Thursday, 24 February 2011

I beg to differ, she is a chateaux.

My friend's cat felt so happy that we had dropped in for a cup of tea that he decided to straddle and relax, oh how I wish we had the ability to join in and enjoy.
Yesterday I scrutinised the inbox for news and insight and I was sit-me-down pleased to see a message from Jill and Tony over in Vindefontaine inviting us over for tea and cake. Gill’s French teacher, well good friend really, was over and as I had shown an interest in talking to French people about the French occupation of the second world war, Gill kindly thought of me and asked us over to have a chat over tea.
Monique is a very stylish woman in her eighties I would guess, she was fifteen when the Germans came to town and she spoke of her fear and acceptance of the situation they found themselves in with the enemy living in their home and the outside world at war. The entire conversation would take a blog and a half to cover but one story will stick in my mind. One of the live-in German officers offered to give his hosts a piano concert the night before D day, I was gobsmacked that although the films and  interpretations of that night want you to believe that the Germans had no Idea what was going to happen, well, yesterday, I had it at first hand that they really  had no concept of the impending act of history that was to follow their little concert that evening.  When the parachutes descended on that famous night it was the French who spotted them first and the Germans were thrown into confusion and chaos that even after 68 years Monique  was able to  convey  and describe from the eyes of a fifteen year old young lady at the brink of freedom yet not knowing just how it would end. We parted after nearly two hours, which is rather excessive for afternoon tea, but we promised we would do this again and I really hope we will.  We also discovered that Monique is a close friend to Pierre Leclerc with whom we make cider at La capitanerie every year and she was tickled pink that she had met the English friends of Jacqueline  who have  picked  her apples these past three years. Monique said that she had heard about this wonderful English couple who turn up every year to help and there we were larger that life just wondering how small the world could get before  it pinged out of existence.
Today we went to the beach to give HOSS a good run and as we have become professional beach combers, we are rarely put off by a good find just because it is huge wet and full of sand. This beautiful length of mooring rope will make a perfect retainer around one of my gardens and I was so very excited that the effort of dragging it off the beach was well worth while.  On the way home we took the opportunity to pop into some other friends we have recently made whose home we have been passing for the past three and a half years three times a week and had commented on what a great place it looked like and today we stopped and had tea.  The question now is, when is a manoir a chateaux, well believe me today I think I sussed it. A chateaux for me is when the building declares that it has pedigree, savoir faire, a majestic attitude and stands back as you look at it and says, I am special. Marianne and Ray have breathed new life into this once long abandoned shooting lodge where you can  allow your imagination to delve way back to the  Kings and Queens of  France before it all went pear shaped and France became who she is today. Ray gave us a tour and I was swept into a time and period that was grand and tasteful and this glorious home lives again with  the attention to detail, love and care that is being bestowed on her. The most other amazing part of this visit was the mini  D-Day museum that Ray and Marianne have developed to receive and entertain tourists on the D-day battle appreciation tours that pass by non stop throughout the summer. I salute this couple who have not only embraced and put a slice of French history in aspic but they have also captured the atmosphere of the D-day story by offering a venue that allows enthusiasts to relive and appreciate this historic event. I imagine their summer is none stop and I imagine it must feel like the work will never stop but just imagine how great their customers must feel when they go home and talk about their visit to Normandy and their visit to the majestic chateaux at St Marie Le Mont, that Ray calls a manoir but I beg to differ, she is a chateaux.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Why, I have no idea.

We have bitten the bullet and commenced the installation of the septic tank for the mobile homes. In true Viv and Mike style we have decided to take  responsibility for the shopping list so that we can have all the materials ready on site for our JCB man to come and start digging. We have to wait for a money transfer and that is slowing down the operation but that is part of the colourful pageant of living here, and being paid there.  As we now have time on our hands and the money arrives here sometime around the tenth  of March to pay for the digging we decided to go to Dennis, our local builders merchant and presented the shopping list for a devit which they very kindly did as we waited. When I stopped long enough to read it though I saw that the septic tank was two hundred euros more expensive than point P our very unuser friendly but closer to home builders merchant. I also noticed to my amazement that we asked for one Regard a Bouclage costing forty euros and she quoted me for ten so you can appreciate how utterly inconsistent their process is that a quote is pushed across the table without a double check or run through to make sure all the pit falls are covered. So there you have it with one builders merchant making mistakes and the other not happy to deal with non builders we were motivated to get in the car and drive to Cherbourg for the Brico Depot experience which reflects more the way we used to DIY shop by feeling the goods, pondering at our leisure and making a slow and calculated decision before putting it in the basket. The mission  was accomplished with a trailer loaded with pipe and couplings and elbows , glue and Regards a Bouclage, I quite like the way those word just run off my tongue.
I called two gravel pits for a price to deliver 15 tons of the stuff and the pit in Perier quoted twenty five Euros a ton and the pit in Muneville quoted fourteen Euro a ton. I am always a little worried about getting quotes over the phone and I guess it is only about confidence at hearing the numbers and writing them down. I will never understand why seventy  is sixty ten and translating quickly and accurately gives me a head ache. To my credit though I didn’t get it wrong as confirmed when we drove out to both pits to get a written quote and bingo just what I suspected there is a wild difference and there is no contest as to where we order from. The gravel from the Muneville pit is red, and I have discovered since we used it to cover the boule park that I have a connection to red gravel which I  have yet to discover where from . On the wall at the main office was a plan of the site and the actual pit was shown hidden behind the mountains of rock all around us. As we drove out Mike caught a glimpse of rock face and low and behold we soon came across a  beautifully presented visitors viewing platform with a description of what we were looking at and a run down of the wild life and the geo info they just love to share in pictures and prose. This massive hole in the ground that cannot be seen  at road level  was stunning and fascinating. We stood there with our chins to the floor just at the immensity and atmosphere of a working open pit. I was even more excited because this connection I have with red gravel made me feel comfortable and  happy and as we got off the viewing platform  I skipped down the steps like a five year old at the circus and said,  I just love this place…..why, I have no idea.

Friday, 18 February 2011

A big white shiny egg nearly every day.

With the sun shining and the sky clear and bright this is the best time of the year to be out in the garden with something to do.  There is so much promise of new plans and endless possibilities on the launch pad. Today was one of the those days and Mike and I went out as we do every day to do at least one job, so after organising a meeting with the JCB man for tomorrow we both got our working clobber on and stepped out to do just one thing.  I always laugh at this statement because we never do just one thing and jump from one subject to another in no order of preference or urgency, it is just what we touch first or talk about or look at. The heneriera is on the way to the garden so we do stop to feed the hens and see to the ducks and today I did my routine clean and tidy up in the hen house. My hens are so untidy and disorganised but is only takes a few minutes to have all the poo shovelled away and nice clean French newspaper down with a whole new change of air and dry grass in the laying box. I have very fond memories of my Mum having a clear up and coming home to find everything I own back where it belongs and even some things in places I never thought to put them, it was such a treat that I hope my chicky chicks and the cock appreciate my efforts as much as I did all those years ago. This time of year has a comical side for us as Swanny takes to acting his male self and shows off his swollen what not on his beak and acts like a badly behaved adolescent with only one thing on his mind. Mike gets most of the bad attitude as Swanny chases him with his head and neck in attack pose and his wing feathers perched up over his back like a praying mantis. If you think I am exaggerating then you need to make a visit, this is one bad swan on a mission to act as delinquently as possible and show whoever is passing just who runs this joint. He seems to have entered this period early this year as I usually put dry grass out for him in late March so that he can build himself a nest. I have done this ever since we first saw him gathering bits of twig and grass to make a pretty inadequate nest in the first year he owned us, and ever since then I have been his local Ikea and delivered every thing he could possibly want to make a home fit for his queen, who sadly never turns up. We go through this aggressive stage and then he calms down, his, what not, goes back to normal size and he only shows a mild regressive slide into his early season behaviour by trying to mount the white ducks, but we forgive him because he is in his late teens and frankly, the ducks float, look a bit swan like and don’t complain too much to a quick chase around the pond. 
The ducks have made a nest for the second year running and are as normal firing blanks without a bloke on the pond. We have left the muddy eggs in the nest and every day Mike can see the latest ones shining bright and clean on the top of the pile so we know they are fresh and with his proficient litter picker device plucks them out whilst the girls are preening themselves down on the waters edge and presents me with a big white shiny egg nearly every day. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Trying to compose it myself.

I have already mentioned that writing one thousand five hundred Euros is becoming tedious and hey presto like magic I am going to have to mention it again. The quote came in from the JCB man and I only needed to look at the four figure number to know we were in for a shocker and then we received the quote to have the concrete delivered in a real spinning tub style mixer and I gave up the will to live. We also received a package from EDF to apply for a new electricity supply and what with a hang over left over and spoilt sleep due to the hang over this morning was a little fraught and needed to have some order and organisation infused into it over a nice cup of tea. We started by taking a walk onto the field to photograph the proposed electricity supply plan. We then speculated on the amount of work required by the JCB man and contemplated the possibility of spending a week making our own plinths with home made concrete. They say that home made is good and as are really trying to be self motivated and wholesome we have broken the back of the list of issues by deciding to delete the ready made  concrete from the plan. One problem down. I then made a call to see if it would be cheaper to upgrade the electricity supply to the house then take a cable up to the vans. I was being lulled into a promising solution by a friendly customer services man who suggested we could easily upgrade to a three phase system that would cost more but give us the capacity we are looking for.  I for one was delighted with the proposal and dutifully wrote every thing down so that Mike could get a handle on the way the conversation was going but he put a stop to it immediately as I wrote the words,  3 phase. Mike, in his capacity of maintenance engineer then took the trouble to explain to me why three phase would be a bad upgrade on an old house and I was so convinced he knew what he was talking about that I got straight onto the form filling and picture printing and had the envelope addressed and stamped up before you could mention lunch.   The only thing outstanding from this mornings moanings is the ground work quote which we have to bite the bullet on, we will need to make sure that we get plenty of auxiliary use from the machines and that we really do leave the technical detail of the installation to the man who can and for that you need to pay. Yesterday after all the washing up and clearing up was complete I just needed to get out in the garden for some air so we took a walk around the allotment and noticed that the poppy seeds have germinated in abundance exactly where we don’t want poppies to grow and Mike suggested that we transplant these little plants where we do want them. It was as though Mike had given me a toffee to chew on and I felt a need to grab my barrow and his spade as we only have one left on site for some reason and I started digging. At the gate entrance there is a mound of mud that we wanted to have in the middle of the garden as a feature but when it came to it the logistics of moving tons of mud from where it had been dumped after scraping out our car park was just too much to contemplate and although we could get Mr JCB to give us a hand the lump has now found it’s space and it is well and truly a part of that bit of the garden so today I transplanted many many poppy babies and have covered a good half of one side.  I will scatter seed from last year to finish the effect but I am happy that I have not wasted good plants and that the mound has now got a personality and purpose. I also dragged a stray willow from the earth that had set its boots firmly in the middle of the allotment exactly where it should not be and I have given it fairy status and planted it on the top of the mound. There is something very calming about a willow on a hill, is there a song clanging about in my subconscious that will disturb my sleep tonight ? perhaps not, and if not,  I will still loose sleep anyway  trying to compose it myself.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

crockery, cutlery and glasses.

 35 years of marriage comes and goes before you have time to take breath, and here we are in a foreign land with our family and children far flung across the sea amongst friends who have came to us to celebrate this red letter day.
Mike and I had a discussion some time ago about the number of people we could possibly entertain here in Brevands and yesterday we transformed our lounge into a bistro and sat fifteen close friends down to lunch. In the preparation Mike also calculated that if we butted up our big tables we could sit twenty and thoughts of our memorable millennium party came back to us and we felt confident that we were still in the fun business of “Grand Fete”, all assuming we can keep our mates interested in coming to ours for lunch. I have been trying to convince Mike that we ought to sell our industrial Bain Marie and two jug coffee maker from our days in Watten but Mike has resisted my plea for a clear out and yesterday his reasoning came to fruition and I packed the Bain Marie with sausages and mash with onions and baked beans and then the two jug coffee maker meant I was under no pressure to get food and drink on the table at the crucial moment when a gang of fun loving folk run through the door bearing gifts and bottles.  Face Book was alive with good wishes and I thank you all for thinking of us on this special day.  I skyped my Mum as soon as the crowd had gone as I know she was willing herself to be here and had put messages on Face Book all day. By the evening Mike and I were ready for bed earlier that normal which meant that we were alive and kicking at six this morning but then that sort of behaviour is allowed when you are retired with nothing better to do that finish the washing up and put everything away that you posses in terms of crockery, cutlery and glasses.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

talk us into being ready…..

Spring is most definitely on the way, and we both feel that we are seeing the changes coming earlier every year or is it that we just weren’t really looking before. As you can see the willows are all starting to sprout and I am so pleased that we took the decision three years ago to have Willow in every corner of the garden.  Willows come out of winter without a complaint about the cold and they really put on a show before any other tree has thought about it.  Now, I didn’t know all of this before we came here and I encouraged the willow concept because they grow quickly and when we started the garden I felt that we had so little time to create something worth while and here we are with babies of babies looking all grown up and beautiful, it’s   just like parenthood all over again
Mike did a perfectly timed bon coin find two days ago.  I scrambled my way through a conversation with a fast speaking country dood on a very crackly line to get a detailed address for  Lovely, the GPS, to attend to, and a commitment on time to visit. Today then we set off with high hopes that another little drive out in the country will become a successful purchase at an honest and low price.  It all went very well and we successfully bought a trailer full of wood chippings for 35 euros. Loads of money actually I hear you say, but when you need to discourage weeds from invading your works of art then money is almost no object. A sheet of plastic and a layer of wood chippings with a pay back of no weeds and a trouble free garden is worth the outlay within reason. It is  especially important at this time of year when the weeds are still not conscious  so we are now  way ahead of their cunning little plan to cover over  all our hard work
I have moved all the shrubs that I recognised as being in the wrong place this year, on the strength of over crowed beds we have created a new garden and extended another, and it has cost us nothing. We had two willow trees planted by the abri and this winter we have put in the machinery and transplanted every thing else, I also have propagated Honesty and Box hedge to finish it all off. I find creating a garden like this more satisfying that drawing or painting and getting out there with secateurs to keep them looking smart is equally satisfying.
We have all the caravan proceedings in progress now and next week we will decide when to start. A new friend has today e-mailed me to see if we will have the vans ready soon  as she has people looking for accommodation in June. I stood in the doorway to the lounge and asked if Mike thought we might be ready and he just gave me a bit of a worried look and said, "I really don’t know". We are having these new friends here for lunch on Monday and we will see if they can talk us into being ready…..

Thursday, 10 February 2011

all we have to do now, is wait……

 Enjoying the garden,  we call park
The lambs in the next field remind us that we are on the good side of Winter at last...

Every single day I walk at least three times around my park. HOSS barks at the air, I chicky chick to my hens on the way past the barn to circumnavigate the whole park and in three and a half years and am still not bored. I encourage Mike to come with me for the day time walks as he is not up for it first thing in the morning whilst cuddling his first cuppa of the day and by the time the last walk comes round he is snuggled down on the sofa so I do a lot of  this walking on my own and I absolutely treasure the time.
The mobile homes have been emptied and refilled,  I took all the crocks and cutlery out and have updated with equipment I already had from our previous venture.  We have made decisions as to what stays and what goes, what we can afford to replace and what we need to tart up and make good. We are doing this now because we are in the waiting zone, waiting for the electric people to get “sparked” up and send us the form to get their process started, waiting for the JCB driver to look at the  “hole “ job, waiting for the water people to get off their “butts”  and put in the new meter and at the same time waiting for our favourite men at point P to organize a quote for a cement lorry to come and unload seven cubic meters of concrete. So we wait and we wait and we wait. Today we also had to wait for the chappy from Car Glass, we had a stone hit the windscreen on the camper and I called their instant as a flash hotline service to organise a man, who can, and replace the glass. Five days later and after many calls it was decided that our file had been lost and could we start again, and after all that we would  need to get the camper  to St Lo for a morning next week. I was very disappointed because all the adverts talk about the home visit that takes all the inconvenience out of replacing a windscreen and I smartly explained my feelings to customer services gentleman who was most glorious in his response and said that I should not be concerned and he would organise an engineer to come to us here at Bucaille at nine o’clock  Thursday, seven days after the first call.  I said “Bravo young man” there is hope for the French customer services business after all and he should be proud of himself, and he was. He called this morning to say the engineer was on his way . With high hopes of a perfectly executed process the engineer took one look at the van and admitted he had been given a screen for a much younger model. He looked at our Carte Gris, breathed out and said.  You’ve re-registered this vehicle haven’t you ?  I wanted to tell him about the year long agonising and expensive process to put an English camper on French plates, but I didn’t pursue that line of chat as I already knew by the look on his perfectly calm and rational face that the process from hell was about to bite my bum again and we were not going to get a new windscreen today. The order is in for a windscreen and we now have to wait. and wait…
I am not sure if I have mentioned my little hobby that is becoming an obsession in the form of book keeping. I collect receipts like confetti and I then log all the details onto an excel spread sheet and I have to admit I find the whole process food to my control mechanisms. I can at any time tell Mike how much we have spent on group 6, that’s food,  1 is petrol, 19 is land and garden and so on. Today Mike declared that he needed to replace the drive belt to the lawn mower and  asked me what size did we buy last time, I just went to the excel spread sheet found the entry then found the receipt and Mike was furnished with the reference number for the belt. We went over to our local mower supplier and as is the norm I did not know what to call a drive belt in French and  had to walk to the wall and point and jump about a bit but I jolly well had the reference number and the manager, who knows us well,  stood there in shock that we may now have a little  knowledge and that is very dangerous for him. He promised to order referenced belt and it arrives Saturday, we hope, so all we have to  do now is wait……

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

I will go nuts.

Everything I ever get excited about sooner or later  becomes part of the furniture or the norm and is then taken for granted.  I fear that my darling little cuisiniere has fallen in to the category of the Cinderella at Bucaille. We know she is there and just demand   unfailing  performance.  Today I rushed in at lunch time opened all the vents and buttons, put a pan on for scrambled eggs, thank you to my hens for that, put the kettle on and in a few minutes we  sat down to a hearty lunch. I did it again this evening after a few hours in the garden, I had moved a very large shrub and Mike was mowing lawn, we were running late as I sing tonight so I had to rush in once again open everything up and cooked our dinner. I cannot begin to describe the joy of cooking with the fuel you keep yourself warm with,  it is fundamental, grounded and fulfilling so this journal is dedicated to my duck egg blue cuissiniere who chugs along quite nicely all day and all night with just a little care and attention from Fire Box Mike. She does not always look shiny and bright with some well placed ornament on her she but has become a  hard working part of the kitchen which I absolutely adore to use.
We are coming along nicely with the "cabanes de bucaille" project and I called EDF to arrange for a new branch of electricity to be put at the back of the garden. Should not be too hard to achieve because the pylon is in the garden and we do not fore see any problems. We know it will cost one thousand five hundred Euros to install, and that just blows my head off but as the Maire said , that is the price you pay.  The customer services lady was very friendly and spoke nice and slowly whilst warning me that this process can exceed a three month period at which I took a huge intake of air and she sighed in response and said C'est comme ca. We are now  pre-warned and have no right to get up on our high horses when we get inpatient. The quote for putting water up into the field came in today and that is a cool one thousand five hundres  euros as well, and if I have to write one thousand five hundred euros once more, I will go nuts.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Won't change "the way I tell em"

Well heavens above, after 14 months of not being able to upload pictures I have achieved what I thought was the impossible and here I am in front of one of my fabby little mobile homes and you can now share this happy moment with me.
Moving to France meant that I  lost access to my Apple Mac guru who, at the moment of leaving the UK four years ago had just completed a useful upkeep procedure and everything was working well. I tried to find a mac man in France but with no hope of getting one to commit to a home visit, I tried  two who just fell off the face of the earth and I fell into the very dangerous mind set that if it ain't broke don't fix it. Unfortunately with anything a bit techie, that just won't wash, and in December 2009 I lost the ability to upload pictures which was devastating as I am a picture mad communicator . The one picture of Mike and I on the first of my Blogs  is the last I ever uploaded.  Thank you to Bruised Apple in the UK for sending me all the stuff I needed to upgrade my system and although I know I am at the limit of my machine's capabilities I am glad that I may have some time before I need to buy a new computer to keep up with the technology that is sprinting away just one upgrade in front of me. I feel like I am going to trip over my shoe lases any time now and that will be that, but this faithful old Mac running on steam and plenty of prayer is still good to catch BBC two in the morning and is currently storing 13500 photos, and before you all gasp in horror they are all on disc and also on my web pages in the ether somewhere.
For all you faithful followers of this blog I can now promise you a photo to back up the story although I must admit to having enjoyed finding the words and the turn of phrase to describe the moment but I am now on a role and I don't think a picture is going to change "the way I tell em"

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Adoration and peace, at last.

5th February,  Happy birthday to Blue

It is quite amazing how a bit of, out of routine, a pinch of stress and a little of “lost the plot’ can launch us into a mess of dysfunctional body and mind. I have found it very hard to wake up and get moving these past few days and now that the caravans are settled in their temporary positions you might think we would be up and atom, but we are both still tired and achy body.
Today we set off to look for a caravan shop to cost up replacing a few hinges and door knobs. We sat in the vans yesterday and made two lists, one for 412 and the other for 416 that’s what they are called now but we have brass numbers 1 to 9 from our last business venture and will rename them using stock items. We got all the equipment out of the cupboards, pots, pans, crocks, cutlery, coffee makers, buckets and brooms and are actually quite happy with the quality and quantity so all we need to do now is invent those special little extras that cost nothing but inflate the added value so that we will be proud and pleased to put our little vans up for hire.  The objective is to make someone’s holiday, easy, functional, clean and friendly. Our shopping trip today started badly in the caravan shop on the way to Cherbourg where we discovered as with anything nautical the price is inflated and the packaging far too glossy, so we walked out and went to our favourite store, Brico Depot where you can find anything you want in heaps of choices and as we sauntered down the electrical isle I felt I was in a good place.  Mike was like a kid in a sweet shop and for a moment there we were in heaven, I can’t say that electrical departments do anything for me but we understand what we are looking for now and the pressure of trying to negotiate my way through a set of French instructions or warning sections on boxes to help Mike make good decisions is a long past memory as we now glance at instructions and information as though we were reading English and our expectation of what is available is understood and appreciated. We got a huge chunk of the to do list ticked off today including loo seats in a pre-packed box with matching loo role holder and loo brush, how full filling to be enamoured and satisfied with such purchases, life is good when you buy a loo seat and you get a sense of well being.
We have had the Plans for the septic tank confirmed OK with a proviso that we respect the watercourses and levels, what ever that might mean, so we are going to get the experienced septic tank installation bloke to sort that out. Mike and I are constantly discussing the next level in the project but we have agreed that septic tank in first, then van plinths with water and electric, then prepare the garden for spring, then motor home holiday in Spain. Can’t wait for that last process  to arrive as we have committed to each other to have this project done and dusted by the end of May.
Just to finish off,  Debbie in Oz is in the process of homing a young Great Dane cross and we hope that works out for them but it is a long haul even with big intelligent dogs, It has taken Mike four years to get HOSS to sit and stay for his morning greeting. At one point Mike disliked coming down in the morning because HOSS would just wimper and jump and rub himself all over Mikes clean, just put on jeans but after all this time HOSS has now understood what is required of him and the morning greeting is  one of adoration and peace, at last.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Very chuffed with our purchases.

When I was a kid we lived in a house that faced up the road, so you could sit at the lounge window and see all the traffic coming towards the house. When we had family visiting from Belgium, and it was always a huge event, we would sit for hours waiting for the car that would slow down and then stop in front of the house and shout “ils sont la”…..Well I was that big kid today waiting for my caravans to turn up. We got a call from the driver at five to say that he would be with us at six thirty and could we come out to escort  him to the door so I presumed he could make it to the Laverie in Brevands or the Avenue and we could then talk him into Bucaille but no, the call came at six thirty from Carantan railway station and we needed to collect our selves together to leave the house and go into town. Mike was pondering which way he would be facing so that we did not bring him over the lock bridge and when we got to the station there they were, our long awaited vans, cute and lovable sitting on their transport but facing the wrong way so we had take a massive detour and bring him through town and back down the N13 to pettitville and then home. The lorry filled our little road and I took the view that anyone coming this way would be neighbours and could go the wrong way around the one way system or stay for as long as it took and help out.  Well it took an hour and we had a good crowd peering through the darkness as Mike and the driver pushed and pulled to get the vans off the back of the lorry. I was really hoping to do this in carnival mode, in the sunshine, laughing and joking our way towards the first stage of the project but it was a little stressey because Mike was having trouble making me understand that he wanted me to tell him if the vans were going skewed as he towed them backwards in the dark and in four wheel drive, apparently that is not easy, and then he would ask which way he needed to turn and I had no idea how to describe a skew that would be back wards to him and just a nightmare to me. We got them off the road after sending half the village on a tricky  diversion up the one way system and as the lorry was getting ready to pull away the last car in the queue was my new neighbour David who was in no hurry, didn’t need to turn back the other way as he could see his gate from where we stood and we just chatted and waited and waited and chatted until the lorry picked up her skirts and disappeared into the darkness and onto it’s next load. My Mum put a Skype call in as she has been as worked up as I have been all day then after a bite to eat we went up with torches and gaz lamp to take a look, and we are not disappointed, and very chuffed with our purchases.  Happy birthday Georgina it will be tomorrow soon.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

all who go there . be aware.

It is at times like this that I am glad I have an excitable and rebellious angle of quick, farm yard French and was able to fight my way out of situations of aggression and disbelief of which  we have experienced these past two days..
Our mobile homes are due to be collected by a vigorous transport company who will not stand for any delay or squabble on pick up day. Yesterday, however, we got a call from Camping Du Midi to say that our “cheque de banque” that they had deposited in their bank nine days earlier had not cleared and they were not able to release the vans for dispatch.  I explained that we sent a bank guaranteed cheque and all their bank had to do was present it to our bank and the transaction was done, no waiting for payment because the we had already released the funds into our bank’s guaranteed-cheque account. Simple you would you say, but no. Camping Du Midi’s bank did not believe the cheque to be genuine, for reasons I have not yet had time to establish, and would not release the funds  for  fifteen days to ensure the cheque would not bounce. OK, so Mike and I are now in a state of disbelief, and shock.  Is it inconceivable that the banks of France do not trust each other?  And, why do they not talk to one another?  At nine o’clock this morning, 24 hours before monsieur le aggressive transport manager dispatches his lorry to Camping Du Midi, we are at our bank in Carentan demanding that as their best and most trouble free clients we now have a huge problem and we need their help. The initial response to our tale of woe was to treat us like a couple of imbeciles and we were explained the process of the bankers cheque and what happens to the funds, I explained that we knew all of this and the customer services gentleman said that I should let him speak as he knew the business better than me and then started to explain the process of bankers cheques again at which point I had to get squeaky and angry again and said that he must call the bank at the other end of this dilemma and resolve the issue. He quite rightly went in search  of the facts that he might need to confront the other bank and with the cheque stub in hand and the online proof that the money had been withdrawn a week ago he dialled the number and the fun began.  I must confess that at that moment I began to feel like a scam victim and shared that feeling with Mike who also thought the worse.  The pleasantries  and good mannered discussions commenced and the wheels of logic and business acumen began to role…., I am joking with you, sorry…. It transpires that Bank CIC in Challan, where the vans are, did not trust the Credit Agricol banker’s cheque and would not release the funds until fifteen days was up. The only way this could be resolved was to send them proof that the cheque is genuine and that the funds had really left our account.  I felt a time scale issue coming on and I demanded that this bickering between banks needed  to be done now and in front of me. An hour later the caravans were released and the transport put back on schedule. Do I believe this delivery is actually going to happen, well, no I don’t, but I will not share this with Mike just yet as he is not off the ceiling and we are about to go out to lunch with Ann from Appleville to coo and marvel at her new cuisiniere of which I know I am going to be green with envy.
Before I sign off today I must just remind you all that if you live in Europe the legislation provided for us all is there to protect us and our futures. Mike and I had a sheet of asbestos in the garden which was mentioned as a danger in the report when we bought the house and yesterday we plucked up the courage to carefully pack it into a plastic bag so as to not contaminate any one else’s life and we drove it to the main decheterie in Carentan. When we arrived the chappy habitually takes a look at what you are chucking out and that you have carefully triaged everything and I asked where we could dispose of the asbestos. We boldly asked us to unwrap it break it up into smaller pieces and put it in sand bag in the corner. Mike was flabbergasted, in his previous life working with buildings any contact with asbestos called in a battery of rules regulations and paperwork so that it is disposed of securely and under no circumstances should asbestos be broken up or handled without proper protective clothing. So we just dumped our cargo on the bag and drove away wondering why on earth Europe spends so much  money and time to protect us and then allows the rules to be broken and ignored. This is a council run tip and is now classified as a hazardous area and in our opinion,  all who go there . be aware.