After getting everything in order and making a ferry booking for Tuesday evening, I left the house where I’d been staying for nearly two weeks to pick up Toddie, my dog. My step son had been looking after him since I left to take my furniture and belongings to France and I’d also arranged for my son to be there as it could be several months before I see either of them again. I then drove down to Dorset to see my mother who lives there with my sister and brother-in-law, and after sleeping on the floor on the Monday night and spending the following day with my mother, Toddie and I left to catch the ferry late on Tuesday afternoon. So we left England for our new home in France on 15th May 2012.
I was determined to avoid the tiredness problems that I’d experienced before, the more so as I was now driving a faster vehicle anyway and time was not therefore an issue. So my plan was to drive for two or three hours to get away from northern France and then pull up for the night in a rest area. So that’s what we did, and what a strange experience this led to. The rest areas have trucks parked up in them with their drivers resting at all times of the day and at night, of course, almost all of them are packed, as was the one we stopped at. In the early hours I was suddenly awoken by a truck horn blaring out and a lot of powerful lights being switched on. I looked out of my car to see two or three guys in the lorry park with balaclava masks on who had been stealing diesel fuel by siphoning it out of the tanks of the parked trucks and in doing so had disturbed one of the drivers. They had a small white van and while the others ran to jump into it, one of the thieves made an intimidating gesture at the driver whose truck he was in front of. But he’d totally underestimated who he was dealing with. The driver promptly jumped out with a baseball bat and my gosh, you should have seen that villain run! He only just made it to his van and for a while the driver sprinted after it waving his baseball bat in the air. Luckily for the thieves, they made it to the exit before he caught up with them. If not, I think there may have been a case of a few busted heads that night 🙂
But that wasn’t the end of it. It seems that all of those long-distance truck drivers who sleep in their cabs take their trousers off before retiring. Well, by this time the first driver had been joined by about 10 others and all to a man totally trouserless. What a sight as they all discussed what had happened and spent the next half an hour or so checking their fuel tanks – still with no trousers on. It’s something that’ll stick in my mind for a very long time to come, let me tell you 😆
Toddie and I arrived here in Plazac last Wednesday afternoon but it certainly isn’t plain sailing just yet. We stayed in the new house without services of any kind after picking up the keys and arranging with the agent’s assistance (thank you, Sandrine…) to have electricity, water, phone and internet connected. I don’t know when the last two will go on but I was told that water would be reconnected on the following Friday and electricity on Monday, tomorrow. However, as this is France, the water guys didn’t arrive as promised so I still don’t have any water and do not know when they might arrive to switch it on even, as the appointment was made by the estate agent and they weren’t open on Saturday (I went and checked just to make sure they weren’t there and just not answering their phone 😉 )
But all is not lost – both of my closest neighbours are great. To the rear I have a middle-aged couple from Bordeaux who will be here only until the end of today as theirs is a holiday home. The grass has grown so much that the poor chap has spent the whole of his time since I’ve been here mowing it – with just a few stops now and again for the odd glass of wine I think. I find his wife quite easy to understand and hold a conversation with but less so him for some reason. His accent I find a tad difficult at present – unless it’s the vin rouge of course (his or mine I do not know…) – but I think it will all become easier in time. The neighbours to my left are a brilliant bunch of young French people – guys and girls, about 10 or possibly more I think as they have a house-full plus several tents in the garden – who I think are musicians and have a contract in the area (as I understood it) for 1 year from September. They have been a life saver – after being desperate for water and even washing in bottled stuff from the supermarket, I can now get all I need from them from an outside tap. And they’ve also given me the code for their wi-fi which I can receive either from outside or my bedroom windows. They are a lovely bunch of youngsters, so very friendly and I’m very lucky for them to give me their help without question as they have done, so typical of the majority of the French people, I’ve always found.
I’ve got a generator that I brought from England (fortunately) that I use to run a light, charge my laptop and run a fan heater downstairs from time to time, like now, as it’s a bit chilly and stormy, will remain so until about next Tuesday or Wednesday and the house hasn’t had a chance to warm up inside just yet. I can’t really do anything except get by until I get water and electricity as the house needs cleaning throughout very badly. I can’t use the toilet as it’s full of spiders etc and needs a lot of water down it to clean it out. I’ll say no more except I now know what it was like for the pioneers who opened up the wild west 😉 Lucky I have a sense of humour – and a lot of bushes eh.
But there have been compensations, of course. Alan, an old friend of mine of 81 suffered a stroke a few months ago. I dropped in on him to see how he was and say, ‘Au revoir’, on the Saturday before I left England. He made me the kind gift of a litre of J & B Rare Scotch Whisky and I promised him that on my first night in Plazac I’d toast my arrival and his future health in it. So that’s what I did and much I enjoyed it too. Here’s to you and Margaret, Alan, and may things soon get better for both of you.
I’ve got the local supermarket run sorted out now and before I’d got my own out of ‘the cave’ where I’d put it, Bob helped me out with a single burner stove which has been a useful addition. Talking about compensations and the supermarket, a couple of evenings ago, I bought a bottle of Bordeaux there, Chateau Du Bosc 2010 for just €2.95, that turned out to be really excellent. Last night I thought I’d risk it and go for a bog standard bottle of Appellation Bordeaux Controlee ‘plonk’ for €1.55 and had some with my lunch today of baguette, saucisson de porc fumee and pate de campagne. And do you know what, it was pretty good 😀 They have always said that the French keep the best of their wines for themselves and export the rest and I think there could be some truth in that.
Anyway, that’s it for now. I don’t expect to see much of Bob for a while unfortunately as he has some other priorities to occupy him, but I’m very self-sufficient and will get by as I’ve done so far since I arrived. My next purchase early next week will be a heavy duty motorized grass cutter and brush clearer so I can get cracking outside. The greenery is way above the window sills – I’ll post some pics soon so you can see what I mean. In the meantime I shall be exhorting the weather gods to do something about the cold and rain that I’ve been on the receiving end of almost non-stop since arriving here. The car thermometer went up to 26 degrees on one day but that now seems like a distant memory. I just want it to get back up there before I start on the job of cleaning the house as it will take a lot of water, all of which will then need to dry out again. What’s the opposite of a rain dance?