” and two steps backwards “
It’s been a horrible week in many ways , but with some rays of sunshine.
The way I am doing this is to write a daily diary and then to write the blog from that. But I have got a bit behind so what I am going to do to give maybe a bit more of the flavour of things is just print out the diary, ( which in my case means totally retyping it because I don’t understand all this cutting and pasting stuff).
Reg and Pauline moved into their Uzes apartment and were replaced by our friends Janis and Neil Pascoe ,who have a house in the Dordogne. We shipped some things over for them in the container (now a distant fond memory). So they drove down to pick up their things and do a house inspection.
Neil and I went to the wine coop in Fournes to discuss export. Really good meeting with export manager Annalie.. They are trying to produce high quality wines…and succeeding. She confirmed that they are supplying wine to a couple of the big name cotes du rhone producers. She offered to do work on shipping costs and is going to give us a price on some samples. High drama because they were giving sanctuary to a woman who had been beaten up by her husband ( who was prowling around outside). Our meeting was interrupted by the arrival of the ambulance and the Gendarmes.
Then into Uzes for lunch at laCantine. Simple and good. A walk around Uzes. Neil and Janis very impressed I think. Dropped in on Reg at his new apartment. All furniture assembled and looking great.On return to Sanilhac the second bathroom is basically finished and looking good. Only the shower screens and the little entrance corridor to go. This is promised for next Saturday. Bon!
Visited the local lady sculptor. Janis bought a piece for their garden and one for us as a thank you for bringing their bits over from Oz. Home for a lovely meal and chat which was cruelly interrupted about 11pm by a total blackout.
Finally tracked it down to a leak in the bathroom which was coming through the wall in the plant room and saturating a pair of power points. We isolated these and power returned. It was very cold outside playing with the power switch . This leak is so disappointing after all the work ,but better that it happen now than in 6 or 12 months .
On the phone first thing to Frederic and Raymond. They arrived about Ten and started breaking tiles in the first bathroom. Murphy’s law kicked in and they found the leak at the junction of the new dividing walland the old wall. Sent for more tiles. Almost inevitably, Gedimat out of stock and M. Bricolage only has matt white. Bought them anyway. About 930 it started to snow. High excitement from Janelle. Snowed for about an hour. Apparently doesn’t happen her very often, then drove into Avignon to pick up a pump we need to pump waste kitchen water uphill into the main waste pipe. For a change it went like a dream. I went straight to the counter where it was waiting ,paid and was back in the car in 5 mins. But i have to say that earlier in the day frederic had spent the best part of an hour on the phone organising it all.
Then helped Neil and Janis load their stuff, plus a table onto the roof rack which was surplus to requirements here. Saw them off on the 6hour drive back to the dordogne. Lucia called in for a chat. Wood delivery scheduled for tomorrow.
Very cold. Went into Uzes to get some cash for the wood. One degree. Back home janelle setting up second bathroom and the adjoining bedroom. I assembled the last bit of Ikea. Don’ t know whether to be happy or sad….I really enjoy my Ikea therapy. Reg dropped in for a coffee .He has worked himself to a standstill and hurt his back so is having a lay day. He has got rid of all his Ikea packaging in bins around Uzes ….a mighty feat! Took a leaf out of the French book and did some electrical work , setting up some low voltage lighting in the new kitchen. Just like Ikea….even down to the instruction sheet with no words. People seem to do a lot of their own electrical stuff over here and you see bare wires and strange lashups everywhere. What we are required to do in Oz seems like total overkill by comparison. Had dinner at Millezime.very good.An excellent steak with truffles after snails with truffles. On returning home we find that we still have a water leak. No wood. Apparently the woodman’s truck got pinched but then recovered. Maybe tomorrow.
Very cold. Peaked at four degrees. Nice and cozy in the house. Got the wood delivery. Lucia helped us unload and stack it. I ordered 3 ster , which lucia says is 3 cubic metres, but I’m not sure about that. I think it’s less. The wood is mainly oak. Quite dense and heavy and burns well, giving good heat. We had a pigeon for dinner. Much bigger than in Oz. it was excellent with a Stephanie sauce.
The leak has blown the fuses again. Sent frederic an email sacking raymond and saying i would find people to put things right and knock their cost off the bill. Anhour later a call from Frederic saying he was coming around with another plumber. They arrived. The new plumber, Michel, even allowing for my bad french, was scathing about Raymond’s plumbing. We agreed that Michel would come back tomorrow morning and fix the leaks.
Went over to see Benoit the computer man as I still had not received the card for the TV decoder from Orange. On my behalf he spent the bestpart of an hour winding his way through the Orange telephone labyrinth. Finally he rang off and gave me a number that he had written down. He told me to go to the Orange shop and get them to issue me a card with that number. So still not properly hooked up after 7 weeks. Janelle went to see the boutique she had left some furs with and was told she had sold some and would like to look at more.
Dinner at Frederic’s apartment en famille. A very enjoyable night. Plumbing not discussed.
Michel arrived and proceeded to whale away with a hammer in both showers ,all the time giving. Running commentary on the failings and inadequacies of Raymond. He spent 2 hours chopping out the leaking bits and replacing them. He soft soldered his joints ,pronounced himself satisfied and left , saying over his shoulder that rectifying the tiling was not his problem. The day was cold and wet. We had invited M.Rosenblatt for lunch but he didn’t show up. So we ate the egg raviolis and had a quiet afternoon. Then at 7 o’clock as we were getting ready for some French TV in walked M.Rosenblatt. We had a jolly night and i do think it improves our French although i despair of ever being any good at it.
Big sleep in. A lot of rain overnight. Much milder this morning…. About 8 and intermittent sun. Today is the big Uzes truffle festival. Wwe went in about 11 and met Reg andPauline. We went down to the antique market where Reg bought a Ferrari sketch i had spotted.. Looked at some stuff which might appeal to car people and vaccilated. Had a wander through some galleries looking for stuff for Reg. Then had truffle lunch at Thierry’s. Great food…. Mushroom and cep and truffle soup and guinea fowl in a truffle sauce. None of us can really figure out what all the fuss is about with French truffles. Give me italian white truffles any day. So much more intense and flavourful. After lunch we wandered into the square. Pretty disappointing…. In the time we were there nothing was happening.No bands,no speeches, no parades of dignatories in funny clothes , not even dogs and pigs looking for truffles in the mini forest set up for the purpose. There were at least a dozen dealers and lots of truffles for sale. The price had escalated from 800 euros a kg to 1000 between Sanilhac and Uzes. The various stalls featuring truffle related things were doing good business ,but all in all a bit disappointing, like our week. We then wandered futher and unfortunately came across the new shop of the dealer from whom we bought the mighty cheese stand. This cost us a bedside table and some prints for one of the bathrooms ,should we ever commission one. Deeply depressed.
Horrible day. Lucia came around early and we dicussed how to get the remaining work done. She will ring plumber Mario who is the Vogts long term plumber and who has done Reg’s work. The Ratcliffs came for lunch ,Hugh on his new hip. Like a spring chicken! Really enjoyable lunch. BBQed some quail. Turned out very well. Takes a while to get the fire right but the result is definitely worth it. I have got a cough again. Not a lot of sleep last night. Reg came around and we wired the new kitchen lights. A veritable triumph! They are just terrific! Frederic arrived with mason. Mason said we will have continuing problems with leaks. Wants to fit magnetised tile so it is easy to get access when we have future leaks. Will let Fred know when he can do the job. And he found another leak! Mario the plumber arrived. Can do kitchen Thurs morning. Went upstairs to inspect. Said the plumbing is some of the worst workmanship he has seen. Pipes should have been silver soldered not brazed or soft soldered. He can do it all correctly. Told him to go ahead.. Asked Lucia to find a local carpenter to do the tunnel. Sent an email to Frederic laying out the situation as we saw it and got a furious,semi incomprehensible reply.
Stay tuned. It seems to be building to a bit of a climax.