Friday, 29 July 2011

We really had a good time .

At last, Mike has seen the way forward and after speaking to the important, the less important and the utterly useless we have found a solution to the bureaucratic joke which takes a hard wired mobile home onto a plug and socket installation. We have now sent the “list de travaux” describing point by point, the structure and capacity of this adorable little box of tricks and we are forever hopeful that our dreams will finally come true and we can get an electric supply into the vans.

What a surprise to find that we had added two huge white bulls to our menagerie and if  we had  had the ability to keep them, fatten them up for Sunday lunch we would have, but Mike took charge, loaded up the air gun and set off on a mission to send them home, It was days later that we came to terms with the real damage when Mike asked why I had pruned the grasses and cut up the willow, and as we walked around the lawn we started to trip up in Hoof holes and realised that they had done a full tour of the garden feasted on the good stuff  and by the time we saw them they were relaxing in the sun have a fantastic day out. I filled their entrance  in the fence with an old open rotary washing line and hung HOSS empty food tins up to act as a scare cow. We now have to get the barbed wire out and start the Fort Knox approach to garden protection. 

Another photo at the front door and what a good time we had.  Mim and Dick came on a last minute visit,  called us one day and arrived the next, how exciting is that.

Another photo at the front door and what a good time we had.  Mim and Dick came on a last minute visit,  called us one day and arrived the next, how exciting is that. 

Mim and I were caught doing the weeding  in the allotment. It is such a pleasure gardening with another person there is so much to discuss and dare I say a lot to laugh about We really had a good time .

Thursday, 21 July 2011

not too long now we hope.

This is just a guess, but would you say that we are making a  habit of celebrating around big tables. It is, I must confess my most favourite way to celebrate and this lunch, in honour of Peter’s 70th birthday ticked all the boxes and marked the day for him. Sarah cooked a wonderful meal for us with the most delicious peaches in a sauce which promised to be at least one thousand calories a spoonful so I ate with relish knowing I would need to starve for the next two days to make up for this treat.  I am always amazed on these occasions when we arrive at midday, have a welcoming drink, sit down, eat, drink and be merry and the next thing you know five hours has passed by and it is time to go. I am always up for carrying on but the art of not outstaying your welcome is a fine balance and one to nurture unlike my neighbour who came in for aperitifs at seven one evening and stayed until eleven thirty by which time the thought of dinner had rolled over and put itself to bed.

We have both been in a bit of an upset and frustrated over the outcome of the electric validation process for the mobile homes and have spent hours thinking through our next move.  We did go out and buy the fuse box and Mike did start to put it together to make a plug and socket arrangement but came in very upset and said that connecting these vans up on plugs and sockets goes against all the learning and good practice procedures he has accomplished throughout his working life.

We decided to call the consuel again and ask for a re-test because we felt that the inspector was adopting the sloppy shoulder technique. We had to wait until Monday to make that call as the country was closed down on Thursday to mark Bastille day and then the country was closed down on Friday because it was Friday and the consuel had also decided to take “le pont” which means the bridge and have a nice long weekend. It therefore took me all morning to get a reply on Monday as the whole world were trying to contact them as well. I did get through, and I did speak to somebody who sounded competent but came away with absolutely no progress. It appears that the European regulation NF C15-100 does not specify mobile homes so they cannot be tested like a normal electrical installation and that is why you have to pug them in. We were still not convinced, so I called an electrical consultant and he confirmed the horror of this situation. Over a few glasses of good red wine our friend Michael said, “roll over Mike, and do as they are asking”. So we have, and we are, and we did. In the mean time we have received a form from the hospital in St Lo which needed filling in before Mike could even ask for an appointment for an MRI scan on his knee and medical talk is as weird as electrical talk so out came the dictionary and yet more hours of decipher and guess work.  Finally I had to  call them to check the true meaning of some of the questions. The problem with this form, in the end was that all the answers had to be  “No”  but in order to get you to say no they asked the question in the most obscure tense and turn of phrase. Anyway, the next few days will be full of people and fun with my sister Mim coming tomorrow and my mate Mia coming on Wednesday, Gill comes on the 9th Aug and my Mum and Mr and Mrs Field are coming on the 26th Aug and now you can see why we soooo want our mobile homes working ….not too long now, we hope.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

another box somewhere else. I can’t wait…..

Sometimes I feel this old and twenty years older but this is the cake my friend Ami made for my mate Ann. Ann was unsure about hitting her milestone but she is looking good and we had a wonderful party in a weather window between torrential rain and hurricane winds which meant we all managed to stay out and enjoy the day.

Around the table once again, it is a true signature of French living and I for one love it. We met a few new brits making their way through retirement and met up with others we already know for an energetic catch up. Unfortunately Mike and I had to leave early to get back into Carantan for our appointment with the knee specialist. When I say our , I mean we, because I attend all Mike’s doctor and dentist appointments in the capacity of translator and between us we manage to decipher and unravel diagnosis and prescription. On Wednesday, however, I asked the consultant if I could come in to help Mike with this French and he said I was most welcome then in a comfortable and confident manner coolly asked Mike, in perfect English where it hurt. I was delighted and let them get on with it. Whilst Mike was pulling up his jeans after his consultation, the doctor came back into the office and explained everything to me in deep and meaningful medicine French that the knee was not damaged and it might be possible to get him back on the road without an operation. How good is that,  we are now off to get an MRI scan to make absolutely sure and then Mike will be able to chuck his crutches over the wall and we can get back to normal…..I can be sooo impatient sometimes.

When Mike had his other knee operated on ten years ago he was given some pictures of the work done , all very gory but Mike felt they might be of interest to our bilingual consultant so I decided to raid the memory boxes in the loft  to see if I had filed them away under curious.  I have seven boxes full of stuff and it really was about time I had a look so they all came down and this is the moment when I wished I had not started and encouraged the Pandora in me, to, “step away from the boxes”. It is done now and I found, a whole evenings worth of entertainment reading love letters, cards and diaries. The Oldest item there was my very own birth announcement and a little dress my Mum made me when I could barely sit up. The most amazing was the badge I wore on a BEA flight to Belgium to identify me as an unaccompanied child, and could be a collectors item. I found Georgina’s broken arm cast, Christopher’s cub uniform and Debbie’s cycling proficiency certificate. Mike and I had a great evening best guessing dates, rhymes or reasons for keeping such a lot of stuff. We have now repacked the relevant, and  kept anything of  potential value, but needless to say we did not come across the macabre pictures of Mikes knee interior so we will have to go foraging in  another box somewhere else. I can’t wait…..

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

great place to start building a nest…..NOT

Sunflowers are all around us now and these are my most gigantic and funny. I plant five in the same area every year one for each of the pearse family and they always do well. Mike was walking through the back yard and had to call me out to look at these fabulous plants peering over the hedge. Well done Pearse family you “done good” again this year and there is one plant for each of you. I will actually harvest the seeds for Mike’s bird fat ball bonanza in the winter.

Every week or so we buy yesterdays bread for the ducks and chickens and there is nothing better than standing by the pond chucking bread at the swan. HOSS has learnt that by sitting still and acting like an angle he can get some of the action and joins in the feed frenzy.  We used to get boxes and boxes or croissant and pain chocolate with the animal bread from Leclerc but all that has stopped and I expect the staff are getting first pickings and our cheap breakfasts have come to an abrupt end, only goes to show that you cannot rely on a good thing and you end up having to go out and look for a new good thing at some stage.

We have had a jolly week so far with Ron and Pauline here on their way back to the UK from their three month camper trip and there has been lots of talking and catching up . We were all sailors in Port Solent and can all talk a good sailing epic which kept us entertained for a couple of days. This took our minds off the mobile home electric issues but today we were back to the problem of searching for the right solution to getting these Vans up and running.  Tonight we had our digger man and his family over for supper. Ami made a creation cake for my mate Ann’s birthday tomorrow and we had a wonderful evening with this young family over a bowl of spaghetti meat balls. This little poppet kept me entertained just because she is a little poppet

The storks have taken to roosting on the electric pylons over the field and it is starting to worry us. The fear that they might sit on the wrong bit and then kiss…Frazzled stork is not exciting me at this moment. But what a sight, clacking to one another and hopefully deciding that this is NOT such a great place to start building a nest…..

Thursday, 7 July 2011

a square of green and not mud.

7th July
The blogs will come thick and fast now as there is so much to catch up with but the biggest, best and most fun news is that Chris and Sam came to see us.  

 As always I insist on the photograph in front of the door,  if I were to go through my files I could make a printed tea towel with all the different people posing in front of our home.
We rushed back to join Chris and Sam on the last Saturday of our holiday and persuaded them that taking the camper for a trip into Brittany would be no worry for us, so we unloaded all our toosh, and by golly there was a lot to unload and they loaded up theirs and set off west on Sunday afternoon. Mike and I faced the garden and contemplated the ability of weeds to grow in strong and abundant crops all over the allotment just because we turned your heads away for two week. I spent the best part of Monday pulling and panting to clear the way. The Onions are close to harvest and the beans, spinach and sweet corn saw the drought off, just.  We left for our adventure to Spain on the 13th June and just before, I performed the tried and trusted rain dance and willed the heavens to open during our absence and I am glad to say that it rained every day in the first week and then back to drought
 conditions until today and after three weeks it is raining cats and dogs and my dog and cat are glad of the distraction, all that thunder and lightening  is very exciting, not to mention frightening.
Last Wednesday the Consuel (the French institution for electrical excellence) came over to do an electrical test on the Mobile home installation and to our utter dismay and disappointment they failed. Reasons are written in Latin and with lemon ink so nobody will ever understand the important points so I pressed the  young and I think, slap dash inspector for a verbal explanation with pictures. Basically the regs for Mobile homes are truly  written in Latin on pig’s skin and not even the electricians know where to turn and the inspector’s best solution was to take out all the hard wiring, professional stuff,  and install an outside pug and socket and literally plug them in. Mike’s face was a picture to behold as he laughed saying that was putting this installation twenty years behind the regs, and the inspector agreed. How can we win, I have no idea. Eight days later we are still waiting for the report so today I put that call in to complain and the young and pleasant lady did agree it was odd that the report was not in yet in and was going to call our inspector’s boss to investigate…..ohhh how many times have we been at this abyss of promise and resolution. Happily Mike is on crutches and in no position to get into a fight so I will deal with this best way, grovel and complain , complain and grovel oh,  and did I mention wait…

Now just take a look where the patch of mud was is all green and looking somewhat OK we are a little troubled that it is so much greener than the rest of the lawn, time will tell but we are delighted  to look on a square of green and not mud.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

this is enough to be getting on with xxx

My goodness me it has been hard to get back into a routine after our jolly holiday. Leaving the garden for two weeks was not half as bad as it might have been, we timed it to perfection at the cost of missing Maggie and James’s wedding but this was the right time, everything in the ground planted and only the need for water and a watchful eye for which we thank our friends Graham and Anne and of course Genevievre who walked down every day to feed our menagerie. I looked through all our photos and this one of HOSS says holiday to me, relaxed, content and eating. We parked in a campsite looking over a glassy lake and a village nestled on the waters edge. It was hot and dry and setting up camp was fun. After a good aperitif, a simple meal, then coffee watching the sun dip down behind the mountains we agreed that there is nothing better. I can honestly say that every day had the same format and every day had a little treasure to remember and document.

Everywhere we stopped we found a little gem and in Villefranche despite this being an impressive  medieval town perched on the top of a hill as you enter the town square you become aware that the paving is doing something very unnatural and it then becomes Art. The corner of the square had been lifted and curved up.  How wonderful.

We passed acres and acres of sunflowers, sweet corn, grape vines, walnut groves and rows of rows of cash crop trees. We just loved observing  the different stages of maturity of the woods and got a real vision of our own wood which was most definitely influenced from this south of France tree planting.

To finish off the trip we arranged to visit Mike’s cousin Colin and his wife Gill who have lived in Charante for ten years and who we have not met in 30 years.  It was as though we had only seen them last month but I must admit that I would not  have recognised them in the street, but once sat down with a gin and tonic in their beautiful home in St Maurice des lions we discovered we have so much in common.  It felt very natural  to sit and eat with family, as though no distance in time and travel had occurred. Well after our good byes and promises of keeping in touch Mike and I both felt we has discovered yet another treasure on our holiday, Colin and Gill.  Life is really not what you know in life,  it is who you know and our lives are a little richer for having renewed our family ties.
We are back home now and there are pages of blog to catch up with, but I think this is enough to be getting on with   xxx