15 Jan 2007


The electronics man arrived to have a look at my satellite set up and internet problems. He’s an expat who has been here for 25 years - within an hour had sorted out my TV and got things happening with regard to AOL. Well, actually, convinced me AOL France were rubbish and after a phone call to them, he established that as I hadn’t signed anything, I didn’t have to go ahead with the service. He reckons France Telecom (Orange) is the way to go – he figures they supply the lines, they are the best to go with. He told me horror stories of other people’s problems going with various other companies. Later I went down to his office in a nearby village where his secretary helped me sign up online, so I should be up and running at the end of the week, with an @orange.fr email address. He’s also got me five French television stations running through the satellite box that was left here, and is going to rig up – somehow piggy-backing on the current dish on the barn wall – another system where I can get the free UK channels (all legal he reassures me). He very passionate about the area and says ‘you should have seen it 25 years ago – filling up now….’.

Last night I watched a bit of French television – a political debate – thinking if I watch a little every night, perhaps I’ll pick up a bit more. Didn’t appear that way – I could only pick out the odd word or two. I have the radio on in the car all the time – again in the hope that my ear will become attuned to hearing French spoken. Sandra wants to arrange some French conversation lessons in the village with a local resident artist. Apparently he’s offered to do weekly one-hour sessions, but with a minimum of four people. So Sandra’s mission is to find two more non-French speaking people to join us.

I had a wasted trip to Carcassonne on Friday. Not happy because I got very lost finding the place – spent half an hour driving around suburbs and stopping and asking people directions. And then Abdel wasn’t there – and no one could understand me – and in the end it turns out the he didn’t have permission to lend me a car – Henri is responsible for that and Henri wasn’t there – and I have to go back next Friday when there WILL be a car to lend me …….. arrgghhh. I also got lost – again – getting out of the area. The sooner I get the GPS fitted to the car, the better. In fact Martin the electronics man, is going to contact someone for me – said if he can’t do it, he will know someone who can. So I need to chase that up quickly.

A trip down to Narbonne yesterday to visit the Sunday markets. The undercover food markets are quite famous and housed in a beautiful building – purpose-built at the beginning of the century. Glass panels and domed roof. And an amazing array of food inside – gorgeous. The markets outside are extensive – I hadn’t intended to buy a thing, but bought a lovely blue-patterned throw-over quilt for my bed – very French! A bargain at 40 euros, reduced from 60.
And as can be seen from the photo of the Robine Canal at Narbonne, the weather is gorgeous. The last few days have been so mild – up to 18 degrees. Most unusual for this time of year apparently.

Oh, and some good news – a phone call from Neil (a work colleague of Steve’s from British Airways) - my luggage has been found. It has been sent on to Paris (where there is a backlog) and from there it should go to Toulouse, and then be couriered here. It was lucky that he chased it up for me – the young guy who logged my claim at Heathrow had input my mobile number into the system incorrectly, and THAT would certainly have complicated things – the idea is that I get a phone call when it’s on its way to make sure I’m here to collect it.

Yesterday afternoon I did a bit of a clear up of the courtyard – full of fig leaves. Also some severe pruning of the pot plants. I need to get onto the web to find out when is the best time to prune roses as I have two scraggly climbers that need attention. Given that I grew up with mum and dad’s garden full of roses, you would think I should know this already …. In fact, I need to find out HOW to prune them.

I have many many trips to the tip ahead of me. I hadn’t realised quite how much stuff there is in the barn that needs to go. The back seats of the wagon are down, and I suspect they’ll be that way most of the time.

Susie and Bruce arrive back from holidays today, and they’re going to put me in touch with an architect. To renovate the barn, I need planning permission. And this can only be done through an architect, who submits the application. So as soon as that’s done, I’ll know which way to proceed. Barn or no barn renovation. Plan (a) or Plan (b) for the house. In the meantime, I can only really press ahead with cosmetic decorating of the rooms in the house that won’t be involved in any renovation – which at this stage means painting the wallpaper in the kitchen and bedrooms.

Moving sideways

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