Before you ask … Still no chap to look over the cuisinier…
Otherwise progress continues… Replacement bank cards were due to leave France as we left the UK, unsurprisingly the Bank needed new address details. Initially we had no address then no paperwork but boxes were ticked and new ones ordered, just in time to stop the staff at the Post Office from running at the very sight of us. Domestically we continued to get bits and bobs done, for example S fixed the wobble on the bathroom sink while I continue to shift wood in a broadly systematic way from one place to another so it was drier and more convenient before sitting it in a pretty pile by the cuisinier. We in honour of my northern isles heritage give the wood a Viking send off. The fire has not been required to be going all the time tho the weather will get cooler. AND we will soon be in possession of a card for the Dechetterie – local tip/recycle centre – having provided ID on our first visit again the EDF bill golden ticket did the job.
Operating as we are without TV we were spared much of the frenzied guff in the build up to Xmas. I realised that I miss watching the The Rachel Maddow Show and the Norse Code (Minnesota Vikings) podcasts both of which I used to access on-line. S can’t think of anything she particularly misses yet. We have many a movie and a few boxsets we could watch but aren’t unpacking as if we do we’d have to repack them prior to re-wiring. We listen to local French radio news as best we can and S scans the UK news headlines on her phone to find out about nationalism driven farces like Brexit or further SNP cuts… When we pause for our regular grand café crème and a coca at The Joker café in SYlP I scan the local paper which helps local information wise. Things we used to watch on TV most often like Grand Designs, Impossible Engineering, house programs like Dick Strawbridge’s and A Place in the Sun have less fascination as we are sort of living elements of them most days. Tho we aren’t in a caravan for our second December and I may not shaving everyday but a handlebar moustache is someway off!
We had a couple of road trips, one north to look over a Gite S will be managing the reservations for. It being some distance away we set off and spent much of lunch time in the charming property which would be great for a family to holiday in (and a reassuringly safe distance from me!). We returned via Angouleme where we could have a non-lunchtime lunch. On our last trip I’d seen a pair of charming buttocks through a stylish and particularly revealing dress a young woman was wearing! That unusual record was not maintained this trip tho it is winter and hope springs eternal for a similar vision next time…
Our other trip combined a day out in Limoges with a detour to see a great bit of furniture which we bought before heading for the city. We saw a convoy of Gendarmes lights a flashing heading into the centre ahead of us – the Prime Minister Eduoard Phillippe was in town having visited SYlP earlier in the day. We reckon it was for him not to monitor us. We pottered about in rain less than we might and had a good lunch – yes I had duck – in a place where the BFM news channel was showing lines of Police facing gilet jeune protestors about a hundred metres away from us. They interviewed a chap who we saw later progressing his efforts to bring down the State by visiting the Xmas Market! We then meandered through said market where some damp shoppers were buying from chilly stall holders. S had also been looking for a coque – a case for her new French mobile – without success. She decided to look on-line tho chose the wording of her Google search carefully.
Only a few boxes have been emptied, as I explained, but they were deposited in the loft with the Xmas tree as we went with the backup we had last trip and we don’t have a socket spare! Having heard that there are more than the average number of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the area – sometimes there are two sets at the market positioned in some sort of static pincer movement – we put a compact and bijou festive decoration on the front door.
The aim being to allay any fears among our neighbours of recruitment between now and the end of humanity… The other great Xmas tradition of standing in a queue to send parcels at the Post Office is undertaken here too and our offerings were dispatched in two waves with at time of writing mixed results.
The Forestiers had put up warning signs on the road thru La Fayolle and got busy chopping down the relatively few large trees in the lower lying field at the end of our back garden. This was not a concern and unlikely to happen again for about forty years tho Mitzy did wonder a little at the strange noises. I one evening was moving wood and wandered to the end of the garden a little surprised to see the large trees on next doors boundary had been taken down. Two trees of theirs remained by our garden with double red lines painted on them, also red lined were two trees in the field. Glancing along the line of trees in our garden I was horrified to see that three of them also had been spray painted in similar fashion! This was of course a worry, firstly cos they were in our garden and secondly if someone, well meaning or otherwise chops down a whacking great tree they only take thirty or forty years to replace like for like. After a closer examination we photographed, as best we could said red lines in the growing darkness and seeing no sign of life in either neighbouring property popped across the road to JC in an effort to learn what we could about the practices of French men with chain saws. Explaining the same markings were on trees in the field and two gardens he and his wife were equally concerned and gave us a couple of pointers regarding what words to use as we were planning to make signs to stick on our trees…
Having returned from our eleven months in France to discover an idiot tenant had chopped down a large, pretty and perfectly healthy flowering cherry tree we did not want to fall foul of unfettered felling again. I then went to speak to our neighbour Mr F whose mothers house is now ours. Despite it being relatively early he was semi dressed and I found the pictures on his wall fascinating until this situation was rectified. Both going out with torches he was equally concerned at two red lines perhaps meaning the chop, surprised as he was by the large trees being taken down at our other neighbour’s. He said he’d come with me to speak to the Forestiers the next morning. A little later I popped to the neighbours on the other side, who’d been out. I was concerned that in the dark they hadn’t noticed the disappearance of four or five large trees that may be their property! Thankfully Mrs neighbour said her husband had talked to the woodsmen and they knew the now missing trees were going down. She was however alarmed that the two remaining trees meant to remain had the same double red lines as some of ours and most ominously others in the field.
Next morning we were up early in case having to fend off chain saw wielding chaps was required. Mr F and I met and I traversed the somewhat churned up field towards the earliest arrival of the cutting crew. He thankfully was able to confirm that two red lines meant DON’T cut down and that no-more felling was to take place. I didn’t query why some trees were being left but was, as was Mr F, more than chuffed that we’d not have to go all rampant environmentalist, aka Swampy, in the face of vandalism. This was a massive relief and JC was also pleased when I updated him the next day. We’ve since been told two red lines often means use for construction … we’ll never know if that was or wasn’t the plan here.
In other more relaxed topiary news I pruned and trimmed our trees and shrubs out the front making them a bit more presentable. An issue with having half an acre is you have to do a bit of this sort of thing and don’t want someone wandering along chopping down your trees while you are off getting a baguette.
Prior to the garden tidy up we had a visit from the Pompiers (the combined Fire & Ambulance service) not about our cuisinier – still no sign of him yet… The chaps in dark blue sell a calendar each year. Knowing this them appearing one morning was no cause of panic – apart from on the part of Mitzy who is adjusting slowly to living in a house with a functioning door bell. You pay however much you want for the calendar and they give you a receipt. Rumours that the more you pay the more likely they are to pitch up in a crisis with the blue lights going are of course not true.
The day after the SYlP Gendarmes were dealing with the visit of the Prime Minister there was an even more famous chap in town – Santa! He was borne with excited youngsters by a horse drawn carriage and followed by locals and a band who among other things played the Lions Sleeps Tonight which I think should be a Christmas song.
Limited as we are socket wise a seven course Xmas day nosh was impossible but we or rather S did a great job all the same. In France the big feed is normally on the 24th but did it on the 25th. I had strips of duck done on the George Forman and S had a savoury pancake of her as much as she could own making.
Next year I want to try the small black pudding like sausages wrapped in bacon you can get locally, S is less keen on them… It was a gorgeous day here and we set off for a walk around the block – which is just over 5 kilometres.
It was the first Noel wander I’ve done without a jacket and wearing shades. It was colder for our last French festives. Anyway, we wandered along waving at the six, count them six cars we saw in just over an hour.
We went past what was clearly the home of the Brit who had popped by previously to say hello as he was hosting quite a get together in the sunshine. We bonjoured the youngsters with their kids and then surprised them by wishing them merry Christmas in English. We could have probably gate crashed and got a few crisps and a glass of something but wandered on seeing a gambolling deer before we returned to see a certain cat at a window…
Clearly Mitzy wanted to join us but she’s only slowly being introduced to the garden especially as when she was out with S on her fetching pink lead they met another cat. M quickly took steps to defend her territory and our honour despite the limits on her mobility of a startled S. The low growling from our wee grey feline was not her being choked by the harness as S for a moment feared.