Sunday, 29 August 2010

Insurers and Sorting !!!!

We suffered roof damage to our barns and also lost a wall during the storm of the 27/28th February 2010. We had the repairs completed by our builder and submitted the 'facture' to our insurers. At last it is done and we can sit back and relax a bit. way!! We received a cheque from our insurers in final settlement of the 'facture'. "WHAT the EFFF!" was my man's response when he opened the letter from our insurer, they had decided to pay just 25% of the total cost of repairs..... Hmm...

They had already refused to pay for severe damage to a 'hangar' some 7 years ago that lost its roof during a very bizarre day of high winds, hail, rain, sunshine etc. repeating itself. Apparently that day, according to the Meteo, the wind in our village did not exceed 50km per hour. In the village no, we are on the edge of the village and on a hill!! At that time we were not savvy about damage/mayors/insurers out here. We found out later, much later, that if we had had a letter from our Mayor to send to our insurers giving details about the bizarre weather we would have been OK. As you can well imagine we were well p'd off with the insurers and took the hangar off the policy.

Since we have gained more knowledge about things out here we decided to take the bull by the horns and went into town to see our lovely lady insurance agent (who does not speak a word of English). We explained the situation. She looked at the cheque, looked at our dossier, looked at my copies of paperwork from the quantity surveyor, who had been looking at lots of damaged/destroyed properties in our neck of the woods for the 5 months prior to seeing ours, looked at the paperwork and the cheque again. OK!! She will contact the quantity surveyor and get copies of his report and then contact the insurers. "Look after the cheque you have received and I will either telephone or send you a letter" she said... We wait with baited breath - as does our builder...

I have over the last couple of weeks been doing a 'daily sort out'.. Sorting the 'stuff' that has been accumulated over the past few years. I didn't realise that there was so much 'stuff' and the awful thing is that it is 'stuff' that I have accumulated. His 'stuff' is in the Barn. When the time comes it will be up to Him to sort out his 'stuff' - I dread to think what I might find! It seems to me that the larger the space to store 'stuff' then the more 'stuff' is acquired. It seems to breed!!!!

I used to have a small cupboard, and a drawer, in the UK where the 'stuff' was stowed, so when it came to relocating to La Belle France it was easy to 'sort out'. Pas de probleme!! His 'stuff' in a 9' x 12' shed in the garden was not properly 'sorted' and for weeks/months/years afterwards He groaned and griped about what was left behind. Pas ma probleme!!

I didn't realise we had so many books; romances, thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy etc. as well as historical, cookery, DIY, reference, language and just easy reading. The books are now sorted into those that I would love to read again, those that He would love to read again, those that we definitely need to keep and those that must to go. They have then been sub-sorted into author/title and then into different bookcases in different parts of the house. It seems to be OK, at the moment.

"I should have been a librarian!" she shouts!!!

I have always liked to keep my hands occupied, it could be knitting, crochet, embroidery, tapestry, drawing, painting etc.. so I have a stack of 'crafty' things lurking about the place. Many of the 'crafts' that I had started were stowed away when daughter and granddaughter arrived (2006). I know from past experience what small girls can get up to when you are not looking and I did not want things unpicked, unraveled etc.

I have now found what I had started. At the moment I am finishing/completing a crochet tablecloth. It is a glorious design that I found out here in a publication in 1990. I only have to do one other motif and it will be finished. When that is done I will try to finish the cross-stitch picture that I started 4 years ago for our eldest daughter and then maybe try to finish the embroidery that my mother gave me to finish and I also have a tapestry cushion cover and a Mabel Lucy Atwell cross-stitch, the list goes on.... I also want to start knitting again - I see such awful garments out here and would rather make my own. I can sew so that will also be on the agenda - maybe next year.. After all, I do have plenty of time now.

At our local Social Centre they have 'Ateliers Adultes' - I will go to the Vendredi - cafe, tricot, broderie, crochet... and improve my French as well as complete some of my projects. I am really looking forward to it!! Will also (if He can stand it) go to the Franglais session on a Weds evening.

It is just us two now. We do not have to worry about family here or clients... We can do what we want, when we want!!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Friends, Curry and Darts, Hindi

There I was typing away, on the 'big' computer and my text was coming up in Hindi.... What on earth????

I seem to have acquired an extra button in the blog toolbar on the 'big' computer, but not on this one, my laptop. A language icon has appeared to the right of 'remove formatting from selection' button and it only gave Asian languages and as I was typing it picked up Hindi.... Lord knows how this icon appeared but it did. I must admit it first gave me a 'turn' then a laugh..

Now - my blog must be done only on the laptop.... remember...

Last night we had a curry night. Curry and Darts night. A glorious night.

We have some friends that arrived in La Belle France the same year as we did. They bought a delightful holiday home and have been spending the last 9 years updating and improving, twice a year, spring and autumn. We met them in 2001 in Mr Brico. We were newbies out here as well. I heard this ladies voice from down the sanitary aisle asking 'how do you say plumber in French?' and a male voice reply 'I don't know!'. My man and I looked at each other and decided it was time to intervene (although, I must stress, we don't always do that!). I made my way to the lady in distress and said to her 'plombier!' Well, we got on like house on fire, chatting away in the aisle about English DIY in France. Meanwhile her husband and mine had got together. Her man said to mine 'Blimey, I didn't realise my wife's French was that good!' after seeing her and me chatting away. My man's response? 'That's my wife she's talking to.'

And there began a good and lasting friendship starting in Mr Brico.

They came and saw our pile before any works had been started and we saw theirs in the same sort of state.

It is strange how friendships develop. We have a good relationship with them, we are not in each others pockets but are close. We have shared stories about our daughters (they have two) and grandchildren, as well as mutual ups and downs over the past few years. It is an absolute delight to see them - there is a good and healthy continuity in our relationship.

And so for two days I was preparing for a curry night. One guest vegetarian, one coeliac (Gluten Free) and one 'mild curries only please'. It was an absolute doddle. Sag Aloo, Rajma Dahl, Uble Chaval, Korma Murgh, Rasedar Sabzi. (Spinach & Potatoes, Red Kidney Bean with Ginger & Chilli, Plain Basmati Rice, Chicken Korma, and Mixed Vegetable Curry). Followed by my special Fruit salad (laced with alcohol!)

The evening went like a dream, our guests had a lot in common - all of them being involved in the scouting movement, and four of them from the same area in the UK! The darts matches ended up a draw... Everyone Happy!! The meal went down a treat and not a scrap was left.... Result!!

I don't do this sort of entertaining that often but sometimes I feel the need - I am sure that most women know what I mean.....

Next special meal - I will be trying oriental, courtesy of a couple of lovely Chinese/Australian girls I know.... Just watch this space...

Monday, 23 August 2010

Children and Trouspinette

We have had our middle daughter and her eldest son to stay with us.

Middle daughter is going through a bad patch at the moment and needed a well earned break.

Her son, our 1st grandchild, is in the pre-teen stage. He is a lovely boy, very bright and is into Greek, Roman and Egyptian history/mythology. Good with computers and also very keep on Astronomy. But, whilst here his favourite phrase was "I'm boooored." He was forbidden to go on the computer as the weather was absolutely superb so we arranged many trips out for him, and his mum. My hubby could just about keep up with all that was going on.

There is a 'Forest of Adventure' fairly close to us. You are harnessed and can make your way through the tree tops on fine rope ladders and also slide down ropes etc... The boy loved it, his mum avoided it at all costs and Granddad did half the course... I didn't go to that one. They also did a visit to the local Ostrich Farm where they have also created a maze out of maize!

We also did Puy du Fou - still my favourite - it is a long time since they had been there and they absolutely loved it. At last they boy forgot his boredom. We also managed to fit time for the beach and also a day with some friends... I know that our daughter went home feeling chilled out and relaxed and that our Grandson had a good time with us. He hopes that he can now come out to stay on his own in the future and stay all summer. He is learning French at school but says he is only learning 'words' at the moment. Hmm - I wonder. We now Skype each other all the time... Love it!!

We also celebrated our friends 75th birthday. He is amazing for his age. His family were there, of course, as well as many of his friends. We had a lovely evening in a beautiful setting by the river that runs past their mill.

The new owner of our local restaurant has been to visit for afternoon tea and we had a wonderful 'getting to know each other' chat. She is an absolute treasure and we got on very well. She is a devotee of 'Ginger Nut' biscuits which she loves to dunk! She also partook of some of my 'Coing' Aperitif. She called it Trouspinette. This sent me on a websearch. It seems that originally Trouspinette was a Vendeen aperitif 'fait a la maison'. The recipe, it seems, could include any fruit or nut, so the delicious stuff that we have been making under various names is all Trouspinette.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


At school I was not only encouraged to spell correctly but to also apply a proper grammatical construction to my sentences. This I did, reluctantly, but my teachers persisted until I got it right.

When I left school I became a secretary. I needed to pull on the knowledge that I had gained from my English teachers especially when my boss dictated a letter and then asked me to “Pad it out a bit.”. I thank them wholeheartedly.

Not long before having my first child I worked for a publisher, typesetting with a Olympia Golf-Ball typewriter, and also proof-reading, which I do automatically nowadays. It has become a most annoying habit as I find errors in newspapers, magazines and books and feel that whoever proofs should be moved to another department!

Why am I writing about spelling and grammar? Simply because I see so many absolutely appalling mistakes written by my countrymen and women on various forums etc. (or is it ‘ect’ as so often used?) Am I wrong with my spellings?

There are so many examples, I recently saw someone advertising an antique chesterdrawers for sale ‘hmmm’ what can that be?

I have seen the word definitely often spelled with an ‘a’ for the second ‘i’ – could it be to do with regional accents? No, I don’t think so, another word I spotted today was religion spelt with an ‘e’ for the second ‘i’ in a response to an article in a national daily newspaper.

I know that there is ‘text’ speak which is being used a lot nowadays – a modern shorthand that is not a lot different to a system used many years ago.

And so it goes on. I encouraged my own children to pay attention to their written work at school and I hope that they are doing the same for their children.

Oh yes, there is always spell-check on the computer but it is usually ‘American’ English spell-check so I have to add words for the correct ‘English’ English spelling. I wonder if the children in English schools who do their homework on computers submit their work to their teachers with ‘American’ English spellings and whether their teachers correct the work to ‘English’ English. Food for thought methinks.

I remember a company I worked for had an employee with the surname of Murray – spell-check always changed him to Murky!!

Acer and Internet

We have a Maple in the garden, sorry, not just one but three Maples. I do not know the names of them, just that they are Acer ‘something’. Two are absolutely stunning with dark red leaves. At the moment they are housing the families of Wood Pigeons – I don’t really have a problem with that at all but they do leave some ‘cr*p’ on the car…..

The other Maple has pale green leaves (see picture), not exactly Maple shaped, but we have been told by a superb French tree surgeon out here that it is an 'Acer’.

I think that this particular ‘Acer’ is causing me some problems….

I remember reading some time ago that anyone out here in ‘La Belle France’ has a responsibility to maintain trees that could interfere with either overhead Electrical or Telephone lines. The maintenance being keeping the branches and foliage clear of the cables….

Well, this particular tree has not been ‘maintained’ for around 3 years and as you can imagine the branches are very well developed. I did suggest to my ‘other half’ the beginning of this year that maybe the branches should be cut back… What was the response? “No, it is OK for now!”. (Also, looking at the tree it had been severely cut back prior to our purchase of the property so that tells a tale!!!!)

And so the branches have grown and are well populated with leaves, sparrows etc… I do not mind the leaves or the birds but I do mind the fact that the telephone line runs through the tree and we keep getting problems with the internet…. Lots of problems with the internet!

My theory is that if there is slight movement (via the wind maybe) it will interrupt the signal we are getting (bearing in mind we are the end of the line!) and knock out the internet (briefly) through the modem in spite of the fact that the modem’s lights are all on. Once the signal is 'upset' then we lose internet connection. And I do not want to get France Telecom involved in this!!!!

I am having the devils own job of getting an 'instant' connection at the moment. I have to constantly ‘refresh’ to get a page up – and this is on not only Google Chrome but also Internet Explorer and through Mozilla Firefox… And it is happening on not only the main computer but also the laptop and my iPod.

I am not an unintelligent woman, I do read up on things and keep up to date and don’t like it when ‘he’ sighs and looks at me with the though of “what the ‘f’ does she know, she is a woman after all!” And no, he does not think it is anything to do with the tree……

He has agreed to lop some of the branches from the tree… fingers crossed!!

And I am amazed that I am able to post this................