Life in France

A not every day story of normal people trying to live their dream in France starting at the beginning and ending?

Friday, December 31, 2004

Bonne Année

Tonight is party night! We have been invited to a party tonight at our neighbours. He is about 1km away! Should be a good evening and at lunchtime tomorrow we are invited to our other neighbours for an aperro, loosely translated this means a drink with a few nibbles. A drink usually merges in to 3 or 4 and the measures are shall we say generous to say the least, so if we have a hangover from tonight the old hair of the dog should do us wonders!!

So to one and all we wish you a very happy new year and its back to work on Monday, looks like I have some old plaster to remove and replace with some new so that should be fun. The new year starts where the old one left off.........

meilleurs voeux

Thursday, December 30, 2004

'Tis the season to be jolly!

just a quick post to say happy new year to everyone!

Not much going on except drinking and partying which is as it should be!!!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Water Everywhere

At last back online after three days of awful weather. Strong winds and torrential rain have left there mark around the area. The well that is inside of the house threatened to overflow and flood the house so I rigged up a pump and began to pump it out when it got half way down I figured that would be enough. Ha ha ha was I wrong! Went to bed and when I got up next morning and checked it, it was full again so the cycle was repeated. So far I have done this three times and have now fitted a syphon to it so that when it gets to a certain height it automatically starts to drain out! The cellar looks like a demented fireman has been in there with his hosepipe there is water everywhere. The back of the house is built on rock and at the moment it is very wet rock with a couple of small streams of water filtering from them. The second cellar has a stream running through it about 3" deep? It comes in at one corner from the rock and goes out of a drain in the other. Wonderful eh? The name of the house in the local dialect means the place of water and now I can see why. It is everywhere and now that the rain and wind have gone at least for the time being, the forecast is for frost and temperatures of -12°C. oh isn't it fun in paradise?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Flushed with Success

I just had to use that as a title after the last post! Childish I know but who cares its my blog so there. The toilet works fine and as far as I can see the recycling of waste to compost is also doing its thing so in about three months time I should compost to go on the vegetable garden. HHmmm that is when I have made the vegetable garden. No rush, got three months.
In the meantime I've got some rendering to do inside ready for plastering. They use something called chaux here to mix up to make the render so that's what I've bought. Mixed it all up ok and started to put it on the wall. First problem, it keeps falling off! It's not sticking like it should, re-read instructions nope done everything it says. Phone a friend, ahh he says yes that's a common problem, you have to wet the wall first and then apply the chaux mix. ahhh ok we'll give that a go then. So, wall wet and apply the chaux, still falls off, the problem is this time is that now I've wet the walls the extra water has diluted the chaux to such a state that it now too watery. Guess I'll get it right eventually. Made a new mix a little thicker and wet the walls hurrah success it stuck, you got to give it to the professionals they make it look sooo easy. It took me all day to do one wall which is about 11sq. metres!!!! At that rate it will take me a week to do one room. They do say that practice makes perfect though so off I go again......

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Passing of a Motion

A while ago we got all the permissions to go ahead with the toilet system. Trouble was we had to wait for the plumber to get his act together and install the waste pipes down into the cellar and then tell him how to connect them to the recycling unit. I am quite sure that he doesn't believe that it will work. You know, human waste in one end and compost out the other. I just hope that it works as I have never installed one or used one before, a lot of firsts on this project isn't there?
Might write a book about it all one day but then again its been done before by better writers than me. I digress, now the plumber has gone its up to us to install the toilets or at least get one in and working as we have friends coming to stay and a half finished shower and no toilet for them apart from in the caravan which is just a tad inconvenient (pardon the pun). Having finished off the plumbing to the toilet and got the fittings together it was time to fit the toilet. The instructions from the manufacturer's were surprisingly clear and apart from a hiccup with the water connection everything went very smoothly. That is until we tried flushing it! oh it flushed beautifully only trouble is it's flushing with HOT water. AAARRRGGHHHH that bloody plumber has a lot to answer for! So after turning the water off and tracing the pipework back to beneath the sink in the bathroom they were duly swapped over and eureka a flushing toilet with cold water!

Only question now was who gets to use it first, this is an important step on the way back to normality after living in a caravan for 18 months an in house toilet is an absolute luxury soon to be followed by a shower.

Progress has at last been seen to be made. Oh and it wasn't me that got to use it first either that honour went to the lady of the house*********

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Free French Lessons

No No not those sort of 'French Lessons' I mean the language sort. Having dropped French as an option at school when I was eleven years old this language thing is very difficult for me. Yes I can remember odd words like bonjour, fenetre etc but holding a conversation is nigh impossible.
There are two problems living here ( three if you count my age!) the first is 'normal' French doesn't exist here. If you ask for a loaf of bread in your best schoolboy French you are met with a blank expression. I used to get by just by pointing! In normal French pain is bread ( pronounced pan!) in this region bread= peng! Its all down to the local dialect which is languedoc/Occitan. This is a mixture of Basque(form of Spanish)/Italian/French so you can perhaps see why I am having a problem or two. You can never be sure which version of the language you are going to be greeted with. Suppose it makes it more entertaining though. The second problem is the speed at which they talk...They would win a speed talking contest no problem. I used to catch about 1 word in ten and try to work out what they were on about. Usually a nod a smile and oui oui worked! Even asking them to repeat things slowly didn't help that much. Don't get me wrong, the people here have been extremely friendly and helpful in times of need but I'm sure they must tell their children to talk to me like the village idiot, slowly and clearly and not to worry about the strange sounds that utter from my mouth as I mangle their treasured language. It's difficult as well as being the only English here they want to know about us, especially as we got married in the village. No chance of hiding away here. With only 60+ inhabitants the village ain't that big. We are about 2 miles outside in the middle of nowhere but they all know what we up to.

Anyway, discovery of the year is that we can have FREE French lessons as we are foreigners in France and resident. Something that the EU pay for. Sooo as its free we are taking them up on the kind offer. After the first lesson I am in shock, it is conducted completely in French. Not that it shouldn't be but boy is it hard. Still, at least they talk Sloooowly and clearly so there is hope for me yet. Toodle pip

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Exploding Boilers

Well, that was an interesting week not in the way that I would have liked but I learnt a lot! We have a solar system which when the sun shines provides us with hot water and heating and when it doesn't shine we have an automatic switch to a boiler. At least that's the theory, so far since connecting the boiler up and bringing it on line its been a bit erratic as I am having trouble purging the air out of the system. The boiler has a safety valve which kicks in at 2.5 bars and releases pressure (for which read fluid) at about 3 bars. This is so that the system doesn't damage itself if the pressure gets to high. Well, I came back in the other night from a soiree and poked my head into the cellar to see if the cat was in there as she likes to sit on the boiler and saw a lake of fluid on the floor ( no cat though) and the system indicating by way of a big red light that it had a problem with the pressure. It didn't have any!!!!!!! merde! Its pitch black outside the light in the cellar ain't very bright and its bloody freezing. I closed off all the valves, unplugged the boiler and went to bed. It could wait 'til morning.
Morning and after a cup of tea and a croissant for breakfast I set about a repair. I put pressure back into the system and turned it back on, the relief valve kicks in at less 1 bar and it is jammed open fluid going everywhere. Everything off, drain the system and take the valve off to strip it down. Found small bits of something in it so cleaned it all re-assembled it and put it back on the boiler. Refilled system added pressure again and turned it on. Loads of gurgling and whirring but it worked! Spent the rest of the day purging air out of 8 radiators, underfloor heating and the solar panels. So far so good but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Ohh, I forgot to say, I have never taken a boiler to pieces in my life before!!!!