This is how it is

For anyone coming to live in France who will have to deal with the French public sector, brace yourselves because this is how it is. It’s an utter shambles that has a total disregard for the public who it’s supposed to serve and is merely a way of keeping lots of inefficient and incompetent people employed at the taxpayer’s expense. Read on to know what it’s like – and this, mind, is not a one-off. From my experience it’s always like this.

First let’s take EDF, the bloated and, it would seem, wholly inept state run electrical supply organisation. I’ve had run-ins previously with EDF but the current debacle takes the biscuit. I need a new connection on my land in Fleurac, a pretty standard procedure you might think. What could be easier than applying to EDF and then handing the administration and everything else over to them because, after all, they are supposed to be the experts. Err.. steady on, far from it. It transpires that they don’t know their arse from their elbow.

To make things complicated so it’s difficutt to apportion blame when things go wrong, because they always do, there are two state run electricity organisations, EDF who the consumer buys their electricity from and Enedis (as they are now called) who are responsible for the network. Now you’d think that the average consumer doesn’t give a toss how the electricity they use arrives in their home and therefore wouldn’t have anything to do with Enedis and you’d be right for most of the time. You’d think that it would be up to EDF to communicate with Enedis cutting out the consumer completely but no, that is far, far too simple for the French way of thinking and would avoid most of the cock-ups that the French public sector excels in.

So when you log onto the EDF web site, as you do nowadays, the more so as getting through on the telephone is an almost impossible process, and eventually find the link that takes you to the ‘ask for a new connection’ page, you find that it tells you to contact Enedis and gives you a link to the appropriate page on its web site. So far so good and you are suitably impressed as I was.

And even more so when you decipher the byzantine programming logic that asks you to create an account (huh??) and then tells you to do a ‘simulation’. This is Enedis-speak for ‘tell us where your land is and where on it you want our cables to terminate for you to connect to’ and when you’ve deciphered that, you enter into a process that is very well done, that brings your land parcel up onto the screen from the French government’s official web site, with a pointer that you then move to the desired position.

It then takes about 20 seconds for the system to find where the closest network node is to connect to, draw a dotted line from it to the point that you marked, provide an estimate of the cost involved and when it is likely that the job could be scheduled for. Marvellous, you think to yourself, these guys have really got this process screwed right down, what could possibly go wrong?

Hmmm… everything I’m afraid, because this is France. You sit back waiting for notification from Enedis acknowledging your request and telling you what the next step will be and when. It’s then that the true nature of the animal energes – in the form of a message from Enedis after a week saying that it’s no good contacting them for a new connection, you need to talk to EDF. Hah! Gotcha!

So you then have to go through the tortuous and time-consuming process of contacting EDF to explain to a human-being what’s been going on. They then come back to you after another delay of a few days with a reference and tell you to contact Enedis again. But the catch apparently is that nobody at Enedis either knows or cares about all of the brilliant stuff that you did on their web site showing where the nearest connection point is to your land and how a new connection will be made. This I know as a fact because of what happened today, which I’ll go on to explain.

But first, I’ve been receiving SMS’s and phone calls from Enedis for the last couple of days setting up appointments with me to meet on my land to make the new connection and then changing them again. Luckily I’m a pretty good-humoured person so I went along with the flow. However, I paid particular attention to the final message that I received yesterday that said that my meter box must already be in place on site as otherwise they’d not be able to make the connection and they’d charge me for an abortive visit.

When I looked into it more, I found that for a ‘raccordement provisoire’ (a temporary connection) it is my responsibilty to provide a ‘compteur chantier’ (a work-site meter system) which Enedis will connect to. This is, in effect, a house-hold electrical system but in a box, as shown in the two following photographs.

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At the time of asking, which was yesterday afternoon, I only had until this morning to acquire such a thing, almost an impossibilty you might think. But no, I often achieve the almost impossible (miracles on the other hand are out of the question) and so it was in this case. I located such a box on LeBonCoin (the one in the images) being sold in the Gironde to the north-west of Bordeaux. I then just had to jump in the car and go and buy it, which is what I did, leaving home at about 5.30pm and getting back, flushed with success at 10.30pm and ready to drop straight into bed.

So there I was thinking that I’d cracked it. Ah no, silly me. This is Enedis I was dealing with. The re-arranged appointment was for this afternoon (time to be confirmed) but at around 10.00am while I was in the middle of packing boxes for my move I got a phone call saying that Enedis would be on site in 20 minutes. So I dropped everything and dashed over to Labattut thinking that at least by the end of the day I’d have an electrical hook-up for my caravan.

Trouble was that when I saw the Enedis van driving up, there was no equipment attached, which I thought was strange as from my ‘simulation’ both they and I knew that the nearest connection node is on the other side of the road from my land and that it will therefore be necessary to cut a small trench across it to take the cable. And so it was that the two Enedis engineers on board said that under the circumstances they couldn’t do anything today (bearing in mind that I made my application several weeks ago in what I thought was plenty of time) and that I had to make a further application via the Mairie onto yet another public sector organisation, the Syndicate de something-or-other electrique, to cut the trench.

The French logic doesn’t seem to understand that the averge consumer knows nothing about cutting trenches, doesn’t have the machinery or know-how to do so and thinks that really this is something that Enedis should do as part of the network connection process. No, that as I said previously, would make it possible to avoid this kind of cock-up which would never do as it would then be impossible to generate all the extra paperwork to keep everyone busy. And anway, who cares about the poor old consumer who’s paying for all of this…

So off they went and around I went to the Mairie. Jean-Paul, the mayor, knew no more about all this nonsense than I did. He immediately picked up the phone, called his contact in Enedis and asked what the heck is going on. I wasn’t party to the conversation but he said to leave it with him and he’d update me, but the long and the short of it is that I won’t have an electrical connection for probably 3 weeks after moving into my caravan and that I’ll have to get my old generator going again that luckily I brought with me to France and still have, even though it currently won’t start.

So what about Veolia then, another state-run disaster area, I asked Jean-Paul. I told him that I’d contacted them weeks ago explaining that, as he knew, there’s already a connection on my land and that all I need is for a water meter and stand-pipe with a tap to be installed. However, since then after receiving an acknowledgement I’d heard nothing more. I also explained that it’s an impossibilty, even harder than EDF, to contact Veolia by phone.

So he picked up the phone again and after hanging on for about 15 minutes, eventually got through (several ladies who were in the Mairie organising for the up-coming elections and had been listening into the conversation were by this time incredulous). Jean-Paul then handed me back the phone and sure enough, the lady on the other end had found my initial communication but seemed to think it normal that I’d heard nothing more.

It seems that they have to issue me with a ‘devis’ (an estimate) for doing the work before they can proceed but it was a waste of my time asking why, given that it had been weeks, they hadn’t done that. However, bitching, although reasonable, won’t help much because this is the French public sector you’re dealing with. It’s impervious to negative complaints so I’ll now have to wait in the queue for another 3 weeks, without water in my caravan of course, while Veolia creeks into action and deals with my request. I hate being such a nuisance to them. It must spoil their whole day…

A dedicated professional

Unsung heroes come in all shapes and forms and are found in all walks of life. I saw one in action yesterday in the form of the guy who came to clean out my fosse septique. He turned up in his large tanker truck and wasn’t fazed at all by the fact that the workmen laying the electric cables still had half of the road up leading down to my house. He was parked up next to my house and had the fosse septique’s lid off in a jiffy. Those of, let’s say, a more sensitive disposition should maybe look away now.

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After pulling on his overall he was quickly on the job and it was soon obvious that he knew what he was doing and was serious about doing a proper job. There are no half measures with this chap, he’s an expert in his line of work.

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There were no snags and after getting my house’s old fosse septique, which hasn’t been cleaned out for going on 15 years I’d say, as clean as a whistle inside, he pumped back some of the water he’d taken out to keep the bacteria happy. Then he cleaned up, wrote me out an invoice that I paid by cheque and he was gone. All done and dusted and no mess in not much more than 30 minutes, plus he was a genial fellow into the bargain. A fine service I’d say for only 208€.

Another early start

I woke up yet again in the early hours and couldn’t get back to sleep and I can’t just lie there tossing and turning when I’ve got things to do. So I was up again before dawn and after a wash, shave and an early light breakfast I decided to tackle an essential job on the caravan, namely sealing the toilet compartment with waterproof white silicone sealant.

It has to be done because even if I can’t take a shower in there for the moment (the water heater still hasn’t arrived and the supplier who says it’s been delivered hasn’t replied to my message of a few days ago), in a few days time I’ll be washing, shaving etc in there and water is bound to be splashed around, in which case any nooks and crannies that it might get into have to be sealed up. I started the job at around 7.00am and was all done by 8.30am when the guys arrived to continue the work they’re doing to bury my and my neighbour’s electrical cables and was very pleased with the results.

When I got the caravan some idiot had ‘sealed’ the toilet with black gunge that was a completely solid plastic and consequently wasn’t a sealer at all. I had to strip it out doing as little damage as possible, and they’d also ripped out what was probably a perfectly serviceable Thetford cassette toilet and installed a ghastly cupboard unit in its place which also had to be removed.

Here are some shots that I took before I started working on it.

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And here are some shots that I took earlier this morning of the finished job.

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So at least I’ll have a working toilet and bathroom when I move into the caravan on my land at Fleurac shortly. Depending on what happens (or not) over the next few days I may have neither electricity (in which case I’ll have to get my generator going) nor water (I’ll have to buy a camping water carrier) but at least I’ll be able to have a wash and shave and retain some semblances of a civilised lifestyle before I sort out all my services 🙂

Next please!

And today it was the turn of my plant pots, which are the first things to actually be moved out and taken to be stored. I was originally going to take them straight to the land in Fleurac and leave them there but I then thought that there could be two problems with that. Firstly, it’s obvious that they could easily be stolen from there, although theft and crime in general doesn’t seem to be a major problem here.

Secondly, and more importantly really, if I drop them onto the land before it has been ‘terrassed’ ie cleared and levelled for the caravan (and the house) and an access onto it created, they will be in the way wherever they are. They would therefore have to be shifted around and would probably end up getting damaged, which would be a great shame as almost all of them were brought all the way from England when I moved here.

So I decided to ask for help and my good friend Victor came to the rescue once again and said that I can store them at his and Madeleine’s place until I can move them in a few weeks time. So with that I loaded them all into my large trailer with old plastic tarpaulins wedged between them so they wouldn’t get damaged and took them there. I didn’t take any shots while they were in the trailer but here they are all unloaded and safely stored in Victor and Madeleine’s garden

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This wasn’t the only thing that I did today, though. First thing this morning I went over to Labattut (my land) and replaced the name and address on my new letterbox with an all-plastic one that I made using my Brother label machine. With all the rain we’ve had I knew that the original paper one that I’d printed off on my computer would have run and be almost illegible and indeed, so it was.

I need to have my name and address clearly visible because it’ll soon by my principal address and I’m also now beginning to order stuff to be delivered there. A case in point is a 13m² metal garden store that I’ll be erecting next to my caravan at Labattut. I’ll be able to store the main tools and equipment in it that I’ll need to be able to ‘do things’ there and I’ll probably also run a temporary power cable into it. And who knows, I might even be able to put a washing machine in there which could be a huge help.

But maybe I needn’t have worried too much about my new address not being known, because when I opened the mailbox this morning, what did I find inside? A postcard from Victor and Madeleine who are coming to the end of a get-away in their camping car, that’s what, with a greeting headed ‘Postbox Test’. So I now know that at least the Fleurac postman knows where to find me 🙂

Total nightmare day

Excuse the ungrammatical title of this post but it really does say it all. Today was one disaster after another, each one worse than the one before.

I went to bed pretty early (for me) last night in the caravan – 10.30pm – but was awoken at just before 5.00am by crashing thunder and rain hammering on the caravan roof. I tried to get back to sleep again but in the end gave up and made a dash for the house when the rain had eased off a bit at around 5.30am. It wasn’t then worth trying to get a bit more shut-eye on my sofa so I just got myself washed and shaved and had an early breakfast, thinking about my plans for the day.

Men were due to arrive at around 8.00am to dig up my garden in order to lay a new electrical cable to supply my house and I thought that after they’d got underway I’d be able to snatch time between the expected possible showers to start shipping suitable stuff in my trailer into storage. However, that idea was immediately dashed when the man in charge said that sorry, they’d have to dig up the whole entrance down to my house for the whole day and that if I didn’t move my cars, they’d be unable to get out.

So any thought of shifting stuff in to storage immediately went out of the window – yet another potential moving day lost. However, I thought that I’d be able to make the best of it by spending the day loading stuff into boxes, something that I could do indoors even if it was raining, but little did I know what was to follow.

To kick off with, I thought that it might be a good idea to clean my oven. It’s one of the items I’m leaving behind as the new buyer is taking quite a few things, which I’m happy about as it’ll save me having to (a) transport them and (b) pay for storage. I hadn’t realised just how bad it was and it took me the next two hours or so. So this was lucky really, as the job had to be done and it would have caught me out even more if I’d left it to the last minute.

Then before I got busy filling boxes, I thought that it’d be a good idea to make up my usual stock of salads. When I buy in the ingredients, I have always have enough for nine, so instead of making one at a time, which is tedious and inefficient, I make up a whole batch and keep them in the fridge, gradually working my way through them. This occupied me for the next hour or so, bringing me up to about lunch time. It was about then that I went out to see how the workmen were getting on and here are some shots of what I found.

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The entrance to my house had indeed been totally ripped up. They’d actually started at the bottom close to my garden and when I’d popped out earlier there was already a large trench there with a growing heap of soil and rock, mainly, beside it. They’d then extended the trench right back up to the road where there will be a control box and as well as already inserting a large red plastic tube in the trench that will contain the cables, they’d also begun extending the trench into my back garden.

When they’d arrived, I’d shown the man in charge where there were underground pipes to do with my ‘système d’assainissement’ that would need to be avoided. However, I’d totally forgotten about the mains water pipe that passes along the back of my house and then turns up at the corner where they intended to bring the new electric cable to the surface. It was just then, just after I’d taken a pee and the toilet cistern was refilling, that the house lost its water supply.

I went out to see what was going on and sure enough, the young digger driver had cut through the mains water pipe and the trench that he’d just dug was already filling up with water. Luckily he had the presence of mind to go and turn the supply off at the main stopcock before consulting his colleague as to what to do next. I then had a telephone conversation of about 20 minutes at the end of which I said that I was off to make some tea only to then realise that I couldn’t, because there wasn’t any water. However, I was then surprised to hear the sound of running water and when I turned my kitchen tap on, water came out as usual.

I went out to speak to the workmen and they did indeed confirm that all was back to normal. When I asked if they carried some kind of emergency kit in their van to deal with such emergencies they said that indeed they do as they cut through underground pipes the whole time and not only are they permitted to repair water supplies, they are an easy repair to do.

But not only did I find that they’d repaired the mains supply, they’d also decided that rather than waste time avoiding the underground pipe that enters my grease trap taking water from my kitchen and bathroom, it would also be quicker and easier for them to bust their trench right through it and reinstate it afterwards. Here’s how they did it.

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The man in charge said that it was quite lucky that they did, actually, as either due to faulty installation when it was put in or through ground settlement, the length of piping between the last bend and the entrance to the grease trap was lower than the entrance itself. As a result it presented a ‘trap’ which had filled up with muck and silt, which they’d cleaned out before reinstating the pipe. And when they make the system good, they’ll make sure that there’s a continuous fall into the grease trap.

But my problems didn’t stop there. The sound of running water that I’d heard in my bathroom wasn’t just the cistern filling up – it was the cistern overflowing, luckily just into the pan itself. I surmised that because I’d just flushed the toilet when the supply had been cut, it had presented the least resistance when the supply had resumed (like a tap being left open) and a piece of grit had flowed into the body of the water level valve in the cistern preventing it from closing. There was only one thing for it – I’d have to strip the valve out and try to clean it and then buy a new replacement if I was unsuccessful.

This took me the rest of the day, so nothing got moved into storage today and no boxes were filled. However, I did get the toilet working again, which was a relief in more ways than one. The workmen had also made good progress. My back garden was still in a state of total disarray (they said not to worry as they’ll be reinstating it properly) but they had at least opened up the entrance again so tomorrow I’ll be able to get my trailers out. They’d also put barriers around their open trenches at each end before knocking off work at the end of the day.

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I have to admit that the entrance to my house will probably end up being an improvement although they will most likely have inadvertently made it into the full 4 metre width for a ‘chemin rurale’ that it never was before. I noticed that their trench at the road end was beginning to slowly take in water and as I’d had a leak in the box that contains my water meter last bank holiday, that luckily I’d managed to repair, I nervously checked to see if it had returned. However, it was as dry as a bone and I also couldn’t see any water in my neighbour-at-the-back’s box, so I left it there.

Will I get any removal boxes filled tomorrow? Who knows. Will I manage to dodge any showers and get stuff moved out of my garden tool and wood stores into storage? I’ll have to wait and see. What I do know is that having been up since before the crack of dawn this morning, I should sleep like a log tonight. If nothing else goes wrong, that is…

Just what I don’t need

Just before I started typing this we had the most vicious thunderstorm come sweeping through. Just beforehand I took down the small parasol in my back garden because tomorrow a contractor is coming to dig up my back garden as part of France’s programme to bury electrical cables (yes, I need it right now like a hole in the head, but that’s not what this post is all about) but the large one is still half up over the table and chairs in the front of my house.

It was being buffeted so much by the wind I was scared that it might get damaged and the table and chairs were (and are) so wet that I wish now that I’d taken that down too, while it was still dry, as both parasols will soon need to be transported over to Fleurac and be erected outside the caravan.

I’ve just checked the weather forecast and rain, sometimes in large quantities, is projected for the whole of next week. I’m now beginning to despair somewhat. I’ve moved house several times in my life and every time it’s been in the rain. And it looks like this time is to be no exception, despite the time of year and the marvellous weather we’ve been having up to now. I want to move everything out of my house and into storage by next week-end if possible, which means shifting it during the coming week. I’d also like then to be able to move the caravan onto my land in Fleurac.

Beyond garden stuff, I can’t think of much else that I can shift in an open trailer in the rain. I always intended to hire a van to move my household furniture and other items anyway, but it now looks as though I’ll need to carry much more in it, meaning that I’ll probably have to hire it for longer. And it also looks as though what I do carry in it, I’ll be loading in the rain… 😐

Another busy day

And they are all going to be like that from now on until I move out. Yesterday I decided that it was time to install my new fridge in the caravan. I took the old one out over a week ago and it’s now gone to the déchetterie and the new one has been ready to be put in for about the same amount of time.

The old fridge was one of those ‘multi’ power supply ones that could use 12V or 220V electricity or gas and that don’t work very well on any of them as a result. Now the caravan can’t be used for touring it makes sense to have a ‘proper’ domestic fridge that runs only on 220V mains electricity and it took me a little while to find one that would fit into the available space, a small Beko model.

The original fridge was about the same depth overall as the Beko but was of much reduced depth in its bottom because of having to fit over the caravan’s wheel arch. This was all well and good but this considerably reduced its capacity and made it much less functional for long term use, as I intend to use it. The Beko is much better in that respect but the difference means, of course, that it sticks out more into the caravan itself.

I don’t care about that and in fact, as you can see in the shots that follow, I came up with a design that incorporates a little wooden shelf over the fridge that will not only protect it from any cooking spills or splashes but will also be handy for placing small items on while the gas hob is in use.

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There is a metal plate below the sink/hob unit of the same width that originally incorporated all the switches and knobs associated with the gas hob and the old fridge. As the new fridge doesn’t need any of those and the gas hob only requires the three original control knobs and air entry holes I had to make blanking plates up to cover the rest. I then just painted the whole thing gloss black which leaves a bit to be desired from the aesthetics point of view but is still an improvement on what was there, which was rusty with its paint flaking off in places.

I needed a small piece of plywood to make the little over-fridge shelf from and the other day I came across quite a large sheet in my garden tool store that I’d forgotten about. While I was getting it out I also realised that some pieces of roofing sheet left-over from when I built the tool store might be suitable for repairing the floor of my large trailer that collapsed in places when I loaded the old ride-on mower to take to the déchetterie, so I got those out too.

And to cut a long story short, when I tried them in place, although a bit heavy they were ideal, so I then spent an hour repairing the trailer. If I’d planned it a bit better I could have got the replacement floor supported better than I did, but it didn’t turn out too badly and now at least, to my relief, I’ll have the trailer to use to take my ride-on mower, cement mixer, plant plots and other heavy items into storage. Here’s how it looked.

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I managed to get everything done (just) yesterday before thunderstorms swept in. They persisted on and off for much of the evening but had ceased by the time that I went to bed (in the caravan). However, I was woken up this morning by constant rumblings of thunder and made it back into the house at around 7.00 am during a lull in the rain. After a hasty breakfast I then returned to the caravan to fit the metal plate that I mentioned above that I’d left overnight in my workshop while its paint dried and after finishing I thought no more about it when, after I’d returned to the house, the thunderstorm resumed but with more intensity.

When I went back to the caravan, I found water on the floor and that the edge of the duvet on my bed had also got wet. The reason was that I’d left all of the three roof lights open as I thought that they’d give enough protection to not allow water to enter.

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But I was wrong. Luckily, things had not come to too much harm and it didn’t take too much time to mop the water up. The edge of my bed will dry during the day and in any case, I’ve had much worse while camping in a tent! But better to find this out now rather then when I’m installed in the caravan over on my land in Fleurac 😉

No joke

A large hole has appeared in my back garden. The local police are looking into it. That’s a joke and yes, the old ones are still the best.

But seriously, I’ve had to dig a hole in my back garden, the reason being to find the access into the house’s ‘fosse septique’ (septic tank). The reason is that the purchaser insists that I have it cleaned out. It’s been confirmed to me that this is a legal requirement when you move from a house – even if you’ve been renting it, it’s your responsibility to have the fosse septique purged.

I said that the fosse septique has been quite OK in the 9 years that I’ve been here and that the chance therefore that there will be problems during the next 12 months are pretty minimal. As it must then be taken out of service anyway I couldn’t see the point in disturbing it, especially as there was no way of telling where the access to it was without digging up half the garden to find it.

The purchaser, however, disagreed suggesting that there is no way to know what state the bacteria it contained are in and that he thought that there was a danger that they might ‘go wild’ in the intervening period. My mind boggled – imagine rampant bacteria from my old fosse septique raging through the local area, drinking, smoking and making loud noises and terrorising old ladies, children and animals. But he was insistent and as it’s the law I must comply.

So here I was today at this late stage of the game with yet another new task being imposed upon me when I’m already close to being overwhelmed. I contacted the local company who undertakes septic tank purging this morning and they said that if they had to search for the ‘regard’ (inspection hatch) there would naturally be a supplementary charge and that it would be better for me to locate it myself. So that’s what I set out to do after lunch this afternoon.

As it happened, I had a pretty good idea where to start looking from an indentation that there is in the grass and a hollow sound if you stamped on it hard and I was proved right shortly after I started digging. I didn’t even need my pickaxe this time even though I pulled out lots of loose rock which I suppose must have just been replaced there by someone years ago in the dim distant past. Here are some shots of the cover itself which I didn’t lift for fear of loose earth falling into the fosse. I’ll leave that to the contractor when they come next week.

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So that was another job sorted ready for the sale hand-over. All it needs now is for the contractor to come and do his stuff, me to pay them and him to issue me with the required paper.

This morning I was back at the déchetterie in Rouffignac dropping off an old ride-on mower that I got hold of shortly after I arrived in France. It didn’t cut too badly but I got it dirt cheap because at that time my grass was full of loose large stones and rocks that had damaged two hand mowers so I didn’t want to invest in a decent ride-on until they’d been cleared. From that time I’d parked it under a tree in my back garden covered by a plastic tarpaulin which has since deteriorated badly leaving the old mower exposed to much of what the elements had to throw at it in that time.

But now it had to go as I have to clear the both the house and garden . When I tried to pull it out by hand it wouldn’t budge because its tyres were flat and it had started to dig itself in. So I had to tow it out using my car and here are a few shots that I took before and after.

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I managed to get it up onto my large trailer myself despite the trailer’s floor finally deciding to split under its weight in the process. It’s been threatening to do so for some time and it has to do so now, of course, when I need it for transporting large and/or heavy stuff into storage. Unfortunately, I’ve just had too much to do over the last three months that I just couldn’t find time to put a new floor in but hopefully I’ll be able to manage by placing some old sheets of roofing board in the trailer bed that I’ve had stored in my mower shed for the last three or four years.

Anyway, thankfully the old ride-on has now gone as well as some other stuff this afternoon. As I left the déchetterie I said ‘See you next week’, to the chap who runs it. He’s been so incredibly helpful over the last week or so, helping me unload stuff and what have you. He gave is usual reply… ‘No problem’ 🙂

Gone but not forgotten

After checking on the new postbox that I placed on my land in Fleurac yesterday (yup, perfect job, everything fine and solid as a rock) today I got going clearing my house and garden of everything that has to go the ‘déchetterie’ at Rouffignac. Today’s priority was clearing all of the remaining bits of G-MYRO, my much-loved old AX3 microlight that brought me all the way down from the UK to the Dordogne when I first moved to France but ended up in the treetops on just it’s first flight down here.

They consisted of the wings, one of which was badly damaged in the accident, the empennage (elevator and rudder components), some wing struts and some old doors. They have been hanging around for 9 years and I only kept them in the first place in case they contained any components that might have been reusable. But they’ve only ended up being shunted around the garden and pushed to the back of my workshop, so it was time for them to go.

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In fact I should have done this years ago because as it turned out, even the tubes of the least damaged wing were bent so nothing from either wing could be safely re-used in another aircraft and although the empennage parts were OK, there’s no demand for such items anymore. So everything ended up being chopped up, another tiring and sweat-inducing job even in the shade in my back garden, and chucked in one of my trailers ready to be dumped tomorrow.

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The déchetterie was closed all day today but will be open tomorrow so it’ll be time for the last vestiges of MYRO to disappear forever. I thought it would be more of an emotional tug than in actually was given all the time and effort I put into it having rebuilt it twice before coming to France. But it’s time to move on. Parts of MYRO are still flying in 28AAD, the French AX3 that I acquired and rebuilt after a landing accident and there’s an exciting new future waiting for me just around the corner. It’s no good hanging onto the past.

Still at it

After mounting my ‘panneau’ on my land this morning I returned home to unhitch my trailer and then went off to Brico Marché at Le Bugue to put my next plan for the day into action. I only have just over 2 weeks before I move out of my house and I’ve already started thinking about my change of address. Contracts like EDF (electricity), Véolia (water) and Free (home phone) I’ve just got to cancel but there are many others who will need to be notified in good time of my new address.

But it won’t be enough for them just to be notified – I’ll also need a real address, even though I’ll be in the caravan, where I can receive post and that means that I’ll need a mailbox. And that was the purpose of my trip to Le Bugue because an internet search had revealed that Brico Marché has the cheapest mailbox around, less than half the cost of those being offered by other ‘magasins de bricollage’ and cheaper even than Brico Depot. That suits me fine as it’ll probably only be a temporary measure as I’ve seen other more elaborate designs that I’d like to have when the new house is finished.

After a quick lunch I assembled it with the intention of going straight back to my land to place it into position. I took all of the tools that I thought I might need plus a bucket of sand/ballast/cement mix without water. My plan was to get a hole dug and everything ready for concreting in at which point I’d nip just around the corner to Malbec to add water to the mix and return with it ready for use. My plan worked faultlessly but it was getting to that point that was the problem.

I took a pick-axe with me as I suspected that I’d need it but I hadn’t realised how soon that would be ie immediately. I started with a shovel which hit rock straight off and from then on it was pick-axe all the way and clearing the ever-deepening hole of rock and stone. There can’t be much wrong wih my health now because this was in direct sunlight at a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius, just stopping every now and then for a short break in the shade.

I wanted to get down to a decent depth as lots of people around these parts think that you only need to plant a ‘boite aux lettres’ support pole 10 cm in the ground and then wonder why it eventually falls over. I got down to almost 50 cm before deciding that enough was enough and was very pleased to find that by making a support base consisting of concrete plus hammered-in smallish pieces of rock, the mailbox stood firmly enough without any other support. I’m hoping that by tomorrow the concrete will have gone off enough for the job to be solid and permanent.

Here are some shots showing my land and the final result from across the other side of the road.

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And I had a very pleasant surprise to cap the job off. I got my phone out and as I was aiming it to take the first shot, a beautiful little butterfly landed on my finger. It then flew off and landed on the new mailbox itself.

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I don’t know if this was an omen or a blessing, but I thought that it was a lovely finale to the day. I’ve been toying with ideas for names for my land and hence my new house itself and the one that keeps coming back to me is ‘Pré d’or’ (look it up). The beautiful colours on the little butterfly’s wings now lead me to think that that will be the right choice, especially as the cut grass is now drying out in the sun and will soon be a beautiful golden colour.

I returned home hot and tired to be met with a wonderful surprise. My lovely French neighbour, Chantal, had taken it upon herself to clean right through the caravan and the results were evident to the eye (and nose!) as soon as I saw it. And she was still at it even as I got back, bless her. I’ll miss her greatly when I go as nobody could ask for a sweeter, better neighbour than her.

Now it’s getting serious

As from 9.00 am this morning.

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The ‘panneau’ that must be placed on site for two months to allow for any objections by any member of the public before any work can commence is now in position on my ‘terrain’. So if there are no come-backs (and I don’t expect any) before 14th August, work can begin on my new house. This will probably just consist of laying an access of rolled crushed stone that can then be used when construction proper begins and preparing and levelling the site.

I have in my mind that it will be some time after that that building work can begin but that actually isn’t so. One of the contractors that I’m seriously considering and will be meeting on site tomorrow told me that they could probably start the project in September, so not long at all really. Wow!

French Evier Water

Oooh, sorry, that must be one of my worst plays on French words ever, ‘évier’ being the French word for sink or handbasin. I had another trip back to Brico Depot this morning, I’m afraid, because one of the mixer taps that I bought yesterday was unsuitable to use over my main sink. Basically it wasn’t high enough to fill my Brita filter jug under and it didn’t have a swivel nozzle that you need in a kitchen sink to wash things away, when you’ve prepared food or done the washing up, for example.

It’s lucky that Brico Depot opens on a Sunday. It’s the only ‘magasin de bricollage’ that does and that’s because it’s owned by the UK company Kingfisher (of B & Q fame) who also run Conforama and Tool Station here in France. And it seems to be a policy that works for them from the number of customers who were there today. I just needed a simple, cheapoe kitchen mixer tap and after being refunded for the tap that I bought yesterday that I hadn’t even opened, that’s what I got. And I saved myself 10€ into the bargain, the two taps together now costing me only around 20€.

As usual with anything that a Frenchman has had his hands on, as I’m now finding all the time, what I took out was a total mess, a bodge up, and I was able to make things much better than before. Am I being unfair? I don’t think so.

The hole in the stainless steel main sink hadn’t been cut large enough for the previous tap’s body so it could never in a month of Sundays sit down properly and be watertight and presumably it had been like that ever since the water system was installed. The tap in the toilet was only held in by one bolt so no wonder it was woggly. Hopeless. I also found more leaks on the external valves where the external hose is connected and I’ll have to rectify those as well before the valves give up completely.

But it was enough for me today to end up with a working water system, outside leaks and all. Here are the new taps that I fitted today in the toilet and kitchen areas.

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This still doesn’t solve my hot water problem of course. The water coming out of the taps was lovely and warm today but that was because the outdoor temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius and the hose pipe was in the sun, but it won’t be like that in the middle of winter. I’m worried that the electric heater that I’ve ordered, but which still hasn’t turned up, may have too high a current drain and will keep tripping the supply whenever I use it so maybe I’ll have to think again before it’s too late. I also need to find somewhere where I can buy the two sink plugs that I need. They seem almost impossible to find.

Oh, and apologies to Evian for (almost, but not quite…) taking their name in vain 🙂

To die for

Returning home from Brico Depot this afternoon I spotted 32 degrees Celsius on my car temperature gauge but as I drove it slipped back… to 31 degrees. So our amazing weather continues and as it’s so dry and the grass in the fields is so long, all the farmers are out working like crazy getting in the year’s first cut of hay.

The farmer who lives up the road from me was out working on the field opposite my house up until it got dark last night at around 10.00pm with his machine that spreads the cut grass out into rows ready for the next machine that drives over the rows and bails them up. But he finished relatively early because I could still hear others working in the dark right up until 11.30pm.

I stopped over to see if the grass on my land in Fleurac has now all been cut and sure enough it all had been and even bailed up ready to be taken off on the large trailers they use to carry 20 bails or so at a time to go into storage. Now that the grass has been taken down to ground level, the views over my land are to die for. Looking east from the road you can now see that although the land isn’t flat and falls away from the road, the slope isn’t very great in the initial stages.

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And when you look at where the house will actually be built, there’s already a fairly large semi-flat area. Here it is from two directions.

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So ‘terrassement’ (getting the levels done ready for the build) should be a relatively simple matter, and certainly from what I saw when the company Agrafeuil took out the enormous lime tree that stood originally right next to my house outside the kitchen door, and then created the land contours that I’ve got now.

Here’s what I mean about the views being to die for. This next shot is the view that I’ll see out of my kitchen and eastward-facing living room window, as well as from the windows of bedrooms 1 and 2. And the best bit is that I own the land right down to the trees, so it can never be taken away from me.

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And this is the view that will be seen through my southward-facing living room window with the rolling hills of the Dordogne visible in the distance. At some time there will probably be a neighbour on the adjacent land but I can’t see our houses being very close together and in any case, I’m also allowing for it to be possible for me to plant a row of screening trees along my southern border.

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Oh, by the way, I picked up something else at Brico Depot as well as what I originally intended to buy, and here it is.

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Before you can start the construction of a new build here, you have to erect a ‘panneau’ on the site that’s visible to the public for at least 2 months beforehand. This is to allow any objections to be raised, although it’s doubtful that they’d be successful as they can only be legal ones and not trivial complaints. So this will be my panneau and at last it shows that things are really and truly starting to happen.

Another long day

We had yet another marvellous early summer day today. It now seems extraordinary that up to just a week or so ago we were in a cold, wet cycle that seemed as though it would never end. The weather down here has a habit of playing tricks and just as soon as you’ve given up on it it goes and turns up trumps.

It was similar yesterday, maybe a little bit cooler than today, and I’d had ideas to cut my lawn. However, I left it too late because it became far too hot to work in the open sun in the afternoon, so I knew that I’d have to make an early start this morning.

I got it done and then popped over to my French neighbour, Chantal’s, place and did hers as well. It came as a surprise to her but she’d worked tirelessly yesterday emptying all my plant pots so they are ready to go into storage. The last thing that I could do was then leave her to cut her own grass , which was even longer than mine in places.

But in any case this was intended to be the last time that I’ll cut either my or her grass as I now need to start moving stuff into storage, starting with my garden equipment and tools, and the nice reward (for me) was a relaxing lunch together out of the sun.

This afternoon I moved the caravan from its spot over in the far corner of my front garden to a position closer to the house on the other side. I did this because I wanted to connect up the water system because while I’m still waiting for the water heater that I ordered some time ago to arrive, I needed to know if it worked and whether or not there were any leaks.

There were, of course, wouldn’t you just know it. With every passing day I realise more and more that buying this caravan was a disaster. Both taps were leaking, the smaller one in the handbasin in the toilet and also the one in the sink. I’ll just have to bite the bullet and buy two more – the cost keeps mounting up – as I’ll waste too much time trying to repair them and then I probably won’t be lucky.

Here are some shots taken this evening of the caravan in its new position. I’d taken a shower after my grass cutting exploits but it was still so hot that after I’d got the caravan set up and levelled, I had to take another and also put my teeshirt in the wash!

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I’m now seriously thinking that once I’m established in the caravan on my land in Fleurac I’ll buy another, better, larger, more modern one and resell this one, even if I incur a bit of a loss. The trouble is, of course, that by then I’ll have rectified all the problems on this one and the buyer will get the benefit, but that’s just something I’ll have to accept as being water under the bridge and the price I’ll pay for learning a hard lesson 🙁

Done it!

I’m there at last. Today I completed the making good and sealing inside and out of the two new bedroom windows. That means that I’ve finally completed all of the work that I promised the new owners I’d do before handing the house over to them at the end of this month.

Just after lunch I also managed to fit in a visit to check out some storage that I’ve been offered. It turned out to be clean and dry but not fully sealed up as I would like, so although I’ll be able to use it for everything that I want to hang onto, I’ll have to make sure that everything is carefully wrapped and sealed before I drop it there. It’s not too far away, which is convenient, and it won’t break the bank at just 50€ per month.

On the way back I dropped over to check the situation with my land. The grass was very long when I last looked and with the weather being so good, I expected that the farmer would soon be cutting the whole area for hay and sure enough, he’d done half of it. Here are a couple of shots showing the area roughly where my new house will be.

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So at long last I can now just concentrate on preparing the caravan, packing my belongings and generally getting ready to move out. I’d like to be able to do that a day or so before the deadline of 30th June as then I’ll be sure to be able to clean right through and leave everything in good shape ready for the new owners. I’ll be sleeping in the caravan again tonight as the two bedrooms are still not useable but I’ll probably sleep a bit easier tonight 😉

Glamping? Hardly…

Because of the work I’m doing on my bedroom windows, both rooms are out of action with the beds leaning against the walls on their sides to give me space to work. So two nights ago I put up a camp bed and slept in my living room, and not too badly I might add, especially compared to the night before when I only got about 5 or 6 hours of sleep.

Yesterday morning I had a very successful meeting in Périgueux with a potential builder of my new house and fully intended to finish off the work on the windows in the afternoon, but quite honestly, I was so tired when it came time to start after lunch that I napped soundly for so long in order to catch up on the sleep that I’d lost the night before that it wasn’t worth starting.

But anyway, yesterday evening I was getting ready to put my camp bed up for a second time when I thought to myself, hey, what am I doing? I have a caravan standing outside on my lawn and although it’s not in a fit state to live in right now as I’m in the middle of several jobs, at least it has a bed! So I spent a few minutes giving the interior a good spray with ‘anti-volants’ to clear any possible mosquitoes or other ‘baddies’ that might have been lurking and transferred my bedding over from my living room.

Here are a couple of shots that I took this morning. You can see what I mean with the interior being somewhat in disarray with the old fridge having been pulled out and the new one waiting to be installed.

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And I have to say that I slept pretty well. The bed in there is clean, probably no worse than the ones that I’ve slept in in the French Première Classe and F1 hotels that I’ve stayed in, and was at least as comfortable as my proper bed, if not more so. I was dozing after waking up when my neighbour, Chantal’s, little dog brought me to full consciousness by barking outside the door. She always comes to see me as soon as she’s let out in the morning (the little dog, not Chantal…) and she obviously knew that I was inside the caravan.

So that was a good time to get up and face the day – and a little dog that was soaking wet from the dew on the long grass and wanted nothing more than to jump up and lick my face. What more can one want from this life of ours?

Footnote – I can’t wait to get rid of those awful curtains…

And then there were two

I had another one of my disturbed nights – not so much disturbed as I just woke up early, having had only between 5 and 6 hours sleep. Anyway, I couldn’t get back to sleep, mainly because I’d been bitten like crazy by a mosquito during the night – on my face, finger and wrist – so I thought that I might as well get up, have breakfast and get straight onto installing the second replacement bedroom window.

We’ve got a marvellous spell of weather in prospect for the rest of this week and as I already have one meeting lined up with a building contractor tomorrow morning, I must make the best use of it to finish off the work I have to do on the house to give myself time for packing and getting ready to leave, caravan work and meeting, hopefully, with the other contractors that I contacted last week

After I’d had breakfast, I blasted on to clear the second (my) bedroom, create space to work in and cover up what I couldn’t take out to protect it from dust. Then I attacked the window and frame in the same way that Wim and I did the other last week and soon had it out on the ground outside. I was disappointed to find that when the frame was removed, the wall on one side was sunk so far below the plaster surface that there was nothing to drill and plug to take the screws to hold the window frame in.

So I had to make it good with sand-cement mortar – I did a bit on the other side too actually – and I thought that this would mean that I’d have to then leave the job until tomorrow when it would have cured. However, for once the hot sun worked in my favour and after I’d had a quick lunch, I found that the mortar was already hard enough to be screwed and plugged. So I was able to get the new frame in today after all, and in fact the job was generally better and the fixings also better than I’d got with the other window.

By the end of the afternoon, about 5.30 pm, I got this second window, to the same stage as the first ie ready for sealing and finishing, which I hope to be able to do tomorrow. Here they both are.

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The next three shots show the window closed and open in swivel and tilt modes.

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Here’s a shot of both windows taken fom the outside.

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I think it’s a great improvement and it is, in purely practical terms. The bottoms of the old window frames were totally rotten and when I broke them out I found that they contained a lot of insects that like that sort of thing and that were finding their way indoors. One of the panes in my bedroom’s window was also a cracked and it’ll be nice to see the back of that. Just to finish off, here’s an old shot of the house with the original old windows, from 2016 I believe when they were actually in better condition than now.

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What do you think? Was it worth it? I think so… 😉

Got there in the end

There are two stages in the French property sales process. In the beginning you sign a ‘compromis de vente’ that expresses your intention to buy the property. It sets out your and the sellers rights and obligations and usually, after a brief period (10 days?) during which the buyer can withdraw from the process without obligation, the latter pays a 10% deposit. Then after a period of 3 months, which can be reduced by paying an additional fee, the ‘acte de vente’ is signed at which time the former pays over the rest of the purchase price plus fees and taxes and becomes the new owner.

The prime difference with buying development land compared to an existing building is that the buyer doesn’t have to pay anything on signing the compromis de vente and only hands over a deposit when they have acquired a development permit, or ‘permis de construire’. This is because obtaining a permis de construire can be a fraught and risky process and if they are unsuccessful, the buyer can withdraw fom the transaction without penalty.

I signed the compromis de vente for the land in Fleurac on which I plan to build a new single-storey house in the first week of January after which I did find that obtaining a permis de construire for it was indeed a fraught and convoluted process. Some of my problems originated with MCA, my original choice of builder, who let me down by doing essentially nothing between the end of last year when I expressed an interest in one of their house designs and the first week in April when I kicked them into touch.

By then I had developed my own design and started the process of applying for a permis de construire for it, which was promptly kicked back by ‘les architectes des bâtiments de France’ (BDF) the national organisation which has the responsibility for protecting France’s heritage and traditions. They said that my modern design was unsuitable and, at the end, clearly indicated that they didn’t think that any building should be allowed on my parcel of land, which was outrageously beyond their remit, as the local authority responsible for planning had approved it for building on.

I also objected strongly to being dictated to in such an off-hand manner and took the bit between my teeth. The mayor of Fleurac agreed with me that BDF had over-stepped the mark and told them that as Fleurac is not in an officialy protected zone, it was the commune who should decide whether my house should be allowed to go ahead and it was its view that it should.

And so, six months almost to the day after signing the compromis, today was the day when I signed the acte de vente for the land in question. But not before further hic-cups which I’ve now learnt are only to be expected in France. I mentioned in my last post how tortuous it had been to execute a transfer of a £sterling amount from my UK bank to my French bank account and how it had been explained to me that I just had to shut up and expect the system’s delays.

This was like a red rag to a bull, of course, and I complained bitterly at my bank how it was incomprehensible to me that a process that would take 2 hours in the UK takes 2 days in France. In fact the transfer arrived in my French bank account late yesterday evening and as I could not complete the subsequent transfer from my account to that of the seller’s ‘notaire’ myself, I fired off an email to the bank saying that it was essential for them to implement it as soon as possible in the morning and then let me know when the funds would arrive in the notaire’s account.

I needed to know that as if the delay was going to be 24 hours as I’d been told, I’d have had to postpone todays’ meeting for the signing of the acte de vente. But I had an early meeting on site with a prospective contractor so was unable to contact my bank first thing and it was getting on for 11.00am by the time I was able to get into the branch. I’d learnt my lesson about not bothering to get anything done over the phone and knew that I’d have to ask the questions of the branch face-to-face.

And lucky I did, because what did I find? They hadn’t even seen my email let alone opened it, read its contents and actioned my request. This would almost have been a hanging offence for a bank in the UK but they seemed fairly unperturbed by it all almost as though this was normal practice. CA in Montignac really are hopeless and seemed somewhat shocked when I demanded that things happened immediately.

My email was found on the clerical assistant’s computer (why is checking incoming emails not the first thing she does every morning after logging on?), its contents printed out and an immediate transfer made as I’d requested. When I asked how long it would take for the funds to arrive in the other account, I was told 2 hours which was quite a lot different to what I’d been told yesterday, so with nothing more for me to do, I left.

I emailed the seller’s notaire telling them of the problems I’d encountered, to check their bank account and to let me know if the meeting scheduled for this afternoon would have to be cancelled but shortly afterwards I got a call saying that the funds had arrived and by late this afternoon the acte de vente was signed and I was officially the owner of the terrain at Labattut Basse in Fleurac. And I was so exhausted by the events involved and the long day I’d endured yesterday that I couldn’t wait to get home and take a nap!

I met the contractor this morning at the Mairie at Fleurac before showing him the way to the site and took the opportunity of dropping in my ‘déclaration préalable’ for siting my caravan on the land before and during the construction works. They’ll find it when the Mairie opens tomorrow and here’s a mock-up that I included showing roughly what it will look like when the caravan is there.

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Quite honestly, with all of the work I’ve been doing on my house in recent months and weeks and with what I still have left to do before I can move out, I can’t now wait to get into the caravan even with all of the inconveniences that it will involve. I think that the first thing that I’ll do is sleep non-stop for two days 😉

Another one of those days

This is what all of my days are like now, and probably will be until I eventually move out of my house at the end of this month.

I woke up just before 5.00am (having got to bed last night at 12.00am) with my mind racing about a problem to do with my house sale. I told the buyers that due to the diagnostics report saying that my gas hob has ‘anomolies’, the easiest solution would be for me to change it for an electric one. But it turns out that it’s not – my old fusebox doesn’t have enough circuits for an additional 16A supply and it would be crazy to upgrade it now as the electrical supply is soon to be buried in the garden (rather than coming in via overhead line) and that would be the ideal time to move all of the outmoded boxes outside in advance of a planned kitchen upgrade.

I have found out that in order to resolve the previously mentioned ‘anomolies’ with the existing gas hob, two ventilation holes, one at high level and the other low, each of 100cm2 would need to be banged through the walls of the kitchen. It would be madness to do that now as I know that the buyer wants to have a ceramic hob in the future at which time the holes would be unnecessary, and who wants to have holes that big in your walls connecting direct to the outside and letting freezing cold air into the room in the winter?

So I needed to write a long and detailed email to my buyers explaining my reasoning and I’m now waiting for a reply. I hope that they see sense – I think they probably will.

Then onto my next job – arranging a sterling transfer from my UK bank to euros in my French bank account. This was a big priority as I have a meeting tomorrow afternoon to finalise my land purchase and the full funds have to be in the account of the seller’s notaire by that time. Despite the £ not being quite as high against the € as I had hoped I did the transfer on line before mid-morning which should usually be in plenty of time.

Then moving on again. I have a meeting on site with a prospective contractor tomorrow morning. He has a good understanding of the problems that were involved in getting my house approved and he requested having a full copy of the ‘demand de permis construire’ and the ‘arreté’ that I received giving me the approval that I needed. This involved scanning umpteen pages onto my computer, packaging them up and getting them across to him on line, a task that required quite a lot of time and effort.

Then it was time to check on the progress of my currency transfer. The UK end reported that the funds had gone but there was no sign of them arriving in France. OK, time to continue with other things, namely to create a ‘declaration préalable’, which is a dossier similar to a ‘demand de permis de construire’ and submitted in duplicate to the Mairie in order to obtain permission to place a caravan on the construction site before and during the building works.

This is yet another bureaucratically demanding device that can be created on line but which you have to spend quite a bit of time and effort on in order not to make any errors that would result in it being summarily rejected. You also have to create detailed plans showing the terrain and the proposed siting of the caravan on it plus I was advised by ‘Urbanisme’ at Rouffignac that it would also be helpful if I could mock-up a photograph of the caravan on the land, much as you have to do for the ‘demande de permis de construire’ for the house that you propose to build.

So once again, a lot of work that eventually brought me up towards the end of the ‘normal’ working day, approaching 5.00pm. So time to check again on the currency transfer and no sign of it, which began to cause me some concern, so I decided to ring my bank in Montignac which was fortunately open until 6.00pm today. And I tred and tried for at least 10 minutes but just kept getting the message ‘all of our lines are engaged’. I got through once but as soon as the banal music-on-hold started I was immediately cut off and I was back into the same cycle.

So this was beginning to be something of a crisis and there was nothing left to do other than drive to the bank personally. When I did and explained my problem I was told in a very off-hand way that this time-scale was usual in France and that a transfer made any time today would not hit my French bank account until tomorrow. I was gob-smacked. I then asked how long it would then take to do my ‘local’ transfer which needed to be effected by mid-day tomorrow and was told in the same off-hand way that that would also not hit the receiver’s bank account until the following day.

I was truly appalled by how hopelessly inefficient the system is here in France. A transfer that would take minutes in the UK (let’s say up to 2 hours in order to allow for possdible blips) takes 2 days here. I was disgusted and turned on my heel and walked out, not for the first time I might add.

There was nothing more that I could so it was time for some refreshment when I got home before moving on to the next job – removing the old caravan fridge in readiness for installing the new one which is now standing in my kitchen. It took a bit of working out and some careful disassembly so as not to do any damage to its wooden surround into which the new fridge will slide, but I eventually succeeded, bar undoing a single gas connection, at 9.30pm.

An hour or so ago I checked my French bank account and lo-and-behold my transfer had arrived. I tried to do a transfer on line myself to the seller of the land’s notaire but was not allowed to as it was above my permitted ceiling. So more time was then spent typing an email emphasising the urgency and instructing the bank to make the transfer on my behalf as early as possible tomorrow morning. I’ll need to contact the notaire as soon as possible after my site meeting tomorrow to see what the position is regarding finalising my land purchase that afternoon, but I’m not optimistic.

So a long day, as they all are at the moment. After typing this I hope to be in bed before 12.00am and it would be really nice to have an undisturbed night’s sleep as I’m not getting enough hours and am now beginning to feel the effects. I knew that this wouldn’t exactly be a fun period but I have to say, it’s turning out to be quite a lot worse than I originally expected.