Paul and Rita's Place in France - February 2007


 February pics
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Now we're back from our winter travels, we've got to start work on our new abode and the vegetable patch.  It's going to be hard work at times, and from all accounts the bureaucracy of the French systems can be quite difficult, but we have time and determination, so I'm sure we can overcome.


Thursday 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! 

16/03/07 Friday

For the last time, its fantastic to be home!

Two priorities today,  electricity and key for the front door.

From 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.

Went 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.

Rest 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.  

France 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.  

EDF guy 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.

Orange 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 page home