Sunday, 31 August 2008

16 August Spectacle historique

16 Aug 2008 Saturday - The big Spectacle

No sign of Madame to finalise Monday’s arrangements.

Tonight we went to the final performance of this year's annual Spectacle. The theme was historique, and the storyline was of an English scientist who has a time machine, who takes a teenage girl and her younger brother with him as he journeys to various times in the history of the local area. Nowadays you would call it kidnapping.
Next year there will be another spectacle and it may well be historique again so I will not spoil the plot should any readers decide to attend.

The theatre is a bit of a trek from the house, taking about 7 minutes on foot and is an open air affair with "amazing" high seats. Basically terraced seating on one side of a rectangular arena. A small scenery village is to our left end with the medieval castle (real) towering above it on the hillside. The rest of the space is open plan, with what looks like a freshly raked mixture of sand or gravel on the playing surface.

The photo at the top is what it looked like at 9pm as we waited for the performance to begin.

There was a cast of over 200 locals, farm animals such as cows, geese, donkeys, cart horses, horse horses. there were peasants, small girls in fairy outfits who came out into the arena from time to time to perform synchronised dancing which included rolling about on the ground. They must have given all the animals something to stop them crapping and peeing. You would not catch me rolling about on it.

The castle was used to project images relevant to the period in history being portrayed. Giant swasticas for example during the tale about the village that got wiped out by the Germans at the end of the war.

Here is a shot of some of the cast. The peasants are perhaps out of shot on the left. Three times there were firework displays set off from the castle.

There was also a variety of styles of music, from classical, to a Greek dance. I have no idea why the Greek dance was appropriate.

A special guest was an opera singer from America, who was headlining the bill. She has sold millions of CDs. She ended the show riding a horse while singing.
There were stunt riders who got dragged along the floor behind their horses. At one point the "dead" bodies of the children and peasants lay in the middle of the arena, while their victorious killers rode round and round them within a foot or so.
This show would never get off the ground in the UK due to health and safety.
In short two hours of non-stop entertainment from 10pm to midnight. So well done to everyone who risked their lives to take part.
Here is a video. I don't know if they will work, but here goes anyway. It will only stay on for a couple of weeks as the storage space on the blog is fairly small.

At the end of the performance, the cast, minus the animals, lined both sides of the exit path clapping along to the music. Well there were a lot of them

15 Aug 2008 Friday But-ing up

We turn up at the nearest “But” (pronounced boot) furniture / electrical emporium just outside the town.
We find a shop person and start showing him the things we wish to buy. It is ten minutes before closing time for lunch so he will not be able to help us until after they re-open. You can just see that happening in the UK when you try to spend approx £2k.
We return after lunch and after about 90 minutes the paperwork is completed. We drive the car round the back to take the TV and computer monitor home. The first delivery date of the following week soon becomes 26 Aug. 7 days after the rest of the furniture is due to arrive from the UK. So the three quarter sized fold down guest bed will not rescue us from sleeping on the floor after all.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

14.8.08 Thur Oranges are not the only fruitcake

I head off to the SFR/ Orange shop and wait in the queue. Eventually I am first in the queue and a sylph like blonde in her early 20’s deals with me. I struggle with the French and eventually it turns out that she speaks very good English. Brilliant!
Well not really. She pushes buttons on her computer. The screen indicates that there is a fault with my system. No, surely not?
She disappears out the back of the shop. When she returns, she wants me to bring in my livebox so that they can test it.
I walk back home and return with the box. The weather is now very hot, and I join the queue again. A different assistant hooks up my box and tests it. After 10 minutes the verdict is the the box works ok so it must be my system. I have to phone a four digit number for technical assistance. There is nothing more that they can do. I explain that as my home phone is an internet based one, that until I have internet access it will be difficult for me to phone for technical support.
Back home I phone the support number on my British mobile at megabucks a minute and it’s multiple option time in rapid French. I am in a queue. When someone comes on the line and I have explained my situation. I need to redial and choose option 1 for technical support (this is what I have already done). I thank her and redial.
I am in a queue. When a lady answers, I explain my situation again. She cannot understand me. If there is nobody there who speaks French, she is unable to help me. However she thanks me for calling orange telecom and hopes that I have a good day.
I go downstairs and ask Madame if she can assist me with Orange. She phones and speaks to someone, then speaks to someone else. The shop assistants have given me the wrong information. I require a technician to come to the house to set up my internet connection. This will cost me approx £45. I’ll take it. They can send someone out next Tuesday afternoon….. Once I have internet access sorted it will only be a further 5 days until I will have a phone service….
Madame rolls her eyes at Orange. No one uses them because they are rubbish and expensive. She is not surprised at the situation that I have found myself in.
Chatting to Madame, about various issues, she can recommend an insurance company for health, public liability and car cover. She will also accompany us on Monday next week to have a look at second hand cars.

I telephone the lady that sold us the house and she gives me the name of a plumber. She is driving but gives me an approximation of his name (as it turns out) and that it is up a road near to a “named” hotel.
We set off and wander the streets.

We find an office which appears to be open, on one of the side streets. The sign above it contains a word beginning with P, but is different to the spelling I have been given. There is a young lady sitting at a big desk towards the back of the room. I engage her in conversation. I am looking for a plumber I say I explain that the is a plumber I am look ing for looks Chinese or Vietnamese, does she know of anyone matching the description. No. After a bit of further conversation, she asks me if he is asiatique. I say yes. She does know him.
It turns out that this is his business office after all, although there is nothing visible in it to suggest any relation to plumbing. This is going to be another long haul.
After some confusion between the plafond and the plancher. (She cannot work out how my toilet can be leaking onto my ceiling, she obviously knows nothing)
Using a pen and a bit of paper, I try to explain that I want a new toilet and wash hand basin for the bathroom. She then asks me to follow her, and sets off towards a small room in the back…..
This turns out to contain the staff toilet and she explains what the various bits are called. No school doobleavay-cay for the French, just vay-cay.

Making an appointment for a devis (quote) increases in difficulty as no one wants to phone a UK mobile number, and my fixed line, isn’t.
I think that he might be coming on Monday, but I am not sure…
Once back home, I telephone her. I have to phone after Monday to arrange an appointment.

13.08.08 Le depart

Taxi arrives at 4am. We have shelled out for speedy boarding and 3kg extra baggage between us. Most of my clothing and books etc will have to be left behind for another trip. Taxi driver is very chatty and does my head in. Why would we be interested in his problem that traffic lights in Bristol at night remain active forcing him to take roundabout routes?

At the weigh-in we are probably just a smidge within our 43kg limit for hold baggage.
My hand luggage is held up at the security scan. After some time, a man comes to the desk and I have to open my small suitcase. The problem is that I have two small spanners wrapped in bubble wrap. What are they for? I think that they are to tighten the nuts on my bed. How do you explain that to airport security?
He goes away, confers, then comes back and tells me that if I try to take them onto a plane as hand luggage again, they will probably be taken off me.
“Mummy, what is that man doing out on the wing, trying to dismantle the plane with two very small spanners?” Perhaps I could have sabotaged the refreshment trolley.

Still it could have been worse. My beltless trousers could have fallen down while I was waiting at the desk.

What is Bristol Airport short of? Seats for passengers who are waiting for their flights. Someone has had a brilliant idea. Take away a quarter of the seats and instead, have a Porsche and a Audi Quattro on display and sell raffle tickets to win them at £20 a time.
Plane leaves on time and we land at Toulouse airport 20 minutes early.
Hire car is a 4 door Hyundi i diesel. The gears are really stiff.
Sat nav plugged in and we are off. The motorway traffic is very light and we arrive chez moi without incident.
Dumping off the suitcases, we head off to the supermarkets on the outskirts to buy some food and other essentials.
Of course it is 12.30pm and all but one shop is closed until 2 or 2.30pm.
We do some food shopping and hang around

Back at the ranch, Madame has found some keys. I must have dropped them in the car park when I left last time.
I have new tenants. One speaks French and English as well as whatever his native tongue is. There is another bloke sharing the studio with him. He speaks neither English or French. The notaire who manages the lets, has given him the key to my post box, fortunately he has kept my post. I choose another post box.
Further good news is the the joint between the toilet bowl and the waste pipe leaks everytime you flush. I will need a plumber.
Now to regain contact with the outside world, with the wonderful wireless internet, TV and internet telephone package that I purchased from Orange in June and which would have been activated in mid July.
I try every combination of every phone socket and power socket with the livebox and my computer and my new telephone.
2 hours later I give up and we go to bed.
Thanks to Knittingdales Removals non-participation in my moving experience for another 6 nights, we have purchases 2 thin lounger mattresses to sleep on. There was a glimmer of hope on the possibility of buying an double airbed from Leclerc on one of their flyers in the post box, so we had whizzed out again. Do you have any airbeds for sale Madame? Non.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

New beginning

Hello all
This will be the home of my new blog. Unfortunately I had to move it from its original location on the web, as my 2nd ex-wife found it and left stupid comments on the guest book.
At the moment everything is on schedule for the flight to France on the 13th August. Unfortunately, despite having giving Nothingale, my removal company a couple of months to organise delivery of my possessions. "We will organise our delivery round your requirements", I have just been told that they hope to deliver on the 19th August.
Those of you who know that an earlier attempt in June led to me sleeping on the floor for a week when they failed to deliver due to a haulage strike. I complained about this latest delay, and the manager of the company said that he would see what he could do.....