at the offer because the stakes he was pointing at were bigger and better than the ones we had ordered.  I asked what he could sell me cheap as chips to make a bench seat and he showed us a fifteen foot plank of Douglas fir and said I could have it for a tenner, euro tenner at that.  The man with the chain saw was called over to cut it in half to fit it in  the car and as we paid  the bill and chatted to him till the cows came home  he picked up another four foot plank and put it on the pile destined for  home.  We were delighted, and the smell of Douglas fir was so intoxicating in the car that I felt quite light headed, or was it that I had  just struck the deal of the week. 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Only eaten porridge and soup so far to be able to afford it.

We are just back from a few days in the UK to attend Rob White’s  50th birthday party where we were sure to meet up with a good crowd of Port Solent yachties to compare stories with, and chew the cud. We took the opportunity to put a deposit into our memory file and walked  right around Port Solent reminiscing and reminding ourselves that although we had good times there, we are now in a much better place. Eric and Gill fed us and gave us a bed to sleep in and in return we walked Popeye the dog. Whilst walking someone  elses  dog I  realized how much I missed my HOSS who was tucked up warm and happy with Sarah and Peter in Petite Ville.  We did have one laughable episode whilst queuing at the lights on the Porchester road in Cosham, Mike, in a pathetic little voice, wined a mention that the Jaguar in the opposite lane could be his. I always get a little irritated when he harps on about all the stuff we have had to sell over the years, but we have moved on from jags and stuff.  As we set off on the green light however,  the jag sped past and, by golly, it was his jag and we both laughed but actually felt happy and content to see that  she was shiney and beautiful and still in the hands of the enthusiasts we sold her to in Portchester in 2007.
Back on French soil and we have promised ourselves a concentrated effort in the park this week. We are expecting the caravans to turn up any time soon and the gardens need to have plants moved. Yesterday we dug up and replanted ten six foot broom to make a back drop for the antique farm machinery we picked up for free last week. So we are now back on track, I planted out a bed of lettuce in the poly and Mike took down the rotten window frame wall of the potting shed and replaced them with old but not rotten frames we picked up for free a few weeks back. How good it feels to be achieving again. It is raining and we are dashing in out between squalls but before the day is out we must move a huge pile of gravel off the top gate parking so that we can get our little vans in. 
I am back on the diet, but Mike had a bacon sandwich today, what a treat, we did a supermarket dash in Tescos on Monday before the ferry which was  piled high with non available food in France.  We  have eaten guinsters pasties, bacon, and tonight a Chinese take away box for two, I just can’t wait,  and have only eaten porridge and soup so far to be able to afford it.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Too pepper doggie in amongst all that salty old dog stuff on board.

In true French style our visit from the EF Etude arrived over thirty minutes late and when he did turn up, asked if we had been worried for him, I shrugged my shoulders in true French style and said we were used to people being late and sometimes not turning up at all so he was doing well.  The survey was not perfect as we live on wet planes and although we are on a four meter contour line putting us four meters higher than mean high water at every tide we didn’t expect to be regarded as on the Marais. Jerome took readings and measurements where our little cabins will go and decided that he could  specify a simple system as long as we only use it in the summer and don’t drive the tractor over the pipes as they will need to be very near the surface. He must have been confident and happy with his findings to let  Mike and I start a design discussion on the spot for our next garden to include a newly laid lawn that will need to be sewn when the digger has gone, and trashed a sixteen by ten meter  area where the pipes will drain the treated water from the septic tank.  We did the paper work and then Jerome left with a solid promise, and I believe him, to have the report ready for next week so we can then commence the next bureaucratic event of informing our communaute communes office with more forms filled and signed, for them to tell our Maire and then to ask the organisation called SPANK in Riems to give us a document number and for them to verify the plans. If we get the OK, we can start work, I have my doubts that we will start any time soon and Jerome even suggested not getting the digger in until the soil is good and dry and I suspect he knew a lot more than he was letting on in terms of time scales.
We drove out to see Beema to make sure she was dry and warm. We called in last week and she had pulled her pontoon cleat out and was drifting about in her given space but had knocked her nose a couple of times, and the pontoon showed signs of damage. On the way to Cherbourg we detoured to St Pierre Eglise to buy some Rotring pens that Mike had found on Le Bon Coin. Mike had seen me raking through the rotring internet sites looking for refills to the pens I already own, and wouldn’t you know it, they have been taken off the market and are no longer for sale so when I went to look to buy a  new set I was horrified at the “put this in your basket” price of  over forty quid. I  bought two second hand, good as new sets for ten euros from the very nice man in St Pierre so I can start drawing houses again using the right equipment and I am looking forward to that.  Beema was good and dry but we are becoming more and move aware that the fateful day is coming when she will have to go. We are committing our selves to a certain lifestyle here that most definitely does not include sailing, we jump into  our camper more easily and hit the road more readily than organise a sail trip with all the weather and meteo considerations and even I  must admit that Beema is no place for a HOSS the dog , he is too big, too polite to say he is not happy and just too pepper doggie in amongst all that salty old dog stuff on board.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Home made cake is not such a great idea.

We now have a huge project under way and we even have a folder called “Cabins 2011” to gather all the goings on and to stash away the leaflets and web pages of information we are going to need to complete our mobile homes in the park.  Mike is taking the lead in all of this and I am just talking when we need to speak French and so far it has not been too challenging.  Dr Groundworks came over to discuss our requirement for a new cess pit and over coffee he gently broke the news  that you can’t just dig a hole and plonk a cess pit in. Mike had read this, but as always it is not evident where you start the process of regulations, re-design and ridicule.  So with heads up on the process I called the EF Etude office for La Manche and was promised a form in the post that needed to be completed in nightmare French building speak and in a few weeks time we would get an official visit to test the soil and to evaluate the  possibility of sinking a cess pit in our garden. This process and  a  document costing three hundred and fifty Euros sent alarm bells ringing for Mike and he decided we should go to St Mere Eglise to visit the office and fully understand the process and other costs we could expect, and,  just how long will this all take.  The address is 16 bis Rue General De Gaulle and we always contemplate just how many roads, streets and town squares are named after the famous Charles. The building was a D-day memorabilia shop, shut for the winter and our hearts sank that we were perhaps entering a dark and mysterious quango style organization that tell you what to do with no logic or fairness in the decisions and regulations you are expected to fulfil. We feared a situation much like DRIRE where the officials are locked away out of the public gaze and are only accessible by phone and fax. We found our way around the back of the shop and came across a shabby little office occupied by a friendly and enthusiastic university graduate who was delighted to see us and only too happy to go through our plans and even threw in a smattering of English. When he had heard of the intention of mobile homes and family coming to stay and people enjoying our garden he decided we would come over tomorrow at 14:00 hours to take a soil sample and document all the information he needed to draw up a plan for our builder, whom we will name, Mike. He also explained the costs and the purpose of the final  certificate of conformance  that will ensure we have no problems with the installation and future existence of a spanking new cess pit. I came out of the office and punched the air in glee and we both felt we had achieved, having said chappy coming to us within 48 hours of an enquiry is a result. I called my friend Ann and she explained that he was called Jerome, and was great.  Jerome apparently gets all your paper work done in a few days so that the process is simple and stress free,  and he does that for every one. There I was thinking it was my charm and  aging good looks that had convinced him he should put aside his time scales and schedules just to deal with us urgently, but no, he just loves his job and is a good egg to boot. I will feed him home made cake and fresh coffee when he comes tomorrow just to make sure we keep him sweet, well perhaps the home made cake is not such a great idea.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

We would never get up again.

Spring was most definitely in the air today with a clear blue sky and a tingle of heat from the sun warming our faces despite all of us being clad in jumpers, coats and gloves for our out door task.  It felt like a May day until about five o’clock when the day looked like it wanted to go to bed and the temperature went into a depressive downturn and the day was gone.
We spent the day with Graham and Ann moving rubble from the cottage they rent out in St Mere Eglise to our top gate drive. The back wall to this house had developed a bulge and they took the very brave decision to see to it and looking at the amount of work and the ominous positioning of acro jacks holding the building up it dawned on me that they probably got to the problem in the nick of time. A huge hole was created by dismantling  the outer wall from the front of the house, rebuilding in block and then refaced to look as though nothing had ever been disturbed. What a great story of a preserving recovery this lovely little cottage will be able to tell in the years to come, but only us, the builder and the house know that story. I hope Graham thought to take pictures of the worst moment when his house was gashed open gaping up at the sky wishing it wasn’t raining.
Between the four of us we moved three large trailers of hardcore and three vans full of clean, dressed stone, what a booty, Mike and I felt we had come away with material and stock to instigate a new project. The four of us can talk the cows home and the chaps believe that Ann and I must breath through our ears so that we don’t have to pause to inhale, cruel I know, but true, natter natter natter about something and nothing and such a great way to see off a potentially dull January Sunday, Oh by the way, there was a lovely lunch at Ann and Grahams house in Neuville where we stopped for an hour and thought we would never get up again.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

I can’t behave that graciously, ever.

To satisfy a rather nagging need to know, Mike and I loaded the van and set off at nine thirty this morning to ‘camping du midi’  just the other side of Nantes in Brittany, 343 kilometres down the road. Why so obsessive, I hear you mutter, well, now that have the OK to think about spending the last of our savings on a money earning project we won’t stop until we have finished. Yesterday we went to Caen to see a man who imports ten year old mobile homes that have been kicked off site in the UK and the unsuspecting owner is left with no choice but to buy a new caravan from the guy who took the old one off site or loose their plot. We know this to be true because we have been there and wondering amongst these once happy holiday homes  both Mike and I shared a feeling of being  ripped off. The cheapest most ugliest and damp and dirty was four thousand Euros  but the van I thought I really wanted cost ten thousand so we came home via a chap selling a caravan that served him as a home during the twelve months it took to build his lovely new house,  and that was a heap of rubbish as well and not at all what Mike and I had in mind.  As you know Mike spends hours trawling through le bon coin and last autumn he read me an advert for a camp site, ‘camping du midi”, selling off all their old vans for what seemed to me very little money. Well after yesterdays reality check it seems  they really are for very little money.  I called camping du midi and they had a few left so we went to see what you get when you buy old vans that are being kicked off French campsites We drove for five hours listening to the polite if not bossy voice of Lovely, our new GPS, who let us down only once when we came across a road block and she had no idea what to do next. Mike took her word over mine despite  having the book of maps on my lap and we ended up at the same road block again. I then I suggested we follow the diversion signs but any one who knows a thing or two about French roads will know that a French diversion is chaotic, confusing and ….poooo. We finally got to our “destination on the right in 400 hundred yards’  and met up with Monsieur Maurice who kindly showed us the biggest van you  ever saw and then the smallest van you ever thought possible, and we were smitten. This little mobile home is a cabin on wheels with a double bed, a twin room , toilet, shower and living area with kitchen. Perfect for two people and a couple of kids. When Monsieur Maurice asked how many we might  want and when I replied two he knocked the price down again so Mike took loads  pictures and in a mega second of combined approval we are now the proud owners of a new holiday let occupation.  Mike can be director if he must but the game has now begun.
Whilst driving all day we had plenty of time to formulate ideas and concepts but I also realised that we live in a much more interesting part of France than the middle west side of Brittany. The architecture is very hacienda style with low roofs of red tiles and an abundance of white washed walls and not so clean ones either. I was amazed at the extent of sprawling countryside with no interesting farm complexes or road side manoirs all tall and stone built with charm and Frenchness. We intended to stay out tonight and make our way home in the morning to investigate another part of France but Mike is keen to transfer funds and get the project underway so we stopped of a coffee,  fed and watered HOSS who at the end of the day has spent thirteen hours in the van with very little time to do doggie things but we  hit the road and let the adorable Lovely do all the work.
I know there should not be bad feeling between girls but I did feel rather side lined when Lovely was stuck to the windscreen and Mike would shh me when she spoke and stroke her buttons when she hic upped but, she is a clever girl, who even when you make mistakes forgives you and finds the way home, and I am the first to admit  I can’t behave that graciously, ever.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Perhaps a bit of company as well.

It has turned chilly and we are snuggled up indoors having just come in from an investigatory trip up into the garden to see where we could put a couple of mobile homes now that the Maire has said, yep, we can do what ever we want on our land. It is now that reality sets in and the project planning and cost evaluation begins. We looked up the cost of buying a septic tank in France and at a cool four thousand euros we looked at the cost of buying it in the UK instead then added the cost of the ferry, but take off the added value of visiting our Mums in the process and you can see that the simple concept of putting in a holiday destination to earn a few bob starts to get scary and decisions need to be made.  I called EDF to ask how much to put a new electric spur in at the back of the garden separate from the house as we have little enough supply coming in for us, let alone a  hair drying, shower mad holiday maker as well, and the cost for that, Madam, will be one thousand five hundred euros. Gulp.
We also have the OK from Monsieur Le Maire, Daniel to us, to put a tile patterned tin roof on the barn and now that Mike has his scaffolding to hand we can buy the panels as and when we need them making sure of course that they match and do this in a more organised and relaxed mode.  That makes a list as long as your arm of things we are getting involved in and we probably need to make three lists, Important, Not important, and Irrelevant then we can decide where to start.
Yesterday morning as I came off the field I saw that one of our hens was down, head up but most definitely down. We brought her into the warm and she was pretty much comatose but still with us so being British we bed her down into a box with a soft covering of hay so that she might die in peace and in the warm, nothing worse than going and feeling cold and abandoned. I know, and I hear you loud and clear, it’s a chicken, but we have eaten her delicious eggs for three years and we owe her a bit of compassion. Mike held old chikilicks whist I cleaned her botty and gave her water through a pipette and she responded a little then we left her in her box in the kitchen by the fire and I watched her all evening. At ten o’clock last night she stood up, opened her eyes and looked decidedly perky and took water from her bowl and looked us both in the eye as Mike lifted her and I did all my chicki chick noises. This morning she was again comatose and at midday she died. I am not sad, she had a good life and she rallied long enough last night to say bye bye. I went up to break the news to her mates and they couldn’t give a monkeys so I am really pleased that we did, and that she had a comfortable passing.
Tomorrow we go to a mobile home seller who goes to the UK and buys up all the ten year old vans that get kicked off sites and has found a lucrative business based in Caen.  Mike has been nurturing the idea of a mobile home on site for a few years now as we initially thought it a good idea when we hoped we may have the kids coming and that they would be happier in their own accommodation, so some of the investigative groundwork is done, we now need to decide if using our savings that are yielding nothing at the moment would be best spent on a project that will give us a little bit of income, and perhaps a bit of company as well.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

now I call that, accommodating.

Is it possible that Christmas was only fifteen days ago, it feels like a season has past us by already and  looking at the daffodil leaves braving an entrance into the elements it is a sure bet that we are most definitely on the better side of winter. Optimistic you may think but let me tell you that when you organise your day by the quantity of light in the sky then luminescence at eight in the morning and luminescence at six in the evening most definitely heralds longer days and more light to live by.
Mike put his Bob the Builder hat on yesterday and constructed his one hundred and fifty Euros worth of scaffolding up in the back yard. He bashed and clanked way past lunch time and then carried on into the afternoon to piece together this sad collection of poles, boards and other braces, supports and things which though I say it myself, makes for one big and strong structure, I am one hundred percent impressed with his purchase.  We now have enough scaffolding for enough length and height to strip the tiles from the barn and replace two sheets of tin roof at a time before needing to reposition, and that, for us, is amazing progress. The barn roof is on it’s very last legs and may do another winter but it might only take a snow episode as we have just experienced this winter and the barn could very quickly become a ruin feature in my garden design.  We have seen tin roofing that is stamped out to look like tiles and we are entertaining the Maire on Tuesday morning to seek his advice and more importantly his blessing on such a project.  We are very aware that the Maire of Brevands is the father to us Brevandais and only he can start the ball rolling on any large project to be undertaken and with this in mind we humbly invite him into our home to layout our plans. The other subject to be discussed is more delicate in the form of an income raising project to put a couple of caravans in the garden that we can develop as holiday accommodation to boost our pension and allow us to continue our happy time here in Brevands. The other option is for me to find a job and I really do not fancy that at all, so we will see if it is permitted as a ‘cunning plan’ of not.
Mike has been suffering from headaches just of late and is putting this discomfort to the wood fires in the house. This obviously gives us a problem as I am so enjoying the cheer and cuddly feeling I get with the stove chugging along cooking our meals and drying the washing. We decided to try an experiment and converted the firebox to coal and for two days now we have been burning coal and it has totally changed the atmoshere in the house and Mike’s headache is gone. We also closed the fire in the lounge and use the very smart calor gas stove just to take the chill off the air.  This evening the coal ran out and I have started to throw wood in the fire box and although there is a lovely aroma of burning wood in the kitchen, that Mike dislikes so much, it is only temporary and we will go out to buy coal in the morning, but my clever little fire box goes from coal to wood and back again without complaining or letting me down, now I call that, accommodating.

Friday, 7 January 2011

and I told them.

Health and a good state of mind are a very important part of our existence here in France, mainly because we are never one hundred percent sure that we have been understood or that any translation of diagnosis and treatment is actually rock solid or state of the art technology in any language.  It is with this lack of confidence in mind that I came a little unstuck yesterday and had to result to self help and self observation before a trip to the doctor. Mike and I were having a wonderful evening with Graham and Ann, Anna and William, Ann from Appleville and Joe, who is the town manager at Saint Mere Eglise. We were celebrating the 6th January which to the French is a month long event but all the better done on the 6th to eat frangipan pie in celebration of the three kings getting to see Jesus in his manger. We all sat down to a fabulous meal well presented and delivered, the conversation was varied and in both languages which I love.  After the first course I began to feel a little unwell and as I tried to continue the conversation and friendly banter I realised that I was not going to shake off my shaky insides and I went to find the toilet and the next thing I knew I was being fanned and dabbed down with wet tissues as I fought my way out of a faint. Blow me down, a simple not feeling terribly well moment became a full on mini crisis as Mike brought me round and fussed over me whilst the dinning remainder continued into the dessert, quietly but in a bit of worry . I pulled myself together, washed my face looked in the mirror and although I looked dreadful I remembered the lighting was low in Ann and Grahams dinning room so I went back to my place, apologised for taking so long and we finished the evening. I was mortified at my behaviour I did not feel so unwell just effected and a little dislodged by the whole event. At midnight before I could turn into a pumpkin as I already felt like a right lemon we drove home and Mike tucked me up in bed to see what all this was about in the morning.
 This morning I was fine, and we are going to document last night  to a bout of low blood pressure, again, we won’t talk of stress and anxiety because I don’t really have any but I must just pay attention to how I am on a daily basis and keep the light headed “wey hey” moments to a minimum.
We took HOSS for his annual injections and I made a point of seeing the vet who had treated him through his attack of mange in the summer. This young and conscientious woman wanted to know how we had turned our boy around and how he had put on five kilos in weight in five months. She was pleased with his progress and he got a full bill of health so now we can relax a little and not fret over huge Euro vet bills and stop those long worrying gazes in his direction in case he can’t get better.
We did lunch with Peter and Sarah and although I felt just minutely under par I enjoyed a good old fashioned, UK style after Christmas curry and we sat and chatted about all the stuff we normally talk about and then Mike helped Peter put their big bits of xmas decorations away for another year.  Sarah is having HOSS while we do a weekend back to the UK this month so she thought it would be good for him to spend a little time with her, Sarah is a big part of my infrastructure here and having such things organised, implemented and practised is essential to living our life with plenty of  help and support..
To finish off our day we got called over the road for a calva with David the new neighbour. His wife Naomi is hard at work making Gallette Des Roi, she works in a Patisserie somewhere so he is busy getting the house ready for the big furniture move this week end. During this precious time  I got lots of info about them. I was therefore well armed to participate at the Brevands Gallettes Des Roi annual gathering and was pleased and a bit proud to be the bearer of a ton of useful  gossip about our new family in the village. I felt like one of the bunch, the heart of the gang, a qualified member of the crew but had to break the news that David  was a fisherman and not a hunter, chase, non,  peche, oui and that was all the “chase de Brevands” needed to know..... and I told them.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

What more could we ask for.

I was right, and I am getting so good at second guessing French logic. I presented myself at the bank and declared I had a problem with my card, which no longer worked. The lovely Anne at the customer services desk, who indecently lives across the road from us in Bucaille,  smiled sweetly and said, “mais oui”, your card has expired and I will go and fetch your replacement. With no evidence of slopey or shruggy shoulders the document for signing and the new card were deposited on the desk in front of me and my crisis was over, which in my darkest night hours included a bundle of French words on the subject of incompetence and ridiculous French telepathy but in a wink of a sleepless night my card was signed for and tucked up inside my wallet.
We took our weekly trip to the depot vends in Auvers only because a visit usually constitutes a satisfying session of  retail therapy without huge expenditure but yesterday I came across a fascinating table which started off as a slim hall table and with the addition of four extensions miraculously turned into a table with enough room for ten people on finger food and eight using knives and forks. I really cannot justify such a purchase but  succeeded in convincing Mike this was a good concept. The table is not old or even very pretty but, it is  OH SO, practical and I sold the idea as an investment for the future because we don’t know what that is yet, but we do know it will definitely be a smaller home and I still succumb to the  famille nombreux fantasy and wherever we end up there will always be the possibility of setting up a long  table to entertain, now that we own this wonderfully clever table..
I had the most inspiring comment attached to my last blog entry and needless to say I have responded directly and formally and next week we will go down to the beautiful house on the Marais at Houtteville and have a hand holding cuppa whist looking out on the flooded plains we live with but still are unable to accept as normal. Every time I see the marais flooded I catch my breath as though it is a crisis before my very eyes but it actually  is there to avoid a crisis in the form of flooding..
Our new neighbours are making their move and cars are in and out, coming and going with all manner of stuff. I wouldn’t say that we are nosey neighbours but, we are interested,  and I am so keen to have the house opposite alive and working with lights on and things happening.  HOSS has been watching over any activity since Annie and the boys moved out in July. He has barked an alarm at any movement over there but now he will have to curb his Head Of Site Security processes, procedures and functionality, and, shut up. We took HOSS for an hours work in the lanes and on the way back we took the opportunity to shake hands with the new owner and in the conversation he mentioned that they had a two year old female German Sheppard and as HOSS is a male we could make many babies and I, crestfallen at the possibilities had to break the news that HOSS is already castrated…so we changed the subject and talked about sharing gallons  of beer together when they are in and settled.  I realised quite quickly that our new neighbour is going to be a barrel of laughs in the literal sense and with his local patois a bit of a challenge to hold a deep and meaningful discussion with, but who cares, at least they are there, French and with a German Shepard dog of their own. What more could we ask for.

Monday, 3 January 2011

I’ll keep you informed.

Sadly I have had a wobbly start to the new year by falling into a big emotional hole which has engulfed me and as always is effecting the way Mike functions as well.  We had a good new years eve night out with Anna and William and we thank them for sharing the possibility of celebrating new year, French style, then another in UK style one hour later, what a great concept, it  was good fun. I Watched other people bonding with their families and wondered what my lot were up to and I was  aware that there is a huge void where my kids were and I am not going to get over this any time soon. Moving into an easy living, beautiful and inspiring life style does not fill the emptiness of not being needed any more or put in a very special place, and that stings.
Mike and I went out yesterday to collect a house full of window frames, with glass, to enable us to repair the potting shed which is made from very rotten house window frames. This transaction was a Don, which means, for free, so we were very pleased with our lot. We now have a good  project on the go that will cost us very little to complete which is becoming an important requirement for the under aged pensioners that we are, trying to stay busy and productive.
This morning I offered to cut Mikes hair and cut away merrily doing my very best but I miss calculated my skill level today and made an horrendous mess of his head of which he was not at all pleased and fell out of character and became very upset and angry so as there was little I could do,  the hair was on the floor, I went out and Walked HOSS for an hour around our lanes and hedgerow to give Mike the time to calm and regain his poise and me to blame myself and feel like an inadequate hairdressing idiot. I seriously wanted to sulk all day and play victim to my feelings but a call at lunch time from a fellow ex pat selling off his scaffolding mobilised us into getting the trailer down from the top gate parking and following Mike’s new Christmas prezzie GPS to Moon-Sur-Elle to investigate the possibility of replacing  our Barn roof ourselves.
I  had a little rude awakening yesterday when I went to use our debit card and  realised that it would not work because it had expired. I was very angry and frustrated and complained bitterly to Mike and HOSS as to why I had not had a replacement card through the post, as we would from our UK bank or at the very least why the bank had not sent me a letter to say the card was in the bank waiting for my signature,  but you know…..This is France, and if you do not know that your card is about to expire then who’s fault is it………the banks are closed on a Monday so I will go and be, oh so humble, tomorrow in the knowledge that they did not hear what I called them yesterday and I am quite confident that my card will be there waiting my attention…I’ll keep you informed.

Saturday, 1 January 2011


Hello our friendly bloggers we are so pleased you came.

 I am hung over from a great night out with Anna and William, Ann and Graham. We sat at a very festive table and ate like kings and drank a fountain of champers. We certainly saw the new year in with style and in good company.

short and sweet today,  I will do my first 2011 blog when the decs are down and I feel a little more up to using my brain .....catch you later.