Friday 23 October 2009

Groupe Electrogene

Not, as you might think, the electricity board but french for generator.

Back in May we saw a one day offer in the publicity that arrives every week for a generator that was very good value at the local diy shed. We arrived for opening time and joined a huddle outside the door all watching the uniformed staff that were smoking at another door. Not a queue - this is france after all - but we all knew who was first. A young, smartly dressed man in a smart car arrived just before opening and somehow managed to be first in the queue and into the store first.

We all walk very quickly across the store to where generators would be to find an elderly lady already leaving with one of the staff and the last one and a man with a scrappy pad. Give me your name, address and telephone number, take this copy to the till, pay your money and wait. So, feeling decidedly naive, we pay our money for a generator we haven't seen, they haven't got and don't know when it will arrive. But it's May, how long can it take to get one and we won't need it til the winter when all the storms and power cuts come.

After a couple of months I ring to ask if there is any news of the generators. Coming from China in a container. Probably at end of October. Probably.


Well now it is the end of October and we were in the store (buying some grape vines to go up the new arbour which were, for once, quite reasonably priced). I asked for Frederique who is the man who knows about the generators and the man I asked smirked a bit but found me Fred. I say my piece again and he asks me if I have my receipt. No I say, I just wondered if there was any news. OK he says, I have 4, you can have one but it is a big secret and don't tell anyone!

So we walk out with one of the precious generators. And the ridiculous thing is that I feel honoured that I was one of the chosen ones! I love it. The french have paperwork coming out of their ears on every occasion but just sometimes it's all ok without any of it, just being in the right place at the right time. Sooooo glad we aren't one of the other 10 or so people who aren't going to get one.


Tuesday 20 October 2009

French Children

Someone that we met the other day had lived in France for 40 years and had a french wife and french children. Set me thinking, would I want french children. I have always thought that it is wonderful for kids to have two languages but maybe I haven't thought this through.

I was thinking that I wanted children that I understood their cultural background and that I wasn't sure if I wanted them to have something totally foreign to me where, although I speak some French, I would not be up to speed on their school life.

Then Him Outdoors said well what makes you think you know what went on in our childrens' lives at school. True enough. Taking to extremes that they have one language for the playground and one for home (and another one for grandparents) who knows what they keep to themselves.

I do think that having a second language is wonderful but the guy we met said that although his children could speak english, it wasn't brilliant because they all spoke french at home. The guy also said that speaking two languages fluently and switching between them had been known to cause quite serious psychological difficulties with knowing who you were. (Wished we could have continued that conversation but the flow of the party intervened.)

Not sure I'm coming to any conclusion here, maybe this is a work in progress...............

Sunday 18 October 2009

Foire a l'arbre

When we were last at one of the local markets one of the flyers that was put under our windscreen wiper was for a 'foire a l'arbre'. Today was the day. Or rather morning. This being Sunday, it would only be for the morning because a Frenchman needs his Sunday lunch.

It was cold in the night and we woke to white frost and -4C. Oops should have done the rearranging of the outside spaces for winter before today. If we were organised, and thought ahead, the car would be safely under the new abri de voiture and we wouldn't have to spend time defrosting and deicing. The trailer was still out from our trip to IKEA earlier in the week so with a bit of scraping of ice and demisting we were off.

What was I expecting. Well it started at 9 so maybe by 10 when we got there, quite a few people, a lot of trees and other plants, some of which would be unusual, some hanger-on stalls selling associated stuff, the usual coffee stall, maybe food of some sort...........................

We arrived to a carpark with about half a dozen stalls, a display of a machine that chops up trees into little pieces and a huddle of men around a plastic bottle of wine and plastic cups. The machine had the obligatory huddle of testosterone gazing admiringly. The stalls were all selling very mature shrubs or 10ft over pruned trees, all very ordinary things. All very expensive. The expense is partly to do with the fact that the euro is now pretty much equal to a pound but even at this they are probably twice if not three times as expensive as the UK. And all for instant planting. It is very hard to buy small trees that would settle in well and that you have to wait for. Not what the french want at all.

Ho hum, back home via the boulangerie for coffee and croissants.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

What's been going on

Seems like a while since I was here. What's been going on?

More visitors. We've just worked out that we will have had 10 weeks of visitors in 2009 and that's with no visitors because of builders for the first 4 months! And I love it. Look forward to them coming and enjoy having them. So far we haven't had any of the problems that are a constant topic of conversation on the internet forums. Just nice people who all seem to relax into Le Calme!

Him Outdoors has been working away at a lovely dry stone wall around part of the pool and now an added bit around the pool shower. More of the little touches that turn it into a loved house rather than a holiday home. He's repointed some of the barn walls and house wall. Decided to patch what's there rather than take off the crepi (render) and completely redo. Looks great.

Begun planting on the house walls with a pomegranite tree and a beautiful climbing rose as well as retying in the wisteria. On the look out for a reasonably priced espaliered apricot but because that won't happen it will probably be a tiny one and then we wait and prune with the book in one hand! Peaches/nectarines seem to be prone to a lot of disease but the apricot we have has grown very well without any sign of any problem.

Round the front have begun planting and cut down the fig tree that covered that side of the house. Lovely leaves but no sign of a ripe fig. It just doesn 't get any sun and even here you need that to ripen the figs. Him Outdoors was also worrying about its proximity to the fosse septique. We have several other figs and apart from making jam, we don't really like them so I don't think we'll miss it. The virginia creeper that will cover the wall one day should come on fast with more light.

Planted half a dozen hedging plants this week in what turned out to be solid chalk. Him Outdoors had to get the masonry drill out to get down deep enough to put two of them in. Hopefully with lots of muck and water they'll get a hold. Eleagnus ebbingei for those that know. The much situation was much improved by a huge trailer load from M. Mazet in exchange for the hay from our field.

Lovely bright sunshine today and colder and right on cue the cranes have made an appearance. Wonderful sight. You hear them first, and then spot them much higher than you think. Huge numbers in V formations travelling southwest to Spain from Germany I think. Other wildlife has been a praying mantis which I have never seen in the wild and the usual deer and hares.

Tame wildlife has seen the arrival of 9 new chicks. One of the hens disappeared for 3 weeks and reappeared with 9 bundles of fluff. They are very very cute. Apparently she lays one egg a day in a nest and she can leave them cold and then when she has enough she sits on them for 21 days and hey presto! Clever stuff eh.

Tuesday 6 October 2009


We've been out for the morning at a local market. Bit late this morning so more tourists although nowhere near as many as there are in 'the season'. We decided that there must have been a bus load of americans about somewhere to account for so many american voices.

Had a lovely wander along the long street of stalls. Watched one stall owner get very annoyed with a french man who let his huge alsatian cock his leg on one of her pretty scarves. Last we saw she was waving the offending article in his face while he looked totally unconcerned.

Coffee in a cafe watching the people go by. Bought mussels for lunch and some trout for supper from the wonderful fish stall. Best one we've come across with really lovely fish.

Arthur hadn't arrived home by the time we left this morning and we were vaguely surprised that he wasn't here when we got home. He's not usually late for his breakfast. As we finished lunch he came in yowling, holding one leg awkwardly and trying to rush upstairs. Well as much as you can rush on three legs. Decided to dissuade him from that and we sat on the stairs while he looked sorry for himself. Him Outdoors brought him a tin of gourmet cat food left over from his picky friend Hamish, which he gulped down. What a lot of effort he must have to have put in to getting home from his night out.

And he's now fast asleep on the chair beside me having had a token wash. General opinion is 'wait and see'. Can't be that bad if he's eating, washing and sleeping.......................... and anyway he's got three other legs!! Oooops hush my mouth.