Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Life in France: the nuts and bolts of everyday

Today has been a good day.
It's often problematic getting anything done here at our rural pile in Normandy, especially when, as is often the case, we are here only for a week or ten days. I have spent many a frustrating hour, for instance, on a mobile phone, with a signal that dips in and out, trying to convince an uncomprehending operative that our  internet and landline really aren't working, and it's not because we are idiots. (On this occasion we were over a year without these necessary things and it was eventually discovered that a cable was down between us and our neighbours, probably clobbered by a cherry-picker on top of a tractor.)
We recently found that our electricity meter wasn't working - like most of this place, it's ancient. Whoopee, free electricity! But as we all know there is always a reckoning, in this case, no doubt, a vast bill. So we rang up and told them. At first there was much tut-tutting - the time was too short. But eventually, several calls later, we had an appointment: between 0830 and midday. Early this morning I had a phone call to say that they would be here between 10 and 12. This gave us a window to hare into town (before breakfast!) and seek out a new drive-belt for our very ancient lawn-mower (mentioned before on this blog, with portrait.) The mower is now 22 years old and held together with fibreglass, screws and prayer. A belt was sourced, and we were told it had been in stock since 2010 and would not be replaced - I guess because the mowers it would fit have all gone the eventual way of all machinery.
Every hour we are here is precious, especially when the weather is fine, so this was a big help. The chaps from the electricity company arrived at 11, by which time my husband was already under the mower, muttering and groaning. Now we have a new meter, and the mowing can get finished - result!
This visit has been fruitful in other ways as well: we now have a handsome  new front  door. The old one was rotten, insecure and draughty, as well as difficult to open, such that we rarely used it.
In addition, I have made great strides with my Work in Progress, novel no. 6.
It's not often that successes outnumber frustrations, but as I write the fragrance of soup made from home-grown leeks is wafting from the kitchen, and on the way to the mower man's this morning I saw three red squirrels.

 The old door, once home to lurking spiders.

The new door.