Friday, 27 November 2009

The stair saga.............. again

The stair saga still continues. At the beginning of November we got a letter left in our letter box which seemed to be from the bailiffs. It seems that we have been summoned to appear before a tribunal on 3rd December. After a series of letters/telephone calls/faxes between us the Axa man and the stair man and his solicitors and les Huissiers de Justice Associes in which we have paid his bill in full (and he has cashed the cheque) , asked for him to repair his mistakes and received a letter saying that he awaits a rendezvous so that he can repair the stairs but he cannot guarantee that in so doing he will not make a worse mess!! the tribunal is still on.

Today we have been told that there is a document awaiting us in Sarlat that we must both go and fetch - because he is summoning both of us - before the tribunal. So off to Sarlat.

I realise that we made a basic mistake against 'the french way' by sending him a letter originally saying your work is crap here's half the money - on the basis that this would make him come and talk to us when he didn't turn up to our arranged meeting with the builder - but I don't understand why we still have to go to the tribunal when we have paid in full and have no case to answer. What a waste of court time. The Axa man says that he is going to try and claim his costs.

Oh thank the Lord that we ticked a box that said we would like free insurance while we had the building work done so that we have the Axa man on our side. They are also sending a solicitor to the tribunal and the Axa man is coming.

Today it has all got to me again and I am finding it hard to get back to the happy corner.


Went and collected what turned out to be a full copy of the original summons with detail of what we are being summonsed for. Lots of quick direct translation seemed to include lots of 'condemned' and 'abuse' and 'insincerity'. After sitting over a very good lunch with a bottle of wine and a dictionary (and feeling much better for it) we have decided that he is accusing us of not paying the bill in spite of agreeing that there is nothing wrong with his work and then while we're there we should pay 1,000 euros damages and 800 euros for something else that we don't understand at all. Since we have copies of letters with proof of delivery that both he and we sent saying that he accepts the errors, and all that was sorted before we got the original summons, we hope all is ok. But then this is France so who knows. We shall see on the 3rd. Meanwhile a good lunch and a peaceful afternoon with a book dozing in front of the fire have brought me back to the happy corner :-)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

How to meet the neighbours

We've had two events recently where we have been meeting neighbours.

November 11th is Armistice Day and a public holiday here. We had been invited by special posted invitation to attend a ceremony at the war memorial in the village and then for a drink in the village hall afterwards. (Always and drink/meal afterwards.)

We duly turned up at the stated time to find a few people hovering around. Much nodding but we hadn't set eyes on any of them before and we were obviously foreign so that was it. Then a little procession arrived from the Mairie headed by the mayor in his sash and including some school children. We knew half a dozen people, but far from most of them.

The mayor read out a little piece about how he had had the memorial restored and then each child read out the name of one of the deceased and how they had died. All this was interrupted by cars passing through the crowd as we were gathered in the road. Everyone spoke into their papers so I expect it was the same as you would expect but I didn't hear well enough to be sure.

When all was done we progressed to the mairie for kir and nibbles. On the wall was a display of the death certificates of the people on the war memorial, most very very young and died on the field of battle. I asked if there were any second world war deaths and was told that no one from the commune had died in the second world war.

We had a little chat to the deputy mayor and her husband who we have met at every occasion and exchanged a word with another man and that looked like it was going to be it. I constructed my sentence to another lady about had she got any of her family killed in the war and she said no and turned away. As did the next person - is my french that bad?? Then I decided that I wanted to meet the old man who has a garden up the road and went over to the deputy mayor and asked to be introduced. Another drink all round and we ended up actually communicating with someone! Not that I could understand a lot of it, but we did at least get to socialise with 4 more of the locals. As is always the way, some of them are delightful twinkly people, happy to talk once you get them started but it is sooooooo hard to get them started.


We had another occasion to meet the locals this week. We had decided to pollard the lime tree that was starting to get in the electricity wires. Don't like the french way of cutting all the trees to death but it would let more light in, had obviously been done before and it was getting muddled up with the wires.

Started wonderfully. Him Outdoors cutting carefully by hand to avoid the dangers of chainsaws and ladders. About half way through amazing crackles and flashes. Oh ... my ... God. It was the tree that was holding the wires apart. Fortunately at that moment lovely local man passes and I explain. He says that we should stop (good idea) and he would see the mayor because if the electricity board was called it would be expensive. So all stopped for the day and await the mayor.

Eleven thirty the next morning and there was the most almighty sizzling and banging, rushed outside to see huge flashes and the wires split and the electricity went off. Oh b+++er.

Went to see nice man - a little later because it was lunch time. He rushed off to get the maire who appeared with mobile phone and rang the electricity board in his official capacity explaining it as if he had just found the wires in the road (still not sure if these are live wires or not but wasn't going to risk it). Lovely people, much humour and goodwill.

We decided to run away for the afternoon rather than explain the situation to the EDF and reappeared at dusk to find that we only had one wire instead of four but we had power and all is well. Finished the pruning next day and all seems fine. (And the computer didn't get blown up by all the surges and cuts.)