15th February, 2007
Arriving back from our travels was fantastic, even though we had
a couple of minor problems to overcome, it was just great to be
back home. We flew from Luton
to Paris Charles de Gaul, from where we took a taxi into Paris
to what our taxi driver was the station for trains to Flers.
It turned out he was either lying or really didn't know, as we
had to get the subway for another 20 minute ride to a different
station, then had to wait 3 hours for the next train.
Arriving at Flers at 7pm, almost 12 hours since we had left
Theresa's house in Dunstable that morning, we had a 10 mile taxi
ride to our place, arriving in starlight. Still, it was
fantastic to be home!
All seemed well as we
trundled down the driveway, trying to avoid the puddles in the
dim light. The doors and windows were still as secure as
when we left them, and we soon had the wood shed doors open,
revealing our yellow VW van, looking in good shape. Our
first little inconvenience was that the van's battery had gone
flat, flatter than something really, really flat, so we would
have to push it out of the shed so we could unload the bed from
the back and have somewhere to sleep tonight. Disconnecting the
battery was one of those jobs that didn't quite get done in the
hectic moments before our departure 5 months ago. Still, it was
fantastic to be home!
At least we had a
generator to give us light and possibly recharge the van
battery. Or so I thought. It was only after I'd
undone the padlock on the house front door and tried to open it
that it dawned on me that I'd give the only (known) key to the mortise
lock for the door to the architect so he could get in to take
measurements for our planning application. Doh. And
most of our meager belonging were inside the house, including
the generator, food and our small camp stove . The small camp
stove would have been particularly useful as our large camping
stove, left in the garage, had no gas left. The bottle had
been half full when we left, so it was lucky I'd left it in a
well ventilated place as it must have been leaking.. Still, it was
fantastic to be home!
Never mind, we had a
bed to sleep on, and even bedding. What more could you ask
for on a nippy night? We even had a tin of rice pudding to
sustain us. If only the can opener wasn't in the
house. So far yet so near. I usually have my pen
knife with me, which has amongst other things a tin opener and
one of those special tools for getting stones out of horses
hooves, (still unused I'm sorry to admit) but we had not taken
knives with us on this last trip as we had been travelling light
with only carry on luggage. And we all now know you can't
take knives onto planes, dont we! Still, it was
fantastic to be home!
For the last
time, its fantastic to be home!
priorities today, electricity and key for the front door.
India two weeks ago we'd booked a rendezvous with EDF at our
place to connect the electricity. She (yes, SHE, and why not)
arrived promptly at 11am, took one look and said something that
translates as 'Too old' (or so Rita told me) and made to
leave. Admittedly, what was left of the electric boxes
next to the supply did look a little ragged, but I was still a
little hurt. Rita stepped in and managed to quiz her about
what would happen next, and was told to phone EDF on Monday to
make another appointment for another technician to come out and
assess what was required. I've read quite few articles on
the internet about renovators having problems getting connected,
what with all the French regulations and getting electricians to
do anything. I was expecting EDF to only give us a basic
connection in the first place, which is apparently the norm, so
when we had been told two weeks ago that they would just turn up
and connect, I'd been a little sceptical.
to Flers, the next big town east of us and where the architect
hangs out, to see if we could have our front door key back now,
please. Unfortunately, Dimitri had gone to Paris for the
day, was unlikely to be back early, and the office could find no
trace of our file or, more importantly, our keys! The
secretary was helpful and tried phoning and texting Dimitri, but
with no joy. While in Flers we also checked out our
telephone options. Should we go for a landline or could we
get by with a data enabled mobile connection for our many
internet needs. We were soon persuaded that the mobile
option was too expensive and slow (they dont have 3G but are
upgrading GPRS to something faster in the near future).
France Telecom it is then, Rita phoned and managed to make an
appointment for an engineer to come out and connect us up next
Wednesday. I might have been a little sceptical about the
electricity, but this takes the biscuit, there was no way I
could see them turning up next Wednesday and us being connected
the same day. The nearest telephone pole is 150 metres from the
house with not too much to hang telephone wires from in between
except trees, They seemed so confident they even issued us
with a phone number!
TOO MUCH DETAIL - well even if you want to read all the
gory details, we dont have time to write them. ! So I'm
going to be brief from now on. Well, most of the time.
of February in a nutshell:
Massive shopping spree
to buy lots of bits and pieces from Brico Depot (owned by
Kingfisher who also own Screwfix and B&Q) in Caen, bought
loads of things including a gas water heater.
Telecom turned up and said they couldn't connect us up as
the house was too far from the nearest telephone pole, someone
else will contact us with the next step.
assessed the situation and said they could install the
electricity supply on the pole opposite the main house, 50
metres away, they will send us a "devis", a quote, and
when we pay it they will come and do the work. He
explained we would then need an electrician to install the
distribution box in the house and connect it all up.
Sounded fairly straightforward.
Phoned an electrician, who also had a digger we were told,
and he came out next day to have a look at what was needed, said
he would fax us a devis. Never heard from him again!
Costing us a fortune on our UK mobiles to make phone calls,
started using phone box in town, then discovered there is a free
internet cafe in town, run by Orange, with free wifi
access. So to make phone calls we sit outside the internet
place in our van and use Skype!
First visit backto UK with van and trailer to pick up some of
our stuff in storage at Dave's farm. Hectic weekend
dashing around seeing a few people and collecting belongings
from far and wide. Exhausted when we got back with a big
load, but at least we had made a good start on transporting our
stuiff, another two runs should do it.
Saw a barn owl perched on a post on our road.
Livebox (no not coloured orange, from the phone company Orange)
arrived in the post. Its for my new internet
connection. The internet connection we dont have and dont
know when we will have it.
Continued on our March