This has been a big week on a number of fronts, but alas, not on that of the second bathroom. Raymond has not returned and Frederic says that he thinks his father is dying. He went to Lyons, where his father lives before new year and seems not to have returned. His mobile doesn’t answer. All his equipment is here so he definitely intends to return. We must be patient I think.
Our friend Hugh Ratcliffe, who has lived here for 16 years sent me a sympathetic email after one of my cries de coeur about the impossibility of communicating by phone. He said that it’s only fixable by finding a multi-lingual neighbour who is prepared to help. Similar in my case to finding someone who has a deep understanding of computers and their foibles ( hi Mark!).
Anyway it has happened for us. We have met the most delightful girl who works a bit at the local cafe her name is Lucia, she is Dutch and speaks better English than we do. She offered to help with our orange problems. Keen readers will remember that last week we got the so called Livebox, had it all configured at the Uzes internet cafe, brought it home, plugged it in and nothing happened. So Lucia came around on Monday morning and went out into the street , where there is reception and rang Orange on a number which she and most French people seem to know by heart. About 20 minutes later she got onto a human being who started doing testing things to try and diagnose the problem. This of course required observation of the panel of lights on the front of the Livebox, which of course is in the house. We solved the problem by hijacking a young kid who was hanging around and getting him to run between phone and Livebox with questions and observations. All this took about another 20 minutes. Finally Orange conceded that there was a problem and advised that we would be visited by technicians at 930 on Wednesday ( subsequently modified in a text message to sometime Wednesday morning).
At 8:45 on Wednesday morning a cherypicker popped its head above our wall and a technician started fiddling with the wiring on the power pole, after no more than 5 minutes the relevant lights lit up and the Livebox became truly alive. Exactly one month after we paid our money. It’s an absolute disgrace.
So we now have a fixed line telephone and wifi. So we took Janelle’s laptop upstairs and hooked it up to the new canon printer we bought. A few problems emerged. Firstly wifi won’t easily go through metre thick stone walls. Secondly the laptop and the printer wouldn’t talk to each other and thirdly the television decoder box was much further away than the one metre specified in the instructions. At this point we could have broken down or started throwing things, but I had observed that there was a business a few hundred metres away which appeared to be something to do with computers so i went to see them. To my delight i was greeted by a young man who, faced with my attempts to explain my problems, hastened to engage me in English of a totally acceptable standard. He agreed to come to the house and see the problems. The solutions are that we need some sort of wireless boosters on the Livebox, the decoder and the laptop. The printer problem is that there is a cord missing, but he has one in stock. So, by the next instalment we should be up and running electronically. Stay tuned, as they say.
Balguerie, the French customs agents advised us last Friday that the container would be delivered this Friday. It would be on a truck and couldn’t be offloaded. We would have 2 hours to unload it. And the truck would not be able to manouvre beyond the end of our street.
They also advised that they would like their bill paid electronically if possible before we got delivery of the container. No problem, I said. We’ll whip in to Uzes on Monday morning and get Credit Agricole to effect the transfer for us. So in we went. Bank closed. (it was new year’s eve). We returned home and I rang Balguerie. At lunch. Please ring after 2:30. I rang after 2:30 to be told my contact was having the day off. However his colleague said he thought a cheque would be fine if we express mailed it. No problem we said. So we wrote a cheque and drove into Uzes to the post office to express mail it. Post office closed! So undaunted we went to a local Tabac and bought 4 stamps and put the cheque in the ordinary mail. It arrived in good time.
We were lucky enough to be able to get a team organised for the unloading and we got the job done just inside 2 hours. It all arrived in fine shape. No damage whatsoever. And the French customs let it in free of duty and TVA. We are still sorting it all out, but everything fits and really looks great against the stone walls.
No restaurants this week. But we did find some baby goat in Carrefour…. Where else? And made a goat curry on Tuesday, which is Reg’s traditional curry night. On Thursday we had a cassoulet. Again good old Carrefour did us proud with 6 confit duck legs for 13 Euros. I bought the smoked pork and the Toulouse sausages in the market and it turned out very well. Carrefour is currently running a meat festival .a whole farmed rabbit for 7 Euros. The rear quarter of a smallish pig 2.60 Euros per kg. chooks 5 Euros each if you buy 3. How do they do it?
The Ikea saga continues for Reg. He and Pauline spent from 10 am till 4:30 pm at Ikea on Monday buying furniture etc. we warned him about our delivery dramas and Janelle strongly advised him to get express delivery. So he started in the sofa dept. and was told that express delivery was no problem, 2 days was quoted. On to the bedding dept.– same story, except that they don’t deliver the largest mattress, you have to sort that out yourself then progressively through the store, but being told to sort out the delivery at the large goods counter after the cashiers. So, at the large goods counter, after having paid for everything, including 350Euros for delivery, they were told 20 days for delivery. And were told it was impossible to get a refund of the delivery charges. So he went back after New Year’s Day to be told that not much could be done to speed things up. To make things worse, in the course of all this Reg was told that the washing machine he had bought and paid for was on 6 months delivery and that in normal circumstances the balance of his order would have been held until the washing machine was available! Incredible. So Reg asked for a refund for the washing machine. He was told it could only be done by him supplying a thing called a RIP from his bank. This meant yet another trip to Ikea the next day. Finally, on Friday, Reg received a call from Ikea telling him he would get delivery next Thursday. Again, stay tuned.
So ,at the end of week 5 we are on the air…just; our stuff has arrived from Oz and is being installed; one bathroom is operational and the other pretty advanced; I am about to try to assemble our Ikea kitchen; our French has not improved much and probably never will and we have met some really nice people. Overall , not bad.