21 Feb 2007

Visit to Carcassonne

A day trip through the Carcassonne for an appointment with a French English-speaking accountant – at least to begin with, I think I need the services of someone to get all the initial paperwork sorted. Perhaps after a year, I will be able to read some of the forms!

I also needed to go again to the CPAM to sort out the health cover issues. Sandra came with me as she also needed to make enquiries. And between the visit to the accountant, and the next appointment, we had plenty of time in downtown Carcassonne to play at ‘ladies who do lunch’ – and a bit of shopping!

Sadly my visit to the CPAM wasn’t entirely successful. Well not successful at all really. After a long-ish wait, it seemed that not only had I not filled out the forms I’d been given last time (I’d overlooked them – they got hidden amongst other ‘stuff’) – but I didn’t have the financial records going back enough years. I need everything going back to 2004. Ah well - another visit – perhaps this time to the office in Narbonne, which is closer.

I’ve been really lucky to have met some very nice people in this and other villages in the short time I’ve been here. There’s Sandra and Patrick, who live just down the road – I met them at a wine tasting event here in the village when I was here last April. Sandra and I tend to get out and about fairly often and ‘shop’ – even if it’s mostly for hardware and house stuff.

And there’s Miki (whose gite I stayed in back in April) and Thiago (who is from Brazil). Miki speaks excellent French and has helped me with a few translating problems and phone calls, and has put me in contact with – among other things – the accountant and a chimney sweep! Thiago kindly offered to help me with some of the painting – said he’d rather be occupied and kept busy! There are definitely some places I just cannot reach with a paintbrush, and I had the very project for him. And here he is, definitely occupied, and looking as happy as a sandboy…

There’s June – who has lived in the village for nearly 20 years. Her and her late husband led a very interesting life indeed – a long time farming in Zimbabwe, quite a few years sailing the world in a yacht and ending up buying and renovating a lovely house overlooking the river in Bize-Minervois! Geoffrey and Anita – who recommended the architect I am using.

I was invited to dinner by Camilla and David (Miki’s brother and sister-in-law) the other night – there were 12 people and it was a really lovely evening. It was held at Miki’s house as Camilla and David’s house had been damaged by a burst water pipe and they’re in the process of dealing with the mould problem. Their house is also in the village, but they are not yet full time residents in France.

There are also other people I’ve met from other villages – there seems to be such a lot going on. And there is so much to do here in the house. My initial fears of feeling isolated and lonely have not been realised. Of course I spend a lot of time on my own, but that’s something I expected and am finding ok – I have a lot to go on with.

So, at this very early stage of the game, my new start in France is everything I could have hoped for and I’ve not for one moment regretted my decision to move here.

Moving sideways

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