Friday, 31 December 2010

Bon Fin d'Année 2010

Best Wishes to everyone;  friends, family and all those who I do not know and may never meet, who read my postings, for the end of the year..... and for the next year I wish you all the best of opportunity.

I was reprimanded today for saying Bonne Année because one can't say that until after midnight!  How very logically French and quite exact! 

Until then one has to say "Bon Fin d'Année" and why not celebrate the going out as well as the coming in?  We don't have any black coal though!

Happy New Year to you all. 

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

In the Bleak Midwinter

I've been singing this carol and only this carol this year whilst I clean, hoover, walk, be ...
and it just keeps singing in my head all the time.
I love it. It is sad. It makes me cry.  It fills me with the beauty of the world.
It is a solitary carol....... so I have been thinking of people I know in England and people in other parts of the world.  And it makes me see the glass half empty and the glass half full.
I like people very much and it always pains me enormously if I feel I have inadvertently hurt anyone.
I want to give, yet sometimes it is impossible to be able to give, even my heart.
The Youtube video I have chosen is quite poignant. 
If you wish you can watch the choir and listen to this moving song of praise.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 

Heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 

In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 

The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 
 Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 

Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 

But his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 

Worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 
What can I give him, poor as I am? 

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 

if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 

Yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.
With grateful thanks to Christina Rossetti


Monday, 27 December 2010

On Christmas Day, On Christmas Day, No Picnic was had on Christmas Day

On account of the below freezing weather conditions which we have tolerated before on our legendary Christmas Day picnics, and on account of our fatigue in many areas it was just as well that we did not have such a feast mid-day. So TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT and TO DO SOMETHING SENSIBLE we took a 3 hour walk across fields and woodlands, through ancient rural villages, uphill, downvale,  along river banks showing evidence of medieval strip farming,  across fords,  to afford ourselves a place in the winter sunshine at a special lake where we had previously had our Christmas Day picnics and so... we SIMPLY ATE  our smoked salmon sandwich rolls with a clementine for dessert followed by coffee laced with Whiskey Mac.

In the evening once our hunger was restored we ate a first course of Salmon Provençale pre-prepared... with a green salad followed by the main course of Shoulder of Lamb from the field next door  served with roasted potatoes, pumpkin, onions, garlic and steamed broccoli and carrots. Then one of LIDLs finest cheeses,  a Bleu Bresse, accompanied with mâche (lamb's lettuce). This latter leaf is very popular with the French. It belongs to the Valerian family so is therefore probably very good for relaxation and healthy sleeping habits.
When I bought wholemeal bread at Leclerc I just could not RESIST the desserts and after umming and aahing over whether I should choose buche de noël or  ???? I chose these two on account of the little lutin and his spade for Captain Sensible and Sweetpea coloured raspberries!

And then they and the day were gone!

Thank goodness, that's all over for another year. The dreaded day has passed well, all things considered!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

It was Christmas Eve 2010.........

How very French...
I took a small inexpensive gift to my French friends wishing them festive greetings and we were  unexpectedly invited to an evening meal.
By the time I did what I had to do, there was no time to change into evening wear and anyway I knew that where I was going they had not much more heat than I have at Angles so it would be careless to discard the layers of clothing.  I exchanged the trousers for a skirt and the upper garment for another, wrapped a cream scarf around my neck to brighten up the shades of black and burgundy, changed my shoes, splashed some perfume  on the wrists (better than slashing them) grabbed the flowers and the wine and set off, arriving later than requested.  Parking presented a problem trying not to park in front of garages.
When I arrived the 7 persons seated applauded and called out my name as if I were a football team which made me quite embarrassed!  Cries of "Je suis desolée" were drowned as I removed my hat, coat, gloves, gave my gifts and was seated at the head of the table! A table of 8. More embarrassment as I realised that it was a shared meal… people had contributed!  I did not foresee how much there would be to eat nor when I would get home! The next time we are invited by French people to a meal I MUST establish what I am expected to do: what should I bring?  What are the expectations for the guests?  I have made so many cultural faux pas that I don't want to make any more.
Let the Feast begin
I had missed the aperitif toasts (unlike an English toast) and the guests were eating escargots but I was presented with foie gras on toast (which they also had)  and a cockle shell containing 4 Coquille St Jacques in Beurre Nantaise. These days I eat the foie gras as I do not have the energy or language to remonstrate. "Hypocrite" I say to myself but it’s often such a nice creamy taste and THAT IS MY DILEMMA after 23 years of having been a vegetarian!
Then the 3rd course of  home-smoked salmon was heavenly.  A friend of G. obtains the salmon atlantique from his friend a poissonière, smokes it and slices it very finely.  It was oh so sweet and melted in the mouth. I had to have a second helping when it was offered to me.
Following that were the oysters. I don’t like imbibing salt water! I tried one… and remarkably, unlike previous experiences, there was no salty ocean, just a wonderful, slippery, weird experience which suggested I should have another, but I refused, as one was plenty!
The main course was a very large of Poitevin gigot of lamb with white creamy beans, (perhaps mogettes) with green haricots verts.  The lamb was deliciously sweet and melted in the mouth. The plate was full then empty!
Aumoniere de fromage du chevre avec miel et pignons was interesting but E. was disappointed because the cheese hadn’t melted and the pastry was like burnt paper. She is not yet used to the woodburner oven which was instlalled for their emergency moving in just a few weeks ago. I thought  the pastry needed to be more soaked with butter.
The mixed lettuces that the French call 'salade' was passed around the table.
Course 8 was dessert. A very fat slice of pear and chocolate roulade in bicoloured, marbled sponge was set before me!  OH MY… would I make it home and WHEN would I lose the weight I was adding to my figure!
 Course 9 consisted of Les Mendiants. Fortunately we could choose to have anything in between 0 and 13 of these ingredients from the platter of fruit and nuts. I chose prunes.
Coffee and chocolates came then tilleul (lime flower) tisane, then more coffee or more tea as stories and jokes abounded. I had intended not to be late home BUT I couldn't just get up and leave!  At midnight the Baby Jesus was put in his creche and Pere Noel had been hinted at with stories of childhood memories!
At 13h30 it was Christmas gift time.  More embarrassment but I noticed that not all guests exchanged gifts so I relaxed only to discover that I was receiving a wonderful, beautiful gift from a family whom I have only met once before! He is a medieval metalsmith and stone carver and I don't know what else. Except he's very funny!
Melusine et Chevan also received one of his wonderful sculptures.

At 14h30 everyone was still nattering and enjoying the morning. However, after 6 and half hours I had to get up from my seat for reasons of health and safety so decided I must reluctantly take my leave. Then more surprise as I was invited to eat again that day, Christmas Day, at another house but I felt quite rude when I declined giving the excuse that I would eat very little the next day, I mean Christmas Day. 
I am lucky to have such wonderful French friends who look after me.  I try to look after them and have supported them with their business events. At the moment their Ouessant mouton is mowing my lawn.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Wishing you all a seasonal feast full of warmth and kindness

With best wishes from SweetpeainFrance

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

21 12 2010 Winter begins

It has been the shortest day in our part of the Northern Hemisphere and I never noticed.

There was also a lunar eclipse but the cloud cover concealed the moon and the sun.  According to NASA it was the first time since 1638 that the two events coincided.
You could look at some amazing photos of the event here. 

So on this Winter Solstice the axis of the Earth we will be at it's utmost so that the North Pole will be angled 23.5 degrees away from the sun -- at 6:38 p.m. EST, after which the days will gradually grow longer until the summer solstice in June 2011.       
I could do with a few more hours of daylight and sunshine!
In ancient Rome the winter solstice was celebrated at the Feast of Saturnalia.. The Feast of Juul (Yule) was celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavia.  However no one knows exactly when people first began to honour this important calendrial day.

In England and the UK people have had the coldest temperatures since records began and records suggest that it could be the coldest December since a Little Ice Age in the 1890s.
Minus 20 degrees has been recorded near where to Captain Sensible was born.

Today we have had a reasonably mild day.  One woodburner has been installed but not yet lit.   Only a small fire is allowed for up to 8 days when little by little the heat can be increased.  The other room is presenting a greater amount of angst, conundrum and concern.   The chimney place has to be finished. We thought the chap would be inserting the angular tubage but he had so many work-related problems yesterday.  After over 4 hours working by himself in stinging rain I think he was glad to be going back to base!  Having given some thought to the problem we have decided he must come and do what need to be done so that we can get on.

It's a grim season that's for sure.....we hope we can light the fires and get through the winter and progress further with the renovation.

But for all friends and family in the UK, it cannot be easy.  Thinking of you all.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Yellow Hand : La Main Jaune

Roundabouts in France are often very interesting and some can be spectacular.  This one is truly an interesting landmark. It is at a junction where the N10 meets the autoroute.  It was installed in August,  weighs 15 tonnes and is nearly 16 metres tall.  It was designed by a GP who enjoys sculpture.  Evidently, it symbolises the working world: apprentices, engineers, craftsmen, pensioners and other workers in and around Chatellerault, especially from 'The Manu' where once arms and later cutlery were manufactured.  That arms factory is now an excellent auto and velo museum.  The Yellow Hand took 7 years for volunteers to make.  If you can find the Yellow Hand then one cannot be lost!
Several years ago, whilst mosing about on French C roads, our road map did not reflect the actual lanes!  I wound the passenger window down to speak to two old boys in the pretty very rural village and explained that we were lost and could they help us!  I was told with a smile that one can never be 'LostinFrance' because one can always find out where one is.  Truly French logic!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

In memory of...

John Lennon and Little Feet.

Little Feet died three years ago.  Goodbye Little Feet. The rain lashed as it did yesterday and today.  We think she had been inadvertently poisoned by eating vermin.  She was a stay-at-home-cat, timid, loyal but a bully to her sister, becoming quite obese from eating cat biscuits, leaving little for her slender sister, the polydactylic supreme, Queen-of-cats, Mole-eater, Big Feet.  "God bless her cotton socks" as we laid her in her grave next to the only rose bush in the garden that Captain Sensible had acquired at this special place on La Balade des Plaisirs!  It has been a pleasure to have lived here as it was for Little Feet and is still for Big Feet.  Little Feet, alias Syrah, disliked people, keeping a distance.  The person she favoured the most, other than ourselves of course, was the writer, Neil Powell, poet and biographer, whose leather shoes she would always tumble upon, causing much merriment!   I do miss MissHeavyWeightMissPloddyLittleFeet who would stretch herself out on the mantelpiece above the woodburner or sit atop the piano eyeing us and pretending she was asleep.  I felt guilty that we had not got her to the vet earlier. I cried in grief for nearly a year.  Now Big Feet, alias Shiraz, has become fatter but not overweight and is still the French Tart, enjoying to have her tummy tickled.

When in 1980 on 8th December I heard that John Lennon had died I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed.  I could not believe assassination.  I can remember my sobbing, where I was and what I had been doing before and after;  then, it was just more devastation, grief and bereavement.  I still cry when certain of his songs and those of The Beatles touch my soul.  This is also how I feel about my life, even today, gripped with sadnesses, more as one becomes older.   For John was in love with Yoko and she was in love with him, and whatever we think about her or him or her music or their music,  I just loved the sound of his music, his images and films. The Beatles together or separately made a huge impression in my life. I laughed and cried and still do... happiness is.......

Listen to the tune to go with these words.

"There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all"
John Lennon

He was my hero. Just imagine.

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one 

My memories make me cry. Such a sad loss of my friends in music and in solace.   xxxxxxxxx
PS with grateful thanks to YOUTUBE.  BUT OF COURSE a much bigger thankyou to John and Yvonne for introducing us to Little Feat and Big Feet..........

Friday, 3 December 2010


We managed to step into the great unknown world today on two occasions.
1: We went to AsA thinking the oak flooring may arrive but no, it will be tomorrow.  However, it gave us a chance to assess the roads, which once we were through our lane were surprisingly clear and dry; to assess the materials we need to purchase; to assess the electric heater usage (it had been left on to dry out plaster) and to allow for another, yes, yet another, until the walls are flat, coat of 'jointe rapide' and of course a French mid-morning coffee break with the best croissants in the world from the boulangerie-on-the-hill.  Tomorrow, we will economise (slightly) with apple pancakes. One can't keep spending and being tempted at the lovely boulangerie!
2. After a quick cheese on toast with sauteed tomatoes lunch we headed into the outskirts of Poitiers to purchase tiles for the hearth.  Oh much deliberation from she who doesn't make decisions painlessly!   THEN she makes a choice only to discover that the tiles have to be ordered!  Eventually, acknowledging that 10 days still gives time before Christmas for the two poele-a-bois to be installed  she orders those more expensive ones and ALSO orders a different sort for the salle-de-bain.  She had to get her 5% discount on the LRM store card that she was inveigled into before the end of the year! Oups!  We also took advantage of the distance and leapt into the vast Auchan which is not as ENORMOUS as the one at Tours, to buy food, gas and petrol as stocks were perilously low.   ONE OF THINGS WE LOVE ABOUT WINTER is seeing how long we can go without shopping! Inventing meals can be quite innovative!  However, when there are no eggs and no fresh vegetables then it is imperative to shop! Of course this year we have the freezer filled with lamb and Captain Sensible for some inexplicable reason is into ice-cream. It goes nicely with bottled cherries! So we are never without food. We also have a lot of small potatoes from the potager which I am very happy to peel because it reminds me of maternal grandmother! Now, we have stocked up on fresh veg and fruit, a change of carnivorous protein, AND for me some French wine! It keeps me balanced!

Thursday, 2 December 2010


It's another snow no go day as we elect not to travel to do house renovations a 30 minute drive from here. It's all downhill into the valley and I expect the weather conditions may improve but then it's a consistently uphill climb and although we have a set of snow chains they are a nightmare to put on.

Bison-Fute indicate we are on an Orange alert..(nothing to do with FT!!)... indicating difficult driving conditions... not RED nor BLACK but one level up from GREEN which mean smooth with no driving difficuties.   Even so the woodburner is more inviting.

When we get there we'll have to turn the water on...and when we leave, turn it off. We have left the electric radiator on very low in one room to dry the plaster so it will be sort of cosy in there but the kitchen will be bleak! The comfort zone is pretty low there but not as difficult as with anyone who has to work with animals. I am thinking of my son, his lady and the horses.

 This is just a quick diversion before I settle to do admin work... and THINK about the possibilities of TRAVEL... later today or tomorrow.  In any case, we have to go tomorrow as the oak flooring is supposed to be arriving.  The company is from further south, West of France.  Do they realise what is white and is falling on the ground in this rural region?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Roses in the Snowses

Winter wonder
Beauty in colour
Struggling flower

Sunday, 28 November 2010

La neige

from a bedroom window.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

French words learned today

A noun.
A padlock is un cadenas. Say it as cadanar.

A verb.
Cadenasser is used when putting a padlock on a gate, door or bicycle.

Sweetpea padlocked her bicycle. 
Sweetpea cadenassé son vélo.

The garden gate was padlocked.  
La portail du jardin était cadenassée.

A preposition.
autour de meaning around or round

We would like to put vermiculite around the flexible flue liner.
Nous voudrions mettre de la vermiculite autour de le tubage flexible.

We have to line the chimneys in preparation for woodburner warmth.
I have a new lawnmower in one of the gardens.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


I just opened my computer and feel compelled to express my deep sadness.

I have just received sad news.  An acquaintance who has been supportive and enthusiastic about "my renovation project" and who has given me friendship and support during this last summer has lung cancer.  Life's a bitch!  Every time I consider that C word I cringe cowardly and contemplate that my problems in life are nothing, absolutely zilch,  tho' they topple the equilibrium of my daily life, they don't ruin it to spell gloom and doom.  I am very sad.   She doesn't live in France permanently but has in the last seven or so years made a beautiful home here.   She is now in UK about to undergo treatment.   The precious gifts of life, love, survival and a degree of happiness are such a struggle!
I am very sad.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Orange Saga is complete ... I HOPE

Yesterday after an hour on the phone plus with the technical help from Captain Sensible and a man called John from the English Speaking Orange Helpline who must both be praised profusely,  the internet LIVEBOX has been re-set, the internet phone has been re-set, the two phones are wired up correctly,  and it is all working with the original fti/ connexion number rather than the second one that they sent me.  Mysteries solved!  The conflict of having two contracts has been resolved!

I am still nervous about whether it will last.  However, I am assured that the Orange and France Telecom engineers did something on 10-11-10 and now it is all tickety-boo!   I've even had my first invoice!  Now, after 86 days, I can "phone for free" on the internet line or pay more on the landline.   What Choices, eh!

Friday, 12 November 2010


The wind and rain were forecast to be so strong that Camille the poney was stabled.  We could hear her kicking the fence and neighing in protest at her confinement.  She had for several weeks disappeared to where we know not and has recently been returned to her flock of 8 sheep which circulate the fields in front of and behind our fermette.  

We must count those sheep because on Wednesday we received the carcass of a lamb...for the freezer, ewe know.  Oh, those years of vegeterianism hang rather limply these days when eating food-in-france!  It was only in February, we were sort-of gifted a lamb, to eat, you understand, and we haven't eaten all of it yet!  One cannot eat lamb every day!  However, a few weeks ago we were asked whether we would like a lamb. Of course we affirmed that we would!  Panic prevailed....we realised we had 'to make way in the freezer' so at this point in time we are rather full of my favourite meat and have got to the point where we do not really want to eat more!
When we were approached,  I bravely asked how old the lamb would be.  I certainly did not explain why,  but in Year one we definitely had 'lamb' in contrast to Year two when we were inclined to believe it was 'mutton'.   We have learned that the transition between lamb and mutton is not only dependant on culinary cooking times but also on the weight of the animal as well as the age.  We're not sure but we are hoping that we DO have lamb and not mutton as in our first year.  It makes a difference to what cooking methods we use so as not to have to chew the meat!
Perhaps we have inherited a sheep that was barren... best not to ask... I will coo and aah in raptures at the first and even last of the lambs that are born to give so much pleasure as they gambol in the fields of France and generate food for almost free!
The proverb that "Beggars cannot be choosers" features much in our lives.   Let's say it was a  very satisfactory price compared to the price of Poitou-Charentes lamb in the supermarkets or boucheries.
The wind has abated... the temperature has risen before the fall of the frosts yet to come and Camille has re-appeared in the field.  We witnessed her rolling on the ground... either she was happy or has a tick or two!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

More of Orange and FT

At my new house in Angles... It seems that I have had to register with France Telecom for the messagerie service 3103 and that will take 5 days to activate! How is one supposed to have known this?  Then for the Orange internet telephone to work it seems that I have had to re set the Livebox and register with the new terribly long and meaningless email address and various passwords that they sent me on October 3rd!  I did nothing with this information because as the Internet was working why should I change it if it isn't broke and risk being out of contact with the internet services.   So there I was waiting and waiting for it to be activated when it couldn't. Even the nice helpful Orange man said it was weird to have two fti/ numbers etc!
Therefore, by the end of next week I hope to have not only the use of the internet but also TWO telephones as well as making my monthly payments. I am sure they will not reimburse me for the payments I have made whilst not having had communication with the outside world. Ah... Orange! 
Meanwhile I have to try and translate the French telephone instructions which are not available in English as of course like all technology the model number is specifically for France!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Burning decisions

I have made some PROGRESS…. Note the majiscules. 
After what seems to have been several months of ongoing, from-time-to-time-research, I have, at last, decided to buy two woodburners from a new company, who being only one month in business with their shop still not consumer ready, and having visited two other woodburner businesses in one day, we were pleased to have stumbled upon.
In addition, I have surfed the net to research woodburner companies in France, woodburner companies in our region of France and woodburner companies in UK and those with websites of particular brands / marques of woodburner stoves as opposed to multifuel stoves, gathering useful information so as to at least have a little knowledge!
Now, there is a difference in woodburners and I don’t just mean wood pellets or oak logs! 

I am not a technically-minded-creature so I cannot possibly re-iterate all that I have learned but I will say that whatever I HAVE learned is just the tip of the iceberg and I would like to learn more, but,  just as I cannot afford the chateau when I can only afford a garden shed, I cannot afford the type of woodburner my heart desires, therefore and of course with some things in life one just has to compromise.

What is it about buying AND INSTALLING a woodburner in France that is so difficult?
Well, for me, nothing is simple in my life! So, that is an aforesaid! Now to the practicalities, procedures and facts!

1.      One has to invite the company to one’s house to study the chimney / fireplace to measure dimensions and to verify that it will accept the woodburner and to establish how the company will install it.  That appointment has to be made several weeks ahead of when one wants to install the woodburner, because 
      a) it will take several weeks before they can to do ‘l’etude’,  
      b) it will take at least two weeks after that for the estimate of the works to arrive!  
      c) it may take several weeks for the woodburner to be ordered and installed!  
      So be prepared to say Goodbye to at least one to two or months and pray that life continues!
2.     IF as a law-abiding English person living in France on a full-time basis and therefore registered to pay French taxes one wishes to apply for the 40% or 25% tax rebate, one needs to buy the woodburner from the installer!  This precludes buying a woodburner online!  As a result of this knowledge we did sums to compare the costs of buying a cheaper and/or more expensive woodburner online and not gaining the tax rebate with buying a cheaper and/or more expensive woodburner from a buyer/installer and applying for the tax rebate.  The difference can be and has been surprising! Please note also that France may well reduce this tax option at the end of December of this year, hence the fact that all woodburner companies are fully-booked!
3.     Other complications set in!   One cannot find out the price of a woodburner from a French company because they want to come to the house to do the ‘l’etude’ so you have to enter the game!  I have not been able to find out the sale price of a particular brand of woodburner from one establishment without this farce.
4.    When we came across the new company, I was amazed.   The proprietor was prepared to give an estimate according to Captain Sensible’s plan, diagram and measurements AND within a few minutes of enquiry we had a devis / estimate as opposed to a 4 week wait!  More importantly, whereas from one company we had been quoted 650 euros to install each of the two woodburners we were now being quoted 150 euros to install the two woodburners. Subsequently, from a different entreprise, I have been quoted 200 euros to install one woodburner if they come and install the two!     We realise the profits have been added to the cost of the woodburner but I have also gained a 15% reduction on the cost of each woodburner.   
  5. Another shop will not tell me how much a Jotul or Dovre woodburner will cost me because they have to come and do the study which will be in 2 weeks time!  NO, I cannot wait further at this time of year.
6.     An Englishman and his company working in France for over 10 years sounds to be a reputable company and eventually after some mystery and hesitation he agreed to work from the plan with measurements. However, I discovered that their website does not suggest that they can get me a certain  brand of woodburner that is not advertised on their site!  A telephone call does suggest this! Of course I have chosen the upper end of the market with the Jotul range and because I wanted two woodburners with side doors and in enamelled Ivory colour, one with  12kw or more and one with about 9kw he can order these. If I had known this back in June I might have been more tempted!  
7.     Also.... there is a requirement that the installer is responsible for the chimney, and in the case of any impending unwanted "fire in the chimney", the insurance company makes a claim against the installer and obviously, the installer has to guarantee his installation to the house insurance company.   Hence, most probably these are the reasons for the installer to inspect the chimney, maintain the mystery and assume all expertise. If without someone who has previously installed woodburners then I think one is under their spell. I am lucky. My partner has a technical and practical mind and has installed woodburners before.
8.   By now I have sussed out that certain companies purchase e.g. the Dovre model and market it under a Franchise brand name.  
9.   Now, that is where I have ended my research because of the restrictions, mais bien sur, on the pocket and wallet!  The company which we stumbled upon now has my confidence and order within two days of correspondence.   I have paid 30% for the installation of two Dovre-models of woodburners to be installed at the end of November, when I will pay the balance of 70%.  The designated wood burners have flat waffle-patterned beds and are not for multifuel.  The proprietors did not encircle me with magic and mystery of woodburners for they quickly realized we had gained our knowledge from our research and were prepared to gain a sale realising that our measurements were adequate for a devis / estimate.  Voila! They have succeeded where others have prevaricated!
10.  I hope this story ends successfully and that the woodburner mystery saga will be solved after some more hard work on our part, so that logs and luxurious comfort compared to the current cold ambiance will be welcomed at my new house.
11. Meanwhile the Nestor Martin at Village de Vaux beats out the heat in almost November and keeps us as warm as toast on a  Sunday morning.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Meeting challenges, insufficient time and believing in oneself

There's such a lot to do and such a lot to think about! And I am tired already!  But I keep on going!
Then this week a village resident decides to take me up on my offer to help her child with learning English.  I don't need extra work this week .... nevertheless, I am always so very, very pleased to help young people or older people, whoever they are and whatever their age, to learn English.  It is a huge pleasure for the teacher in me to see and hear them making progress, but I'm not sure I was ready for over 3 hours voluntary work this week at Bac level!  Still, I have done my homework and I have treated it as a challenge and as a learning experience for me.   I just hope that I have conveyed and imparted sufficient knowledge and enthusiasm for the 16 year old young horsewoman to gain not only good marks but also the confidence and competence to make progress herself.
Learning is about accepting challenges, and doing one's best to gain whatever it is we need to learn, however old we are!!!  I don't think that as a parent I conveyed that message very well!
I can't quite think at some moments of the day, especially first thing in the morning or after the evening meal, yet at other times the list is theoretically quite lucid, until I start to think pragmatically, or start to shop at DIY institutions!
There is the need for optimism
Double glazing is arriving from UK at half the price of the French estimate as of next Tuesday! Then there is major work to do on about 20 windows and doors! I am the support unit!
Finalising the choice of two woodburners and getting an installer before the end of the year, in addition to all the prep building work we need to do, is the next challenge!   Oh, it sounds so simple!   Believe me, IT IS NOT SIMPLE!!!
Meanwhile, the electrician says he will arrive tomorrow... 8am ... to make the electricity safe and earthed and to install ( oh joy) running hot water!!!!!! from a 'chauffeau thermodynamique' ! 
Will he arrive....because last week's date of his arrival came to nought?
Today was absorbed with DIY shopping for a window and plasterboard and other materials whilst researching the price of a number of things, on what amounted to a lengthy journey, despite the impending fuel shortage.  The bonus was that we passed the fruit farm and bought abut 5 kg of fruit... different apples and pears, some good for cooking and others perfect for eating. I recommend a large apple called Golden Rosé for eating!
Yesterday, we had to go to the city on other business and witnessed the queues for petrol/diesel which affected the flow of traffic exiting from a roundabout!  We paid 1.43 euros per litre once we got out into the countryside, having decided that we had better keep the tank topped up.  Have you heard about the blockades in France and the manifestations of those who are protesting against the raising of the pensionable age to 62? It sounds bad in Paris where vehicles have been set alight!  England wants to raise the pensionable age to 66.   Will that result in strikes, rallies and marches against such governmental plans?
In the house, I continue from time to time to scrape glue and paper off the cement floors and wrestle with the pain in my wrists! The reward is that I can scoop the paper crumbs into the waste bag!
The tongue and groove boarding is being removed. Now the rooms feel as if they can breathe.
I must paint!  I must make shopping lists!  I must do the paperwork! In addition I must decide for items for lighting, for the bathroom (floor, ceiling, walls, bath, shower, toilet, sink, towel rails, cupboards)
What lesson am I supposed to learn from owning a stone house with its once 18th/ 19th century beautiful 'to the modern eye' stone walls which suck up the damp from the soil, but which have been covered in plastered insulation board since 25 years ago, and today, we struggle to covert a 21st century look?   I like the look of French stone walls on the interior so why do I have this house where not a stone can be seen as it is fully plasterboarded and hence potentially very warm inside?  A message cries out to me to build or buy a modern home, a simple, unashamedly faceless practical residence of a Fairfax-type home with its joy of an almost 'maintenance free' lifestyle that it was!   But even that dream has its challenges.  Modern sings to me... as does l'ancienne.    Pick me or Pick me.... the houses say!   Life is just not easy!  My partner wanted me to do build a new house... but i wasn't ready. I felt I did not have sufficient knowledge, expertise or confidence. It is strange because now I know what I would do and how I would do it.  The difference also is that we have some French friends who can help us and if I'd had the courage to approach them a year ago I am sure they would have helped us unravel the building regs for such a project!
For me, the wrinkles become more evident as the brain and wisdom grows.  However, it is my oerceptions that we keep more fit in mind, body and soul by undertaking this project, now that the horrors of what I have undertaken appear to be a little more manageable and under control!
It has been a scary experience.... and I am not out of the woods yet....
MESSAGE:   KNOW what thy doeth when a French renovation project calleth,  and even when one thinketh one knoweth all, be humbleth when knoweth nought!!!!!!!!!
As my French friends tell me ... when one buys an old house it can be aesthetically beautiful but one does not know the surprises that one purchases.   When one has a new build there are no surprises! I now believe!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Realities of Life in France whilst undertaking a House Renovation Project

I am writing this in reply to comments from Susan at Days on the Claise. 

In the 5 to 7 years that we have lived here, moreover and in particular within the last 6 months of being an owner of a "Maison Principale" I have thought that the Reality in France is different from the Reality in England.  Of course, I expected La Vie to be different and wanted it to be the adventure it has been, because unbeknowingly,  apart from holiday experiences, that is why we chose to live here. We wanted life to be different and it has been that, most certainly it has!

In actual fact, the  Reality of living life anywhere in the world is that life is not much different from how one lives LIVING in any country, city, town or village except that the environment and people are different.  Therefore of course experiences, actions and reactions with people, places and things to do are not the same.   One brings ones person, packages and baggages.   Suitcases are put down and unzipped.  Out fly the good and the not so good, the objects of memories, as we all try to make sense of  living life on earth.  Despite the past and present, and because of the past and present I am so glad to be alive for whatever the future may provide.  Forget these wandering thoughts of SweetpeainFrance and her attempted philosophy... let's get back to basics!

Yes, I  discovered on Day One of owning my very own little bit of french land and property that we had unwisely decided to think we could renovate almost overnight.  
What madness overtook us with the rose-tinted spectacles that obviously were worn when I had learned not to wear them?   
What ridiculous notion sprang into our heads when we have much experience between us of previous period renovations in England? 
Nothing, yes, not anything, not even experience, prepares one for the timescale of travelling for DIY shopping, the actual time spent in the lovely DIY shops, plus the logistics of getting the materials from a to b.  Never mind how much time has been taken at home deciding on what to buy and making the lists, as well as not to mention the time spent in returning items, nothing, yes, not anything prepares one for French Property Development.  Nothing primes one for the sudden,  (Was it so sudden? or Have I been living under a stone?) increase in the cost of employing an artisan! 
Nothing, yes, not anything, prepares one for the unforeseen and unexpected changes in all sorts of manner of moments which will remain unexplained.

There we have it...
My eyes feasted upon a dream, the mind thought of the future, the hands waved in the air, the voice spoke, the wallet was assessed, we decided it was manageable! 

My new resolution since the beginning of January 2010 has been to attempt to be more positive. Increasing Negativity has been a feature of my life for several years and in order to combat the increased anxiety levels which were making me ill,  I decided that enough was enough and that I wouldn't worry anymore about making decisions that were difficult to make and that I would just try to let whatever I needed for my own growth and my own personal development to come to me.   If I made a mistake in how I looked or thought or spoke or behaved then I would have to pay the price and deal with myself more rationally!
The house came to me unexpectedly when I had given up the search!
Whether it WAS or IS what I have been searching for will one day be revealed! 
It sort of is and sort of isn't!   It's a house!   It can be made into a home. 
I'll put on red shoes, click them thrice and magically it will all be done!  hahahahaha!
Yes, there are some days when I think "Oh, I don't need to look in the next field like Billy Goat Gruff!"

Seriously for me though,  I really do EXPECT that problems and challenges will be resolved as each day passes.   In fact, I am glad that certain decisions were not made earlier.  I have had time to reflect and review what it is I really want.  I am not worrying!   As long as the roof will be good (I know that will be dealt with next year whatever the cost) and the house will be dry.... and it will have at least basic washing and heating facilities then that is all that matters.  As long as I have my very best of friends and family to help me live my life and to share something of their lives, then I am happy and hopefully contentment will arrive and I will be able to move onto all the other things I would like to achieve in my lifetime.  Think of a life without restoration of houses and homes!

Five years ago the shops were reluctant to exchange or re-imburse purchased goods.  At least now commerce in France recognises that the client has some rights... and of course it makes sense, for the happier the client the more the client will feel 'bonhomie' and return as a good customer should.

It's a pity and yet probably a mercy that we can't return the damaged personal goods of our personal lives!!!!
It's also a pity that the successes and magical moments cannot be repeated.
I try not to waste my hours  ... but sometimes I can't do anymore, I can't do better ... the brain and the body seem to just go on strike!  I don't push myself like I used to!
The saying is that we should:
Live life each day as if it were the last!
I am trying so hard to do this... It is my aim!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Laurie Clement - pianiste

Coffee and macaroons were enjoyed before listening to Laurie with her new recording of Asturias by Issac Albeniz. I am in awe of her professional ability, humility and her positive, motivating, welcoming personality.
She plays the piano with passion and so I am looking forward to receiving a copy of the CD as soon as it is available. Listen to John Williams playing the original written for the guitar.  Exquisite.

Read about Laurie here.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The reason for the flurry

of postings is because I found these all in draft,  proof-read ... then published them, thinking that they would be inserted into their day... but NO ...  now they have appeared in October just to confuse us all!

MUST get the AsA blog up and running!

Making hay in May 2010

31st May 2010
Last week a small window between sun and rain scented the air with the smell of cut hay, the baler compacted the hay, then it was collected just before the wind whipped up the clouds for the falling rain.

Start the 4th Week of Home Improvements

May 2010 Filling all the dinks in the walls takes time and patience yet it must be quite boring. It is definitely neck breaking to sand and fill the between the beams but oh what a beautiful result is being produced. Both men look like flour babies!
Wall paper stripping continues....the scaffolding is mine tomorrow to reach the top of the extremely high walls!
Our reward for today ... chicken legs pan fried, then roasted in the oval braising dish with orange juice, spiced cherries, onions and the last of the coriander leaves, served with carrots and onions in a honey sauce, accompanied by a Captain Sensible 'gratin dauphinoise' styled potatoes.
A Neighbourly Note
Rushed off our feet with the excitement and new physical exercise of home renovations, I failed to take a photo of the wheelbarrow full of Monalisa potatoes that appeared on our verandah about three weeks ago, from a very dear and kindly voisin, Monsieur Roland and his lovely wife Bernadette. We are still eating potatoes even though we have given some away. They are large, perfect for wedge potatoes, jacket potatoes, chippies, mashed and every cooking style imaginable. He offered us a second wheelbarrow full. Normally we would have said 'Yes please' but working flat out there is no time to see friends. In the shops are the new Ile de Ré and Ile de Noirmoutier new potatoes but we won't need them. Our crop of early and main crop potatoes seem healthy and soon we will be eating them straight from the garden!

Energising, Renovating, Reflecting, Meditating

July 2010  Although I was energised by the owning of a property, evidently demonstrating vim, vigour and enthusiasm for wallpaper stripping, sanding down woodwork, clearing out junk, digging and filling trenches, rubbing down large beams, baking bread on a building site, helping to organise what might have been the start of a Midsummer ritual in my garden, after 7 weeks of what could be perceived as almost a kind of trauma about what I had done in buying my house, I decided to have a break and Do Something Different. So at the end of June and the beginning of July I decided to visit family and friends instead of or in addition to the months of March and November.
What wonderful weather is in England ... sunny days with privet blossom, scabious flowers and poppies by the wayside, cereals growing golden in their English gated fields surrounded by English oak trees and hedgerows. Yet though the beauty in the East Anglian fields is very marvellous I miss the French stone walls and lanes.

Reportage of the development of my new house has come to a standstill at the moment as I take stock of my life and review the goal which is to get the ground floor of the house ship-shape with running water, a bathroom, a better kitchen and all rooms painted and decorated and NORMAL. How on earth did I think it would happen in just a few weeks? "Ever the optimist" someone once said of me in my career when things were going awry and I had made some naïve comment akin to 'it will be alright on the night'.

So ... it will take a little longer than I thought and the plan on how to do it may change but that's OK ... and if I have to struggle a little more in life then "c'est la vie". It's my life and I'll have to do it my way even if I create a muddle as I go. I'll get there wherever that may be. I won't be beaten. That's another lesson that I learnt recently. Pick myself up... get on with it ... keep moving ... keep doing things ... don't brood ... think happy thoughts ... put the music on and dance, dance, dance to the Rolling Stones or reflect quietly with Chopin or Bach.

I am still energised and when I get back to 'work' I will enjoy it because life must be about working. I don't have time to be lazy anymore! I don't have time to waste! I don't have time to spend on negative energies. I want to be positive and happy. I don't want to experience any more horrid moments. I have things to improve and things to sort and dispose of or keep. I have places to go and things to do and people to meet as once my dearest friend once said.

There are some photos but it all takes time to collate and computerise and I want to write and I want to explain with photos but I'll have to get up earlier and be organised. Mrs Muddle has been too disorganised and she needs to get into ACTION and prioritise her goals.

Window measurements in France

October 2010  We bought a window for the laundry room. It was 45cm by 45cm and is an opening and closing window to seal the gaping window hole which was more like a gap that archers would have fired through only wider, into what is called The Atelier.  Captain Sensible did whatever was necessary to make it fit the hole which is wider internally than externally, and above it leave a gap for the ventilation grid, as in this room there is a central heating boiler!  It looks really nice painted Lead White.  We were pleased.
Then we move to the second window which already has brique verre on the outside wall. We removed the nasty yucky badly fitted gungy secondary glass on the inside.  Captain S managed to improve this rather badly installed window attending to it from the exterior as well as interior.   The required window had to be ordered because the dearly beloved Brico shop was out of stock. We waited because we are in France!  We didn't want to travel there and back for almost 2 hours just for a window.  In order "to get on" the window area including the beautifully place wooden sill was finished off.
Later, holding the window to the hole, we couldn't understand why it was too big!   
The reason???  It is advertised as a window 75cm high and 60cm wide so we assumed that is the size of the hole.   Mais NON!!! This is France.... please read the small print at the bottom of the window chart.... each window is actually 3 cm wider and 5 cm higher or vice versa, than the actual measurements advertised in large print at the top of the chart!!!
Our research tells us that this is the norm in Bricodepot and in Le Roy Merlin.
Does this happen in England?Therefore our hole is too small.  Captain S is going to have to undo the neat work. We will have to return to the shop and purchase another window because we returned the one we had bought.

The moral of the tale is to scan and read everything not just what one wants to read!  

Monday, 4 October 2010

Just a taste of things to do

Just for starters to let anyone who is interested, know sort of in brief, what I am up against! 
NEW WEBSITE and BLOG was created and prepared but has been on hold as I don't have time or energy to create.

Manual expertise has been on hand converting the rough and horrid to smooth and more beautiful.  I help manually. I can use powered sanding machines and elbow grease!

Electrician promises to come in October to make electricity safe and install the water heater.
Menuisier for double-glazing of the many windows and doors in the house gave us a different kind of shock in his estimate!  Others have also arrived to give estimates and we get different messages each time. Research on getting them made in UK and delivered to France continues.
Research continues into which woodburner to order and its installation.  Again different messages come thick and fast. It is not as simple as it sounds!

Despite being worn out and cold weather approaching, we get up and do ... and at weekends collapse into a practically non-functioning unit! 
Laundry room....damp walls have been dry-lined, the floor has been tanked up, cleaned, levelled and floor tiles laid and grouted with plinths. ceiling made good, windows made good, new space for plumbing and electricity created.
Next jobs: walls and ceiling to paint /  two exterior walls to chip off the render, rebuild where we know there is just plasterboard covered with cement render, make pierre vue, all of which affects replacement guttering / build worktop with sink, taps and waste outlet, connect to water in and out / build cupboard shelves / install water heater, correct faulty electrics, purchase and plumb in washing machine.
Small room to be an office....  electricity to correct and improve plugs and switches / grind off paper and glue from cement floor ( done that ) / make walls flat / remove tongue and groove boarding around windows and doors and make good / level the floor where necessary, lay parquet floor and seal, add skirting boards / fill other woodwork /  repaint all surfaces /  make replacement doors for those missing on corner armoire /  build cupboards to conceal electrics and water stopcocks / double glaze window and door (there are 4 units and to replace is more complicated than this note reveals), draughtproof door and windows /  sand and repaint shutters / choose and install wall lights / install telephone point / replace radiator / find curtaining...
Oval room ....replace insulation boards on walls, remake chimney, purchase and install woodburner to replace what was there and instal with all that that implies for the chimney!  make walls flat, repaint ceiling where necessary, make safe electricity and add plugs and switches, grind off paper and glue from cement floor, level the floor where necessary, lay oak flooring and seal, add skirting boards, fill woodwork or remove all tongue and groove boarding, repaint all surfaces,  double glaze door , draughtproof door, create a wider and higher internal doorway and buy new door,  choose and install lighting, replace radiator, find curtaining...
Kitchen ... to plan the change! It is being considered! Beams, ceiling between, walls and floor to be improved before kitchen units and equipment can be installed. Currently the fridge is a freezer and sited next to the oven which I try not to use. The hob is 'basic'ally good now I have discovered how to turn the gas down for a simmer! Before that I did not dare leave the hob for fear of burning the veg!

Bathroom's a shell... so to buy and install everything --- flooring, ceiling, wall covering and window, bath /shower, toilet, sink, towel rail / sand and paint door / extraction unit / replace radiator.
Bedroom...  lay oak flooring and add skirting board, add lighting and extra plugs, double glaze  and draughtproof French doors, repair door furniture, hang chandelier, replace radiator, consider how to heat this room if there is no woodburner next door and no oil fuelled central heating! Furnish and add curtains.
Living room.. Finish sanding and repair of doors, paint, double glaze and draughtproof. There are 4 French doors plus 2 French doors to the bedroom and 3 other doors.  Its a large room!  Sand and finish oak staircase. Pipes to paint or conceal, Skirting board to replace,  Insert and chimney to be replaced with woodburner.... (this will affect chimney flue going through attic and up to the roof).
Gardens to weed and mow here and there... TICK   to order plants and plant! (Previous owner took alll except lots of sorrel, one white peony, two surviving roses (not yet bushes),  Orange "Angel's trumpets" and another plant I know not the name of!

Tomatoes  to conserve  TICK they've been eaten so it's just the green ones to deal with!

Bonfires to light  TICK

Waste wood to saw into usable lengths  

Guttering external problems to solve
Roof  to consider how much to re-roof and do what is necessary! New ideas abound.
STOP!! STOP!!   GO!! GO!!
What about the terraced courtyard, the atelier / verandah,  the chicken shed and yard, the municipal toilet-block, and the rest?    Oh what fun has just begun!
Habitability is the required keyword!

Friday, 24 September 2010

A week of Orange history

On Monday the telephone system was not working.
On Tuesday I received a letter to say they want my LIVEBOX returned. 
On Wednesday the technician arrives bright and early 8h30... BUT I had previously cancelled him and have no wish to pay 99 euros for his intervention. However,  he wanted to know the story..telephoned his seniors, explained briefly that it is complicated but that the LIVEBOX works and recommends I keep the LIVEBOX and ignore the request.
On Thursday I continued to have internet facilities.
On Friday there is no internet facility, orange light flashing!!
Maybe it is an interim period before France Telecom connects a fixed line and I can use the two phones at appropriate times?
BUT IN ACTUAL FACT I think they have disconnected me from Orange Net Plus. 
I am on the verge of arriving at the shop with a picnic and flask of tea and insisting that I stay until they have sorted it to my satisfaction!
However on Monday first thing, I will telephone the distress number ... or is it the de-stress number or just 10 13 (think it in French please and not in English!!!!) as well as the telephone number of Orange assistance and try again.
The new conundrum for 'the dix-treize number' is that one must phone from the domicile (home telephone (hellooooo?  I am not connnected!!!) ... or from one's mobile telephone ... ( I resist to have a French one as I have a UK one) .   Donc, I will try from the telephone cabin as it won't accept the numero domicile for AsA from VdV.   AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

The best solution would be to cancel everything and start again and of course WAIT and buy a French mobile PAYE.... or maybe to go to another company! 

Oh I am a jaded LIME!

Saturday, 18 September 2010


More importantly than companies named after fruits, I think I have lost all my previous photos of grandchild and house renovation stored on iphoto.......unless they are still there in a different place and inaccessible, until I gain further knowledge to retrieve them.  It is my own fault for not backing up.

We downloaded and opened Picasa and for some miraculous reason that made iphoto work when I tried to download more recent photos from the camera. However, I thought I had instructed Picasa to collect the iphoto photos before trying the camera download ...but alas No!

If anyone knows how I can retrieve them, then please let me know.
I have looked at so many forums and tried what they said. That is why I reluctantly reloaded the iphoto software and now wish I hadn't.
I feel inclined to return to hard copies and photo albums or at least put everything onto CDs.  It will be safer!   For some reason the back up machine I have has been rejected by applemac! 

It is all so depressing and my energy levels have reached a low again!
More aaarghs in life!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Anyone for Marmalade

Techno facilities appear to be stable apart from cutting off my telephone call....BUT I DO have to return to the Fort Knox Orange shop as they are billing me for something I had said I did not want and are invoicing me from the date of ordering the service and not the date of the LIVEBOX being activated.   I must also cancel the technician...   See... I can do it and did it. I cracked the Orange and Livebox and   Apple codes.   Sweet success but I never liked  Orange...s  that much!    Oh let's make marmalade!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Success, I think, at last

Last night I discovered that instructions from even that nice man at Apple were not clear. When I entered the port code (I think it is called that ..with numbers and fullstops)  it opens with the word 'admin' (no guillemots) and I thought THAT was the password I was required to enter.   Silly me!  ...what was NOT clear is that you have to enter the same word as the first password ... so there are two "admin' on screen and THEN one can proceed to configure the LIVEBOX.  Having passed the first hurdle every thing I did suggested that the LIVEBOX was synchronised but not connected correctly and yet I had further confusion because another message said it was connected but the server could not be found. Further exploration discovered other pages I could not access before and it seems I have solved the problem of accessing internet and telephone accessibility by prompting the DynDNS.  I don't know what it is but I am able to connect and create this post! Dindins or not I'll be able to have some lunch!

Oh is the future bright and the future ORANGE?
I will not think so when the facture/bill is asked for!

Interestingly, I discovered also that the dear ORANGE company have been leaving me telephone messages to ask me to confirm that I require the technician to arrive on 10 September 2010 at 10h.

Silly them!   How can I access the telephone messages or the voicemail by email (that's a new service I did not know we could have!)  if the 'NETPLUS' is not connected and THAT WAS the reason for needing the technician.   Hello......  is anyone there??????

Does the right hand of ORANGE know what the left hand is doing?  Does one part of this organisation know what is happening in a different department?   Evidently this expression / proverb about keeping matters separate from other matters is  Biblical. Matthew 6:3 
"... when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth."
Don't give "oneself credit for providing charity to others - just give and forget about it."
 I suppose each person / department has given separate information but there is not any "joined-up thinking", workplace jargon for where the viewpoints/information of each department of the organisation have arrived at an agreement or compromise.

I will see what happens on another day when I have changed houses, internet services and returned to the house of renovation. 

Then I must try to solve how to access my photos and download new ones.

Meanwhile I am off to hoover, that is to say, to vaccuum clean the building dust.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Fruit Salad and Ice cream

I received from the Orange shop on 28th August a document that clearly states in black printed ink that a technician would arrive on 10th September at 10am if not previously cancelled. That was today! At 14h30 I take myself to the callbox where I can dial the free number to find out what has happened to the technician. He did not arrive. The lines are busy and a human being asks me to call back in 30 minutes. This time I am passed from a gentleman to a woman whose French if she had spoken it would surely have been easier to understand than her English! Evidntly, the technician came on the 7th at 10am; he evidently telephoned me and could not get a reply! I explained, when she did not want me to explain anything, let alone speak, that the reason they could not contact me was because the telephone is not connected to the Internet, and that I cannot access emails from that line, hence the reason for the technician's appointment, as well as the fact that my internet facilities have been made to go "up the creek" (I did not use that expression) because of Apple or Orange or both!

Ironically on the 7th we were at Village de Vaux waiting, waiting, waiting for the nice Apple man at Orange to telephone. He was Italian and as mentioned before showed me how to ditch Safari. The call cost me 29 euros and taught me that it is better not to bang one's head on the wall but to look sideways at the problem. Of course, easier said than done, and once one has a little knowledge one can take the first step on the road of being an expert!

I was also waiting for the
man in Greece to telephone but he never did.

No, I have not been smiling today. I have been speaking patiently but firmly, even having to interrupt and speak French as well as English and even laugh out loud at one point, because to laugh is better than to scream) explaining that it is ridiculous for me to have one date and for them to have another and that this scenario is like a farce and as if one were in a theatrical comedy! She was not amused! I am not amused.
I have to wait until 22nd September at 8h30 and pay 99 euros.
Will I get connected to France Telecom? Will I get connected to Orange Internet?
Will they let me give them my money?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, rah rah rah!

With a 99 if you please.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Anyone for Fruit Salad?

I am not a big fan of raw apples unless they are a particular variety or texture BUT I do like cooked apples especially with chocolate and pancakes.
Oranges ... hhhmmm ..... I am always suspicious of what they are going to taste like and have not yet worked out which season or variety is the best as usually they are too bitter and sour for me .... and yet I am the Marmalade Queen!
Have you ever eaten oranges fresh from the trees in the Alicante region of Spain? .... they are to die for and I can easily eat a kilo in one go!
Bananas have to be slightly green and never baked or put into warm, yellow custard aka school custard! or even baked with blue cheese! I cannot stand raw bananas if they even go slightly ripe, yellow and certainly not brown or black! However, to do the fruit justice I do love a banana sandwich or fresh sesamine baguette with banana sandwiched in-between!

I have been going bananas over the last few days!

Telephone and Internet facilities have been down .... unavailable ...
I have managed to get a new internet system fixed at my new house and tried to avoid signing up for France Telecom .. but ... silly me... if there is a problem with the Orange 'net plus' I can't dial out as there is no landline and I have no mobile except one routed via UK! It is fixed that I am in a conundrum!

So after days of trying to make the LIVEBOX at AsA work, I think it is still unsuccessful plus the days of not being able to access our internet system at Village de Vaux, including of course the hours that I have spent at both houses/homes trying to access the world wide web!...., 'les plaisirs' were not here or there ... in fact, blue berries could be added to the fruit salad!

This evening the nice man at Orange has made my nice Apple mac pro educate me in circumnavigating the nasty Safari which decided not to work. Thank goodness that some months ago I downloaded Firefox and today as an extra precaution I have downloaded Google Chrome which is thankfully available to certain Mac models.

Therefore APPLE has been able to access the lovely ORANGE and my BANANAS have not gone quite so bendy and so brown!

It has been False Economy because in order to save I have incurred the loss of time and humour... as well as pennies from the purse (the VERY nice man from Orange who knew all about my Apple was not a gift). One cannot beat the telephone system (Misters Bell and Edison would turn in their grave!) so I have changed the contract and changed to a France Telecom line with an Orange internet line at extra expense per month but with the added security that if one system fails (as I continually do!) one can hopefully use the second option! PS. It will take up to 3 weeks. But the horrible Orange lady who out the phone down on me without answering my questions would not tell me this and would not tell me that, so I have been told by a different Orange customer services agent that I may continue to use my current system (hohoho if I can get it to operate tomorrow/demain!).

I regarded (looked at) the LIVEBOX to see if it was alive today! From red blinking 2nd light of three days and apart from one day then the 7 days before that! it has all by itself turned to orange blinking light..... but it should be a fixed green light and not clignotant!

I have had 3 visits to the ORANGE shop and subsequently learned how to negotiate with the managerial person who stands centrally to allow or disallow persons to enter or not the hallowed Fort of Modern Telecommunication! (N.B. not jut F.T. but F.M.T.)
I am not allowed to change my package, my contract, my livebox, my annuaire details or my line parametres! However, when I asked most politely for a chair, given my age, she did get me one! There are few chairs for those who wait!
I, of course, WAIT, for I live in France, and in France one waits patiently and in order to progress more quickly one must improve one's command of French and try to sooth with soft, negotiable, smilingly, encouraging, complimentary words those with whom one wishes to succeed more quickly!
I would rather have a fruit salad ... but shall we add some other fruits?

Friday, 3 September 2010

Sounds and Sunsets

The grasshoppers are strikingly chordant at 21h of the evening, radiating their chirruping as a form of Morse Code as I stop to listen and look at the mass of ivy on the stone wall from where the sound is loudest.

French Poney is annoyed with me! She trots over to greet me whilst I climb the dry stone wall -- I couldn't reach to stroke her nose as the width of the wall plus another width before the electric fence prevents this gesture. It is one of my
favourite places where I can look over the fields and woodland to the east and westwards uphill to the sunset. I have a handful of hay from "Le Paradise des Chévres". That's the name of the field in which G's very large flock of sheep graze from time to time. I don't know how old the hay is but neither poney nor sheep were interested. In fact to show her discontent French poney turned tail towards me, did a long pee and a loud passing of wind and trotted off without looking back. Now I know my place!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

To everything there is a moment

Slowly ... pas a pas ... I am making a little further progress with renovations in MY house.
One would not believe me if I were to say how long it takes to find suitable flooring, a door handle, a bathroom suite....and how to get it back to base!!!! ... and how and what to negotiate with the electrician, plumber, sander, painter, decorator, general builder, stonemason, etcetera! I have such a lot to learn and assimilate.

Do I need this week's problem to accompany the problems I have brought upon myself?

In the last week I must have spent at least one whole day in terms of time trying to connect The New House with internet and telephone facilities, to only to discover that the account, now 7 days old, isn't yet activated!! Oh, so frustrating! frustrant!
In addition 3 journeys to the BIG CITY near me, to see if I can at least get into the shop called Orange which is so bulging at its seams with people making complaints, changing equipment or buying new resources and contracts, that they cannot squeeze through the automatic doors without the alarm being activated, takes almost two hours as I am passed from one helpful French person to another, in varying degrees of those who can understand me and those who do not wish to want to understand me. Ho hum and only last week did one of their staff congratulate me on my level of French competency. It just shows one can never be complacent!

Orange ... the future for me, hopefully, will be brighter next week! GGgggrrrrrrr!