Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Empty Glasses and Overflowing Cups

Half Full or Half Empty?

So, is your glass half full or half empty?  I can usually identify the half fulls and half empties in life.  The LGB is most definitely in possession of a half full glass (it’s usually half full of red wine), I on the other hand teeter-totter between the two.  The last couple of weeks however, my glass has neither been half empty nor half full – it has been positively drained, vide!

We returned home a week past Friday, fresh baguette tucked under my arm and homemade soup ready to be reheated.  I don’t like to say I told you so but I told you so, at least I told me so.  The buggers had cut off the electricity!  The Voisines said a man appeared a few minutes after our departure (he was probably hiding behind a log pile or a dung heap just waiting for us to leave).  So much for keeping everything crossed I just ended up getting my knickers in a twist.

Starving and seething we hot footed it into Angouleme to EDF. We asked if their man could just pop back to the site and flick the switch back on, but it wasn’t to be.  To cut a long story short, ERDF would not give us another ‘prolongation’ of our temporary supply of electricity, instead we had to reapply all over again.  This meant completing forms and supplying a copy of the ‘plan de situation’ and a copy of the ‘cadastre’ (a map showing the plot number and a plan of the house on the plot).  I pointed out that they already had a dossier with all this information, could they not refer to this?  It fell on deaf ears and I suppose it provides jobs for the boys.  To be fair the assistant at EDF, on seeing my quivering bottom lip and the LGBs twitchy right thumb already going into spasm with the onset of cold turkey at the thought of being deprived of teletext (did I mention his obsession with all things sporty from football scores to tiddly-wink championships) did pen a covering letter to ERDF explaining that we were living on site and could they please get the electricity back on quickly.  On day twelve we were plugged back into the national grid.

My Cup Runneth Over

What on earth did you do for twelve days with no electricity I hear you ask?  A little legal squatting, taking up those offers that were nonchalantly proffered over one too many glasses of wine on a summer evening or the LGB being a cheeky bugger and inviting himself to stay!

There was a cold snap about the time of the cut-off and we got offers of accommodation from friends who didn’t even know we were without electricity.   The LGB was building a garden wall for a couple and they generously offered their home to us whilst they were away and for us to stay on when they returned.  This kind offer came from a couple we had only met twice.  Are they mad offering us their home when they hardly know us?  I think those who do know us and still let us stay are probably madder!  We stayed with The Old Bones on Bikes.  When I managed to prise the television remote controls from the grasp of the LGBs grubby little mitts we moved on to two nights at Deidre and Conor’s whilst they were away, and a few nights with Jane and David on their fermette

Jane's lemon drizzle cakes
We enjoyed lavish lunches and delicious dinners and great company.  I have to say those twelve days would have been very different without our hosts.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you we descended upon and those of you who made offers, your generosity is heart-warming and truly greatly appreciated.

St Valentine’s Day

I imagine by now reading this post you will have gathered not a lot of building work has gone on whilst we have been sans electricity. Did you have a good one?  Did you celebrate at all?  Did you even know it was Valentine’s Day and did you even care? Some friends stayed at this gorgeous chambre d'hôte for a couple of nights.  I know another couple who give each other (and expect) ridiculously extravagant presents and spend the rest of the year arguing and on the brink of divorce.

Couleurs du Temps

I usually make a handmade card for the LGB, but my craft bits are all packed away and besides all the envelopes have stuck closed from being stored in the garage.  Me?  I got a text and a yellow rose.  Aaaah, how lovely!  Yes, the text was from my lovely Dad and the yellow rose was from the (female) cashier in the builder’s yard!  Bitter?  Me?  Who’s the patron saint of battered builders these days?  The LGB doesn't hold with the commercial nonsense of St Val's Day, he can express his love any day he wants (so he says) and I have to say I do agree but the old romantic in me would quite like a little recognition of the day.

courtesy of

So you can see, in the one hand I have been holding an empty glass but in the other hand my cup hath runneth over with the kindness and munificence of friends.  And remember, whether your glass is half empty or half full there is always room for more wine!  Mine’s a sparkly.  Cheers!
Picture courtesy of Hollybank Trust.  Quality of life......for life.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Speed Dating and Les Odeurs

These days seem so much calmer than those frenetic days last summer mixing concrete and lugging tiles and blocks around.  The LGB has been plumbing and I have been cutting and putting up plaster boards.  I enjoy plaster boarding; it gives the feeling that things are really taking shape.

Back bedroom

Front bedroom

We've finished upstairs, just the returns around the windows to do.  So that’s it, we have four fully formed bedrooms, an en suite shower room and a bathroom.  If the LGB would only get the walls plastered I could sand and treat the floors and then ………………… dun, dun, dun, dun (drum-roll of excitement and anticipation!) I can decorate!!!!  What colour though?  Let’s not even go there.  No actually, let's go there.

These are the colours I have opted for for the kitchen units (this week!).  The dark one on the right and the middle one - I think!  The darker one actually looks closer to black in real life.  What do you think?

The colour on the right is the latest choice for the shutters and windows????  Yes or no?  

Having decided where the bath and sanitary ware would go in the bathroom we (the Royal we) had a complete about turn at the eleventh hour.  The LGB has now put the water pipes in so there is no way back.  That is probably a good thing really.  Perhaps he ought to get to the point of no return with everything then I would have no agonising choices to make.

Let There Be Lights

I bought a light and ordered three more lights for the kitchen from Bentalls department store when we were in the UK, but I've changed my mind!  I was granted a day off this week and mooched around the sales in Angouleme and…….. bought some different lights!  (It’s the LGB’s fault; he shouldn't let me out alone).  I haven’t shown them to him yet (or even told him in fact) so if I change my mind I’ll just bury them in the garage among the rest of our rubbish worldly goods.  

A day out wouldn't be complete without a visit to Emmaus and my favourite depot vente.  Naturally I didn't come away empty handed.  I just managed to squeeze two occasional tables into the car.  I am not sure where they are going yet, but I couldn't leave them there!  I think the LGB wishes I had.

They came as a pair!

Smelly Problems

We have to fit a system into the loft that extracts the humid air from the bathroom and kitchen and basically belches it out the roof.  It is apparently ‘obligitoire’ in new builds.  Just another expense I say.  The garb said it was suitable for 2 bathrooms and a kitchen (activated when it detects humidity) and a WC (activated by detecting a presence in the loo.  Not actually the presence of a pooh down the loo, but a person in the room).  First dilemma - they only supplied the outlets for one bathroom.  Second dilemma - we have a WC in both bathrooms so do we need the automatic WC extractor and the humidity extractor in each bathroom?  I was dispatched to Leroy Merlin to pose the question.  

Arrive.  Search for an assistant.  Try to explain the problem.  Go outside to get a phone signal to tell the LGB that we can use the humidity detector in one bathroom and the WC outlet in the other bathroom, just cover the thing that detects a presence in the room.  More questions from the LGB.  Back in. Smile at security officer with my finest I’m not a tea-leaf (thief) smile.  Find assistant.   Yes, the WC extractor will detect humidity (because it is terribly clever and knows hot air from a fart).  Back out to phone LGB, funny look from security officer.  Will the humidity extractor extract toilet smells?  Thanks Bren!  Wander back inside.  Avoid eye contact with security officer whilst trying to recall the word for smell or fart, but can only think of ‘vent’ which is wind in the meteorological sense.  Find the assistant I have been talking to but he’s with a colleague and I just can’t face trying to ask two of them about toilet smells (bad enough in English) so become intensely interested in heating valves and radiators until they have finished their tête à tête.  Will the extractor detect ……… (hold my nose and wrinkle it)?  Yes, it will detect les odeurs.  Yes, yes, yes (a Harry Met Sally orgasmic moment)!  That’s the word, odeurs/odours, no wonder I couldn't remember it!! Mission accomplished.

I partook in a kind of speed dating night last week.  It was an Anglo-French affair. I wasn't actually out to find a new mate or romance though.  The English all sat one side of the table and the French sat opposite us.  The French were prepped with a list of questions to ask us in English and thankfully we replied in English.  After five minutes the French moved around to the next person.  I answered questions from about three hundred French people (well it felt like three hundred).  I repeated to each one; I live on a building site and go to bed up a ladder; I’ve lived here years but still can’t speak the language;  I don’t have a swimming pool but we grow potatoes.  I refrained from telling them I pee in a bucket at night!  There is such a thing as too much information, says she writing it in her blog!  It was great fun and I met lots of lovely people.

We have a number of family members on our ‘payroll’ – son, daughter, nephews and a niece.  One of the above asked if they could have their birthday money early (nine months early) to pay for a holiday deposit.  A couple of days later we received a text to ask if the money had been ‘transfused’!!  Perhaps they have heard that getting money out of the LGB is like getting blood out of a stone!