Rent  A  Traditional  Country
Farmhouse  in  South-West  France

Week 16

Day 105, Monday 14th June

renovation diary

Its market day. I start early at the house while the Boss and Spencer do some shopping. Spencer buys some different bait and  I join them later for a coffee and pain au chocolat late in the morning and we go back to the rooms for an early lunch.

In the afternoon, more floorboards by Spencer while I continue to try and resolve the plumbing leaks. By doing a joint up too tight, I managed to shear a joint, damaging both the incoming water main tap and the pressure reducer. My plumbing is about as good as England's football. Almost there and then throw it all away.

I go and water the garden in disgust, using the watering can, as I've had to turn off the water main. In the evening, we watch football while the Boss complains about nothing on the TV except football, and its not even the football season. That really is the good life.

Day 106, Tuesday 15th June

Spencer has decided to take a days rest before the start of his new job. I go to site early and do a few odd jobs while waiting for the Boss. The farmer, Fabrice, has arranged for a mobile sales van to call. I'm still not sure if you use first names as is common in the UK now, even in business, or surnames as in Italy. So I continue to use first names and if its not appropriate, hope either someone will tell me or they'll just make allowances for the quaint Anglaise.

Anyway, the sales van is a  typical transit van fitted out like Aladdin's cave. It has every tool and piece of small equipment, that might be wanted by a mechanic, electrician or even a plumber, neatly stacked on shelves along the wall. The most important is that he has some special jointing compound, that sets and does not leak. Our outside tap is on so tight, that I can't remove it to fit a bleed valve, fitted by Fabrice with this compound.

Its expensive, but I'm sure its worth it. However, having forgot my cheque book, we are scraping around for cash, and finally manage to get rid of all those 5 and 10 cent pieces that one accumulates when not too familiar with the money. I know, I can hear you saying it now, "Not too familiar with the money after all this time?" I actually know it very well, but without my glasses I can't easily separate 50's from 20's and 1's from 2's. The result is my pockets get heavier and heavier until a mobile sales van arrives.

By the time we get back to the rooms, Spencer has decided the French fish are all on a diet. They don't seem to eat sweet corn, worms, red or white maggots. So we go out to dinner, where if there's fish on the menu, we'll know someone knows the right bait.

First I call my mother who tomorrow, receives a government award in South Africa.

Day 107, Wednesday 16th June

An early start to get Spencer to the airport. Its a little further than Bergerac, but the travelling times actually a little less as its part motorway. And the motorway part is like the M25 after 10 o'clock at night.

While we're in Bordeaux we go to buy a cooker, fridge and washing machine for the rental house, and a French TV for us. We get the prices for the cooker, fridge and washing machine, and negotiate a small discount. I tell the guy we'll think about it and maybe come back after lunch. In the afternoon, its a different sales guy. So I tell him the models and ask what discount. He offers us less, so I tell him his colleague gave us more.

He was a little upset as it meant putting all the prices in again, but he got his sale. The TV department guy spoke reasonable English. Of course when you buy a TV, they report it so you get the tax bill and to do so they need lots of information.

When he asks my nationality, I say British, then think and say no, I'm European. This starts a big debate about not many Brits thinking like that. And then we get onto football. I get up and pretend to leave, and the Boss has to explain that I'm just joking; really? Of course the purchase takes ten minutes longer than it would in the UK, but that's the protocol.

On the way out, I try to explain that I won't take the TV today but will collect it with the rest of the stuff next week. A French girl behind me in the queue says in English, your French is very good. I have trouble making it through the double doors my head's so big. Perhaps on reflection, she was being sarcastic.

Not much building work done today, but what the heck?

Day 108 to 110, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 17th, 18th and 19th June

Well, we're back to being alone. The Boss does her real job in the morning and I continue fiddling with male to female ¾ to ½ adapters. Funny how all the plumbing, although not marked inches, most of the screw joints are in Imperial measurements and marked male or female. Just to confuse people like me, occasionally, a bit of pipe work will be marked 15/21.

I've also noticed that more than three quarters of the people looking at the plumbing stuff in Bricomarche, are English. They too have the same perplexed frown, as if to say, why aren't things arranged logically, or why do they mix metric and Imperial measurements? And I often have a silent chuckle when they try to explain to the assistants, exactly what it is they want. Surely my French isn't that bad; is it?

One day I'm staring at the plumbing display, wearing a T-shirt that says Stowmarket (the town we used to live in) on the front. A guy says in an accent only Suffolk people will understand, "Rrrr you a Stowmarket bouyeee then?" He's from Hadleigh, 20 miles from our old home and is just as confused by Brico's plumbing display as I am. However, his wife is in charge so he doesn't spend too much time talking.

Anyway, having gotten behind with the diary and not taken many pictures, I can't really remember what we did for the past few days. So instead, I've decided to show you the changing view we've had.

beautiful views views over open fields sunflower fields

Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

Day 111, Sunday 20th June

Its fathers day. I get a card that looks like the front of a DIY magazine. The picture says it all (or it will when I get my scanner out).

And so to week 17