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One day at a time ….

April 8, 2012

It’s been a strange couple of weeks – really don’t seem to have achieved very much at all – then I finished this and realised we had been quite busy.

Still waiting on the fosse report and on electricians – I had found another one but he has vanished on me as well. I did find a plumber though – doesn’t speak any English but his wife does and they came and examined our little problems and some big ones. He went off to do some investigating into the valves on the radiators and came back with a solution – new one-pipe system valves which will allow individual radiators to be switched off and/or dismounted however, he doesn’t think they will work on our radiators so we may have to get new ones. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, the radiators are very old and bound to be full of sludge and rust, they look ugly and will take a lot of work to bring up to scratch; new ones solve most of those issues and the cost isn’t that high. He is also going to fit the bathroom towel rail and dismount the radiator on the landing so we can decorate.

I have found a decorator, English guy living about 30 minutes away, and he has given estimates for doing the lobby, stairs and landing plus the entire outside of the house. The price is very reasonable indeed and he starts work on the 23rd. I need to get the preparation done on door frames etc but I have two weeks to do it in. My problem is that Marc has got himself fully booked until September and I don’t know if he is going to be able to fit the skirting boards. I may end up doing this myself but it will be tedious as I don’t own a mitre saw, may just buy one as they don’t seem excessively expensive. We’ll see as Marc has promised to be here on the 12th for the EDF audit so maybe we can work something out.

The weather is still bone dry but very windy for the past few days – constant 30kph day & night – more like a mistrale or meltemi than Brittany. We have done a bit more gardening – bought a bunch of plants from the garden centre which seemed very expensive. I relearned a lesson though, at the checkout I was commenting on the tiny little counter and very inefficient checkout method when the checkout girl agreed with me in perfect English – turned out she spent several years in the Mid West and knew exactly what I meant. Just shows though, you can’t be too careful when speaking English in France. Anyway, we dug all the plants in and have been modifying parts of the border by the front entrance, it does look very different than when we bought the place. All the daffodils are finished but now we have to wait until they completely die off before cutting them down. This is a pain as they are mostly in the lawn edge and I can’t cut it so it looks untidy. I’ve been attaching the outside borders and ditches with my weed wacker, glad I bought the extension piece as I can reach both sides of the ditch from the road. Also glad I got the ear defenders, first time I did it without them I ended up with a ringing in my ears for hours.

When we bought the car the front tyres were almost brand new but the rear ones looked a bit suspect. Now 12,000 km later and the rears were looking decidedly bald so I finally decided to bite the bullet and while I was at Norauto getting new wiper blades and the now compulsory breathalyzer, I asked about new tyres. They guarantee the lowest price and will refund any difference if you find them cheaper within 30 days, even so they were very expensive, the sort of money I was used to paying for Corvette tyres. Service level was great, the tyres were ordered on the Friday, I got a text message on Monday saying they were ready, made an appointment for Tuesday and all done & dusted in less than an hour. They took off the old rear ones, moved the front ones to the back and put the new ones on the front. All very simple & straightforward – they even sent me a text message to say it was ready even though I was waiting in the showroom!

Had another very easy experience with the medical system – needed to renew my prescriptions so a trip to the doctor was necessary. He, as usual, was very friendly and sociable as well as being a good doctor. I asked him of he thought I should have some blood tests done as the last ones were done over a year ago, he agreed and wrote this up on a ‘prescription’ form. When I asked where to go for the tests he gave me a very strange look and told me the nurse would come to my house and take the blood sample. This was Tuesday, nurse arrived 07:45 on Wednesday and I had the results by post on Saturday morning. All OK and this level of service is an eye-opener after having had to drive all over Southern California then wait two weeks for the same thing! There are no co-pays, just pay the doctor his €23 (which I get back) and give the insurance card to the lab; it’s a great system the rest of the world would do well to study.

It’s very interesting going through this whole renovation project – it can be very disheartening at times but then you realize that most of the jobs are one-offs and we are just creating something to maintain in future. The planting in the garden is basically done, from now on it’s weeding and pruning and the gardener (Malcolm) will take on the bigger jobs of clearance and major pruning. The decorating is once only, I don’t intend doing it again so then it’ll just be basic house work, cooking cleaning etc.  At least, that’s how we keep ourselves going ………….

Onward & upwards

David & June

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