Sunday, 30 November 2008

27.11.2008 Thursday – Pas de pub

The day dawns bright and sunny with a clear blue, cloudless sky. Whereas, I don’t.
At around half 10 in the morning, I lever myself out of bed and start the washing machine. This could be the last good drying day for a while.
By half 12 I have pegged a load out in the sunshine and checked my post box. Once again the people have thrust the pub (short for publicite i.e. booklets, single sheets, small free newspapers i.e advertising that we have thrust upon us here in France, every week without fail.

You see the hopeful hand written notices taped to post boxes everywhere “pas de pub” they say. This is supposed to stop the posters from filling their post boxes with the deluge of special offers, papers, etc from the various big stores such as Bricomarche, Conforama, Lidl etc. I do not know if this approach works as I look forward to receiving it and looking through it for special bargain offers. Only one newspaper in today’s haul though.
This is a typical week’s worth.

As I bring in the washing a man crosses the road to ask me a question. Yet again it is someone looking for the medecin pedagagogique or some such. I tell him that is that building there and that there is parking. There is no sign, he tells me, Yes I know, I say.
He returns to his car as madam comes huffing down the steps in her pink pyjama style leggings and tee shirt. What is he looking for? She asks. I tell her and explain what I have told him. I am correct she says.
I tell her about the forthcoming crack filling and painting, and she invites me in to her apartment for a coffee. I explain that I have a cold or flu. It does not matter, she says.
I take my washing up and then return down the stairs to her apartment.
Her 12 year old, hugely hairy cat, with its face fur all matted, stalks around on the table top Yuck! She goes to fetch her other cat, an abandoned one which was a kitten last time I saw it. It is no longer small.
She did not notice that S had been to stay and I explain that we had been sorting out my flat. I take her upstairs for a look around. Her face is impassive, so it is impossible to tell what she is thinking.
Not having anticipated a visitor today, all the publicity is still all spread out on the floor, just as in the photo above. “Ah, this is exactly what I do” she says, “I spread mine out on the floor too” How much more French can I get?

After she has gone I reflect on how difficult I found finding French words to say was today. My brain is numb. Tomorrow a doctor’s visit?
In the words of Zebedee from "The magic roundabout" ""Time for bed""

Saturday, 29 November 2008

26 November 2008 – Wednesday – peage-u-go

A dreadful night’s sleep. I wake up with my left eye glued shut with gunk. S tells me I have a black eye. I tell her it is just stuck. I have switched from hot to cold and also had earache all night in both ears. All these are things that I have never had before with a cold or flu.
Illness in France can be so special. I expect it is called Grippe d’homme (manflu). i.e. all in my imagination.
Still I am driving S back to Toulouse airport this morning, so I need both eyes and ears that don’t throb when I move my head.
Thank goodness for showers and ibuprophen. What did people do before over the counter drugs?
I am reasonably confident regarding my outward journey thanks to satnav, and having been on the trip only a few weeks ago I remember a bit near the Toulouse Hippodrome when I must keep left and then left. (Unfortunately after that bit it has become a blank, with many unremembered lane changes required) and it is a good job S is there to help me navigate.

All goes well until I reach the peage (toll) lanes at the Toulouse end.
We have prepared the right coinage to give to an attendant or to feed into the slot. I am in a bay which has no human or coin slot. There is a slot alongside the ticket in, slot which says carte. Does this mean you can put a credit card in? There is no numeric pad. There is a button that you can press to call for assistance. Tempting as it is to use it, it is red in colour and I have visions of an irate, sarcastic. tinny voice speaking very fast, incomprehensible French. Would “je suis malade” cover it?
Oh well, it’s only my carte bancaire, I undo my seatbelt to fish my wallet out of my trouser pocket. Stick it in the carte slot. I spits it back out, thanks me and the barrier opens. Thank goodness for that.

After the quiet roads and autoroute the Toulouse ring road is a joy, with people jockeying for position to use the bit of road that you are on.
We arrive in one piece and I leave S in the departures lounge Easyjet queue.
If that was the easy part of my journey, Lord knows what the trip back will be like.
Fortunately the little Toulousians must have reached home and be having lunch, as the road is much less busy.
I make it back home in 1 hour ten minutes, without any wrong turnings.
The sun even comes out as I approach the snow covered Pyrenees.
S texts me at about 7.30pm French time to say she has arrived back at home in the UK. When I speak to her later on the phone, she is coughing and has a splitting headache. Sounds as though she has taken my flu back with her.
I cook a pizza for tea but cannot taste it. I leave it half eaten, or should that be half uneaten?
Time for an early night. Choir practice tonight is just not an option. Hopefully I will be well enough to attend the special, compulsory whole day practice near the town on Sunday. I know the village name, but I do not know the location of the practice as, as ever, it is assumed that everyone knows the arrangements.
I listen to part 3 of the Labyrinth audio book, but as I drift in and out of consciousness, I am missing chunks of the plot so I switch it off and cough and sweat through the rest of the night. Ah the glamour of foreign living!
The flat is very quiet now that S has gone and I will have to readjust myself to the lifestyle of Rigsby, hermit.

Friday, 28 November 2008

25 November 2008 Tuesday – Closet Clog

Snow settles on roofs of the houses opposite and is visible on the hills that I can see from the windows of the flat.
I am feeling rough so I am glad that I paid extra for the wardrobe to be delivered and built on site for me.
As the day progresses it starts to snow properly (i.e in a continuous downward direction with real visible flakes). This is something that the Fuxiens told me rarely happens in their town.

Once the wardrobe has been built and in position. We quickly fill it with clothes etc.
I am now knackered so I go to bed for a couple of hours, to try and get some sleep time back. If I lie down during the day I experience minimal coughing, but at night I become an automatic cough machine,
S puts in her earplugs.
Writing a blog when half your brain is on holiday and you are coughing and knackered is difficult. It becomes a clog.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

24 November 2008 Monday – Portuguese evening

The rain stops for a while at 10.30am after hammering down on the roof for most of the night. It was windy again too.
The Portuguese painter is due this evening so we do not have to wait in.
We go to Casa first, where, amongst other things, I buy an essential oyster opener, which comes complete with a small V shaped wooden board to hold the oyster and protect you from stabbing yourself in the holding hand.
I have not had an oyster since our holiday in Albi in March this year, but now I can buy some if I feel like it.
Next stop was Intermarche for food supplies.
When we came out of CASA it is sleeting but by the time we get home the sun is shining.
S bought me two table top candelabras which prove difficult to keep the candles in place as the holders are at wonky angles.
At two o’clock a small white van parks in my parking area. It is of course the painter, who is due this evening or soir as the French called it. I will have to revise my timescale bracketing.
We measure the front and side of the building so that he can prepare an estimate for the work. I should hear from him in 8 to 10 days, or perhaps he will start the work in 8 to 10 days, or perhaps this means that he will start tomorrow. Who knows.
Unlike the builders implied, he speaks perfect French, having lived in France for the last 42 of his 44 years! Naughty builders!

Shortly after he leaves the rain is hammering down again.

At around 5pm the builders arrive, they are expecting to meet up with the painter to view the walls together. It is not just me who does not know when evening begins.
We go on a tour of the non-working ventilation systems in the studios. I also explain that the fuse board on the bedroom corridor wall makes multiple loud clicking noises at random intervals all night.
The ground floor studio needs the bathroom floor tiling, the damp wood paneling removed and made good (depending upon what they find). The feeling is that that part of the building might be under the level of next door’s garden. (Does anyone want to buy a French building?)
I explain to the builders that the painter will fill in the cracks soonish, and return to paint the side wall with plastic paint from the roof to approx 1 meter above the ground level, which will be painted with normal masonry paint. The front elevation will be painted with masonry paint also.
The young builder will return later this week to disassemble the ventilation housing outside my flat. This works 24/7 and is rather noisy but it works and should be driving all the other vents in the building.
At least the side of the house to be painted with plastic does not catch the sun, so my house should not melt during the summer months…..

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

23 November 2008 Sunday - Blogsville

The sun shines for a while this afternoon. I am still sorting out belongings into storage. Today it is rearranging a bookcase and a small buffet unit in the bedroom, then stacking photos and negatives into the buffet cupboards.
I discover that I have a couple of undeveloped rolls of XP1 film from the late 1980’s and a packet which seems to contain the necessary chemicals to process the film into negatives. I have no idea what is on the films. I wonder how many years it will take me to get round to it? Will the chemicals still work?
The flat is now as tidy as it is ever going to be.
All that remains is clothing and some linen and towels to be housed in the wardrobe which should arrive on Tuesday morning next week.
I don’t read many blogs although I do follow about 6 unofficially. I am not at all sure about the reports of some bloggers being instructed to list a certain number of favourite e.g. albums, blogs etc. It smacks a bit of bullying to me.
I am also unsure about what all the “rewards” are about. Do bloggers blog in order to collect kudos? Or do some bloggers have kudos thrust upon them? I don't know enough about blog land, but I thought I would just stick my thoughts down. Feel free to tell me what it is all about.
I have followed Wreckless Eric’s activities online for many years. Way back when he had a yahoo group. I don’t know whether it still exists. He writes so seldom though that I don’t feel that I can officially follow it. Since he got wed to Amy Rigby (not a Rigsby unfortunately) I have read her blog too. I know they have been touring hard, but her blog output is also small. Still though what they do output is small it is of course perfectly formed.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

22 November 2008 Saturday – Cold beginnings

During a break in the rain, we walk into town to buy some bread. The streets are deserted as usual.
Here is a photo that I took yesterday looking along the River L’Ariege yesterday. Looking towards the nearest snowy mountain.

We also passed a garden which had a leafless tree in it, but which was laden with orange fruit. It was too far away to see if the fruit was oranges or Kuku (Sharon) fruit.

Back at the ranch tidying up stuff continued apace.
I have had a sore throat since after Monday’s extra choir practice, this is now developing nicely into a cold again. I think choir must be a really unhealthy place to go. All that shaking hands, bisses, the coughing, sneezing, it must be a virus hotspot.
Fortunately S brought 20 flu strength Lem-sips over with her for me. I didn’t think that I would need them this soon though.

Monday, 24 November 2008

21 November 2008 Friday – New boots but no panties - 100 not out

The sun peeps out again. The forecast says that it is raining.
It is market day again, so we trawl round the stalls once again, looking for bargains. On one of the jumble stalls, S spots a brown, soft leather jacket for only 5 euros, tries it on on buys it after getting a passing American tourist to model it for us as the stall had no mirror.

There is not a mark on the jacket, nor on the lining. No visible wear and tear at all.
Despite advice from a fellow blogger re the 30 euro fleece lined bootees, I buy some fleece lined slippers for 7 euros. Just think I could buy 4 pairs and still have change out of 30 euros. I was not brought up in Scotland without learning a thing or two about value for money :-)

The market has so few customers, it amazes me that the stall holders bother to come every week.
Returning to my maison, we tackle the tiny back bedroom and get that almost straightened out. We then hang a curtain over one of the two doors into the flat to keep some of the draught out. We use the other door for coming in and out as it can be locked from outside. Brilliant thinking if I do say so myself.

This is my 100th post on this blog, so here is / are some philosophical bollocks to deliberate over.

I used to spend hours / days in the darkroom from 2nd year at University right up until the late 1990’s. I brought one of my two enlargers to France with me (one that I had never used) and threw out the other one. I also brought my developing trays, photographic paper, focusing scope, film developing tank etc etc. Well you never know when you might take up a hobby again.
Damn (useful) digital cameras!
Unfortunately I will not be able to suck the air out of these items to make them smaller for storage.
Likewise I used to practice Iaido and Jodo in the late 80’s to mid nineties. So I have swords, bokken, jos, hakama and gi’s etc. Will I ever take these martial arts up again?
I very much doubt it. I even got a British Kendo coaching award, ran a dojo with a friend and taught these arts one night per week. I have forgotten it all. Was it a waste of X years? I like to think of it as character building. I met some very interesting people as a result, both from Europe and from Japan.
Downside, I also had an ache in my right shoulder for many years which made it very difficult to get to sleep.
How many of us hang on to stuff that may be useful one day, or stuff that we know will never be useful or used again?
Do for example, people who like me have sold up in our country of birth, take everything, or do they leave it all behind them to start afresh?
I also have many thousands of photos, slides, negatives to house. I could not leave those behind. They are historical documents. Are they? Of use to whom?
What happens when the owners of photos die? Unless you happen to have been Cartier Bresson or some such, I suspect they just get put in the rubbish bin.
Who else would be interested in someone else’s photographic memories. Just who are those people, where are those places?
Welcome to my fourth follower. She is from Australia so will be used to the laid back, good life….

Sunday, 23 November 2008

20 November 2008 Thursday – the power of the f-email

Sun is still shining (it did stop shining over us overnight) so it is washing time again.
Some of you will be saying “but what about the storage situation?”
Okay then, if you insist.
Well we unwrapped the storage bag that we bought earlier in the week.
It looks easy on the television. You put clothes and bedding into the bag, seal it then suck the air out with a vacuum cleaner….
First attempt

From to an unsatisfactory

Second attempt with some items removed.

Et voila!

This morning I sent an email to my French builder to find out when they are coming back to fill in the cracks on my outside house walls.
We are walking round town when my mobile rings. It is the builder's wife. My mobile screen says so.
We have the usual opening conversation.
Her - Hello, how are you?
Me - Very well how are you?
Her – Do you know who you are talking to
Me - Yes
Her – It is MC your builder’s wife
Me – Yes I know
Her – How do you know?
Me – I recognize your voice and my phone says it is you…
All this is in French and she tells me she has sent me an email to answer my email, but that she is phoning me to tell me that she has sent me an email. The email will be easier for me to understand than her talking to me on the phone. She tells me what is in the email. Is she talking too fast for me?
Yes, a bit I say.
So she speeds up.
Cars are whizzing past me, so even carrying on a conversation in English would not be easy with all the surrounding noise.
After about 10 minutes we say our goodbyes. I know that the Portuguese painter is coming to see me next Monday evening to discuss my crack filling and painting requirements. The builder continues to look for a solution to my ventilation and dampness problems but is baffled at the moment. He has not forgotten me.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

19 November 2008 Wednesday – Play that again Punk!

Happy birthday sister number two!
The rain is back. It rained all night and is still raining at 10.45am as I start this day’s blog.
Madam’s pile of rubbish remains uncollected in the bin and leaning against the front wall. The garden waste collection and the extra recycling collection have passed it by.
Tonight we put out the household waste for collection, if we can find any space left in the bin.
Due to the success of my recent storage solution DIY I add a small shelf to
The sun shines so we walk into town before it can change its mind.
Currently I am reading another James Hadley Chase book in the French, the wall under my new storage platform. listening to Labyrinth (Audible book) and I am rediscovering my vinyl collection, currently Elvis Costello (about 8 discs). His earlier stuff was by far the best in my opinion. Much of the later output sounds too much alike. His earlier lyrics were much cleverer as well.
I am not doing this all at the same time though.
What I should be doing is learning French grammar, verbs etc etc.
Cooking a Mexican meal for ten people I am not. My little kitchen has just room for one person at a time in it and a chopping board sized worktop, which also houses the kettle, in use mugs etc.

Friday, 21 November 2008

18 November 2008 Tuesday – Back to BUT

The various items of furniture continue to jockey for position in the main bedroom. Shelves are unloaded, items moved, reloaded and eventually the final locations are agreed upon. S thinks that the 6 shelf bookcase that I have ordered from BUT will be much too big, as only 2 and a bit shelves of books remain to be housed.
First stop is therefore BUT where due to them having a new computer system which the lady does not understand, she is unable to delete the bookcase part of my order, substitute a smaller bookcase and refund me the difference.
Half an hour later I get new paperwork. She had managed to cancel my whole order and it had to be done again.
I look at the amount of credit on my paperwork and wonder why it is over 30 euros too much. S says perhaps the charge for building the wardrobe has been omitted. I check the paperwork and it says that I will be building the wardrobe myself. Sigh! I go back into the store. I explain. Original paperwork is checked. I am sent round the back of the store to collect the small bookcase while paperwork is redone.
Once the new paperwork arrives, we set off to Pamiers to the huge Leclerc store to buy provisions.
Still in space saving mode, I buy a bag which you put clothes etc into and such the air out of with a vacuum cleaner. Then you do up the straps to stop it popping back to full volume again (like the ones I had many years ago, used to do).
I also buy 2 shelf brackets to put single width storage shelf under my new storage platform.
Part of the afternoon is spent building and loading up the small bookcase. It does not take long at all. Perhaps I have found my metier after all…

As there is still some daylight left, the DIY or Bricolage as we like to call it here in France, continues. I put up a rail and curtain to hide my new storage platform from view.

View standing up by bed

Lucky person's viewpoint

Thursday, 20 November 2008

17 November 2008 Monday – Thunderbirds and storage

We are drinking our mid morning coffee and have been watching my Duplex tenant and her friend clearing her patio area of all the crap that it seems to have accumulated. The bin is now full so where we and my other tenant are going to put our rubbish is a mystery. The bin will not be collected until 4am Thursday morning.
Next we watch as a car mechanic, Madam’s female friend a woman and two children mess about with a car which is parked across a driveway across the road. Various people sit in the driving seat and the others stand at the front of the car and appear to push. We can see the front left wheel spinning round furiously. S thinks the car has broken down, I say that there is probably a low wall there and she has driven a wheel over it and got stuck.
About 10 minutes later my door buzzer goes. I take my coffee down the 2 flights of stairs to see who it is. Madame explains that a car has got stuck as the lady has driven over the wall.
She has also buzzed Daveed and we go across, lift the correct front side of the car (not the silly side that they had been lifting) and in seconds the car is back on the level. The lady thanks us and we return home to Tracey Island.

I assemble the tools and wood ready to build a raised storage facility (shelf platform) in the utility alcove located in the main bedroom and work on the construction project goes remarkably smoothly, a statement which anyone who knows me, or has seen my DIY making things efforts, will find hard to believe.
So now I can get some more of my “useful one day” items off the floor.
Extra choir practice tonight and for once it is not raining. I get a lift part of the way home, from my new “best friend” Jeanette.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

16 November 2008 Sunday – l’aperitif

Another sunny day. We have not seen the new tenant’s parents for about three days now, so they must have finally gone home.
He did his own washing and hung it out on the line yesterday.
Although it is sunny outside, we find it difficult to get out of bed and it is not until after 11am that we finally plant our feet on the lino.
We decide to have our main meal at lunchtime today so while I sweep and wash the staircase, S makes the chicken stew.
We stay in and continue getting the flat into shape.
In the evening we set off to Rene and Jeanette’s house for our aperitif visit.
We walk up the lane past the sleeping pigeon safe in their wooden barn. When I ask Rene about them, he tells me that their owner collects them. They are special pigeons and are not for eating or for racing. They stay in their barn all the time. The collector or breeder has no idea how many pigeons he has.
We go through the side gate which has been left open for us, at about 6pm and are greeted with bises etc at the door.
We are led into a sitting / dining room which has a roaring log fire. So this is what warm heating feels like. At the flat, we average between 61 and 63 degrees Farenheight. I have not had a heating bill yet, and when one comes it will probably be big… so I am trying to minimise my expenditure in the electrical department as much as possible.
Back to the story:
Various whiskeys, Martini and some liqueurs are produced along with some Pringles, nuts, small crackers with sausage on etc.
S being a whisky fan opts for Glenmorangie, I decide to try the Aveze, which is a liqueur made from yellow Gentian, and which our hosts describe as special.
Here is what I found out about Aveze later on the Internet:
Gentian roots from the
Auvergne region of France are the basis for Gentiane, an apéritif (liqueur). L´Avèze, created in 1929 in Auvergne

• AVÈZE Avèze est la seule boisson à base de gentiane obtenue par macération prolongée (9 mois) des racines fraîches broyées dans un mélange d'eau et d'alcool.Elle est fabriquée exclusivement à partir de racines de gentiane prélevées manuellement, comme le veut la tradition, sur le territoire du Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne.Pour assurer le meilleur renouvellement de la plante, un délai de 15 ans est respecté entre deux arrachages sur la même parcelle.Ainsi, l'Avèze est la première liqueur de gentiane à avoir obtenu la marque "Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne". Elle est fabriquée à Riom-ès-Montagnes (Cantal) depuis 1929.

We talked about the choir, their family, all sorts of things. The conversation was mostly in French. Jeanette may have a Scottish name, but despite going to English lessons in France for 7 years, cannot speak it.
We understand most of it and I don’t think we said the wrong thing while we were there.
The door chimes went and a young, pregnant neighbour arrived. She is expecting a baby in December, and teaches Spanish.
Conversation then speeded up and covered people giving birth in shepherd’s huts which had no electricity or running water, the right kind of sheep dog (I think that the white ones might be the best but I am not sure) etc.
Strangely not topics regularly aired back in the UK I suspect.
We had a second drink, the neighbour left and approx 2 hours after our arrival, we left too. We found out that Rene is 86, but he does not look it.

So we had an enjoyable first French house-visiting aperitif.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

15 November 2008 Saturday -

Sunny day with blue sky again. I complete putting the microwave cupboard / drawer unit together and it is duly located under the printer adjacent to the computer.
The sun is still shining and we walk into town in the afternoon. Some more small purchases are made in the curtain hanging department and a small cyclamen bought to take as a gift when we go to Rene and Jeanette’s house tomorrow evening. We researched what to do when invited to have an aperitif at someone’s house and hope that we are on the right wavelength.
It seems that you stay for two drinks then leave your hosts to enjoy the rest of their evening.
It will be interesting to see how this compares with the reality of what takes place.

Monday, 17 November 2008

14 November 2008 Friday – Kicking BUT

Sun comes out to play so its washing machine on and decorate the clothes line with des vetements before heading into the market and Casino. We have clear blue sky and in the sunshine it is 9 degrees.
Many of the market stalls are missing this week, but the suede booties lined with sheepskin are back. My size would cost 30 euros. I will have to think about that.
Next month there will be a Chrismas market lasting over several days.
I finally give up on my quest for HP brown sauce and we visit the British shop where I purchase a bottle for use with any fried egg sandwiches that I might make in future. S buys some crystallised ginger preserve. Yuck!
We visit BUT and I order what I hope will be the last of my furniture. A wardrobe, a bookcase, a DVD stand and a microwave cupboard / drawer unit on wheels for the printer. I take the last two items home in the car. The bookcase is out of stock and may, or may not arrive in over a weeks time when my wardrobe will be delivered and assembled by the BUTmen.
The evening is spent starting to assemble the microwave unit. This is tricky as once again the instructions are vague and some hours later we call it a jour with the outer shell assembled and the wheels on.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

13 November 2008 Thursday – Worlds still turning, for now

Up at 8.15am just in case the builders turn up. Rain beats down, pausing occasionally for breath before returning with renewed vigour.

It poured most of the night, and it continues to tip it down for most of the day. It is not worth going out and getting cold and wet, so we stay in and rearrange more things. I have sooo much useful stuff that I may need one day.
It is a tricky business trying to fit the contents of a 100m square house plus attic plus garage into about 45 square meters of flat.
I continue reading my James Hadley Chase novel “Tu me suivras dans la tombe”, French version of course.
The builders do not turn up, and I have visions of Daveed’s belongings floating out of his window as the rain falls steadily.
Hopefully it will be the wrong sort of rain… I wonder if they get the wrong sort of leaves on railway tracks over here? They recently detained about 10 people for sabotaging the National Railway system.
The paper reports that two people who are suspected members of the Basque Group ETA have been detained down the road at Tarrascon.
The pound is now at its lowest point ever against the Euro, and continues to drop further.
There is a lot of doom and gloom out there. Finding a job in France in the New Year could be tough. I could start a business, but as I have no idea what business to start and have never run a business before, it could be difficult.
What goods or service do the French require? There are lots of empty shop units in Foix. Most of the small shops, with the exception of the bakeries and the pharmacies seem devoid of customers whenever I pass by.
Perhaps the lookouts cry

<<>> and they dive for cover behind counters and display stands?
Unemployment is high in this rural area of France, and the BBC reports that France narrowly missed going into recession last quarter.
I have been told that if you do start a business, you have to estimate your level of business for the first 3 years and pay the tax people 3 years tax up
front based on that.
An email arrives from a choir member. It is a link to watch a trailer for a new film about the problems that our current lifestyle is causing for the planet. For example the use of pesticides instead of eating only organic produce. This is the first time in history when the health of the children is worse than the health enjoyed by the parents. This is the text of his email. With the link to the clip below it. I recommend you watch it as Olivier suggests. Feel free to pass on the link to others to raise awareness.

<<Pour que ce film qui dénonce les méfaits de la mauvaise alimentation et des pesticides, réalisé par un français, soit visible le plus longtemps possible lors de sa sortie en salle, il faut qu'un maximum de personnes regarde la bande-annonce dans les 3 jours à venir. Regardez surtout le début, la conférence à Paris lorsque les gens lèvent la main. Très fort !

Faites passer, c'est sérieux. Même si vous ne visionnez pas complètement, c'est le nombre de visites dans les 3 jours qui fera son poids... Le voir est encore mieux.>>

Saturday, 15 November 2008

12 November 2008 Wednesday – rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic

Rain holds off until we return from our trip to Intermarche and Bricomarche. Whisps of clouds hang round the hills at various heights as often seems to be the case in these parts.
The rest of the day is spent moving more of my belongings up to the flat from the ground floor studio.
Next job is rearranging the living room. I now have a small office in an alcove, the dining area remains the same, but my dresser is now half way along a wall and my cubes define the living / lounge area.
The cubes now hide the hole in the lino.
Steak for tea with mashed (fishy tasting) potato and mushrooms (not fishy tasting).
The plastic sheeting that I pinned onto the wall, and which I did not pin down at the bottom edges, gets sucked into the oven a bit, when I check on the potato some time later. It shrivels up in the heat. Goody!
This is the first time that I have fried anything other than eggs on my cooker and the house stinks of cooked meat. Still the meat is tasty.
Rain is still falling when I leave for choir.
Dressed in my walking boots and waterproofs as per last week. Numbers are well down this week. When the “boys” split from the “girls” we do have a room with light and a working piano. Hooray! But progress is slow. I don’t think many have done their listening homework.
I splosh home in light rain and unable to wind down as usual after choir, I listen to the rain thudding onto the roof above my head for most of the night.
If the rain doesn’t stop, the builders will probably not appear tomorrow.

I note that I have got my third blog follower, so welcome to “Je ne regrette rien” (see list of blogs that I follow). This American lady has been living in France for slightly longer than me and seems to be of an artistic bent.
No doubt she will correct me if I am wrong :-)

Friday, 14 November 2008

11 November 2008 Tuesday – Armistice Day

A grey Armistice Day but mid morning we set off on a walk into Foix. Only the bread shops and Casino seem to be open today, but we wander around. The usual crowd of “homeless” with their dogs adorn the steps of the main post office and one sits on the pavement with his dog, cap out in front of him with a few coins in it.
There are queues at the tills of the Casino, and at the bread shop adjacent to it. We climb the two flights of stairs to the Bazaar and I splash out on a bit of plastic sheeting to protect the wall next to the kitchen from oil splashes, and a frying pan spatter guard.

The town is fairly deserted. A few elderly ladies are coming out of the Abbey and any memorial service that may have taken place at the war memorial has disbanded. The local newspaper has been asking the question, where are all the names of all the heroic women on the nation’s war memorials? There are less than three in our area of the South West.
Bread is bought from a boulangerie in the old town, but not from my usual shop, as through their window I can see that their bread baskets are empty.
On the way back we take a detour along the road which runs one garden away from my house. We pass some big houses and a primary school and then we are in the countryside. A field with three donkeys, a house with a big shed for his pigeons and some big black and white birds. Rather pongy. A few hundred meters before the road becomes single track and disappears round a bend we find Rene’s house. The man that I met on the choir’s autumn walk. It is set back from the road in a dip. Big gates then a long driveway to the parking area, then the large house. Big lawn too. From this area of Foix the castle is clearly visible.
We return home.Later that evening I receive an email from Rene and his wife. It has an attachment which turns out to be a photo slide show of millionaire’s houses in Canada. They are built on little islands and can only be reached if you have a boat. There is also an invitation to visit them sometime. Perhaps they spotted us in their road this morning?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

10 November 2008 Monday - BUT and boots

Sunny day today. Workmen arrive to inspect the water penetration problem.
There is a network of cracks on the front and side of the building that have been badly filled in by some numpty using clear silicone at some time. As well as leaving gaps in their handywork, the network of cracks has expanded and from the neighbouring garden these are clearly visible.
The builders have to go, but will return in the afternoon to inspect the roof.

In the afternoon the builder climbs up on the roof to check some evident repair work that has been carried out some time in the past to the edge of the roof. No problem there. There are a couple of solutions. Mr Builder can return on Thursday to fill in cracks as a temporary measure. Tomorrow is Armistice day so they will not be working, and Wednesday they are away.
The lasting solution is to have the offending outer walls of the building repainted with suitable paint, which they cannot do. I ask if they can recommend anyone, and they decide upon a painter who is Portuguese..
The sun is still shining so we set off to BUT to see if there are any new bargains or storage solutions since S’s last visit. There aren’t.
Next stop was the Halle Chaussures (big shoe shop) where S finds a pair of black below knee boots on sale for 15 euros. The car thermometer reads 24 degrees C so it is rather warm driving back home.
The new tenant, or rather his mum, has been busy today doing the washing, and all of the lines are filled. Yes, his parents are still here.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

9 November 2008 Sunday – Airport

Another sunny day today, but I do not go to day 2 of the open air antiques market which is being held in town.
I get down to a bit of dusting and cleaning. Not that the place is not nearly spotless already.
Thinking about my tenant’s damp walls during the night, the only thing that I can think of is that perhaps it is condensation. After all there are three adults sleeping in a room designed for one person. That’s 3 showers instead of one, 3 meals instead of 1, 3 people breathing in and out instead of one.
Lord knows what can be done about that.
If it was a rain problem my apartment wall and the ground floor studio wall would be wet too.
I set off for the airport and follow my sat-nav and the road signs. I succeed in reaching my destination but with about 15 km to go, a car overtaking me honks his horn and his passenger points to the rear wheel on my side of the car.
I park in car park 0, which is free for the first 30 minutes. It is very busy as the Bristol flight has landed early. I look at my tyre and it is completely flat. I have been lucky to get here.
I have my pump in the boot, so I connect it up and start pumping as fast as my legs will go.
By the time I have suitable inflation, I am as warm as toast in my tee-shirt, shirt, and fleece.
I meet S in arrivals and we head back to the car.
I drive at a slower speed than I did on my outward journey. I check the tyre once we reach home and it is still inflated.
As we drive, we can see the Pyrenees mountains getting bigger and bigger. The front range is the most visible, with the ranges behind getting successively fainter, Are they mountains or cloud shapes?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

8 November 2008 Saturday – spots of bother

Up early and drove into the fog to get some shopping in. When I emerged, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Despite the heavy rain, there is still snow visible on some of the surrounding hills.
Then washing machine was pressed into service and clothes hung out to dry.
Late afternoon I was bringing the washing in, when Daveed met me on the stairs.
Did I have a leak in my apartment? No I said, show me. I go into his studio and the wall is wet in places.

We go upstairs and check my walls then down to the studio below him and check that wall too.
No visible problems. I pour water into the guttering and he waits below to see if it comes out of the drainpipe at the bottom of the house wall. It does, so there is no blockage. I go into the garden of the property next door. The wall outside where he has the damp patches looks okay.
We go back into the house. Would I like some spiced cake? He asks. I am now the owner of some nutty gingerbread cake.
I send an email with a couple of photos of the problem to my builders asking them if they can come and look into the problem. Perhaps this will winkle them out from their hiding place…
The rest of the day is spent tagging the slides on the computer, then backing up files onto CDs and DVDs.
I also email my embarassing dampness problem to my builders.

S arrives tomorrow, and I have a small bit of tidying up to do before I set off to the Toulouse Blagnac airport to collect her. It can wait until tomorrow though.

Monday, 10 November 2008

7 November 2008 Friday – Political correctness and crap management

Daveed’s parents seem to have spent the night with him again. I see them heading off in the direction of town with empty shopping bags.
I carry on scanning slides into the computer and listen to Mr Archer’s “Prisoner of Birth” on my MP3 player whilst I work.
I am not a J.A. fan, and the story is just too far fetched for words, but if you suspend your disbelief at the impossibility of it all, it is a good listen.

Late afternoon the tenant’s car leave. Hooray! I go out and turn my car round so that I can drive nose first onto the road tomorrow morning when I go shopping.
In the evening, S, HB and I have a Skype conference. This disables using the web cams and it is difficult to know when there will be a gap to speak. You can have up to 24 people in a conference at the same time, but that would be very difficult to manage.
I get a brief email from Ex-libris, my new blog follower. She is going to Britany for a holiday. I hope the weather gets better soon.
I keep an eye on the British news. The latest stupidity is from the councils who have banned their staff from using any Latin phrases. Just when I was not getting used to “baa baa rainbow sheep”, and Noddy and Big Ears not sleeping together any more. Next step will be to burn all the books with words longer than two syllables, and of course all the paintings whose content is not crystal clear to the viewer, same for sculpture too. We can keep that Emin bird’s bird sculpture in Liverpool though as it looks just like a real bird. Now that’s what real Council’s call art!
Perhaps the F***w**s in Weston will keep the burnt Grand Pier as it is, call it art and change its name to “Unfinished Pier” and charge an entrance fee to look at it.
Damn they think of everything!
In France they appear to respect authors and artists, and value their contribution to society.
It was S’s last working day today. It never ceases to amaze and disappoint me that all of the management that I have ever been within earshot of is so piss poor.
The real tragedy of it is, that lacking the knowledge, skills in management and social skills, they seal themselves into a little safety bubble and ignore what is going on in that nasty world around them. I suspect that they do not realise how useless they are and the demoralising effect that they have on their staff and on to the service that management should be providing.
They may talk the talk, but they do not have the least idea what it all really means.
They should be constantly reviewing their own performance, seeking honest opinions about their performance from below and above, and then doing something to improve themselves. Heaven forbid that they should set an honourable, hard working caring example for their staff to follow.
Leader? ship? Titanic more like. They will not change, because if they should by some chance ask themselves the question, they think they are doing a good job. Nope the thought would not arise in the first place.
Please get a grip ladies and gentlemen and stop being so self centred, ignorant, small minded, technologically ignorant, rude and lazy as you coast towards your pensions or your promotions. Yes this applies to you. Be open to new ideas, listen, and do not just pay lip service to your staff and customers. Get off your arses, out of your offices, out of your comfort zones and tackle the difficult things.
Don’t just appoint useless clones who have no management experience to management positions, where they can only have a negative and demoralising effect on those that they manage.
Make sure that they have a proven track record. Speak to those who have been “managed” by them.
If you are not prepared to manage, ship out and let the people who are capable of managing make the difference. Life can be hard enough without being managed by a bunch of headless chickens.
What? You’re late for your lunch appointment? Oh well you had better go then.
Rant over….

Any similarities to persons "alive" or deceased in the above rant is entirely unintentional and coincidental....

Sunday, 9 November 2008

6 November 2008 Thursday – Splish, splosh

It has rained all night and continues to rain until midday. I sort out 15 packets of photographic slides that were in my metal camera case. These range from 1996 to 1995.
I figure out how to scan them in with my scanner and begin the long, slow process.
At around 3pm I put on my walking boots and anorak (are rain coats still called anoraks?) and head into town to buy a couple of birthday cards from the English shop.
It is spitting with rain as I set off and when I come to the first bridge over the riber, I take some photos and video of the water, the level of which is much higher than it has been since I was here in June this year.
Here is what it looked like a few weeks ago.

And here is the situation now.

We are lucky as many parts of France have been flooded. The television shows cows swimming, houses flooded, cars and businesses under water.
I reach the English shop “Simply British” and although the lights are on, there is no one at home.
There is however a sign on the door stating that the owner is a short distance up the road at her friends’ restaurant and to come and get her if you want something from the shop.
I wander around a bit and return to the shop. It is still locked so I go up the road to the restaurant and find the owner.
We walk back to the shop and there is a lady and child waiting at the door.
The lady is served and I start looking through two of the baskets of cards.
It turns out that the owner was just about to have lunch with her friends, so I carry the two baskets of cards up to the small restaurant and sit at a table choosing my cards, while she has her lunch and a coffee.
I don’t have the right money, so I write one of my cards while I am waiting, then once she is finished, we head back to the shop.
On my way back home I post the card and I get home before the rain starts falling once again.
Daveed’s father’s car has appeared in the parking area again, and the white van which was there all day has disappeared.
It would be interesting to find out what is going on. Will the car still be there tomorrow?
I resume scanning in slides and by the time I go to bed I am just over half way through. Tomorrow I hope to finish the scanning, then there will be the filing, naming, tagging……

Saturday, 8 November 2008

5 November 2008 Wednesday – Calendar

Finally a brief gap in the rain and I drive over to the Intermarche. As I will need to come again on Saturday to top up supplies for S’s visit, I decide to try out the rich variety of tinned meals on offer.
At the checkout I let a man with one small item go ahead of me. Mistake as he pays using his bank card, which for some reason takes ages. The young lady at the till is remarkably chatty and says that it is raining. Not yet, I reply.
In the background I am aware of a young baby screaming. Il chante, she says smiling.
If that is what she thinks singing is, I’m glad she is not in the choir.
I load up my car. I have bought a huge container of screen wash, a window scraper for ice, and I am now road legal with a small emergency bulb and fuse kit to keep in the car. I already have the compulsory fluorescent jacket and emergency triangle in the boot.
The rain starts to spatter the windshield and as I approach the main roundabout yet another car decides that there is time to pull out onto the roundabout in front of me…
I pours with rain for the rest of the day and all night too.
The holiday makers downstairs, leave at some point and the house is still.
Writing / posting the blog for the 2nd of November as I digress into reminiscence and hyperlinks.
Nearly time to leave for choir and I hear someone in the hallway. My door is knocked and there and when I open the door, I see a man and a woman both dressed in uniform.
They are firemen, i.e. Sapeurs Pompiers from Foix. It is calendar time. I ask how much is the calendar. That is up to you they say, whatever you want.
F*** ! This is much earlier than I had anticipated. I knew that the various services would be knocking at my door to “give” me a calendar in exchange for money, but I thought it would be in December.
I had not asked anyone what sort of amount was considered usual. Not too much, but not too little. Would they consult their payment record as my house was burning down and say, we have time for another coffee before we slide down our pole?
It can be cash or a cheque they say helpfully (hopefully?).
I hand over some cash and receive my calendar, a small folded sheet calendar with the names of a saint, or National holiday against each day of the year and a receipt like a raffle ticket which announces that I am a supporter of the fire service and the amount I have given them.
They wish me good celebrations or some such and leave.
I look at the calendar and there are lots of group photos of the Foix firemen and women in various combinations (not the underwear). I can recognise my two visitors. There is also a lot of local business advertising too.
It is still raining so I put on my big walking boots, fleece and raincoat, grab my choir bag and head off into the night. Their will not be many there tonight I think.
Wrong! There is almost a full compliment. Claude, the choir webmaster who had emailed me countless times regarding the photos I took on the choir outing is there. I hand over a disk with the photos on and he is happy. Michel, who also took some photos, forgot to bring his disc. I am a saint.
Callesthenics and voice warm-up over, we sing a bit of the messe, then the men head for a rehearsal room in the music school. i.e a small classroom.
I brought my torch with me and I train it on the door in a dark corridor, while Olivier tries keys from a bug bunch in the lock. Door opens. No lights work. We look at the fuse box in the room, the light switches are tried by many in case those before had not quite got the knack of flicking on a switch.
In the corridor outside, we look at another fuse box very high up on a wall. This is poked with a long pole, again with no resulting light.
We troop back to the main classroom. I am first in. The women at the back of the room, seated in front of me whisper to me. I have no idea what they are saying but I whisper back “Pas de lumiere” no light.
The message reaches the other side of the room within 2 seconds. How did they do that?
The rest of the men arrive. What were they doing?
The choir director engages in a brief discussion and leads us back the way we have come. He is clutching a tuning fork. I keep out of his way, just in case.
We go outside, enter another building, pass the wash hand basins in the corridor, then climb the 3 flights of wooden stairs again.
The basses sit on the lower steps, the tenors sit above them on the steps. I and three others have no steps left to sit on, so we stand on the top landing above everyone.
Then with the aid of the tuning fork, we rehearse for three quarters of an hour, before rejoining the ladies for a 4 part run through.
I wonder how many of the choir have listened to their homework disc.
Daveed’s 2 boxes of cakes / biscuits are at the back of the room for those who have placed orders. He is not at the choir practice.
Announcement time and there is debate about the extra practice next Monday. Lots of people cannot make it. I think it will now be on the 17th instead??? Hopefully the web site will be amended or an email will be sent out. There is also something about a trip to Strasbourg and outings to other places roundabout there. It will involve giving 2 concerts I think. I have no idea when this is planned for. Email? Website?
I splosh home in the drizzle, wheel out the bin for collection. My tenants appear to be lazy arsed gits. Then back upstairs and into the flat.
The rain increases its tempo on the roof. It is like living in a tent, but without the drips (hopefully) or the shadow puppets on the outside.

Friday, 7 November 2008

4 November 2008 Tuesday – Getting my Assurance in gear

Another poor night’s sleep.
The Assurance man came this morning and I now have my multi-risque policy. The visit took over an hour and a half and we chatted, mostly in French about his son who works in a local bookshop, employment, insurance etc etc.
He worked with an American company for 15 years so the morning ended somewhat bizarrely with him speaking English and me speaking French as his desire to try out his English proved too strong for him.
Daveed’s parents and brother are still living with him in the studio. Half way through my insurance meeting, one of my 2 apartment door handles wiggled a bit. When I opened the door, there was a young lady half way down the stairs. I asked if she was looking for someone, and she replied that she was looking for Daveed. I directed her to the right porte. That makes 5 in the studio.
She doesn’t stay long, which is good, as when the assurance agent goes to leave, her car is blocking him in.
The rest of the bees hardly stir, only leaving the apartment late afternoon for a while. They must be bored. The weather is cold and damp.
At around one o’clock I am hit by a wave of fatigue, so I go to bed and wake up an hour and a half later.
I listen to the tenor part once at very low volume.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

3 November 2008 Monday - shelfish

It was a wide awake night last night, not helped by the heavy rain.
A dry day has been forecast after the drenchings of the last two days, so the washing machine goes on first thing.
I start fixing the rails and shelves back onto the alcove walls. Bad news is that I omitted one of the brackets and there are 3 holes missing. I poke match sticks at the wall, but can only find one hole. Even using that hole I cannot find the other 2. Did I fill them in?
Time to find the electric drill.
Rails and shelves finally in place, I start hanging up coats, suits, trousers etc that have been living in drawers or suitcases. I find the curtains that S altered to fit over the alcove and that is another job done.
I attack the sticking bathroom door, which refuses to not stick, but which is now slightly easier to open and close.
I sweep and mop the apartment floors.
The tenant and his visitors finally go out late morning, so I sweep the staircase and entrance corridor, then start mopping.
Of course Daveed’s family, for that is who they are arrive just as I am about to mop the entrance hall.
Most of the washing is dry now, so I take it upstairs and this leads to drawer re-arrangement.
This in turn leads to some more putting away of things in cupboards.
I am on a roll.
Just an apple for lunch and the family go out again. I just have time to croak along to the petite messe CD once before they return.
I don’t think I’m cut out for this singing lark. My voice is getting worse.

I have been trying to pin down my house insurance man for a multirisque policy since September. I finally chase him again by email and receive a reply that he proposes visiting me tomorrow morning to progress things.
It has been rather a dull day, but progress has been made.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

02 November 2008 Sunday – Holiday camp? Vivian Stanshall

So far as I am aware, my new tenant has only spent one night in the studio to date. He turns up sometimes and there will be a concentrated 5 to 10 minutes of loud banging, which sounds like someone chiselling stone. Either he is knocking out a new window, or he is a sculptor. Only time will tell.
By 9 am the rain is hammering down on the roof and slightly later than that , bee man arrives in his van. The banging is more muted today. Perhaps he is making things from beeswax, but I did see him carrying a round café style table and also about 6 metal shelves into the house yesterday.
He is usually dressed the same, with green trousers and a navy blue jumper with a horizontal white band at chest height. Today he has added a long overcoat to his ensemble and the leather shoulder bag is not in evidence.
I decided to paper the clothes / storage alcove today. It took all afternoon but finally I was able to hang up my paste brushes for the day.
Around midday, three people dressed in red anoraks and carrying rucksacks and a cool bag arrived to visit Daveed.
They did not leave again, so they must be spending the night in the studio.
In the evening, HB made skype contact with her new webcam. The beauty of having a web cam connection is that you can check on general health and well being of the person on the other end. HB looked well enough but the hairdo was a bit wavy I thought J
I tidied up the apartment a bit and poked some holes in the new wallpaper so that it will be easy to find them when I put the clothes rails and shelf brackets back on the wall once the paper has dried.
I then settled down to watch “Sir Henry” again. The director and 2 of the cast provide a commentary which is just as interesting as the film. They seem not to have had a clue what the film was about until 2006 when they made the commentary.

For more information about Viv Stanshall, click on the YouTube links below.

Viv Stanshall Part 1

Viv Stanshall Part 2

Viv Stanshall Part 3

Sir Henry at Rawlinson End film trailer

Viv Stanshall lived on a boat in Bristol for a time. The boat was / is / became the Thekla which was / is a night club / gig venue. He died at the age of 51 and it was a tragic and horrible death.
He retired to bed in his flat in London accompanied as usual by a bottle of brandy and a cigarette. He must have spilt the brandy, the cigarette set it alight and he burned to death.

I remember the blue and cream "Dansette" record player that we had when we lived in Dingwall, in the Highlands of Scotland in the 60's and 70's. My parents did not have many records. "West Side Story", "Porgy and Bess". "Peter and the Wolf", Nat King Cole spring to mind. The singles we had were, Herman's Hermits "Mrs Brown you've got a lovely daughter", Kenneth McKellar's "Granny's Hieland Hame", Kenneth represented the UK in the 1966 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "A man without love" how different from today's entries.... 9th place with Ireland and Luxemburg giving a total of 8 points.
"The story of Christmas", Terry Jack's "Seasons in the sun" and The New Vaudeville Band's Peek-a-boo / Winchester Cathedral.
What is he rambling on about? I hear you cry. Well the whole point was to show that we had a Viv Stanshall / Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band single in our collection. Now I find out that it was a copycat group the New Vaudeville Band. I will now retire to mon lit and weep.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

01 November 2008 Saturday - Sir Henry at Rawlinson End

Today is overcast but does not look too bad. I have decided to tackle the alcove just inside one of the two entrances to the apartment. Currently it has a deep shelf, and underneath there are two sturdy rails for hanging coats. In front of the alcove is another rail which can be used to screen the contents of the alcove from view by curtainage..
The wallpaper in the alcove is not in good condition and I start removing wall it from one of the alcove walls. This takes the whole afternoon. Then I fill in all the holes that removing the paper has revealed. I decide that the other two walls are not so bad after all, and just to paper over the existing two layers of painted paper.
I cook day one of minced beef pasta and finish off the remaining third of a bottle of rose.
Now what to do for the rest of the evening? I flick through the TV guide on the television and nothing takes my fancy.
From my DVD collection I select “Sir Henry at Rawlinson End” and “Amelie”
I settle down to watch Sir Henry, which is a brilliantly made film about life, love and death on a typical (not) English country estate, with many memorable lines such as:
“I never met a man I didn’t mutilate”
“I don’t know what I want, but I want it now”
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink. I’d spend it on drink”

The film was written by the late Vivian Stanshall, of Bonzo Dog Doo-dah band fame, and of course the voice listing the instruments on Mike Oldfield’s original version of “Tubular Bells” e.g. “Two slightly distorted guitars”
It stars Sir Trevor Howard as the Sir Henry. There is also Denise Coffey as the (in)famous Mrs E. Pronounced Eee.
Ten minutes into the film, my sister J phones from Canada for a chat.

Monday, 3 November 2008

31 October Friday – Market day

Rain is forecast for today, but by 10am the sky is brightening up. I dress up warm and head off towards town 5 minutes later I am in the main market square and the sun is shining in a clear blue sky.
The food section of the market it packed with shoppers. Most of them are women.
There are a few children. This one carries a large bag. But she also sports an important message.
"This is my sun"
There are queues at many of the vans and stalls. I wish that I knew what some of the foodstuffs were.
I have brought my camera along today just in case. So here are a few of the photos that I took.

Fancy some bread made with rat corn flour?

I bought a BD for 9 euros, but did not see a Oui-Oui book to check out the names of Noddy’s French friends.
I wandered to and fro along the aisles of stalls. Then I wandered fro and to just for a change.
The main difference between last week and this week is that France celebrates Toussaint at this time of year and there are many more flowers for sale. The flowers even spread to the pavement around the war memorial across the road.

Here you can see the castle, the war memorial, the children's playground and the Halle au Grains and of course the blue sky.

At this time of year i.e. All Saints, I believe that families visit the graves of their relatives and leave flowers and sometimes little grave plaques with messages to the departed on them.

Halloween is just visible as a calendar event, with shops selling costumes and big conical bags of sweets, but Madam tells me that children no longer go around the houses asking for sweets etc. That sort of thing stopped about 7 years ago she says.
I was looking for a pair of soft soled suede slipper/booties to wear in the apartment, but the man who is usually there selling such hand made items, is not there today. Pity as they would have kept my feet toasty and enabled me to move as stealthily as a cat around the apartment, instead of squeaking.
There are boxes and boxes of ordinary slippers for sale, but I do not want a pair of commom slippers thank you..
There are many unusual items for sale. Two that especially stand out are the set for cutting up carcasses and a new welder’s mask, The latter is marked 10 euros.

After visiting Casino to top up the tea and breakfast cereal, I head for the other market in the abbey square and wander briefly round there before meandering back home in the sunshine.
I kept seeing post vans, post trolleys, post persons on my route today, so I know that my Carte Vitale is probably in my metal post box at the end of the garden. I unlock my box and sure enough there is an envelope from the Assurance Maladie.
When I open the envelope, my card complete with my photo and microchip is inside. However for some reason it is only valid until the end of July 2009, not until the end of 2009 like the E10 (or whatever it is called) covers me for.
I decide to finish off the bedroom with another coat of emulsion to the utility area alcove, so I duly drag out the ladders and equipment.
I am on a roll, so I continue with the DIY and complete touch up work required to the bathroom and kitchen paintwork.
The downside to this is that when I go to bed at night, parts of the room walls are still wet with paint and there is a cloying, sickly sweet smell in the room as a result.
Not ideal for a good night’s sleep.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

30 October 2008 Thursday – management of change – Rigsby on tour

I wake up at 5am, as the new tenant starts opening his squeaky front door. Why did I not oil it? He seems to go in and out and then finally drives off at 5.15am. Looks like he must be an early to work person after all.
It is lighter than yesterday, but the forecast says rain. Sure enough, at noon, it starts to rain again.
Having downloaded software to work with my phone yesterday, I am no longer able to access YouTube videos. I download the required software; I check that Java is enabled, but no success. I had wanted to watch the film of

“Who moved my cheese”
After an hour of trying out the suggested cures, I have YouTube again. Click on the link above to see it.

The book it is based on is slightly longer than the film and takes about an hour to read I believe.

I should have gone and pulled my wheelie bin back in off the pavement and checked my mail box. I am still waiting for my carte vitale medical card to arrive.

Did you guess the mystery posed in yesterday’s blog? It just goes to show what a small world it is. It is that my lodger and the bee keeper referred to in the choir email are one and the same person!

In the evening, I talk to S on Skype. She has a visit from her neighbour K whilst we are online, so I give K a live tour of my apartment. Then I leave the two of them to their glasses of wine and discussions of crochet hooks.
During the day I received a message from HB, my only official registered blog follower, giving me her skype details. I see that she is online, so I have a chat with her and D, and give them a tour of the flat too.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

29 October 2008 Wednesday – Snow and a mystery to solve

I decided to take a break from painting today. It is a grey day. New tenant leaves for his work at about 9.30am. I listen three times. to the choir music CD with the tenor part for the little mass. A lot of it is really rather too high for me and will require 2 bricks or singing falsetto.
It is a Choir holiday this week, but there will be an extra night’s practice the week after next. There is also a whole day’s practice somewhere miles and miles away sometime in November.
An email comes through from our Choir presidente to all members with email, headed.
“When the bees are in crisis”

This is what you get if you put the email through Google’s translation tool.


BONJOUR! I have this small review: For this young man beekeeper who has problems with his bees and which offers gingerbread. If you are interested ME GO ORDER and I call Tuesday 4 November so that we can deliver Wednesday 5 at our next repetition. For the record 250 gr = 4 € Breads nature spices, nuts or hazelnuts. Pending Good luck with your CDs work (do not forget the bottom of the bags) ... ...”

My brain, which is of course on French speed (pace not drugs) clicks into gear. About a month ago some new blokes came to the choir practice. There was an Eengleesh called Teem, who lived in Belesta (members of the choir keep asking me about him as being English I must know him well) and a young Frenchman. This young Frenchman turned up at the end of last weeks practice and was allowed to speak at the end. I could not hear a word he said, but of course at the back there was a basket containing buiscuits wrapped in cellophane. I ignored them and whizzed past them on my way home.

So there we have all the evidence. What do you make of it?
The answer will be revealed in tomorrow’s blog.

I get into my car after one pm and pass Madam on her way up the steps.
I dazzle her with my French “It is cold”
She replies, “It’s because of the snow”
I continue on my way to the car and head off towards Intermarche. The weather forecast is cold and more rain, so I have decided to get some more food in and perhaps buy some more gloss paint.
I turn right, onto the Barcelona Route and as I drive along I lifted up mine eyes unto the hills in front of me. The top third of the hills / mountains had a generous covering of snow. So that was what Madam was talking about, and perhaps explained the Russian hat that she had been wearing.

Here is a phone picture of the snow. It was much more clearly defined and impressive in real life, honest!

Food shopping done, I have to hang about until 2.15pm for the other shops to re-open after lunch. Casa has Christmas trees, hats and other festive items. The bargains display in Intermarche had been replaced with toys and games, and a Christmas kinder egg promotion display.
Bricomarche then for paint. In the good old days there was gloss paint. Now there is glycerine paint, which requires white spirit to wash your brushes, and acrylic paint which you can rinse your brushes through with water after use, and which dries really fast.
I have used both and wondered at the streaky effect that I could achieve as my brush or paint pad got more and more clogged. Reading the tins, you need a special paint brush or roller to apply acrylic paint. I look at the rollers, I look at the brushes. The only difference between the brushes for gloss, and acrylic that I can see, is that the gloss or emulsion brushes have red and black handles and the acrylic have blue and black handles.I retired confused and did not buy any paint today.