The more astute and gorgeous of you will remember that at the end of the last missive we were without hot water and were awaiting a visit from a person to give our cuisinier the once over. Our loo was working and the plotting of the re-wire was on track.
The next couple of weeks saw progress in many directions and at differing pace. We arranged a visit from our lovely agent and the electrician who had provided a quote following our Survey – the result of which was a reduction in the price paid for our wee maison. He, the electrician, went over the quote and we discussed a couple other elements (puns are rarely accidental) and how we could plug the gaps (told you) in the current (another) facilities. Understanding it was the lead up (boom!) to Xmas we were not shocked (somebody stop me) to hear the start date for works would be the 10th of January. Understanding the position we were not brought down to earth (number six) by this news but a little excited or wired (!!!) at this being a big step forward. Remember we are operating with four sockets, one used by the heating and one that had not been utilised in the extension out back.
The electrician undertook to speak to a plumber regarding getting a new water tank/heater being put in sooner. Our charming agent returned a couple of days later with said plumber. He until then had been better known to me as a combative midfielder, sub and twice stand in physio for Saint Yrieix la Perche Football Club during the time I watched them four years ago. This was cause of a little embarrassment on his part and initially some confusion on our agent’s. She had been along both times cos as yet S and I are not as good at technical French as we could be. The plumber undertook to return two days later at nine. He pitched up at eight thirty and by noon we had a lovely new hot water tank in place, using the until then redundant plug until the re-wire is done. Hot water is a better option than cold and it meant we could use our little old lady bath that featured in the Facebook page competition. Congratulations Ewan for winning that and apologies to all for the picture used which I will not share again.
As you can see our bath is small, with a two tier sort of seat bit. The plumber gave us an idea of the cost of a cabine de douche which is a phrase that must have been used by Del Boy to Rodney et al at some point. We are holding fire on splashing out (don’t worry I’m not starting again) on that until after the re-wire and other things are more settled. In the meantime S has less of an issue mechanically with using the little old lady bath than I do, her not being six foot two! There is however a knack to it and we are becoming much better at soaking ourselves and not the rest of the room.
The electrician and plumber had each turned up on time, confounding those who believe stories of French tradesmen. In fact my pal the plumbers bill was a chunk under what he initially said the cost would be then as I tried to pay him 25 cents more than we owed him he rounded the figure down by almost ten euros. Meanwhile we’ve heard hide nor hair of the chap – he’s no-doubt a chap as a woman would be more conscientious – who’s meant to be looking over our cuisinier.
Social life wise we were horrified to be invited for an aperitif by the nice bloke from across the road. He only draws from his limited English when we are struggling badly in French. Anyway, we toddled across the road avoiding the non-existent traffic and spent a few hours blethering with him and his wife. She speaks next to no English but having retired from the local Agricultural College had been to Scotland as it is twinned with Oatridge in West Lothian. They are a lovely couple and despite mainly my efforts to ruin their fine language have remained chatty and friendly since. We’ve also introduced ourselves to most of the other neighbours when the opportunity arose. Three doors down is a charming woman who greeted us like old pals in the Post Office the other day – she also tipped us off about the three visits a week from the bread van.
We also went to the Connect Xmas bash. Connect is group for mainly British and Dutch immigrants (aka ex-pats) in the wider area. We went to something on our last visit and ended up sat by a chap who it appears has rather a reputation. This visit was much more successful and once we’d adjusted to talking English we had quite a laugh with three other members. There was carol singing which wasn’t as strong as the mulled wine was or so S told me. We did however appear awfully young in comparison to most of the people there, the group have various clubs but as yet we are unsure if any of them are for us.
S despite not being on Facebook and tuther social media thingys had discovered Brits flog stuff locally on Fb. Thus we set off for the Vienne which is 86. We live in 87. They are not however next door to each other and after the trip we decided that anything over two hours driving each way according to Madam Sat Nav was not a good idea. Anyway we returned, after a nice lunch in Conflons with three rather splendid light fitting things at a bargain price. We lunched in a great wee pancake place by the river – I had a salad, no really! Despite it being midweek there were some Gilet Jeunes out holding up traffic on the way back on the main road into Conflons until that is they stopped for lunch! So as the queue on moved past they were stood around a barbeque on the large roundabout they’d been obstructing…
Sport wise I went to another couple of football games which I will detail separately along with our experiences of the Gilet Jeunes. I nearly went to watch Lutte – which is wrestling to those who didn’t know and I was one of you until the other week. It turned out that Saint Yrieix la Perche despite being only 8,000 or so people has a Division One Lutte team, one of only 12 at that level across France. We’d seen a couple of chaps in jackets from the team and I ended up chatting away to one of them in the laundrette – the washing machine will be sorted along with the cabine de douche. He it turned out was Russian, from the Caucuses, which he told me has quite a wrestling tradition. So I in my best attempts at my second language blethered away to him in his second language which was pretty cool. If any bots are reading this he is wholly approving of the dictator in Moscow… 😉 It turned out that the last match of the season was the coming Saturday and the dozen bouts go from back of ten until about eight at night. Something that wasn’t really an option this time around on what was already planned to be a busy day.
The box room – aka second bedroom – is currently named that as it’s full of boxes. As there will be upheaval and wires put in walls and replastering much of our stuff is remaining in boxes for now. Other jobs have been done tho for example replacing the draft excluder on the back door which leads out to the extension. That is now providing a very good level of insulation in that we had to have S pushing and me pulling on the door to shut the effing thing the first few times… S has been sanding doors to make them close better. I however suggested that her idea of putting WD40 on the outerside to help them shut may not be the best idea. Picture the scene, your unlikely hero (me) gets up and dons his fleecy dressing gown then heads for the cuisinier to get the heating going for the wife and cat he loves… Having made an obvious stop en-route past a newly lubricated doors in the dark. then the plucky hero (still me) strikes a match and does a very passable impression of a Roman candle igniting rapidly and writhing about for a few moments. Meanwhile a sleeping S is unaware behind a nicely closed door. Thankfully she took this on board but I am watching out for signs of new life insurance policies!
Otherwise we are now self-taught gas uninstallers. In that we successfully removed the old and condemned gas water heater. It was when in operation connected to a gas bottle as being rural types mains gas doesn’t reach here. This I feared would involve much swearing the creation of a character building scar or two and then admission of defeat and having to pay someone to do it. However aided by our automatic screwdriver, the application of logic and a healthy chunk of fluke we got it off the wall and out without much difficulty. Also we have done other bits and bobs like block up unused holes in the chimneys. There are different sized metal things for this and with the application of a carefully cushioned hammer blow or nine the one in our bedroom was closed. Having three chimneys we are pretty sure Santa will still be able to visit Mitzy without any problems.
The furry bundle of demands has been over washing a bit in part due to the stress of it all. Annoyingly when the weather has been best for letting her out on her still unphotographed lead it has been on days when we’ve had to be elsewhere. We don’t think a nervous cat would appreciate being taken out in the dark. She is enjoying all the places she can wander and climb onto in the house and a few spots by windows that she can look out. However, she seems pretty happy much of the time even if sometimes that’s back of five and waking up me, which is a habit of hers.
We have been hanging out in the Post Office with much of the local population sending pressies and such. We admit to having double taked when one website made very clear “That this seller does not deliver to France mainland” was not a personal slight based on any number of transgressions which were no doubt of my doing… Our surname has so far been Meanland, Minland and Manland but not caused any issues other than mild amusement. In the UK I would on occasion have to correct people who on hearing Mainland said “Maitland” as if I didn’t know my own name.
On Saturday the 15th we got our Xmas on going to two Christmas Markets. One indoors at one of the local High schools which is named after Jules Ferry not Mark Ferry the quality midfielder the Rovers had for a couple seasons. It was cool and a couple purchases were made – nae spoliers! As is often the case there was a sit down meal too, themed on the twin town Bad Wincheim in Germany. It wasn’t to veggie S’s taste but having a nosh at a thing like this is on our to do list. The Mayor was there and I inadvertently didn’t shake his hand when I could have done… This is unlikely to be an issue as the people at the Mairie were very nice when we popped in on them – claiming my French was good which was more polite than accurate. The other event was in Coussac Bonneval at the Chateau. It was good and populated by lots of round people in that it was cold for us and raining. In fact it was pissing down or as they say here vachement pisse – pissing like a cow! Lots of the locals seemed to be wrapped in many layers and we wished we had done the same. The nice chap who fixed our loo was by a blazing pizza oven doing pitta breads and even he looked cold and a bit miserable. We exited more rapidly than planned but it was the best option.
More soon – hope you both have a lovely festives!