Monthly Archive for June, 2018


I can neither tell the sex of a collared dove, nor recognise individuals but there is one that now potters over the threshold into the house to check if there’s anything worth pecking up from the carpets. I assume it’s the same bird each time. The dogs ignore it but something caught and ate one the other day, leaving nothing but a sinister single clawed  foot on the bird table. I doubt it was a cat as the dogs terrorise any that dare enter the garden.

The government advises Brits living in France to acquire a carte de sĂ©jour, a residence permit, which ought to give some security after Brexit. This is obtainable from the local prefecture but a formidable quantity of supporting documentation is demanded. The government website has a list of what is required. It has also issued a different list to all the nation’s prefectures. And the prefecture has a list all of its own which is different yet again. One’s success really depends on the bureaucrat who confronts you. Some will carefully go though each document and refuse you because the translation of the birth certificate is four months old rather than the expected three. Others will make executive decisions and happily issue the carte even if many of the ‘i’s and ‘t’s are not dotted or crossed.

The company working on the chateau was founded in 1919 by the current boss’s gt-grandfather. It’s a sweet operation and has four of its workers on the roof at the moment. The owner will retire next year and the business will close down as nobody wants to take it over.


M. Chateau did a bit of toy throwing and will not be coming here until there’s a phone line and wifi installed. Orange work at their own pace which means that Mme Chateau could be here on her own for weeks, living in some vast dusty room with nothing but a single light bulb and a microwave for company. At least four natives feel sorry for her and are taking it in turns to feed her.

A few days ago I watched a kite hunting over a well-grown field of barley. When it dived for prey it raised a splash. The field was still covered by 6 inches of floodwater and the bird was catching frogs.

In one of the recent storms, a neighbour lost a poplar that came down, crushed a shed and ended up across the swimming pool. To remove it and refurbish will be expensive. We have a spruce that now looms over the house. It’s valuable because it casts shade on the terrace but when the squalls hit it during storms it thrashes alarmingly. I consulted with local experts. The one who planted the tree thirty years ago thought I should cut the top off. Another said that if it fell, it would fall away from the house and it would not look nearly as pretty if decapitated. Google says that spruces like a good thrashing and that the wind goes through them rather than knock them over. That sounds like the cheapest option and I’ll go with it for the time being.


There’s little good that can be said about the weather. The forecast keeps postponing summer, now not due for a week. A couple of nights ago a storm went on for a couple of hours with continuous thunder and lightning. The dogs did their usual cower/shiver/whimper and then got bored, went back to sleep and haven’t batted an eyelid at thunder since. Curiously it’s today when it hasn’t rained for 18 hours that the river at the bottom of the hill has burst its banks. Yesterday I coincided with the chief pompier at a Brit-owned mill on the river and translated while he issued a flood warning. The Brit knew it all and was dismissive but he moved his vehicles and today the road to his property is inundated.

M. Chateau has returned to Orleans for the time being to keep his business ticking over. His missus has taken his place and is working in the building by herself, save for the blokes doing the roof. She is invited here this evening for supper, as it must be both lonely and a bit spooky to be living there alone. As far as I know the electricity supply is still dedicated to producing hot water rather than light.


We had Scots guests for a couple of days and the weather was usually good enough to sit on the terrace. The chateau currently provides great entertainment as the bits we can see are covered in scaffolding with three and sometimes four workers stripping tiles from the roof and re-doing the bits that have rotted away. Health and safety does not seem to be an issue. The favoured way of getting up there is being hoisted up in the bucket of a yellow machine with an extendable arm. Otherwise they monkey through the scaffolding or use a ladder. Nobody wears a hard hat. I suppose the employer has insurance in case of accident but it all seems refreshingly casual.

Carpenter bees are impossible to miss. I was admiring one foraging for nectar on some lambs ear when it took off, performed a couple of dizzying spirals a few inches in front of my face before it crashed to the ground and waved its legs in the air. I took a closer look at the plant and found half a dozen bees on or around it in a similar drunken condition. They seemed to recover after a minute or two and beat an uncertain path out of the garden but either they soon returned or else there are an awful lot of carpenter bees round about. Perhaps a few flowers added to a stew would make for an interesting meal.

I live in an information bubble. I don’t read anything favourable about Trump, or anything positive about Brexit. It’s lamentably obvious that those who disagree with me have their own bubbles. Otherwise they’d know my opinions were right and theirs shockingly wrong. How can this ever be reconciled?