Sunday, 24 March 2013

Nearly the end of March

Hi everyone, how are things where you are? Here I feel very lucky to be living in France as we have had some great weather. Even though we have had a few rainy days it was still warm and for the past couple of days or so we have had lovely warm sunshine, it was bliss. Hopefully that's it spring has sprung and we are going to be good from now on. It was funny on Thursday (March 21st) I was passing the time with one of my neighbours and also the guy we buy wood from and the both said - that's it now, today is the first day of spring and all will be great from now. It seemed a important day to both of them and I spoke to each one independently of the other and got the same comment from both. So hopefully our winter is now over.

This week hasn't been too exiting, just more of the same work on the house - getting ready for the electrician to finish his work. But we have had a couple of funny things happen. The first was funny not because of the incident itself but of the lost in translation moment with the phone call to the ambulance. 

We went for drinks with with our neighbours and after a while came home and got ready for bed. Sounds simple no? but just as I was in my jammies and Dave was already in bed we heard a rapping at the door. Our neighbour (who is English) came over and said xxxxx has fallen over and cut his head open. Its bleeding loads can you come over and have a look at it and call a ambulance. So i went over in jammies and slippers - but put a jumper on for proprieties sake to see what had happened. Indeed he had a deep cut to his head and one by his eye, his wife stemmed the blood while I called the ambulance. i answered their questions as to where we are and what happened and told them he had a cut to his head and it was bleeding a lot. They arrived in good time and off they went to get stitched up and checked over.  Where's the humour in this i hear you say, but at my French lesson we were recounting things and our teacher said- "Il a une coupé à la tète et il y a beaucoup de sang"  which is what i said to the ambulance control basically meant he has cut his head off and there is lots of blood! rather than -  he has cut his head and there is lots of blood - which is the literal translation and made sense to me. I should of used a reflexive verb and said "il viens de se faire mal à la tète" no wonder the ambulance turned up quickly! never mind it's all a learning curve. 

The second amusing-ish thing that happened was that nutty husband of mine nearly setting the chimney alight and burning a hole through the metal chimney pipe. I can say amusing now its all sorted out but it wasn't funny at the time. He has kept putting plastic bottles and wine box insides in the fire and these melted and accumulated in the bend in the metal chimney pipe and caught fire and burnt a hole through. The first we knew was when the fire started smoking badly from the doors, and the fire filled with smoke! he has put new pipe in now and will not be doing any plastic burning again.

We have also been to the first vide grenier of the year which was lovely and we bought a couple of really nice pieces. 

Also as far as the never ending paperwork it concerned we are hopefully going to be able to move our bank account to our local one.  I had given up on it as it thought it was going to be a pain as that had happened to a friend, but her original bank was in a different departement. And as any one who has lived here knows that it like living in a different country to French bureaucracy . As we are moving from one bank to another in the same departement we can do a straight transfer keeping all the same account books, cards and details. Other friends have done the inter departemental switch and had no problems so fingers crossed.

Next week is a bank holiday weekend so Dave will have a extra day off,  Good Friday   isn't a bank holiday here. He has asked for the day off to make a bridged weekend but we haven't had a answer yet :( That doesn't look promising does it? Let you know next week how we get on.

Monday, 18 March 2013

That last week has flown by.

We have had a busy week this last week, Frederick has round and finished the downstairs of the house and also put switches on upstairs. Just the bedroom to do and a bit of finishing up and we will be ready for the inspection for the certificate of conformity.

 Dave and I have made the second half of the kitchen up and it looks good. Its so nice to actually have work surfaces that are usable and a kitchen worktop that can be easily cleaned.

I also went to my first doctors appointment here on Friday. It was a bit nerve racking, doing the whole thing in French I was worried that I may not be understood. But it went well. The doctor was really nice and we had a good conversation and I finally got a prescription for my asthma meds here. It cost me 26 Euros though and that was only for part of the prescription so I really must get on and get quotes for medical insurance for Dave and I. I don't know if you know or not but in France there is no national health service.  The government  pays for about 70% of the costs (unless its life threatening then its free) and the patient pays the rest. So top up insurance is a good idea but I couldn't get it until I had my social security number, so its time to start looking now. However even though you pay for the medical care, France has been rated at the best medical care in the world by the World Health Organisation many times in it's polls and I would prefer to pay and get good care- so insurance here we come. 

We went to a party at our neighbours house on Friday night ( he has a dance floor, lights, bar, great music system and general party room), we had a great time. A lot of our  friends were there so a great time was had by all. It wasn't conducive to getting much work done on Saturday though and we had a generally lazy day.

A previous party in Sid's

A old get together at Sid's

Sid on bar duty

Monday, 11 March 2013

Monday 11th March

Things have been lovely lately, at least up until today when the rain has made a unwelcome reappearance. We have had some lovely sunny days and it really makes you feel better as if we really are starting spring and a improvement in temperatures. Also the lightening mornings and lighter evenings are great, its not getting dark till about 7.30pm and the clocks haven't gone forward yet :) We can get more done or just have a walk in the evenings without needing a torch. 

 We had a bit of a lazy day on Saturday and sat in the garden for a while reading. It has to be done sometimes, unfortunately Dave had to work for a couple of hours in the morning first but when he got home we relaxed for a bit, it was really quiet here and you could just really appreciate the chance to relax.  Didn't last long though as we had to go over to Cholet (about 40 mins away) to buy some kitchen worktops. Exiting stuff eh? well it was for us, we are finally getting towards having what other people would recognise as a kitchen even if it is a temporary one in our hallway. Mind you we were gobsmacked when we bought the worktops. they were a good price but the little bit of metal that goes between 2 to join them together were 10 euros a piece - mad eh. But they were a essential piece of equipment that was needed so we knuckled down and bought them.

Saturday late afternoon we went down to a new shop English shop that has opened near us. I know that as we have decided to live in this lovely country we should therefore eat all the local foods and not look backward to our old English ideals. We do whole heartedly embrace these lovely local foodstuffs but sometimes a little of the food and things from home can be a great addition to life. Especially as a vegetarian the new shop is good for me as I can buy Quorn and other similar food which are otherwise impossible to get here, with these products i can eat things like bbq's and cottage pie which with the scant vegetable products on offer here I wouldn't otherwise get. Silly things like Stilton and Bisto are a really nice find, not to mention curry pastes and the ever so delicious Lime pickle, the French really don't seem to of caught the curry bug yet. So we stocked up and had to also give in to crumpets and hot cross buns - yummy.

I also should say that after a years wait the elusive Carte Vitale has turned up, it's official I am now part of the French system with a French social security number and medical benefits. It's nice as small things like that make you feel like you belong to society rather than just being a visitor. We felt similar when the van had a french registration and we didn't stick out as English anymore. Mind you the registering for french Impôt (tax and tax returns) that we will need to register for in a few weeks, while necessary will probably melt my brain - not looking forward to that part of the paperwork trail. But a least now I can make my a doctors appointment without needing a mortgage to pay for the medicines. 
My French lessons are going well and even though I seem to be understanding more I also realise that I have a huge amount to learn but I am enjoying advancing in my comprehension and conversation and a formal chat doesn't hold the fear that it once did. I still carefully plan what I need to say and try and guess what I may be asked so I can prepare the right words in reply but I'm getting there slowly. A good example of this was that I had to phone the water board recently as they had billed me for a job that I paid them for in December. They were given a cheque with the acceptance of the quote -as asked for, but they seemed to think it was unpaid. So I had to phone and ask them what was going on and get them to sort it out. Luckily it went well and they understood me - this sounds trivial but it felt like a major language breakthrough.

On Sunday Dave and old took out all our old kitchen bits and built in most of the new kitchen cupboards and worktops. It took all day and we managed to get half the room done. We will do the other side of the room as soon as we have time but will definitely finish it  by next weekend. Here's how it looks so far, remember we were ripping this hall apart for electrics not long ago.

The left hand side is ok, all the cupboards on the right need replacing and new units and worktops putting in,

As far as the electrics goes, we are moving forward, all the walls for the bathroom are done as it the hallway partition wall. Just the bedroom walls to do and then it's just tidying up bits and Fredericks work to be finished and we will be all done. I'm hoping that the end of March to early April target is reached. Lets see what happens.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Whats been going on then?

Ok so what's been going on in this place?

We have had some weird extremes of weather, we have had some days when you need about 5 layers of clothing on and are still freezing but also (and more importantly, more and more of late) we have had some lovely warm and sunny days when you can work outside in t-shirts.

Dave, Fidget and the girls all enjoying the sun on Sunday 3rd March

We have even had the first grass cut of the season, as we don't have a ride on mower there will be many miles walked around our garden and field this year and March is early to start but it's nice to see the place looking tidier. We also had a tidy up of all the building materials and had a good bonfire to get rid of some of the old rubbish, also tip been visited -its surprising how much rubbish seems to accumulate when you are working on a house, and we are starting to look somewhat acceptable again. It will take more work and I'm not sure about trying to build borders for the plants as im sure that our chickens will just grub them up again and they seem able to get over most obstacles that we put in their way if they think they can get to some food and some yummy plants.

As far as the house and preparing for the electric goes we have now finished the walls in the bathroom and have started the walls to separate the huge room upstairs into a landing and bedroom. We now just have the top bits by the beams to fill in, which is tricky as there isn't a straight line anywhere.

Outside of the bathroom with back open as Freddie is putting the electrics in.