Monthly Archive for August, 2014


The tyres were delivered to the house yesterday and the wheel bearing the day before. The car needs some minor adjustments to ensure its continued well being. Once upon a time I would give the vehicle to a garage and tell them to get on with it, but now I know the system and so I order new tyres online and do the same for the mechanical bits and deliver them to different experts who put them in place. This is all designed to save lots of money but it does nothing to reduce hassle.
A neighbouring village had its fete a day or two ago and, along with a dozen or so from here, we went to the repas. More than 200 folk went to scoff. An unfortunate conjurer entertained during the latter part of the meal and received only desultory interest until he sawed his missus in half. There were no screams or blood, so the company returned to the trough. Such get-togethers are one of the more delightful aspects of living in France. They didn’t happen anywhere I used to live in the UK. Perhaps they work here because the population is so evenly and sparsely scattered and looks to itself for amusement.


The chateau is now alarmed several times a day. It was always going to be a big ask for its sensors to tell the difference between a boar, a deer and a ne’er-do-well and it can’t. Apparently the alert first goes to Paris, then Toulouse and then to the local gendarmerie where they have more important things to do than come out to check the thing, except just after lunch when they often come into the village for coffee. Mercifully the siren’s not too loud and switches itself off after three minutes.

School goes back next week and TEEM will stop dropping in at random intervals with an avalanche of small dogs to stir up Poonkie. Cato scrambles onto the back of furniture to escape and morosely checks himself for fleas after they’ve gone. The grandson will also likely go back to work and peace will descend. The latter sports bandages on his burnt leg and changing them gives the district nurse something else to do as she already swings by here three times a day to inject the seedy and the sore. One of her colleagues recently described this village as ‘original’. I don’t think she was thinking of its architecture.


The grandson took a day off to recover from his immolation so the burn lady clearly worked for him. He’s been pottering about with his little digger during daylight hours ever since – with an hour off for lunch. He has till tomorrow before his boys’ toys are banned from the village for good.

And the chateau may have a fresh chapter. The owner was forced to concentrate his mind when he received a large bill for making the place safe. He apparently lost heart when he tried to organise its renovation some dozen years ago from Stockholm. He paid a contractor lots of money up front and nothing was ever done. He has been promised that the village will act as his on-site agent for any further work he commissions. The place has been festooned with CCTV cameras that are monitored in Toulouse and they are charged with contacting the gendarmes should anything untoward takes place. I’m afraid I may have lost the prime attraction for visitors to this house as it is considered very naughty to be caught investigating the interior of such a house.


M le Maire has given the grandson a clear week to do his building thing with hired machinery and then he’ll be banned from using it. So he’s been buzzing up and down the plot adjacent to us with his digger removing undergrowth and remodelling its contours in a way that is both noisy and inexplicable. I took the opportunity to hack back our hedge on his side of it to make quite clear where our mutual boundary lay since he seemed quite enthusiastic about doing some encroachment. But this morning all is tranquillity. He decided to have a bonfire, used petrol to get it going and burnt himself to the extent that the skin is broken on his legs, hand and face. He staggered into the mairie and was taken down to the healer who specialises in curing burns by drawing out the heat through the laying on of hands. This treatment will be repeated this evening and, who knows, it may work. I suggested hospital but was told it would be unnecessary, as would be painkillers.


We whizzed up and down to Provence to collect a guest. After the tranquillity of life round here, the traffic and the hordes of tourists in the south were alarming. We were staying at La Garde-Freinet and, opposite our B&B, they set up a vide grenier on Friday morning. The stuff on offer would have been prized objects in any brocante round here. I ate some scallops that came in at €35, but I was told the King and Queen of Sweden regularly ate in the restaurant so that made it all right. The aircon on the car was playing up and six hours of sweaty bouchons were no fun. Here we’re still having regular storms and sultry days. There seemed set fair at 33.

After several shouting matches between the maire and the grandson, matter seem to be on the right track. One of the altercations took place at 11.30pm and several householders drifted from their premises to act as witnesses should matter turn nasty. But today his cars are neatly parked and he’s been working quite noiselessly and tidily with a digger clearing up some of his ancient messes.


Romeo and Juliet was acted out in a village square about 45 minutes north. The first time I’d seen the play, well done, but I couldn’t help finding bits of the plot a bit clunky. On the way back in the dark in the middle of nowhere, something exploded on the side of the car. In such circumstances you concentrate on what the vehicle is doing in case it decides to go AWOL but nothing seemed amiss. Initially I though ‘bird strike’ but they don’t do that at night unless it’s a thoroughly deranged owl. It turned out to be a raw egg that must have been thrown with malice aforethought. It’s different, but egging cars in the dark is not a pastime I’d choose for a bit of fun. At least it’s led me to hose the car down.

The washing machine is thinking about being naughty. In my experience this presages the collapse of all white goods but I can’t really complain as I took over the lot when I bought the house. It was only used for holidays before I came and canny folk do not buy top of the range to furnish such places.



A hundred folk turned up for the village repas and all went swimmingly. Only one member of the previous council turned up, which was considered rather bad form, but the gaggle of grannies who are ultimate arbiters all local matters were there and seemed to enjoy themselves. Afterwards we all trooped down to the mairie where some most impressive fireworks soared into the night, exploding with enough verve to create hysteria amongst the local dogs and even prompted an expat the best part of a mile away to enquire whether he ought to make a contribution to them as visiting grandchildren set themselves up in the road by his house to enjoy them. The vide grenier attracted a single outside stall, apparently because there was an established flea market up the road that sucked in more than 200. To show local solidarity we bought two pottery jars for flowers. We were told that they were originally used to store sausages in fat over winter. I suppose it’s no worse than confit de canard but it sounded disgusting.

The grandson, never a happy bunny, texted the maire at 2am to say that the disco must stop within two minutes else he would summon the gendarmes. He was told to piss off as it was licensed till 3.


This weekend this village is holding its fete. In preparation the street has been strung with the coloured lights that are normally used at Christmas and the three prettiest women in the community – and we have a high standard – have been bought T-shirts, rather smaller and tighter than they would like, which display the village’s crest – a mishmash of bunches of grapes. They are to police the vide grenier on Saturday and act as serving wenches in the evening when we have a feast followed by a disco. Petanque will clunk away outside the salle de fetes for much of the weekend. Today we have thunderstorms forecast – and one is rumbling away on the horizon – but tomorrow looks OK. The maire has been lent a new €40k BMW whilst his own car is being repaired and he has just rushed it under cover for fear of approaching hail. I am to join him when some important legal personage arrives to see if the grandson has tidied up as he has been so ordered. He hasn’t.